Many excellent scholars study Islam. Many other scholars explore the changing face of global Christianity. Rarely do those experts look at the two worlds—Muslim and Christian—side by side, which is a pity: when we do, we see some remarkable parallels and connections that shed light on both.
The early 20th century is a critical period in the modern history of Christianity, especially the years around World War I and the great epidemics that followed that conflict. In Africa, that was the era in which prophets and evangelists took the faith wholeheartedly into their own hands, translating it into local cultures and worship styles and creating churches thoroughly rooted in African soil. In doing so, they began the mass conversion of the continent.
Philip Jenkins is professor of history at Baylor University's Institute for Studies of Religion and author of The Great and Holy War: How World War I Became a Religious Crusade and The Many Faces of Christ: The Thousand-Year Story of the Survival and Influence of the Lost Gospels.