Christianity Today Gives a Book Award of Merit to Baylor Scholar and Author Philip Jenkins

Philip Jenkins, Ph.D.
Dec. 18, 2014

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WACO, Texas (Dec. 18, 2014) — Christianity Today has given a 2015 Award of Merit to Baylor University scholar Philip Jenkins for his book “The Great and Holy War: How World War I Became a Religious Crusade” (HarperOne).

Jenkins, Ph.D., is Distinguished Professor of History and co-director of the Program on Historical Studies of Religion in Baylor’s Institute for Studies of Religion.

The magazine described the 23 books selected for 2015 awards as “our picks for the books most likely to shape evangelical life, thought and culture.”

“The Great and Holy War” is a “sweeping yet carefully researched book (that) makes sense of a global conflict too often recalled as some intrigue about empires that we Yanks eventually barreled into and won. Jenkins persuasively argues that the Great War is better understood as a holy war in which several crusading nations competed to advance their millennial goals,” said Elesha Coffman, professor of church history at the University of Dubuque Theological Seminary. “The ensuing collision, and its unfathomable destruction, redrew the global map and reshaped all the major faiths involved.”

In the book, Jenkins writes that World War I — the “war to end all wars” — sowed seeds for future international conflicts. Attitudes prevalent during that era influenced how global powers see each other today, often viewing themselves as favored by God.

Those seeing the war as a religious crusade were “not just elite thinkers or a few crazy bishops and pastors . . . Religion dominated propaganda messages and the way people thought about the war, wrote about the war, made films about the war,” Jenkins said in an interview with “Interfaith Voices,” a public radio religion news magazine. “Religion was part of the air they breathed . . . The enemy was an evil satanic foe.”

He noted that angels and the Virgin Mary were reported as appearing regularly on battlefields, and the apocalypse was on the minds of many during the war, in which more than 9 million soldiers were killed.

Jenkins’s research interests include the study of global Christianity, the study of new and emerging religious movements and of 20th-century U.S. history, chiefly post-1975.

He has published 25 books, which have been translated into 14 languages. Besides “The Great and Holy War,” other titles include “The Next Christendom: The Rise of Global Christianity,” “The New Faces of Christianity: Believing the Bible in the Global South” and “Jesus Wars: How Four Patriarchs, Three Queens, and Two Emperors Decided What Christians Would Believe for the Next 1,500 Years.” He also has published about 100 book chapters and referenced articles and more than 100 book reviews.

Jenkins received his Ph.D. in history from the University of Cambridge in 1978.


Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked research institution, characterized as having “high research activity” by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The University provides a vibrant campus community for approximately 16,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions. Baylor sponsors 19 varsity athletic teams and is a founding member of the Big 12 Conference.


Launched in August 2004, the Baylor Institute for Studies of Religion (ISR) exists to initiate, support and conduct research on religion, involving scholars and projects spanning the intellectual spectrum: history, psychology, sociology, economics, anthropology, political science, epidemiology, theology and religious studies. The institute’s mandate extends to all religions, everywhere, and throughout history, and embraces the study of religious effects on prosocial behavior, family life, population health, economic development and social conflict. While always striving for appropriate scientific objectivity, ISR scholars treat religion with the respect that sacred matters require and deserve.

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