ABSTRACT

This article argues that David Barrett’s (1927–2011) World Christian Encyclopedia (1982) presented the first comprehensive quantitative assessment of membership in all branches of the church and provided a new intellectual framework that shaped contemporary understandings of world Christianity. Barrett’s location in Nairobi, Kenya, with the Church Missionary Society during the rise of African nationalism and decolonization informed his perspective on world Christianity. Like the African Independent Churches he studied, Barrett broke off from the missionary establishment and supported “schismatic” African groups. Barrett’s experience in Kenya illustrated how influential the growth of African Christianity was in reshaping definitions of world Christianity. He was the first person to quantify religious adherence of all kinds and to represent all of world Christianity together. The World Christian Encyclopedia indicated that a new era of world Christianity had come, and its center of gravity had moved from white Europe to black Africa.

You do not currently have access to this content.