Alexander Betts, a British social scientist and director of the Refugee Centre at the University of Oxford, emphasized the urgent need to rescue globalization from the neo-liberal agenda that is elitist and unmindful of the welfare of the entire populace.
In his recent TED talk, “Why Brexit Happened – And What to Do Next,” Betts renewed the call for “inclusive globalization,” which was introduced by Kofi Annan when he was secretary general of the United Nations.
In this lecture, which was delivered in 2002 at the Center for the Study of Globalization at Yale University, Annan discussed the potential for globalization to be “a truly integrative and inclusive force” but warned of “the very real dangers if it fails to live up to that potential.”
Recalling Annan’s warning, which has attracted much support over the past 14 years, Betts argued that one of the initiatives needed to overcome the current situation in which xenophobia is having a field day is a renewed thrust in civic education.
This, he contends, will help narrow the gap between public perception and empirical reality.
Betts lamented the idea “that we [should] move from a post-factual society where evidence and truth no longer matter and lies have equal status to the clarity of evidence.”
He argued that education can be a major instrument in the rebuilding of respect for truth and evidence.
Without this educational thrust, misinformation and misunderstanding will remain an obstacle to human social progress, especially in contexts where people have limited experience of interaction between their communities and other communities that are not dependent on them for some form of aid.
Many will find Betts’ reminder a real source of encouragement coming as it does from a foundation in social science.
Those of us who are pledged to the lordship of Christ – whatever the euphemism we use to identify this lordship – may need to be reminded of a fundamental claim that Christians have made throughout history.
Based on the witness of the Gospel of John, do we not associate “grace and truth” with Jesus Christ?
According to John 1:14, “the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.” And as John 1:17 explains, “the law indeed was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.”
At the risk of reducing this profound idea to a very basic level, shall we not identify and embrace the twin values of grace and truth as principles that guide both our discourse and our conduct?
Any group of followers of Christ that is not wedded to fundamental ideas that emerge from, or are validated by, sacred Scripture may need to reconsider the basic ideas giving birth to their group.
And any body of believers in Christ that is not conscientiously devoted to the pursuit of both grace and truth may need to begin to count the days left in its existence as a historical body.
I wish to call the attention of the church community to the urgent and ongoing need for responsible Christian nurture, especially in an age in which notions of truth have become very elastic and structures of authority continue to attract much doubt and resentment.
As more and more of our educational institutions continue to give in to the behemoth of post-modernism and grow in their disregard for the discipline of Christian ethics or moral theology, the error of this trend will become more evident with the passing of time.
Unless followers of Christ find firm grounding for their convictions in the Word of God and receive the sort of nurture available from the church as a responsible moral community, we will witness a falling away from the way of Christ that is steeped in grace and truth.
Let us play our part in preventing this.
Neville George Callam, a Jamaican, has been serving as general secretary and chief executive officer of the Baptist World Alliance since his election in Accra, Ghana, in 2007. A version of this article first appeared on Callam’s blog. You can follow BWA on Twitter @TheBWA.