Globalization And The AntithesisA study in Luke 13:18-30
Our Lord illustrates the Kingdom of God with a comparison to the inevitable growth of the farmer’s seed and the anticipated expansion of the baker’s loaf. Both are familiar examples to His listeners, ancient and modern. These verses provide us with a major element of a sound, biblical world view.
We are taught that God is sovereign over history and salvation, that He orders and orchestrates every thing and event that comes to pass, and that we are not to despise the day of small beginnings. Growth and development of His Kingdom will happen by means that are pleasing to Him but are usually imperceptible to the flesh and the limited capacities of man. This idea is out of phase with the commonly held, failure-oriented view of many Christians who predict that few will be saved, the ultimate ineffectiveness of the gospel, the defeat of the Church, rapture of believers and the massive end-time escalation of evil.
Globalization, Impetus for Progress and Maturing
The process by which our Lord brings His plan to fruition in the world is sometimes referred to as The Antithesis. God, Himself, engineered the force of progress and maturing that would attain and maintain His desired goals.1 His methods often surprise us. God’s law sets forth the constraints and the liberties with which growth can take place.2 Those who contemplate the law with a negative eye are at odds with the Divine decree. Those who perceive its order and beauty are more able to behold the character of the Almighty and to serve in His Kingdom.
The Antithesis means that there is no middle ground, no neutrality, no common area in God’s universe. There is no communication between Christ and Belzebub, between our Savior and the Baals. As God’s people, we are the ecclesia, the called-out ones, a covenant people, a chosen generation, a royal priesthood.3 The apostle reminded us that the promise is unto you and to your children. The Kingdom is not an offer or merely a possibility, but rather an absolute certainty established and won by the perfect obedience and by the blood of Christ.
The antithesis is nowhere more flatly stated than by the Lord’s apostle who spoke of the gospel as a compelling aroma whose savor brings about life or death in those hearing it. We are taught that the knowledge of Christ is everywhere and that its effect is always potent to men. In God’s chosen people its fruit is light and life. To the reprobate its fruit is dark and fatal.4
The Antithesis In History
God, in executing His plan has almost always made use of powerful antithetical means. The slave child, Moses, was destined to be reared by his own mother, but in the court of Pharaoh. God chose a small, insignificant nation to embody His strategy for the whole world, to receive His precepts and give physical form to the world’s Messiah. The Lord of glory took upon Himself true human flesh, he ministered in local neighborhoods and synagogues, not in grand temples and theaters of man. The Great Commission [Matt 28:19-20] was for the whole world, but spoken to only a few plain men.
The question of methodology can’t help but force itself upon us. Why is God pleased always to be represented by the lesser, even the trivial? Why not the missionaries? Why not a faithful denomination? Why is it that Microsoft, MacDonalds and IBM present the challenge to the world of paganism? Why must an apostate, Christ-denying nation still be the only reluctant representative of Christianity in the world?
Islam hasn’t missed the message. Western wealth and supremacy in technology, medicine, education and every area of business presents a faithful testimony to the effectiveness of God’s law. Many residuals of grace remain in place, like giant markers of a sacred Stonehenge. Private property, dependable currencies, banking and contracts, Christian work ethic and fantastic productiveness say everything.5 Muslim hatred of what it perceives as the Christian West should be a fully anticipated response. This mounting conflict is an accurate and understandable manifestation of the effects of the antithesis.
God Ordains Unlikely Pastors
But, why is God pleased to have Exxon-Mobil and GE as His representative? Why is the wholly synthesized Roman Catholic Church considered by the world’s media the only seat of the true faith? Why not great churchmen? Why not medical or educational missions that bring fruits of the gospel to needy people? Why not a modern Martin Luther? The answer is too obvious, it would seem. God’s disconcerting custom has always been to use the unlikely, the unknown, the weak and beggarly elements. This is proof that the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.6 His glory and gracious initiative are what men most need to see and acknowledge.7
The Lord called Abraham, a fellow from Ur of the Chaldees to be His number-one faithful servant. He used a small slave nation that endlessly resisted His favor to show forth His glory. Gideon’s three hundred-man army was employed to defeat a force one hundred times as large. The Son of God, in His humility, crushed the serpent’s head. The means is most often the unexpected.
Globalization From Antiquity
Though the term itself is new, globalization began very long ago. The Bible teaches us that God has placed in the heart of each and every person the basic knowledge of His existence and of human accountability.8 Christ commissioned His disciples to bring the gospel to the nations. The conversion of Emperor Constantine in AD313 brought a renewed global thrust to the Kingdom when Christianity was made dominant throughout Europe. Another giant step came when the entrenched errors and heresies of the church were countered in the Protestant Reformation of the 1400-1500s. This included the translation of the Holy Scriptures into the vernacular of many peoples. Vasco de Gama found the passage to the East in 1498. Other voyages of discovery were largely motivated by the desire to spread the truth of Christ and see the biblical promises come true.9 Our Pilgrim forefathers came to America in order to seek more freely the true God and to build His Kingdom on earth. They saw the New World as the best expression of the Kingdom in all of history. Puritan father, John Winthrop’s, City Upon A Hill (1630), expresses the belief that the American states (colonies), founded upon Jesus Christ, were designed by God Almighty to be a beacon for all men and nations. Indeed, it was the first time in the world’s history that a nation was formed specifically as a Christian state.
