Wednesday 31 May 2023

Centre for Public Christianity (May 2023)

Among other items, the Centre for Public Christianity has just posted a ‘Life and Faith’ interview with Nick Spencer (here) ’about his new book Magisteria, and why he thinks the relationship between science and religion is infinitely more interesting than the myths would have us believe’.

Tuesday 23 May 2023

Lausanne Global Analysis 12, 3 (May 2023)

The latest issue of Lausanne Global Analysis, from The Lausanne Movement, is available online from here, including pdfs of individual articles as below.

The summaries are taken from the Issue Overview by Loun Ling Lee.

Wonsuk Ma

A Radical Vision of the Whole Church

Wonsuk Ma identifies ‘the challenges in today’s mission in fulfilling this novel vision’ – only a very small percentage of today’s Christians are directly involved in mission; ‘the specialized and professionalized status of missionaries’; and the ‘resource-heavy mission paradigm’ as a practical obstacle for Global South churches. He proposes three areas in resolving the challenges – shaping ‘Christian mission according to the biblical vision’; discerning ‘the leading of the Holy Spirit in the formation of the missionary movement’; and opening ‘our eyes to see new and creative mission practices across the world.’

Alexia Salvatierra

The Whole Gospel and Community Organizing

Alexia Salvatierra defines the whole gospel as both ‘the proclamation and incarnation of the love of God in Jesus Christ’. She ‘illustrates how different activities can express and communicate the love of Christ,’ using the gifts from God for the transformation and wellbeing of ‘the whole person, in the whole family, in the whole community, in the whole world.’ One powerful example is a joint project with the city and the private sector for homeless people where Christians ‘work side by side with the secular society, witnessing the love of Christ that motivated us,’ she concludes.

Joshua Bogunjoko

The Whole World and the Unreached

Reviewing the data from various sources, the international director of SIM shows that ‘the actions of the global church and our use of resources have not reflected that Lausanne call.’ Based on an initiative by SIM called ‘Faithful Witness to Forgotten Communities’, he describes the SIM model which ‘aims to place hundreds of more missionaries from around the world over the next few years in a project we believe could advance the gospel in communities where Christ is least known.’ He suggests some practical steps for leaders of churches and organizations who are committed ‘to the urgent and unfinished task of making disciples of Jesus Christ in the whole world.

Kirst Rievan

Missions in a Post-COVID World

Kirst highlights some of the significant changes resulting from the loss of life, economic crisis, mental health issues, reduction of expatriate missionaries, work dynamics, and other factors. But the greatest implication is probably the shift in global mission of a ‘West to the rest’ mentality to an ‘everywhere to everyone’ model. In conclusion, the author asks us to ‘reflect and build on our COVID experiences’ and engage wisely with the long-term implications of COVID.

Wednesday 17 May 2023

Theology and Ministry 8 (2022)

The latest issue of Theology and Ministry, an open-access journal from Cranmer Hall, St John’s College, Durham – and containing the below articles – is available from here.

Samuel Tranter and Nicholas J. Moore


Sebastian Rab

Christ and Church as Temple in John 14.2–3: And Implications for Eschatology and Funeral Ministry

Temple is a key biblical-theological theme, especially in the Fourth Gospel. A case is made that the farewell discourse employs this theme at its outset to introduce its key priorities. If the ‘Father’s house’ is the body of Jesus and its ‘many dwelling-places’ are the disciples, then John 14.2–3 uses the theme of temple to speak to the relational nature of both being a disciple of Jesus and the reconciliation of all things to God in Christ. This has implications for our eschatology, which are related particularly to funerals, where this scriptural reading is enduringly popular.

Paul J. Wilson

Rethinking Refujesus: Biblical Perspectives on a Popular Icon

The claim that ‘Jesus was a refugee’ or that Christians follow a ‘migrant messiah’ has become a shibboleth among those who advocate a more benevolent response to migrants. This manner of identifying Jesus has gained traction in the past decade, even being promoted by politicians and pop stars. In response, ‘Refujesus’ has been criticized by those who view migration as a threat. Proponents on all sides of this debate refer to the ‘escape to Egypt’ (Matt. 2.13–23), but are often more concerned with reading contemporary questions about migration into the text, rather than the text itself. This paper will argue that while describing Jesus as a refugee does have exegetical merit, the New Testament has more to offer ethical responses to migration by offering a fundamental shift in perspective though a migration-informed exegesis.

