It’s been a while since my last update of all things Bible and mission floating around the internet, so there is a fair bit to mention this time round.
Coming from a secularised western society, I find it difficult to get my mind around concepts such as witchcraft and sorcery. However, this is something that Bible translators cannot ignore; the Bible has a fair bit to say on the subject and many languages have very complex ways of addressing it. The complexity of this issue is a great illustration of the simple fact that not just anyone can be a Bible translator. The Huffington Post has an interesting background piece on myths about translation.
Tim asks the not unreasonable question of why we need so many versions of the Bible in English while Joel asks how our favourite Bible translations measure up. I am constantly amazed at the new and rather odd editions of the Bible which are produced in the US. If this review is at all accurate, I won’t be hurrying out to buy a copy of the Founders’ Bible at any time soon, but I might be tempted to buy a copy of the Mission of God Study Bible.
βλογάπη (great name for a website) has a fascinating link to a piece which evaluates the historical impact of the KJV.
What would it mean for us to make strategic decisions based on a study of God’s mission throughout the Bible? Or what Jesus had to say about poverty and wealth? As we are working across cultures and in multi-ethnic teams, what can we learn from Paul’s New Testament letters as he continually battles with a multi-racial church, with vastly different cultures, histories and traditional beliefs, that he insists has been united in Christ? How might we plan our work in a post-colonial and globalised world in light of the Bible’s interaction with the major themes of empire and oppression? Or slavery and (both geographical and spiritual) exile? How might the biblical approaches to suffering and persecution inform our decisions? Or the experiences of communities in the Bible as they live as ethnic minorities, with their culture and identity under threat from every side? What can we learn from Jesus about how to announce a kingdom that is putting everything right, but starts out as a small seed that falls to the ground?
I think at times we can be afraid to discuss these things in a corporate setting (particularly those of us working in an inter-denominational environment), as we are afraid to disagree. But again I think this fear stems from the modern insistence that there is only one right answer, and that we must decide on it together. Maybe the truth is that it’s only actually as diverse but united believers, wrestling with these huge issues and humbly stepping forward in faith, that we begin to draw closer to God and appreciate more of what he is doing in his world.
Jonathan Martin writes about a controversy which has convulsed parts of the American Christian blogsphere, but does so from a perspective of the world Church. What he has to say puts a lot of our current theological questions into perspective:
The average Christian in the world right now is an African or Latin American female in her early 20’s. She doesn’t read our blogs and she doesn’t readChristianity Today. She doesn’t know or care who I am and she never will. The names Piper, Driscoll, Chan, Bell, Stanley, Warren—mean nothing to her. Like most Pentecostal women coming into the kingdom around the world, words like “complementarian” and “egalitarian” are not in her vocabulary, nor Calvinism and Arminianism. Unlike some of my brothers would lead you believe (where their lunch table is the only one that cares about Scripture and THE GOSPEL while anybody who believes differently from them in these tired conversations are flaming liberals), she takes the authority of the Bible very seriously. But more importantly, she believes in the power of the Bible in ways that are incomprehensible even for our most rabid “conservatives.” The western filter and language that frames these issues will not be determinative for her, unlucky as she is not to read our blogs. She may well in end up leading a church one day where she preaches Jesus like a woman on fire and lays hands on the sick and watches God heal them, though this will surprise those Reformed colleagues who are sure all female church leaders have been trained by godless-Unitarian-lesbian-leftist-radical feminist-seminarians (she didn’t have access to seminary at all–unfortunately she has read the Acts of the Apostles). Who knew?
The world has moved on, God has moved on, and we didn’t even notice.
There is a fascinating pieceon the Affinity website about reaching post-modern youth who come from an Eastern-Orthodox background. Thanks to Tim for pointing out that Thomas Shcirrmacher’s collection of essays, World Mission: Heart of Christianity, is available as a free pdf download. I’ve only just started reading this, but it seems very good so far. Ben has linked to some fascinating maps which look at the way in which religious believers have migrated around the world and Mez has reviewed one of the best books I know on Christian social involvement.
The Beaker Folk have posted an excellent guide to evaluating mission initiatives:
While the Opinionated Vicar has a great illustration of discipleship: