The college server is down at the moment so I’m afraid my internet access is down to an absolute minimum – so expect little or no blogging this week. Sorry, things will be back to normal soon…
Archive for January, 2007
I’m off to ‘Wortelgat’, just outside of Hermanus, for our ‘Knowing God’ Bible study leaders training weekend. We’re going to spend the time getting back up to speed with Mark’s gospel. So no blogging this weekend – I might drop a line on Sunday evening if I feel up to it and have some inspiration.
One of my favourite missional thinkers is the late Harvie Conn who previously taught at Westminster Theological Seminary. My special interest in urban ministry means that one of the most treasured books on my shelf is Dr. Conn’s big volume called Urban Ministry. So it was to my delight this morning that I found a blog by a few Westminster students dedicated entirely to the life and work of Harvie Conn. If you’re at all interested in what missional thinking from a Reformed tradition looks like then you have to give Dr. Conn a look.
Today I registered as a part-time student with George Whitefield College (GWC), which is my denomination’s official training institution. On Monday I’ll register as a full-time student for my final year at the Bible Institute of South Africa (BI) which is an inter-denominational training college. When I complete this final year, and a few part-time courses at GWC I’ll be doing some further post-graduate studies for another year at GWC before I begin my curacy in the Church of England in South Africa (CESA).
Meeting a whole bunch of new students today reminded of the great privilege I’ve had of being able to study the Bible in these two institutions. I’m not sure that the apostle Paul would have had the diverse and complicated world of seminaries and Bible colleges in mind when he thought about raising up Christian leaders, and, whilst I’m very pro holistic church based ministry and training, the pragmatist in me is very grateful for quality colleges and the work they’re doing.
Chris Wright points out in his CT article the vast numbers of Christians here in Africa, and whilst those high numbers are a great cause for rejoicing they also pose huge problems regarding the massive lack of quality church leadership on this continent. And while there are sterling exceptions to this, overall there are masses of church goers who have very little in the way of real pastoral oversight like many of us in western churches are used to.
To this end, BI and GWC are faithfully labouring to train up Africans for the sake of the gospel. One of the great examples of this is BI’s Christian Leadership Programme where the college is training pastors and Christian leaders mainly from under-developed or low income areas who have had almost no theological training in the past and yet are pastorally responsible for many church goers in the Cape Town area. The remarkable stories of growth and positive change in these pastor’s ministries could fill a volume of books. There is really a great work of God going on here.
Pray for these colleges, whilst we reach as many as we can there are still overwhelming numbers of church leaders who we are not able to reach, largely because of financial reasons. Pray that God would grant us the resources and finances to make a significant impact upon the Christian leadership of Southern Africa, for his sake and glory.
Christianity Today is launching a new series of articles in 2007 to answer the question: What must we learn, and unlearn, to be agents of God’s mission in the world? This is all still part of the Christian Vision Project. The January edition contains an article by renowned missiologist and Old Testament scholar, Christopher J. Wright entitled, ‘An Upside-Down World’. Here’s a quote to whet your appetite so you can follow the link and read the whole article:
So another piece of unlearning we must do is breaking the habit of using the term mission field to refer to everywhere else in the world except our home country in the West. The language of home and mission field is still used by many churches and agencies, but it fundamentally misrepresents reality. Not only does it perpetuate a patronizing view of the rest of the world as always being on the receiving end of our missionary largesse, but it also fails to recognize the maturity of churches in many other lands.
For anyone in the Cape Town area, Chris Wright will be speaking at the Cape Easter Convention and the Young Adults Crossword Easter Convention in April. Both are open to anyone – so if you’re interested in attending then contact me and I’ll see what I can do for you.
I know that strictly speaking this has got nothing to do with theology, but it’s my blog and its worth posting about anyway.
Arsenal come from 1-0 down to defeat Manchester United 2-1 with a beauty from on Thierry Henry 2 minutes into injury time. Can it get any better? Come on you Gunners!
I’m probably least likely to help someone in need when I myself am having a bit of rough time. You get days when you’re on top of the world and you’re ready to solve just about every major problem in the world – and then there are days when you stub your toe as you get out of bed, your favourite dog gets knocked over by a car, you scrape your own car on the gate on the way out and the rest of the day just continues like that…the last thing you feel like doing is being compassionate and helping out someone.
That’s what makes Matthew 14:13-14 completely remarkable. In the preceding verses John the Baptist is brutally executed for standing up for righteousness. In response to this tragic news Jesus withdraws to a solitary place, he probably didn’t really want to be around a bunch of people just then. In spite of this the crowds hear about his withdrawal and masses of them followed him to the solitary place. At this point in the narrative you’re like, ‘hey give the guy a break – he’s dealing with some pretty rough news about someone close to him – just leave him to be.’ Maybe you’d expect to see an irritable Jesus tell the crowds to get lost. Instead there’s none of that.
