Monday, 30 June 2014

International Bulletin of Missionary Research 38:3 (July 2014)

The latest issue of International Bulletin of Missionary Research carries the feature articles noted below addressing the issue of ‘Cultural Disorientation and Understanding the Missional God’.

Nelson Jennings
Cultural Disorientation and Understanding the Missional God

George F. Sabra
Christian Mission in the Wake of the Arab Spring

John Roxborogh
Missiology after “Mission”?

Sarah Hinlicky Wilson
Salvaging C.S. Lewis’s The Horse and His Boy for Mission and Cultural Awareness

David W. Scott
The Geographic Imagination and the Expansion of Methodist Missions in Southeast Asia

Kazue Mino
Campbell N. Moody’s Reflections on the Christian Mission

Mary Motte
My Pilgrimage in Mission

Emma Wild-Wood
A Biography of Apolo Kivebulaya

Ian Welch
Caroline Phebe Tenney Keith—Episcopal Church Missionary and Letter Writer in Shanghai

Saturday, 28 June 2014

Currents in Biblical Research 12, 3 (June 2014)

The latest Currents in Biblical Research recently arrived; abstracts of the main articles are as below.

Brad E. Kelle
The Phenomenon of Israelite Prophecy in Contemporary Scholarship
In the mid-twentieth century, the classic historical-critical approach to the Hebrew Bible’s prophetic books gave way to the study of Israelite prophecy as part of a social phenomenon known throughout the ancient Near East. Since the 1980s, research on the phenomenon of Israelite prophecy has been marked by two main paradigms. The first extends the basic phenomenological approach and identifies Israelite prophecy as a socio-historical phenomenon shared across various ancient cultures. Prophecy was a form of intermediation between the divine and human, and a sub-type of the larger religious practice of (non-technical) divination. The second paradigm questions the usefulness of the biblical texts for reconstructing the ancient realities of prophecy and suggests that Israelite prophecy was a literary phenomenon that emerged among scribes in postexilic Yehud. Within these paradigms, present research offers new insights on lines of inquiry, such as the relationship between prophecy and psychology, prophets in the Second Temple period, and female prophets and prophecy. Overall, scholarship reflects a sharpening distinction between ‘ancient Hebrew prophecy’ as a socio-historical phenomenon and ‘biblical prophecy’ as a literary/scribal phenomenon, and generally approaches Israelite prophecy not as a single phenomenon but as a set of related phenomena.

Graham H. Twelftree
The Miraculous in the New Testament: Current Research and Issues
Defining the miraculous, the adequacy of the Western mindset to comprehend human experience, and the ability of the historian to establish the occurrence of a miracle, are issues threaded through study of the miraculous. Current work draws attention to our lack of understanding of the miraculous in the period. So far, research on Jesus has not explained his interest in miracles, their meaning, or how they relate to his other work and self-perception. Also, the nature miracles remain a problem, and a critical study of Jesus remains to be written that takes full account of the evidence of his miracles. More work needs to be done on Paul’s understanding of the miraculous. Further, despite studies on individual stories, insufficient work has been done on the miraculous from the perspective of the Gospel writers. Finally, how far early Christianity can be understood without due regard for the miraculous is open to question.

Angela Standhartinger
Recent Scholarship on Joseph and Aseneth (1988-2013)

This article provides a survey of the last 25 years of research on Joseph and Aseneth, a Jewish Greek novel probably written between the first century BCE and the second century CE. This romance expands on Gen. 41.45 to narrate how Joseph and Aseneth met and later married under the auspices of Pharaoh, after Aseneth had turned away from her Egyptian gods to the God of Israel and was visited by an angel with whom she shares a honeycomb. Later in the story she is introduced to Jacob and Levi, repels the attack of a rival lover, the son of Pharaoh, who then dies, so that Joseph inherits his throne and rules in Egypt for 48 years. The principle [sic] topics covered in this review are recent textual editions of this writing preserved in 91 manuscripts in seven languages, the no-less disputed purpose and provenance of the romance, its date and place of origin, and its genre. Gender issues and other major themes of research and an extended pre-modern history of interpretation will also be discussed.

Friday, 27 June 2014

Good Sport

I contributed this week’s ‘Connecting with Culture’, a weekly email service provided by the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity.

The last few weeks haven’t gone well for fans of the England football team. Even those of us who went into the World Cup with fairly low expectations can’t help feeling disappointed. Still, at least there was an opportunity to salvage some national pride with the cricket. Alas no, as it turned out. Anyway, there’s always the tennis. Well, we shall see. And if not, the Commonwealth Games start next month.

