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Showing posts from December, 2019

Let's Reform Christian Missions

Let’s reform Christian missions. One day, our family was together in the car and my father happened to mention a problem with one of the missionaries serving in our mission.  My older brother commented, ‘It seems that the only requirement to be a missionary is to be able to crawl across the border!’  After many years of missionary work on different continents, that once humourous comment from one little boy to his family has continued to ring in my ears.  Crawling across the border seems, at times, a higher requirement for missions when the requirements seem to be: (1) are you a Christian?, (2) do you ‘feel’ called?, and (3) have you raised your support?  I would like to focus on reforming missions with respect to theological education and mission training--one of several topics for reforming missions in our day.  (And I know there are exceptions to comments made here, with some great examples of good practice.) I think, for example, of the Cambridge seven—missionaries at the end of …

Ministry, Not Leadership: The Call to Renunciation

One of the differences between understanding Christian ministry as ministry versus leadership is that ministry in Scripture is thought of in terms of renunciation.Since the 1980s, the language of ‘leadership’ has largely replaced the language of ‘ministry’, at least in Protestant, Evangelical circles.My purpose here is to explore one way in which a call to ministry is not a call to leadership.  It involves renunciation, not the acquisition of authority.
When Jesus called his first disciples, Luke tells us that they ‘left everything and followed him’ (5.11).Later, as a follow-up after Jesus’ challenging words to the rich man who sought eternal life, Peter said to Jesus that he and the other disciples had ‘left everything and followed’ him (Mark 10.28; Matthew 19.27).Similarly, Jesus affirms a model for ministry that involves renunciation.In fact, all who would be disciples of Jesus were called to a radical renunciation, even of natural relationships if they encumbered one’s following of…

Understanding Romans 3.21-4.25, Part One: The ‘Faith of Christ’

In Romans 3.21-4.25, Paul presents two passages from the Old Testament as proof for his argument that God reckons righteousness to those who have faith in Jesus Christ.I am well aware that this simple statement needs to be argued point by point, since alternative, scholarly views have been presented and because those using English translations will struggle to see some of the points.Here I take up the first point in the phrase from above ‘to those who have faith in Jesus Christ.’ Does Paul argue that righteousness comes through our faith in Jesus Christ or through the faithfulness of Jesus Christ?This issue has long been noted—before the so-called New Perspective on Paul.The issue arises, first, because the syntax of the Greek could go either way: pistis Christou (or variations of this) could mean (1) faith in Christ (translating the Genitive as Objective) or (2) faith of Christ/faithfulness of Christ (translating the Genitive as Subjective). Since the issue will not be decided by Greek…