by Metropolitan Dr. Paul (Yazigi) of Aleppo
Dean, St. John of Damascus Institute of Theology, University of Balamand
Table of Contents
1. Introduction — Definition — Its Beginning and Motivation
The following pages present a short research depicting an approach to make the issue of Globalization more comprehensible. What is Globalization, and what domains does it cover? What kind of role does Theology or Christian Thought play towards it? How can we examine it from a Biblical perspective? Is this a new challenge or a threat? Or could it be transformed into a tool for evangelism? How could this be so?
Globalization means, in brief, making the whole world a small village. For some it is building up an "united universal empire." Another point of view takes this word to mean overcoming the old obstacles of nationality, demography and geography, and dealing universally without limiting boundaries. It also means the freedom of communication in all domains in the world. As for the source of this world movement, it is a part of our world, North America.
In its universality, globalization depends on economy and media, using advanced technological networks that have expanded in the world without any objections or boundaries, languages or politics. It is like water running in the bosom of the earth taking its paths, unaffected with undulations on the surface.
Globalization apparently emerged as an economic necessity. It was also a tool through which advanced technologies could be introduced and improve civilizations. Advanced technologies became the only means of communication without which man or society feels "outside" the world.
Globalization, as it appears to be at first sight, is a movement resulting from the daily need of people in general to deal with an advanced, integrated and all-inclusive economy. For example, the products of any important company become instantly known and exposed for sale throughout the world. We can also estimate the benefit for the buyer and seller, and how a competitive spirit improves on quality of products and lowering prices. This need seeks to overpass languages, boundaries, nationalities and the like. The world is one market full of opportunities and open to all for shopping. The modern technological tools make this need a reality. There are no objections, rather there is a preference to shop through the internet instead of traveling long distances. Many years are not enough time to visit the shopping centers we see in few minutes on the Internet.
As a result, all peoples and nations became convinced of the necessity to go beyond the classical and limited existing economic patterns. The motive here is the optimum use of the buying power of money. So the real motive is "profit" regardless of how some may assess this motive. Commerce and economy cannot bear social, national or religious bonds any more. A product is to be sold with the best price, without any social, national or religious bonds. The condition for dealing with each other is money, and the purpose is limited to "profit or gain." Commerce, trade, and shopping do not have social or moral aspects any more.
Until now, the strongest economic forces in the world at the threshold of the New Millenium are the United States of America and Europe. North America is followed by South America along with Japan and China, the countries who are still searching for their independent identity. Europe has eliminated most of its taxes in order to build an economy with no boundaries within this continent. All these economic trends have positive economic impact on some and negative on others.
This liberal economy and free trade without any old restrictions accepted or imposed, will bring about a new way of dealing with each other, among peoples, countries or nationalities. It will not only affect their economy but also their relationships and their lives. The globalization of economy through modern technological means does not intend at all to limit those international relationships only in the field of buying and selling, for the buyer and seller are always connected to each other. The economic matters are the factors that give life its taste for man, not only in its material dimensions, but also in its spiritual one.
The acceptance of globalization as a material important necessity is not a bad matter at all. On the contrary it brings to us new developments that are worth studying and examining.
Economic globalization -which is not our main subject in this study- was the first to introduce to the world new and fast means of international communications. These means did not remain limited to commercial use, but also became the means and marketplace for trading ideas and modern exchange of ideas instead of products.
This movement was accompanied by other movements of globalization in the military field. The Russian communism that tried to reach Europe and invade the Third World and Africa did not succeed. The current situation however affirms the success of one new regime. The end of the military balance in the world and the disappearance of poles and equal powers and the appearance of one country take us back to the old history when few countries endeavored to build one empire.
The economic globalization has been used as a purpose or as a cause to globalize the empire. The economic globalization (that was used as a tool) was not separate from military and intellectual globalization.
It will be wrong if we study globalization from our angle. Military and economic and cultural powers in the world were never separate. Perhaps they always remain one a tool for the other. A separate study of one section of each of these three globalizations will not lead to a correct study of the present situation.
For large countries, the presence of military poles means contesting the economic market. At the same time, it means hindrance to religious thoughts and the like.
This economic globalization led to guided military thought and to a new and important cultural obligation. This all has no relation to buying and selling in the life of man.
