This excellent article has some great insights from the always thought-provoking Mark Noll.
As [a Christian] Rip Van Winkle wiped a half-century of sleep from his eyes [after awaking this past week] and tried to locate his fellow Christian believers, he would find them in surprising places, expressing their faith in surprising ways, under surprising conditions, with surprising relationships to culture and politics, and raising surprising theological questions that would not have seemed possible when he fell asleep.
Carrying on the same theme, this article gives information on the countries with the largest Christian and Muslim populations with predictions for 2060.
I’ve never been entirely convinced by a lot of the missionary statistics that I’ve read, but amidst the numbers, there are some remarkable stories here:
The FJCCA’s (Free in Jesus Christ Church Association) church planting movement in Thailand represents a success story amid a shifting approach to global missions as Christians rely less on evangelism led by Western missionaries and instead trust the Spirit’s work among their own people.
Put simply, Martin said, “Thailand will be reached by the Thai.” FJCCA now plants more churches in two weeks than more than 300 evangelical missionaries with the Evangelical Fellowship of Thailand do in an entire year.
This comes a bit late, but it is an excellent overview of appropriate responses to the Easter bombings in Sri Lanka. While this is a good meditation on Sri Lanka and the Notre Dame fire. Running with the same theme, the Guardian has an uncomfortable piece about the British Government’s response to all this.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading about Timothy Richard, a Welsh missionary to China.
First, Richard placed great emphasis on adjusting his life and his evangelistic efforts to better suit Chinese culture. Richard understood that God loved Chinese people as Chinese people and that their conversion did not require them to cease being Chinese. Speaking to the General Conference of the Protestant Missionaries of China at Shanghai in 1890, Richard made his intentions clear:
“[W]hile sacrificing no truth of Christianity, our attitude must be less foreign and more sympathetic. Our brethren in the home lands adapt Christian teaching and methods to Western needs; our task is to adapt Christian teaching and methods to Chinese needs.”
Do I hear an amen?
History Extra has a nice little article documenting the trials and tribulations of some early Bible translators, which goes on to say:
The 16th century was by far the most murderous age for Bible translators. But Bible translations have always generated strong emotions, and continue to do so even today. In 1960 the United States Air Force Reserve warned recruits against using the recently published Revised Standard Version because, they claimed, 30 people on its translation committee had been “affiliated with communist fronts”. TS Eliot, meanwhile, railed against the 1961 New English Bible, writing that it “astonishes in its combination of the vulgar, the trivial, and the pedantic”.
By the way, I’m not convinced that the last paragraph of the article is accurate. It reports on an incident that, as far as I am aware, has never been verified (not that this stopped people using it as a fundraising exercise).
This is a bit of a heavy read, but we need more objective examinations of reported cases of healing in the church. We have nothing to hide!
There is some good advice here for missionaries on how to “pitch” their work. For all of the good stuff in the article, I think we would do better to fix the defective relationships between church and mission that lead to this happening in the first place (see my thoughts on this here).
My friend Tim Davy has four excellent questions about Scripture engagement that anyone preaching or teaching the Bible in the UK should think through. This series of posts on identity in mission is well worth pondering.
Finally, and returning to a topic that I’ve covered here before, Ian Paul asks whether there are different kinds of ‘love’ in John 21 (the answer is “no” whatever your favourite sermon on the passage said). I love this quote:
This is what we may call “Strong’s Concordance” Greek. It’s done by lots and lots of people who have learned to look up the lexical forms of Greek words in their Strong’s Concordance without knowing much of anything about Greek grammar, or the ways in which word usage is a primary aspect of determining word meaning in Biblical literature (just as it is in our own language and literature). These gaps in understanding often lead to these kinds of exegetical fallacies that come off sounding deep and insightful to others who are just as uninformed. Additionally, these Greek gymnastics actually lead to missing the actual point of a text that is often right in front of our faces in favor of more “oooh-aaaaah deep and insightful” conclusions that are really not good conclusions at all.