Friday, January 27, 2006
GC: The Open Secret, by Leslie Newbigin
GC: A Reader's Guide to Transforming Mission (American Society of Missiology) Stan Nussbaum
gc: Walk On: The Spiritual Journey of U2 by Steve Stockman
gc: Stockman, S. (2005) Walk On: the Spiritual Journey of U2
gc: The Mountain of Silence by Kyriacos Markides
**GC: Nussbaum, Stan, A Readers Guide to Transforming Mission, Orbis Books, 2005
Friday, January 20, 2006
"seeking to entice people into our fold with innocuous deceptions.." 57
describing the evangelical wave of churches into Russia
multi-hued splendour. Divided in doctrine and practice, a squabbling and caty hydra of churches, para-churhes and evangelical acalp-hunters, proclaiming nothing but its commitment to disunity. 108
Sunday, January 15, 2006
1. Puritanism: A reaction against the 'I'll-do-it-if-i-like-it Christianity' with the emphases: 'no images, no art, no cultural activities, no music, fast rather than feast'. Christians influenced by Puritan values view growth in faith as a process of becoming more and more apart from 'worldly things'.
2. Animosity against programmes: Many Christians 'support the idea of discovering spiritual gifts and giving more prominence to prayer in the church; but many also believe that this has to be a spontaneous process and should never be planned.
3. Righteousness by works: Legalistic tendencies in various forms have always built on the premise that we have to earn our salvation.
4. Fatalism: The belief in fate is typical of many non-Christian religions but has also intruded into Christianity It centres on the idea that everything we experience is God-sent, therefore, in order to stay in harmony with God, we need to submit to our fate, whether good or bad.
5. Feelings of inferiority.. Some groups implicitly - or expressly communicate the attitude: 'Whatever you do is an expression of sin'. This attitude makes it nearly impossible to enjoy the Christian faith.
6. Whimsical pleasure: Many mistake a 'whimsical pleasure' principle with spiritual passion. Thus, leaders do not dare to ask for binding commitments because they fear that this could be demanding too much. What they overlook is this: it is in dedicated and committed service to others that we find one of the most powerful sources of happiness in life.
7. Magical expectations: A widespread attitude hidden behind some of the seemingly pious faith practices is expressed in the words: 'if you do this or that just right, you will certainly get this result'.
8. Ecstasy dependency.. There is a danger in a kind of 'conference Christianity' that feeds off one extraordinary experience which can then only be surpassed by the next one. Those who focus on these kinds of events may become blind to the everyday and down-to-earth principles which are the soil that feeds spiritual passion in the life of the church.
Consider the 'passion killers' mentioned above and ask yourself. How strong is each one of these factors in our church? Indicate your evaluation on a scale from 1 to 10 (1 = very weak; 10 = very strong). As a second step ask yourself. What could we do to overcome those passion killers that have the strongest representation?
1 Puritanism 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10
2. Anti-programme 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10
3. Righteousness by works 1 -2-3-.4-5-6-7-8-9- 10
4. Fatalism 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10
5. Inferior feelings 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10
6. Whimsical pleasure 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10
7. Magical expectations 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10
8. Ecstasy dependency 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10
Wednesday, January 11, 2006
Hunsberger, G.R.. (1998) Bearing the witness of the spirit: Lesslie Newbigin’s Theology of Cultural Plurality
For people seriously asking how to live within the gospel's encounter with their own culture, the study hopes to help them find missionary ways of being and thinking and acting, missionary eyes for seeing their own and other cultures in light of the mission of the Spirit of God, and missionary instincts of compassion, humility, patience, and love for the journey. Pp8
The choice for individual meaning over against meaning for history as a whole can of course be seen in the tendency within Christian experience to focus hope on the "state of being beyond death" believing that "the aim of the Christian life is to be found in another world which [one] enters by the act of dying" . But the Bible's image of the end is not that of a "disembodied survival for the individual" (79cjh:205). God's purpose is not "a collection of individual spirits abstracted one by one from their involvement in the world of matter and in the human community." Therefore, "the Christian hope is no selfish quest of private salvation" (53ch:109-1 11). Such a view would negate the view of history as ,,a real drama with a coherent meaning" and reduce it to "a non-stop revue, an endless series of solo items," a show which as a whole "has no plot and no conclusion~' (59scmt:183).
