Saturday 31 August 2019

Themelios 44, 2 (August 2019)

The latest Themelios is online here (and available here as a single pdf), containing the below articles.

Brian J. Tabb
Fulfill Your Ministry

Strange Times
Daniel Strange
Never Say ‘the Phones Are Quiet’

Jason DeRouchie
The Mystery Revealed: A Biblical case for Christ-Centered Old Testament Interpretation
This study provides a biblical-theological foundation for a Christ-centered hermeneutic. It overviews both Old and New Testament texts that identify how the primary audience that would receive blessing and not condemnation from OT instruction would be Christians enjoying the benefits of Christ’s eschatological, redemptive work. Jesus himself provides both the light for enabling us to see and savor what is in the OT and the necessary lens that influences and guides our reading by filling out the meaning – at times by supplying unknown interpretation and other times by clarifying, expanding, and deepening the human authors’ implications. For us to grasp the full meaning of the OT’s history, laws, poems, and prophecies, we must read them through the light and lens of Christ.

Peter R. Schemm Jr. and Andreas J. Köstenberger
The Gospel as Interpretive Key to 1 Corinthians 10:31-11:16: On Christian Worship, Head Coverings, and the Trinity
God’s good design for man and woman is to be practiced in all of life, especially in the worship of the church. Apparently, the behavior of some women in the Corinthian church was dishonoring both to God and their husbands. Whatever the exact nature of the problem, it had now become a gospel matter in public worship. Therefore, Paul seeks to apply the gospel – especially the idea of giving glory and honor to God, as Christ did – directly to the issue at hand. The purpose of the article is to show how the gospel itself is the interpretive key to this particular section of Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians (10:31–11:16).

Mark L. Strauss
A Review of the Christian Standard Bible
The Christian Standard Bible (CSB) is a 2017 revision and replacement of the Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB), first published in 2004. The Translation Oversight Committee was co-chaired by Thomas Schreiner and David Allen. The CSB follows the same basic translation philosophy as the HCSB, a mediating approach between formal and functional equivalence, similar to versions like the NIV, the NET Bible and the CEB. The CSB removes a number of the HCSB’s idiosyncracies, such as the use of “Yahweh” for the tetragrammaton (YHWH). Most significantly, the CSB departs from its predecessor by positively embracing “gender-accurate” language, for example, by translating the Greek ἀδελφοί as “brothers and sisters” when the referent includes both men and women. In general, the CSB is a significant improvement over the HCSB in terms to both accuracy and style.

Coleman M. Ford
“Striving for Glory with God”: Humility as the Good Life in Basil of Caesarea’s Homily 20
Basil of Caesarea (c. AD 330–379) presents humility as the essence of the good life in his Homily 20. Humility was the chief virtue based on Christ’s own humility. Thus, true happiness was only possible through a life of humility. In this essay, I first assess the biblical and theological rationale for humility according to Basil in contrast with prior Greek and Roman notions of humility. Next, I analyze how Basil depicts humility in terms of “glory” in his Homily 20. The bestowal of glory is a gift of God and can only be achieved through a life of humble imitation of Christ. This notion gives Basil’s hearers the proper perspective to understand how the good life is lived in Christian perspective. I conclude with some practical implications for understanding Basil’s conception of humility as the good life.

C.J. Moore
Can We Hasten the Parousia?An Examination of Matt 24:14 and Its Implications for Missional Practice
Among the many possible motivations for mission participation, the eschatological motivation for missions has recently grown in prevalence. Many missionaries speak of their work as “hastening” or “causing” the Parousia. Because of a desire to see Christ come back “sooner,” the eschatological motivation has often led to missional malpractice, due to a lack of nuance and humility in biblical exegesis. Particularly, the eschatological motivation frequently leads to pragmatic practices that should be avoided, practices that hurt rather than help the Church’s mission. In this article, I examine Matt 24:14, the verse used most often in defense of the eschatological motivation for missions. Along the way, I offer my modified view, one that frees the missionary to simply proclaim the gospel of Christ with a proper recognition of God’s sovereignty over both salvation and the Parousia; and still – in some mysterious way – we can be sure that our gospel proclamation indeed plays some role in the second coming of Christ.

