holistic mission

Integral Mission (Issue 27)

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By Dr Andrew Shepherd

Since the 1970’s there’s been a reawakening within the evangelical Church to the socio-economic dimensions of the Gospel. Activities such as disaster relief, medical welfare, community building & empowerment, job & income creation, trauma-counselling, peace-building, tackling structural injustices, are all now affirmed as an integral aspect of seeking the Kingdom of God.

And over the last two decades, our understanding of the scope of God’s mission has broadened further, with the rediscovery of God’s love for all of creation. The biblical narrative from beginning to end gives an account of this, explicitly stating: the goodness of creation; that creation is created and sustained by the power of God’s life-giving Spirit; of nature’s agency in praising its Creator; that creation reveals the power and nature of God; of God’s intention for the land be a place of life-giving abundance; that humanity, as caretakers, are to respect and nurture creation to fulfil its Creator’s intent for it to teem with life; that God, in Christ, is reconciling all things.

This biblical understanding – that God’s missional intent is not confined to homo sapiens but is about creating communities of shalom in which relationships between humanity, God, and all of creation are reconciled and renewed – is evident in declarations such as the Anglican Five Marks of Mission. But what does this fifth mark of mission actually mean: “to strive to safeguard the integrity of creation, and sustain and renew the life of the earth”? How does safeguarding the integrity of creation relate to the other marks? Is caring for ecosystems and endangered species of the same priority as care for our fellow human? And, how does this fifth mark become an integral aspect of missional living in the contemporary world?

Five Marks yet interwoven

We need to recognise that the five marks, while distinct in our declarations, are in practice inextricably interwoven. Consider the work of Christian conservation organisation A Rocha in Uganda. A project of providing cheap and easy to use bio-sand water filters to produce clean and safe drinking water for slum-communities near Kampala looks, on first glance, as simply a response to essential human needs. But the benefits of this project spread beyond individuals to families, communities, the land and countless other species!

The distribution of 600 bio-sand water filters has eliminated the need for women to boil water over charcoal fires. Each bio-sand filter is utilised by five families (strengthening community) meaning 15 000 people now drink safe drinking water (health benefits), thus saving $152 000 NZD p.a. in charcoal costs and medical fees (poverty reduction). Healthy children are less often absent from school (education benefits) and women now have 15 days per household p.a. – the total time previously spent boiling water! – to devote to income-generating enterprises (gender empowerment).

And the benefits beyond homo sapiens? Previously, families required approximately 12 bags of charcoal each year for boiling water. So, for every five families, 60 fewer bags of charcoal are bought. For 15 000 people, that’s 36 000 bags. One felled tree makes two bags. Therefore, because of the filters, at least 18 000 trees each year are still growing (less carbon-emissions and on-going carbon sequestration), thus preventing top-soil erosion and desertification, and continuing to provide habitat for wildlife (bio-diversity gains).

Here in Aotearoa the Karioi – Maunga ki te Moana conservation project which seeks to restore biodiversity to a sea-bird mountain near Raglan likewise provides multiple benefits: community building & empowerment, environmental educational for youth, job and income generation for local hapu. (See www.arocha.org.nz/projects/karioi-maunga-ki-te-moana).

What’s our role?

But what of those of us living here in Aotearoa New Zealand not engaged directly in community development or conservation work? How can “safeguarding the integrity of creation” be an integral aspect of our missional living?

The Paris Climate Change conference in November 2015 was a watershed moment. After decades of denial we seem to have acknowledged that the global ecological crisis stems from the unsustainable mode of living pursued by homo sapiens (especially Westerners). Since the industrial revolution, powered by the cheap energy provided by fossil fuels, we’ve created a way of life in which speed, transience and limitlessness are seen as virtues. We live largely in ignorance to the detrimental impact our pattern of living has on other non-human inhabitants who share this planet with us. Whether we care to admit it or not, the average New Zealand standard of living is unsustainable – dependent upon an overuse of ecological capital and the exploitation of others (human and non-human).

