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

Who Am I?

Written by: on January 18, 2018

Religion, politics, sex, and money are just four of the very dominant topics that we seem to debate aggressively over in our modern day society. Though religion used to seem to have the leading hand in these discussions, it seems as though they have now taken the back burner to many topics, and completely overshadowed by humanity’s self-impression of itself. Heritage and the credit that we lend to our understanding of history, culture and the basic evidence of history itself has always seemed to be a good starting place for making some of the assumptions we use in forming our world-view of things; and in some cases, our loyalties. However, Benedict Arnold seems to upset the fruit basket when analyzing the true nature of one particular topic…Nationalism. In his work “Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism,” Anderson seems to evaluate the standards for classifying one’s view of Nationalism, and calls into questions the methodologies that had preceded his own. His book reviews many cultures predating out nations by centuries to demonstrate what he projects as his own understanding of identifying one’s associate to its nation. Based on the numerous book reviews that can be found an compared, not everyone is as willing to comply with Anderson’s ultimate view.

The reality I found while reading this book at first was that I thought it would be terribly boring, extremely complicated to follow, and to bluntly honest, of no consequence to the line of study that I was trying do through this program. However, though I was right in many of these regards, there was a commonality that I started to find with the point I believe Anderson was trying to make and my own doctoral research; that point was based on identity. Though I could not tell you what it was now, I watched a brief clip on television a few months ago that addressed the fact that even though we as a world seems to have embraced the same idea that Adolph Hitler and his regime were evil, the simple fact was that Hitler was successful because he was so adept at having his troops dedicated to him completely. How could one of the most “evil” men in history still manage to have so many supporters? The truth we are forced to recognize is that not everyone thought he was evil; in fact, many believed that he was the answer to lead their people to be the nation they desired to be. Their identity was forged in the beliefs of their leader, and thus led them to do atrocious things. As Christians, we cling to the teachings of the bible, we embrace the story of Christ more than we embrace any other story in history, and we revolve our entire lives around the fact that “this world is not our home,” as the song so eloquently puts it. We have placed our identity in our leader, Jesus Christ.

As I worked through the text (sometimes painfully), I found that even though I did not want to agree with his views of the Christian world-view, in some aspects he was right. At one point he writes, “No nation imagines itself coterminous with mankind. The most messianic nationalists do not dream of a day when all the members of the human race will join their nation in the way that it was possible, in certain epochs, for, say, Christians to dream of a wholly Christian planet.”[1] Realistically, we do dream of a day when all members of the human race would unite to become a Christian planet, however, we also know that it is not realistic to ever see that happen. In fact, even the Bible tells us this will never happen: “13 “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. 14 Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.”[2] We realize that not everyone sees Christ the same way we do, therefore, they identify themselves with a completely different leader. Anderson makes this classification,  “The Christians regard Jesus Christ as their divinity; the Saracens, Mahomet; the Jews, Moses; and the idolaters, Sogomombar-kan, the most eminent among their idols.”[3]

So the point; Anderson has perhaps a more political view than I have; however, in regards to Christianity and even global evangelism there is a necessity that lies before us should we desire to win as many to Christ as possible. We need not try to understand someone in the manner that we identify ourselves, but rather seek to see how he or she have come to their own identity. There are so many things that help us to form that identity; gender, race, nationality, personal experiences, culture, and education, to name a handful. We do not bend the Word of God to the will of their identity, but we do try to connect to their identity through the Word of God.



Anderson, Benedict. Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism. London: Verso Publishing, 2106.

Cromwell, Matt. A Critical Review of Benedict Anderson. November 2010. (accessed January 18, 2018).

Nguyen, Cindy A. BOOK REVIEW Benedict Anderson’s Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism (1983, 1991, 2006). April 3, 2016. (accessed January 18, 2018).



[1] Anderson, Benedict. Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism. London: Verso Publishing, 2106. P 8. Kindle edition.

[2] Matthew 7:13-14 (NKJV).


[3] Anderson, Benedict. Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism. London: Verso Publishing, 2106. P 16. Kindle edition.


About the Author

Shawn Hart

15 responses to “Who Am I?”

  1. mm Jennifer Williamson says:

    Hey Shawn. I’m intrigued by your statements about a “wholly Christian planet.” While I think I understand what you are saying, I think it is also important to remember that we will still have “nationalities” in eternity. Revelation tells us that there will be people from every tongue, tribe, people, and nation joining together around the throne of God. It doesn’t say we will all be speaking the same language–which means we will get to keep some of our cultural identity while experieincing perfect unity in Christ. What I love about that picture is the idea that it takes all cultures and people to make up the family of God. We don’t escape from our people group to join the Kingdom of God, we recognize how together with other people groups we form the Kingdom of God. So while the whole world may not come to Christ, we can be sure that people from all over the world will be present in eternity. We have unity in diversity. That excites me.

    I realize I don’t know much about your project. How specifically does it relate to identity?

    • Shawn Hart says:

      In regard to the wholly Christian planet, I was not referring to Heaven, but rather to now. We realize that no matter how hard we try, it would seem that the majority of this world would not prefer being associated as “Christian”; as a result, I cannot see this as an Christian nation, because everyone does not embrace Christianity. However, I do see a limiting reality to heaven, in that it is meant for followers of Jesus Christ; race, gender and color will not be a factor, but one’s faith will. There is always something that will divide.

