Saturday, 29 May 2010
Wednesday, 26 May 2010
Monday, 24 May 2010
It would have been a huge relief to have ended it all long ago, above all, to have broken free from the web of lies and deceit he had spun around himself. Yet how beguiling had been those prospects of extra-marital delights. Conscience. Damned conscience. Nurtured in a sensitive school. Fatal.
Though not a believer himself, Bernard conceded the empirical truth of the Pauline assertion that the wages of sin is death. He wanted desperately to be rid of the guilt and the remorse, and remembered vaguely from his school days in the bible-class how lustily they had all given voice to many a chorus on sin:
"Though your sins be as scarlet, scarlet, scarlet,They shall be whiter, yea, whiter than snow."
But he couldn't pray these days - his spirit was parched and desolate. His primitive, eager religiosity was dulled now and overlaid with a deep and hard veneer of learning, culture and cynicism. He was well rehearsed in all the theological paradoxes, and the fizz of academic controversy was no longer a delight. Whiter than snow, indeed! More like the driven slush.
Sunday, 23 May 2010
Saturday, 22 May 2010
In [...] trying to come to a biblical definition of what we mean by mission, we are in effect asking the question, whose mission is it anyway? [...] Since the whole Bible is the story of how this God, 'our God', has brought about his salvation for the whole cosmos [...] we can affirm [...] 'Mission belongs to our God'. Mission is not ours; mission is God's. Certainly, the mission of God is the prior reality out of which flows any mission in which we ourselves get involved. Or, as it has been nicely put, it is not so much the case that God has a mission for his church in the world, as that God has a church for his mission in the world. Mission is not made for church; the church was made for mission - God's mission. A missional hermeneutic of the Bible, then, begins there - with the mission of God, and traces the flow of all other dimensions of mission as they affect human history from that centre and starting point.
Christopher J. H. Wright, 'Mission as a Matrix for Hermeneutics and Biblical Theology', chapter 5 in Craig Bartholomew et al (eds.), Out Of Egypt: Biblical Theology and Biblical Interpretation: pages 132-3.
Friday, 21 May 2010
It was [Lesslie] Newbigin who, after returning from a lifetime of work in India as a missionary, saw how pagan Western civilization really was. He began to articulate the view that we need to see the Western world as a mission field, and that we as God’s people in this context needed to adopt a missionary stance in relation to our culture – just as we could in India, for instance.
Thursday, 20 May 2010
Over at Complementarity and Culture, Sarie King has an excellent post on how sex is being treated like a commercial commodity, to be bought & sold, rather than a deeply personal relational act to be treasured and enjoyed. Why I’m Not Having Sex And (or in) The City...
Wednesday, 19 May 2010
[T]he church is understood to be the creation of the Spirit. It exists in the world as a “sign” that the redemptive reign of God’s kingdom is present. It serves as a “foretaste” of the eschatological future of the redemptive reign that has already begun. It also serves as an “instrument” under the leadership of the Spirit to bring that redemptive reign to bear on every dimension of life.
Tuesday, 18 May 2010
This continues my series on missional church.
An early wrong turn in missional church thinking was the radical secularisation of God's mission. The kingdom of God was tightly connected with secular well-being. Bodily health, freedom from oppressive political structures, and the like, were identified as the kingdom advancing.
Our Christian presence in the world is indispensable to Evangelism. But evangelism itself is the proclamation of the historical, biblical Christ as Saviour and Lord, with a view to persuading people to come to him personally and so be reconciled to God.
Monday, 17 May 2010
This continues my series on missional church.
As noted in my previous post, ‘mission’ has traditionally been focused on the ‘non-Christian’ world, and only ‘one of’ the functions of the local church.
In contrast, missional ecclesiology insists that any understanding of God’s assembled people – any ecclesiology – must be founded upon a deep conviction that that those assembled people are themselves, as an assembled people, sent by God to the world. Ed Stetzer asserts that in the Creed’s affirmation that the church is ‘apostolic’:
[…] apostolic is more than a “position”; it is a “posture”. […] [T]he root of the word apostle is “one sent… with a message. So we should be an apostolic church.
