Good News for the Poor?

November 13, 2012 in Life, Mark, Africa, Bible, Church, Front, Justice, Mission, Tanzania, Theology

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released,
that the blind will see,
that the oppressed will be set free,
and that the time of the Lord’s favor has come.” (Luke 4:18-19)

This was the Scripture that Jesus read in the synagogue in his home town of Nazareth, asserting that the Scripture was being fulfilled through himself, and giving an early indication as to how he saw his ministry. But how did Jesus fulfill this prophecy of good news to the poor? And what does that mean for today?

Last month we were in Tanzania’s largest city, Dar es Salaam, which caused me to ponder these questions. What is the good news for the poor of today? Read the rest of this entry →

Modernism, Mission Planning and Western Syncretism

August 2, 2012 in Mark, Africa, Mission, Theology

Eddie Arthur recently highlighted a couple of posts from Mark Meynell entitled “The dehumanising metrics of modernist ministry: The Present and The Future“, where Mark looks at how a modernist worldview can affect the work of the church and at times lead away from the very values of the gospel that the church is called to live out. Mark looks at several trends in modern ministries, including our obsession with speed, novelty and uniformity.

But the sections that really stood out to me were his observations concerning “The economics of effectiveness” and “The hubris of strategy”.

But I fear a sinister trend has crept in. For if we’re not careful, we can seek an effectiveness shaped more by Wall St than the via Dolorosa. Big business constantly seeks a combination of efficiency and growth in order to thrive… which is fair enough. Maximum profit for minimum effort. But this is effectiveness measured by the Damoclean sword of the bottom line. Read the rest of this entry →

Being drawn into the story of Jesus

September 27, 2011 in Mark, Bible, Church, Front, Theology

Laura and I have recently started leading a home group for our church, where a small group of people meets together every couple of weeks to encourage and support each other. For the first few meetings we decided we wanted to focus on communication, relationships (in the non-romantic sense) and how Jesus related to people.

In our first session last week we looked at how Jesus communicated to people what the kingdom of God is like. He didn’t just sit down with people and give them a list of bullet points or a 5-part sermon where every point began with the same letter for easy remembering. Instead, Jesus communicated what God’s kingdom was like primarily through his actions and through stories. Maybe he did this because he knew that stories communicate in a way that facts don’t. Maybe it was also because stories connect with us, inspire us to action, and can ultimately help us to see the whole world in a new light. Read the rest of this entry →

What is truth?

September 21, 2011 in Mark, Church, Theology

Pilate said, “So you are a king?”

Jesus responded, “You say I am a king. Actually, I was born and came into the world to testify to the truth. All who love the truth recognize that what I say is true.”

“What is truth?” Pilate asked.

John 18:37-38

This evening we had a fascinating study at church after watching one of the “Truth Project” videos. We went through the first session which was an introduction to the series, looking at what truth is and why it is important that we know and believe the truth.

While I agreed with almost everything that was said in the video, I have one or two concerns about its approach. Is “truth” a valid hermeneutic with which to read the Bible? I think it is, but I also think that we need to be very careful in what we mean by truth, and aware of any subtle differences between the meaning of “truth” in our culture compared to that which Jesus and the biblical authors had in mind. Read the rest of this entry →

Did Jesus preach the gospel?

August 17, 2011 in Mark, Bible, Mission, Theology

Did Jesus preach the gospel? What do we mean by the gospel? Is our definition, which is often centred around us, our sin, God’s wrath, and God’s plan through Jesus to rescue us from his judgement, actually what the biblical authors have in mind when they talk about the gospel?

Scot McKnight’s excellent video explores these questions, trying to go back to what the biblical authors actually mean when they talk about the gospel, and not losing their words under the centuries of interpretation.

Part 1:

Part 2:

HT: Phil Prior