SOCIAL MEDIA & How, in the words of #Luther, it increasingly “curves us inward on ourselves.”

“Social Media and Sin” by A. Trevor Sutton, The Martin Marty Center, University of Chicago Divinity School, 4/4/18.

…Religion may offer an important explanation as to why this social media platform is so problematic both for society and for individual well-being. Human depravity, original sin, and concupiscence are perennial themes, for example, within the discipline of Christian theology. Augustine and Martin Luther are known for describing the human condition as incurvatus in se (“curved inward on oneself”). Rather than living a life that is aligned toward God and others, human sinfulness directs our life inward, toward self-justification, self-gratification, and self-aggrandizement. The notion that sin has warped, twisted, maimed, and ruined human goodness is as ubiquitous in theology as Facebook is in modern life.

The burgeoning field of user experience design (UX), when put in conversation with the theological notion of human depravity, helps to put the problematic nature of social media into sharp relief. A central concern within UX is user-centered design. As the name suggests, user-centered design advocates for designing with end users in mind. That is to say, technology is designed to acknowledge and accommodate the needs and wants of the user, as designers seek to maximize user experience by creating products that are built around the user’s desires. User research is responsible for nearly all the design decisions at Facebook. In fact, there is an entire department at Facebook dedicated to Human Computer Interaction and UX. Teams of people at Facebook are thus dedicated to researching, and finding ways to capitalize on, the individual behaviors, thoughts, and impulses of users.

Donald Norman, a formative figure in user-centered design, has recognized how designers actually aim to facilitate human sinfulness through that which they design. In the foreword to a book by Chris Nodder, Evil by Design: Interaction Design to Lead Us into Temptation, Norman writes: “But why should design be based on evil? Simple: Starting with evil means starting with real human behavior … And good design results from good understanding.” Norman’s point is rather simple: good design understands users, and it must therefore also consider the depravity of users.

This means that, according to user-centered design, human sinfulness ought to be accounted for and perhaps even exploited when creating products for the digital age. According to Nodder, designers must ask themselves the question: “how do we influence behavior through the medium of software?”

Theology recognizes that human hearts are curved inward, inclined to boast, and always looking for opportunities to prove their own self-righteousness. Human-computer interaction, UX, and user-centered design recognize that social media platforms should be designed to meet the wants and needs of real human users. Putting these two concepts in conversation with one another reveals why Facebook can be so dangerous. Facebook’s technology is designed to accommodate, encourage, and exploit human depravity. The “Like” button on Facebook is not there by chance; the “Like” button was created to satisfy our deep longing to be liked by others, lauded for our accomplishments, and acknowledged for our righteousness…

Resources

– Allen, Mike. “Sean Parker unloads on Facebook: ‘God only knows what it’s doing to our children’s brains’.” Axios. November 9, 2017.

– Murphy, Mike. “Why Apple’s Tim Cook doesn’t want his nephew to use social networks.” MarketWatch. January 22, 2018.

– Nodder, Chris. Evil by Design: Interaction Design to Lead Us into Temptation. Wiley, 2013.

– Wong, Julia Carrie. “Former Facebook executive: social media is ripping society apart.” The Guardian. December 12, 2017.

Read more at … https://divinity.uchicago.edu/sightings/social-media-and-sin

#GCRN2018 #GreatCommissionResearchNetwork

 

THEOLOGY & The “quadrilateral” … What it means and how its 4 distinctive qualities define “evangelical.” #Bebbington #AlanYeh

by Emma Green, The Atlantic Monthly, 3/12/18.

… Most of the writers in “Still Evangelical?” (ed. Alan Yeh, Biola Univ.) rely on a definition first published by the scholar David Bebbington in 1989, called a “quadrilateral” for its four distinctive qualities. According to Bebbington,

  • evangelicals place the truth of the Bible at the center of their faith;
  • they focus on Jesus’s atonement for sins on the cross;
  • they emphasize a personal experience of conversion or salvation;
  • and they believe they must actively share the gospel and do good in the world.

Read more at … https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2018/03/still-evangelical-trump/554831/

MOVIES & How a Hollywood producer uses Oscar season to teach theology

by Aaron Earls, Facts & Trends, LifeWay, 2/15/2015

As a producer for blockbuster films in both the X-Men and Star Trek franchises, Ralph Winter is no stranger to the world of movies. As a devout Christian who once considered going to seminary and becoming a pastor, Winter also knows about teaching theology. It’s no wonder he has combined both…

During Oscar season, Winter often teaches a class at his church on some of the nominated films. “When I am in town, I love doing my class on the best picture nominees and how they match up with what we believe,” he says. “Much like a Bible study, you are simply asking what does it say, what does it mean, and what does it mean to me.”

…Using the same questions he asks as a producer to decide if a story needs to be told, he develops discussions that will help those in the class better understand and examine the meaning of the movie.

