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!

Ralph D. Winter 1924 – 2009

RDW-BW_headshotI was shocked (only because I had been out of the loop) to learn yesterday when I got the latest Mission Frontier Bulletin that on May 20, 2009 at 9:05 p.m., Ralph D. Winter, founder of the US. Center for World Missionpassed away in his home in Pasadena, CA.

Winter was a world renown strategist who had a very significant influence on the direction of the Protestant Church’s world wide missions efforts.  He was singularly most influential through is work on the Mission Frontiers Bulletin and in founding and running the U.S. Center for World Mission located in Pasadena California.  He had a huge impact on many a young person who is now involved in missions work both locally and globally.  

For me reading his editorials challenged me to think about missions in different ways and reading the Mission Frontiers Bulletin pushed me to new levels of understanding with regard to missiology and related issues.  For example it wasn’t always just about evangelism as in witnessing but also about finding ways to fix various social problems or even finding cures for various diseases and so on.  Missions is not always and only just about witnessing, it is also about finding ways to show people the real impact the gospel can have on cultures.  It was also through the Mission Frontiers Bulletin I learned about people groupings and the need to read specific groups and not just countries.  I have gotten the Bulletin for a lot of years and I plan to continue getting it as missions is a passion of mine and want to always be challenged to think about missions in new and creative ways. 

You can read more about him here.

On being a Great Commission Christian

Ajith Fernando in his NIVAC work on Acts writes in relation to being a Great Commission Christian:

ActsWhen we realize the important place that the Great Commission had in the early church, I think we can endorse the use of phrases like “Great Commission Christian” and “Great Commission Lifestyle.”  Some object to these phrases, thinking that they will detract people from other aspects of Christian mission, such as fulfilling the social mandate.  This can happen and has, alas, happened with Christians who have overemphasized the Great Commission.  But it should not happen.  The social mandate is clear in the Bible, especially in the Old Testament.  We must never be afraid to be fully biblical.  True, combining these two elements of mission is not easy, as we have found in our own ministry with the poor.  But when was biblical ministry easy?  Thank God that there is a noble history of evangelicals who put into practice this dual commitment to the social and evangelistic aspects of our mission. 

In view of the urgency of Jesus’ commission, we should all seek to be Great Commission Christians and endeavor to have all Christian organizations and churches to be Great Commission movements.  We should constantly live under the influence of our mission, so that we are willing to pay whatever price is necessary in order to reach the lost.  Mission, of course, includes involvement across the street and around the globe.  It is the responsibility of Christian leaders first to burn with passion themselves for mission and to pay the price of such commitment (see 10Cor 9); then, out of the credibility won from such passionate commitment, they must constantly keep the vision of mission before the people they lead. 

Ajith Fernando.  Acts, NIVAC.  Zondervan, 1998, 69. 

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Indeed and Amen!  This is what we try to do at least once a month when I or Debbie preach a sermon on missions – we try to keep the Great Commission before our congregation.  Why?  Because a passion for missions burns in our own hearts and we are paying the price.  We live here at the canyon and don’t get paid for this pastorate.  We work like everyone else does (the pay is quite low) but we also “work” as we seek to extend the kingdom of God in the Grand Canyon Village and in the lives of those who live and work here, which includes international students from all over the world, even those from unreached nations and people groups (Thailand, China, Vietnam, and other places)! 

Come, will you be a Great Commission Christian too?

on Apostolic ministry

Luke G at ThinkTheology.org asked me in the comments if @ AGTS were I was required to interact much with the cessationist positions regarding the office of Apostle and what are your conclusions?

Here was my edited response:

We didn’t interact with cessationists positions – not too much.  As to apostles AGTS did have a symposium in the fall of 2004 on subject of Apostles and Apostolic ministry which turned into a short book He Gave Apostles (GPH, 2005).

At the moment I tend to follow that true apostolic ministry/function is seen in direct cross-cultural ministry work among unreached people groups – places where the gospel has yet to be preached and churches have yet to be planted.  In other words I see the true Apostle as being one who plants churches among the unreached.  Hey, that sounds kind of like Paul doesn’t it?

Peter Wagner is not a true Apostle in my estimation – but rather a self appointed one.

But that is me, others may have different ideas.

NT Theology quote of the day

– I. Howard Marshall, in his NT Theology, writes:

New Testament theology is essentially missionary theology.”

Splendid.  Splendid indeed!

Now I just have to get this book!  Forget the rest – Marshall’s got it!

