on promoting theological education

theological famineIF you need an example of how NOT to do it – read this.   I find this approach not one that I could recommend.  I think maybe it has noble intentions as there is great need in the world for better resources for pastors and teachers in less developed areas of the world and especially in the global south where the church is growing faster then it can keep up with.   At the same time I think it somewhat misrepresents what theological education and “training for the ministry” is supposed to be about.  And perhaps unwittingly devalues the staunch realities and problems AND pain of true famines from which real people suffer.  It basically turns its back on the poor, the suffering, the oppressed.

As I see it, it is based on false juxtapositon of physical hunger and spiritual hunger.  They are not mirrors of each other.  They are worlds apart.  Many in the Western world are a far cry from true physical hunger and yet ALL human beings, rich or poor, free or slave, white or non-white are spiritually depraved and in desperate need of a SAVIOR.  It trivializes real hunger, real poverty, real suffering.

I think it reveals some ignorance (either they just don’t understand don’t know or are just not paying attention to it) of larger missiological contextual issues that are face in cross-cultural work.  It is a imposition of Western values on to other cultures which is a big big no-no in cross-cultural missions.  It reveals ignorance of the changing role of Westerners in world missions and or evangelization.  While there are plenty of places where westerns can be and are quite effective in evangelizing the lost where the national might be less effective (for a whole host of issues and reasons) the increasing responsibility of the Western Missionary is that of PARTNERSHIP, a coming along side nationals to reach the lost and to teach, tran, equip men and women for teaching/preaching roles in their own contexts.  The end goal of mission is not transference of one set of cultural values to another, it is TRANSFORMATION of the target culture to the glory of God.  I think it is not a good way to go about it and in my personal opinion, it would be best not to support this movement either financially, emotionally or any other sort.

It is true, there is a DERTH of theological and or ministerial resources for pastors, teachers, and leaders in the now dominant Christian world.  They are really truly asking for and desiring materials for them to tach and train folks in the Word to be sure the Bible is being well understood and followed  and adhered to in their own contexts.  But see even that raises issues as to the idea that they are looking to us for resources because (and I happen to have just enough world experience to know) they see us as successful and good and blessed by God so they want to learn from us and to emulate us.

Instead I think it would be good to help the best we can but not from the point of view of “theological famine” necessarily but in partnership in obedience to the great co-mission.  Partnering with them to teach and train their own people and maybe even from their own cultural perspectives – seems to me like a kind of theological colonialism to think we should go there and train them from our view so we know they are getting it right.

This is why I am a HUGE advocate for promoting Inductive Bible Study and that in a community context much like what we see in Mike and Tim’s book: People of the Book: Inviting Communities into Biblical Interpretation (Wipf and Stock).  That way we are working best to not IMPOSE our theology on them, but instead EQUIPPING them to study the Bible and draw their own conclusions in a way that is faithful to the Bibilcal text.  That way, we could learn something too!  🙂

Well I think that is enough of that!


Quote of the day on Evangelism

“Every person has an eternal soul and deserves a clear presentation of the gospel.” Most pastors would affirm that statement. Some hold it as a core value. We agree that evangelism needs to be a priority. But we are often too busy or too involved with our own families, friends, occupations, and church activities to pay much attention to those outside the church.

Ouch!  You can read more here!

Alan Hirsch on being a missionary incarnational church

Check out this amazing video with Alan Hirsch on the missional and incarnational DNA of the church! He says a lot in this video and its like every statement was a loaded one that needs unpacking – this is the kind of stuff that gets me fired up! lol!

Here’s Alan Hirsch explaining why he thinks that the church has to be both missional and incarnational. . http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=flRRjOvtPhE&feature=player_embedded#! … Read More

via scientia et sapientia

this is why I have a goal to do a ThM in Bible (to get as much Bible as I can) and then do a PhD in Intercultural Studies. All in good time I suppose. All in good time. 🙂

Book Reivew: Tactics: A Game Plan for Discussing your Christian Convictions

tacticsThanksto Andrew Rogers for allowing me to read and review Gregory Koukl’s latest book Tatics: A Game Plan for Discussion your Christian Convictions(Zondervan, 2009). 