“Don’t get me wrong, the audience is very smart,” he told CT (Christianity Today). “They know intuitively if a movie is good or not; they just aren’t able to always articulate why. So the class is first about understanding and learning how to ‘read’ a movie. Then we can thoughtfully analyze each one.”

With the Oscars approaching, Winter gives three suggestions for the pastor or church leader who would like to better understand movies and equip their churches to do the same.

  1. Learn how to read movies, understand what is being said, and how movies can push our “buttons.”
  2. Dig a little deeper to see what the cultural significance might be with the story or similar stories being told.
  3. Develop discerning consumers in our church community, to see what movies connect us to the surrounding community, what challenges there might be to our faith beliefs, and ways to engage in dialogue and action in the community as a result—showing the world who we are…

Additional resources for understanding entertainment through a biblical lens:

The Stories We Tell—Mike Cosper
Hollywood Worldviews—Brian Godawa
Eyes Wide Open—William Romanowski

Read more at … https://factsandtrends.net/2015/02/20/hollywood-producer-uses-oscar-season-to-teach-theology/

CHURCH HISTORY & Ryan Danker’s insightful book on why the early Wesleyan Methodists & the Anglican evangelicals divided.

“Wesley and the Anglicans
Political Division in Early Evangelicalism” by Ryan Nicholas Danker

REVIEWS

“The relationship between John Wesley and the growing number of evangelical clergy within the Church of England is a subject much in need of fresh treatment. Despite the fact that it seems obvious that ecclesiastical and theological differences in eighteenth-century England need to be located in rich social and political contexts, few scholars on either side of the Atlantic seem able or equipped to write in this inclusive way. Ryan Danker is an exception. He combines theological literacy with historical sophistication and serious research with accessible prose.”

David Hempton, dean of the faculty of divinity, McDonald Family Professor of Evangelical Theological Studies, John Lord O’Brian Professor of Divinity, Harvard University

“Challenging the ‘standard line’ that Wesley’s relationship with those evangelicals who remained in the Church of England during the eighteenth century was one despoiled largely by theological considerations, that is, his Arminianism and their Calvinism, Danker has carefully weaved social, political and ecclesiastical threads to offer a far more sophisticated and ultimately convincing picture. This is a splendid book on so many levels: creatively conceived, deftly contextualized and wonderfully executed. I highly recommend it.”

Kenneth J. Collins, professor of historical theology and Wesley studies, director of the Wesleyan Studies Summer Seminar, Asbury Theological Seminary

“This is a most welcome study, greatly advancing our understanding of the warm, yet often heated relationships between John Wesley and other evangelical clergy in the Church of England. It demonstrates that while theological factors played an important role, much more was involved in the growing divergence among the broad evangelical camp. In the process it sheds new light on continuing debates about the very nature of evangelicalism, and where (or whether) Wesleyanism may fit within that stream of the Christian community. Highly recommended!”

Randy L. Maddox, William Kellon Quick Professor of Wesleyan and Methodist Studies, Duke Divinity School

“Wesley and the Anglicans is an important and timely discussion of the context and content of ecclesial shifts attributed to John Wesley and the rise of Methodism. Avoiding easy discourses with familiar anecdotes pitting Wesley against Calvin, Danker does the historical work to reintroduce the pressing issues of church, society and politics in the eighteenth century. Anyone interested in discovering or rediscovering how Wesley initiated and sustained an evangelical witness, both within the church and outside it, should read this book. Maybe these echoes of Wesley’s disdain for settled ministry can revitalize evangelical Christianity again.”

Joy J. Moore, assistant professor of preaching, Fuller Theological Seminary

“The last three decades have seen a revolution in scholarship on the eighteenth-century Church of England. Ryan Nicholas Danker’s Wesley and the Anglicans finally places John Wesley squarely and critically within the context of the vibrant and thriving eighteenth-century Church of England that newer scholarship has described. Danker’s highly nuanced historical narrative offers a fresh perspective on the Wesleyan movement—actually, on the ‘John-Wesleyan’ movement, since Danker is also conscious of Charles Wesley’s sharply delineated variance from John Wesley’s ecclesial vision. This is a must-read for serious students of the Wesleys and Methodist origins.”

Ted A. Campbell, professor of church history, Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University

“From beginning to end, Danker effectively locates ecclesiastical and theological differences within their broader context in eighteenth-century England. The result is an engaging and richly detailed account of the development of evangelicalism and early Methodism. Any readers—whether Anglicans, Methodists, Calvinists, Catholics, or others—who desire to learn more about this period of history and its implications will benefit from reading Danker’s contextualized and convincingly argued book.”

Kenneth M. Loyer, Catholic Historical Review

FROM THE PUBLISHER

Why did the Wesleyan Methodists and the Anglican evangelicals divide during the middle of the eighteenth century?

