Antony Billington’s blog is a great source of information on what other people are saying or writing, but it is only rarely that Antony’s own voice comes to the fore. However, he has just published a nice little piece on the impact of the Bible on British Culture which is well worth a read. Mark Woodward’s blog is getting better with every post (and it was always pretty good). I’d like to highlight a couple of his recent offerings; the first is on a missional reading of Matthew 2, while the second concerns Race and Ethnicity
As we read the Bible on its own terms I think we will see the issue of race and ethnicity being addressed on almost every page. For 21st century Christians to skip to the answer “all races are equal before God” without seeing how the theme develops throughout the whole Bible will lead both to a significantly deficient understanding of what large parts of the Bible are saying, and a wholly inadequate theology of race and ethnicity with which to live and work in our own multi-racial and multi-cultural settings.
Thinking of missional readings of Scripture, Brian Russel’s new blog has picked up where his old one left off, with an excellent piece about reading the Old Testament. I wish more evangelicals – especially many of those who write on mission issues would get to grips with the sort of things Brian has to say here.
A missional reading of Scripture boldly reasserts the relevance of Israel’s Scriptures for the Christ following movement. The book of Genesis serves as the harbinger of renewed engagement with the theology of the Old Testament with its narratives of Creation, Fall, and God’s calling into existence a new humanity that will serve as agents of blessing to all people. The Old Testament is essential for understanding God’s creational intentions for both the world as a whole and for women and men in particular. It describes poignantly and relationally the problem of lostness and brokenness that confronts us in our daily lives. A missional reading resists the temptation to focus exclusively on the New Testament. Apart from the witness of Israel’s Scriptures one risks distorting the mission and message of Jesus the Messiah as well as that of the Church as the sent people of God. Toward this end, communities of faith seeking to shape identity around God’s mission will consciously teach the whole of the Scriptures because of their necessity in forming a sent people to reflect God’s character to/for/in the nations.
The Desiring God blog had a nice post on the theme of ‘the missionary call’ which is one of those firmly held Christian convictions which it is hard to justify from the Bible. My only (slight) gripe with this article is that it ignores the whole ecclesiastical side of mission work. Missionaries are not individuals who go off to do their own thing, they are sent members of a Christian community who work alongside members of other communities.
Simon Cozens is one of the sharpest people I know and I very much value his willingness to confront and challenge the received wisdom of the age. Over the last few weeks he has written a very thought provoking piece on the missio Dei and has also written a short piece questioning John Stott’s legacy. It is probably rather too early to write this sort of article, but the questions he poses are very valid ones.
To my eyes, one of the biggest problems facing the Western Missionary movement is our lack of self-awareness; rather that face up to some of the real challenges and valid criticisms of our work, we lay them on one side and go on believing our own publicity. I believe that a solid examination of the way in which we work and relate to others is vitally important. Ernest Goodman is doing a stirling job of asking some hard questions of the Bible translation movement and his latest post on The Endangered Cultures List is well worth a read. I’ll try and find time later on to write a fuller blog post about this article.
The Centre for the Study of Bible and Mission have posted an exhaustive list of resources which will keep anyone in reading material for the next decade or two.
The Independent printed a fascinating article on languages and translation, which is worth reading for the last paragraph alone (what does it mean?) and last of all for now is a magazine article asking whether or not your church is too cool.
I want to be part of an uncool church because I want to be part of a community that shares the reputation of Jesus. Like it or not, Jesus’ favorite people in the world were not cool. They were mostly sinners, misfits, outcasts, weirdos, poor people, sick people and crazy people.