The following is from the blogpost “What Does it Mean to be Global?” by Dr Todd M. Johnson, professor of Global Christianity and Mission, Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary.
In the children’s book What Does It Mean to Be Global? Rana DiOrio explains that being global means…
- Being curious about other parts of the world.
- Recognizing that your language is just one of thousands spoken on earth.
- Listening to different kinds of music.
- Trying all types of food.
- Experiencing other traditions.
- Learning about other religions.
- Respecting that others may have different values than you do.
- Celebrating diversity in people.
- Understanding how your actions affect another person’s experience.
- Living respectfully and peaceably with one another.
- Opening your mind to new possibilities.
When it comes to the essentials of being global, this is great advice for people of all ages.
What about the global Christian family? Our global Christian family is defined by the interaction and sharing between different local forms of Christianity. Family tends to emphasize both commonality and difference:
- We are all related but not the same
- We are global and also local
- We are pilgrims in this world but also at home
Tensions between commonality and difference creates a dynamic that allows us to identify as Christians who are both global and local. Through this we see the beautiful creativity of God expressed differently in different cultures. Different worship, ways to serve, and even different theology. Yes – theology is different in different cultures.
According to Asbury Theological Seminary president Timothy Tennent, our Western systematic theology textbooks may seem tidy and comprehensive, but when carried overseas they reveal glaring weaknesses, shocking silences, and embarrassing gaps. One danger is that as Western theology continues to be the standard by which all other theologies are measured, emerging indigenous theologies will remain ancillary subsets, or what Catholic missiologist Robert Schreiter refers to as “hyphenated theologies.” Our hope would be that while different cultures emphasize different aspects of theology, there would be a meeting place for all in the global Christian family, a place not dominated by any one culture, particularly not by Western culture.
Challenging to you? Our God is a global God, he created the world, different people and cultures and is bigger and broader than our western centric thinking, and western theology.