Bible and Mission Links 19
I haven’t a clue why a piece entitled Issues of Race and Gender in Bible Translation: Interfacing with Spirituality, should turn up on a hairdressing blog! This is a challenging paper that not all readers of Kouya Chronicle will find comfortable, but it’s good to be stretched from time to time (and, who knows, you might find inspiration for your next hairstyle!)
Davis Prickett who works in Bible Translation in Chad has posted a defence of Bible Translation based around the theme of why we shouldn’t just teach everyone English:
If a language is dying out in the next 10 or 15 years, making a translation in that tongue would be rather foolish. But thousands of minority languages are still thriving and are being passed down to the next generations, and the Word of God should be passed down as well. In fact, translating the Bible into a language may even aide in the preservation of that language.
However, I think that there is a flaw in this post and in the author’s follow up. He flirts with the core reason why we shouldn’t just teach English, but he never quite gets there. Like many others, Prickett seems to base his reasons for mission on human need, rather than starting with the character and actions of God. The reasons Prickett gives for supporting Bible translation are all good and valid, but I don’t believe that he really gets to the heart of the issue. My thoughts on the issue are captured in this short video:
On a lighter note, the Beaker Folk illustrate the sort of problem that keeps Bible translators awake late into the night.
One of the most difficult things missionaries ever have to do is to learn a foreign language or two. After working really hard to get my French up to a reasonable standard, it was a huge discouragement to find myself right back at square one with Kouya… and Kouya was much harder than French. This post explores some of the reasons why missionaries don’t manage to learn languages.
There are no small number of missionaries today who view language study as an unpleasant necessity to be gotten done with as quickly as possible so that they can get onto the “real work” of ministry. So they end up adopting a minimalist, instead of a maximalist approach to language study. Instead of asking themselves, “How can I best prepare myself to be as effective as possible in ministry?”, the question becomes “How much do I absolutely need to do before I can start doing ministry?” And if their church or mission organization only requires six months or one year of formal language study, then that is all that they do.
Another reason why missionaries (or any adults for that matter) find it difficult to learn languages is that we don’t like to make fools of ourselves in public. This post suggests that it is good for missionaries to learn to make themselves vulnerable to others. While on the notion of vulnerability, Doug asks us to please stop witnessing at people.
It is the communal and ethical life of the church which is the primary evidence Christians have to offer in support of the story they tell. The early Christians were not expected to run round grabbing passers-by and selling them a story; they were expected to live a life, and answer questions when people noticed how they lived it.
A good witness is a real person, not a religious activity.
What do you think? Does he have a point?
Reading the Bible
The Bible and Mission blog explores mission in the Gospel of Matthew, but doesn’t focus on the passages you might expect.
More recently I’ve been struck by the missional boundaries of the sermon on the mount in chs. 5-7. We would be grossly mistaken if we think, ‘Oh, that’s not about mission, it’s about discipleship’ as if the former is an external matter and the latter, internal. The sermon, an inspiring, hard, radical call to following Jesus is framed by mission, setting it in context. I want to point out three things that illustrate this:
Brian has posted three excellent articles on reading Scripture: The Power of Reading Scripture, Suggestions for A Close Reading of a Text and Skills for Reading Scripture (Contexts). I suspect there may well be more where this came from.
Phil points to a series of videos and a discussion on the issue of wealth and poverty, while Krish has posted an interesting piece on issues facing Evangelicals today (I think he means British Evangelicals). This includes a brief discussion on what can be learned from the wider world church. It would be interesting to see this fleshed out at some point. Doug Chaplin (with yet another pithy title for his blog) posted a terrific, rather Beaker-esque, piece on Inventing the Mythical Jesus.
Let’s say we want to reform a religion in a new direction. We look for a founder who we can claim fits the kind of profile everyone is expecting. This leader, this messiah, is most likely to be a successful warrior, a general who wins battles of God’s own side. We can’t find one, so we invent a purely imaginary figure instead. Then we explain how he was a total disaster, unable to raise an army, deserted by his followers, and executed by the enemy.
One of the things that I’ve learned from blogging is that you should never criticise Christian worship music, no matter how silly or theologically inadequate the songs are. It seems as though Andrew Jones has not yet learned that lesson!
I am not usually a huge fan of contemporary worship songs. I don’t like extended chorus singing. This is the stuff of nightmares for me. I can pull off a few tunes with everyone else but then my mind wanders. Sometimes I sit down on the pew and read my Bible until the songs are over. Sometimes I scan the introduction to the hymnal, looking for historical inspiration. Or even trivia.
The reason why I come back to this theme from time to time is that I believe it is important. The songs that people sing in church has an influence in shaping the theology of the congregation. When the songs are theologically doubtful, or consist of a series of vaguely biblical thoughts or phrases strung together apparently at random, they can actively hinder people from developing a biblical world view.