Many would argue that the division between them was based narrowly on theological matters, especially predestination and perfection. Ryan Danker suggests, however, that politics was a major factor throughout, driving the Wesleyan Methodists and Anglican evangelicals apart.

Methodism was perceived to be linked with the radical and seditious politics of the Cromwellian period. This was a charged claim in a post-Restoration England. Likewise Danker explores the political force of resurgent Tory influence under George III, which exerted more pressure on evangelicals to prove their loyalty to the Establishment. These political realities made it hard for evangelicals in the Church of England to cooperate with Wesley and meant that all their theological debates were politically inflected.

Rich in detail, here is a book for all who seek deeper insight into a critical juncture in the development of evangelicalism and early Methodism.

Read more at … https://www.ivpress.com/wesley-and-the-anglicans

THEOLOGY & What makes Wesleyan theology, theological #JohnDrury

by John Drury Ph.D., IWU Theological Reflection Seminar 2/5/17, based on a article to be published by the Wesleyan Theological Journal.

1) It relates to God as its object.

“Of, by and for God” describes theology.  Each is necessary. Theology that evades God is not theology. So, what is the object of theology?  Theology is about God.  Simply put, it is the human activity of talking about God.

a) Agreed upon actuality.

By grace, God has made the human discourse about God to be possible.  God makes God’s self available for a topic of our discourse.

b) Wesleyan theology.

This the process by which those with Wesleyan interest, identification, history and/or expertise talk about God.

It has focused upon a soteriological emphasis reflected in its founding.

And, it is enacted by humans with their subjective more than objective viewpoints.

c) “Theology chases God’s movement into ourselves.” (My paraphrase of John’s words.)

2) Theology is a human activity with human perspectives … or theological virtues of faith, hope and charity.

The virtues are faith, hope and charity the “peculiar means.”  They are specified by their “object” i.e. God.

John made an important connection for me.  Martin Buber, in I & Thou explores this relationship as dialogue: who sees faith as “tribal, nationalistic and covenant-based dialogue which results in a communal type of trust … (and) as more or less individualistic persuasion or faith as believing in something.” (Robert Hernan Cubillos, Faith, Hope, and Love in the Kingdom of God, Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2017).

3) What is the purpose or teleological end theology serves.

Theology works towards its end as it serves the church.  And in serving the church it works towards its end of serving God.

God is theology’s divine end, though the church is the milieu in which the discussion takes place.

The ecclesio-centric nature of this topic sees three themes:

  1. Worship (liturgically centric)
  2. Programs (program centric)
  3. Ethical (ethical theory centric)

Warning: We must be aware of eccles-idoltry, seeing our preference for centricity as superior to the others.

THEOLOGY & A review of David Bosch’s “Transforming Mission”

A review of David Bosch, Transforming Mission, 9/2008.

David Bosch, himself, says that when Transforming Mission was suggested as a title for this work he had misgivings about it, but in its ambiguity it has proved to be a most helpful reflection of both the major theses of the book. (Bosch: 2005: xv). The ambiguity lies in that mission is both something, which transforms and effective mission is itself something that is constantly transforming. Bosch’s argument throughout the three major sections of the book (New Testament Models of Mission; Historical Paradigms of Mission; and Toward a Relevant Missiology) is that there is no one meta-paradigm for missions, it is a constantly transforming paradigm.

Within the New Testament itself we encounter different models of mission; Matthew’s emphasis falls on disciple-making, Luke’s on solidarity with the poor and Paul’s has a definite eschatological dimension. Mission is being “transformed” and redefined by the biblical authors for and within the different contexts. The contextual nature of defining mission is a major premise for Bosch. “A basic argument of this book has been that, from the very beginning, the missionary message of the Christian church incarnated itself in the life and world of those who had embraced it.” (421)

Bosch’s aim in considering the different historical paradigms is again to show the constantly transforming nature of missions, although each paradigm is assessed in terms of strengths and weaknesses. Missions is a constantly evolving process; there exists a “pluriverse of missiology” (8). Bosch evaluates the history of missions using the Paradigm Theory of Thomas Kuhn and the six epochs of Christian history suggested by Hans Kűng. Kuhn’s original work was with scientific paradigms shifts, which he suggested were non-cumulative and revolutionary.[1]

The first two sections are a thorough laying of the foundations for the crux of the book the third section in which Bosch proposes his revised definition of missions (8), the new paradigm which will take us further. The new (or current) paradigm Bosch refers to as “post-modern” and (indebted to Kűng) the Emerging Ecumenical Paradigm. Here Bosch proposes not so much a paradigm as elements of a paradigm. These elements are diverse and are to be held in creative tension, without being forced together or polarised. Only as these elements are thus held in tension will we be able to both remain faithful to Scripture and relevant to the context. Just as in the New Testament and church history we see different models existing so we ought to recognise that the new model is a contextual mosaic rather than a meta-paradigm; “different theologies of mission do not necessarily exclude each other they form a multicoloured mosaic of complementary and mutually enriching as well as mutually challenging frames of reference.” (8)

Bosch’s work truly deserves the place it has assumed, in the last decade, at the head and as the foundation for missions studies. Embracing and straddling the fields of New Testament studies, Church History and Missiology with great competence and skill, Bosch’s work surely must be regarded as the foundation and launching point for the discussion both within and without Missiology for years to come. Bosch is at his best when he refusing to accept “either-or” thinking and calling for a “creative tension” or a third way in areas such as eschatology, evangelism and social action, contextualization and justice (Williams: 1993: 121).

