Imagine you’re a 21st century Christian missionary: Where on this vast earth would you go to bring the word of Christ? For Pastor Mike Goodyear of Pathways Church in Fair Oaks, California and his congregation, the answer is simply 10-40 degrees latitude. Within these geographical latitudes is drawn a rectangle from longitude 15 degrees west of the meridian at Greenwich England to 120 degrees east of the meridian. What lies within this rectangle is the African continent’s northern half, the middle east, along with southwest and southeast Asia and much of China. As Pastor Mike, as he is affectionately known points out, this area was chosen because we wanted “to go where the need is greatest.” He explains that about 2 billion people live within this rectangle area who “don’t know Jesus.”
For many years I have heard the reference that the United States is like modern day Rome – both in its glorious achievements and also in its potential downfall. While Rome had many issues that affected its eventual demise, the underlying one was moral decay. Some would argue that morality may also be at the center of whether or not the United States will continue to achieve and prosper as a nation. I would argue that it is not just the United States that will hinge on the morality issue. Indeed, across the globe, the myriad of concerns that we read, hear and see on the news and social media, are mostly rooted in issues of morality. In some respects, while the globe has progressed on many fronts since the Roman Era, in other ways, the world seems to be backsliding into a previous time when pagan societies engaged in morally questionable and societally destructive practices. As we scan the issues of the globe over many years, we seem to have spanned from pagan to sacred and back again.
I recently read a series of articles that promote the idea that Christians should adopt a pluralistic approach in order to be relevant in present times. Pluralism can be defined as a system in which two or more states, groups, principles, or sources of authority co-exist. In the post-modern era (or by some accounts post-post modern era), pluralism seems to have growing appeal in our society – both in religious and secular circles. It fits the post-modern approach that assumes no common understanding in pursuit of a broader range of perspectives. Some aspects of this post-modern/pluralistic idea are compelling, and certainly some changes in views and approaches may be warranted. However, just like post-modernism itself, pluralism as a theory has several weaknesses, and as a practice even more so.