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Issues Facing Missions Today: 56. When Wolves Come Among You: Paul’s Speech to the Ephesian Elders

Issues Facing Missions Today: 56. When Wolves Come Among You: Paul’s Speech to the Ephesian Elders
[This post continues New Testament studies on false teaching and ministry in the Church.  Such studies are relevant for understanding mission as Church renewal, which is a particular need in the Church's mission to the West (but not only there) in our time.
Introduction
If there was one certainty the early Church had about its future, it was that it would be plagued by persecution from without and false teaching from within.  Jesus, himself, was crucified by the Roman and Jewish leaders and betrayed by Judas, and he warned of false prophets who would arise as wolves in sheep’s clothing (Matthew 7.15).  Even persons intimately involved in ministry could be false ministers:
Matthew 7:21-23 "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.  22 On that day many will say to me, 'Lord, L…

Issues Facing the Church: 55. The Seven Demons of the West’s New Tribalism

Issues Facing the Church: 55. The Seven Demons of the West’s New Tribalism
Introduction: The New Tribalism of Western Society
We are already in a post-postmodern society, a society best understood as ‘tribal,’ as I have earlier argued.  To be sure, this tribalism has a particular flavour for Western culture: being politically correct lies at the heart of post-postmodern tribalism.  Abundant examples of this can now be given for society at large—such as the latest regulations, with fines applied, regarding the ‘correct’ terminology to use for the self-identity of sexually confused persons.[1]  But how does this new culture create a new understanding of ‘orthodoxy’ and ‘heresy’ within the Church at large?
In the pre-Modernist (pre-mid-17th century) and Modernist (Enlightenment, post-mid-17th – 20th centuries) periods in Western society, when the notion of ‘truth’ was still defined in terms of objective reality, heresy was a matter of denying official, orthodox teaching.  That official tea…

Issues Facing Missions Today: 54. Mission as Church Renewal through a Return to Scriptural Authority

Issues Facing Missions Today: 54. Mission as Church Renewal through a Return to Scriptural Authority
I have recently been writing about mission as Church renewal, particularly as it applies to a mission to the West.  To this end, I have been examining Biblical texts as they address what we might call a theology of unityand division.[1]  Reformation of the Church is, as Protestants in the 16th century emphasised, accomplished through a constant revision of ecclesiastical errors by returning to the teaching of Scripture.  The Latin phrase, semper reformanda—always reforming—was fundamental for the Reformation—not just ‘a’ reformation but a continual reformation of the Church.  Why?  Because the Church is always prone to error in human hands.  How can the Church be reformed?  By constantly returning to the Scriptures to see where human interpretation has strayed from God’s authoritative Word.
Consider now this.  Yesterday, the Church of Scotland affirmed the ordination of same-sex minist…