Thursday, 21 January 2010

Totally Like Whatever, You Know?

Apparently slam poet Taylor Mali's poem Totally Like Whatever, You Know? has been around for a while, but this presentation of it brings out the force (and the fun).

Typography from Ronnie Bruce on Vimeo.

[HT: Justin Taylor]

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Playing in the light-filled heavens

TheologyNetwork's Table Talk podcasts are always worth listening to, and the latest one is no exception. Mike Reeves interviews Michael Ward about C.S.Lewis and the 7-fold mediæval cosmology which ran through his literature - including the Chronicles of Narnia. It's not a hidden key as it was first billed by some, although it does explain some otherwise seemingly out-of-place inclusions in the novels. It is a fascinating exploration of Lewis' ability to invite us to breathe in the air of a meaning-drenched universe, rather than just accepting our culture's take on things. And if you're just a fan of the Chronicles, it'll be interesting to hear something of Lewis' influences in each one. The two Michaels also reflect on some of Lewis' challenges for the Church and our culture. Listen here.

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Not just enterprise

While Valdir Steuernagel is interviewed on being global family in mission (instead of doing 'partnerships' in projects) by Lausanne & Christianity Today, David Robertson of St Peter's, Dundee, revives an article on How (not) to be an American Missionary in Scotland - which serves very well as a localised example of what Dr Steuernagel describes more generally. With a few changes to cultural references, it could just as easily be 'How (not) to be a Brazilian Missionary in Kenya' (and so on).

Both Jesus and Paul tell us clearly that the gospel message is a message of community. It's never an individual enterprise. We are called to preach the gospel and do good, and we are called to be a community of the gospel.

Something beautiful is that God himself is community: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. And Jesus prayed for us to be a community. The Trinity models for us how to get along, how to be interdependent, how to keep our own specificity without the sense of competition.

We are not talking about a pragmatic modus operandi. Partnership is a gospel mandate, which must be expressed in how we relate to each other in a global community. Evangelicals are not very good at that. We look at it through the lenses of pragmatists. We use the word 'cooperation' more than 'community.'

Q: 'Cooperation' suggests a high level of individual autonomy.

It’s pragmatism: you put on the table what you have, and we’ll see how we can work together. Instead, we should start with being family.

Q: Are there unique challenges to partnership today?

Certainly. In the past our eyes were focused on the European and American missionaries. Today there are many more players at the table, each with their own particularity. It’s important for us to discern our own experiences, to understand each other, so we serve well together.

Western missionaries brought tremendous gifts. North Americans came out of an experience of church growth and revival, with positive stories to share. They brought optimism and a can-do spirit. They could say here it is, you do this. And they brought money.

Today it’s no longer like that. One key question is how the North American mission enterprise serves in mission while no longer calling the shots. ... [Read more.]
All this said, not as a dig at our American brothers and sisters. A missionary couple in my church presented to us something of their work among South Asians in a particular area of my city. One lady is due back in America soon, and will present the financial need for a Friendship centre building to a group she's due to address. My natural reaction? 'Good: they have money.' She challenged us, rather, to make this a British project financially, as this American team seeks to work alongside British missionaries and churches. It's no good critiquing others for not being good missionaries, if we've not got the missionary vision for our own country, ourselves. Then with that vision, let's welcome missionaries, learn from them, and help them bring the gospel to transform both our cultures, as our hearts are transformed in gospel community by our Triune God.

Sunday, 17 January 2010

Quote of the day: the big gospel

The 9Marks eJournal is well-worth reading this edition (not that others aren't: this is the first month I've read it). The topics are good, the articles are just the right length to be able to read online. This quotation from an article by Jonathan Leeman: Is the God of the Missional Gospel Too Small? That is, he addresses the tendancy to say that our gospel is too small if it merely speaks of sin, and not also of AIDS, or war, or abuse, or poverty.
The truly big problem does not lie with anything that humanity found outside of Eden. It’s not in the effects of the curse. The truly big problem is what got us kicked out of Eden in the first place. It’s in the all-important conflict between the nature of the one who issued the curse and the reason we gave him to issue it — our treasonous decision to make ourselves “like God.” The problem, in other words, is that God is so exquisitely righteous that his eyes cannot look upon sin, and we have sinned. He is so perfectly good and just that he cannot let the guilty go unpunished, and we are guilty. He is so wonderfully holy that the whole earth is full of his glory, and we have fallen short of his glory. The truly big problem is that, in our sin, we have acted treasonously and hatefully against a tri-personal God who is infinitely glorious and beautiful, the penalty of which is eternal damnation. To say that the gospel is “big” because it solves a human problem instead of a divine problem is, quite simply, to devalue his infinitely divine glory to something less significant than human suffering. I don’t mean to make light of human suffering, but we certainly must not make light of transgressions against God’s glory.'