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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.
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
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?