Jackson Wu
The Doctrine of Scripture and Biblical Contextualization: Inspiration, Authority, Inerrancy, and the Canon
This essay explores the relationship between contextualization and an evangelical doctrine of the Bible, with a special emphasis on biblical inspiration, biblical authority, biblical inerrancy, and the biblical canon. Readers will see how the doctrine of Scripture leads to a biblical view of contextualization. How might a robust doctrine of Scripture practically improve our approach to contextualization, both in principle and practice? This article not only affirms the importance of contextualization; it also identifies biblical boundaries for contextualization. In the process, readers consider specific ways to apply one’s doctrine of the Bible.

Zachary Breitenbach
The Insights and Shortcomings of Kantian Ethics: Signposts Signaling the Truthfulness of Christian Ethics 
Immanuel Kant proposed what he considered to be the one true ethical system – a system rooted in pure reason, without recourse to grounding morality in God, that sought to explain universal moral truth. This article argues that Kant’s ethical system, despite grounding morality purely in reason and in light of its own philosophical failures, contains significant insights that serve to illuminate the philosophical attractiveness of key biblical ethical principles. The article highlights three insightful objectives of Kant’s ethical view and compares them to three crucial ethical principles that are taught in the Bible. It then contends that Kant’s view of ethics fails to accomplish his desired objectives and makes the case that a biblical understanding of ethics succeeds. The shortcomings of Kantian ethics serve as a signpost to the truth of Christian ethics.

Drew Hunter
Hebrews and the Typology of Jonathan Edwards 
In appreciation for the recent resurgence of interest in biblical theology and typological interpretation, this article considers Jonathan Edwards’s typological interpretive practices and principles. The article examines what Jonathan Edwards’s interpretive reflections on Hebrews reveal about his typological interpretation of the Old Testament. The article then shows the unique contribution that Edwards’s principled typological method makes to current discussions about typology and the use of the Old Testament in the New Testament.

Book Reviews

Tuesday 27 August 2019

More from the Centre for Public Christianity (August 2019)

The Centre for Public Christianity has posted an audio interview with Mark Greene (full disclosure: long-standing friend of mine and colleague at the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity) in which he considers ‘our problematic experience of work, shares three key things that the research suggests make work enriching rather than soul-destroying, and tells stories of workplaces that are doing things differently.’

Monday 26 August 2019

Echoes of Blessing #5: A Confident People

The LORD remembers us and will bless us:
he will bless his people Israel,
he will bless the house of Aaron,
he will bless those who fear the LORD –
small and great alike.
May the LORD cause you to flourish,
both you and your children.
May you be blessed by the LORD,
the Maker of heaven and earth.
Psalm 115:12-15

Offering an elegant reminder of what faithful prayer looks like, Psalm 115 holds together words about God and words addressed to God. In doing so, it echoes the priestly blessing of Numbers 6, but takes us on a journey to hear the full force of those reverberations.

‘Not to us, LORD, not to us but to your name be the glory’, the psalm begins. And the grounds for this resolute refusal to receive any of the glory which rightly belongs to the Lord flow out of his covenant commitment to us – ‘because of your love and faithfulness’ (115:1). The honour goes to the one who loves us deeply, who stays faithful to his people through history.

Not that we’re always fully aware of this. Or that we don’t feel the pinch when others ask, ‘Where is their God?’ (115:2). Where, indeed?

The psalm tells us: ‘Our God is in heaven; he does whatever pleases him’ (115:3). Unlike idols ‘made by human hands’, God is not a mere object of worship, but the living Lord, sovereign over all creation. Idols, complete with all their body parts, look like they have the capacity to deliver on their promises. But they can’t. It’s the Lord who has a mouth, eyes, ears, nose, hands, feet, and vocal chords that work. He’s the real God who can speak and act in the world.

