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!


The Bible and the Missio Dei

doing a series of posts from the past.  this was posted early January 2006 after a class one night on the mission of God:

Missio Dei:

MAJOR Social Concerns of the Covenant (i.e., The Bible):

1.   Personhood – Everone’s person is to be secure.

2.   False accusation –  Everyone’s to be secure against slander and false accusation.

3.   Women – No woman is to be taken advantage of within her subordinate status in society.

4.   Punishment – Punishment for wrongdoing shall not be excessive so that the culprit is dehumanized.

5.   Dignity – Every [person’s] dignity and right to be God’s freedman and servant are to be honored and safegaurded.

6.    Inheritence – Every [person’s] inheritence in the promised land is to be secure.

7.    Property – Everyone’s property is to be secure.

8.   Fruit of Labor – Everyone is to receive the fruit of his labors.

9.   Fruit of the Ground – Everyone is to share the fruit of the ground.

10.   Rest on the Sabbath – Everyone, down to the humblest servant and the resident alien, is to share the weekly rest of God’s Sabbath.

11.   Marriage – The marriage relationship is to be kept inviolate.

12.   Exploitation – No one, however disabled, impoverished or powerless, is to be oppressed or exploited.

13.     Fair Trial – Everyone is to have free access to the courts and is to be afforded a fair trial.

14.   Social Order – Every person’s God-given place in the social order is to be honored.

15.   Law – No one shall be above the law, not even the King.

16 – Animals – Concern for the welfare of other creatures is to be extended to the animal world.

For specific verses please see page 271 in The NIV Study Bible!

Craig S. Keener on John 3:16

The Assemblies of God Enrichment Journal has several good articles out this summer and one is Craig Keener on John 3:16.  Looks like pretty good stuff especially given his scholarship on John!   Here is a segment:

The world is the object of salvation. God loved not just His obedient Son, but also the world that did not know Him and opposed Him.1 God’s love for the entire world reminds us He wants everyone to believe in Jesus and receive salvation.

Some of Jesus’ contemporaries emphasized God’s special love for Israel or for the righteous, but they did not recognize that God loved everyone. In the chapter following John 3:16, however, some Samaritans began to understand. They acknowledged Jesus as the Savior of the world (4:42; cf. 1 John 4:14). The “world” included Samaritans, whom most Jews despised. If it included Samaritans, it also included all other peoples, including those we might be tempted to despise today.

It may take more effort to bring God’s light to people groups shrouded in darkness, but there is no people group and no individual beyond the pale of God’s love. Jesus shed His blood for all. If we honor His sacrifice, we will love and serve across ethnic, cultural, and religious lines.

Because God gave His Son for the world does not mean everyone is saved; it means salvation is available for anyone. John 3:17 emphasizes that God’s purpose in sending His Son was not to condemn the world; it was already condemned. Instead, He sent His Son to save the world. Jesus is the sacrifice that appeases God’s anger for sins, not only ours, but also those of the entire world (1 John 2:2). Salvation is for “whoever believes.”

We should be motivated to share the good news because God desires everyone to receive salvation. When we think of unreached people groups, we remember that Jesus already paid the price for their salvation. However, they still must believe to be saved. This necessity invites us to follow our Lord’s sacrificial example to do whatever necessary to bring the unsaved the message that God loves them so greatly that He gave His own Son.

It is a wonderful thing that God loves the WHOLE world, not just certain people and desires that all come to repentance and salvation through his Son Jesus Christ!


QOTD: on missions

we sow division within the body of Christ when we critique in such a way that those we disagree with on minor issues are perceived as having major doctrinal issues and are compromising the gospel. It breeds suspicion and creates disunity. Furthermore, we sow division when we do not fully understand the position of others–and ignore their calls of “foul” when their positions have been misrepresented.

from the pen of Dr Ed.  I think he is right.  What is the problem with having a holistic approach to the mission of God in this world?  Do we think all we have to do is preach the gospel all good enough?  what about that cold glass of water?  If we do both are we missing something?  Hardly!  God forbid we should actually help people better their lives as we preach and disciple the nations.

why all the nitpickiness and dividing over things?

