The Gospel and Globalisation

November 03, 2011

Image from Wiki Commons
We live in age experiencing extraordinary changes in technology, cultural diversity, the spread of some dominant languages and the loss of others, constantly changing nation states, and shifts in global wealth and power. Increased human mobility and dramatic transformations in communication technology have helped to create a growing sense that people can no longer restrict their citizenship to the town, region or even nation. The impact of globalisation means that even if we never venture beyond the borders of our birthplace, the world will increasingly find its way to our doors. This is an age in which traditional limitations on citizenship and responsibility to others are being questioned.

There is a growing recognition of our status as global citizens and, of the new challenges and opportunities this brings. Recent events in the Middle East where citizens have risen up against dictatorial regimes have, in their own way, shown that it is impossible to shut out the world. These events demonstrate that nations now find it harder to close their borders to the scrutiny of others; social media alone offer amazing opportunities for citizens to be connected with others globally and the ideas and expectations of their nations.
In 2010 we devoted an issue of Case magazine (#22) to the theme 'God Beyond Borders'. The writers we chose brought a range of theological and other disciplinary approaches to bear on the problems of life and the overlapping of local, global, national, and international spheres. The various articles in composite helped us to make sense of the growing complexity of our roles as global citizens and nations.

In one of these articles, 'The Gospel and Globalisation', Erin Glanville examined globalisation in the light of the gospel. She rejected a narrow conception of globalisation that focuses primarily on economic concerns and, drew our attention to its power for good in the connections and interdependence it allows between people and cultures. She argued that this globalisation touches every area of human existence, from the social and political, to the judicial, aesthetic, and religious. However, the latter is almost completely lacking from contemporary considerations of globalisation. However, religious faith is not just another factor that sits alongside others; it has a formative and unifying power for those who believe. Such an understanding should move Christians to reconsider their engagement with the world. In the article she suggests:
“If Christians want to live faithfully in the world they need to ask: What time is it? Where are we at in our culture’s story? What are the most powerful dynamics and forces that are shaping our world today? Perhaps three words begin to answer these questions—at least for those of us living in the West: globalisation, postmodernity, and consumerism.” 

Glanville argues that the message of Christ offers a comprehensive understanding of the world, its history and God's purpose for our future. Jesus’ invitation to repent and believe in her words is a "...summons to accept his remarkable claims and to inhabit the world of the biblical narrative as the true story of the world. It is an appeal to take the person and work of Jesus Christ as the fundamental clue for interpreting the rest of the world."

With the gospel as her starting point, she asks readers to consider three key questions:
1. How is this dynamic of globalisation rooted in God’s intent and design for creation and for history?
2. How has globalisation been corrupted by human rebellion, and cultural development twisted by idolatry sometimes of a technological or economic type?
3. In light of the hope we have in the promised final restoration, are the processes of globalisation, as they exist today open to healing and renewal?

If you'd like to read more of this article, you can download it HERE.

You can also read my previous introduction to the whole issue of Case #22 HERE

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