Dr. Richard Land

Is the World Becoming More or Less Religious?

January 21, 2016

Southern Evangelical Seminary Leader Dr. Richard Land Says Despite Prediction That Islam Will Be the Dominant Religion by the End of the Century, Christianity Is Growing Across Globe

CHARLOTTE, N.C.—A new prediction from the Pew Research Center says that Islam could be the dominant religion by the end of the century, as the Muslim faith grows at record rates.

“Another way of thinking about it is Christianity had a seven-century head-start on Islam, and Islam is finally catching up,” Pew Director of Religion Research Alan Cooperman told NPR, who reported on the study.

But Southern Evangelical Seminary (SES, www.ses.eduPresident and Evangelical leader Dr. Richard Land is not so sure this trend will hold true. Land recently wrote about world religion in a column for the Christian Post, where he serves as an executive editor. In his editorial, titled “Despite What You’ve Heard, World Is More Religious Than Ever,” Land states, “Everybody knows the world is becoming more secular, right? Wrong.”

The Pew study partly attributes the growth of Islam to a young Muslim population with high fertility rates. According to Pew, “Between 2010 and 2050, the world’s total population is expected to rise to 9.3 billion, a 35 percent increase. Over that same period, Muslims—a comparatively youthful population with high fertility rates—are projected to increase by 73 percent. The number of Christians also is projected to rise, but more slowly, at about the same rate (35 percent) as the global population overall.”

Land says this prediction may come true, if those demographic trends continue.

“The growth of Islam is partly due to Muslim families sharing their faith with their children,” Land said. “But these young families may not grow and increase at the rate many think, especially as young Muslim woman have more opportunities and may choose not to have as many children. Also, Christianity is growing rapidly in China, the world’s most populous country with 1.3 billion people. And despite news that ‘nones,’ or those unaffiliated with any religion, are increasing, let’s not discount the fact that all religions are growing, as the world is perhaps not as secular as we once thought.”

In his column, Land cites a new book by Dr. Rodney Stark titled “The Triumph of Faith: Why the World Is More Religious Than Ever.” Stark, Land says, points out what scholars have been demonstrating and publicizing for years—that religion is waxing rather than waning around the world.

Dr. Stark documents voluminously the rapid spread of religion, particularly both Christianity and Islam, in the Second and Third Worlds, unfazed by the seemingly inexorable march of modernity,” Land wrote. “Stark argues that even in Europe, where ‘official organized religion is clearly in steep decline, some would argue a ‘death spiral belief in the supernatural, both in more and less orthodox forms, persists and appears to even be flourishing.

Land observes that Stark’s research forces each one of us to ask a critically important question.

It appeals that Dr. Stark’s research has found overwhelming evidence for what the Apostle Paul calls the ‘law written on the conscience,’ which explains why we have never found a human society that did not have some form of religious observance. Can we conclude that human beings are ‘incurably religious’ because God made them that way?”

Last March, SES hosted the conference titled “Answering Islam,” which asked questions such as “What do Muslims believe about Jesus?” and “What are the differences between the God of the Bible and the God of the Qur’an?” The event aimed to equip Christians to express their love and care for Muslims through sharing the Gospel with them in fulfillment of the Great Commission mandate. Now, the free online videos from the sessions are available online at the SES web site.

Recognizing the importance of understanding Islam, SES is home to the Institute of Islamic Studies, which offers the Certificate in Islamic Studies designed for those interested in increasing their knowledge and effectiveness in reaching Muslims. This certificate prepares pastors, teachers, missionaries and lay persons for apologetic and evangelistic ministry and outreach to Muslims around the world. Students already accepted into a degree program may add this as a Concentration in Islamic Studies. Courses offered in the Certificate or degree concentration require students to complete special research on Islam.

Southern Evangelical Seminary is a leader in apologetics education—teaching students to defend their faith and talk intelligently, passionately and rationally about what they believe and why they believe it. Many courses focus on societal issues from a Christian worldview, delve into scientific apologetics or contemplate creation research.

Land is featured in his nationally syndicated daily radio commentary, “Bringing Every Thought Captive,” which airs on 235 stations on the American Family Radio Network and 100 stations on the Bott Radio Network. “Bringing Every Thought Captive” is also podcast daily on the free SES mobile app and airs locally in the Charlotte, N.C., area every weekday. The “Bringing Every Thought Captive” television program, hosted by Land, debuted in January on the NRB Network, and airs on Wednesdays at 8 p.m. and midnight EST. “Bringing Every Thought Captive” also reaches nearly 2 million households in the Chicago area on the Total Living Network. For more information about stations, times, downloads and more, click here.

Land has taught as a visiting or adjunct professor for several seminaries and has authored or edited more than 15 books. He earned his Doctor of Philosophy degree from Oxford University in England and his bachelor’s degree (magna cum laude) from Princeton University. Land also earned a Master of Theology (Honors Program) degree from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, where he received the Broadman Seminarian Award as the Outstanding Graduating Student. Dr. Land was the 2013 Watchman Award recipient from the Family Research Council for his leadership on moral and cultural issues. He also received the Phillip E. Johnson Award for Liberty and Truth from Biola University in 2010. Land served previously (1988-2013) as president of The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, the Southern Baptist Convention’s official entity assigned to address social, moral and ethical concerns, with particular attention to their impact on American families. In 2014, he was appointed as a Senior Research Fellow of the ERLC’s Research Institute, and in 2015, he was named in the top 15 of Newsmax’s “Top 100 Christian Leaders in America.”

Southern Evangelical Seminary invites visitors to its web site to join the more than 20,000 people who have already downloaded the SES Apologetics App for Windows mobile devices and Android and Apple phones and tablets. Those with the app can get the very best news and information in Christian apologetics, including articles, audio, video, blogs and more from today’s most able defenders of the Christian faith—William Lane Craig, Lee Strobel, Josh McDowell, William Dembski, Frank Turek, Hugh Ross, Gary Habermas and other well-known speakers, authors and teachers.

Southern Evangelical Seminary has been ranked as one of the top graduate programs for General Christian Apologetics by TheBestSchools.org’s “Top 10 Graduate Programs in Christian Apologetics.”

For more information on SES, visit its web site at www.ses.edu or its Facebook page, follow the SES Twitter feed, @sesapologetics, or call (800) 77-TRUTH. For more information about SES’ “Ethics in Emerging Technology” program, visit www.ethics.ses.edu.

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For information on SES or to set up an interview, contact Deborah Hamilton at 215-815-7716 or 610-584-1096, ext. 102, or Beth Harrison, 610-584-1096, ext. 104Media@HamiltonStrategies.com.

Southern Evangelical Seminary is a leader in apologetics education—teaching students to defend their faith and talk intelligently, passionately and rationally about what they believe and why they believe it. The accredited Christian college and seminary offers a wide variety of bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees. Programs can be completed through residence in the Charlotte area or online. The award-winning education at SES is distinctively Christian and focused on evangelism and world-engaging defense of the Christian faith—Christian Apologetics.