He wrote in the Introduction to this 2008 book, “I have written this book for the world, but its immediate audience is America, especially religious America and the church in America, and particularly the American evangelical Christian church. It is about globalization and how it is bring about an end in history that no one in the early 1990s cold imagine. It is not so much about the clash of civilizations as it is about a ‘clash of revelations’… and what that means for this unique postmodernist moment that we are experiencing.” (Pg. 17)
He explains, “The adjective ‘postmodern’… has reflected a mood brewing for almost two generations that a once-triumphal secular West, with its mission to modernize the rest of the planet, has been unraveling, if not in its ability to protect its money and its might, then at least in its self-confidence about what it ultimately stands for… Our postmodern era also signals the arrival of a POST-WESTERN era. But ‘post-Western’ does not necessarily mean that the heritage of the West has sunk into the shadows. Much of the globe has now absorbed that heritage… the decline of the West will likely lead to a new world that remains Western in character, though no longer in name… [Christianity] is both outlasting the West and undergoing a dramatic GLOBAL metamorphosis. This change is due not so much to the abiding influence of the West as to the mysterious power of Christ---what we really mean by ‘GloboChrist’---that has been subtly shaping and directing human history toward its consummation throughout the ages and, theologically speaking, is traceable back to the promise given to Abraham.” (Pg. 18)
He observes, “Christianity is no longer merely a Western phenomenon but is instead a global one. As Christians we are all now part of a new body of Christ, the ‘GloboChrist.’ GloboChristianity is the decisive trend of the late postmodern era that is sweeping us beyond the postmodern… global Christians are laying down their lives---as Jesus called them to do---for fellow believers in the most extreme situations. The issue is not whether one should go to church anymore, or whether the church is ‘relevant’; it is about whether one can go to church without being imprisoned, beaten, or tortured.” (Pg. 23-24)
He notes, “There are three essential characteristics of what we must recognize as global postmodern Christianity: decentralization, deinstitutionalization, and indigenization… By ‘indigenization’ we mean a process by which… universal concepts are intelligible only if they are understood in light of specific circumstances… [Gilles] Deleuze insists that the basic notion of universally valid ‘scientific’ concepts… distorts the underlying laws of language and meaning by which people actually communicate and agree with one another. Accord to Deleuze, meaning or signification is located in the singularity of the event.” (Pg. 39)
He argues, “One of the current buzzwords … of the new and improved postmodern church is the adjective ‘missional’. These days every Christian community that wants in some legitimate sense to be ‘au courant’ is beginning to define itself with this very adjective… Is it not more than a little ironic, however, that churches in the postmodern---or post-Christendom---world should have to mold themselves as ‘missional’ at all? In its historic sweep Christianity has always been missional. The command to make disciples, routinely confuse in evangelical circles with planting churches, is seamlessly stitched with the command to love one’s neighbor as oneself. Discipling shows what God’s love in the person of Jesus, who is the Christ, is really all about.” (Pg. 62-63)
He asserts, “To be a Christian is not simply to believe in the divinity of Jesus or to subscribe to a certain set of doctrines… It is both to reveal Christ in who we are and to see the face of Christ in those we encounter. That is incarnational Christianity in the lived, not just the dogmatic, sense. It is what we ultimately mean by the GloboChrist, the Christ that is in us, and through us, and with us, and for us, the God who is simultaneously in immanent and transcendent relation with us.” (Pg. 65)
He points out, “as we are now seeing, globalization is not necessarily equivalent to Westernization. In fact, as the surge in Islamic sentiment and the leftward political tilting of Latin America indicates, globalization is intimately bound up in some quarters with anti-Westernization… This counterpunch has been struck not so much by political or economic means and rhetoric as through religion.” (Pg. 77) Later, he adds, “The only way Christianity can hope to succeed against Islam in today’s global context is to put aside the secularist project altogether… Christianity today must become far more radical than it has ever imagined.” (Pg. 114)
