DMINLGP

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

Echoes

Written by: on October 6, 2016

DSC_0510As we walked the stairs and passage ways of Oxford University we could hear echoes. We could hear the echo of our own footsteps and perhaps an echo of the voice of Harry Potter. DSC_0540But far more importantly we could and can hear the echoes of history. The walls and halls of Oxford in general, and Christ Church in particular, are dripping with the sense of a long and rich history of intellectual pursuits and education.DSC_0448

And as we travel from that world back to our own we read The Silk Roads: A New History of the World by Peter Frankopan, himself an Oxford historian. Once more we hear echoes.

We hear echoes of books previously read in our D. Min. studies, as we were exposed last year to the development of capitalism and world markets. We hear echoes of globalization. We hear echoes of the development of intellectual thought.

As I read The Silk Roads, the new reflective thought for me is that globalization does not just reach around the world, it also reaches through time. The effects of the spread of nations, commerce, and religion from nearly two millennia ago still touch and affect us today. The degree to which we are globalized in 2016 doesn’t just reflect the influence of the cultures of today, it reflects cultures from different epochs and eras.DSC_0931 DSC_0928

These echoes keep us humble. We might want to think that our culture, or cultures to which we are closely related (like in England) helped lay the foundations for civilized living. But Dr. Frankopan spends many pages convincing us that much of civilization was conceived and birthed between Tigris and Euphrates Rivers and China.

“Libraries, places of worship, churches and observatories of immense scale and cultural influence dotted the region, connecting Constantinople to Damascus, Isfahan, Samarkand, Kabul and Kashgar. Cities such as these became home to brilliant scholars who advanced the frontiers of their subjects.” [1]

As nations spread, their commerce and coinage in hand, “The form of these coins became standardised: an image of the current ruler on the observe with ringlets held by a diadem, and invariably looking to the right as Alexander had done, with an image of Apollo on the reverse, identified by Greek letters.” [2]

So it seems that even Jesus ministered in a globalized Israel, since He said to render Caesar’s coins to him, which reflects this common practice of the image of national leaders being inscribed on coins.

“It was not only goods that flowed along the arteries that linked the Pacific, Central Asia, India, the Persian Gulf and the Mediterranean in antiquity; so did ideas.” [3]

“It was important for a ruling dynasty that was not native to the region to create a justification for their pre-eminence. To do so, ideas were blended together from a range of sources to form a lowest common denominator that would appeal to as many as possible.” [4] This is syncretism. How vigilant we must be, in the midst of increasing globalization.

We can hear here an echo of the post Pentecost persecution and diaspora in and from Jerusalem, and the resulting spread of the Gospel.“Christian thought and ideas brought by merchants and by prisoners resettled in Persian territory after being deported from Syria.” [5]

In this volume we also read of a great echo of the work of the Christian William Wilberforce, who worked for decades to rid England of the scourge of slavery. The Christian efforts for the sanctify of life today echo yet again through pregnancy care centers that help young women choose not to have abortions. “Gladiator fights…were abolished as a result of Christian revulsion at displays that so devalued the sanctity of life.” [6]

Dr. Frankopan wrote of a great danger with globalization. “…as disaster spread along the communication and trade networks, devastating cities in the Persian Mesopotamia and eventually reaching China. Bubonic plague brought catastrophe, despair and death.” [7]

This echo was heard in the most recent summer Olympics in Rio, as the travel to and from Rio carried the threat of the spread of the Zika virus. Not in weeks or days, but in a matter of hours at the speed of today’s globalization, significant sickness can spread.

