Boundless Faith: The Global Outreach of American Churches

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In Boundless Faith, the first book to look systematically at American Christianity in relation to globalization, Robert Wuthnow shows that American Christianity is increasingly influenced by globalization and is, in turn, playing a larger role in other countries and in U.S. policies and programs abroad. These changes, he argues, can be seen in the growth of support at home for missionaries and churches in other countries and in the large number of Americans who participate in short-term volunteer efforts abroad. These outreaches include building orphanages, starting microbusinesses, and setting up computer networks. Drawing on a comprehensive survey that was conducted for this book, as well as several hundred in-depth interviews with church leaders, Wuthnow refutes several prevailing stereotypes: that U.S. churches have turned away from the global church and overseas missions, that congregations only look inward, and that the growing voice of religion in areas of foreign policy is primarily evangelical. This fresh and revealing book encourages Americans to pay attention to the grass-roots mechanisms by which global ties are created and sustained.

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Editorial Reviews

Christian Century - Timothy Renick
“A clear and systemic discussion of a topic that has too often been dominated by polemics.”
“Compelling. . . . a vivid portrait of the interaction between American Christianity and the rest of the world and the future of this relationship.”
Theology Today - Richard Fox Young
“Wuthnow’s latest sociological masterpiece.”
Journal American Academy Of Religion/ Jaar
“Offers an abundance of interesting and highly relevant material. . . . Like [Wuthnow’s] earlier works, Boundless Faith can be recommended without hesitation.”
Books & Culture: A Christian Rvw
Sojourners: Faith, Pol & Culture - Marilyn McEntyre
“Wuthnow’s thoughtful and sometimes surprising treatment of available data—statistics about membership, mission, and growth in Christian communities—makes it clear why this kind of scholarship matters.”
Church History Stds In Christiany And Culture - Todd Johnson
“[Wuthnow] brings something different to the field of study.”
Library Journal

Wuthnow (director, Ctr. for the Study of Religion, Princeton Univ.; After the Baby Boomers: How Twenty- and Thirty-Somethings Are Shaping the Future of American Religion) examines the American Christianity of today in relation to globalization. Using new surveys, interviews, and recent statistics, he demonstrates that American churches are still highly influential and very interested in global outreach, both in terms of organized humanitarian relief and personal short-term mission trips by small groups from local congregations. He repudiates the recent idea that it is now the non-Western churches that are vibrant and active while American churches are more drawn in and locally focused. As they become more globally oriented, these churches face challenges such as balancing service with spirituality and overcoming the historical legacy of the perceived cultural imperialism of the past; however, expanding opportunities for effective engagement around the world will continue to grow. A well-researched book that challenges many popular assumptions about the demise of the Christian West. Recommended for both students and general readers.
—C. Robert Nixon

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780520268081
  • Publisher: University of California Press
  • Publication date: 10/12/2010
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 360
  • Sales rank: 1,546,352
  • Product dimensions: 5.70 (w) x 8.70 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Robert Wuthnow is the Gerhard R. Andlinger '52 Professor of Sociology and Director of the Center for the Study of Religion at Princeton University. His many books include After Heaven: Spirituality in America since the 1950s, All in Sync: How Music and Art Are Revitalizing American Religion, and Creative Spirituality: The Way of the Artist, all from UC Press. With John H. Evans, he coedited The Quiet Hand of God: Faith-Based Activism and the Public Role of Mainline Protestantism, also from UC Press.

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Table of Contents



1. At Home and Abroad
The Changing Contours of American Religion

2. The Global Christianity Paradigm
From Cultural Connection to Demographic Distance

3. Four Faces of Globalization
Debating Heterogeneity and

4. The Evolution of Transnational Ties
Changing Patterns of Social Organization

5. The Global Role of Congregations
Bridging Borders through Direct Engagement

6. Faith and Foreign Policy
Does Religious Advocacy Matter?

7. The Challenges Ahead
Good for America, Good for the World?

Selected Bibliography


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