Missional living that is serious about safeguarding the integrity of creation will reflect intentionally on the nature of our housing and churches (size, heating, energy efficiency, water use); our frequency and mode of transportation (public vs personal vehicle); our leisure activities (the luxury of overseas vacations); what we purchase (needs vs wants and the power of advertising; the ecological footprint of a product from extraction-manufacturing-transport to market to disposal; product design & longevity); and what we eat (carbon footprint; water use; ecological impact of insecticides).

Just as we should be aware of the human impact of our consumer choices (explored in Intermission Issue 25), we need to become awake to the ecological impact of our patterns of living. Such awareness however, should not to lead to paralysis.  For the sake of the poor and the planet, we need to transition towards a low-carbon economy – lowering our carbon emissions and then off-setting the rest (see www.climatestewards.org). Background knowledge provides the context where, as missional communities of faith, empowered by the Spirit, we can explore creative ways of living which will benefit all of God’s creatures.

Dr Andrew Shepherd is the National Co-Director of A Rocha Aotearoa New Zealand. Later this year, A Rocha in partnership with Tear Fund, will be releasing the Rich Living programme, designed to assist faith-communities explore sustainable ways of living. Visit www.arocha.org.nz/education-advocacy/ or email

 

For discussion

Share examples of projects which weave together the 5 Marks of Mission (evangelism, discipleship, compassion, social justice, creation care)? Why is this interweaving an essential insight for local and global mission?

What steps will you and your group make to reduce your environmental footprint?

 

 

This article mentioned a holistic bio-sand filter project that simultaneously addresses environmental, social, educational, gender and economic issues. The French government is offering funding for 100 environmental projects that receive the most votes. We encourage you to register and vote, enabling this project to grow. Voting is open until July 7. For more information, click here. To vote, click here.

Samaritan Strategy: Holistic  Discipleship Training (Issue 21)

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By Rev. Dennis Tongoi (CMS Africa).

It’s natural to look to Africa for mission success stories. The first Christian mission workers went to Africa in the seventeenth century and by 1900 ten million Africans were believers in Christ – that’s 10% of the population. By the year 2000 there were 360 million African Christians – that is 46% of the population! In fact, the number of professing Christians in various sub-Saharan nations exceeds 80% of the population.

Africa, the most evangelised continent.

Africa, the most churched continent.

 

Yet, there is another side of the African story. Africa is almost synonymous with corruption, poverty, bribery, disease, violence and injustice. In Kenya alcohol and drug abuse is growing at epidemic rates. For South Africans robberies and muggings are a daily reality. Nigeria is world-renowned, not because it hosts one of the world’s largest churches, but for its internet scams. And in the current conflicts in South Sudan, tribes have risen up against tribes despite a majority claiming to be Christian.

Africa, the impoverished continent.

Africa, the corrupt continent.

 

What’s wrong with this picture?

Of course this problem isn’t unique to Africa. We could just as easily point to parallel issues in South America, the United States, Asia, Oceania, and Eastern (and Western) Europe, not to mention New Zealand. The gospel has spread significantly in many parts of the world, yet in many cases society remains largely broken.

If the gospel has reached so widely throughout Africa, why are things as they are? Is something wrong with the gospel? Has the Kingdom of God failed?

For years international aid and development agencies have tried to deal with these problems—with limited success. A predominantly animistic worldview holds sway over the minds of many Africans—a worldview that sees humanity as a victim of nature, of other people, or of fate. This mind-set shifts responsibility for Africa’s social ills to the spirit realm, leaving individuals little hope or motivation for working towards a better future.

The church has been on the continent for nearly two thousand years—and has experienced tremendous growth over the last two centuries. This growth holds incredible potential for the healing of Africa. Yet, all too often, the church is disengaged from the crying needs of the community, focusing exclusively on ‘spiritual concerns.’ The gospel has spread in breadth, but not in depth!