Apologetics is a subject that can create a variety of reactions from those who hear the word.  Some like apologetics and work to do well at it.  Others really dislike what is perceived as aggressive behavior and just get turned off by the whole idea.  They argue it’s better to build relationships and such.  Well, it’s been my experience that apologetics is a way of defending the Christian faith that is flexible enough that it can work well with complete strangers and with long time friends in need of the Lord.  Still there are others who think of apologetics and just plain get scared if not overwhelmed.  Those who get worried about sharing their faith often think of those aggressive scenes we all saw at the campus square or they think apologetics has to be confrontational and aggressive – well, sometimes yes, but most of the time, not at all.   What Koukl presents can be done over a cup of coffee or while hanging out watching the ball game

If you like apologetics, Gregory Koukl’s book Tactics will just give you more tools to work with.  If you are one who gets scared there is hope out there for you!  Koukl’s book is designed for the novicewho doesn’t know much about how apologetics works or even for the one who thinks they need to have the Bible down pat and have all this information and knowledge.  The truth is, all you need is a willing heart and desire to see friends, family, or co-workers come to know the Lord.  Nothing in this book will get you to convert people right out of the box – but it will help you get people to think through the reasons for why they believe what they believe

A key principle in the book is:

Without God’s work, nothing else works; but with God’s work, many things work.  Under the influence of the Holy Spirit, love persuades.  By the power of God, the gospel transforms.  And with Jesus at work, arguments convince.  God is happy to use each of these methods (ch 2, pg 40 in my gallery copy).

More than knowing all the right information what we need is the Holy Spirit to come alongside us and empower us to act with wisdom in helping people break down every thing that sets itself up against the knowledge of God.  Here is the thing, with God’s help you can do it! 

So what are some of the things Koukl presents that can help a person be effective in sharing their faith with others or in helping others see the flaws in their thinking that keep them from knowing God? 

His primary tactic comes from the old detective TV show, Columbo.  In this show, Columbo would investigate a crime scene and in his mind figure out the perpetrator was standing right next to him!  To get things rolling he would say “Do you mind of I ask you a question?”  This is the basis for what Koukl calls the Columbo tactic: Asking questions.  Like Columbo who would ask lots of questions – Koukl says this is the same thing we want to get in to the habit of doing, asking questions.  Don’t make statements, ask questions.  For example, of a person says flatly “Jesus Christ is the Son of God!”  Another could easily reply, “No he is not!”  Then what?  You’re stumped.   The other person becomes in control of the conversation and you are done.  What Koukl wants to teach us novice apologists to do is turn the situation around so that you are in control at all times forcing the other person to explain things while you lead the way.

How do we maintain control of the conversation?  Ask questions and avoid outright statements.  This is the heart of the Columbo tactic and this is what drives the rest of the tactics Koukl introduces throughout the rest of the book.   Through use of the Columbo tactic you will learn to “get in the driver’s seat” and control the conversation, you will reverse the burden of proof to the other person (make them explain why they believe they way they do) and in the process lead the way

If you want to know more about this, you’ll have to read the book! 

Other tactics Koukl discusses are things like what he calls “suicide,” detecting views that self destruct such as “it’s wrong to accuse others of being wrong.”  This view self destructs because the person becomes wrong for telling you you are wrong to believe in God.  Another tactic is called taking the roof off.  This has to do with reducing a false argument to the point of absurdity so the other person is forced to see the flaw of his or her own logic.  For example, the argument of relativism– it’s absurd for a person to go to a debate arguing for points of relativism against someone arguing for absolute truths since they are in turn arguing an absolute: relativism.  If he really believed things were relative, then he would not have even showed up to the debate.   Koukl will even teach you how to deal with “Steamrollers,” people who just intend to roll everyone over and think give an inkling to why they may be wrong. 