High profile though these tournaments are, they represent a mere fraction of the global phenomenon which is sport. For every type of sport and sporting event covered on the back pages of our newspapers, there are dozens more – each with their participants, aficionados, and spectators. Sport has the capacity, it seems, to embrace the leisure-seeking novice as well as the high-profile professional and everything in between. How might we account for its popularity?

Two recent books – Lincoln Harvey’s A Brief Theology of Sport and Robert Ellis’ The Games People Play – shed helpful theological light. Both review the troublesome history the church has had with sport, where it has either been rejected (understandable, perhaps, in contexts where sport was bound up with pagan rituals) or been harnessed to the church’s own agenda – whether using jousting to prepare knights for the Crusades, or extolling the virtues of a ‘muscular’ Christianity.

Both books take their cue from creation. For Ellis, we play because we’re made in the image of the powerful, playful Creator, such that sports can provide ‘signals of transcendence’ in a secularised world. For Harvey too, sport is a type of play, an expression of freedom, an ‘unnecessary-yet-meaningful activity’. As such, it reflects God’s creation, the ‘unnecessary-yet-meaningful reality of being freely loved into existence in Jesus Christ’. Or in lay terms, ‘sport has everything to do with our deepest identity’!

That sport is woven into the very fabric of our created being helps us appreciate its popularity. It also enables us to understand how easily it can become an arena for idolatry, disfigured through politicisation, commodification and narcissism – though this potential for corruption doesn’t make sport inherently evil. Sport is sometimes seen as a vehicle to a ‘larger’ purpose such as evangelism. Yet, while it may open up such opportunities, like other contexts do, Christians are in a position to celebrate it as a good in its own right and see it as a significant factor in human flourishing from the hands of a gracious God.

Saturday, 21 June 2014

Theology of Work Bible Commentary

Having recently posted about the Theology of Work Project, I thought I’d link to a post which reports on the Theology of Work Bible Commentary, focusing on work in the Bible.
Having read quite a bit of this online already, I have some lingering questions as to whether biblical texts are sometimes made do too much in a bid to say something, anything, about work. Overall, though, that shouldn’t detract from what is a hugely significant project, one which will doubtless be a very useful resource if used wisely.

Hendrickson will be publishing a hard copy, but a free online version will also continue to be available, supplemented by videos, audios, chats, tags, and search tools.

Friday, 20 June 2014

Journal of Missional Practice (Spring/Summer 2014)

The Spring/Summer 2014 edition – devoted to ‘Context and Community’ – has just been posted, containing the following keynotes and articles:

This chapter, the first in the book The New Parish, explains how we lost our capacity to be the ‘local church’ – a body of Christians learning to share life faithfully together in, with and for a particular place. The second, living above place, develops from the habits and structures which conceal how our actions impact each other. Proximity in the new parish however reconnects us within our shared contexts, people and land, in all our diversity. Unlike the old idea of parish, this connection welcomes partnerships and collaboration. For any church this on-the-ground reality is a dare to faith and an invitation to participate with the Triune God in community transformation.

Lord Glasman begins by organizing his thoughts around three key TMN concepts. Discerning our common good takes relationship and time. It has to be located in and with in our local communities. Forming happens inside a shared imaginative space that has been shaped by a tradition – in this case Christianity. A Christian imagination affords high value to reciprocity and responsibility, to vocation and worthwhile work done well. Working together towards the common good requires the risk of joining across all ideological divides because meeting the challenges of dispossession, wage disparity and usury will require many disparate groups participating together in the public square. The church has traditionally protected this space, a place for the politics of the common good, and a place where there is room for love in the mundane details of life. It is this re-inhabiting of the common space in the local, where the church needs to express its life and faith.

In the missional conversation, there has been a lot of talk about the need for a new imagination in the church but less attention to how imagination is actually formed and how we might get there.  This paper will examine the bodily formation of imagination and will suggest that Jesus was on to something vital when he sent his disciples two by two to be hosted by Samaritans. He was inviting them into the habits and routines of a stranger and stripping them of all cultural capital.  At a time when skepticism of the church is massive and well grounded, Luke 10 offers an urgently need needed doorway from anxiety to engagement. Re-visioning the agency of God and re-discovering an authentic encounter between the Gospel and our culture may require a radical dislocation from the comforts of home.

Catalyst Articles (June 2014)

Catalyst, the ‘online newsletter for United Methodist seminarians, pastors, and other Christian leaders’, has posted some new articles online:

Providing free food, clothing, and shelter is an emergency response to a crisis situation. The Red Cross does that well. But the poor we see in our food lines and clothes closets are there because of chronic poverty situations. The right response to chronic poverty is development.

