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World Christian encyclopedia : a comparative survey of churches and religions in the modern world /

Other Authors: Barrett, David B., Kurian, George Thomas., Johnson, Todd M.
Format: Book
Language: English
Published: Oxford ; New York : Oxford University Press, 2001
Edition: 2nd ed.
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Review by Library Journal Review

The subtitle is not a misprint: it does say "AD 2200." This epitomizes the major dilemma of this encyclopedia: the reader cannot tell what is being reported as an empirically derived fact or accepted by theological faith. The editors of this multivolume work (Barrett, missiometrics, Regents Univ.; George Thomas Kurian, coeditor of Encyclopedia of the Future; and Todd M. Johnson, director, World Evangelization Research Ctr.) state in the introduction that their approach is empirical and scientific (rather than normative, philosophical, or poetic) and covers the totality of global Christianity, yet the underlying theme is the evangelization of the world. Volume 1 offers a global overview of Christianity, with relevant data. The introduction begins with the statement "The phenomenon of Christianity is here described and analyzed from some 40 standpoints, into 40 parts." What follows is an infuriating use of categories, subcategories, and sub-subcategories, which divide and subdivide parts to give the statistics the appearance of being scientifically derived. To make matters more confusing, the authors invent, and freely use, a maddening and confusing array of neologisms such as geostatus, globalistics, and futurescan. All this leads to lists and lists of statistics and facts. Among these: in the year 14.5 billion B.C.E., God created dark matter and black holes, and beyond the "eschatofuture" of 10 to the 100 power year (the year google), God creates infinite parallel universes. On a more human level, readers are told that the "structures of sin" for the Decade of Evangelism (A.D. 1990-2000) had a total cost of $9.250 trillion U.S. dollars. There is no workable index for finding the facts or the statistics listed. Volume 2 is an alphabetized listing of the world's countries, and each entry is a readable narrative about its history, "liberty," and religions populations. This is the most useful of the volumes, but it suffers from the shadow of doubt cast by the first volume concerning the reliability of the encyclopedia's facts. Volume 3 can be best described as an explosion of numbers, categories, cross-listings of what the editors define as "miniprofiles" of at least 10,000 distinct religions, 12,600 peoples, 13,500 languages, 7000 cities, and 3030 major civil divisions in 238 countries. What results is hundred of pages of utterly confusing statistics, some highly suspect, culturally biased, and anthropologically useless (such as categorizing people by using moribund race-defining terms as Australoid, Negroid, and Mongoloid and further subdividing those into "stylized colors" such as black, grey, brown, red, tan, white, and yellow). There is a need for a comparative survey of world Christian churches and other religions. This is not it. Not recommended.--Glenn Masuchika, Chaminade Univ. Lib., Honolulu (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.