 

The solution may be closer than we think.

The church is the solution. It is God’s principally ordained agency for social and cultural transformation. It is perhaps the single most important indigenous, sustainable institution in any community, with members in virtually every sphere of society (the arts, business, governance, education, etc.). This is particularly true of Africa where an estimated four million churches exist.

Yet, for the church to effectively advance God’s intentions, its leadership requires fresh vision and equipping. We, as God’s people, need to recognize that our mission is to see God’s Kingdom spread in both breadth and depth. Since 1999, a group of dedicated Africans have been doing just that—serving church leaders across the continent, providing them with a fresh vision for the church as God’s principal agent of social and cultural transformation.

The training goes beyond envisioning. It equips church leaders with simple tools that enable them to apply what they have learned immediately, thus beginning the transformation process in their own communities with existing resources—no matter how poor they may be. The training emphasises the importance of mind-set transformation and presents the Christian worldview as the catalyst for social and cultural transformation. The key for transformation is not more activity or programmes – Africa is jam-packed with well-meaning, God-focused activities that have failed to bring lasting change. The key to cultural transformation lies in the transformation of a people’s worldview. Dr. Tokunboh Adeyemo puts it bluntly: “Africa has been evangelized but the African mind has not been captured for Christ.” Ideas have consequences – Africa has been taught how to ‘get right with God,’ but Africa’s biggest problem is that the church hasn’t been taught how to think right. The solution for all these issues is between our ears!

Churches that have received the training are making remarkable contributions to the transformation of their communities. They are effectively addressing the HIV/AIDS pandemic; responding to conflict with biblical peace-making principles; and actively engaging in social, political, business, agricultural, and environmental issues. Not surprisingly, they are also more effective in their evangelistic outreaches.

Today, these African trainers have banded together under the name Samaritan Strategy Africa to advance this tested training programme into every corner of the continent. Samaritan Strategy Africa is not a formal organization but a network of trainers and activists affiliated with The Disciple Nations Alliance (DNA).

 

Why the ‘Samaritan Strategy’?

Most of us are familiar with the story of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10. But there’s one detail we often overlook. This unnamed man used his own bandages, his own wine, his own donkey, his own coins. He used what he already had in his hands to help the wounded man.

The Samaritan Strategy is about helping communities recognize what they already have, what God has already gifted them with. Rather than relying on donor aid for everything, Christian groups are challenged to see what they can do with the resources that are already in their hands. Time and again they discover an abundance that they can immediately put to use in their communities.

The hope is that Samaritan Strategy training will produce a multiplicity of fruits wherever it is offered.

In the Church:

God is glorified as local churches increasingly reflect his comprehensive redemptive agenda (Colossians 1:19-20) and respond compassionately to profound human need in their communities and nations Increased obedience to “all I have commanded” (Matthew 28:18) Church growth driven by the witness of love The church increasingly influencing every sphere of society (government, business, education, arts, agriculture, and sciences) with a distinctively biblical worldview

In Communities and Nations:

Greater justice, less corruption Greater respect for human life (particularly women, children, foreigners and the poor) Greater self-governance and social order, less crime Greater prosperity, less poverty Decreases in disease rates Better stewardship of creation Local churches increasingly esteemed in their communities as indispensable assets in community transformation

 

In New Zealand and Beyond.

New Zealand is a nation with a rich Christian heritage. Yet growing numbers of children are being raised in poverty, domestic violence is a significant problem, prisons are crowded, marriages are failing and suicide rates are among the highest in the world. If you were to shine the spotlight in your community what would you find?

We want to see the church in New Zealand empowered to foster change in local communities. That’s why we’re hosting a Samaritan Strategy Vision Conference. If you have a heart to see the Kingdom of God spread in both breadth and depth, this is for you.