Each new technological ‘revolution’ tempts us to think and act as if machines are suitable analogs to, and thus appropriate substitutes for, human persons.

The movement of disorder in The United Methodist Church has escalated to the point that serious discussions are taking place around the possibility that the denomination itself will fragment, split, or dissolve.

Wesley claimed to be ‘a man of one book’. How did that work itself out in his practices?

Thursday, 19 June 2014

The Bible in Mission

Pauline Hoggarth, Fergus Macdonald, Bill Mitchell and Knud Jørgensen (eds.), Bible in Mission, Regnum Edinburgh Centenary Series (Oxford: Regnum Books International, 2013).

The team at Scripture Engagement make notice of the free availability of the above collection of essays as a pdf here. This is well worth checking out by all those interested in the nexus of relationships between Scripture, hermeneutics, mission, and the global church.

Like others in the ‘Regnum Edinburgh Centenary Series’, the volume flowed out of the discussions at the Edinburgh 2010 conference. I bought it when it came out; it felt, at the time, like an expensive but important purchase. Hopefully the free availability of the book online will give it a much wider readership.

Here’s an outline of the contents:


Editorial Introduction: The Bible in Mission

The Bible in Mission – and the Surprising Ways of God (Ole Christian Kvarme)

The Bible as Text for Mission (Tim Carriker)

Section 1: The Bible in Mission in the World and in the Church

The World

The Bible in Mission: The Modern/Postmodern Western Context (Richard Bauckham)

The Bible in Mission in the Islamic Context (Kenneth Thomas)

The Bible in Christian Mission among the Hindus (Lalsangkima Pachuau)

Children, Mission and the Bible: A Global Perspective (Wendy Strachan)

The Church

The Bible in Mission: Evangelical/Pentecostal View (Antonia Leonora van der Meer)

Bible Hermeneutics in Mission – A Western Protestant Perspective (Michael Kisskalt)

Orthodox Perspectives on Bible and Mission (Simon Crisp)

‘Ignorantia Scripturae ignorantia Christi est’ (Thomas P. Osborne)

Section 2: Case Studies


Baku Bible Translation and Oral Biblical Narrative Performance (Dan Fitzgerald)

The UBS HIV Good Samaritan Program (David Hammond and Immanuel Kofi Agamah)

The Bible and the Poor (Gerald West)

The Bible and Care of Creation (Allison Howell)


‘Text of Life’ and ‘Text for Life’: The Bible as the Living and Life-Giving Word of God for the Dalits (Peniel J. Rufus Rajkumar)

Bible Missions in China (Pamela Wan-Yen Choo)

The Impact and Role of The Bible in Big Flowery Miao Community (Suee Yan Yu)

Bible Engagement among Australian Young People (Philip Hughes)

Latin America

The Bible and Children in Mission (Edseio Sanchez Cetina)

Bible Translation, the Quechua People and Protestant Church Growth in the Andes (Bill Mitchell)

The Bible in Mission: Women Facing the Word (Elsa Tamez)


Biblical Advocacy – Advocating the Bible in an Alien Culture (David Spriggs and Sue Coyne)

Scripture Engagement and Living Life as a Message (Steve Bird)

Reading the Bible with Today’s Jephthahs: Scripture and Mission at Tierra Nueva (Bob Ekblad)

Lessons Learned from the REVEAL Spiritual Life Survey (Nancy Scammacca Lewis)

Glazed Eyes and Disbelief (Adrian Blenkinsop and Naomi Swindon)

Information Management and Delivery of the Bible (Paul Soukup)


The Bible as the Core of Mission: ‘...for the Bible tells me so’ (Knud Jørgensen)

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Theology of Work Project on Psalms and Romans

The Theology of Work Project ‘exists to help people explore what the Bible and the Christian faith can contribute to ordinary work’. As part of their ongoing aim to explore how each book of the Bible might contribute to a Christian perspective on work, the Project has just posted online pieces on the Psalms and Romans. Psalms is available as a pdf here, and Romans as a pdf here.

Friday, 6 June 2014

Knowing and Doing (Summer 2014)

The Summer 2014 edition of Knowing & Doing – ‘A Teaching Quarterly for Discipleship of Heart and Mind’ – from the C.S. Lewis Institute is now available online (here as a pdf), and contains the following articles:

Bill Hendricks
Thanks for the Memories Reminders
Bill Hendricks provides a beautiful tribute to his father, Howard Hendricks, who taught for sixty years at Dallas Theological Seminary, and challenges us with the question, “What are we living for?”