Bibliography

BEVANS and SCHROEDER. 2005. Missiology After Bosch: Reverencing a Classic By Moving Beyond. International Bulletin of Missionary Research 29:2 (April), 69-72.

BOSCH, DAVID J. 2005. Transforming Mission: Paradigm Shifts in Theology of Mission. Maryknoll, New York. Orbis

KREIDER, ALAN. 2005. Beyond Bosch: The Early Church and the Christendom Shift. International Bulletin of Missionary Research 29:2 (April), 59-68.

PILLAY, GERALD J. 1990. Text, Paradigms and Context: An Examiniation of David Bosch’s Use of Paradigms in the Reading of Christian History. (In Saayman, W. and Kritzinger, K. (eds.) Mission in Creative Tension: A Dialogue with David Bosch. Pretoria. The South African Missiological Society)

SUGDEN, CHRISTOPHER. 1996. Placing Critical Issues in Relief. (In Saayman, W. and Kritzinger, K. (eds.) Mission in Bold Humility: David Bosch’s Work Considered. Maryknoll, New York. Orbis)

TOWNER, PHILIP H. 1995. Paradigms Lost: Mission to the Kosmos in John and in David Bosch’s Biblical Models of Mission. Evangelical Quarterly 67:2 (April), 99-119

WILLIAMS, BRYAN A. 1993. The South African Baptist Journal of Theology 1993, 117-123.

[1] There exist within any scientific paradigm anomalies, but these are not considered significant until the growing number of anomalies forces the formulation of a new paradigm, which better explains more of the evidence. There is then a period of transition in which public consensus is gained for the new paradigm whilst proponents of the old paradigm fight for its survival. The transition period ends when the new paradigm gains normative status and the old paradigm is now discredited and disregarded (non-cumulative). It is the social acceptance of a new paradigm and not the discovery of new evidence, which results in the paradigm shift (or revolution).

Read more at … Retrieved from https://legerity.files.wordpress.com/2008/09/bosch.doc

THEOLOGY & New book biblically dissects weaknesses of a prosperity theology

Commentary by Prof. B:  As a Fellow of the Billy Graham Center for Evangelism at Wheaton College, I am also a member of the Lausanne Movement (an evangelical movement to connect influencers with ideas for global mission, founded by Billy Graham). As such, we study practice and theology.  Sometimes students inquire about a prosperity theology and to help gain a theologically nuanced understanding I recommend Julia Cameron’s new book: Prosperity Theology and the Gospel (Hendrickson Publishers / The Lausanne Library. ISBN 978 1 68307 049 8).

Here is an excerpt by Ms. Cameron explaining the purpose of the book:


“New Book: Prosperity Theology and the Gospel” by Julia Cameron, Lausanne Movement, 12/7/17.

We … a group made up largely of theologians and missiologists, gathered from all continents, shared a sense of purpose. Our hope was to engage deeply with the ‘different gospel’ that has undermined the true gospel in many churches. One fruit of our gathering would be a book. Its publication took time, but now we offer to the church what I believe may be the most thorough book on this subject to date.

What, then, is this ‘different gospel’? It is widely-known as ‘prosperity theology’. Its teaching has parodied biblical teaching on the character of God, and created a new brand of ‘discipleship’, not known in Scripture. Its influence—promising so much—has caused untold harm. Leading up to the Third Lausanne Congress, I was working with Christianity Today on a series of articles and videos addressing critical issues in the church. The article on prosperity theology was one of the most-read…

It is important to note that there can be no condemning of prosperity itself. The group in Atibaia recognized a clear ‘theology of prosperity’ running through Scripture. Think, for example, of Abraham, David, and Solomon, men blessed with much material wealth, as of course Job had been. Indeed, the creation of wealth should be regarded as a Christian mandate, for the good of society. This, however, was not the brief for our work in Atibaia.

I am now able to commend to you Prosperity Theology and the Gospel: Good News or Bad News for the Poor?—a thorough, lucid, accessible, and, we trust, seminal book. Let’s be good stewards of what it offers.

As with all Lausanne books, we include study questions at the end of chapters. This could easily be used in church groups or workplace fellowship groups. The Atibaia Statement draws the threads of the book together. In its Conclusion, Femi Adeleye and Valdir Steuernagel take the four ‘calls’ of the statement and offer pointers for the church—the local church. Yours or mine.


