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
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. (Photo via