So, we can trust in him, the psalm says, because he is our ‘help and shield’ (115:9-11). He fights for us. He protects us.

Then, hearing those echoes at last, comes a threefold assurance for all of God’s people – ‘small and great’ – that blessing rests upon the person who trusts in the Lord. We can be confident, the psalm says, that ‘the LORD remembers us and will bless us’, that his blessing extends beyond the present to future generations, that ‘the Maker of heaven and earth’ has unlimited resources with which to bless us.

Our journey through the psalm brings us to a place where we can be bold, right where we are, even today. How? In our resolve to put God’s glory above our own. In our commitment to trust him in spite of the bemusement and even belligerence of others. And in daring to believe that he will bless us as we do so. In this is our confidence.

Wednesday 21 August 2019

Centre for Public Christianity (August 2019)

The Centre for Public Christianity has posted an audio interview with Steven Garber (now of Regent College, Vancouver), ‘a fascinating conversation that ranges far and wide – from karma to stoicism, from Vàclav Havel to Peter Singer, from the Smashing Pumpkins to U2 – and delves into a vital question: what does it mean to be human?’

Monday 19 August 2019

Echoes of Blessing #4: A Broken People

How long, LORD God Almighty,
will your anger smoulder
against the prayers of your people?
You have fed them with the bread of tears;
you have made them drink tears by the bowlful.
You have made us an object of derision to our neighbours,
and our enemies mock us.
Restore us, God Almighty;
make your face shine on us,
that we may be saved.
Psalm 80:4-7

The Psalms are a lifesaver for those of us who struggle with knowing what to pray – because they give us a voice. Where we don’t always have the words, they give us the words.

The words in this particular psalm come from a place of brokenness. In case we’re in any doubt, the central prayer comes not once, not twice, but three times: ‘Restore us... make your face shine upon us, that we may be saved’ (80:3, 7, 19).

That refrain is deliberately reminiscent of the priestly blessing in Numbers 6, where Aaron and the priests affirm the sheer delight God takes in his own: ‘the LORD make his face shine on you.’ Except, the people felt they were no longer experiencing that promised blessing of the Lord.

They’d perhaps been feeling it for some time. ‘How long?’, they ask. That question is found in a number of psalms. Sometimes it’s because devastation has come at the hands of others and it’s a plea for God to step in. In this case, though, the people are painfully – and tearfully – aware of their own culpability, of God’s anger smouldering against them, of being mocked by others. Is it possible for God’s people to be derided by unbelievers because God himself brings it about? Apparently so.

Here is a cry of anguish from God’s people who are grieved by their own failure and distraught that God seems distant or even absent from them.

What do they pray? What do we pray? We return to the one we know to be faithful even when we’re not, to what we know to be utterly true about his promises to us, and to plead with him to step in and show his face: ‘Restore to us your special presence – your shining, smiling face that brings deliverance and blessing.’

So, what is it today that you would want to cry out to God for? For yourself? For people in our congregation? For the church in our land? For your friends and neighbours? For your place of work? For our world? Take the words of the psalm and make them your own: ‘Restore us, God Almighty; make your face shine upon us, that we may be saved.’

And as you do so, remember that some broken things are restored because they’re precious, because they’re loved. God remains, to this day, in the restoration business.

Friday 16 August 2019

Ink 3 (Summer 2019)

The third issue of ink, published by Tyndale House, Cambridge, is now available, this one including a special focus on ‘how Mediaeval scribes preserved the Old Testament’.

UK residents can sign up here to receive issues through the post, but the publication is also available as a pdf here.

Wednesday 14 August 2019

Mark A. Noll on the Rise of Evangelicalism

I’ve recently had reason to scan the five volumes of ‘A History of Evangelicalism’, published by IVP. I was reminded that I wrote a review of the first volume when it appeared back in 2004, which I have pasted below for any who might be interested.