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EDIT: here is more of the quote to give it context.  On page 34 and following he is asking what should be the focus of the NT (witness to the fact that Jesus Christ is Savior and Lord).  He goes on to write:  (paragraph breaks are mine for ease of reading)

“It may, however, be more helpful to recognize them more specifically as the documents of mission.  The subject matter is not, as it were, Jesus in himself, or God in himself but Jesus in his role as Savior and Lord.  New Testament is essentially missionary theology

By this I mean the documents came into being as the result of a two-part mission, first, the mission of Jesus sent by God to inagurate his kingdom with the blessings that it brings to people and to call people to respond to it, and then the mission of his followers called to continue his work by proclaiming him as Lord and Savior, and calling people to faith and ongoing commitment to him, as a result of which his church grows. 

The theology springs out of this movement and is shaped by it, and in turn the theology shapes the continuing mission of the church.  The primary function of the documents is thus to testify to the gospel that is proclaimed by Jesus and his followers.  Their teaching can be seen as a fuller exposition of that gospel.  They are also concerned with the spiritual growth of those who are converted to the Christian faith.  They show how the church should be shaped for its mission, and they deal with those problems that form obtsacles to the advancement of the mission. 

In short, people who are called by God to be missionaries are carrying out their calling by the writing of Gospels, letters, and related materials.  They are concerned to make converts and then to provide for their nurture, to bring new believers to birth and to nourish them to maturity”  (34-35 of Marshall’s New Testament Theology, IVP, 2004).

Some other statements are:

(re: Acts) “…a record telling the story of the mission in such a way as to show how, when the gospel was proclaimed by the missionaries, it was seen to be truely the gospel in that it brought salvation to those who responded to it” (35). 

“The New Testament tells the story of the mission and lays special emphasis on expounding the message proclaimed by the missionaries” (35). 

“A recognition of this missionary character of the documents will help us to see them in true perspective and to interpret them in the light of their intention” (35). 

That is the most I can reproduce here, if I haven’t already reproduced too much already, without violating copyright laws.   I hope it helps explain the quote more fully.  It’s really really good stuff.   It seems to me that anything less than a missionary focus of the Bible is an out-of-focus view of the Bible.

I hope this helps.  If you want more, you’ll have to buy it or use the Amazon reader to gleen more info.

New books in the mail: doorstep edition

Today as I took out the garbage, I nearly tripped over a box!  It had the label InterVarsity Press on it!   I opened it up to find three books I had requested to review:

community-of-the-kingThe first one is one written by Howard Snyder ( out of Asbury Seminary) called The Community of the King Revised Ed (2004).   In this work Snyder explores the relationship between the Kingdom of God and the church by asking questions such as “what is the kingdom of God?” “what role does it play in history?” and “what does it mean for the church to be an agent of the kingdom?”   Snyder seeks to explore implications of the kingdom for the church in daily life.  The church, he avers, “is part of God’s dramatic plan to reconcile all things to himself.”  It is through the church, his people, that God wants to accomplish his ultimate purposes in the the world.   It seemed interesting enough so I decided to check it out.  I have a feeling I won’t be disappointed.

 

paul-the-missionaryThe next one is on missions called Paul the Missionary: realities, Strategies, and Methods (2008 ) by Eckhard J. Schnabel.  Schnabel, himself a former missionary to the Philippines, previously wrote a 2 volume magnum opus on Early Christian Mission that is recognized as one of the most authoratative and complete works on the missionary efforts of the first century church.  Now, in this book he condenses that research and focuses in on Paul and his missionary work. 

An excerpt from the IVP site:

Schnabel first focuses the spotlight on Paul’s missionary work–the realities he faced, and the strategies and methods he employed. Applying his grasp of the wide range of ancient sources and of contemporary scholarship, he clarifies our understanding, expands our knowledge and corrects our misconceptions of Paul the missionary.

In a final chapter Schnabel shines the recovered light of Paul’s missionary methods and practices on Christian mission today. Much like Roland Allen’s classic Missionary Methods: St. Paul’s or Ours? of nearly a century ago, Schnabel offers both praise and criticism. For those who take the time to immerse themselves in the world of Paul’s missionary endeavor, this final chapter will be both rewarding and searching.

Christian mission, I believe, is an issue close to the heart of God.  In essense, it is why Jesus Christ came into the world – he came on a mission, sent by the Father to seek and save that which was lost.  Now, just as the Father sent him, he has sent us – we are on a mission: to see God’s salvation reach the ends of the earth.  I look forward to reading this massive work (518 pages)! 

incarnation1Finally, along with Nick and Robert, I got T.F. Torreance’s Incarnation: The Person and Life of Christ (2008).   Incarnation is the first in a two part systematic theology on the person and work of Jesus Christ.  The next one due out will be on the Atonement. 