  2. mm Jean Ollis says:

    Hi Shawn! I’m intrigued by your connection to identity and linking identity to the body of Christ. How do you further apply culture to the concept of identity and one unified body? Great post!

    • Shawn Hart says:

      That has been the challenge of my early dissertation research. I am actually working to define the variables that make up our identity and thus influence our decision making and preferences. Though Christ chose twelve apostles all with what seems to be the same title and position, it is clear just from viewing the variable between Peter and Judas that He did not chose them for the same purpose. We all have a calling from God, however I believe that we will often allow our desire of who we want to be conflict with who God may have called us to be. Does how we identify ourselves and how God identifies us always come up with the same person? If they are different, then which identity do we choose to fulfill?

  3. mm Jay Forseth says:

    Hi Shawn,

    I like your train of thought, specifically regarding a “wholly Christian planet” and I disagree with the author on this respect by using this Scripture…”every knee shall bow, and every tongue confess, that Jesus Christ is Lord.” (Philippians 2:10-11). The whole planet may not be Christ followers, but the whole planet will be Christ ACKNOWLEDGERS.

    Well written Shawn!

  4. mm M Webb says:


    I wonder if you were subconsciously seeing Anderson as a traitor when your typo called him Benedict Arnold during the first mention of him as the author in your post! Anderson, is also known as Aaron L. Binenkorp Professor of International Studies Emeritus at Cornell University. I never could figure out why authors use aliases when they publish.

    While Anderson’s theories on community and nationalism, under the safe technique of using imagination, I was not impressed. When I non-read, scanned, and SQ3R his work and some outside reviews and journal articles I sensed more of a Tower of Bethel context over a wholesome work that could relate to God’s creation and His plan for humanity. Close minded? I hope so!

    Nevertheless, I did find an area, using his imagination theme, that I might be able to leverage with the community of believers who are trying to resist the evil schemes of Satan.

    Stand firm,
    M. Webb

    • Shawn Hart says:

      Yeah, let’s just act like I was trying to be coy in my description and that this was not actually the signs of a very distracted man this week.

      I noticed through this reading Mike that every day I feel my patriotism to this country, to this world, and to this image of a worldly life becomes less and less appealing to me. You have embraced that Armor of God in your own teaching, and yet, like myself, understand the military mindset of patriotism. I had it at one point, but have come to realize that this world’s view of what is acceptable and what is not is so completely perverted and evil compared to what I see God calling up on us for. This reading seemed so worldly to me, and ironically, it was that fact that kept helping me to examine my own Christianity as a result.

  5. Shawn,

    An interesting post! Regarding the “wholly Christian planet” concept, how do you understand the teaching in Revelation around the “new heavens and new earth”? It seems to say that there will be a redeemed and renewed earth. I wonder what that will look like?

    • Shawn Hart says:

      Sunday mornings at 10:00 am Mark. I just started working through the book of Revelation. I’ll be looking for you. LOL

      The book of Isaiah also has a reference to a new heavens and a new earth…I do not believe they are the same conversation. I believe God speaks often in the physical so that we can wrap our worldly, fleshly thinking minds around concepts. However, I do believe this world will be consumed by fire and we who are faithful will be rewarded with a new home in Heaven some day. As to the finer details of that particular question…it is a long detailed answer that I look forward to discussing with you sometime.

  6. Chris Pritchett says:

    Thanks for your post, Shawn, and particularly the way you interpreted Anderson’s text through the lens of the Nazi regime. Clearly, the ideals communicated through propaganda and demonization convinced a nation that they were actually giving themselves to a greater cause, one that which Anderson would describe not only as evil, but also imagined – or, in other words, a figment of the imagination, and therefore not reality. Crazy to think about this!

    • Shawn Hart says:

      Exactly Chris. The reality of this reading is all of the choices being made are still determined by the individual and their perspective. If I get up in church and preach on the evils of abortion, I will probably get a united “AMEN” in response, however, if I get up in a “pro-choice” rally and express the same sentiment, I may not make it back to my car alive. It seems to me that even though what he is saying makes a lot of sense, there is no real way to use it without a ton of problems from those who do not share your world view. I cannot force my ideas upon others, and yet, no one ever seems to see everything the same.

  7. mm Jason Turbeville says:

    Your lens on the Nazis and how those who followed did not see them as evil but as someone who could take their nation were they desired was great insight. I wonder if there was a time when they came to that conclusion or if they went to their grave believing that.

  8. Greg says:

    Though I would love to see humanity united under Christ, I know our freedom and desire to serve ourselves inhibits that pursuit. It still drives me to seek it and do my part in that endeavor. I see it like being a Christ-like follower. I may never achieve it on earth, but will continue to strive for it until I see him face to face. I think our desire for community is what drives many nations to exist. Maybe it is a unrecognized desire to be in communion with something greater (God) that drives people to come together. What do you think?

  9. Dave Watermulder says:

    Hey Shawn,

    Interesting post and line of thinking that you followed! It seems like the facet that most folks are commenting on here is around the “wholly Christian planet” idea. It seems like you were simply saying that while “nationality” as an identity marker is ultimately limited (meaning, not “everyone” is going to be part), that we might hope or work for a day when all in the world would come to know Christ. But then, you point out the “narrow way” of Jesus, and kind of wonder if that would even be possible. So, I wonder, are you saying that the Christian faith is a kind of “nationalism” in that sense? I wonder if it is “exclusive” or “inclusive” (or maybe there’s even a better term!). Thanks again for the post!

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