Review: GloboChrist: The Great Commission Takes a Postmodern Turn by Carl Raschke
For many writers in the Missional movement, there is a lot of discussion regarding what is wrong with the church and they do not really offer a solution. Raschke builds an argument for a wonderful understanding of the new discipleship and ecclesiology of the future but then tears it down in the last chapters. Most of the discussion includes a denial or defense of every opinion and does not do a great job of finding a compromise.
In the first chapter, Globopomo, we get the definition of GloboChrist and an explanation of the postmodern church and the impact globalization has played on the structure and transformation of Christianity. Here he lists the first set of ideas that points us in a new direction. Raschke says that “global postmodern Christianity needs to be characterized by decentralization, deinstitutionalization and indigenization (understanding universal concepts in light of specific circumstances)” (p.39). While these topics are built during the next few chapters many side trips are taken that either support or distract from the discussion.
In the discussion of globalization, one of the driving points, that is often drowned in academic and philosophical ideas, is that “primary force driving Christian global expansion… is the relational power of the Gospel” (p. 43-44). This idea is supported by the fact that faith is something to be nurtured by a community. Raschke hits some very significant points here.
The next idea that is focused on is the fact that the church must be incarnational. For us as the church, we need to be “present in local situations and in the sensitive space of people’s daily lives” (p.48). He later describes incarnational ministry as being more than just present in life but to truly be Jesus to one another. From here, we hear a message of hope as we adventure into ideas of contextualization and mission.
Raschke then dives into this dance of ethics, theology, history and non-agreeable rhetoric that, for the most part, derails his main concept of mission as an incarnational ministry. It declines even further into a discussion of Islam that points towards the “radicalness” of the faith and politely compares it to fundamentalist Christians. He makes his point but it feels as if it was a bit overdone.
In chapter five, Radical Relationality, we are given insight into a guide for further discussion and action. “The four R’s of becoming a Christ-follower heeding the call of the Great Commission …: radical, relational, revelatory and rhizomic” (p.116). Radical in terms of “Jesus extreme actions that expose the root of all authentic religious language and behavior”. Relational as the “real and genuine goal” of our faith. Revelatory in the incarnational characteristics of relationships. Rhizomic (multiplication/growth and interconnectivity) by the means of “spreading out, withdrawing, splitting, segmenting, then re-forming” (p.116-123).
Through all the rhetoric, there are many gems of quotes and grand ideas that points Christianity towards a global yet local understanding of faith that demands our love for our neighbors. One of the defining lines for me was Raschke's take on discipleship: “Discipling demands discipline,... discipling requires a singular focus on relationships, relationships that incarnate the pure love of God for his fallen creatures, as shown on Calvary.”
In the last two chapters, there is a breakdown of progress and we turn towards a conversation on the eschaton which seems almost out of place. This almost seems like it is an insurance policy on the information portrayed and he even calls out practically every tradition in the Christian faith. I get lost in his sense of identity only to believe that he has an argument for any side of any discussion. He even calls out moderates in the claim that they can go either way depending on the wind of culture yet he maintains his stance on discipline for incarnational and relational ministry.
The book was a good read, overall, but if we turned downed the language and the massive bibliography, we might have actually achieved something. One wish that I have it that Raschke needs to be more focused on building from his argument and less on the tear-down of others’. I have taken many good ideas from this book and I hope that we can look into postmodern Christianity with a new light of discipleship, relationships and dedication to the Gospel.