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DMin, Leadership and Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

Back 2 The Future!

Written by: on April 11, 2015

 

downloadLewis, Donald M. and Richard V. Pierard’s book Global Evangelicalism: Theology, History, and Culture in Regional Perspective, provides an impressive and detailed account of modern global evangelicalism. The authors explain the historical, cultural and theologically complexities of the evangelical movement.  The volume is divided up into three major sections. According to the authorship:

The first section provides historical and theological background and offers a discussion of the vexed question of evangelicalism’s relationship to the process termed globalization. The second section offers surveys of evangelicalism’s history in different geographical areas of the world. The final section includes discussion of important themes in evangelical history.[1]

There are many strengthens of evangelicalism that are highlighted in the book and weakness as well. But I find myself reflecting on current issues and their relationship with history. A general point I am pondering about is how the cultural, theological, economic, technological and political past, might impact the present? For instance, I tend to think that the telegraph was a precursor to the internet or what the telegraphs was to its time, the internet is today. It is undeniable that both the telegraph and the internet have tremendously influenced the world at many levels. In fact consider the millennialist hopes about Morse’s telegraph in a Methodist monthly magazine called The Ladies’ Repository, in 1850 and the views toward the telegraphy’ role in extending the kingdom of God:

This noble invention is to be the means of extending civilization, republicanism, and Christianity over the earth. It must and will be extended to nations half-civilized, and thence to those now savage and barbarous. Our government will be the grand center of this mighty influence… The beneficial and harmonious operation of our institutions will be seen, and similar ones adopted. Christianity must speedily follow them, and we shall behold the grand spectacle of a whole world, civilized, republican, and Christian… Wars will cease from the earth. Men ‘shall beat their swords into plough shares, and their spears into pruning-hooks’…[2]

What optimism!  It is at this point that I am drawn to pick up on the authors’ point about “… the vexed question of evangelicalism’s relationship to the process termed globalization”[3]  With the ever expansive effects of globalization at hand, it seems to me that Christians will be best served to pay attention to the echoes from religious history, if Christians are going to experience a meaningful and fruitful impact in missions today. After all, a great chunk of the scriptures too, teach the reader about history of Israel through which a risen messiah would emerge to give birth to a globally historic gospel narrative. Deuteronomy 32:7 notes:

“Remember the days of old;

consider the generations long past.

Ask your father and he will tell you,

your elders, and they will explain to you”

The above portion of scriptures among many issues, also raise lessons to be learned from Egpyt’s colonial conquest over Israel. Yet while studying Mark Noll’s article in “The Cambridge History of Christianity”, I was curious as to how “the expansion of Christianity to North American long remained a thoroughly colonial affair?”[4] Again might the lessons from such a past be relevant to present day missionaries in their desire to spread their strand of Christianity fused by the missionary’s culture of orign? These questions are fresh on my mind because of recent presentation I was invited to make on the controversies of missions. During the presentation, we discussed Christianity’s encounter with the First Nations People. It was clear that:

Almost all ventures in European colonization proclaimed an intention to evangelize Native Americans. None succeeded, at least with anything like the success so easily anticipated. Sharp difference in world-view, the largely unintended destruction of native populations by European disease, the assumption accepted almost universally that Christianity entailed European forms of civilization, and an inability to segregate altruistic missionary efforts from the acquisitive pursuit of land doomed efforts at Christianizing the native peoples.[5]

We also contrasted the above analysis with the story of Jesus Christ which Donald M. Lewis’s successfully portrays through the notion of “globalization from below”. Lewis’s insightful discussion of “glocalization” and the concept of “globalization from below” unlike the colonial model, challenges Christians to take seriously Christ’s ability to humble his follower towards adaptability, joyful acculturation, and ability to influence society at every level. A kind of influence which builds people up instead of destroying their cultural identities which Christ can use to indigenize the message of the good news.

As globalization continues to have its effect, the global church ought to seek to build healthy global partnerships which will keep followers of Christ united in the gospel story. The global Church can borrow a leaf from former fundamentalist who “… rejected anti-intellectualism, negativism and compartmentalizing of one’ faith…” calling for “… cooperative effort by like-minded people in such areas as evangelism, education and social action.”[6]

 

 

 

[1] Donald M. Lewis and Richard V. Pierard, Global Evangelicalism: Theology, History and Culture in Regional Perspective, (Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press, 2014), 14.

