STILLPOINT Archive: last updated 12/10/2012
“My hometown? Everywhere I’ve lived more than six months.”
When asked to name his hometown, Dan Darko, associate professor of biblical and theological studies, replies, “Everywhere I’ve lived for more than six months.” That would include Accra, Ghana, his hometown (where he had his first teaching job, at Central University College); Croatia, where he studied at the Evangelical Theological Seminary and met his wife, Maryl; London, where he did further theological study at three different universities; and, in the U.S., Pennsylvania, and Hamilton, Massachusetts. This past summer he returned to Ghana for three weeks to teach at Regent University College of Science and Technology.
His many homes have given Dan not just a breadth of cultural understanding, but also a seasoned perspective on the global church. “Global Christianity is more than a cliché,” he says. “The two billion Christians worldwide are spread across every continent, with approximately sixty to seventy percent residing in the southern hemisphere. Thus, the majority of Christians are no longer based in the West and do not identify as ‘white.’ The Body of Christ is multi-ethnic, ecumenical, and socially engaged —trends that coincide with more general trends of globalization. Even in Western countries, most of the vibrant churches we find are either immigrant churches (Korean, African, Spanish, and so on) of multi-ethnic composition, or they are led by pastors with missionary experience. For example, Europe’s two largest churches in Ukraine and England were founded and are led by natives of Nigeria.”
The global church is also ecumenical, he says, “knocking down pillars of entrenched doctrinal positions. Presbyterian, Methodist and independent charismatic pastors swap pulpits with no hesitation. Catholic, Lutheran, Methodist and Orthodox churches are reaching agreement on shared faith and fellowship in Christ. Some Roman Catholics now sing hymns written by the Wesley brothers, such as ‘Love Divine, All Love Excelling.’
“The charismatic renewal also crosses denominational lines in the ‘majority’ or ‘two-thirds’ world. It is not unusual to find drumming, clapping and ‘lifting up’ of hands in the worship services of Catholics, Presbyterians and Baptists in Africa and Latin America. In Ghana, Baptist churches run like nondenominational or pentecostal/charismatic churches.”
Darko sees Gordon as well-situated to be a player in the emerging global church. “Gordon’s many opportunities for overseas study enable fruitful service to Global Christianity in many forms,” he notes. “Perhaps this is why our Global Christianity concentration is one of the fastest growing concentrations at this time.”
“Gordon has been a significant part of global Christianity since its inception,” he says. “After all, it was born in the region where the first missionary of the United States ventured (from Salem) to take the gospel to the rest of the world.”
Dan Darko, associate professor of biblical studies, is the author of No Longer Living as the Gentiles: Differentiation and Shared Ethical Values in Ephesians 4.17-6.9 (London: T&T Clark, 2008), and has recently contributed a chapter to Global Voices: Reading the Bible in the Majority World (Hendrickson, 2013). He specializes in Pauline studies and Biblical hermeneutics.