Wednesday 29 May 2024

Lausanne Global Analysis 13, 3 (May 2024)

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

The essays (summaries of which are taken from the Issue Overview by Loun Ling Lee) circle around the term ‘missional’.

Lawrence Ko

From the Desert to the City: Missional living in the 21st century

According to Lawrence Ko, ‘being missional’ for the church today means to be incarnational like Christ. ‘The most crucial part of the church in the 21st Century is the participation of Christians in the life of the community, beyond the four walls of the church… to engage in civil society and promote social cohesion as peacemakers while revealing the hope of the kingdom in Christ.’ One practical example is the encouraging and equipping of Christian youths in multi-ethnic and multi-religious Singapore ‘to live in community and mediate ethnic and faith differences and conflicts’ in the society.

Benno van den Toren

Being Missional within Religious Communities: A Plea and Proposal for Interfaith Apologetics

We should ‘share the gospel with those who are deeply invested in their religious communities as imams, priests, monks, sannyasins, or committed lay believers.’ And the best approach is ‘interreligious apologetic witness,’ writes Benno van den Toren… [who] argues that the key characteristics of interfaith apologetics should be holistic, contextual, and embodied. ‘It should be embodied in the lifestyle of the witness that reflects God’s love and deep interest in every human being, but also demonstrates the courage Jesus and his apostles showed unmasking idolatry and hypocrisy.’ In other words, we should ‘engage in such interfaith apologetics with both humility and confidence.’

Lisa Loden

Peace and Reconciliation as Mission in a World in Conflict: A Perspective on the Israel-Hamas War from an Israeli Jewish Follower of Jesus

But what is ‘being missional’ in a conflict situation, such as the Israel-Hamas war, the latest in this intractable Israeli-Palestinian conflict? This is probably the most complex and challenging situation for being missional… Lisa Loden reflects on the conflicting narratives and theologies of the opposing parties in Israel and Palestine which give rise to their respective goals. They ‘cannot disengage from their goals as they are perceived as existential. As a result they cannot enter into a meaningful dialogue with one another,’ and ‘many peacebuilding initiatives are compromised.’ Yet Lisa holds firm to her conviction that ‘all God’s children have been given a ministry of reconciliation.’ ‘If we do not live according to Jesus’ words and actions, to comfort those who mourn, to be peacemakers, to do justice, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with our God, we will have failed God’s mission to be living witnesses to the way of the cross and the gospel of peace,’ she concludes.

Rula Khoury Mansour

Peace and Reconciliation as Mission in a World in Conflict: A Christian Perspective on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

As a Palestinian-Israeli Christian lawyer and peace scholar-practitioner, Rula Khoury Mansour believes that ‘amid deep-rooted violent contexts, reconciliation is not just a nice idea – it is an absolute necessity. It is the key to breaking the cycles of conflict and creating a future where Israelis and Palestinians can coexist peacefully.’ … [She] writes, ‘Reconciliation is a process through which a society moves from a divided past to a shared future, including the search for truth, forgiveness, justice, and healing.’ She takes us through each of these essential stages and applies that to the relationships between Palestinians and Israelis. ‘Through sincere dialogue, acknowledging shared suffering and conflicting histories, and embracing forgiveness, a new narrative can emerge. By applying justice in its diverse forms and embarking on a journey of collective healing, we lay the foundation for a harmonious tomorrow, transcending the wounds of the past.’

Tuesday 28 May 2024

Centre for Public Christianity (May 2024)

Among other items, the Centre for Public Christianity has posted a ‘Life and Faith’ interview (here) with Nick Spencer on his book with Hannah Waite, Playing God: Science, Religion, and the Future of Humanity.

‘They examine remarkable advancements we have made in technological capability – AI, pharmacology and genetic engineering, knowledge of outer space, genetic editing, healing in the womb—and note that the world that science is creating raises exactly the kind of questions that science can’t answer. Their book is a plea to maintain an open and multi-voiced language to address these questions drawing on ethical, humanistic and spiritual layers.’

Monday 27 May 2024

Mission Frontiers 46, 3–4 (May–August 2024)

The May–August 2024 issue of Mission Frontiers, published by Frontier Ventures, is a special double issue. It is available here, from where individual articles can be downloaded. The entire issue can be downloaded as two pdfs here and here.