Mark A. Noll, The Rise of Evangelicalism: The Age of Edwards, Whitefield and the Wesleys, A History of Evangelicalism (Leicester: IVP, 2004).

An older, wiser Christian once encouraged me to keep a history or biography and a work of theology on the go alongside my regular Bible study. No prizes for guessing that I’ve not managed to follow that piece of advice much in the last twenty years. When I have managed to do so, however, the sense of ‘duty’ I’ve felt has been more than outweighed by the benefits I’ve received. It was with that mix of ‘here’s something I really must do’ alongside ‘this will really be for my better good’ that I approached this volume, once again grateful for the wisdom of my friend. Of course, those who actually enjoy reading history and biography won’t require any such encouragement.

I was particularly drawn to this book as it’s the first in a projected five-volume series on the history of evangelicalism in the English-speaking world, co-edited by Mark A. Noll and David W. Bebbington, with authors writing from the USA, Scotland, England, and Australia. Whilst recognising its Reformation pedigree, evangelicalism, according to the series, was constituted both by individuals and the network of relationships shared by those who were involved in eighteenth-century revivals, and also by certain convictions and attitudes which have been maintained since. Hence while evangelicalism is fluid, ‘cohesion has always been present, both from the common original commitment to revival and from the strength of shared convictions’ (18). The series promises to provide an orientation of sorts to ‘insiders’ and ‘outsiders’, with the story told from the perspective of an evangelical commitment, and yet also as part of the cultural, political, and intellectual history of the times in which evangelicals have inevitably found themselves.

Noll, a first-rate historian of American evangelicalism, provides the first installment up to the mid-1790s. As such, the book could be usefully read in tandem with his American Evangelical Christianity: An Introduction (Oxford: Blackwell, 2001), a collection of essays showing how evangelicalism has been quick to adapt to trends in culture, such as consumerism and individualism, or his more substantial America’s God: From Jonathan Edwards to Abraham Lincoln (New York: Oxford University Press, 2003), on the marriage of religion and politics. Even without those volumes, Noll’s research is evident here in the full footnotes and lengthy bibliographies.

The book itself contains nine substantial chapters, topped and tailed with an introduction and afterword, moving through the period of revivals (1734-1738), fragmentation and consolidation (1738-1745), development (1745-1770), and diversification (1770-1795). Most of the coverage is devoted to Britain and the colonies that became the USA, and the account embraces well-known figures such as Jonathan Edwards, George Whitefield, John and Charles Wesley, the Countess of Huntingdon, John Newton, William Wilberforce, Hannah Moore, alongside a gallery of lesser-knowns.

Chapter 2 (‘Antecedents’) shows how eighteenth-century evangelicalism arose out of three earlier movements: the international Calvinist network, especially of English Puritanism; the pietist revival from central Europe; and a High Church Anglican tradition of rigorous spirituality and organisation in voluntary societies to promote personal piety and service to others. (This last one was a surprise to me since my own evangelical tradition taught me to be suspicious of high church activities!) Noll seems to place most significance on the second of the three – the pioneering place of the German-speaking Moravians – showing that the evangelical revival began in the heart of Europe, and that the similar series of movements that arose in England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, and the British colonies in North America were following precedents set out seventy-five years previously.

When it comes to offering ‘explanations’ for the revivals (ch. 5), Noll is happy to affirm the movement of the Spirit before considering the nature of the human agents, the flow of history, and the shifting of societal structures, all combined in someone like George Whitefield, an earnest preacher of ‘new birth’, but also an ‘expert marketer of the gospel in the new open spaces of British imperial commerce’ (143), demonstrating the work of the the Spirit through ‘channels of influence from the domains of ordinary history’ (144).

