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Showing posts from October, 2017

Poverty in Ethiopia: An Historical-Theological Analysis from John Iliffe

The following notes reference a significant work by John Iliffe, The African Poor: A History, African Studies(Cambridge Univ. Press, 1987).  The notes are limited to Illiffe's discussion of poverty in Ethiopia.  The publication came just 4 years before Mengistu's Communist government fell, but the focus Illiffe has is more broadly historical--and therefore, in the case of Ethiopia, also theological.  Too often, discussion of matters of wealth and poverty in Christian theology are inadequately rooted in the right fields of study, such as Biblical exegesis and theology, historical research, and cultural analysis.  Instead, one finds theoreticians who build discussion on principles and values and lay themselves open to ideological agendas and unstated presuppositions that easily and regularly distort the Biblical text, Christian history, and actual contexts.  So, these notes are offered as exemplary for the kind of discussion needed at one level (the others being Biblical exegesi…

Ten Reflections on Western Christian Missions in Africa in 2017

Africa is very large and very diverse.  So, it is with considerable trepidation that I offer some general reflections on Christian missions in Africa at the present time.  My hope is less to be taken as a last word on any of these points than to stimulate necessary discussion in the right places.  Also, missions in our day is often not from the West; it may be from the East or indigenous missions in Africa.  These points, however, are directed at missionary efforts from the West in Africa.  Over the past 30-50 years, missions from the West has changed considerably, and I would be hard-pressed to say that this change has been good.  Let someone else find where it has been (and we can all celebrate those instances), but here I, at times, cast a more critical eye on the situation.  At other times, I simply want to advocate a particular emphasis that is needed in missions in Africa (always understanding that individual calling is different from missiological analysis).  So, here are my t…

Peace in Our Time?

The United States seems to be getting more and more angry.  [Note: this was written within hours of the latest mass shooting--in Las Vegas.] I would assume that, if South Africans can pick this up by watching world news on their TV sets, so can much of the rest of the world.  But South Africa constantly plays its own, tiring records of wrong to feed its own narrative of injustice, hate, and violence.  We are fed narratives of violence, no matter where we live, on a daily basis.
In America, this cultural anger is undoubtedly nursed and nurtured for quite a number of reasons, not just one.  The polarization of the country itself has to do with an aggressive ‘change’ agenda throughout the Obama presidency, followed up now with an ‘America Great Again’ change policy of the Trump presidency.  Both options for change—radically different—fed the culture with fears, anger, and hatred. Anger is surely also due to the financial crisis in 2008 that was met with socialist policies that did not res…