Frankopan offers a number of examples of religious conflict along these Silk Roads. Ironically the globalization of Islam was at one time aided by Judaism and Christianity. “…in the early years of their coexistence relations were not so much pacific as warmly encouraging…The support of the Jews in the Middle East was vital for the propagation and spread of the word of Muhammad.” [8]

Current events demonstrate quite the opposite. One must wonder regarding the historical roots of continually degrading relationships between Muslims and other world religions. Has the thoroughness of modern globalization, and the increased contact between religious groups contributed? There may be a doctoral dissertation to be written to answer this question. At this point in history it’s difficult to imagine that “…followers of both religions [Islam and Judaism] pledged to defend each other in the event that either was attacked by any third party.” [9]

Finally, I hear an echo of the Kingdom of God. Dr. George Eldon Ladd wrote prolifically about the “presence of the future:” that the Kingdom of God is present now, and will be fulfilled in the future. Just as globalization reaches through time, so also the Kingdom of God. The reach of God in Christ touched lives two thousand years ago, touches lives today, and will touch lives tomorrow. The ultimate “global” reach through both time and space is the spread of the Kingdom of God, and it is our priceless treasure to be a part of that reach.

[1] Peter Frankopan, The Silk Roads: A New History of the world, (New York: Penguin, 2015), Kindle Location 185
[2] Ibid., Location 354
[3] Ibid., Kindle Location 791
[4] Ibid., Kindle Location 822
[5] Ibid., Kindle Location 962
[6] Ibid., Kindle Location 1073
[7] Ibid., Kindle Location 1526
[8] Ibid., Kindle Location 1874
[9] Ibid., Kindle Location 1887

About the Author

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Marc Andresen

I have a B. A. in Music from San Diego State University and received an M. Div. from Fuller Theological Seminary in 1977. July 1 2015 I retired after 38 years in pastoral ministry. The passion and calling that developed in the last 20 years is leadership training in cross-cultural contexts, as my wife and I have had many opportunities to teach in Eastern Europe and Africa. I have been married for 38 years and have two adult children, one daughter-in-law and a beautiful granddaughter. My hobbies are photography and British sports cars.

10 responses to “Echoes”

  1. Aaron Peterson says:

    Hi Marc. Enjoyed being with you last week. Way to insert Ladd!! 🙂
    You mention the spiraling negative relationship between Christianity and Islam. Do you think The Silk Roads gives us some hints how to stop this spiral? Do you see reconciliation in the future?

    • mm Marc Andresen says:

      Aaron,

      I’m not sure that I see any change in current momentum with Christianity and Islam. Actually, I don’t think I’d characterize today’s tensions being Christian vs Islam. It’s more like the crazy guys who disguise themselves as being Muslims against the whole world. I think I’m a little fatalistic, or end-times-istic regarding escalating tensions as The Day draws near. That’s not a very scholarly answer, but pop-eschatology, at least, would see increased tensions.

      As to Ladd, I’ve always loved his presence of the future. He really nailed it with the now and not yet. It’s interesting to me that he wrote these things considering how, I think, globalization does reach through time.

  2. mm Phil Goldsberry says:

    Marc:
    London Advance was over the top for sure!

    Frankopan truly opened our eyes to the threats of globalization from the East. What do you see as the “EAST” of today?

    What do you think the “silk” of today is?

    Silk promoted both the economy, morality, religion, and culture. Yes the Gospel can flow down the Silk Roads of yesteryear and of today.

    Phil

    • mm Marc Andresen says:

      Phil,

      The Advance was great, and thank you for bringing your wife; it was great to get to know her a little.

      Well, I think it’s a little different, since Frankopan wrote about the foundations of civilization, and that work is done. But as to “East” for further development, etc, my first response is that it may well still be China, since there is fantastic evolution taking place in their economy. I think of the lawyer we heard in Hong Kong who had helped broker the stock exchange deal with Shanghai. We know a great deal of manufacturing has moved to the “east” so there is still a lot of economic power possible there.

      What is the “silk” of today? As a non-economist, it’s probably just money. We know the dollar is always a major player in world economy.

  3. Pablo Morales says:

    Marc,
    Reading Frankopan through my Christian worldview also pointed me to the Kingdom of God as the final chapter waiting to be written in the history of the world. I can’t wait for the day in which Christ will bring full righteousness and justice.

