Reviewed by Christopher Benson
The Messenger Is the Message
Revising Marshall McLuhan's claim that "the medium is the message," Raschke argues that the messenger (Christ) is the message. Living in the time between times, we are acting in the role of the messenger, as the mystic Teresa of Avila recorded in her prayer: "Christ has no body now but yours. No hands, no feet on earth but yours. Yours are the eyes through which he looks compassion on this world."
For his understanding of globalization in the light of the gospel, Raschke has drawn on a wide variety of sources: political scientist Benjamin Barber, historian Philip Jenkins, Middle Eastern scholar Bernard Lewis, and Pope Benedict XVI are represented here; so too the "ideological architect of jihadism," Sayyid Qutb, and political philosophers Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri. What emerges from these insights is an ominous feeling—related to "the looming clash … between the two historico-religious tectonic plates that comprise Christian and Islamic visions of justice and the end times"—and a "hope against hope" that behind the realities of globalization there is a mysterious power at work.
GloboChrist ought to be regarded as an essential postscript to Lesslie Newbigin's The Gospel in a Pluralistic Society. Raschke is at his best when he assumes the prophetic mantle, judging the Western evangelical church for "whoring after the false gods of spiritual and material consumption"; uncovering how the religious left is just "a fun-house mirror of the religious right"; questioning if Islamism is "an understandable reaction against the global overreach of the pax Americana"; chiding fundamentalists for idolatrously substituting an "eighteenth-century propositional rationality for the biblical language of faith"; pleading for the Emergent Village to stop replaying "the modernist-fundamentalist debates of a century ago"; and exhorting postmodern Christians to overcome their passivity and "privatized sentimentality" with a witness that possesses "the ferocity of the jihad and paradoxically also the love for the lost that Jesus demonstrated."
In the film Dogma, Cardinal Glick launches a campaign called "Catholicism Wow!" and replaces the wretched image of the crucifix with the happy-go-lucky image of Buddy Christ. Neither image will suit the future, only the powerful image of GloboChrist—who brings the "clash of revelations" to a fever pitch and who subverts the triumphal secularity of the West with the humble Christianity of the South.
Christopher Benson's reviews have appeared recently in Modern Reformation, The Christian Scholar's Review, and several other publications.
Copyright © 2009 by the author or Christianity Today/Books & Culture magazine.
Click here for reprint information on Books & Culture.