According to some Christian outlooks we were made for another world. Perhaps, rather, we were made for this world to recreate, reclaim, redeem, and renew unto God's future aspiration by the power of His Spirit. - R.E. Slater
Secularization theory has been massively falsified. We don't live in an age of secularity. We live in an age of explosive, pervasive religiosity... an age of religious pluralism. - Peter L. Berger
Exploring the edge of life and faith in a post-everything world. - Todd Littleton
I don't need another reason to believe, your love is all around for me to see. – anon
Thou art our need; and in giving us more of thyself thou givest us all. - Khalil Gibran, Prayer XXIII
Be careful what you pretend to be. You become what you pretend to be. - Kurt Vonnegut
Religious beliefs, far from being primary, are often shaped and adjusted by our social goals. - Jim Forest
People, even more than things, need to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone. – anon
Certainly God's love has made fools of us all. - R.E. Slater
An apocalyptic Christian faith doesn't wait for Jesus to come, but for Jesus to become in our midst. - R.E. Slater
Christian belief in God begins with the cross and resurrection of Jesus, not with rational apologetics. - Eberhard Jüngel, Jürgen Moltmann
Our knowledge of God is through the 'I-Thou' encounter, not in finding God at the end of a syllogism or argument. There is a grave danger in any Christian treatment of God as an object. The God of Jesus Christ and Scripture is irreducibly subject and never made as an object, a force, a power, or a principle that can be manipulated. - Emil Brunner
Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh means "I will be that who I have yet to become." - God (Ex 3.14)
Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. - Thomas Merton
The church is God's world-changing social experiment of bringing unlikes and differents to the Eucharist/Communion table to share life with one another as a new kind of family. When this happens we show to the world what love, justice, peace, reconciliation, and life together is designed by God to be. The church is God's show-and-tell for the world to see how God wants us to live as a blended, global, polypluralistic family united with one will, by one Lord, and baptized by one Spirit. – anon
The cross that is planted at the heart of the history of the world cannot be uprooted. - Jacques Ellul
The Unity in whose loving presence the universe unfolds is inside each person as a call to welcome the stranger, protect animals and the earth, respect the dignity of each person, think new thoughts, and help bring about ecological civilizations. - John Cobb & Farhan A. Shah
If you board the wrong train it is of no use running along the corridors of the train in the other direction. - Dietrich Bonhoeffer
God's justice is restorative rather than punitive; His discipline is merciful rather than punishing; His power is made perfect in weakness; and His grace is sufficient for all. – anon
Our little [biblical] systems have their day; they have their day and cease to be. They are but broken lights of Thee, and Thou, O God art more than they. - Alfred Lord Tennyson
We can’t control God; God is uncontrollable. God can’t control us; God’s love is uncontrolling! - Thomas Jay Oord
Life in perspective but always in process... as we are relational beings in process to one another so life events are in process in relation to each event... as God is to Self, is to world, is to us... like Father, like sons and daughters, like events... life in process yet always in perspective. - R.E. Slater

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Book Review: Carl Raschke's "GloboChrist" for all the Nations of the World!

Sadly, Raschke's predictions seem all too true in hindsight to America's 9/11 towers tragedy (2001) ten years ago, and more recently, the unrest and rock-throwing strife between Coptic Christians and Islamist during Eqypt's political turmoil and governmental change this past weekend (May 8, 2011).

I am also including a link to an article from R.E. Slater entitled "Pluralism, Tolerance and Accommodation" that seems a very practical application of Raschke's GloboChrist within the context of God's coming kingdom that is "here-but-not-yet" or "here-but-not-fully" in this age of the Church.



by R.E. Slater

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Baker Academics: The Church and Postmodern Culture
About the series: The Church and Postmodern Culture series features high-profile theorists in continental philosophy and contemporary theology writing for a broad, nonspecialist audience interested in the impact of postmodern theory on the faith and practice of the church.

Link to Baker's Academic Series here

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The Messenger Is the Message
How will you obey the Great Commission today?

by Carl Raschke

Reviewed by Christopher Benson
August 2008 pub. date

We roam the global village as Alice roamed the chessboard in Through the Looking-Glass: pawns bewildered at every turn. The word "postmodernism" appears backwards, like the poem "Jabberwocky." Even when we hold it up to a mirror, the concept remains slippery. Alice responds to the poem in the same way we respond to postmodernism: "Somehow it seems to fill my head with ideas—only I don't exactly know what they are! However, somebody killed something: that's clear, at any rate." Modernity, we surmise, was killed, and its murderers are still fugitives.

Carl Raschke is our Humpty Dumpty, perspicaciously interpreting the "postmodern moment" in GloboChrist, the third volume in Baker Academic's series, The Church and Postmodern Culture. Whereas the first two books in the series, James K. A. Smith's, Who's Afraid of Postmodernism? and John D. Caputo's, What Would Jesus Deconstruct?, offered textual exegesis of postmodern thinkers to correct stubborn misunderstandings and to show resonance with the Christian tradition, Raschke's book offers cultural exegesis to clarify the church's missional task in a global age. An early explorer of the intersection between Continental Philosophy and theology, author of The Next Reformation: Why Evangelicals Must Embrace Postmodernity, Raschke serves as chair of religious studies at the University of Denver.

