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Carl Raschke: GloboChrist

Carl Raschke, GloboChrist: The Great Commission Takes a Postmodern Turn (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2008), 175 pages.

Raschke adds another voice to the conversation on postmodernity and the church, which draws the reader deeper, demonstrating and attempting to comprehend the furthering complexity of the postmodern worldview. There is no simple or simplistic definition. Ironically, Raschke posits that we may be beyond postmodernity and into something like a “post-postmodern” era. Whether this helps or hinders our comprehension remains to be seen. Regardless, it remains subjective to define the philosophical era that we are currently standing in the midst of, because we cannot see or foresee with unfailing certainty. Therefore, Raschke gives the reader one more point of observation through the lens of this book.

GloboChrist is the third contribution in a series on the Church and Postmodern Culture, edited by James K. A. Smith. The thesis of GloboChrist stems from the “growing anxiety over … globalization and the political, cultural, and religious upheavals that arise in” the wake of twenty-first century postmodernity (19). Raschke summed this book with one of his critiques of fundamentalism; they seem to be “defending the gospel against the ‘heresy’ of postmodernism – as if postmodernism were a statement of faith” (156). The process that Raschke uses follows the patterns of decentralization, de-institution, and indigenization, through the biological metaphor of a rhizome type of a root. The bulk of his argument points to the growing conflict between Islam and Christianity, which stem from competing and conflicting “divine” revelation and eschatology. Raschke has not been shy about assailing all participants in the postmodern conversation, through the academic and prophetic challenges to what he sees as a naive or conservative hermeneutic of scripture.

Carl Raschke (PhD, Harvard University) is professor and chair of the department of religious studies at the University of Denver, where he has taught since 1984. In addition, he serves as an adjunct faculty member at Mars Hill Graduate School and is the author or editor of twenty books.

Raschke engages the tenets of Derrida with an affirmation that postmodernity is more than deconstruction. He confronts the arrogance of the Western Church and culture for the assumption of exporting ideologies. He concurs with Deleuze, who chides the universality of the signs of communication and he agrees with Wittgenstein’s approach to language and linguistic analysis. Contrary to the doomsday naysayers, Raschke posits that the spiritual emptiness of the post-Christian Europe landscape readily fosters an openness to the Christian message. Additionally, Raschke engages Barth, Bonhoeffer, and Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI) several times in seemingly random places – thus following a truly postmodern format of writing.

Perhaps the most engaging conversation within this book is within the religious context of drawing parallels between Islam, Christianity, and Judaism. Raschke boils these differences down to a conflict of revelation between all of the children of Abraham. Ultimately, he points to the arrogance of Western Christianity as the weak-point of the argument. Raschke sees these culminating in the eschatological stance of Islam and Christianity, even through the Muslim’s expectation of the return of Christ (Premillennial Dispensationalism) and the return of the Mahdi, who will instruct and correct the errors of the Christianity and Judaism.

The concluding chapter has an academic disclaimer in its title, which seems to give Raschke permission to freely express his opinions without restraint. R. Scott Smith and John MacArthur take a few heavy hits as Raschke criticizes their worldview and McLaren is chided for having a Burger King form of Christianity. In closing, Raschke draws Bonhoeffer onto his side for support, finding comfort in his supposed postmodern and global postmodernity.

Reviewed by John R. Miller

This review originally published to the Pneuma Foundation In Depth Resources index February 28, 2009.

Publisher’s page:

Read the 2009 interview between Raschke and the Evangelical Philosophical Society:

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Category: Fall 2015, In Depth

About the Author: John R. Miller is an ordained minister with Elim Fellowship of Lima, NY and serves as Pastor of Education with Living Word Temple of Restoration, Rochester, NY. He has a degree from Elim Bible Institute, a B.Div. (Trinity Theological Seminary), C.P.E. (University of Rochester), M.Div. (Northeastern Seminary), and Ph.D. (Regent University). He teaches at Regent University and Elim Bible Institute & College.

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