Time for another round up of the Bible and mission material on the internet (and a cartoon about cheese).
In the last Bible and Mission round up, I mentioned a Newsweek article about the Bible which had caused a bit of a furore. Rachel Held-Evans has published an article entitled What Newsweek Gets Wrong About Evangelicals which is worth a read, though (no surprise here) I don’t agree with everything she says. While I’m on the subject of authors which not everyone will agree with, Peter Enns has an interesting interview on the subject of the Bible and Empire.
We perceive Western societies to have entered a time of moral crisis due to the highly aggressive policy of global domination being pursued by the USA and its allies.
We are being asked to tacitly accept the pursuit of this goal through perpetual war, torture, drone assassinations, weaponizing the internet, destructive sanctions, and proxies that use terror to destabilize other nations.
The Bible urges us to say “no” to this question, and we think it has the gravitas to prompt readers to reassess the path the political elite are taking us down. So in short, we wrote to encourage people to read the Bible with today’s imperial context in mind.
Another controversial writer is Brian McClaren. Many of us have appreciated some of the things he has written, while finding other stuff less than helpful. Ian Paul thoughtfully weighs into a debate about McClaren’s approach to Scripture.
Less controversially, Simon has posted a great list of exegetical fallacies, which everyone who reads the Bible should have a look at, here are a couple of my favourites:
Argument from Silence
We have no record of Jesus ever laughing in the Bible, but that doesn’t mean that Jesus never laughed. Any time a preacher says “Nowhere in the Bible does it say that…”, the correct response should be “Nowhere in the Bible does it say that a preacher should wear clothes.”
Sometimes things aren’t said because they’re wrong; but sometimes things aren’t said because they’re dead obvious.
… and on a mission theme:
post hoc ergo propter hoc
This is a common fallacy which means “assuming that because A is after B, that means that A caused B.”
The cock crowed and then the day broke; therefore, the crowing of the cock causes the day to break.
Matt. 24:14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.
Preaching the gospel of the Kingdom in the whole world causes the end to come. (Yes, there are actually people who believe this.)
Paul Davies has some interesting observations on reading the Bible from a cultural perspective.
Ed Stetzer insists (in American spelling) that the Bible is More than Stories of Morality:
We cannot just teach people morals and behavior without pointing them to Jesus, the one who will transform their hearts and enable that obedience. If Jesus is not at the center of a Bible study resource, that resource is not distinctly Christian—it’s just using the Bible as a book of virtues.
Lastly in this rubric, Brian Russell has recently published a study guide for small groups who want to read the Bible missionally. I’ve not read it yet, but I’m a big fan of all of Brian’s writing (more later).
Invitation is part of Seedbed’s OneBook vision for Bible study. Invitationserves this wider vision by introducing the broad contours of the Biblical message. I follow this basic outline of understanding the Biblical story: Creation – Fall – Israel – Jesus – Church – New Creation. Through ten chapters divided into five daily readings, I cover the core content of the Bible with an emphasis on God’s mission and the role of God’s people in it by living as a holy missional community for the sake of the world. The goal of the Invitation is not merely information; the goal is the transformation of each reader as he or she encounters the good news of Scripture and aligns or realigns with its message.
Firstly a few theologically focussed posts. Brad Blocksom calls for a Farewell to Fire Insurance Theology (which has to be worth reading for the title alone).
So yes, it’s time to for an end to Fire Insurance pop theology in Evangelicalism! It’s time to get on with the (Great Commission) business of making and sending disciples, who in turn make more disciples. No wonder our churches are filled with so many nominal Christians who have “received Jesus” but their lives are utterly untransformed! Because they are not following Jesus!
On a similar theme, Pathways International points out that Evangelism is More than a Series of Propositional Statements (not such a catchy title).
“What makes proclamation evangelism is not the proclamation per se, but the message being proclaimed: the coming rule of God…. Without this announcement, people will not know about its arrival, nor will they have a clear view of what it means for the kingdom of God to come now in the present or in the future.”
Looking at mission practice; Marti has posted an interesting list of ways in which senior mission mentors can help younger missionaries. There is a lot that is good here, but I am struck that there is no mention of the church in the article. I do think we need to take ecclesiology more seriously in the mission world – but that’s for another day.
Brian Russell (him again) has made a list of the defining characteristics of missional communities. If the church is meant to be missional (and I believe it is), it would be a good exercise for churches and small groups to work through this list and see how they line up against it.
Missional communities stop worrying about being corrupted by the world and instead dream about ways to influence the world.
Missional communities focus on the needs of the world rather than on the likes/dislikes of insiders.
Lastly a couple of mission resources. Antony Billington steers us towards the latest edition of Mission Frontiers and Rob Bradshaw points us to an excellent series of essays in honour of Peter Cotterell.
If you think that there are any Bible or mission blogs that I am not including in these reviews, feel free to tell me. I’m always looking for more sources of material.
And finally, I couldn’t resist this brilliant image by Dave Walker which doesn’t mention either the Bible or mission. Please don’t repost this without checking Dave’s site for the appropriate copyright.