While too many Christians are tiresomely proclaiming that they are pro- or anti-postmodernism, crudely defining the heterogeneous concept, Raschke steps out of the impasse by announcing what should be obvious: "a dramatic global metamorphosis." Instead of wrangling over the "uncounted usages and syntactical peculiarities" of a word, he rightly claims: "Becoming postmodern means that we all, whether we like it or not, are now going global, which is what that obscure first-century sect leader from Palestine [we know as Jesus] truly had in mind."

This book is directed to American evangelicals with the purpose of awakening them to "a pivot in world history that seems as unprecedented as the transformation of Caesar's realm during the first three centuries of the common era. That change came through the strange and distinctly un-Roman cult from Palestine centering on the crucifixion and resurrection of a mysterious nobody now known to history as Jesus of Nazareth."

Political scientists, cultural critics, economists, and sociologists have their own theories to account for today's change. Censuring the timidity of Western élites, Raschke asserts that the change agent is—hold your breath—Christ, who has been "subtly shaping and directing human history towards its consummation through the ages." After the Cold War, Raschke reminds us, futurists envisioned a "new neoliberal millennium" where peace, free markets, and technological progress would occasion worldwide democracy and prosperity. Unexamined ethnocentrism resulted in the prediction that Westernization would entail secularization. Today Francis Fukuyama and Thomas Friedman are eating humble pie. The world is not flat, but it is becoming anti-Western and post-secular. Raschke commends the dissenting foresight of French philosopher Jacques Derrida, who spoke about a "return of religion," and American political scientist Samuel Huntington, who posited the famous thesis about "the clash of civilizations." They helped reveal the "fraudulent utopianism" in the West.

Struggle—Raschke disconcertingly insists—will mark the future, not solidarity. Ethnic separatism, mass migration, feminism, gay liberation, economic oligarchy, Islamofascism, and genocide chasten our unbridled confidence, so much so that a recovering utopian like Richard Rorty confessed "it seems absurdly improbable that we shall ever have a global liberal utopia."

Globalization has a dual power to erode [as well as to] empower particular identities. The fall of Christendom in Europe and North America contrasts sharply with the rise of Christendom in China, Africa, India, and Latin America. The church is uniquely "glocal," simultaneously global and local.

Raschke observes three characteristics of GloboChristianity that buttress Protestantism more than Catholicism or Orthodoxy: decentralization, deinstitutionalization, and indigenization (the process by which the universal is comprehended in the particular). Remembering that "Incarnation is translation," in the words of missiologist Andrew Walls, we should not fear that indigenizing the gospel will relativize the gospel: "Christianity," Raschke maintains, "has no culture itself but belongs to all cultures.”

Obeying the Great Commission in the global cosmopolis does not involve a mission trip to "lost peoples at the margins of civilization"; the margins have become mainstream, while the mainstream has become marginalized. Nor does it involve sophisticated marketing campaigns. We make disciples of all nations as the pre-Constantinian church did in the face of "daunting and promiscuous pluralism":

  • through incarnational ministry, being "little Christs" to the neighbor;
  • through contextualization of the message, speaking the idiom of the neighbor;
  • and, through relevance, hearing the needs of the neighbor.

Carl Raschke
Raschke adds that relevance should not be confused with the prosperity gospel, "seeker-sensitive" ministry, the "hipper than thou" emergent church movement, the social gospel redux, or "bobo" (bohemian bourgeois) culture. Relevance is radical relationality.

Revising Marshall McLuhan's claim that "the medium is the message," Raschke argues that the messenger (Christ) is the message. Living in the time between times, we are acting in the role of the messenger, as the mystic Teresa of Avila recorded in her prayer: "Christ has no body now but yours. No hands, no feet on earth but yours. Yours are the eyes through which he looks compassion on this world."

For his understanding of globalization in the light of the gospel, Raschke has drawn on a wide variety of sources: political scientist Benjamin Barber, historian Philip Jenkins, Middle Eastern scholar Bernard Lewis, and Pope Benedict XVI are represented here; so too the "ideological architect of jihadism," Sayyid Qutb, and political philosophers Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri. What emerges from these insights is an ominous feeling—related to "the looming clash … between the two historico-religious tectonic plates that comprise Christian and Islamic visions of justice and the end times" — and a "hope against hope" that behind the realities of globalization there is a mysterious power at work.

GloboChrist ought to be regarded as an essential postscript to Lesslie Newbigin's The Gospel in a Pluralistic Society. Raschke is at his best when he assumes the prophetic mantle, judging the Western evangelical church for:

  • "whoring after the false gods of spiritual and material consumption";
  • uncovering how the religious left is just "a fun-house mirror of the religious right";
  • questioning if Islamism is "an understandable reaction against the global overreach of the pax Americana";
  • chiding fundamentalists for idolatrously substituting an "eighteenth-century propositional rationality for the biblical language of faith";
  • pleading for the Emergent Village to stop replaying "the modernist-fundamentalist debates of a century ago"; and,
  • exhorting postmodern Christians to overcome their passivity and "privatized sentimentality" with a witness that possesses "the ferocity of the jihad and paradoxically also the love for the lost that Jesus demonstrated."

In the film Dogma, Cardinal Glick launches a campaign called "Catholicism Wow!" and replaces the wretched image of the crucifix with the happy-go-lucky image of Buddy Christ. Neither image will suit the future, only the powerful image of GloboChrist—who brings the "clash of revelations" to a fever pitch and who subverts the triumphal secularity of the West with the humble Christianity of the South.


Christopher Benson's reviews have appeared recently in Modern Reformation, The Christian Scholar's Review, and several other publications. Copyright © 2009 by the author or Christianity Today International/Books & Culture magazine.

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