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Showing posts from April, 2016

Issues Facing Missions Today: 52. Paul’s Concern for Unity and Peace in Ephesians

Issues Facing Missions Today: 52. Paul’s Concern for Unity and Peace in Ephesians
[This post continues the study of mission as church renewal by examining the theme of unity and peace running through Paul's letter to the Ephesians (over against merely social understandings of unity in certain heretical groups today).]

Introduction
A rather humorous misuse of Scripture surrounds a very sad state of affairs in the Anglican Communion.  The heretical Episcopal Church, seeking ways to remain engaged in ministries in Africa, recently brought together 23 representatives from parts of Africa, on the basis of Galatians 6.2’s ‘bear one another’s burdens.’[1]  The idea was to skip over differences on homosexuality and just get on with needed social programmes.  Underlying this idea is the conviction that unity can be held despite different views on sexuality.  Mainline denominations in general move between the views that differences on sexual ethics are (1) matters of indifference or that (2) …

Issues Facing Missions Today: 51. Dare We Judge?

Issues Facing Missions Today: 51. Dare We Judge?
[This post continues the study of mission as church renewal by examining the New Testament understanding of Christian discipline and judgement.]


Introduction

‘Christians should not judge others’—so goes the saying often repeated by some believers and non-believers alike.  It is a statement meant to shut down criticism, promote tolerance of diverse views and behaviours, and avoid any practice of church discipline.  Is it really true, though?  Dare we judge?
The Ecclesiastical Context for the Discussion
One context to be found for this discussion might be in churches not knowing what to do with recalcitrant sinners in their midst.  Another context is found in denominations that are faced with moral crises as some redefine sin and begin to endorse, affirm, and even advocate certain practices the Church has always condemned as sinful!  A case in point might be how the Anglican Church is dividing over the matter of homosexuality, with some now af…

Issues Facing Missions Today: 50. Preserve the Unity of the Church?

Issues Facing the Church: 50. Preserve the Unity of the Church?
[This post continues a study in a series of posts on mission as church renewal by examining Jesus' prayer for unity in John 17--'that they may all be one' (v. 21).]

One argument that has struck many believers as compelling in the ecclesiastical debates in oldline denominations that revolve around sexuality—especially homosexuality—has been that the unity of the Church must be preserved at all costs.  This discussion entails figuring out what Christian unity and love are, and what issues may be considered matters of indifference (Greek: adiaphora).  What does it mean to preserve the unity of the Church?  Here, this question will be addressed with respect to Jesus’ high priestly prayer to the Father in John 17.
That ‘unity of the Church’ is no small matter perhaps gains its greatest strength from Jesus’ prayer for unity among the disciples in John 17.  ‘Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given m…

Issues Facing Missions Today: 49. The New Tribalism of post-Postmodernity and Christian Mission to the West

Issues Facing Missions Today: 49. The New Tribalism of post-Postmodernity and Christian Mission to the West 

Introduction
Christian mission to the West is facing a new challenge that requires moving beyond the categories of ‘Modernity’ and ‘Post-Modernity’ for the worldview of the larger society.  We are witnessing a fundamental change in the western worldview, a new outlook that might be called ‘Tribalism.’  The Church is caught in the challenge of how to position itself in this new reality, which involves persecution from the Tribe.  Yet is also able to offer a profound witness at this time if it is willing to ‘become the Gospel’ in communities with far more depth than they have had in recent decades.
Enlightenment Modernity

Modernity was characterized by the encyclopedic, progressive accumulation of knowledge, the authoritative lecturer in the classroom, the scientific method and the reign of science over other disciplines in the university, and the relegation of faith to the private…

Issues Facing Missions Today: 48. Heretical Teaching and False Unity Then and Now

Issues Facing Missions Today: 48. Heretical Teaching and False Unity Then and Now
[This post begins a study of mission as church renewal with respect to the specific question of Church unity.  It does so by examining an erroneous understanding of Church unity that does not allow for division and discipline in the Church.]


Mission is not always about the Church's reaching out to others with the Gospel and various ministries; it can and often needs to be a renewal movement within established churches.  The opposite of continuous renewal of the Church according to the Scriptures is a wearisome process of endless dialogue led by persons committed to false teaching and a call for unity of fellowship with persons who undermine the faith and who lead others into errors with eternal consequences.  The challenge of heresy, the need for orthodox teaching, and the urgency to separate false teachers from the faithful—not endless dialogue and false fellowship with them—was present in the earlies…

The Church: 17. Conscience and Freedom

The Church: 17. Conscience and Freedom

Introduction:

We are witnessing a fascinating change in the 'experiment' of Western society in our day, a change that directly affects the Church and its mission.  The change, while multi-faceted, includes a fundamental adjustment being made in the very notion on which so much of Western society has been built since the 1600s--freedom.  The change involves a radical revision of the relationship between conscience and freedom.

The Peace of Westphalia

Go back to the beginning of the 17th century--in a pre-Enlightenment stage of European history--and you will find yourself in an intellectual and social conundrum: 'How can we affirm what is true when we do not have agreement about what is true?'  This places us right in the middle of the Thirty Years War (1618-1648).  It irrupted out of an attempt by the Holy Roman Empire to establish religious uniformity, i.e., Roman Catholicism.  Protestants revolted by forming the Protestant Union, a…