Through all this, evangelicals retained an interest in the affairs of the world, perhaps seen most notably in mobilisation against the slave trade (ch. 8). But the strong pietist tradition has tended to lead to inward focus rather that outward action (ch. 9). Emphasis on personal experience has been a feature of evangelicalism since the mid-18th century. Edwards and John Wesley who were first-rate intellectuals (and whose massive legacy lives on today) nonetheless maintained that personal experience of God was vital.

Noll includes a significant section on hymnody, which has been crucial to evangelicals from the days of the Wesleys onwards. Hymns fulfilled a teaching function, focusing mainly on human sin, resulting alienation from God, and the redemption provided through Jesus’ death. Hymns were revolutionary in terms of how they were sung, printed, memorised, and quoted. And they also had ecumenical appeal: Charles Wesley despised the Calvinism of Augustus Toplady, and Toplady had no love for Wesley’s Arminianism – but they sang each other’s hymns!

All of this adds up to a stimulating and encouraging narrative overall. Those who know the terrain better than I will be able to point out the gaps in Noll’s account; I, for one, was glad on this occasion to have taken the advice of my wise mentor all those years ago.

Tuesday 13 August 2019

Andrew Root on the Pastor in a Secular Age

On the heels of Andrew Root’s stimulating Faith Formation in a Secular Age: Responding to the Church’s Obsession with Youthfulness (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2017) – the first in a projected ‘Ministry in a Secular Age’ trilogy – comes The Pastor in a Secular Age: Ministry to People Who No Longer Need a God (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2019).

A recent post (here) on ‘Faith and Leadership’ summarises the burden of the most-recent title:

‘[T]hroughout time, from Augustine to Thomas Becket to Jonathan Edwards, pastors and priests have at least served against a cultural backdrop with the shared understanding that the transcendent is real and our lives must interact with something beyond what we can see and touch.

‘Today, things are different.

‘We now live in a time where the very idea that God is real and present in our lives is no longer accepted. Indeed, it’s widely contested. Belief has been made fragile – for the pastor as much as for those in the pews...

‘[W]e are now pastoring, and being church, in a full-blown secular age. From curator of divine things to prodder toward holiness to chaplain of the secular age to entrepreneur, the role of pastor has shifted dramatically as we’ve moved deeper and deeper into a secular age, and farther and farther away from a sense of God’s presence and action in our ordinary lives.

‘Though we might behave otherwise, what confronts the pastor inside a secular age in this new era is not primarily the question of how to sustain an institution, grow a budget, authentically reach the “nones” or double membership.

‘These pursuits lead only to increasing fatigue and despondency. Instead, the pastor’s most pressing calling and deepest question has become, How do we help those who no longer need a God encounter the living God in their lives?’

Monday 12 August 2019

Echoes of Blessing #3: A Missional People

May God be gracious to us and bless us
and make his face shine on us –
so that your ways may be known on earth,
your salvation among all nations.
May the peoples praise you, God;
may all the peoples praise you.
Psalm 67:1-3

The glorious benediction of Numbers 6:24-26 impresses upon us that God is the source of every blessing: ‘The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace.’ In this case, the blessing is mediated through the priests – bringing with it the guarantee that the sacrifice for sin has been successful, confirming God’s love for his people, reminding them that his presence is with them.

That the blessing shaped the faith of subsequent generations is clear from the number of times we hear its echoes elsewhere in Scripture, not least in the opening line of Psalm 67: ‘May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face shine on us.’ However, here the blessing is sought not for its own sake or even for the sake of Israel, but for all peoples, as seen in the next line – ‘so that your ways may be known on earth, your salvation among all nations’ – expressing the hope that God’s blessing will become a global reality.

Far from an isolated reference, the Psalms are packed with exhortations to Israel to sing of God’s mighty deeds among the nations, summons to the nations to praise God, and promises of a future in which the nations will join Israel in worship. In line with God’s original promise to Abraham, the blessings for Israel were always the precursor of a still greater blessing – for all nations – ultimately fulfilled in Jesus.