Anthony Bash

Remorse, Emotions, and Moral Transformation

Despite popular thought, repentance and remorse are not synonyms. Repentance is both affect and action, whereas remorse is always only ever affect, though remorse can lead to repentance. Surprisingly, there is no word that obviously means ‘remorse’ in the Bible, though people were evidently remorseful, especially towards God for sin. Remorse is different from regret, though it includes elements of regret in its meaning. In 2 Corinthians 7, Paul lays the linguistic and theological foundation for what later became known as ‘remorse’. Remorse is an affective disposition, and we consider how the New Testament approaches the way dispositions can be transformed from being sinful to godly.

Robert Russell

From Enmity to Reconciliation: Reflections on the Theology of Vernon White and Forgiveness Research of Marina Cantacuzino

The journey leading from enmity to reconciliation is beset with complex challenges for parishioners en route and for pastors offering guidance. Concepts and principles are selected from the theology of Vernon White, the forgiveness research of Marina Cantacuzino, and theologies of other authors, which may prove helpful. Two major issues are considered here: 1) reconciling with each other, involving offering and receiving forgiveness, and 2) reconciling with God. These are examined theologically and practically to include differences and connections between forgiveness and reconciliation, theodicy (particularly instrumentalism), freewill, strategies for counseling, and common parishioner concerns with possible pastoral responses to them.

Oliver Blease

This is My Body: A Qualitative Study into Sociological and Theological Experiences in Local Parish Eucharistic Worship

The theology and praxis of the Eucharist is often discussed by academics and theologians, yet most people engaged in the act of celebrating the sacrament rarely have a published or widely heard ‘voice’ with which to share their experience of these Holy Mysteries. This article investigates the direct experience of communicant members of the Church of England across a wide range of theological traditions. Idiographic qualitative data yielded from semi-structured interviews is analysed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA). These results are reflected upon using the Theological Action Research model to generate relevant and practical outcomes from the data. Three key themes emerge from the participants’ experiences: the significance of the gathered community; a pre-existing and dynamic reflective praxis amongst communicants; and a diverse but prevalent focus on ‘mission’ particularly relating to the unique nature of the rite.


Monday 15 May 2023

Theos Report on Dying, Death, and the Afterlife

A new report from Theos has been published:

Marianne Rozario and Lia Shimada with contribution from Wendy Appenteng Daniels and Simon Perfect, Ashes to Ashes: Beliefs, Trends, and Practices in Dying, Death, and the Afterlife (London: Theos, 2023).

Some paragraphs from the Theos website:

‘Practices around death and dying are changing rapidly. In particular, as the UK becomes less traditionally religious, there are growing preferences for cremation over burial and a rise of “celebrations of life” over traditional funerals. However, there still exists a wide range of religious and spiritual beliefs surrounding death and the afterlife…

‘In light of this changing picture, Theos and the Susanna Wesley Foundation investigated current trends on, and attitudes towards, dying, death, and the afterlife in the UK, and explored the role of churches and faith communities…

‘We found continued shared concerns around what makes a “good death”, including no pain/suffering, being surrounded by family/at home, peace/reconciliation, and preparedness, but a wide range of religious and spiritual beliefs desired in memorialisation practices and when contemplating the afterlife.

‘While the religious landscape is changing, churches and faith communities have an important role to play in offering both pastoral care and theological accompaniment to the dying and the bereaved. There is a challenge and an opportunity for churches and faith communities to (re)claim their role – to re–weave religion and death.’

More information can be found here, a video introduction here, and a pdf of the full report is available here.

Saturday 13 May 2023

Business as Mission and the Church Report

BAM Global has just published a report on Business as Mission and the Church:

BAM Global, Business as Mission and the Church: Unleashing the Power of the Congregation in the Global Marketplace (May 2023).

Here’s the blurb:

‘The fruit of a year-long consultation process involving leaders from around the world, this report contains an analysis of major barriers and opportunities for the church to engage with business as mission and includes resource recommendations, practical tools, and case studies.’

More information is available from here, from where the report can also be downloaded as a pdf.

Monday 8 May 2023

9Marks Journal (April 2023) on Christian Authoritarianism

The latest issue of the 9Marks Journal, available from here, looks at the topic of ‘A New Christian Authoritarianism? Christian Nationalism, Theonomy, and Magisterial Protestantism’.