It was never within Bishop Newbigin's normal pattern of expression to speak in terms of the "boundaries" of the church. In fact, he was always eager to undo the tendency of of the church toward a corporate egotism which sees mission solely in terms of its own "preservation and extension' as coterminous with God's work in the world. He is careful to remind the church that "God's saving work is always spilling over far beyond the bounds of the Church (72sad: 7 1). The church's mission is such that by its calling to exist for the rest of humankind it must always be the "beyond bounds" people, offering its gospel to those outside. Therefore, "there will be no fixed boundaries because God's saying purpose in Jesus Christ is not limited by our membership rolls. 156
Thursday, January 05, 2006
This very modernreductionism struggles with the tension between evangelism and social
justice, which ultimately will not be resolved, according to Barth, unless and until one finds something beyond them which unites them.That which lies beyond these dichotomies is the gospel, which is
greater than these (and many more) reductions. 126
In the exploration of the missiological implications of reductionism, 1 have stressed that the reduction of the gospel to individual salvation, with all of its surrounding and resulting implications, is the gravest and most influential expression of the human drive for control. The consequences of this reduction are profound, ranging throughout every dimension and expression of Christian thought and action. A reduced gospel trivializes God as it makes God into a manageable deity. 131
The congregation either a missional community - as Newbigin defines it, "the hermeneutic of the gospe1 - or it is ultimately a caricature of the people of God that it is called to be. 136
The missional community which Jesus intended and which the apostles formed and taught was to testify to the gospel in every dimension of its existence. Its message was never understood as simply a verbal communication about which one might argue, and for which mere mental consent was sought. The gospel ofjesus Christ defines a new reality, under God, in which Jesus Christ has all power in heaven and earth, and his followers are his sent and empowered witnesses. 137
But, as a community of forgiven sinners, we constantly try to bring this gospel under our control. We do that by reducing it to manageable proportions. In a great variety of ways, that reductionism has become characteristic of our Christian witness, especially in the Western world, among the heirs of the oldest traditions. For evangelistic ministry, that reductionism is displayed in its most potent way in the division of the gospel into "benefits" and "mission." What the believer receives from responding to Christ has become the focus: forgiveness, new life, and assurance of salvation. These truly blessed benefits may not, however, be separated from the calling of the Christian community to be Christ's witness. Thus, the heart of the church's evangelistic ministry is its own continuing conversion to the fullness of Christ and his mission. 144
Gospel reductionism has, however, led us far from that dynamic and incarnational understanding of membership. As the church focused more on the benefits of salvation enjoyed by the individual Christian, membership came to mean "saved." 170
Their survival as a separate religious group, rather than their commitment to the reign of God, began to preoccupy them."13
This survival as a religion was linked with the church's growing perception that the gospel was primarily directed to meeting individual human needs. This meant from very early on, as discussed above, the reduction of the gospel to an individually and privately defined vision of salvation. This salvation was, quite rightly, understood as a fundamental change in the relationship between the person and God, and the assurance of life after death in heaven. Re4uctionism does not mean that what remains is wrong: it means that What remains is too little. The church, as it institutionalized, did not set aside the gospel; it reduced it and made it manageable….The reduction of the gospel to the individual and personal dimensions of salvation had profound reductionistic implications for the institutional shape of the church. To summarize what was discussed at length in chapter 5: This reduced gospel shaped a church with a reduced mission. It was now to be focused upon the issue of personal salvation, This salvation was to be managed by the church with the administration of the sacraments and the distribution of grace, and it was all dependent upon the development of special offices of the church empowered to administer God's grace in churchly actions. Bosch calls this "the ecclesiasticization of salvation." 188
As we have seen, this reductionism of the gospel has meant, almost invariably, a separation of the gospel message of salvation from the gospel message of the kingdom of God. 15 One of the continuing evidences of that fateful separation is the kind of evangelism, still widespread in North America, which claims that it can justify separating between the saviorhood of Jesus Christ and the lordship of Jesus Christ. There the reductionism is complete. Jesus as the source of a person's salvation is reduced to the level of one's salvation need; the claims of jesus as Lord of life and history are reserved for another time and place. In effect, they are never heard, because such claims burst the boundaries of the safely reduced gospel which ensure that Christianity will never be as radical in our social setting as in fact it must be.190
Guder be my witnesses…