Read more at …https://www.lausanne.org/about/blog/new-book-prosperity-theology-gospel?utm_source=Lausanne+Movement+List&utm_campaign=46cec14512-RSS_Best_of&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_602c1cb67d-46cec14512-91675265

Here is a video introduction to the Lausanne Movement:

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BLENDED WORSHIP & Sharing our homes & lives creates more unity than sharing a pew #BiblicalTheology

by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., 10/26/17.

A biblical theology of worship.

Churches often want blended worship services because they seek to create cross-cultural understanding and unity. But, while earning my PhD in intercultural studies at Fuller Sem., I came to believe a Biblical theology of worship does not include creating unity.

Do we try to make worship do too much?

Because we feel we only have people for 1 hour on Sunday morning, we cram too much into that one hour.  That one hour becomes announcement time, unity-building time and worship time.  If that is the case we should call it the “Communication – Unity– Worship Hour” 😉

My goal is to get back to a biblical theology of worship which includes encounter, more than unity.  Theologically I think that unity and encounter are mutually exclusive (see the excerpt from The Healthy Church: Practical Ways to Strengthen a Church’s Heart (2013, below).

Sharing our homes & lives creates more unity

If you’re there to encounter God, you’re not going to spend time encountering your neighbor. Jesus created unity usually over meals.

Thus, I would suggest that sharing our homes and our lives creates more unity than sharing a pew.

Here are some thoughts I’ve written with more detail in The Healthy Church: Practical Ways to Strengthen a Church’s Heart (2013).

“… the Hebrew word for “worship” implies God-directed, not neighbor-directed reconciliation.(Footnote 1)”  p. 64

(Footnote 1) The Hebrew word for “worship” means to come close to God’s majesty and adore Him. It carries the idea of reverence, respect and praise that results from a close encounter with a king, see Francis Brown, S. R. Driver and Charles A. Briggs, A Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament Based Upon the Lexicon of William Gesenius (Oxford, UK: Clarendon Press, 1974), p. 1005. Thus, worship should not be about fellowship (the New Testament Christians had meals for that), but rather worship was to be about personal communing with God. This reminds us that worship should be about connecting with God and not about creating friendships among people (we have time before and after “worship” for getting to know one another in “fellowship” halls and in common areas). Making worship into a fellowship among humans, robs its place as the supernatural intersection between humans with their heavenly Father. We shall discuss the Multicultural Blended Model shortly, but I have noticed in most blended models I have attended, that supernatural connection is not the focus or their aim, but rather unity is the objective. While the later goal (unity) is needed, it should not be attained at the expense of worship which is primarily intended as a environment in which to connect with God.  p. 158

CALVINISM & SBC Seminary President: Calvinsts Be Gone! via #ScotMcKnight

by Bob Allen, Pathos, 8/10/17.

A Southern Baptist seminary president said Nov. 29 that Baptists who adopt Calvinistic theology and practice ought to consider joining another denomination.

“I know there are a fair number of you who think you are a Calvinist, but understand there is a denomination which represents that view,” Paige Patterson, president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, said at the close of Tuesday’s chapel service. “It’s called Presbyterian.”

“I have great respect for them,” Patterson said. “Many of them, the vast majority of them, are brothers in Christ, and I honor their position, but if I held that position I would become a Presbyterian. I would not remain a Baptist, because the Baptist position from the time of the Anabaptists, really from the time of the New Testament, is very different…”

“If God has chosen, actively or passively, before the foundation of the world to place the reprobate unconditionally into a category from which they can never possibly escape, then this is, as even Calvin admitted, a dreadful decree,” Patrick said. “I will never forget the first time a Calvinist looked me straight in the eye and said God does not love everybody. I was speechless, and frankly, that doesn’t happen much.”

Read more at http://www.patheos.com/blogs/jesuscreed/2016/12/05/seminary-president-calvinsts-gone/#eQzXLKxBvl1xpquq.99

KINGDOM & McKnight + Stroope on “Why Do Christians Speak of ‘Mission’?”

by Scot McKnight, Pathos, 4/7/17.

Michael Stroope has a full scale analysis of the Christian usage of the term “mission” and terms associated with it, like “missionary” and now today the very happy, fuzzy term “missional.”

His study is called Transcending Mission... The big book has three essential points:

(1) to figure out why the Bible has so little use of the language of mission, and never does “mission” occur,  and then,

(2) to examine where we picked up this term “mission.” 

(3) His third point? Get rid of mission language and reframe our calling with kingdom language.

He contends the term enters the Christian vocabulary through pilgrimage traditions that soon become colonialism and imperialism and territorial conquests. He locates some of it in the Jesuits and esp in the 1910 Edinburgh Mission Conference.

Instead of mission language, Stroope proposes “kingdom” language. Ah, kingdom, but what does kingdom mean? (That’s what I’m asking as I’m reading him. I have my Kingdom Conspiracy in mind of course.)