Psalm 67 is of a piece with the rest of Scripture not only in providing a vision of God’s salvation embracing all nations, but in seeing the people of God as those chosen to be instruments of his blessing to others. Through his grace, God brings together a people who exist so that others might be blessed. God’s desire to bless hasn’t changed, and nor has his means of doing so. The Psalm thus enables us to see the arenas of our everyday life as places where God blesses us, calls us to be living proofs of that blessing, and invites us to share it with those around us – in our families, neighbourhoods, and workplaces.

And then, beyond even this amazing privilege, the Psalm reminds us of the ultimate goal of mission – nothing less than the worship of the Lord among ‘all the peoples’. To God be all the glory.

Saturday 10 August 2019

Word and World 7 (July 2019)

‘What is a university for?’ is the theme of the latest issue of Word and World, published by IFES. The issue contains the below pieces, and is available as a pdf here.

Esther Phua
We Become Dreamers: Snapshots from the Life of a University Student
Esther Phua, a recent philosophy graduate from Singapore, offers snapshots from life as a university student. She tells about times to ask questions, to discover, to make friends, to grow up, to relate to family, and to grow in faith. She also tells about times to deal with shame, suicide, and difficult family relationships. Recognizing the fears that students face, she says that universities are places to try out ideas about changing the world, places to dream, thanks to the Word that became flesh.

Brian A. Williams
To Wonder, Learn, and Love: Christian Humanism in the Modern University
Brian A. Williams, theologian and dean of an honours college in the United States, looks to the tradition of Christian humanism to frame what universities are for, a tradition that has taught him to value every art and science as a gift from God made available to students to develop their full humanity. He writes that this kind of education starts with wonder and amazement. It goes on to learn, not using of knowledge for selfish aims but learning as a grateful and humble response to the gift of knowledge. Such learning equips university members to love their near and distant neighbours. Knowing ultimately leads us to praise God, Williams writes.

Santa J. Ono
The Humility of What We Do Not Know: My Story of Serving as a President and a Scientist in a Secular University
Santa J. Ono, president of a university in Canada and a medical scientist, thinks that the best universities are places where people from different backgrounds come together for open dialogue about questions, exploring mysteries, developing new ideas, and shaping people who can create a better world. He relates his story of coming to Christian faith as a student, a faith that he says disposes him to serve people of any or no faith as a leader of an educational institution.

Jeremiah Amai Veino Duomai
Universities as Watchdogs: Democracy and Critiquing the Powers That Be
Jeremiah Amai Veino Duomai, a philosopher from India, responds to the shrinking space allowed in Indian universities for evaluating and criticizing government policies. He argues that free thought in universities is not only important for the health of a democracy. It is also an important way to speak out against what the Scriptures call “the powers that be,” fighting a temptation to worship political leaders or deify nations.

Ross H. McKenzie
Towards a Christian Vision for the Modern Secular University: A Theological Contribution to Competing Visions of the University
Ross H. McKenzie, a physicist from Australia, says that in a time of crisis about the purpose of universities, Christian theology has a contribution to make. The approach of turning universities into businesses and letting them be guided by free market forces predominates today, he says. And while some Christians hold to a vision for educational institutions as sectarian, he advances a Christian theological vision for the modern secular and multicultural university. McKenzie believes that the categories of creation, fall, redemption, and renewal can both explain and shape what counts as good activity in the university.

Wednesday 7 August 2019

Guy Brandon on Gleaning

The Jubilee Centre has published a piece from Guy Brandon, the fourth in an occasional series on the laws in Leviticus, this one looking at the instructions in 19:9-10 related to not reaping to the very edges of a field.

Here are a few paragraphs which capture the gist:

‘The intentional wastefulness of Leviticus 19:9-10 may not sit well with the modern mindset. Productivity and efficiency are vital for maintaining our ever-rising GDP. Time is money, as Benjamin Franklin said – an utterly corrosive idea that has permeated almost everything we do. So, too, are we indoctrinated with the idea that we must get the most out of every resource – including the land, with intensive farming methods that use up the soil and require the constant addition of new fertilisers, and chemicals to maximise yields.

