I have this quirky desire (need?) to think outside the immediate context I’m in. In the last couple of weeks, I’ve posted a three-part series on Timothy I of Baghdad in the Ninth Century and what we can learn from him. That has involved looking also at the issue of political power and what is a Great Soul. (I will continue to post on Church of the East history in the future.)
As I mentioned in an earlier post, in the year 1000 the Church of the East in Asia may have been up to 12 million people. The Indian Ocean had become in some ways the primary center of world trade. That would continue on over the next five hundred years, only shifting to the Atlantic after 1600.
Five hundred years ago a shift also happened into an age of Western colonialism, with the Portuguese beginning to venture around the southern end of Africa into the Indian Ocean by 1498 with Vasco Da Gama. This was followed by the French, British, Dutch, Spanish, Germans, Belgians and later the USA into various parts of the Americas, Africa and Asia.
But I believe another five hundred shift is now happening as we move toward the second half of the second decade of the 21st century. The title of this blog, From 823 to 2520, reflects my sense that a new epoch has begun. No one can predict what the next five hundred years holds, or even if the world will last that long. I would not even begin to try. But in this post and others, from time to time, I will give some hints to what I think may be part of developments in the future. The subject of Futuristics has become a field of study in its own right and I’m fascinated by it. In the volume World Christian Trends, A.D. 30-A.D. 2200: Interpreting the Annual Christian Megacensus (2001), by David B Barrett and Todd M. Johnson, a chronology of events is given from A.D. 30 all the way out thousands of years into the (mega) future. Perhaps in future posts I’ll give some of these for your interest. They are not predictions, but very interesting thoughts on what could happen with different scenarios given.
Let me give just a few things I think could happen in the near term of the next five hundred years. First, the lessening of USA influence and power on global events. This does not necessarily mean the decline of the United States in the near term, but rather the growth of the power of others. Related to that secondly is the continued rise of China and India, the two most populated countries in the world. It is important to remember that the growth in power and influence of these nations also includes the continued growth of millions of Christians there as well. This will undoubtedly change the dynamics of how Global Christian missions has been carried out over the past two hundred years, and particularly the last fifty.
Third, the United Nations must change to reflect these new dynamics, especially in how the present Security Council conducts their affairs. This may take another generation to happen, but it will. Fourth, how the Christian and Muslim faiths relate in the future will be of continued great importance. The two largest religions on earth will need to continue to find ways to co-exist with shifting numbers of converts to each and continents like Africa, Asia and even Europe deeply affected by the results. Fifth, the importance of Asia and the Indian Ocean will again become vital to the future of the world, as it was five hundred years also. How China and India relate within the context of Asia, with perhaps Russia involved as well, will be crucial to the next epoch. North America, and particularly the western regions of the US and Canada, will also have important parts to play economically and politically in Asia over the next generations.
These are just a few of the changes I can see over the next five hundred years. What do those of you reading this see? Whether in the near term as some of these are, or in the longer term approaching the year 2520? I would love to hear your comments! I will also post more related to the future from time to time.
2 thoughts on “The Next Five Hundred Years”
Have you read Phyllis Tickle’s “The Great Emergence”? Very interesting! Here’s a clip of a review: “Counting back from the present, the Great Reformation took place about 500 years ago — 1517 to be exact. Prior to that, The Great Schism occurred when the Eastern and Western churches split over icons and statues. Five hundred years earlier, Gregory the Great blessed and encouraged the monastic orders which would preserve the Christian faith through the Dark Ages. Of course, 500 years before that, we’re back in the first century and the time of the apostles. Today, Tickle contends, the church in in the throes of The Great Emergence.”
Looking forward to more about the church of the East. After reading “The Jesus Sutras”, it seems most of us have missed a big chapter in church history!
Thanks Phil! Yes, I have read Tickle’s book and may comment on it at some point in another post. By the way, I just got back from actually seeing the Pagoda in the Jesus Sutras and plan to do a blog post on it in next few days.