Mission is contested language that requires continual promotion, defense, and revision, as this vocabulary is supplied language to the Christian tradition. When mission ascends to the status of sacred language, it can eclipse the kingdom and thus limit our view of Gods reign and muddle our ability to participate in his kingdom. The language of the reign of God, on the other hand, expresses an abiding theme throughout the Bible that culminates in the message of Jesus. When discovered and embraced, God’s reign forms us into pilgrim witnesses, who, though weak and afflicted, are liberated to live alongside and love those we encounter along the way. 358

He contends “kingdom” reorients us to be witnesses and pilgrims of the kingdom. His view of kingdom is largely that of GE Ladd with some NT Wright.

As language enters vocabulary, integrates with thought, and becomes the content of communication, it changes the way one sees God, it shapes identity, and it determines actions. Kingdom language prompts those who follow Christ to live as pilgrims who give witness to the coming reign of God. They are not called missionaries, and their life purpose is not named as mission. To supplant the structures of thought expressed in Scripture with the language of a modern tradition is to underestimate the power of God’s kingdom to change the world through witnesses and pilgrims. 376

Kingdom language is the better choice of language, because it is rooted in revelation, includes all types of believers, prioritizes formation of life, expands possibilities, underscores the place of the church, liberates from Christendom assumptions, and points to the Spirit’s work. 376

What of the church?

Kingdom language recognizes the place of the community of faith in the activity of God. Some view the church as the problem or an impediment, so they advocate a “kingdom orientation” rather than a “church orientation,” as if we must choose between the two. For sure, the church is not the kingdom of God, but the church, as the body of Christ, exists in the world to speak and embody kingdom values. As a community of people being transformed into the likeness of Christ, the church is able to witness to Christ’s teaching, life, and death. By the very fact that people surrender personal desires and their agenda to live alongside others, they offer a counterwitness to the pervasive individualism of modern life.

The themes of my Kingdom Conspiracy are God/Jesus as king, the king’s rule by way of redemption and governing, the people of Israel and the church who are the redeemed/governed people, the king’s instructions/law and the king’s location and sacred space. The above paragraph could have been expanded to see even more vitality to the relationship of kingdom and church and actually support most of what he is saying.

As for replacing “mission” with “kingdom”? I’m for far more stringent and rigorous biblical theology, which Stroope is doing. He’s right on the history of the term “mission” being something that has taken over, though some of what is meant by “mission” surely is involved in “kingdom” so that I’m not sure I’d make as big a difference. However, he’s right when speaks to the framing issue: which term we use matters immensely, and kingdom is the term to use.

Read more at … http://www.patheos.com/blogs/jesuscreed/2017/04/07/christians-speak-mission/

EVANGELISM & 5 Views on the Destiny of the Unevangelized: A Chart Comparing Theological Options (by John Sanders) incl. Wesley’s

by John Sanders, The Unevangelized, retrieved from http://wp.production.patheos.com/blogs/jesuscreed/files/2017/03/Screen-Shot-2017-03-29-at-6.39.01-AM.png

John Wesley’s view on this can be seen in his letters where he stated the following (quote and commentary by Heitzenrater, Wesley and the People Called Methodist, 2013):

EXCERPT Heitzenrater Wesley & People p.176.jpg

 

 

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THEOLOGY & Most Americans don’t buy the prosperity gospel—especially if they have money

by Bob Smietana, Facts and Trends, LifeWay, 9/28/16.

Findings of a new survey of American views on Christian theology from Nashville-based LifeWay Research (include) … Most Americans don’t buy the prosperity gospel—especially if they have money.

Two-thirds (63 percent) disagree with the idea that God will always reward true faith with material blessings. A quarter agree. Twelve percent are not sure.

Men (28 percent) are more likely to believe in the prosperity gospel than women (22 percent). Poor Americans—those with incomes under $25,000—are more likely (28 percent) to agree than those with incomes over $100,000 (20 percent).

Those with high school degrees or less (33 percent) are more likely to believe that God blesses the faithful with material blessings than those with graduate degrees (18 percent).

Americans with evangelical beliefs (37 percent) are most likely to agree with the prosperity gospel. Americans who do not hold evangelical beliefs are more skeptical (23 percent)…

Read more at … http://factsandtrends.net/2016/09/27/what-do-americans-believe-about-god-new-study-explores-our-theology/

THEOLOGY & Most Americans Believe personal salvation takes work

by Bob Smietana, Facts and Trends, LifeWay, 9/28/16.

Findings of a new survey of American views on Christian theology from Nashville-based LifeWay Research (include) …

Personal salvation takes work.