    Regarding the deterioration of the relationship between Muslims and other religions, I believe that the chapters written about Iran and Iraq were insightful in explaining how we got to where we are today. Even though some countries have better internal relationships across religious groups (like the case of Jews, Christians, and Muslims in Israel), it is true that the countries with totalitarian Muslim governments are openly anti-Christian. What is your take of Frankopan’s description of England/Iran and USA/Iran-Iraq relationships and their impact in current anti-Christian sentiments?
    Pablo

    • mm Marc Andresen says:

      Pablo,

      Reading Frankopan reminds me that our history with Iran and Iraq is very complicated. Even back in the days of the Shaw and his fall, the Soviet Union was all too happy to capitalize (no pun intended) on our stresses because of our relationship with the Shaw. Iran probably has seen us as unfriendly for a long time. With Khomeini functioning both as cleric and political leader, it gets even more complicated.

      If Muslim Iranians see the U. S. and the devil, can they or will they differentiate between Americans and Christians? Do they perceive that the two are one?

      Iraq, of course, is filled with tension as well with our ‘war on terror.’

      This tells me that good Christian-Muslim relations have little chance of improving, given the environment that may be more political than religious.

      On a more personal level, I have been building a friendship this year with a grad student from Iran, and he evidences no ill will, but is happy to pursue friendship.

      All of these relations would improve, I think, if we could get them out of the nation-political arena and move them into the one-on-one arena.

  4. Kevin Norwood says:

    Marc

    What beautiful writing and exploration of our travels as well as other authors insight. Really great work.

    Isn’t it interesting that ” globalization” means different things to everyone. You definition of it at the end of your blog is really spot on. We all affect the “kingdom” even though at times we may not be able to see or understand how we are doing anything at all. Do you think our studies will affect our world and our history? Or will it be something that happens well after we are dead and gone?

    Kevin

    • mm Marc Andresen says:

      Kevin,

      Thanks for the kind words.

      If the Silk Roads, and all other roads of globalization, have the potential also to export beliefs, then we have the opportunity to write ourselves into this history. I believe our D. Min. has been set up to help us accomplish this very thing: to affect the world.

      This is my goal as I seek to provide leadership training for international students in the U. S. for a brief time. I don’t think this is too grandiose an idea. We have the potential to touch a hundred nations simply by taking advantage of the silk road that has brought the world to our doorstep because of globalized university education.

      It is actually my hope that we can affect things both now and after we’re gone. I certainly see that in what you’re doing in your vision of youth ministry.

  5. Claire Appiah says:

    Marc,
    I enjoyed revisiting those echoes of the 2016 Advance through your blog.
    It is true as you have noted that Jesus ministered in a globalized Israel in instructing His followers to render Caesar’s coins to him because they bore his image as the national leader. I think Jesus also operated from a global mindset in His Great Commission—no one on the planet was to be left out. Jesus foresaw the great expeditions and explorations that would eventually connect peoples of every continent and territory around the globe. Jesus foresaw the impact and legacy of the Silk Roads that would make obeying the Great Commission possible.
    How do you think “the thoroughness of modern globalization and increased contact between religious groups may possibly contribute to deteriorating relationships between Muslims and world religious?”

    • mm Marc Andresen says:

      Claire,

      Ah – the Great Commission: absolutely. Why would Jesus not have prophetically seen the day that air travel, to name one thing, would aid His Commission?

      My comment about ‘increased contact…possibly contributing to deteriorating relationships’ was made, really, as a curiosity (which I am not at this time prepared to address in a doctoral dissertation).

      My quick thought on it is that through relationships and actual conversations we have an increased potential to unearth that we really do have vast differences. This past spring I had several conversations with a religion professor from Saudi Arabia, and he pointed out several places in the Qur’an that address why a Muslim “cannot” be a Christian. Our conversations were very friendly, but it was an increase in awareness to me that a faithful Muslim is unlikely to accept the truth of Jesus.

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