Doctor of Leadership in Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

“New History?” Not So Fast, Buckaroo!

Written by: on October 25, 2018


(Map with China “at the center” which was discussed in our Hong Kong advance)


I grimaced when I read the words “New History” in our book’s title this week. Do those two words even go together?

I must admit my attitude was immediately skeptical towards The Silk Roads: A New History of the World by Peter Frankopan, even if our author was from Oxford. I bristled when I read Frankopan’s different and “new” look at our world came from reminiscing about Zeus in Greek mythology supposedly releasing two eagles, where they eventually meet at the “naval of the world”, which was amazingly in the heart of Asia. [1] Doesn’t sound too academic, scientific or even realistic to me.

His so called “New History” reminded me of oxymorons like “military intelligence” and “busy doing nothing”. Some of my favorite oxymorons are in the following list:

  • Awfully good.
  • Alone together.
  • Bittersweet.
  • Small miracle.
  • Christian haunted house.
  • Faithful agnostic.
  • Deafening silence.
  • Maybe Definitely.

Pardon me for my newfound critical thinking skills (thanks to Richard Paul and Linda Elder in The Miniature Guide to Critical Thinking Concepts and Tools) [2], but I find it hard to believe the center of the world is the East.  It might seem like I am splitting hairs, but the center of the world’s history, and ANY future center of the world, must be the Middle East! Case in point, I was always taught the Garden of Eden was at the confluence of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. As far as I know, this is in present day Iraq, the Middle East! The main descendants of Noah’s Ark, which reportedly landed in modern day Turkey, are not in China or the Far East. The center of civilization began afresh through the sons of Noah–Shem, Ham and Japeth–and their descendants are the following: SHEM who fathered the Semitic peoples who are considered Jewish or Arabic who settled throughout the Mideast and southern Asia. HAM who fathered the Hamitic peoples and produced the black races who moved into Africa. JAPHETH who fathered the Japhethite peoples who are the fair-skinned Caucasian races who moved northward into Turkey and Russia and then migrated into Europe and across much of Asia. [2]

I am skeptical about anyone who states the center of anything is where the most people are. Yes, China is a behemoth, but it doesn’t make it the center. Sure, they are massive, but so is India, as the following table from the United States Census Bureau shares in the following list: [3]

1. China.               1,384,688,986                  6. Pakistan        207,862,518

2. India.                1,296,834,042                  7. Nigeria.         203,452,505

3. United States  329,256,465                      8. Bangladesh  159,453,001

4. Indonesia.        262,787,403                     9. Russia.          142,122,776

5. Brazil.               208,846,892                    10. Japan           126,168,156

I realize China very well could play a roll in the end times, especially in the Battle of Armageddon, but they are not the center of the battle, Israel is (once again, the Middle East). Revelation 16:12-16 states, “The sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river Euphrates, and its water was dried up to prepare the way for the kings from the East. Then . . . demonic spirits that perform signs . . . go out to the kings of the whole world, to gather them for the battle on the great day of God Almighty. . . . Then they gathered the kings together to the place that in Hebrew is called Armageddon” [4]. I am open to the EAST being China, but still, they are not the center, even if they have the 200 million person army described in Revelation 9:16.

If it takes 21 hours to read someone’s book, as my Kindle Edition estimated this one would take, then all these words put together must have some valid points. However, I feel like we have been misled by what our Author describes as the “East”. Is it Asia, also including Russia, plus the Middle East, or is does it farther include the Far East and India? If we are talking about that MASSIVE combination of the world, then his points begin to make sense. Reviewer Paul Van Dijk (a Dutchman) questions the validity of this book along the same lines as I do. [5]

Granted, I am not so arrogant to believe America is the center of the world, either. I am quite sure I have wrongly believed that in the past, but this LGP DMin program has cured me of that.  I don’t even think Jesus is white any more (grin).

Now, I don’t want to discount the entire book by Frankopan. He has made some extremely valid points, my favorite being “black gold” and the incredible insatiable use of oil that will need to flow to support such a massive population as China. [6] As we know, wars have been fought over this liquid black gold, and for sure will be fought in the future.

For full and honest disclosure, I am not a historian. In fact, my eyes kinda glossed over reading (or not reading) some chapters in this large compilation. I do want to highlight my favorite quote of the book and here it is, “The age of the West is at a crossroads, if not at an end” [7]. I can say I heartedly agree with that!

[1] Frankopan, Peter. The Silk Roads: a New History of the World. Bloomsbury Publishing, London, 2018. Loc 259.

[2] Barrier Roger. Ask Roger: Answering the Tough Questions or Scripture. “Which Nations are Involved in End Time Events?” preachitteachit.org. Assessed October 24, 2018. http://preachitteachit.org/askroger/whichnationsareinvolvedinendtimeevents/.

[3] Population Clock, census.gov, Assessed October 25, 2018.

[4] Barker, Kenneth L. Zondervan NIV Study Bible: New International Version. Zondervan, 2008. Revelation 16:12-16.

[5] Van Dijk Paul. Europe Asia Studies: The Silk Roads and A New History of the World. Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 69(4), April, 2017. 699-700.

[6] Frankopan. 321.

[7] Frankopan. 519.

About the Author

Jay Forseth

Superintendent of the Western Conference of the Evangelical Church. Blessed with 28 years as the husband of my amazing wife who I can't make it without. Now three of four in our family are attending University, but both my children are way smarter than me.

4 responses to ““New History?” Not So Fast, Buckaroo!”

  1. M Webb says:

    You killed-it in your introduction! Thanks for the Biblical history lesson and belief that Scripture is infallible. I have ministered, work, and flown in the area you described for 25 years and my spiritual sense is God knows where he started things, don’t you think? Why would be think otherwise?
    Thanks for applying your Elder-ish critical thinking skills on this book, because it needed some challenges. You are a great historical thinking and I so appreciate your contributions to my LGP journey.
    Stand firm,
    M. Webb

  2. Dan Kreiss says:


    I think Frankopan was trying to include all of the ‘east’ in his reimagined history. While China is a big part of that he does tie in India, the Balkans, the ‘Stans’ as he calls them and recognizes the important role that what we call the Middle East has had on the monotheistic faith traditions. I think his main point was simply opening our eyes to a history far broader than our Greek, Roman, European centered concepts. Do you think he succeeded in that or did he go too far the other way and lose his audience?

  3. Good post, Jay!

    It’s interesting to look back on Hong Kong after reading Frankopan’s text and see Asia from a new perspective. The text challenges us to see Christianity from the east because the birth, life, death and resurrection of Christ occurred within the east. Perhaps, Frankopan should have elaborated on his concept of the east. However, I believe that he was encouraging readers to see the Middle East as part of the east.

    You mention, “Granted, I am not so arrogant to believe America is the center of the world, either. I am quite sure I have wrongly believed that in the past, but this LGP DMin program has cured me of that. I don’t even think Jesus is white any more (grin).” It’s imperative to see history from multiple angles and see Christianity from the east and west. However, most American Christian leader have only been shown Christianity from the western perspective. How would multiple perspectives increase our presentation of Christ?

  4. Kyle Chalko says:

    Dang Jay! You’re taking us back to the word. I think you bring up a good point about China not really being in the center. Like many reviews said, the author was ambitious to shoot for this total relocation of the center. Perhaps this is why the author organzied his chapters how he did, instead of a clean chronological timeline.

    Also, is something really the center if it’s main contribution is it’s roads? That’s like saying, they are the busiest middleman and therefore the most significant.

    Great ending quote!

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