2. The Problem: Theology, Globalization and Challenges
In this, it is necessary that theology intervenes, since it is the primal thought that ought to react to matters that touch upon the life of man. Its function is not to talk about economy or to guide military paths, but to define the general philosophy of every economy and military globalization and the like, so that no harm affects the life of man. Instead, its function is to be the cause of man's prosperity according to the evangelical vision of man. We cannot leave alone this blind universal power that views things in the eyes of profit and gain to control and guide the future of humanity. According to our faith, there is a purpose and a goal set for man, guiding every development in economy or other field. The mind needs to direct the ways of dealing with the needs in order to keep and preserve the human goals and worth.
In our days, the focus is on economy to the point of forgetting the importance of education. Therefore there is a great and pressing need for cultural awareness. There is a special need for theological and pastoral studies, which cares for building man's personality. Our present life is full of examples about youth who speak five languages and hold many degrees but are in need of correct ways of dealing with, listening to and respecting others, and humanness.
The scientific and technological advancement does not necessarily imply civilization! Teaching and education have long been connected together. It is regretful, however, that sometimes knowledge is connected only to technology. Scientific knowledge is a tool that magnifies man's internal civilization and education. In Sweden, for example, its citizens live an almost ideal life in terms of high levels of economy, science and health care the country provides. Life is easy, yet it has the largest number of suicide cases. Doesn't this situation make us wonder? There are important matters in our contemporary life that the economic and political globalization did not take into account. Our present situation proves to us that there are values that cannot be forgotten, such as happiness, soul, civilization, tradition, human relationships, etc.
The question is how can Orthodoxy and Theology deal with all these problems? Or is their specialty the exegesis of old and inherited texts? It is not hidden from us that Theology is for many just a science that deals with "formulae" of faith and "traditions." In the best cases Theology is to preserve the "doctrines," while for others it is the development of "Tradition!" All these are "religious" views to Theology and do not encompass it, but rather describe some of its activities. Sometimes it does so in a disfiguring way. The Tradition that we inherited from the Fathers and we preserve is "the life of man." The essence of this life in the Holy Spirit does not change, but its ways and expressions change. What we received from the Tradition is "Let Thy Kingdom come," and what changes is the tool to achieve this, in addition to the languages.
For many, religion is connected to the past, which contains some things beautiful and other things old-fashioned! For these people, globalization is a challenge to religion that resembles the matters of facing the development and underdevelopment, improvement and stagnancy. These people fall in a fallacy resembling that aforementioned about religion. The fallacy is the contradiction between Faith and Science. We often heard about their contractions, and many needed a long time to understand that each one of Faith and Science has it own field and Science after all does not negate Faith. It is as if we mean by religion, the science of myth, and by Science, the domain of truth. In reality, this is reversed for Christianity. Science is the collection of hypotheses and it can sometimes contain myths and mistakes. Those who are well rounded in Science acknowledge this. As a divine revelation, Religion, more specifically Christianity, is the truth.
Today we talk about globalization, and the Christian opinion about it falls into a similar fallacy. There are reasons for this to happen, sometimes the reasons are the "religiousness" of theologians. We hear and read most of the opinions that often seem to be aggressive, rejecting and not approving, and in best cases, very cautious towards globalization.
For theology, globalization is a natural movement, and the theological issue in this movement is the preservation of the value of man. Theology sees inevitable the scientific, economic and social development. Development occurs as a result of man having the image of God in him. The theological issue is about having every advancement for the good of humanity and for every person.
Therefore, we believe that the theological analysis of this issue is based on the following:
1. Theology and Economic Globalization
What are the principles or aspects that Theology seeks to guide and preserve? What are the inquiries of Theology about these principles and what does it say about them?
The first important issue is the value of man. This ought not to go below the place the Creator designed for man. We ought to preserve man as a person. Considering profit a reason and a goal of the universal economy is a destructive starting point at the expense of people's lives. It cares for the self-interests but does not care for human relationships. Man has a great value as "he is." Profit does not look for the value of man other than from the side of what man owns! Man is loftier than any product, and his value is the goal of all economy.
After this, it is hoped that economic globalization will bring about more job opportunities and a fair and humane distribution of gifts, with no ethnic, skin color, or religious hindrance. Here, it is inevitable to point out the information driven from some reports which say that globalization has put all the international stock exchange business in the hands of six people. Globalization is not development if the poor become poorer and rich wealthier. At that time, wealth does not become global, but people and the world becomes an arena under the tyranny of a few.