Three-quarters of Americans (77 percent) say people must contribute their own effort for personal salvation. Half of Americans (52 percent) say good deeds help them earn a spot in heaven. Sixty percent agree that Jesus Christ’s death on the cross is the only sacrifice that could remove the penalty of their sin…

Read more at … http://factsandtrends.net/2016/09/27/what-do-americans-believe-about-god-new-study-explores-our-theology/

THEOLOGY & Americans disagree about sex, abortion, homosexuality, and gender. #LifeWay

by Bob Smietana, Facts and Trends, LifeWay, 9/28/16.

Findings of a new survey of American views on Christian theology from Nashville-based LifeWay Research (include) …

Americans disagree about sex, abortion, homosexuality, and gender.

About half of Americans (49 percent) say sex outside of traditional marriage is a sin. Forty-four percent say it’s not a sin. Seven percent are not sure.

Forty-nine percent say abortion is a sin. Forty percent say it is not. Eleven percent are not sure. Almost 4 in 10 (38 percent) say gender identity is a matter of choice. Half (51 percent) disagree. One in 10 (11 percent) is not sure.

Forty-two percent of Americans say the Bible’s condemnation of homosexual behavior doesn’t apply today. Forty-four percent disagree. Fourteen percent are not sure.

Women (53 percent) are more likely than men (45 percent) to say sex outside of marriage is a sin. Those who are high school grads or less (56 percent) are more likely to agree than those with bachelor’s degrees (44 percent) or graduate degrees (40 percent). Those with evangelical beliefs (91 percent) are more than twice as likely to agree as those who do not have evangelical beliefs (40 percent).

Americans with evangelical beliefs (87 percent) are more likely to say abortion is a sin than other Americans (41 percent). They are also less likely (32 percent) to say gender identity is a choice than other Americans (40 percent)…

Read more at … http://factsandtrends.net/2016/09/27/what-do-americans-believe-about-god-new-study-explores-our-theology/

THEOLOGY & Americans believe in the Trinity. But it’s complicated.

by Bob Smietana, Facts and Trends, LifeWay, 9/28/16.

Findings of a new survey of American views on Christian theology from Nashville-based LifeWay Research (include) … Americans believe in the Trinity. But it’s complicated.

2016-trinity

Seven out of 10 Americans (69 percent) agree there is one true God in three persons: God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. Six in 10 say Jesus is both divine and human (61 percent).

But they’re fuzzy on the details of the Trinity. More than half (52 percent) say Jesus is the first and greatest being created by God. And 56 percent say the Holy Spirit is a force rather than a person. The Holy Spirit seems to be particularly confusing: A quarter (28 percent) say the Spirit is a divine being but not equal to God the Father and Jesus. Half (51 percent) disagree. Twenty-one percent are not sure.

Read more at … http://factsandtrends.net/2016/09/27/what-do-americans-believe-about-god-new-study-explores-our-theology/

For a humorous view of the challenges in explaining the trinity, see this video clip from the Cohen brothers’ movie Hail Caesar!

THEOLOGY & Most Americans believe resurrection really happened. But not everything else in the Bible did.

by Bob Smietana, Facts and Trends, LifeWay, 9/28/16.

Findings of a new survey of American views on Christian theology from Nashville-based LifeWay Research (include) …

The resurrection really happened. But not everything else in the Bible did.

2016-bible-1More than half of Americans (58 percent) say God is the author of the Bible. About half say the Bible alone is the written Word of God (52 percent). Two-thirds of Americans (64 percent) say the biblical accounts of the physical (bodily) resurrection of Jesus are completely accurate. A quarter (23 percent) disagree. Thirteen percent are not sure. Almost all of those with evangelical beliefs (98 percent) agree, as do more than half of Americans who do not hold evangelical beliefs (56 percent).

Read more at … http://factsandtrends.net/2016/09/27/what-do-americans-believe-about-god-new-study-explores-our-theology/

THEOLOGY & American Views of the Afterlife & Sin

by Bob Smietana, Facts and Trends, LifeWay, 9/28/16.

Findings of a new survey of American views on Christian theology from Nashville-based LifeWay Research (include) …Evangelical believers say hell is for real. Other Americans aren’t so sure.

2016-heavenEighty-four percent of those who hold evangelical beliefs say hell is a place of eternal judgment, where God sends all people who do not personally trust in Jesus Christ. Only 30 percent of Americans who don’t have evangelical beliefs hold that view.

Overall, fewer than half (40 percent) of Americans say those who don’t believe in Jesus will go to hell.

Many evangelical believers say everybody goes to heaven. They also believe that only those who trust Jesus as their Savior are saved.

Two-thirds of those with evangelical beliefs (64 percent) say heaven is a place where all people will ultimately be reunited with their loved ones. That’s slightly higher than Americans in general (60 percent).

By definition, all those with evangelical beliefs affirm that only people who trust in Jesus Christ alone as their Savior receive God’s free gift of eternal salvation. Overall, about half of Americans (54 percent) say only those who trust in Jesus Christ alone receive eternal salvation.

Everybody sins but it’s no big deal.

