OK, here’s a question. Over in my Wide Margin guise I have just published what I think is a wonderful book. It’s a discipleship and church planting manual from the house church in Japan, and I think it can and should benefit quite a wide audience. I’ve tried a number of ways to promote it so far, but I’m sure there’s more I can be doing, so I want to try asking the audience: Read more about Great book, but how to spread the word?
In which I try, once again, to justify my existence to myself
We’ve been back in the UK for nearly two years now - two years away from the mission field, two years not doing what everyone thinks a missionary should be doing. Now nobody knows what we’re doing. My father-in-law asked me the other day what we were actually doing here. It’s hard to be a missionary to Japan when you’re not actually in Japan. Read more about And note that we say "to Japan", not "in Japan"
Certain folk may misinterpret this post and think I’m commenting on a specific situation. I’m honestly not. I just read a book and thought it was interesting. That’s all.
I’ve been searching for inspiration to help me prepare my “Scripture, Strategy and Missionary Theory” lecture. This should be my pet topic, as I’m really into missiological hermeneutics, but I’ve had a bit of writer’s block after finishing planning the other lectures. Knowing that the best way to get the juices flowing again is to be stimulated by what others are saying, even if it’s not quite in the same area, I picked up a book that has been sitting unread on our shelf for a year or so now - “The Fall of Interpretation” by James Smith.
It’s about how we see the process of reading the Bible, and whether we should look for unity or plurality in our readings. Smith, coming from a Pentecostal background, argues in favour of plurality. Read more about Theological difference
As a former computational linguistics geek I feel ashamed at how long it’s taken me to make this connection.
Zipf’s Law states that rank-frequency curves follow a power-law distribution. In other words, the most common distribution of stuff goes like this: a small number of very big things, a medium-sized number of medium-sized things, and a lot of small things.
Does this distribution apply to our churches, and what does it mean for the house church? Read more about Zipf's law and house churches
Discovered this lovely verse from a lovely hymn today:
Cry ‘Freedom!’ in the church when
honest doubts are met with fear;
when vacuum-packed theology
makes questions disappear;
when journeys end before they start
and mystery is clear!
The Simple Pastor links to a FAQ about the difference between Mormonism and what the Gospel Coalition grandly calls “Biblical” Christianity. (This is already a red flag for me; is there any other kind?) It turns out to be the sort of thing that makes me sad for the state of apologetics. The FAQ is a dubious collection of proof-texts with no developed argument and no exegesis. Biblical Christianity is, apparently, a facile and one-dimensional Christianity. Read more about Apologetics should take the Bible seriously
It’s been a working Greenbelt for us, helping out with a couple of worship slots and occasionally manning the Redcliffe stand, so we didn’t get to see many talks. But I did want to get to see Stanley Hauerwas, especially once I saw that he was giving a talk discussing
the misconception that the “god” often appealed to in US political and religious rhetoric is the same triune God worshipped by the Church and confessed in the Christian creeds.
I’ve long believed that American Christianity is fundamentally unrelated to Christianity, and it seems that Hauerwas believes it too. Read more about Hauerwas on American Christianity
Overheard a couple of days ago, a regional secretary for a large Evangelical organisation:
Well, I realised that feeding people didn’t save their souls, so I stopped doing that.
Man, people still think like that? Read more about Faith and works
I’ve recently been trying to think what the next new thing is going to be in mission - what are the areas that we’re not working in yet that we should be doing in? Maybe because last night I was helping to build an installation for our worship event at Greenbelt, the answer came to me: the use of the arts as mission. Read more about Art as Mission