• Our hope-filled future is bound up in sharing the story of Jesus, in discipling others, in bringing those disciples together into communities of believers, and in developing and releasing those believers to create other communities... till Jesus the King comes again!

Global Realities tWo

In his book, The Meeting of the Waters, Fritz Kling outlines seven global currents that he believes impact missional work in our world today.  Here’s a brief description of each one:

Younger people of faith around the world increasingly demonstrate their love for Christ and others by serving – by feeding the hungry, addressing AIDS, rescuing girls sold in slavery, saving the earth, and much more.

While the West was previously the center of worldwide “Christendom,” now Christians from countries all around the world have the education, access, resources, and confidence to take leadership.

People everywhere are on the move, to meet economic needs, flee repression or combat, seek freedom or asylum, etc.  Missions used to be from the west to the rest, but now it’s “everywhere to everywhere.”

Pervasive brands, celebrities, and fads, are spreading around the globe, and values and worldviews are spreading too.  In the global youth culture, kids in Cape Town and Shenyang often have more in common with kids in Nairobi or L.A. than with their own parents.

The pace of technological change is stunning, rendering old approaches ineffective or obsolete.  From evangelism to discipleship to disaster relief, technology offers exciting new opportunities for Christian workers.

Some experts say that the world is “flattening” and that differences are lessening.  Actually, the internet and other media are providing more opportunities and tools for division.  Christians will need, more than ever, to be reconciliers in a polarizing world.

Even in the face of so many world-changing trends, every country, region and village has its own “backstory.”  Christian workers must be alert to historical events which shape a people’s receptivity or resistance to the gospel today.

It is not my objective to get everyone to agree with what Fritz Kling has written.  However, these global currents should cause us to stop and prayerfully reflect on our world, and the tremendous changes that are occurring.

In light of those reflections, we will need to define broad based solutions or strategies that will allow us to proactively respond to those global currents we perceive impact our work.  These fresh approaches then will frame our ministries as we move into the future.

As we journey forward, this global conversation and our prayers become more and more essential to discerning God’s will together.


One Response

  1. Kling’s insights are extremely helpful. However, there is one significant trend that is growing rapidly in global dimensions that he does not treat in a adequate way. Michael Pocock, Gailyn Van Rheenen & Doug McConnell in their book The Changing Face of World Missions calls it “Religionquake.” This movement has and will have, I believe, great impact on world missions. It is related to several of Kling’s trends but not dealt with specifically in spite of its importance.

    Two streams have come together to produce a rapidly growing global religious movement that intersects in to some degree with all the other global trends. It is the convergence of postmodernism with the worship of the creation and the creature in place of the Creator in a new way. The trend outlined by Paul in Romans 1: 18 – 32 has been a reality since the fall in the Garden of Eden but has been manifested in different ways in different ages. Postmodernism while denying any metanarratives that would be a basis from propositional truth claims have one metanarratives that is they have largely “…exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator.” The new religious trend is that all is one; therefore, there is not any distinction between the Creator and the creation. They have largely adopted a pantheist worldview.

    Mark C. Taylor, a postmodern deconstructionist professor at Williams College, foresees the twenty-first century as dominated by religion in ways that were inconceivable just a few years ago. Part of the reason for rebirth of religion is that Postmodernism has shown atheism to be irrational and ignorant. Atheism is in decline worldwide, whereas forms of spirituality are rising to take its place. You see this in the political realm; Marxist regimes have disappeared, leaving a void that spirituality is filling.

    How does this religious trend manifest itself? Dr. Peter Jones, professor at Westminster Seminary and former missionary in France, points out in his book, One or Two, 2010, that:
    • If all is one, the Goddess Nature (often called Mother Nature) should be worshiped.
    • If all is one, animals are “divine” just like mankind and all else that exist both visible and invisible, which leads to the radical position taken by animal rights groups like Peta.
    • If all is one, the earth, its resources and all vegetation is to be worshiped, which to a large degree contributes to hysteria and extremes related to the “Green” movement.
    • If all is one, then all is god, which leads to the rapidly growing neo-paganism and the global growth of Eastern religions.
    • If all is one, there is not any distinction of gender; therefore, homosexuality, same sex marriage, etc. are not only normal relationships but also a superior way of life. The practice of homosexuality is a high form of spirituality. Also there cannot be any distinction in gender roles leading to radical feminism.
    This list could continue but this is enough to illustrate this strong religious trend.

    Peter Jones continues “Belief in nature as God is evident in ‘hard core’ paganism, but polytheism and animism share belief in a primary animating force, in which even Albert Einstein placed his faith. It is astonishing to see how strongly classic Eastern religion and modern liberal ‘Christian’ thinking are inspired by the same basic belief ‘Christian-Feminist’ theologian, Rosemary Radford Ruether recommends the worship of pagan goddesses as more beneficial to women than Christianity. She prefers ‘the nature and fertility religions’ of paganism, including the worship of Baal. ‘Christian’ bishop, John Shelby Spong, describes God not as an external, supernatural being who rules humanity, but as the power of love flowing through everything.”

    This new trend of spirituality resulting from the confluence of postmodernism and the rejection of the distinction between the creator and the creation has a worldview that embraces one or more of the following points:
    • The earth is sacred, and so is everything which lives in or upon it,
    • Everything is alive and has spirit,
    • Everything is related,
    • It is vital to connect with others through group ritual,
    • You can experience Spirit directly and with joy.

    Some of the common practices in this new spirituality trend are:
    • Breathing techniques (that produce “non-ordinary states of consciousness…to unleash the inner healer within the psyche”);
    • Sound technologies (drumming, rattling, use of sticks, bells and gongs, music, chanting, mantras);
    • Dancing (Sufi whirling dervishes, or Bushmen trance dancing)’
    • Social isolation and sensory deprivation (vision quest, desert or cave isolation);
    • Sensory overload (super physical stimuli, extreme pain);
    • Physiological means (sleep or food deprivation, purgatives, laxatives, blood-letting);
    • Meditation, prayer (Hatha, Kundalini or Tantric yoga, “Christian” mysticism, exercises of Ignatius Loyola);
    • Psychedelic stimulation (hashish, pleyote, LSD).

    Irving Hexham, professor of religious studies, and Karala Poewe, professor of anthropology, both at the University of Calgary in Canada present in their book, New Religions as Global Cultures: Making the Human Sacred (1997), the same basis thesis as stated above showing its impact on cultures throughout the world.

    This new spirituality is very syncretistic as illustrated by a the teachings of McLaren, leader of the extreme wing of the Emergent Church movement, that the missional goal of the church is not to make Christians out of Buddhists but to make Buddhist followers of Jesus. (A Generous Orthodoxy, 2004, p 264.)

    The core moral value of those in this new religious trend generally speaking is tolerance. They are tolerant of all spiritual movements except the belief in the distinction between the Creator and the creation.

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