Vision Conference: 3 – 7 November 2014 Day seminar: Saturday 8 November 2014 At Manukau City Baptist Church (9 Lambie Dr, Papatoetoe, Manukau)

For details visit nzcms.org.nz/dna

 

This was originally published in Intermission (September-October 2014).

The Great Reversal: The Sacred vs. Secular Split (Issue 21)

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By Debra Buenting. 

When I joined missions in the mid-1970s, the emphasis was on evangelizing to save souls. We knocked on doors, invited people to gatherings, and even passed out tracts in an effort to reach people with the gospel and get them saved. All these years later, I reflect not only on my own faith journey and mission, but on that of the church at large. Have we had the emPHAsis on the wrong syLLABle?

God is about restoration. The world and everything in it has not gone as he originally planned. When sin came into the world, it affected everything, not just our souls. The effects of this brokenness can be felt at every level of life on earth, right down to the cell level! If we want to be true Christ-followers, we have some rethinking to do. It appears Jesus came with a deep desire to restore EVERYTHING, not just our souls.

Ancient Israel was very familiar with this concept of wholeness. They called it shalom, which had a much richer meaning than simply, ‘peace.’ The concept of shalom included prosperity, welfare, victory, security, strength, wellbeing, wholeness, justice and harmony. In other words, shalom is how God meant the world to be. This suggests that salvation is so much more than deliverance from hell.

In the new millennium, God seems to be bringing balance to our over-emphasised zeal for saving souls – he’s drawing us to a more holistic perspective of the world and our role in it. The fuller biblical understanding of life and salvation is connected and complete. With God, there is no separation between secular and sacred or between physical and spiritual. God wants to be in everything.

Our Evangelical History and the Great Reversal.

It’s helpful to understand a brief history of how we got here. Despite various levels of engagement with all aspects of life, the church has a history of being double-minded. Augustine—who had a huge influence on the church in the 4th century and beyond—brought in ideas from his past, aspects of both Neo-Platonism (that separated the physical from the spiritual) and a cult he previously followed called Manichæism. In short, Augustine was plagued by guilt from his wretched past; he came to hate the body and anything of earthly nature. Augustine brought to Christianity a dualistic philosophy: that all physical matter is evil, and only God’s spirit is good.

Augustine had a profound influence on Calvin. But the secular/sacred mentality did not come to a head until the first part of the 20th century in America. Between 1910 and 1930, there were passionate debates and disagreements that were to affect how Christian mission was carried out in the 20th century. This period later came to be called, ’The Great Reversal.’[1]  This ‘Great Reversal’ had a profound effect on how Christians viewed themselves and Scripture. David Moberg described how each side stressed different parts of the Bible and “became either evangelistic or socially involved, not both.” Protestants, said Moberg, “identified with the prosperous, moved their residences and churches away from the inner city … and thus remained blind to many evils of their society.”

For a little context, it’s helpful to understand the environment of the American church at that time. Some Christians had begun to question the reality of God and the authority of the Bible. At the same time, American society was faced with a variety of new problems including massive immigration, urbanization, and industrialization. Great economic disparity and social ills burdened American cities such as New York and Chicago. How to solve these urban problems became the focus of fierce theological debate.

One side engaged in social reform, working to relieve crime, pollution, injustice, and cultural tensions. They fed the homeless, fought for workers’ rights, championed minorities and women, and sought to change the unjust structures of society that relegated people to chronic wretchedness. They cared for the whole person. But their message often neglected important Christian themes of personal responsibility, repentance and a relationship with God. Individual change, they thought, would result from corporate change. They called their work ‘restoring the Kingdom of God.’

Other Christians incorporated the hyper-individualism of Western culture with the theology and mission of the Church. This brand of Christianity became preoccupied with saving souls and focused on individual religious experience as the end-all of Christian work. According to Tom Wright, Christianity “became what the enlightenment wanted it to be—a private system of piety which doesn’t impinge on the public world.”  These Christians began isolating themselves from almost any sense of social responsibility, resulting in what many might call a ‘holy huddle’ sub-culture. They focused on growing a church culture that became preoccupied with reproducing itself rather than being an agent of transformation in greater society. They believed that if individuals experienced personal redemption, society as a whole would eventually change. Those who were concerned solely with personal evangelism, apologetics and the inerrancy of scripture became known as fundamentalists (for defending what they called the fundamentals of Christianity).