From the inside book cover:

[Torrance’s] new book on Christology addresses both heart and head through a deeply biblical, unified, Christ centered and trinitarian theology.  Torrance presents a full account of the meaning and significance of the life and person of Jesus Christ, demonstrating that his work of revelation and reconciliation can only be understood in the light of who he is – real God and real man united in one person.  Torrance contends that the whole life of Jesus Christ – from his birth, through is ministry, cross, resurrection and ascension to his second coming – is of saving significance

All I can say is wow.  I look forward to getting into this and learning more of the Lord we love and serve!  Ps. would anyone happen to know which icon is used for the cover of this book?  If you could let me know I’d appreciate it.

Welp, I’ve got a lot of reading to do!  Be blessed!

New book to note: Christian Mission in the Modern World

christian-missionIVP is re-publishing John Stoot’s Stott’s classic: Christian Mission in the Modern World (January 2009) in the IVP Classics Series.  This is a book people are going want to get!  It will be a must read.  What is more important in role of the church in the world than its mission?  Some say discipleship, others say community, and so on.  I say all these fall under mission.  The mission of the church is to see the Lord’s salvation to the ends of the earth.  Period.  Think about it.

About the Book:

Some emphasize Christian mission as verbal proclamation and “saving souls.” Others focus on global justice issues or relief and development work. Can we do both?

In this classic book, John Stott shows that Christian mission must encompass both evangelism and social action. He offers careful definitions of five key terms–mission, evangelism, dialogue, salvation and conversion. Through a thorough biblical exploration of these concepts, Stott provides a model for ministry to people’s spiritual and physical needs alike.

Ultimately, Stott points to the example of Jesus, who modeled both the Great Commission of proclamation and the Great Commandment of love and service. This balanced, holistic approach to mission points the way forward for the work of the church in the world.

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.

Matthew 5:43-48 – NLT

Today, Dave Black posted a prayer request for some fellow worker and evangelists in Ethiopia who have been jailed for their faith (See post for Monday Aug 18th, 2008, 8:38 am).  He writes:

Here’s what I’m saying, friends.  Please listen carefully.  God is looking for disciples who will live for Him sacrificially. People who love their enemies.  People who do good to those who persecute them.  People who love those who hate them. And here’s the most amazing thing about it all: As much as God loves this wonderful couple, He loves their persecutors — He loves their daughter’s murderer! — to the very same degree.  I’ll put it plainly: If you do not love the enemies of Christianity, you are not my brother.  That’s because you are not a Jesus-follower.  If you are not willing to be martyred to share Jesus’ love with the persecutors of Jesus, you are not a Christian.  Don’t tell me about your church membership.  Don’t tell me about your tithing.  Don’t tell me about your perfect Sunday School attendance.  Do you love Muslims? (This is not a rhetorical question.  Please answer yes or no.)  Do you love Iraqis?  Do you love Iranians?  Do you love Hispanics?  Do you show it?  Do you prove it by your deeds?  I write in my forthcoming book The Downward Path of Jesus:

Radical disciples of Jesus embrace those on the other side of the dividing walls of hostility in our world, even including our “enemies.” Christianity transcendsall boundaries – cultural, racial, political, geographical, natural, even national.

Do you really believe that?  If so, while you are praying for this precious couple in Jesus as well as for their persecutors, it might also be a good time for you to remove those idolatrous American flags from your sanctuaries and get real about the Body of Christ. Friends, Jesus is not an American. He’s not a Democrat or a Republican.  He’s a foot washer.  Are you? Am I?

This is some serious stuff.  We Americans know and understand little what real persecution is – to us persecution might be a boss who won’t adjust our schedule for church or something.  Do we even know what it means to love our enemies?”  I wonder because too often we struggle enough to “love one another.” I think we hardly even know what that means too, loving one another.  

As I have shared before I am reading through Philip Comfort, Jason Driesbach’s The Many Gospels of Jesus (Tyndale, 2008), which has all four Gospels in it to compare with other gnostic and non-canonical Gospels to figure the real story of Jesus.  I am continually amazed at how the new updated NLT renders things.  Here is the passage from the “Sermon on the Mount” about loving our enemies: 

You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy.  But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you!  In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike.  If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that?  Even corrupt tax collectors do that much.  If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else?  Even pagans do that.  But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.”

This has to be one of the more challenging parts of Jesus teachings for me than most others – when I know someone has a problem with me, in the sense of being an enemy – I really have a hard time getting along with them or even wanting to make the effort to work things out or continue to relate to him or her despite the tension – a really hard time.  Yet, what is Jesus challenging me to do?  He calls us to live for him sacrificially.  Why?  Because it is not about me or what I want – it is about the Kingdom and pursuing the purposes of God in both my life and in the life of others.  Are we willing to live the life God has called us to live?  It is up to us, it is up to you.

“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!