Interview with Colleen O’Malley
C.S. Lewis Institute: A Fellow’s Journey
Colleen O’Malley, answers questions about how God has prepared her for a more effective ministry through the Fellows Program and how God is opening new doors for her to mentor others.

Thomas A. Tarrants, III
Are You a Christian or a Disciple? Is There a Difference? Why It Matters!
Tom Tarrants, CSLI Vice President of Ministry, explores whether there is a difference between being a “Christian” and a “disciple,” and the implications for our personal life and the church.

Rebecca DeYoung
How We Got the Seven Deadly Sins
Rebecca DeYoung, Professor of Philosophy at Calvin College, describes how the concept of the “Seven Deadly Sins” originated and how understanding these root sins and their remedies can help us grow in our faith and obedience today.

Connally Gilliam
A Reformed Vision of the Visual Arts: A Conversation with Abraham Kuyper, Nicholas Wolterstorff, and the Word of God. Part 2 of a Two-Part Series on the Arts and Theology
Connally Gilliam returns with part two of her fascinating series on the arts and theology.

David B. Calhoun
In the Footsteps of John Knox: On the Five Hundredth Anniversary of His Birth
David Calhoun profiles John Knox, who faced tumultuous hurdles as one of the fathers of the reformation in Scotland.

Joseph A. Kohm, Jr.
C.S. Lewis and How Christians Should Think about Science
Joe Kohm addresses the controversial use of gender selection technology and the dangers of such an approach.

Thursday, 5 June 2014

Missio Dei 5, 1 (February 2014) on Missional Hermeneutics

The current issue of Missio Dei: A Journal of Missional Theology and Praxis is devoted to Missional Hermeneutics, with main articles and abstracts as below. Individual essays are available from here, and the whole issue can be downloaded as a pdf here.

Mark Love
Missional Interpretation: The Encounter of a Holy God through a Living Text
This article reframes missional interpretation with questions about God’s identity and the nature of Scripture. The author examines the relationship between God’s holiness and the nature of Scripture as texts that correspond to God’s reality. On this basis, the author makes a case for communal reading practices that reflect the implications of God’s relationship to the text.

Greg McKinzie
Currents in Missional Hermeneutics
Recent contributions to the development of missional hermeneutics are significant, though they indicate that a great deal of unexplored territory remains. This essay offers a model for plotting current themes and emphases among missional interlocutors, on which basis the author proposes an integration of key dimensions of missional theology. In conversation with current missional hermeneutical proposals, the author then develops five theses that signal a trajectory for revisioning the hermeneutical spiral.

Derran Reese
Contesting Culture: Contextualizing Worship in Northern Thailand
Contextualization has become a central topic within missiology over recent decades. Though the conversation has progressed, most theories and practices are still based on an insufficient understanding of how cultures function. This article first argues that contextualization is not so much about the act of communication between the missionary and the local community but the faith community’s contestation of the meaning of shared cultural symbols and practices, including those elements that supposedly lead to syncretism, as they are employed in service to the triune God. The article then narrates how the author’s mission team in northern Thailand has implemented this approach to contextualization in its communal worship practices.

Sean Todd
Cultural Issues in Translation: The Thai Easy-to-Read Version
This article compares various Thai translations of the Bible and calls upon translators to pay closer attention to five aspects of culture. The author argues that not only the original meaning but also the original mood of passages should be translated. He illustrates the need to identify honor/shame passages and to translate them accordingly. He appeals to translators to avoid as much as possible insider vocabulary, including many of the specialized Thai divine/royal terms.

Yancy Smith
The Mystery and Mirage of Equivalence: Bible Translation Theory and the Practice of Christian Mission
Since the era of Eugene Nida, evangelical Bible translation has been revolutionized by his notion of dynamic or functional equivalence. Powerful theological and theoretical concerns, however, call into question its usefulness and its catholicity. This article explores and questions the usefulness of the equivalence model of translation in Christian mission from the standpoint of incarnation.

Andy Johnson
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: Missional Hermeneutics Lived Out in Burkinabe Villages

James Thompson and Tommy Givens
NT Scholars Discuss Missional Hermeneutics
This discussion was originally an email exchange moderated by the editor.