In the Editor’s Note, Jonathan Leeman writes:

‘A pastor’s own theological development should include what the academic crowd calls political theology. Political theology is that area of theology that helps us to situate churches on the landscape of the nations and their governments, like pins on a map. It includes topics like the relationship between church and state, religious liberty, views on Christ and culture, the duties of citizenship, as well as what’s appropriate for preachers to preach about an upcoming election…

‘Faithful pastors rightly deplore the politicizing of the pulpit – employing the pulpit for partisan or policy-program ends. Doing so subverts the agenda of Jesus’s heavenly kingdom to earthly ones. Still, your political theology, like your eschatology and your view of the biblical covenants, will shape your view of the church’s mission. Therefore, it’s a necessary topic for pastoral study.’

Friday 5 May 2023

John Piper on Biographies of Christian Leaders

John Piper, 27 Servants of Sovereign Joy: Faithful, Flawed, and Fruitful (Wheaton: Crossway, 2022).

Crossway have made available a substantial volume (over 1,000 pages) by John Piper, which gathers together his shorter biographies of men (yes, they are all men!) who have, in different ways, left their mark on Christian history.

Here’s the blurb:

‘Throughout church history, the faithful ministries of Christian leaders – though full of struggle, sin, and weakness – have magnified the worth and majesty of God. Their lives and teachings are still profoundly relevant. Their voices live on in the stories we read and tell today.

‘In this book, John Piper celebrates the lives of 27 such leaders from church history, offering a close look at their perseverance amidst opposition, weakness, and suffering. Let the resilience of these faithful but flawed saints inspire you toward a life of Christ-exalting courage, passion, and joy.

Further information is available here, and a pdf of the book can be downloaded here.

Thursday 4 May 2023

Evangelical Review of Theology 47, 2 (May 2023)

The latest Evangelical Review of Theology, published by The World Evangelical Alliance, is now online and available in its entirety as a pdf here.

Introduction: Don’t Run from Controversy

Joseph W. Handley, Jr.

The Great Collaboration: Catalyzing Disciple Making for the Global Church

The author, a leading participant in the WEA’s Decade of Disciple Making and its associated ‘Galilean Movement’, surveys the current challenges facing the global church with regard to disciple making. He describes work being advanced by the WEA and the Lausanne Movement and calls for deeper engagement in collaboration to accelerate disciple making globally.

Jay Matenga

Our Missions Future: Local Impact, Ripples and Waves

Joel Pfahler

When the Game Stops ... for Prayer

Sports chaplains are always on call, serving a frequently unreached people group: professional athletes. This article describes their behind-the-scenes work in a manner that offers lessons for Christian ministry – and on how Christian sports fans can represent Christ more fully.

Thorsten Prill

Evangelical Missionaries and the Lack of Cross-Cultural Competence: An Historical Perspective

This article describes how 19th-century evangelical missionaries to Africa erected barriers that hindered the spread of the gospel due to their lack of cross-cultural skills. It also discusses positive examples and draws applications to the contemporary church setting.

Bruce Barron

Introduction to the Next Two Articles

Richard P. Moore

The New Apostolic Reformation and Its Threat to Evangelicalism

The New Apostolic Reformation, among the latest in a long series of theological and practical controversies among independent charismatics, has significant impact on evangelicals globally, especially through the music produced by Bethel Church in California. Along with conducting extensive research using primary sources, the author of this article has personally experienced the NAR’s impact in Europe.

Joseph Mattera

The Global Apostolic Movement and the Progress of the Gospel

The controversy over the New Apostolic Reformation (see previous article) can overshadow a different, more biblically grounded approach to mobilizing ‘apostles’ and ‘prophets’ strategically in church planting in mission. These excerpts from apostolic leader Joseph Mattera’s recent book present the biblical basis and positive potential of this approach, along with insightful distinctions between true and false apostles and challenges facing the church in Latin America, Africa and the USA.

Brent Neely

The Weight of Sin: Islam, Anselm and Barth

Muslim thinkers have often criticized Christians for a morbid view of sin, for a limited view of human capacity, and for insisting that only the death of Jesus could solve humanity’s sin problem. This article scrutinizes and affirms Christians’ penchant for taking sin very seriously, against the background of the challenges posed by a group of prominent Muslim thinkers.

Daniel Kirkpatrick

What Is Redeemed in Redemption? An Argument for Unconditional Redemption

This article engages recent literature regarding the doctrine of redemption, the person and role of the redeemer, and the object that is redeemed. It argues for a solely divine redeemer and faith as a response to, not a cause of, redemption.

Book Reviews

Monday 1 May 2023

Timothy Lane on Worry

Every month, The Good Book Company make available digital versions of one of their books at no charge. This month (May 2023) it’s Living Without Worry: How to Replace Anxiety with Peace by Timothy Lane, which is available in exchange for an email address here.