The fundamentalists belittled those who worked to solve social problems, viewing them as being driven by works. They derisively called those driven to reform society ‘social gospelers’ and despised them for missing the ‘true’ message of the Bible.  These suburbanite evangelicals took their gospel of salvation to the ends of the earth (influencing a mission theology that went everywhere, including New Zealand). This meant the rest of their Bibles – which dealt with corporate and social concerns – was seemingly left at home. On the other side, the more socially-conscious, ‘liberal’ Christians began to despise fundamentalists for their narrow-mindedness and apathy in the face of the hardships of those around them.

Rethinking our Identity. Rethinking our Mission.

The past 150 years have witnessed an unprecedented missionary movement aimed at preaching the gospel and planting churches among the ‘least reached’ of the world. Largely, this movement was successful at what it set out to do: save souls and plant churches. Today there are more churches and more Christians in the world than at any time in history. But to what end? Poverty and corruption thrive in developing countries that have been evangelized. Moral and spiritual poverty reign in the ‘Christian’ West. In many parts of the world where the church is growing, the growth is a mile wide and an inch deep – it has lost its characteristics of being salt and light in society (Matt 5:13-16).

In an effort to regain a broader sense of the gospel, some Christ-followers are shifting their priorities that pre-date ‘the Great Reversal,’ embracing ideas such as total life transformation, discipling nations and the building God’s kingdom on earth. Dozens of books are being published on these subjects, including the release by Youth With A Mission (YWAM) titled, His Kingdom Come: An Integrated Approach to Discipling the Nations and Fulfilling the Great Commission. The dialogue surrounding this broader worldview, as well as ideas coming from the emerging and postmodern church movements, have much to offer in helping us re-think our identity and mission. This holistically redemptive message not only transforms individual lives, but entire communities, cities, and cultures.

Charity alone is not the answer because it fails to deal with the core systems that allow evil to flourish. It’s one thing to feed people, rebuild their homes, or try to heal the emotional or physical wounds of war, sexual abuse or ethnic prejudice. It is another thing to fight the systems that contributed to these circumstances. However, trying to save souls while not investing in the rest of life is incomplete.

Two questions to keep before us are: What were and are God’s intentions for the earth? How can we help realize those intentions?

Should we not proclaim a message that frees all human beings to be all that God intended them to be—full participants in their destiny as co-creators in God’s universe, nurturing a spirit of truth and love to flow to both individuals and nations.

Hopefully ‘the Great Reversal’ is starting to be reversed. Let’s keep thinking, talking and working.

 

Debra has written longer articles about the Great Reversal and the history of evangelicals and mission: The Future of Evangelicals in Mission and Evangelicals and Social Action

 

Dr. Debra Buenting has spent most of her career traveling the globe, teaching and producing videos for missions. She is interested in helping people build strong and fruitful (shalom) lives by teaching, speaking and through her web and podcast initiative at GetControlOfYourLife.org. Dr. Deb also teaches graduate and undergraduate courses at several universities in the U.S.

This was originally published in Intermission (September-October 2014).

 

[1] This is a term used by evangelical historian, Timothy L. Smith, and explained in a thoughtful tiny book published in 1972 by David O. Moberg titled, The Great Reversal: Evangelism Versus Social Concern: An Evangelical Perspective.

Gospel and the Kingdom: The Biblical Background for Holistic Mission (Issue 21)

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By Alistair Donaldson. 

