As part of his Doctor of Ministry (DMin) in Ministry to Emerging Generations (Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary), Tom’s written a number of book responses and given several short presentations (personal and group). In this series he not only “shares the wealth,” but also looks forward to your feedback as he refines his project: An argument for vocational discernment for graduate studies in the context of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship (Stay tuned to learn more!). Earlier posts on the program: Ministry to Emerging Generations and The Big Picture of Ministry to Emerging Generations.
GloboChrist: The Great Commission Takes a Postmodern Turn
The incarnational emphasis of Carl Raschke’s GloboChrist: The Great Commission Takes a Postmodern Turn (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Press, 2008) burst onto my radar, ran strong, and finished with an eschatological bang! Personally, The Clash of Revelations (98-102) spoke most powerfully to me. Professionally, I appreciated Chapter 4: A Closer Look through the10/40 Window. I consider Chapter 4 a much needed word for the Urbana Student Missions Conference seminar coordinators and will be sure to pass along the recommendation with Urbana18 preparations already in progress. My one reservation regarding GloboChrist was Raschke’s lack of enthusiasm for local assemblies.
With regard to The Clash of Revelations, my wife’s sister (European-American) married a Palestinian. They met while on study abroad programs in Europe and have enjoyed their life together. Since marrying and having children, their family has become one that lives in two cultures and even at times multiple places. Does Palestine provide a picture not only of an instability which will become commonplace in the 21st Century culture, but also the itinerants who will find themselves “in exile” at times even in their “homeland(s).”
Is it possible for culture in such a conflicted place to flourish in a manner which will bless the next generation? I have significant doubts. On the other side, I concur with Raschke that post-Christendom is hollow. The European Union and the U.S. lack the religious backbone, supported by a strong eschatological vision to endure the pressure of ongoing conflict. Europe has been and will continue to be taken by a surprising storm of Islamic workers establishing influence in their societies. How many can be supported by, or maybe “encouraged by” the American Dream? I think that the U.S. has reached its limit. The insecurity and fear evidenced in the 2016 Elections evidence is quite revealing.
In campus ministry I encounter utopian perspectives from the left and the right. Raschke’s exploration of Francis Fukuyama’s The End of History and the Last Man (1992) brought back memories of undergraduate studies at Grove City College (1992-1996) (15-18). Jerry Combee, president for three of my four years, embraced the Hegelian end of history with the triumph of modern liberal democracy, global capitalism, and the United States of America ushering in the post-millennial heavenly city. No matter the unique characters one encounters, Raschke’s offering of the “four R’s of a Christianity that is faithful to the Great Commission in today’s globopomo cosmos” in Chapter 5 provide a helpful toolkit (22). But I have reservations whether “radical, relational, relevatory, and ‘rhizomic’” (22, 116-133) truly provide the foundation for a local assembly with love for God, neighbor, and the Body of Christ. Raschke tells the reader to, “Forget about the local church as the paradigm of Christian community. The principle of two or three gathering together still holds firm” (121). He goes on to underscore the relational matrix of “two or three gathering together . . . It ceases to be anchored merely in either the charismatic or structural authority of the religious leader, the preacher, or the board of elders” (121). Although I appreciate the “glocal” vision of an indigenizing and incarnational “GloboChrist,” I see the global incarnated in the local and local informing the global in local communities which richly embody the Body of Christ. Considering Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s radical Christian labors with local congregations (and writing on the topic), I’m surprised that Raschke’s helpful interactions with Bonhoeffer (144-147) do not lead him further in this direction at the conclusion (167-169). Maybe this is an example of the “radical” nature of his theology. In the end the mystery of the Body of Christ comes through the Word and Spirit guided by the Father.
To God be the glory!
About the author:
Tom enjoys daily conversations regarding living out the Biblical Story with his wife Theresa and their four girls, around the block, at Elizabethtown Brethren in Christ Church (where he teaches adult electives and co-leads a small group), among healthcare professionals as the Northeast Regional Director for the Christian Medical & Dental Associations (CMDA), and in higher ed as a volunteer with the Emerging Scholars Network (ESN). For a number of years, the Christian Medical Society / CMDA at Penn State College of Medicine was the hub of his ministry with CMDA. Note: Tom served with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship / USA for 20+ years, including 6+ years as the Associate Director of ESN. He has written for the ESN blog from its launch in August 2008. He has studied Biology (B.S.), Higher Education (M.A.), Spiritual Direction (Certificate), Spiritual Formation (M.A.R.), Ministry to Emerging Generations (D.Min.). To God be the glory!