Foundations 66 (Spring 2014)

Issue 66 of Foundations: An International Journal of Evangelical Theology, published by Affinity, is now available (here in its entirety as a pdf), with the following contributions:

Ralph Cunnington

Ryan Kelly and Kevin DeYoung
Extra-Ecclesial Gospel Partnerships: A Mess Worth Making

Carl R. Trueman
Parachurch Groups and the Issues of Influence and Accountability

John Stevens
Gospel Partnerships and Gospel Unity in the United Kingdom

Paul Helm
War and New Testament Ethics

John James
Review Article: Mapping the Origins Debate

Ted Turnau

Andrew McKenna
Book Review: Encountering God Together

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Use Words

A friend and colleague has drawn my attention to Use Words, an initiative launched today, backed by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York.

According to the website: ‘The word “evangelism” means sharing good news. For Christians, it means sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ – what he has done for us, and what he continues to do in our lives.’

It’s being launched with a call to prayer for evangelism, but is careful to say that ‘this is not a one-off, or a campaign, or a PR stunt. It’s about praying continually that more and more people will become followers of Jesus Christ – and asking God to work among us to bring about this transformation in other people’s lives.’

Monday, 2 June 2014

The Bible Project on Genesis 1-11 and Heaven and Earth

This fairly new project looks like it could be excellent.

A small team is aiming to put together a series of short videos introducing the structure and themes of biblical books and tracing some major themes through the entire Bible.

They’re seeking to make these videos and supporting study guides available for free – although they’re asking for donations in order to do so.

Currently available is a video on Genesis 1-11 and another on the theme of heaven and earth in Scripture, lasting about 6 minutes each, and well worth checking out.

Greg Forster on Joy for the World (2)

Greg Forster, Joy for the World: How Christianity Lost Its Cultural Influence and Can Begin Rebuilding It (Wheaton: Crossway, 2014), 313pp., ISBN 9781433538001.

I mentioned this book in an earlier post (here), and thought I’d link to a 20-minute interview with the author by Justin Taylor (here). Justin doesn’t get to ask many questions, but what Greg Forster says helpfully provides a concise overview of the main concerns and contours of his book.

Sunday, 1 June 2014

The Current State of Business as Mission Research

The latest report from the Business as Mission Global Think Tank is Scholars Needed: The Current State of Business as Mission Research, designed ‘to help get scholars and researchers quickly up to speed on what has been done and what is still needed’. It is noted that this is the first in a series of six reports that will focus on the status and development of the ‘BAM Ecosystem’.

Here is the Executive Summary:

‘Great strides have been made in recent years to challenge the “sacred-secular” divide that is so deeply entrenched in the church, and to raise awareness of business’ potential to serve the common good. Yet the resources produced thus far offer little in the way of practical help for Christian business professionals. Few resources – whether books, websites, blogs, etc. – go beyond what might be called “cheerleading,” that is, encouraging Christians to “take their faith to work” or to embrace business as a vehicle for positive community impact.

‘As valuable as such “cheerleading” may be, there is a growing chorus of complaints by practitioners and educators about the lack of helpful resources, especially the lack of rigorous research that takes an unvarnished and critical look at what’s working, what’s not, and why. This is more than an academic problem; without quality research – and the resources that are generated by it – practitioners are forced to “figure things out” on their own, and the long-term impact of business as mission (BAM) will continue to be mixed.

‘One way to stimulate the production of such resources is by creating an association of BAM scholars. Such an association would include outlets (scholarly conferences and journals) for such research. Another way to address this need is by drawing from the closely related field of social entrepreneurship (SE). SE is similar to BAM in its emphasis on multiple “bottom lines”. The main difference is that SE accommodates all religious perspectives, including non-religious and humanistic perspectives. Still, there is much that can be learned through respectful dialogue between the two fields, and BAM scholars should actively engage this field by attending SE conferences and contributing to SE journals.

‘The following review is intended to help scholars get quickly up to speed on the research that has been done and what is still needed. This report is a slightly modified re-publication, with permission, of an essay previously published in the Journal of Biblical Integration in Business entitled “‘Business as Mission’ Hybrids: A Review and Research Agenda.”’

The full report is available as a pdf here.

Other reports are available from here.

Christian History Magazine on Persecution

The latest issue of Christian History Magazine is devoted to Eyewitnesses to the modern Age of Persecution’, reminding readers of ‘the continued widespread global persecution of Christians in the modern era’.

Here’s the final paragraph of the Editorial:

‘Many past issues of Christian History have been meant to inspire prayer and study, as we let the past – in examples both good and bad – teach us how God wants us to be faithful in the present. This issue has the same intent. But more than most, it is also intended to inspire action. Let these stories remind you that the story God is writing through his church today is a story written in suffering, perseverance, and hope. And let that guide you as you discern how to be faithful in your own present.’

The whole magazine is available as a 10.5 MB pdf here.