What comes to mind when we hear the word gospel? Good news, perhaps. But what kind of good news? And, what Bible verses enter our thoughts? Romans 3:23. Romans 6:23. The old favourite, John 3:16. And we mustn’t forget Revelation 3:20! These “gospel-sharing” verses are used often with good intentions to lead people to Christ and to further God’s redemptive mission in the world.  They inform hearers that all have sinned and that the wages of this sin is death – not such good news so far. Then we hear that God loves the world so much that he sent Jesus, his Son, so we could live forever – eternal life just for believing, the good news we’ve been waiting for. And then, for good measure we use the fourth verse (out of context) that tells of Jesus knocking on the door of our heart, inviting us to open this door so he can enter and have fellowship with us. This is the story we tell. This is our gospel.

I certainly don’t want to diminish the truth contain in these verses and that God can speak through them in powerful ways to bring hearers to experience salvation. However, the four verses represent only 0.00013% of the approximately 31 173 verses in the Bible. This begs some questions. What are we leaving out? What are we not telling people? How might the often silent 99.99987% of the Bible help give depth of meaning to these four ‘favourites’ and to our understanding of God’s missional project?

Gospel and the Kingdom.

The word gospel is crucial. We all know it literally means ‘good news,’ but we often forget to pause and consider what this word meant when it was first spoken. It was a term rich in meaning, borrowed from the Graeco-Roman cultural context. There the word ‘gospel’ was used to announce the birthday or accession or victory of an emperor. A ninth century inscription speaks of Augustus’ birthday as “the beginning of good news” and as a saviour who would bring peace and order. ‘Good news’ is also found in a Hebrew context. Isaiah 52:7 parallels the announcement of good news with the declaration, “Our God reigns.”[1] This means that in both Graeco-Roman and Hebrew settings a strong connection was made between the gospel and the idea of kingdom.

Interestingly, Mark’s gospel opens with the words “The beginning of the good news about Jesus the Messiah” (1:1). Just a few verses later we read of Jesus saying “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news” (1:15). It seems the gospel is much more than simply forgiveness of sin, wonderful as this truth is. The gospel announcement is first and foremost about the kingdom of God breaking into the world in the person of Jesus.  But what does this look like and what does this mean for the church’s missional task? We’ll come back to that.

Renewal of All Things

In Galatians 3:8 Paul uses the word ‘gospel’ in an interesting manner. He writes that the gospel had been preached in advance to Abraham and then quotes from Genesis chapter 12 saying, “All nations will be blessed through you.” To consider this covenantal promise in its context shows that the gospel, as told to Abraham, is the beginning of the outworking of God’s salvation for the whole world. It’s the reversal of the effect of sin which has vandalised the flourishing paradise portrayed in Eden.[2] In Eden we see God’s creational intent portrayed: humanity is in close relationship with God, with each other, and is given a God-given rule on earth along with a mandate to multiply and fill the earth, to work it and care for God’s ‘very good’ world (Gen 1:28; 2:15); this is the kingdom of God – God’s people are in God’s place living under God’s rule. His mission for humanity, represented in the narrative by Adam and Eve, is to take this Edenic kingdom life into all the world.

When we consider the gospel in light of the culture of the New Testament world and in light of the whole of Scripture it not difficult to see that the gospel, and therefore God’s mission, is the restoration of the world from the effects of sin. It is to fully recreate life in the way God intended in the beginning.

This large vision of the scope of God’s mission is supported in the New Testament in the words of Jesus, Peter and Paul. Jesus speaks of the “renewal of all things” (Matt 19:28), Peter in his Pentecost sermon speak of a time when God would “restore all things” (Acts 3:21), and Paul speaks of creation itself being “liberated from its bondage to decay” (Rom 8:21) – words of hope for the whole of God’s earth. “The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it” (Psalm 24:1) and it seems he has gone to great lengths to ensure its redemption. The cross of Christ was, for Paul, not simply a means to provide forgiveness for people. This is an incredible truth, yet it’s more than this – it was that through Jesus Christ that God would “reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood shed on the cross” (Col 1:20). The scope of God’s salvation is at the very least as broad as the effects of sin.