Thursday 16 May 2024

Credo 15, 1 (2024) on Divine Simplicity

The current issue of Credo is available, this one devoted to the topic of divine simplicity.

Here’s the blurb:

‘As goes divine simplicity, so goes classical theism. For some theologians, the affirmation of divine simplicity proves too much to bear, and the denial of such a doctrine requires them to dismiss classical theism as a whole. For many others, however, it was the discovery of divine simplicity that set them on their way to embracing the classical doctrine of God in all of its beauty. The doctrine of divine simplicity teaches that God is not made up of parts and that all that is in God is God. God is not merely good but is goodness itself; God is not only loving but is love. On this truth hangs many classical doctrines – immutability, impassibility, and even Nicene trinitarianism. Readers of this issue of Credo Magazine will find, ironically, that the “whole” of Christian doctrine is very much dependent upon this one “part.” It is no wonder that divine simplicity has been held by Protestants of all denominations and is ubiquitous throughout the Reformed confessions. To confess divine simplicity was nothing less than an alliance with the orthodox doctrine of God handed on by the Great Tradition. Take up, read, and confess with ancient Israel and the Church as a whole that the Lord our God is one!’

Individual articles, along with interviews and book reviews, are available to read from here.

Wednesday 15 May 2024

Craig Bartholomew on Old Testament Wisdom and Politics

Most of the recent issues of Ethics in Conversation from the Kirby Laing Centre have been book reviews, and I haven’t bothered posting them here. But the latest is a piece by Craig Bartholomew on ‘Old Testament Wisdom and Politics’, which unpacks the following main points:

1. Faith and wisdom embrace and include in their remit politics and government

2. Faith and wisdom recognise that politics can go horribly wrong.

3. Wise politics prioritises the afflicted, the poor, the needy and those without a voice

4. OT Israel was never a democracy, but OT wisdom orients us in important ways

It’s available as a pdf here.

Friday 10 May 2024

Theos Report on Work-Life Integration

A new report from Theos has been published:

Paul Bickley, Working Five to Nine: How We Can Deliver Work-Life Integration (London: Theos, 2024).

This is the second report in Theos’ Work Shift series, exploring how a renewed focus on the relational elements of work could improve the labour market.’

According to the blurb:

‘We have fallen out of love with work. Rates of economic activity remain stubbornly high in the UK, while in other countries they have reverted to pre-pandemic downward trends. While this is being driven by ill health, our values around work have also shifted. Recent World Values Survey data show that the UK public are the least likely of 24 countries to say that work is very/rather important in their life (73% in the UK, compared to 96% in Italy, 94% in France, or 80% in the United States). Millennials in particular have shifted in their attitudes: in 2009, 41% felt that work should always come first. By 2022, this had fallen to 14%.

‘This report argues that, to address this, we need to pay attention to what Catholic Social Teaching calls “the subjective dimension” of work – that whatever else we say about it, we’re always talking about something people do. Work should contribute to human flourishing and development at the individual and corporate levels. We also need to recognise a growing appetite for greater freedom to fulfil what, from a Christian perspective, are also kinds of work, albeit unpaid. These can be as varied as caring responsibilities, civil and political actions, and personal development and education.

‘This is not a call for less employment, but to think about how we can ease the conflict between the goods of employment and the goods of all the unpaid work we do. In our public conversation, policy, and practice, we prioritise the former – but how can we give more space to the latter? We argue for the expansion and enforcement of basic worker rights, further use of four-day weeks, and maintaining and extending the used [sic] of thoughtful hybrid working.’

A pdf of the full report is available here.

Thursday 9 May 2024

Evangelical Alliance UK on Thinking Faithfully about Politics

The Evangelical Alliance UK has produced a report, following a survey of 1,300 people, on what they call ‘a snapshot of how evangelicals think and act as they engage in politics’.

More information is available here, and a pdf of the report can be download here.

Tuesday 7 May 2024

Chris and Melissa Swain on Discipling Children

Every month, The Good Book Company make available digital versions of one of their books at no charge. This month (May 2024) it’s Write it on Their Hearts: Practical Help for Discipling Your Kids by Chris Swain with Melissa Swain, which is available in exchange for an email address here.