Like other matters, globalization is a two-edged sword: it can bring benefit or harm! Globalization must insure the rights of man and an honorable life to all people. It is inevitable that some of that happens and there are noteworthy attempts to do that. We, however, will not be exaggerating if we say that there is a danger rising from the many greater attempts to do the opposite. Here lies the importance of education, awareness and guidance. The most important thing is to keep the humanitarian spirit the first in the world, and that philosophy of globalization be "man" and not "force."
Overstepping national, religious, and other frameworks and the use of the technological tools lead slowly but surely to dealing with each other on the basis of profit, without taking into account the social aspects of trade and its moral and spiritual dimension. Man will be dealt with as an influential producer rather than a social person. Even if the ways of commercial and economic trade have changed, we need to keep the spirit in the new ways, whatever they are. A piece of merchandise has no spirit in itself, but what is important is how to deal with others.
Driving the universal economy from one center is not less dangerous than the absence of political or military balance. Some people or developing countries can, for some political reasons they define, extend loans to help lesser developed countries of their choice. Therefore, they can hide behind the globalization which is based on going beyond all ethnic or racial boundaries.
When profit controls the path of economy, then relationships will definitely be colored with deceit, in addition to exploitation to the level of tyranny. What is noticeable in many cases is that subjugation is the language that comes to place while the economic ways are controlled.
In the end, can economic globalization become a just way for distributing the goods of this world to all, or an exploitative way to drive all the goods of the world exclusively to some?
2. Theology and Cultural Globalization
The cultural globalization, which uses the same means of economic globalization, is not less important than the latter. It rather has more importance.
The first question we ask is, "What about customs, habits, traditions, religions and all other local art?" Contemporary man lives in the smallest village and is following, in detail, the events happening in the largest cities of the world. Man is following the development of thought, culture and even clothing. What is the future of local matters?
Will globalization respect these colors and small regions in the world? What are the reactions of the peoples and nationalities facing the rise of an all-sweeping Western civilization? What is, in essence, the awaited result from East meeting West? The old religious disputes were not differences in interpretation. The truth of faith is one, but the existence of many differing interpretations is the result of the presence of various backgrounds. The East and the West are different in many ways. What would be the product of their mixture?
Globalization, in its thought, respects languages, traditions, and all that is local, and all religions! However, what is the meaning of "respect"? Does this mean that it allows for them to remain if they can? Or does it mean that it will not attack them, but will not cease to compete against them? What is the destiny of all these cultures (and their elements such as arts, language, traditions, etc.) facing this universal civilization? It may be the norm of life that whatever is weak dies away and whatever is strong remains, according to its strength.
Are we in a "dialogue of civilizations" or "struggle of civilizations"? Or are we in an "epic of civilizations" in the ways and the mediums of globalization?
We ought to confess that opportunities are wide open for all to contribute in creating the new color of cultural globalization. Conversely, we need to say that there are beautiful, unique, rare, and very interesting colors in the world, which were not given a just and equal chance in this tough exchange. The danger here lies in allowing for the words of Karl Marx to be realized. The latter said that the general thoughts of society are the thoughts of the ruling social class, regardless of whether these thoughts are right or good. This class has the tools to spread its thought at the expense of another beauty that was not given a chance to appear.
Does cultural globalization mean that the allowance of every religion or denomination, color or art to exist is nothing but allowing one to commit suicide since the tools of life and existence for one is withdrawn from one and given to another? Is there a focus on a "respectful research" on all the beauties in the world and in each and every corner so that all may contribute equally and freely in forming a universal civilization? Or is there an allowance for all to share in a civilized combat and the result is defined by the law of the strong?
The economic and military force (the thought of the ruling class) often wins at the expense of the cultural force. Will cultural globalization be a victim or a product of military and economic globalization?
The second question we ask about cultural globalization is, "What is the destiny of the mix between East and West?"