Even as the explorers and kings of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries submerged their more seamy motives in the sacred, conversely, men today go about their seamy business while they also, in spite of personal motive, advance the growth of Christ’s Kingdom. A shameful example from history is the slave traffic that brought misery to many, but also brought millions more into the hearing of the gospel. Globalization has followed many forms.
Envy And Hate Verses Grace And Productivity
Events of our day, the threat of attack and the insanity of suicidal violence loom over us because of the antithesis. Cultures built on envy and darkness will ever loathe that which they cannot reach. The seed of Esau will not turn in repentance and faith, but will ever grind against the pricks. In many ways the lords of militant Islam grasp more of these truths than do most evangelical Christians today. They note very keenly the cultural differences, the gaping chasm that exists between the harsh determinism of Allah and the grace of the sovereign God of the Bible.
Muslim warriors and pagans around the world understood the significance of the Trade Towers in New York. The Rockefellers built these buildings as extravagant temples of the Baals. Their religion was to foster world peace through commerce and trade, which are good in themselves, but not without a sound basis in Christ and in biblical law. Democracy, the sacrament of Humanism, was to become the world’s creed instead of Jesus Christ, but the end-run of the reprobate was doomed to fail. God brought the temple down in heaps. The Bible says that He has them in derision.10 That is, God laughs at the attempts of the reprobate to conceive another truth, another religion.
Globalization, the Antithesis and the Local Chief
Globalization is fast erasing traditional boundaries and weakening power cliques. It often increases the gap between rich and poor for a time, but then tends to help create a new class in the middle. Third-world poor and uneducated people are able to find work, often in manufacturing and related fields, and begin to move up. If this welcome pressure can continue and eventually dislodge socialistic and tyrannical civil governments, then great blessings will accrue to millions. The key to progress for these people has been ably outlined by Peruvian economist, Hernando DeSoto, in his The Mystery of Capital.11 His basic point comes right out of biblical law. It is the wisdom and duty of men to hold title to property, an essential aspect of freedom and prosperity.
Evil and arbitrary boundaries are imposed by men, but if, per adventure, God brings massive change, much good may begin to come. To those with eyes to see and ears to hear, God has repeatedly embarrassed the man-god of communism. As Dagon of old, it ever falls on its face.
Globalization Strikes At The Heart Of Paganism
Globalization, with regard to the antithesis, strikes at the heart of paganism. Diane Obenchain in her Study of Religion and the Coming Globalization, says that Christianity is a religion to be reckoned with. She makes the point that all of it, politics, commerce and everything you can name is a religious business and Christianity is the most influential and powerful cultural force.12 She says that Christianity is perceived as the religion of the West ... which is leading the way, setting the pace in the globalization process. Most Christians don’t realize this. They still are being taught that the most important thing is to fund the new church gymnasium or to enlarge enrollment for summer camp.
Globalization Works To Diminish And Destroy The Apostate Church
The liberals are embarrassed by American wealth and success. They stop mission activity because it intrudes on pagan culture. The blood of Christ is set aside in favor of heathen practices that have resulted in millennia of hopeless and entrenched poverty and ignorance.
Critical of free enterprise and heavily skewed toward hierarchical and socialistic control, the apostate church is fast losing influence. At the Year 2000 Symposium on the Jubilee, the Pope called for cancellation of third-world debt, a measure that would give short-term relief to impoverished countries, but would further damage their ability to establish viable commercial enterprise. The Roman Catholic Church agonizes incessantly about unfeeling error and disregard for cultural distinctives and religion.13 When the absolute lordship of Christ is denied then no real vision remains. The future in the hands of man is dark and disturbing. The apostate hulk of the Romanist church is also distracted by the evil fruit of its unbiblical practice of celibacy.
Globalization tends to disrupt third-world tribal hatred and oppression. Enterprise in a distant area helps people overcome the petty cruelties of local chiefs as well as national dictators. Even China is being forced to open up to massive influence from outside. Certainly the gospel will become much more available there in the near future. It is said that soon the southern hemisphere will contain more Christians than the northern. Major shifts indicate the predictable advance of the Kingdom.
The Antithesis And The Individual
Technology offers reprobate man a compelling confirmation of unbelief and a greater access to evil and temptation. Thus, he can more quickly add to his debt and join the fast track to self-destruction. He can more easily access pornography and volunteer to destroy his own pleasure and dominion in the matter of sexual relations, family and health. The God-fearing, on the other hand, can use the same technology to study, spread the gospel, organize more effectively, exchange ideas and carry on business.