The Missional Church

Quote of the Day:

God is about a big purpose in and for the whole of creation. The church has been called into life to be both the means of this mission and a foretaste of where God is inviting all creation to go. Just as its Lord is a mission-shaped God, so the community of God’s people exists, not for themselves but for the sake of the work. Mission is therefore not a program or project some people in the church do from time to time (as in “mission trip,” “mission budget,” and so on); the church’s very nature is to be God’s missionary people. We use the word missional to mark this big difference.

Mission is not about a project or a budget, or a one-off event somewhere; it’s not even about sending missionaries. A missional church is a community of God’s people who live into the imagination that they are, by their very nature, God’s missionary people living as a demonstration of what God plans to do in and for all of creation in Jesus Christ.

From the intro of Roxburgh and Romanuk’s The Missional Leader: Equipping Your Church to Reach a Changing World (Jossey-Bass Leadership Network Series) p.xv Jossey-Bass, 2006.

What say you? I guess my only quip is that the missional thrust of the Church has existed from the very beginning and we’re all acting like it is the new deal. Old is new?

still around

just not always with stable internet connection and still in a bit of a wondering phase since when we left the Canyon.  We did just that, we up and left – we did not have time to plan our “exodus” (does anybody in these kinds of situations?) – been keeping up on the blogs when I can and we are still figuring a way forward and have yet to land in Phoenix.  It’s pretty rough and tumble for sure.

One thought I’ve reflecting on is the connection between the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead and the missio dei.  They are connected you know, and interrelated – the incarnation and resurrection were/are the impetus of the missio dei – they are what make it possible if not necessary.  Resurrection leads to Mission.  A Resurrection life in Jesus leads to a missional life in Jesus.  In fact, Mission flows out of the Resurrection life of Jesus, which is also in us (as Paul tells us in Romans, that Spirit which raised Jesus from the dead lives in us).  The fact that Jesus rose from the dead should compel us to pursue God’s salvation to the ends of the earth.  Why wouldn’t it?  Do we think the benefits of the resurrection are for us alone?  They are not.  Instead, they are to be shared, not only in community and care for one another, but also in proclamation and in care for others that they too may know and experience the risen life of Jesus in them as well.

all for now.

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. 🙂

The greatest hinderance to missions

says Christopher Wright is idolatryHere is a portion of what he had to say at the recent 3rd Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization:

God’s people today, like in the Old Testament, have fallen to worshiping the false gods and idols of the world, said the international director of U.K.-based Langham Partnerships as he spoke before the thousands attending the Third Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization.

“Idolatry … is the biggest single obstacle to world mission,” said Wright, who will be the main drafter of the much-anticipated Cape Town Commitment that will come out of the weeklong gathering of mission-minded Christian leaders.

According to Wright, the three idols are: power and pride, popularity and success, and wealth and greed.

Many evangelical leaders, he said, have become obsessed about their status and power in the Christian church and have become disobedient to Christ in the process. They worship popularity and therefore exaggerate or report dishonest statistics to make themselves look more successful than they are Similar to the false prophets of old, these leaders claim to speak the word of God but really act in their own self-interest.

The Church was dazzled by these super apostles who boasted about their credentials and their impressive speaking and great popularity,” said the theologian, whose ministry was once led by John Stott, the evangelical leader who was the main drafter of the first two Lausanne covenants.

But the Kingdom of God cannot be built on the foundations of dishonesty and lies, such as questionable statistics of success, he said. It also cannot be built based on the false teaching of prosperity gospel, which distorts what it means to be blessed by God and does not properly teach about suffering and the cross, Wright added.

“We are a scandal and a stumbling block to the mission of God,” Wright stated.

Ouch!  But I think Wright is dead on.  There is a serious problem in the church when there is, for example, in the case of one congregation I know of, a 25-30 year gap between the time one congregation sends out one or more long term career missionaries, and when they send the next one out, if at all.  Maybe this indicates a shift in thinking about missions, but still, it is not a good sign.