There are important Christian characteristics that found in the East the haven and the hiding place throughout human history. Some of these characteristics are:
What would the West say about the notions and backgrounds it became accustomed to in its own structure, not just the dogmatic notions but also the ones about life? The dogmas came affected by these backgrounds, which we list below:
How will those two worlds fraternize peacefully together? Will the western legal loftiness accept to dialogue with the humble language of the heart and beauty that exist in the East? Or is it going to deal with it through the principles of melting and containment? Will the Western grandeur in the world of globalization accept the humble tenderness of Eastern beauty? Will the Eastern pole remain free while confronting the march of the powerful Western Mentality? Is this condition one of the clauses of the coming cultural globalization in our New Millenium? On the other side, civilizations and cultures in all its colors are based upon each people's characteristics in free mediums, and the dialogue of civilizations is a civilization. The conditions of the dialogue however are equal opportunities and the respect of each civilization.
The third question about cultural globalization is, "What is the future of the material philosophy vis-à-vis the human and spiritual needs and values?" The focus of all values on profit and the rush upon material wealth is a material philosophy, which does not respect the spiritual dimensions of man and does not allow for good grounds for the growth of these dimensions. Cultural globalization is invaded by the consuming mind at the expense of Christian values of sacrifice, charity, and the respect of others. A quick glance at the advertisements and universal television programs shows that Christian values such as love, chastity, obedience to the Divine Word, spiritual meekness, etc. have been replaced by the tools of globalization with self interest, desires and luxuries.
Our age is characterized by the dominance of the consuming mind. The globalization in the coming millenium is the result of this thought. If we do not take the necessary precautions, it will become a tool to globalize the consuming mind that does not see in the other person except the opportunities for benefit and the ways of service. It is a philosophy of love that asks for its own! In the contrary to the words of St. Paul the Apostle in his eternal hymn, "Love seeks not his own" but the good of others (1 Cor 13:4).
Can a tide such as this one retreat? Is there a place for charity, benevolence, and respect of the neighbor in the encyclopedia of the cultural globalization? This is not the consumer language and not the economic language! How will the upcoming globalization be impacted by the meanings of love and sacrifice? There is only one meaning left in it, and one issue is being propagated through education and the media and the social struggle. It is the rush upon competitive gain, "the source of life is money!"
For example, in a recent high school graduation ceremony, the brightest students delivered speeches in which they spoke words full of eloquence. They called youth to discover the future and the use of science and discoveries. The most religious one considered these technological advancements as a divine spiritual gift. None of them however mentioned the school that they were graduating from, or their village that they were raised in, or their mother and father or brothers. Their eyes were looking far away at the new and unknown, at Science for the sake of science, and not in the service of man. There is no emphasis on human or political causes. The cause is the statue of "development." We wish this always meant becoming more civilized.
We ask quick questions, not to answer or to take certain positions, but to clarify the idea and the material and horrifying present. The spirituality of a certain civilization cannot live only by "scientific advancement." This is just a strong and necessary tool in the service of a certain civilized thought!
What is the role of the political parties today in the life of people? Is it like it was in the near past? What are the aspirations of the youth to improve the social or political situation in their countries? Are there in essence any problems for researching and envisioning? The important thing may be to abandon our "country" to live in the "world." Is there any intellectual issue that is occupying the mind of the youth? Is the situation of literature acceptable today? The scientific advancement does not build a civilization. Civilizations are in essence built by human behavior and by creativity and elegance. The improvement of social relationships is always the motive of advancement. One of the Christian authors who visited Russia at the beginnings of the Communist movement said: "You are not building a new civilization…" The issue was strictly economical and material!
In a materialistic civilization there are no social dimensions greater than "We want to be happy about our life." As for a humane civilization, there is this aspiration to "grow in our life." This may not occur through passing joys and gains, but on its opposites. What do we expect from a civilization whose hero is the computer. The best of what it has is a large number of amazing products, and at first sight, the most exciting of what it has is the newest product. Our materialistic civilization is deceitful since it is based on newest products that may subsist for a few days or weeks after which it becomes obsolete. The heroes of our civilization last only for a few hours.
The ideals and values that die out are silly and corrupt. The hero that is broken after a few moments in front of the newest builds with youth and all people a stressful civilization. We have been contemporaries of the world of information technology. How much charm did this computer have! It still has charm, but the fast technological improvements have made it obsolete. Today, the computer became beautiful and stressful. It is beautiful since it is always newer, and it is stressful because of this, that is because it always becomes out-of-date.
Similarly the materialistic civilization is fragile. Its miracle fades and does not last long. It charms at first sight then immediately leads people to despair. Our civilization is charming but is founded on the principle of consumerism. It consumes first its own principles. Its basis is profit and it does not produce any heroes or causes that attract the hearts.