From Garden to Holy City

The beginning of the Bible portrays God with his people in the place he created them to live and flourish in. The end of the Bible sees this manner of life restored as God is once again with his people and the effects of sin undone.

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. … I am making everything new!” (Revelation 21:3–5a)

With this broad sweep of God’s Word shaping our understanding of the kingdom gospel we see the church’s mission as “our committed participation as God’s people, at God’s invitation and command, in God’s own mission within the history of God’s world for the redemption of God’s creation.”[3]

How could this magnificent story enrich our gospel-sharing moments? Perhaps we could tell some really good news. That God really does love the kosmos (John 3:16). That God’s mission is that the world be whole again in all its creational splendour. That the ‘good news’ is that the restorative kingdom of God has come near. Perhaps then we could offer an invitation to be a participant in God’s renewed world by believing what truly is ‘good news.’

Where does this leave us?

Mission isn’t just saving souls for heaven but inviting people to participate in God’s reign now. It’s an invitation – even a command – to submit to the world’s true ruler and live life according to his plans, not because he likes bossing people around but because his way is the best way to be human. This means inviting people to be reconciled to God, but it’s so much more. It means that social justice, caring for the poor, creating hospitals etc. aren’t just to prepare people for evangelism – these things are mission because they are about restoring shalom to God’s world. It means learning to live in harmony with creation is mission. It means talking about the good news and demonstrating it is mission. In other words, our mission isn’t about getting people ready for the future but about bringing God’s future into the present. If there is any disorder, any suffering or brokenness, any distance from God and one another – any lack of shalom – that is where God’s people are called!

 

Alistair is a lecturer at Laidlaw College, Christchurch where he teaches a wide range of subjects including Biblical Theology. Alistair has a Master of Theology (MTh) degree in the field of eschatology and is the author of The Last Days of Dispensationalism, published in 2010. Prior to joining Laidlaw he had six years working with Youth With A Mission in Hong Kong, Hawaii and in New Zealand where he established and directed a School of Biblical Studies

This was originally published in Intermission (September-October 2014).

 

[1] Through use of Hebrew poetic parallelism this verse presents as synonymous the announcing of peace (Hebrew, shalom; i.e., a flourishing creation in harmony with God), of good news (gospel), of salvation, and the kingdom language of “Our God reigns.”

[2] Cornelius Plantinga Jr., Not the Way It’s Supposed to Be: A Breviary of Sin (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1995), 10. Plantinga express the effect of sin as the “vandalism of Shalom.” He defines shalom in this way: “The webbing together of God, humans, and all creation in justice, fulfilment, and delight is what the Hebrew prophets call shalom. We call it peace, but it means far more than mere peace of mind or a cease-fire between enemies. In the Bible, shalom means universal flourishing, wholeness, and delight … . Shalom, in other words, is the way things ought to be.”

[3]Christopher J. H. Wright, The Mission of God: Unlocking the Bible’s Grand Narrative (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2006), 22f.

 

Editorial: Rethinking Mission (Issue 21)

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Now that we’re launched our new website we are going to be posting the latest content from our bi-monthly publication, Intermission, within two weeks of sending it out. That means you’ll be able to choose whether to receive it in the post, or whether you want to access it online.

Editorial. We evangelicals have an interesting history. Champions like John Wesley and William Wilberforce strongly believed in the importance of personal salvation, yet they also recognized that the gospel must actually transform society. For a long time we’ve played the either-or game with evangelism and social action. Unfortunately, the Bible doesn’t dichotomise these two – and it’s time we learn to hold them together.

For some of us this will mean a paradigm shift in how we understand mission. But it’s something we must wrestle with as we move further into the 21st century, especially as we consider our missional role in the South Pacific.

 

This was originally published in Intermission (September-October 2014).  The rest of the articles will be posted to the website over the next two weeks.