Instead we have Jesus who when he ‘saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick’. That really is a stunning verse and an insight into the heart of our gracious rescuer Jesus Christ. When others would be at their grumpiest and lowest, Christ is filled with compassion. I suppose this is best seen at the cross where Jesus is, by human standards, at his lowest and yet at the same time is partaking in the most compassionate act in history.
So we want to follow Jesus. His compassion wouldn’t be a bad place to start, to be able to look out at this world, at people and reflect the compassion of Jesus to them. If we, as Christians, could grasp something of this sort of compassion then there is nothing in this world that cannot be transformed. Pray that you and I might now that compassion and might reflect that compassion to the multitudes who are in desperate need of healing.
I always used to tell my friends that one day I’m going to start an organisation called CAC – Churches Against Cheese. Now here’s a perfect example of the sort of things this organisation would help to rectify: A new Christian imitation of Myspace called ‘HisHolySpace’ – I kid you not.
(HT – i-Monk)
In a body if your big toe is a pain you don’t cut it off you take care of it.
I came across this quote in a long list of comments on a blog that I often frequent and it caused my mind to set off on a bit of tangent from the discussion that was at hand. I found myself asking a question about the body of the church: What happens if you want to take care of that toe, you want to love and care for it, but the course of treatment you feel convicted to adopt will mostly likely come across as unloving and arrogant to that toe? In fact the toe will be pretty ticked off to find out that you regard him as being in pain or ill in the first place. As I interact with various expressions of the universal church I find myself in this predicament often. Now I’m pretty sure there are times when I am being arrogant and unloving, and I need to repent of that and deal with it. But what about other times?
I think our current environment of super-tolerance has made it increasingly difficult to approach this problem. I had a discussion along this lines whilst sipping wine with a former Pastor who had planted an emerging church a few years ago (I felt very emerging at the time, sipping wine and all. I was one step away from blogging about it on my Mac at Starbucks – except, I don’t have a Mac and there aren’t any Starbucks in South Africa). At a point in the conversation, about the emerging church (EC), I remarked that I felt many issues in the EC were getting to a point where you felt like there was never an occasion when one could say, ‘no that’s wrong’ without being labeled unloving, dogmatic and arrogant. Both he and I agreed that it would be extremely dangerous for any movement to get to a place where it can’t say ‘no that’s wrong’ when discussing fidelity to the gospel or faithfulness to following Christ. If that is the case, and I think it is, then I’m afraid there are going to times when I’m going to have to love and care for people and they’re going to perceive it as unloving and arrogant. I pray God might grant me grace and humility to the utmost in these situations.
Justin Taylor has posted an excerpt from Graeme Goldsworthy’s new book, Gospel-Centered Hermeneutics: Biblical-theological Foundations and Principles. I can’t wait to get my hands on this book. There’s a UK version out now, but it’s pretty steep for my student budget. The US edition is out in March and will be quite a bit cheaper on Amazon. I’ll resign myself to reading blurbs and excerpts till then.
Seems as though the doctrine of Biblical inerrancy is becoming a problem for some in the emerging church. Having thought through the doctrine over the past day or so I looked up some articles on it on the web. Here’s what the Elwell Evangelical Dictionary has to say about it – if you’ve got some time on your hands then it’s worth a read.
Having done lots of reading on this subject in the past, both Christian and secular (my undergraduate degree is in Classical Civilization remember) this is one doctrine I’m nowhere near about to part with and I’m fuzzled as to why others would want to.
If, for some bizarre reason, you decide that you’re going to frequent my blog you might start to notice that I’ll be saying a lot about ‘Biblical Theology’. Now the term is a bit confusing because you might say ‘isn’t Christian theology necessarily biblical?’ and yes it is, however the term ‘Biblical Theology’ (BT) has been used to denote a specific area of Christian theology pertaining to the Bible – I’ll let Graeme Goldsworthy, a leading proponent of contemporary BT explain:
“From the evangelical preacher’s point of view, biblical theology involves the quest for the big picture, or the overview of biblical revelation. It is of the nature of biblical theology that it tells a story rather than sets out timeless principles in abstraction. It does contain many timeless principles, but not in abstract. They are given in an historical context of progressive revelation. If we allow the Bible to tell its own story, we find a coherent and meaningful whole. G. L. Goldsworthy, Preaching the Whole Bible as Christian Scripture, (IVP, 2000)”
If you’ve never heard of BT before, or don’t really understand it then I commend to you BeginningWithMoses.org the best site on the web from articles on BT. Also check out Matt Harmon’s blog which he’s dedicated to BT.