He outlines, “What would a reinvented, postmodern, global evangelical Christianity look like in broad outline? The four R’s of becoming a Christ-follower heeding the call of the Great Commission in a globopomo cosmopolis are as follows: radical, relational, revelatory, and rhizomic. RADICAL: … Jesus was a radical because his extremism stemmed from a fundamental, or ‘root’ … commitment to what God had revealed in his word, or instruction (torah) to his people… RELATIONAL: … As Christians we are called to reveal who Christ is… In every day and every way, the Christian life amounts to a radical relationality, a readiness to reveal who God is while ‘being Jesus’ to others when the occasion arises… REVELATORY: … The radical relationality of the gospel summons has its own backup in the revelatory intensity of globo-electric communications processes. GloboChrist… emerges as a set of passionate one-on-one, microresponses to the revelatory character of the Christian message in its complete kinesthetic setting and to its incarnation in the relational matrix of marriages, families, and friends. RHIZOMIC: … Deleuze introduces the notion of the rhizome to counteract Western thought’s fixed idea of reality as a book to be read… A radical rhizomic relationality that is revelatory of who God in Christ truly is… gives us a broad theological inking of what amounts to the body of Christ in the modern cosmopolis.” (Pg. 116-123)
He suggests, “Discipleship is no longer linear but radial… thus is our love for one another as true disciples we are manifesting the radical, rhizomic, relational, and revelatory power of Christ himself. We are no longer simply Christ’s ‘followers’ … but also perpetual Christ incarnators … We are Christs to one another! We are harbingers of the eschaton, when Christ through us will become ‘all in all.’” (Pg. 133)
He concludes, “The globochurch of the GloboChrist is the presence of the Christ in the true and unshakeable communio where we are all Christs to one another. If in that community we are Christs to one another, then we are on the way to becoming authentically the church of the consummation, which reaches its own eschatological fulfillment when Christ comes. There is no power in this world… that can prevent a second coming, the advent of the GloboChrist in this momentous sense.” (Pg. 169)
This is a thought-provoking study of globalization and its implications for Christianity, that will be of great interest to anyone (particularly Evangelicals) studying such matters.
The central question to Raschke's missio-logical book is: "How is the task of the Great Commission, a missional task given by Christ to all his subsequent disciples, to be carried out in postmodern culture?" Raschke delineates the context of `globalization' that we are situated in, specifying several meanings to the slippery term, and ultimately identifies it as inherent to the definition of `postmodern'. He then discusses the transformation of Christianity due to the effects of globalization, a transformation that is seen in the characteristics of decentralization, de-institutionalization, and indigenization. Raschke employs Deleuze's concept of 'rhizome' to describe the structure, growth and manifestation of global-Christianity.
The challenges that Raschke believes are posed to Christianity in the globalization processes are consumerism, the mutation of Christianity into mass-market commodity, and radical Islamism. Rashcke believes that the clash between Christianity and radical Islamism should be not be seen as simply a battle between political libertarianism and fundamentalist totalitarianism, but is rather a clash of revelations, specifically on how the two interpret the promises to Abraham and how eschatology will play out: either Mahdi or Messiah.
What Raschke offers as a responding strategy to the challenges for the global-Christian body, the `GloboChrist' as he calls it, is to emphasize radically the aspect of relation and incarnation in the ontology and development of the church-body and in its missional praxis. He argues that it is best to understand ourselves as primarily relational beings, in that the Trinity is primarily relation between Father, Son and Spirit, and we are made imago dei. In our interaction and missional experience in the era of the postmodern, we are to indigenize, contextualize, or `incarnate', as patterned after the incarnation of Jesus and his kingdom/mission toward us. Raschke gives working and personal examples of churches that exemplify this strategy, such as social justice undertakings in Uganda and contextual ministry in Vienna, Austria.
I recommend this book for those who want to understand the implications of globalization on Christianity, and in particular the missiological aspect. Andrew Jones, aka `Tall Skinny Kiwi', wrote that "this book sums that this book sums up the postmodern European challenge and the church's response better than anything out there right now."
Dr. Carl Raschke (Harvard PhD) has written an outstanding book that reads like a personal manifesto of rhizomic encounters. Using the rhizomic philosophical concept of Gilles Deleuze, turning it on its head, and then applying it to Christian ministry, Raschke has challenged us all to think in a new way. His tracing of the global shift in Christian currents provide some of the most important work on this topic to date. This book is not as academic as "The Next Reformation," but makes up for it in readability and personalized narratives. I simply could not put it down, and read it in two sittings. This is the most important book on the Glocal (global/local) Christian movement written this year.