Can the human principles be based on consumerism or on a material philosophy? Is there more important for man than his ideals in his life, being the cause for his dreams and his happiness?
When our materialistic civilization cancels out idealism and the examples of religions and literature in order to focus on the new matters, it moves the human and ethical focus from the eternal ideals that deal with great causes, to materials that are fragile and charming, unable to attract man for more than few weeks or less.
The unending passion of man cannot be based on things with limits. The eternal that is enflamed in the heart of man with great passion and aspirations cannot live with the dimensions of "consumer goods." Where is the symbol? Where are the principles? Where are the causes? Is there no cause other than profit? Is this the issue of life, the modern life? The ideals in our advertisements are not Christian ones in general because the motive is profit and not sacrifice!
The Holy Bible does not understand the question of evil, as does philosophy. Philosophy sees that evil is in the bad incident. The Bible sees evil as in the roots of a matter. This matter is the deviation of the ideals and principles: it is lying as contrary to saying truth. This vain spirit may have begun to control our civilization's concepts and its outcome at the end of the last century, the globalization. We hope and take as our responsibility not to allow this spirit to reign in the New Millenium.
Today globalization is in need of the spirit more than the machine. It needs to care for the big universal causes more than networks and economical organizations. We mean to focus and emphasize on the role of the Church and Theology. Globalization is a deaf trend and its tools are dry machines that await the blow of the divine spirit to create a "civilization." The most important question is, "Who are they?" And from where are we to receive the prophets of the New Millenium as trumpets of the divine word in the civilization of the machine? Where are these voices that we make man the lord of civilization and its goal, and not its servant in order not to impose a new cult: "The cause of the new machine."
The need today for theology and Christian thought is greater and stronger than before. Man who is the son of this universal civilization is in great and deep thirst for the "word" and the "living water."
It is inevitable that Economic globalization will bring with it a cultural globalization. Here lies our responsibility to make out of this universal culture a modern and human language through which the spirit conquers over matter.
The responsibility of the Church today is increased for the following two reasons. First, the evolving danger of globalization is using as tools the material philosophy, a more popular and widespread tool. Second, the human thirst has become greater and in need of the spirit more than ever.
Facing this challenge, we are in a situation leading either to the globalization of faith in the economic globalization or to the christianization of the world in a correct cultural globalization. Christian and ecclesial ideals are the most needed. There is a giant without a brain, which will find the Christian apostolic thought suitable to his body.
1. Conflict of Thought in Cultural Globalization
The modern globalization has destroyed a lot of old ways of knowledge. Even though it does not take into account the literature of the East, it can be easily infused with it. This is because globalization is based on the profit and free competitions and does not have any other policy. There is today a free scientific knowledge that cannot be bound by a name or race. So the door is opened much wider for the intellectuals of the Third World countries -that were isolated before- to enter and invade the developed and giant world.
Let's observe for example the exchange of professors and students between the industrialized nations and Third World countries. In the past, students from the Third World countries used to come to the industrialized nations and their universities to study, and later return to their motherland (since they are strangers generally unaccepted to stay) to teach what they learned. Globalization today has allowed those intellectuals to remain at their respective universities since there are no other conditions than competitiveness based on profit. It is important for universities to attract all intellectuals, whoever they might be. We notice today the presence of a large number of intellectuals coming from the Third World, living and taking key positions at the largest universities. These intellectuals start to study the issues of their Third World countries, which are some of the Eastern countries. Globalization opened the doors from this side. Creativity is universal and is not based on race or religion.. Globalization is a gateway open to both influencing and being influenced.
2. Globalization and the Future of Theology
What we pointed out before is that civilization in the movement of globalization is material and consuming, therefore barren of civilized thought or reasoning. This is if no new thoughts creep in before our thoughts do. In our opinion, the form of this material and consuming globalization puts theology in front of a great challenge in one hand, and in front of large and very useful opportunities on the other.