2016-sinAmericans admit they aren’t perfect. But they give each other the benefit of the doubt. Two-thirds (65 percent) agree that everyone sins a little, but most people are good by nature. More than half (57 percent) say it would be fair for God to show His wrath against sin. But that wrath seems to be reserved only for the worst sinners.

Three-quarters (74 percent) of Americans disagree with the idea that even the smallest sin deserves eternal damnation. That includes almost two-thirds (62 percent) who strongly disagree…

Read more at … http://factsandtrends.net/2016/09/27/what-do-americans-believe-about-god-new-study-explores-our-theology/#.V-ulH_D3aaM

THEOLOGY & Two-thirds of Americans Think God Likes All Religions #Syncretism

by Bob Smietana, Facts and Trends, LifeWay, 9/28/16.

Findings of a new survey of American views on Christian theology from Nashville-based LifeWay Research (include) …

Americans think God likes all religions.

Two-thirds of Americans (64 percent) say God accepts the worship of all religions, including Christianity, Judaism and Islam. Twenty-four percent disagree. Twelve percent are not sure.

Americans of all ages hold this belief, from those 18 to 34 years old (62 percent) to those 50 and older (67 percent). More than half of African-Americans (69 percent), Hispanics (65 percent), whites (63 percent) and Asian-Americans (57 percent) agree.

The one holdout: Americans with evangelical beliefs (48 percent), who are less likely than Americans who don’t have evangelical beliefs (67 percent) to hold this view.

Read more at … http://factsandtrends.net/2016/09/27/what-do-americans-believe-about-god-new-study-explores-our-theology/#.V-ulH_D3aaM

THEOLOGY & What Do Americans Believe About God? New Study Explores Our Theology

by Bob Smietana, Facts and Trends, LifeWay, 9/28/16.

Americans don’t know much about theology. Most say God wrote the Bible. But they’re not sure everything in it is true.

Six in 10 say everyone eventually goes to heaven, but half say only those who believe in Jesus will be saved. And while 7 in 10 say there’s only one true God—Father, Son and Holy Spirit—two-thirds say God accepts worship of all faiths.

2016-GodThose are among the findings of a new survey of American views on Christian theology from Nashville-based LifeWay Research…

Read more at … http://factsandtrends.net/2016/09/27/what-do-americans-believe-about-god-new-study-explores-our-theology/#.V-ulH_D3aaM

THEOLOGY & The Dangerous Divide Between Theology and Practicality

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel. Ed Stetzer is arguably one of the best thinkers/writers on evangelism and leadership. As a friend, I have observed his commitment to the theology and practice of the Great Commission first hand. His admonition to wed theology and practice is one of the founding tenets of Wesley Seminary at Indiana Wesleyan University. In fact, he was one of our first guest lecturers.

“An unnecessary divide between theology and methodology is unwise.”

by Ed Stetzer, The Exchange, Christianity Today, 6/15/16.

In many corners of the church today, there’s an unhelpful and unhealthy division between theology and practical ministry. This division is damaging to both the discipline of theology and the practice of ministry because one without the other causes an imbalance.

Part of the cause of this division is the large number of theologically-minded people who spurn practicality as pragmatism. This can be seen as an overreaction to the Church Growth Movement of the 1980s.

Such critics rigorously decried a methodological mania as devoid of theological foundation. They took aim at folks like Rick Warren, Bill Hybels, and John Maxwell, accusing them of having only a modicum of theology accompanied by mountains of methodology.

Unfortunately, those theologically-minded people concerned with too much practicality, strategy, and leadership, threw the baby out with the bath water. Rather than looking for the proper place of practicality, strategy, and leadership, they found no place for it.

There are theologically-minded people who are producing large bodies of literature attempting rebuff any emphasis on the practical. They are teaching a whole world of people—a whole generation of pastors—that practical ministry, leadership strategies, and coaching don’t matter. I feel like some think practicality in any degree is heretical. It’s ecclesiology that matters, they say. All that matters is theology, they say.

They are creating a division, where no necessary division exists.

Contrary to that line of thinking, you have to consider the effectiveness of your ministry as well. Effectiveness isn’t only measured by the straightness of the angles in your division of the word of truth. Resist the urge to cluck your tongue when the topic turns to statistics and best practices, even if you just want to rush straight to ecclesiology and soteriology.

Honestly, it seems in some instances the “love” for theology is an excuse for failed discipleship, failed attendance growth, or failed discipleship, failed attendance growth, or failed outreach efforts. And, of course, that’s not what they say—they say they are just being faithful. The problem is they are not working in such a way to also be fruitful.

Here’s the danger. If we raise up a generation of theologically-minded people who have no tools for applying it to practical ministry, then reproduction stops. If we become so theological to the neglect of the practical, then ministry will be hindered…

Read more at … http://www.christianitytoday.com/edstetzer/2016/june/dangerous-divide-between-theology-and-practicality.html