The Apostle wrote to the Corinthian church, [b]ut thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place. For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; to the one an aroma from death to death, to the other an aroma from life to life. And who is adequate for these things? [II Cor2:14-16]
We are encouraged and blessed to know that the Kingdom of our Lord increases continually. It grows imperceptibly, but by leaps and bounds and by means that we might least anticipate. We must be thankful to God for his great gift of citizenship in His Kingdom and a place at His table.
- Most obvious is the confrontation of Islam with Christianity. Islam fears change, being swallowed up by Western, Christian, ways, loss of control over masses of ignorant people. Based on envy (Esau and Ishmael) it is the religion of the poor. Islam has everything to lose from globalization. Only sale of oil brings vast sums into its coffers. The antithesis is brought into play in making more obvious the failures of Islam and its frequent use of violence and repression.
- Not as obvious is the injury to other pagan religions that is the result of globalization. The antithesis strikes at the heart of paganism. Tribal hatreds are minimized when commerce and trade become popular in backward economies. Example: Red China now finds it more difficult to control her masses. Even Tibet is opening to outside influence. The Dali Lama, it turns out, is a nice guy.
- The antithesis strikes home on the individual level. Reprobate men will lap up new technologies and be swamped with greater evils, temptations, debt, porn, and many categories of sin that they ordinarily would never have dreamed about. Many are quickly pushed into a deeper hell while God’s faithful people use the same tools for growth and strength.
- Islam is being raised up by God to confront the Church in its pervasive antinomian ways. Compromise and lack of discipline characterize the Church almost everywhere. The unpleasant force of Islam may be used to challenge Christians to dig more deeply, to discover once again the value and absolute necessity of God’s precepts. In Nigeria a thirteen state area adopted Islamic law and crime went way down. Lawless churches cannot make this boast. The Muslims say “religion cannot be separated from politics, economics, culture or anything else.” They are right.
- The United Nations is increasingly exposed as the impotent organization that it is, even though its advocates are relentless in efforts to revive it. The World Federalist News, a One-World journal crows incessantly about the UN mission being undermined. One-worlders hate globalization for the same reason dictators and tribal chiefs do. Virtually everyone will choose freedom of enterprise and the expansion of commerce over UN programs. The net result will be a clearer opening for the Christian gospel to go forth.
- Globalization is an engine of the antithesis. We are privileged to admire and celebrate the power, wisdom, strategies and victories of our Lord. We are gathered at His table by His call and command to remember His perfect satisfaction of divine justice, to rejoice with Him in the success of His rule.
Rev. Dale K. Dykema
- God said He would thrust enmity between Satan and the woman, between the seed of Satan and the seed of the woman. Gen.3:15.
- Biblical law defines the playing field of history. See Prov.28:9. He who turns away his ear from listening to the law, even his prayer is an abomination.
- See I Peter 2:9
- The apostle Paul says, Thanks be to God, who always causes us to triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place. For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; to the one an aroma from death to death, to the other an aroma from life to life ... II Cor.2:14-16
- See Lev.25 for a brief summary of biblical law on property, care of the needy, exercise of dominion, etc.
- I Cor.1:18-31 develops this argument to show that this methodology gives the most light in that it reveals the primacy of God’s power and glory. Other methodologies might leave man still satisfied with his own prowess.
- See Jer.9:23-24, II Cor.10:17-18, which, among many other Scriptures, show the necessity of an accurate perspective. In Adam man lives a life of delusion and fantasy. In Christ he begins to see reality.
- Romans 1:18-23 says that all men know that God is and that His power and majesty is revealed in the creation. Their sinful response is to suppress this knowledge and trust instead in their own intellect.
- Cecil Jane, translator and editor, The Four Voyages of Columbus, Dover Publ.., NY. 1988, p.xlii, and in many other letters and journals authored by the great explorer. His appeals to Ferdinand and Isabella frequently made mention of his commission from the Triune God to spread the true gospel.
- Psalm 2 describes God in His total government of the world as unmoved by the machinations of the wicked. He characterizes Himself as laughing at those who struggle to unseat Him and speaks to them in righteous wrath. He requires their ultimate allegiance willingly or unwillingly.
- DeSoto’s The Mystery of Capital is subtitled: Why Capitalism Triumphs in the West and Fails Everywhere Else. He asserts the absolute need for all civil governments to provide their people with certain title to their real property and other property, thus enabling them to upgrade, trade and improve their lives.
- Diane Obenchain, The Study of Religion and the Coming Globalization, an on-line paper as part of Vol.3 of God And Globalization, reviewed by A.Patrick Thomas.
- Note the writings of Otto Maduro, Globalization and Christianity in the 21st Century, online paper