Monday 6 May 2024

The Lausanne Movement on the State of the Great Commission

The Lausanne Movement recently released a report on ‘the state of the great commission’.

According to the website:

‘In anticipation of the Fourth Lausanne Congress in September 2024, the State of the Great Commission Report brings together over 150 key strategic thinkers as contributing authors, matched with the best global data to understand where the greatest gaps and opportunities are for the Great Commission’s fulfilment.

‘The report seeks to guide us through the current state and future trajectory of global missions up to 2050, delving deep into ten crucial questions that will shape the church and global missions between now and 2050.’

The portal for accessing the report is here.

There are three main sections to the report:

• Current status

• Context shifts

• Regional considerations

In the second of those sections – context shifts – the report considers ten key questions that will impact the church’s mission:

What is Polycentric Christianity?

Christianity is a dynamic and living faith which has experienced notable global shifts in the last 100 years, and including the growth of Christianity in the Global South, the rise of Pentecostalism, and the continued addition of denominations, leading to the question, ‘What is Polycentric Christianity?’

What is the Source of Hope?

The Christian gospel is a message of hope for all. However, it is not the only promoted avenue of ‘hope’ in our contemporary world. From competing world religions to secular ambitions and pleasures, the world is continually asking, ‘What is the source of hope?’

What is the Foundation of Trust?

The validity of the gospel message is independent of individuals or institutions; however, when those who share the good news are not trusted, the gospel is questioned. Globally, there is a perceived rise in distrust that is dynamically shaping cultures, as the world asks, ‘What is the foundation of trust?’ 

What Are the Emerging Demographics?

Looking forward to 2050, major economic and population demographic changes promise to shape global culture. As the church faithfully lives out the great commission in a contextualized way, it must ask, ‘What are the effects of the new emerging demographics?’ 

What is Community?

For a growing number of individuals in the world, where they call home, what home looks like, and who their neighbors are is dramatically changing. These fundamental shifts in place and populations bring forth the fundamental question, ‘What is community?’ 

What is Fair and Just?

As Scripture teaches, all humans are made in the image of God and are worthy. Yet, globally, not all humans are treated equally. With an increasing consciousness of discrimination, the world and the church continue to ask, ‘What is fair and just?’

What is Sustainable?

The preceding century has seen a rise of more products, more people, more energy, more debt, more work, and more expectations. This burden of more has led the world and the church to begin to ask, ‘What is sustainable?’

What Does it Mean to Be Human?

Rapid technological advancements and the redefinition of human sexual identity are challenging previously held beliefs regarding human distinctiveness. These shifts are driving this generation’s defining question, ‘What does it mean to be human?’

What is a Digital Life?

Between the third and fourth Lausanne global congress, digital technology has fundamentally changed the world. For most of the world, with notable exceptions, the internet, screens, social media, virtual work, shape large portions of life, leading to the question, ‘What is a digital life?’

What is Ministry in a Digital Age?

The majority of the world now lives in a digital age. Connections, influence, and ideas originate just as much, if not more, from digital media than personal relationships. As the church aims to be faithful to the Great Commission in this new digital context, ministry leaders are asking, ‘What is Ministry in a Digital Age?’

In a 28-minute video here, Matthew Niermann, director of the report, gives an overview of the State of the Great Commission report and draws out key insights.

Wednesday 1 May 2024

Journal of Biblical Theology and Worldview 4, 2 (2024)

The latest issue of the Journal of Biblical Theology and Worldview, published by BJU Seminary, has recently been made available online.

Contents as below are available from here, with the whole issue available for download as a pdf here.

Brian C. Collins

The Futurist Interpretation of Revelation: Evidence from the Seal Judgments’ Reliance on the Olivet Discourse

Judson Greene

Sessio Ad Sinistram: God the Father’s Spatial Manifestation in Heaven

Mark Sidwell

Between Whitefield and Finney: The Evangelism of Asahel Nettleton

Layton Talbert

Managing Our Differences: Biblical Norms for Navigating Our Inevitable Disagreements

Book Reviews