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The Unexpected Christian Century: The Reversal and Transformation of Global Christianity, 1900-2000
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The Unexpected Christian Century: The Reversal and Transformation of Global Christianity, 1900-2000


Baker Academic 2015

Runs on Windows, Mac and mobile.


In 1900 many assumed the twentieth century would be a Christian century because Western “Christian empires” ruled most of the world. What happened instead is that Christianity in the West declined dramatically, the empires collapsed, and Christianity’s center moved to Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Pacific. How did this happen so quickly? Respected scholar and teacher Scott Sunquist surveys the most recent century of Christian history, highlighting epochal changes in global Christianity. He also suggests lessons we can learn from this remarkable global Christian reversal. This book is ideal for an introduction to Christianity or a church history course, and includes a foreword by Mark Noll.

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For more church history books, check out the Baker Academic Church History Collection.

Key Features

  • Offers an overview of Christianity in the twentieth century
  • Provides perspective for the current landscape of Christianity around the world
  • Contains solid scholarship from a respected authority on global Christianity


  • World Christianity: The Gilded Age through the Great War
  • Christian Lives: Practices and Piety
  • Politics and Persecution: How Global Politics Shaped Christianity
  • Confessional Families: Diverse Confessions, Diverse Fates
  • On the Move: Christianity and Migration
  • One Way among Others: Christianity and the World’s Religions

Praise for the Print Edition

It would be hard to overestimate the valuable contribution Scott Sunquist has made to our understanding of the global Christian movement. . . . This volume serves as an excellent introduction to what appeared at the beginning to be the century of Western dominance but ended up being so very different. As Sunquist intimates, we are witnessing the most dramatic century of change since the early Christian period.

—Gerald L. Sittser, professor of theology, Whitworth University

This book provides a learned overview of major themes in twentieth-century world Christianity. Distinguished scholar Scott Sunquist, writing from an insider Christian perspective, shows how such factors as migration, persecution, the decline of Western Christianity, and Pentecostalism have created a religion far different from that of a century ago. He balances depth and breadth in a readable format and, in so doing, provides a valuable addition to the growing body of scholarship on world Christianity.

—Dana L. Robert, professor of world Christianity and history of mission, Boston University

This volume places us in Sunquist’s debt for extending the Christian story beyond the familiar clichés, luminaries, and events of conventional Western church histories to a trajectory that includes and accounts for the fecund world of Christianity in the global South. Full of surprises, this is an astounding, fast-moving story, whose latest chapter was not and could not have been predicted by earlier generations of church historians.

—Jonathan J. Bonk, research professor of mission, Boston University

Product Details

About Scott W. Sunquist

Scott W. Sunquist earned his PhD from Princeton Theological Seminary and currently serves as dean of the School of Intercultural Studies at Fuller Theological Seminary. He previously served as professor of world Christianity at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. Sunquist has written numerous scholarly articles and is coauthor, with Dale Irvin, of the multivolume History of the World Christian Movement. He is also coeditor of A Dictionary of Asian Christianity and author of Understanding Christian Mission: Participation in Suffering and Glory.

Sample Pages from the Print Edition