If you’re looking for a book to read on the subject try starting out with ‘Gospel and Kingdom’ by Goldsworthy or ‘Preaching the Whole Bible as Christian Scripture’, also by Goldsworthy. Check out the ministries tab for more resources.
There, now you have no excuse for not knowing what BT is…go read.
If you’re like me and you’re a poor student who’s always on the lookout for a deal or a ‘freebee’ then check out this link to the Proclamation Trust where they’ve made available a number of theological papers free for download. If you’re at all interested in preaching then the Proc Trust is one of the sites you should be visiting over and over again.
Religious board games…hmmmm…
I’ve had enough ranting about disunity in the church for one day. Here’s a link to Ant Adam’s blog where he’s discussing a new ministry he’s becoming more involved in. Here’s the beauty of it: it’s all about churches partnering each other for the sake of mission – wonderful!
Building on my last post I came across this article. What shocked me about this article was the absolute arrogance of the Baptist position being held here. Now don’t get me wrong, I owe my conversion and much of my discipleship to the Baptist church, I love them deeply and have many friends and colleagues in Baptist ministry in this country – BUT – if this article accurately reflects the mindset of where Baptists are going then it saddens me deeply.
Come on Christians, we can do better than this.
(HT: Scot McKnight)
Justin Taylor interviews Thomas Schreiner on the subject of baptism. The interview is in view of a new book Believer’s Baptism: Sign of the New Covenant in Christ, which is edited by Schreiner. The interview was of interest to me as one who over the last 3 years has slowly moved from a Baptist position to an Evangelical Anglican position. I’ve been wrestling with the whole issue of baptism for quite a while now and so I’ve read quite a large number of articles and books both for and against infant baptism and/or believer’s baptism.
Upon reading the interview I thought Schreiner’s arguments were a bit weak in that he doesn’t really seem to interact with a truly evangelical infant-baptist view – or at least not the view I’ve been taught and that my denomination (CESA) practices. If the interview is a fair representation of the book then I don’t suppose it’s going to really say anything new in this age-old debate and so I find myself more and more comfortable and sympathizing with the infant baptist view. To get a more accurate idea of where my thinking is going on this subject read this article by Dennis Johnson of Westminster Seminary.
I get the feeling, more often than not, upon reading baptist defenses of adult believer’s baptism that they consider their view absolutely and dogmatically water-tight in terms of how it squares with the Bible – this worries me. In my mind, and reading of the subject, there are just too many questions and grey areas concerning both views for me to be dogmatic in that way about either view. I’m failing to see humility as this subject is approached especially amongst evangelicals which deeply distresses me.
As a young trainee minister trying to find his feet in gospel work it’s quite a shock to the system to deal with all this disagreement between evangelicals – it’s really depressing actually.
Jim Hamilton, assistant professor of Biblical Studies at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, does his own Q & A on the very popular figure of N.T. Wright. Hamilton suggests that in the future Wright may become the most influential New Testament scholar since Bultmann. The Q & A is definitely worth a read.
(HT: Justin Taylor)
Earlier this week I had the privilege of attending the Grace Minister’s Conference here in Cape Town where Don Carson and Mark Dever were the keynote speakers. The year is still young but I’ve got no doubt this will be one of my highlights of the year come December. I’ve always wanted to meet Dr. Carson ever since I started reading his books about 6 years ago. I don’t think any other author or preacher has shaped my thinking as much as he has through the various materials he’s produced. So the conference was an absolute treat for me as he did three expositions from John 1, Matthew 27 and John 20. His talks were of the highest quality and left everyone wishing they could open up the text the way he does.
Mark Dever took us through three practical talks on Expositroy Preaching, Church Membership and Church Discipline, a lot of his material was drawn from his books, ‘The 9 Marks of a Healthy Church’ and ‘The Deliberate Church’. Mark was very down to earth and easily approachable which was great for plebs like me.
I didn’t get to speak with Dr. Carson as much, mainly because just about everyone else at the conference wanted to speak with him. But when I did speak to him he too was down to earth and easily approachable.
The Q & A times in the evenings were my highlight of the conference – the questions that the various ministers asked were of a high standard and we were all blown away by the depth of answers we recieved. Dr. Carson spent some time discussing Christological Typology in the Old Testament and Biblical Theological Trajectories through the Old into the New Testament – that was a highlight.
It was great also to hang out with and meet some new pastors from around the Cape. It was also great just to spend three days ‘talking church and theology’ with a whole bunch of like-minded ministers.
For more information about Don Carson and Mark Dever you can get hold of resources from Mark at 9 Marks or read his blog at Together for the Gospel. Dr. Carson’s materials can be obtained through Christway Media.