[2] Martin Hewitt, The Victorian World. (London: Routledge, 2012), 710.

[3] Ibid.,

[4] Stewart J Brown. and Timothy Tackett. Enlightenment, Reawakening, and Revolution, 1660-1815. (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2006), 392.

[5] Ibid., 400.

[6] Donald M. Lewis and Richard V. Pierard, Global Evangelicalism: Theology, History and Culture in Regional Perspective, (Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press 2014),121.

About the Author

Michael Badriaki

13 responses to “Back 2 The Future!”

  1. Telile Fikru Badecha says:

    Michael! I appreciate your insight on the concept of “globalization from below.” Contextualizing the gospel to the local cultural context is very important for the same reasons you highlighted. Also, your points on the continued effect of globalization and the global church need to build healthy global partnerships are well-taken. As an African, I see the impact of globalization on contextualization of the Gospel to African cultures. Western cultures and value systems continue to impact the way we do mission. This requires ongoing reflection and rethinking to effectively communicate and encourage an expression of Christian faith that is African in nature.

  2. mm rhbaker275 says:

    Michael,
    Thanks for an insightful post…

    I like your emphases on communication. Obviously, when it comes to communication, we live in an unprecedented era. The “spoken word” has taken on dimensions never dreamed of until the last 20 years. It was a challenge when we began our current course of learning – twitter, facebook and the opportunity to be in touch from all points of the global earth. You reference the under-developed countries; from experience I know globalization in terms of communication is at there door. I have witnessed the makeshift antenna of sorts on a pole in the remote mountainous village in Tanzania. No running water and no infrastructure for electricity – but the village family was making contact with the “world.”

    Noll in defining “evangelical” notes that it is the “good news” and as such it must “be spread —indeed, evangelical Christianity takes the ‘speaking’ and ‘Word’ elements of the faith as definitional. An unspoken faith is no faith at all— and thus foundational to evangelicalism is the need to witness to the ‘good news ‘ of Jesus Christ, to ‘go into all the world’” (kindle 200). Communication made easy? I wonder how much better we are today at telling the “core” message, Jesus God’s plan for salvation of all the world. Noll also notes that the evangelical voice as the lived and spoken Word is “faith with a global vision.”

    • Ashley Goad says:

      Ron,

      You are exactly right! I can’t convince Haitians to drink clean water, but if I put in a water system with a solar power system attached, suddenly they come to the water building more…to charge their cell phones…so they can call their friends and check their facebook! Seriously! The Internet and communication have changed our world. I think back to Guns, Germs, and Steel and how the author should re-title the book to include silicone!! What a dramatic impact that invention had on our daily lives!

      Great thoughts here, friends!

    • Michael Badriaki says:

      Thank you Ron for the comments!

  3. Liz Linssen says:

    Hi Michael
    Thank you for your post. I like how you ended, “As globalization continues to have its effect, the global church ought to seek to build healthy global partnerships which will keep followers of Christ united in the gospel story.” This is so needed, as we have so much to learn from such partnerships among our global church: The faith of those believers in China; the cost of following Jesus in Iran or Iraq. May we make every effort to pursue this!

    • Richard Volzke says:

      Liz,
      I agree that we have a lot to learn from other Christians around the world. Your statement about the cost of following Jesus is something that many Americans cannot truly understand. I wonder just how many of us would stay true to Christ if we were being persecuted or killed for our faith. As leaders in the church we must help our congregations to realize how blessed we are, and that we must do everything we can to help and support those suffering for Christ.
      Richard

    • Michael Badriaki says:

      Thank you Liz for the comments!

  4. mm Julie Dodge says:

    I wondered about your thoughts on this book. I looked forward to seeing your post, You are far too gracious, Michael. For example, in your quote about the telegraph, you don’t add any commentary about the “savage and barbarous” that the telegraph would allow us to now reach. You let the words speak for themselves, and may we not miss the implication. The gospel has meaning in the context of the people it is intended to reach. God is not culturally bound any more than he is time bound. I don’t know that I have much to say that you don’t already know, but I pray that as we move forward, we will slowly work to honor and lift up one another, that we will show regard for the expertise of each people group about their own people, and God’s word be the living, active, two-edged sword that it is. In whatever context.

  5. mm Clint Baldwin says:

    Thanks for your reflection, Michael.
    I found this to be a good word. Of course its complex, but it’s also really simple in that it can begin with truly “cooperative effort.”

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