What is the challenge for theology in the current intellectual globalization, the consuming globalization? The answer must not be fake. It is often that Christian theology falls in the trap of theory and speculation. Since it uses the mind to talk about the ways of life, it is always in danger of becoming speculative in the language of specialists, thus remaining separate from practical life. Christian thought is not an intellectual approach or theoretical science about beauty or religion. As we mentioned before, Christian theology is a medicine, a practical science of life. The consuming civilization rejects and expels everything that is not useful. Theology would be considered fake if it is based on the need of what we call the vain "Byzantine polemics." If Theology is important in life, it is the best "matter" (metaphorically) demanded in the contemporary civilization. This challenge will impose on its fake parts and outer layers to fall away. Theology will appear only in its pure form. The culture of today's man, the son of this material civilization, is not empty of intellectual theories expressed here and there in the theological fields. The question however is not, "Does God exist?" The real question is, "Is God necessary?"
The issue is not for the past polemics but for discovering the essence of life and the future! Today, more than ever, there is a great call and need for theology, as true theology and words of life.
Theology is generally studied in three levels:
The main level, the one that is not being taken care of in the world of globalization is the field of pastoral care, or the pastoral level for the life of man. It is the theology that talks about God as a servant to the life of man, and that life cannot be without God, describing God to people, revealing Him as a necessity so that they may seek Him.
This God is the one who would control the globalization of the future, if we succeed to transport Him! Globalization today does not believe in political parties or religions. It allows for the folklore and habits to exist but not as being its own color and philosophy. The universal God is the servant and lover of mankind is the only God that can exist. The universe seeks Him because it needs Him. We remember here St. Paul the Apostle in Areopagus when he shouted at the philosophers saying, "I proclaim to you the God whom you worship without knowing" (Acts 17:24)! God is Love and more universal than a "party" or an "organization". He is the ideal Father much more than the computer could ever be. He is the only God that knows, as St. Paul said, "Neither slave nor free, neither Jew or Greek, and neither male or female" (Gal 3:28)! Christianity is the divine universal voice that could not be threatened by globalization or nationalities, arts, or local languages. Surely the world even if it left God to go to materialism, (because it did not know God as a loving father) will reach Him if its search succeeds.
On the other hand, the wide spread globalization and its many sources of knowledge that reached everywhere through modern communication technologies made theology be much easily and widely in contact with other sciences. Seeking theology today as a solution to the needs of mankind pushed theologians to make it more and more pastoral and not theoretical. In our opinion, this means that we need to transcribe the theory and necessary expressions to pastoral fields. This is the form that is sought today. Theology has the responsibility to meet other practical sciences. This responsibility is at the same time an opportunity. Theology can draw from these sciences and guide them to be for the life of the world, sciences such as the environment, and social work, psychology, and the like, even the political sciences as well.
The intermarriage between these sciences and theology opens new pastoral horizons. Conversely, this intermarriage is an inevitable responsibility and not an additional option, for these sciences without real theology are lacking. The tools and methods of globalization allow for theology to do so, and even push it towards this direction. There will not be any theology that is not pastoral, because there is no need for any other kind. The need is for a law of continuity in the civilization of materialism and globalization.
The strength of theology is in its courage to dialogue. Introversion, if it exists, is a sign that the theologian is very weak inside, and speaks of "what he has." For if he believed that he is uttering the "divine word" he would have realized that the word of God is a cutting sword, as the book of Revelation pictured it, and that its does not inhibit, according to St. Paul.
It cannot be for theology, which is the science of life to speak one language and one science. Theology is the trumpet of God in all languages and through all sciences. Theology is not for expounding the Gospel but for spreading it. The evangelical theology is not the volumes that explain the verses but the theology that makes out of the Gospel the philosophy of all sciences so that the latter may serve in its greatness the Good News of the Gospel, that is the life of man in his relationship with himself, the neighbor and God. This is the civilization that ought to inhabit our world.
3. The Universal and Evangelical Globalization
a. Pax Romana — Pax Americana — Pax Christiana
A comparative and careful historical study can easily notice the similarity that exists between the globalization of the New Millenium and the one that happened in the time of the birth of Christ and the early Church. "It came to pass in those days all the world was to register" (Luke 2:1), all the known world of that time. Alexander the Great was able to unite the entire world and he brought Greeks and established family relationship with them and put them in the East and changed the names of the cities and established new cities. He tried to unite the world in a definitive and deep way, intellectually and linguistically, militarily and also economically. The Roman world, which stood upon the ruins of the Alexandrine World, was a similar globalization. This united "universe" and this one empire contributed positively to the spreading of the Good News of Christianity in the entire world. The Apostles traveled with no hindering boundaries and on roads that connected the world together. This one empire, the globalization of that time, was in the beginning the most suitable circumstance for the "fullness of time."