I happen to know a few long term missionaries who are nearing retirement and they are all wondering where the new missionaries are going to come from, especially when missions conventions are either altogether non-existent or done in haphazard fashion where the missionaries are only allowed a few minutes to share their visions, aren’t given much time to interact with congregations and so on.

Why?  One possibility is as Wright is suggesting – congregations have lost the vision to engage in cross-cultural mission due to various idolatrous practices and attitudes.   I am concerned too this can happen as well when we sing the song “everybody is a missionary” because, as one Stephen Neill once said, “When everything is missions, nothing is missions” and when everything becomes missions then, I think, urgency to proclaim the gospel can be lost because areas of the world where it needs to be more strongly supported or emphasized end up loosing out, and then, unreached peoples continue to go on unreached while we stay safe in our nice big mega-church buildings patting ourselves on the back for being such good and faithful Christians, when more likely we’re just participating in a closed system of self congratulation and idolatry – which is what Christ Wright is getting at.

Time is short people, we can’t waste time on ourselves and our echo chamber conversations – the work of the gospel must go on and carried out with urgency and diligence.



3rd Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization

For those interested in things related to cross-cultural mission – Oct 16-25 worldwide mission leaders are holding the 3rd Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization.   It is being held in Cape Town, South Africa – it is an invitation only event and is a growing network of some 4000 Christian leaders (from across all denominations and Christian ministries) who are solely committed to the cause of world evangelization.

The event will be live bogged (blog post will be put up daily reflecting on the conference and things said during the conference, etc) and podcasts put up.   Here are a couple of sites to follow the live blogs and podcasts:

One is with the Assemblies of God on their Ministry Direct website: http://www.ministrydirect.com/blogs/Lausanne_2010/

And the Lausanne website: http://www.lausanne.org/cape-town-2010

Finally, if you are interested, final papers for the conference are here: http://conversation.lausanne.org/en

Should be lots of good stuff!

New Book: Apostolic Function

I know I said a while ago “no more review books.”  But I did have a caveat: except if authors sent them or they just appeared.  Well, my friend Alan Johnson sent my a copy of his recently published book Apostolic Function in 21st Century Missions  published by the William Carey Library which is with the US Center for World Mission.  

Alan spent the 2006-2007 academic year as the J. Philip Hogan Professor of World Missions at the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary, in Springfield, MO.  This is a yearly professorship to be chaired by various AG missionaries from around the world, where they spend one semester teaching and lecturing on missions and then spend the second semester writing a monograph on some aspect of mission.  For Alan Johnson, his subject is the issue of where mission is to occur as it relates to unreached peoples; places where the gospel has yet to be proclaimed.   He knows his subject well.  For the last 25 years he and his wife have been AGWM missionaries in Thailand (Christianity is less than 2% there, which qualifies it as still an unreached nation).  His work has been primarily among the slum communities in Bangkok (the urban poor), where he still lives and works. 

Since this is not a review just yet, I’ll leave it off with a blurb on the book (from the WCL website):

In the past we have focused on the “why” of missions in terms of motives, the “what” of missions in terms of the content of the message, and the “how” of missions in terms of methodologies and strategies, but the “where” question, in terms of where we send cross-cultural workers, has simply been assumed; it has meant crossing a geographic boundary.

In Apostolic Function in 21st Century Missions, Alan R. Johnson introduces the idea of apostolic function as the paradigm of missionary self-identity that reminds us to focus our efforts on where Christ is not named.  He then examines in detail the “where” paradigm in missions, frontier mission missiology, with a sympathetic critique and a review of the major contributions of unreached people group thinking.  Johnson concludes by illustrating his notion of seeking to integrate missions paradigms and discussing of issues that relate specifically to the “where” questions of missions today.

Personally I cannot think of a more important topic related to Christian mission so I look forward to reading it and getting out a review!