‘But in the Bible, wringing the most out of the land was like wringing every hour and minute out of the week: something that was not just unnecessary, but undesirable. The Bible warns us that an obsession with the “good” of productivity actually prevents us from doing real good: looking after the alien, the orphan and the widow. Permitting gleaning served a kind of double purpose in this respect. It offered direct benefit to the most marginalised in society, who could come and gather leftover crops – just as Ruth does in Boaz’s fields. But it also served as a visible and tangible reminder to better-off Israelites that they were not to prioritise their own harvest and prosperity at the expense of those who struggled to find their next meal.’

The article is available here, and from here as a pdf in the Jubilee Centre’s Engage magazine.

Monday 5 August 2019

Echoes of Blessing #2: A Secure People

Answer me when I call to you,
my righteous God.
Give me relief from my distress;
have mercy on me and hear my prayer...
Let the light of your face shine on us...
In peace I will lie down and sleep,
for you alone, LORD,
make me dwell in safety.
Psalm 4:1, 6, 8

In 1967, psychiatrists Thomas Holmes and Richard Rahe conducted a study with over 5,000 patients on the connection between significant life events and illness. The resulting chart – known as the Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale – which contained 43 causes of stress in 1967, was updated to 55 causes in 2006. It appears we are finding more ways of feeling stressed! Not far from the top of the list are finances, work, family, personal concerns, relationships, and death – issues that many people face, regardless of how secure they may appear.

Stress spans the ages too, as this Psalm makes clear. Although the cause in this case is not immediately apparent, David’s prayer has a very human and contemporary feel to it – ‘Give me relief from my distress’. How recently have you prayed that for yourself?

But note how he addresses God – ‘Righteous God’, or ‘God of my right’. Here, as elsewhere in Scripture, God’s righteousness is bound up with his covenant love and faithfulness to his people. It’s because he is the God who does what is right, who makes things right, that we can pray, ‘Give me relief from my distress’. It’s this God alone who can provide the compassion we seek. We pray on the basis that God is a righteous God, and has mercy on his people. Ultimately, we have no other source of hope, no other means of deliverance.

It’s completely of a piece with God’s covenant faithfulness that towards the end of the Psalm, David can use words from the priestly blessing of Numbers 6, to ask God to shine on the people, and expresses the confidence that he will enjoy peace, shalom, the wellbeing that the priestly blessing goes on to pray for. It’s the Lord alone who does this, he says; only the Lord counts.

And so he lies down to sleep. It’s not apparent that the situation has changed by the end of the Psalm, or that the cause of the stress has been removed. But praying it through has somehow put it in perspective. Prayer to the covenant-keeping God has a way of doing that. The Psalms are unrelenting in pointing us back to the one who stands at the heart of our faith – the one who still promises that his peace, which passes all understanding, will guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

Saturday 3 August 2019

Neil Hudson on How We Get from Sunday Disciples to Whole-Life Disciples

There’s a great interview here with my friend and LICC colleague, Neil Hudson, around the theme of his recently-published book, Scattered and Gathered: Equipping Disciples for the Frontline (London: IVP, 2019). I admit I’m biased, but if I had to sell my shirt to get a copy, I would.

Thursday 1 August 2019

Lausanne Global Analysis 8, 4 (July 2019)

The latest issue of Lausanne Global Analysis, from The Lausanne Movement, is available online from here, including pdf downloads.

In the issue overview, editor David Taylor writes:

‘In this issue, Africa features strongly. We ask how the church can respond adequately to the current wave of terror attacks in Nigeria and elsewhere; and we seek to learn lessons from Uganda on how Christians can help with reintegration of girl child soldiers. We also ask how we can develop new approaches to immigrant-majority world church relations in the West; and we consider how virtual meetings are changing the dynamics of global collaboration among Christians.’