At the same time, the Church paid a high price in return for accepting the cultural globalization of the universal worldly empire. In order for it to become "the religion of the empire," Christianity gave a large number of martyrs. The Roman Empire of that time allowed for the existence of various religions, in the condition that everyone should also worship "Caesar" on top of everything! And when Christianity entered the daily life of the Empire, it had to testify that what is to Caesar is from "here" and that the worship is to "God."
Globalization or the empire of that time was on one hand the best cast for evangelism. When, however, Caesar made himself god over all this empire, he imposed on the work of evangelism a high price. The Roman Empire was not without god, and thus not without a religion imposed over all religions - a universal religion! Caesar was the god of all, even if everyone had their own smaller gods. This was the condition for peace and prosperity and collaboration, the condition of globalization at that time of the Pax Romana.
What is the condition for peace and collaboration in our age, the age of Pax Americana? Is there an acceptance of all languages, religions and gods, so that we may confess one day a "new Caesar" in order to live in peace? Since it unifies all potentials and makes easy all communications, globalization is a great human development. On the contrary, if it hides within it an intellectual and religious tyranny, it will establish in humanity a new Cesarean Empire, and we will be left with a new picture of the ones depicted for us in the Book of Revelation!
Therefore, spiritual culture that needs to form the thought of the coming globalization needs to have clear and real conditions. Otherwise, the globalization in the New Millenium becomes, in essence, an intellectual oppression and a New World Empire that will have a new enthroned Caesar.
Christianity is a universal thought, and that's why globalization is suitable for it. Christian thought however distinguishes between globalization and universality. Universality is a Gospel Command: Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them…" (Matthew 28:19). The universality that we hope will be implemented by the coming globalization. It ought to have the following Christian universal characteristics:
The rush to gain profit has led to two contradictory sides killing the spirit. The first side is the existence of a group of people who work beyond their potential to the point of exhaustion, seeking more gain and to win the market, and this at the expense of the life and the spirit. On the other side there is a group of people who are unemployed, being in an unfair competitive world that leaves them on the margin of life with no work, and this also kills the spirit.
The new culture and new thought of the New Millenium ought to look at work and employment opportunities and goals not from a point of view of profit. "For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and looses his own soul?" (Mark 8:36).
The aforementioned words do not imply that we are putting conditions on the intellectuals of the future! We cannot put conditions on the work of these intellectuals. By the aforementioned words, however, we would like to point out the great responsibility and the unique opportunity that demands from us to christen the world instead of to globalize the faith. We ought to offer to the coming empire a Caesar who is God, loving of mankind, and ruling over all. We ought to nourish it with the open and free heavenly thought, so that this thought may care for man in his spiritual dimensions and so that man does not become a matter of consumerism.
We are in great need of a "Pauline" ministry. Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles, entered the body of the Roman Imperial Beast carrying a universal message. He liberated Christianity from being a national-Jewish religion to being the religion of the Gentiles in the whole world. Paul is the voice of Christianity that called and is still calling for:
The globalization methods are open today for the Pauline message. A quick glance at the present will unfortunately show that our work is still very insufficient. The tools of the universal education are in general not in the hands of the educators but in the use of others. Upcoming globalization cannot stay without thought! Either wheat or tares are going to be planted.
Our responsibility is great to make out of globalization the world of God, that is His Kingdom. In this world, people live together in love and in a universal spirit that respects all uniqueness and builds warm relationships (family, village) on universal spheres. Our responsibility is definitive to give the "Lord" His place, being the Master of History, instead of allowing for a "Caesar" to steeling the throne.
1. Action or Reaction
What is the reaction of the peoples and religions in the face of this universal tide that is different and mighty? In general the reactions take different forms:
What defines the future of all these "Re-actions" is the depth of the civilization that people have.
As for Theology, we believe that it ought not to form a reaction, but the action itself. Christianity does not want to preserve anything other than to reach everywhere. Many religions and nationalities by nature are very conservative. Christianity, by nature, is the salt of all the earth and its message is all-inclusive.
Thus we believe that as theological institutes and all of us as the Church, we ought to focus our attention on:
Translated by: Bassam A. Nassif