Harrison et al. capitalise on the connection between kaleo (‘call’) and ecclesia (lit. ‘called-out’; traditionally translated ‘church’), and also assume that the ‘called’ community – the church – should also be a calling community.
If […] the church is not winning souls […] the “called out” have become the “home-bound”, and the church has become little more than an inner circle or club where the original vision has been compromised. Members who leave this kind of church to start a new church plant should have little remorse for leaving.
Therefore, according to this view, a church which is not missional – which is not radically based on a sent-ness, a mission to the world – is not a true church.
Sunday, 16 May 2010
Saturday, 15 May 2010
I'm kicking off a series of posts on missional church.
Missional church involves the application of missiology to eccelsiology.
Missiology is the art of systematic reflection upon the propagation of the Christian faith. It has traditionally been applied to theological and practical reflection upon spreading the Christian faith beyond Western Christendom.
Christendom refers to countries where the prevailing culture has been deeply impacted by the gospel, viz: Europe, North America,
The task of spreading the Christian faith in this context has traditionally been called “evangelism”. The theology and practice of evangelism has traditionally assumed a social context of Christendom – the existence of mature, reliable churches, and cultural assumptions, shared by Christians and non-Christians alike, that have been deeply impacted by the gospel – although most people so not realise their theological, evangelical underpinnings.
Missiology has traditionally been applied to the rest of the world, beyond the boundaries of Christendom, where Christianity does not have a long history; where churches, denominations and theological traditions are relatively young and immature; and where the gospel has not made a major impact upon the culture.
Missiology has traditionally involved theological and practical reflection upon spreading the Christian faith in such contexts, where Christianity is alien, marginalised, novel, and probably unwelcome. It assumes that the cultural assumptions of the people trying to be reached by the missionaries are very different from Christian cultural assumptions, and that missionaries must work hard to understand the target culture, and find points of contact between it and the gospel, so that the gospel can be communicated in a manner comprehensible to the indigenous community. This includes, but goes beyond, the issue of translation – expressing biblical and theological terms in the target culture’s language. It embraces the art of contextualisation – the art of expressing the gospel, and other biblical teaching, in a manner that engages with the recipient culture’s deep assumptions, convictions, dreams, fears and longings, so that the recipients engage, with their whole person, the claims that the gospel makes upon their lives.
Missiology does not assume that indigenous churches, denominations and theological traditions are mature and self-sufficient. It has tried to walk that fine line between assisting relatively young churches without patronising them, and giving them independent authority and responsibility without risking heresy or burnout.
Missiology also assumes that indigenous churches need to express their Christian faith in ways that are appropriate to their culture. So again, missiology warily treads the line between patronisation – where the expression of Christianity is so alien, so ‘foreign’, as to be inauthentic and incomprehensible to the target culture – and syncretism – where so much indigenous, non-Christian thought-forms are taken on board that the gospel is fundamentally compromised. This balancing act is an important aspect of contextualisation.
Friday, 14 May 2010
Thursday, 13 May 2010
The urge to gamble is so universal, so deeply embedded in unregenerate human nature that from the earliest days the philosophers and moralists have assumed it to be evil. Cupiditas, the Romans called it - the longing for the things of this world, the naked, shameless greed for gain. It is the cause, perhaps, of all our troubles. Yet how easy it remains to understand the burning envy, felt by those posessing little, for those endowed with good aplenty. And gambling? Why, gambling offers to the poor the shining chance of something for for nothing.
Crude analysis! For to some it is gambling itself, the very process and the practice of gambling, that is so immensely pleasurable. So pleasurable indeed that gambling needs, for them, no spurious raison d'etre whatsoever, no necessary prospect of the jackpots and the windfalls and the weekends in Bermuda; just the heady, heavy opiate of the gambling game itself, with the promise of its thousand exhilarating griefs and dangerous joys. Win a million on the wicked spinning-wheel tonight, and where are you tomorrow night but back around the wicked spinning wheel?
