Friday, November 30, 2007
  A thinking theologian: reformation now!
Chris-Wright---blueChris Wright, the International Ministries Director of the (John Stott's) Langham Partnership and author of a number of popular and scholarly books on the Old Testament has issued a stirling call for reformation, among Evangelical Christians. The whole article is well, very well, worth reading (and it is short) despite its dull as ditchwater title: Theology Working Group Focuses on Lausanne Core Slogan.

The core of his case is succinctly put:
My big concern is not just that the world church should become more evangelical, but that world evangelicals should become more biblical.
Then since he takes biblical prophecy seriously, he socks it to us:

For there are scandals and abuses in the world-wide evangelical community that are reminiscent of the worst features of the pre-reformation medieval church in Europe.
  • There are some mega leaders, like ancient prelates, wielding vast wealth, power and control – unaccountable, unattractive and unChristlike
  • There are multitudes of ordinary Christians going to so-called evangelical churches, where they never hear the Bible preached or taught. They live in scandalous biblical ignorance.
  • Instead they are offered, in the ‘prosperity gospel’ a form of 21st century indulgences, except that you pay your money not for release from pains after death, but for receipt of material ‘blessings’ here and now.
  • And there are evangelicals parading ungodly alliances with secular power – political, economic and military – identifying themselves (and the gospel they claim to preach) with agendas and ideologies that reflect human empire not the kingdom of God in Christ.
Will we have the courage to identify and renounce such scandals and to seek a reformation of heart, mind and practice?
Read it the full short article!

Discuss it! Send the link to friends, blog it (so Google picks it up) this needs to be heard.

He concludes:

The 16th Century Reformation was criticized because it lacked missionary awareness and energy until much later. They were so obsessed with tackling abuses in the church that they
neglected world mission. How ironic and tragic will it be if 21st Century evangelicals are so obsessed with world mission that we neglect abuses in the church, and remain wilfully blind to our own idolatries and syncretism?
  • If reformation without mission was defective,
  • then mission without reformation will be deluded, self-defeating and even dangerous.
The Lausanne Covenant, like the Bible itself, commits us to the integration of both.

May God grant us the will and humility to respond with equal commitment.

PS I forgot to mention that it was our principal, Paul, who pointed me to this item, he has not blogged (Paul's blog) it himself yet, but I'll be interested to read what he writes as it is likely to be more thoughtful than this knee-jerk jump for joy!

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Thursday, October 25, 2007
  Evangelicals on You Tube
The World Evangelical Alliance has become a user on You Tube, joining thousands (and perhaps millions) of individual Evangelicals and churches who already use the medium to communicate. For now the videos are basic "talking heads", but Geoff Tunnicliffe, the International Director of WEA, is a Canadian with a soft voice and a gentle approach, so they should work well, leaving the edgier stuff for the less institutional Christian presence ;-)

In the please-pray-for-Myanma video a few news clips, and in the Korean missionaries video some shots of the people being talked about could have enlivened the presentation. If many people watch these then perhaps the use of the medium will get more sophisticated - though hopefully still with the occasional and therefore low(ish) tech approach of these...

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Tuesday, August 07, 2007
  Bible $2.0
Well, actually for .5% less than that! Yes apparently if you live in the USA you can buy a Bible for less than $2.0. The only catch is that you have to buy 24 of them. But at $47.76 the one you keep for yourself is not over expensive and the 23 you give away might change a life. Especially as these are CEV translation Bibles, nice clear simple English to make the words of the "word" come alive!

CEV is the translation used by PodBible, so all you PodBible listeners from the USA should sign up today and start giving Bibles away to your pastors, teachers and friends asap. (Your pastors and teachers need them so they can start reading from a clear simple easy to understand version, so people stop thinking the Bible is complicated and old fashioned and can start really hearing what it says!)

HT to Lingamish who told me about this great deal!

Bible Society in NZ's sales page seems to be down, does anybody know if there is a similar deal here? Maybe it is the rush of orders that crashed their server ;-)

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Friday, May 18, 2007
  Teaching the Universal Soldier
Scot McKnight has a couple of posts answering someone who asked him Why leave seminary for college? The first of which got me thinking.

[Now the context is different, the two places I've been teaching for the last few years are both at the same academic level, in NZ - as in the UK and Australia - we don't commonly use a graduate degree like an MDiv for clergy-training, but one is a Theological College: faith-based and essentially ministry-focused, the other is a secular University, with a much wider range of students. Different, with different joys and challenges, but I have loved both.]

One paragraph in his comments "fitted" my experience and feelings better than the others:
4. Faith teaching: My seminary students asked mostly exegetical and interpretive questions — my college students wonder if Christianity is true, why it doesn’t seem to make more of an impact, why their life is so thin and shallow and not joyous and fulfilling. They ask bigger questions in class than I was accustomed to in seminary — did the resurrection happen? Which texts in the NT show that Jesus was God? How can a God of love take out a whole city in Joshua? Not that my seminary students didn’t ask these questions, but that my college students seem to live with these questions more existentially.
The difference is not so strongly marked for me, but since the University students come from a much wider range of backgrounds:
  • denomination: Carey students are either Baptist, or members of an Evangelical denomination or from the Evangelical wing of the Anglican or Presbyterian Churches - the University students are from anywhere or nowhere in terms of church, I've sometimes had Donovan's "Universal Soldier" in the class: (s)he's a Catholic, a Hindu, an Atheist, a Jain, A Buddhist and a Baptist and a Jew - actually I wasn't aware of the Jain... but maybe!
  • race: most Carey students are of predominantly European descent, that is true of the majority (though only just) of University students too but only just, at Carey most of the non-Europeans are Asian, at the University they are Māori, Polynesian.
  • destination: most Carey students envisage some form of professional Christian ministry at the end of their study, many University students do too, but many do not.
Like in Scott's classes this variety makes for wider and more interesting questions. White, Evangelical, Ministry students are afraid that any interpretation of the Bible which looks beyond the meaning of this passage (and preferably this verse) may risk being unsound or liberal. The Universal Soldier student is more concerned to wrestle with the text, and with life, and with God, trying to somehow bring the three together. And that is exciting for the teacher.

I love teaching both groups. (Cf. Scott's point 2.) I admire the ministry students' commitment passion and faith, but I fear their narrowness and legalism. I admire the University students' openness, but I wish some of them could "catch" the deep and life-changing faith that is the Carey students' motive.

In drawing this caricature I have maligned many students in both groups - I don't intend that, what I was trying to do was not capture the wild and wonderful richness of any class in a neat descriptive phrase (you can't thank God) but to summarise why over the years I've valued the joint Carey/University teaching, and why I'll miss the School of Theology when I Carey leave it at the end of the year (as Carey's participation ends).

[If this sounds grumpy, or offends you, please excuse me - I've been off today with stomach cramps and headache and mild fever, maybe I'm not quite myself!]

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