Dr. Rodney Stark, co-director of Baylor University's Institute for Studies of Religion (ISR), has received WORLD Magazine's 2012 Book of the Year Award for The Triumph of Christianity: How the Jesus Movement Became the World's Largest Religion.
In its 2012 books issue, WORLD praised Stark's long-term perspective during a time when some evangelicals are displaying a pessimistic sense of decline.
"This is yet another terrific and well-deserved award for one of America's most respected social scientists," said Dr. Byron Johnson, Distinguished Professor of the Social Sciences at Baylor and director of ISR. "For more than four decades, he has published one classic book after another, but The Triumph of Christianity is perhaps the most important book of Rod's brilliant and unparalleled career."
The honor "came as a very pleasant surprise,'' Stark said.
One reason Stark was selected is that he "writes well: He was a reporter for the Oakland Tribune and the Denver Post before gaining a Ph.D.," the magazine article noted. "A second reason for honoring Stark is his lifetime of achievement: In 28 books -- one from 15 years ago, The Rise of Christianity, prefigures his new work -- Stark has employed both statistics and historical testimony to shoot down stereotypes."
In his book, "Stark compares American religious liberty to the state churches of Europe and sees denominationalism as a strength, not a weakness," the article said. "He looks at Christian growth around the world in recent decades as one more assault on the conventional wisdom that modernity trumps religion. He avoids triumphalism in writing about Christianity's long-term triumph--we do not know what tomorrow will bring--and he teaches us to avoid pessimism in considering our temporary problems."
Besides being co-director of ISR, Stark, a native of North Dakota, is a Distinguished Professor of the Social Sciences at Baylor. He joined Baylor's faculty in 2004.