Wednesday, 12 May 2010
A little voice whispered from the front pew: "Is he really God, mummy...?"
After a church service on Sunday morning, a young boy suddenly announced to his mother, “Mom, I've decided to become a minister when I grow up.”
“That’s great dear - but what made you decide that all of a sudden?”
“Well,” said the little boy, “I have to go to church on Sunday anyway, And I figure it will be more fun to stand up and yell, than to sit and listen.”
A 6-year-old was overheard reciting the Lord’s Prayer at a church service: “And forgive us our trash passes, as we forgive those who passed trash against us.”
A little girl became restless as the preacher’s sermon dragged on and on. Finally, she leaned over to her mother and whispered, “Mommy, if we give him the money now, will he let us go?”
A boy was watching his father, a pastor, write a sermon.
Monday, 10 May 2010
Sunday, 9 May 2010
"Missional Church" involves the application of missiology - the study of missions - to ecclesiology - the study of church. Basically, it assumes that church should be, in its very nature, "missional" - outward focused, engaging the world. Church must not be just for insiders, but also for outsiders.
- the God we worship as church is God, not only of the church, but of the whole world;
- Jesus died for the "whole world" in the sense that the offer of salvation through faith in Christ is offered to all people everywhere indiscriminately; and
- part of ordinary Christian discipleship is to love not just God and each other but the whole world.
Saturday, 8 May 2010
- I think it is, on the face of it, simply wrong. Even without Jesus and the Bible, I think there's evidence that there probably is a God. (a) The universe is full of evidence of purposeful, life-giving design (purposeful creation); (b) the life-giving inter-connectedness of the universe points to a good, life-giving creator who gives life through relationships (God the Holy Trinity); (c) the human tendency towards religious feelings and "worship" demonstrates there is an irreducible God-directed aspect of human nature (anthropology is necessarily theological and doxological); (d) and, purely on statistics, atheism represents a tiny minority of the world population - are we really going to say that almost everyone throughout history has been deluded?
- Let's say that statement is correct - "there's probably no God". Okay - but... oh dear... that still leaves a small chance that he exists! And if he does exist... maybe he doesn't like being ignored! Oh no! We really should find out..!
- Chris Deal of Punch has pointed out the yawning chasm between the strength of the atheist argument and the volume of their shouting. “Probably” isn’t enough, 26 March 2010. Note: Chris Deal is an agnostic.
Friday, 7 May 2010
25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; 26 and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” 27 “Yes, Lord,” she told him, “I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who was to come into the world.”
Jesus died – and rose
It’s like plucking a flower from a bush. The flower doesn’t shrivel up immediately. It stays beautiful for some time. But because the life giving sap doesn’t flow through it any more, it eventually shrivels us and dies.
John 11:25 … “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; 26 and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.
John 11:27 “Yes, Lord,” she [Martha] told him, “I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who was to come into the world.”
Wednesday, 5 May 2010
Monday, 3 May 2010
Saturday, 1 May 2010
While Giordino and his passengers were in the lock, Pitt quickly turned his attention to the boarding of the second submersible. He ordered the NUMA team women to enter first. Then he silently nodded for Stacy to follow.She hesitated at the hatch opening, shot him a strained, questioning look. She was standing quite still as though stunned by what was happening around her.'Are you going to die becuase I took your place?' she asked softly.Pitt flashed a madcap smile. 'Keep a date open for rum collins at sunset on the lanai of the Halakalani Hotel in Honolulu.'[...]As the submersible rolled into the air lock and the door closed with a sickening finality, Plunkett slapped Pitt's back with a great bear paw of a hand.'You're a brave one, Mr Pitt. No man could have played God better.'