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Showing posts from August, 2014

Issues Facing Mission Today 21: A Holistic Gospel or a Holistic Mission?

Issues Facing Mission Today 21: A Holistic Gospel or a Holistic Mission? [Updated 15 October, 2014]



Introduction I have, in the past, written favourably on a holistic Gospel and an understanding of mission as transformation.[1]  I fear, however, that there is a distortion of the Gospel that we are facing after years of such an emphasis.  It seems to me that we are in a position of having to refocus our understanding of the Gospel and mission on Jesus and his gift on the cross lest we slip into various errors that distort the Gospel in our day.


A Brief Historical Overview Church historian Richard Lovelace describes a ‘Delta Effect’ in the 1870s in America that divided the Social Gospel from the Personal Gospel that Evangelicals had, up until that time, held together.[2]  The latter came to be associated with American Fundamentalism, with its individual and spiritual understanding of salvation that did not include social action, development, justice, or concern for the environment.[3]  The …

Issues Facing Missions Today 20: ‘Power’ as Service in Paul’s Apostolic Role

Issues Facing Missions Today 20: ‘Power’ as Service in Paul’s Apostolic Role
Pressing still further the critique of an understanding of ministry as leadership, explored earlier, I intend to illustrate Paul’s own rejection of the notion of power located in skills and offices.  He instead favours a notion of functional power as itself service. To do so, I will venture three theses: (1) Paul is self-denigrating in regard to his status of an apostle; (2) Paul locates power in his ministry in the work of Jesus and the Holy Spirit; and (3) Paul’s understanding of his ministry is cruciform (cross-centred).  These theses seem to me to undermine thinking of ministry as 'leadership'.
Paul’s Self-Denigration of His Status as an Apostle
In perhaps Paul’s earliest letter, Paul finds himself in the awkward position of having to defend his authority as an apostle to a church that he had himself established.  The Galatian church had, to some extent, been persuaded by teachers of a works righteou…

The Church 3: Saying the Creed as the Beginning of Missionary Proclamation

The Church 3: Saying the Creed as the Beginning of Missionary Proclamation
Here is a simple request of the contemporary Church: Let us say what we believe.  Let us confess our faith with and to one another.  Let us clearly state the truth that we believe to a world that neither knows the truth nor, as often in our day in the West, believes that there is truth.  To do this, let us regularly say one of the universal Creeds—the Nicene Creed, the Apostles’ Creed, and the Athanasian Creed.[1]  In the face of denominational decline and the increase of independent churches, the tendency has been to whittle away at anything perceived to be too ‘churchy’—or ritualistic.  The result is that churches have reduced Christian worship to a few songs and a sermon.  Gone are pastoral prayers, weekly Eucharists, confession of sins—and the public confession of faith using one of the Creeds.  Yet saying a universal creed in worship is the beginning of Christian missionary proclamation.
Why Should We Say t…

Issues Facing Missions Today 19: The Daniel Plan?!

Issues Facing Missions Today 19: The Daniel Plan?!
What do Liberation Theology and the Prosperity Gospel have in common?  They both peddle a Gospel that emphasizes physical well-being.  Now we have Rick Warren, Daniel Amen, and Mark Hyman’s version of this teaching in The Daniel Plan: 40 Days to a Healthier Life (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2013).  Just what’s wrong with this?  Well, lots.  Of course, there’s nothing wrong with being healthy and fit.  Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could all be so and, for that matter, have no physical challenges at all?  It’s a great idea to eat well.  But we’re looking down the road at some seriously confused ideas about the Christian life when spiritual life is confused with diets and when clerics and churches start messing in this area.  I’d like to list several of the dangers I see, without presuming to hit on all the issues by any means.
First, this isn’t the Gospel.  This kind of an emphasis creates a refocusing on priorities.  Just what energiz…