There is a saying that contains an important insight: "In Jerusalem, Christianity became a religion. In Greece, it became a philosophy. In Rome, it became an institution. In Britain, it became a tradition, and in America, it became an enterprise."
There is some truth to this, and it is not all bad or unintended. The new creation culture that was to be received by all nations was also intended to receive from all nations. This is not to imply that the basic tenets of the faith were to be modified, but that the Gospel would help apply the best of all nations to a culture that would become the highway Isaiah spoke of that would be built to prepare the way for the Lord.
However, some of the worst of these nations also entered into the fabric of Christianity and, to a degree, corrupted the application of the Gospel. Each time the center of gravity for the advancing Church moved, there would be some purification, but not total. In the American Church, we have reflected some the best and worst of religion, philosophy, institutions, traditions, and business all mixed together.
Many have learned to take the best and leave the rest. Some of the most remarkable expressions of Christianity through the Church are now found in America, as well as probably some of the worst. Many Christians from around the world have come to learn from churches in America and have taken what they learned back to their countries.
Many of these did a great job filtering out what should not be applied in their home countries and have raised up works that are truly exceptional. Now many Americans, and others, are going to them to learn. This interchange has increased dramatically during this time of easy travel and communications. For this reason, there are truly remarkable churches growing up all over the world.
Church in Asia
As the center of gravity of Christianity moved west from Jerusalem (for the last century it seemed centered in America, even though some of the greatest works and revivals were elsewhere), it is about to make another major leap to the west. The center of gravity of Christianity is going to move to Asia. Then it will find its way back to Jerusalem.
So what will be the contribution of Asia to Christianity? For one thing, it will be a filter that removes many of the impurities added to Christianity by other cultures that have influenced it. They will do an even better job of holding to the good and removing the bad. This is not all they will do, but it will be a major contribution. We can expect to start hearing two great questions from Asia:
"What is the pure Gospel?"
"What is the purest expression of Christianity?"
Then we will see a relentless pursuit of these.
History of Christianity
We addressed the elements of truth in the saying, "In Jerusalem, Christianity became a religion. In Greece, it became a philosophy. In Rome, it became an institution. In Britain, it became a tradition. In America, it became an enterprise." Not all of this was bad or unintended. The Christian culture that was to be received by all nations was also intended to receive from all nations.
Even so, the expression of Christianity has picked up a lot of baggage from its passage through the nations that it needs to get rid of. Much of this will come as the center of gravity of Christianity transfers to Asia. One thing we can expect to see is Asia becoming a great filter that removes many of the impurities that the expression of Christianity has picked up. This will come from one of the great strengths of the Asian culture—its honor of history. They will be prone to go back to the roots of the faith, to the purest forms, and embrace them more than trends and fads that were added.
As we look at the history of Christianity, we can also note that its center would transfer from one place to another at different rates. It was only centered in Jerusalem for a few years. Then it remained in Greece, or to be more accurate, where the Greek culture was dominant which included Asia Minor, or what is now modern day Turkey. This is the region of the Seven Churches of Revelation and Constantinople, one of the most influential of all Christian cities, where it remained for centuries.
Rome emerged as the dominant center of gravity, as a counterpoint to Constantinople, and held the dominant position in European Christianity for over a thousand years. Then Germany and Switzerland became two of the most powerful centers of the advancing church with the birth of the Protestant Reformation.
America's time as the center of the advancing church has been short, but powerful. This is typical of the innovation and initiative America is known for. The Evangelical, Pentecostal, Charismatic, and Third Wave movements all were either birthed in America, or quickly found a receptive home there.Many other smaller but very influential movements were spun off of these.
However, many problems and heresies spun off of these movements as well, probably due to the great weakness of the Church in America—its lack of devotion to knowing and understanding the lessons of history. For all of its talk about devotion to Biblical truth, studies have revealed that even in the Evangelical movement, less than 10% have a Biblical worldview. This is bad, but not surprising.
America's DNA is from pioneers and risk takers—those always trying to expand the limits and look to the future. Such are not prone to stop and look backwards into history, or take much time on the slow, tedious work of laying strong foundations. Therefore, it seems fitting that the Christian center of gravity is moving toward a culture where the lessons of history are so honored. The balance is needed.
Of course, over the last century some of the greatest revivals in history were ignited in South and Central America, as well as Africa. Their contributions have been great and will likely be even greater in the future. Such paradigms for understanding history are never completely smooth or perfect, but the centers where the biggest and most enduring influences were brought has mostly been in the Northern Hemisphere, and moved from east to west.
The Center of Christianity
The Lord said that the end of the age is the harvest. The greatest ingathering of all time is beginning, but it is also more than this. The harvest is when all of the seeds that have been planted mature. Even as the center of Christianity moves to Asia, we can expect all of the other homes of the faith to come into a greater maturity. Just because the center of gravity may have moved elsewhere, it does not mean that their contributions are over.
How long will the center of Christianity remain in Asia? Could it be that their contribution, rooted in depth and long history, can be accomplished quickly? Regardless of how long it takes, the center of gravity of Christianity will return to Jerusalem before the end comes. At that time, we can expect Isaiah 19:19-25 to be fulfilled.
Rick Joyner is the founder and executive director of MorningStar Ministries and Heritage International Ministries and is the Senior Pastor of MorningStar Fellowship Church. He is the author of more than forty books, including The Final Quest, A Prophetic History, and Church History. He is also the president of The OAK Initiative, an interdenominational movement that is mobilizing thousands of Christians to be engaged in the great issues of our times, being the salt and light that they are called to be. Rick and his wife, Julie, have five children: Anna, Aaryn, Amber, Ben, and Sam.
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