So this is just a brief synopsis of Gregory Koukl’s book Tatics: A Game Plan for Discussion your Christian Convictions.  I personally really enjoyed reading this book and think it would make a really great addition to ones repertoire of apologetics. 

Be Blessed!

New books

So, I took advantage of a CBD sale and got a couple books for less than $2.00 each!

brevard-childs1One is Brevard Childs’ Biblical Theology: A Proposal, Fortress Press, 2002.  It is quite small and compact with the actual text at 80 pages.  It is an adaptation from Child’s larger more significant work: Biblical Theology of the Old and New Testaments: Theological Reflections on the Christian Bible, Augsburg Fortress Press, 1992.    The description at the CBD site reads:

After presenting a historical overview of biblical theology as it has traditionally been written, Professor Childs discusses issues vital to theological construction that have not been emphasized, such as differences between the Hebrew and Greek canons; the Old and New Testaments; and appropriate subject matter. Includes bibliography.”

This is my first book by Childs or adapted as such.  Perhaps it will motivate me to get the larger work from which it was adapted?


fanning-the-flameThe second is an edited compilation of articles on the Bible, Cross, and Mission – called Fanning the Flame: Bible Cross & Mission – Meeting the Challenge in a Changing World, Zondervan 2003).  The description at the CBD website reads:

Titled after the landmark 2003 National Evangelical Anglican Congress – the first such event in fifteen years – Fanning the Flame contains important material written specially for the occasion. Its theme of “Bible, Cross and Mission” explores why each of these themes can rightly claim to be essential to our identity as evangelicals, and why each is crucial in a different way:

The Bible is God’s Word from which we must not stray, by which we must live, and which we must proclaim.

The Cross is God’s gift from which everything we believe and do flows.

Mission is God’s calling to which we are all committed.

It had Christopher Wright so I figured its going to be a good read.

A.W. Tozer on Evangelism

Evangelism: Spiritually Worthy?

And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, “Which,” He said, “you have heard from Me.”   –Acts 1:4

The task of the church is twofold: to spread Christianity throughout the world and to make sure that the Christianity she spreads is the pure New Testament kind….

Christianity will always reproduce itself after its kind. A worldly-minded, unspiritual church, when she crosses the ocean to give her witness to peoples of other tongues and other cultures, is sure to bring forth on other shores a Christianity much like her own….

The popular notion that the first obligation of the church is to spread the gospel to the uttermost parts of the earth is false. Her first obligation is to be spiritually worthy to spread it. Our Lord said “Go ye,” but He also said, “Tarry ye,” and the tarrying had to come before the going. Had the disciples gone forth as missionaries before the day of Pentecost it would have been an overwhelming spiritual disaster, for they could have done no more than make converts after their likeness, and this would have altered for the worse the whole history of the Western world and had consequences throughout the ages to come. Of God and Men, 35-37.

“Lord, I don’t want to be guilty of producing inferior disciples.  Send Your Holy Spirit that I might be empowered to produce converts with whom You can be pleased. Amen.”

“New” Books

Thanks to Nick I now have:

John R. W. Stott’s The Living Church: Convictions of a Lifelong Pastor, IVP 2007.  




Scott Floyd’s Crisis Counseling: A Guide for Pastors and Professionals. Kregel, 2008.  Dr. Floyd helps readers understand the nature of crises events, how individuals are impacted, and how to best provide help during and following times of trauma, loss, and grief.



I look forward to the reading!  Thanks Nick!  

evangelism and theology

Do they mix? Michael Green in his 1970 work Evangelism in the Early Church (Eerdmans, 1970, 2004) noted in his intro that typically an evangelist is not interested in theology and theologians are not interested in evangelism.

Green wants us to know he is committed to both, but I wonder about his assertion? I don’t know too many evangelists who exemplify good theology or even show interest in larger theological issues – most of the time they are about Jesus and seeing people come to saving faith in his work on the cross – yet I haven’t seen too many ivory tower theologians either out street preaching either. Often they might be more concerned with things like textual criticism, form criticism, source criticism, and other various criticisms along with correct doctrine and theology.

So, do they mix? What say you?