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The Church's New Ecumenical Partners: Pentecostals and Muslim Background Believers? PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Wednesday, 18 January 2012 19:02

As the Christian community around the world changes, so does the nature of the Church's ecumenical mission.  Cardinal Koch talks about the Church's newest major ecumenical partner:

"We have very strong growth among Pentecostal movements. That is a new reality worldwide, which is almost the second largest [Christian] movement after the Catholic Church. Actually we should speak of a Pentecostalization of ecumenism."

But there is an even more astonishing kind of Christianity emerging on the horizon. The Vatican Insider has a piece this morning about a mysterious Kuwaiti Prince who recorded a radio broadcast saying that he had become a Christian. I found it interesting that VI acknowledges the reality of a growing number of Muslim background believers.

I've been tracking it as best I can but only became aware last week of the stunning acceleration in the number of converts from Islam to Christianity that has taken place over the past decade. As in a half million Bengali Muslims who have become Christians, 300,000 among North African Berbers, 350,000 in Iran and more in the Iranian diaspora. Not to mention the explosive T4 movement in Muslim areas of China. Based upon what I was reading last week, it seems that there must be at least one million Muslim Background Believers in the world now,  which in world history terms is absolutely unprecedented.  90-95% of these conversions have occurred over the past 20 years, most in the past decade!

Because of the historic distrust and vast cultural differences between "historic" Christians and these brand new Christians, we are seeing the development of two separate forms of Christianity in the Muslim world. Some of these new Christ-followers are not baptized, some are.

It is not impossible to envision a point where there will be more "new" Christians from Muslim backgrounds than "historic" Christians living in the traditional Muslim world. Another unprecedented challenge in the area of ecumenism and inter-religious dialogue.


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