What I Read Online – 10/26/2011 (a.m.)

    • One can lose his mind and ministry attempting to identify and satisfy the phantoms and shadows hiding behind plural pronouns.
    • For several decades now, “incarnational ministry” has been a catch-phrase in evangelical (and mainline) missiology. But is the Incarnation a unique and unrepeatable event in history that we proclaim or is it a metaphor or model for our mission in the world as well?
    • Billing’s critique of this common missiological theme is appropriate, and helpful. I agree with his point that the incarnation is “a divine act—something only that God can do,” and that “the power in the incarnation is precisely in its uniqueness.” As I have read back through my work, I would no longer write, “If we are to follow the example of Christ, we must aim at incarnation!” (p.25). I have never imagined that humans could become “fully incarnate” into another culture, as Jesus, wholly God, became fully human in our world. In fact my metaphor of becoming 150% persons makes that very clear. We can never achieve “full identification” with people of cultural origins different from our own. Therefore to state that we should “aim at incarnation” is clearly sloppy language and gives people poor direction for ministry.
    • When the writer of a common textbook (in a second edition) is willing to acknowledge a shortcoming in his work, it is ironic that those who learned from such textbooks are much less open to rethinking their theology of ministry.
    • Lingenfelter refers to this as a “metaphor,” particularly as it occurs in Phil. 2:1-12. In Union with Christ I work with this passage extensively, and show how it simply does not present the act of becoming incarnate as a model. Instead, the passage is about our union with the incarnate one, Jesus Christ the servant – whose life of humble obedience we are called to reflect by our union with Christ through the Spirit. This, it seems to me, is quite different from considering incarnation to be a “metaphor” to serve as a model for our ministries.
    • I remain convinced that once the hermeneutical and theological presuppositions of the NT writers are considered, there are no clear examples where they have developed a meaning from the OT which is inconsistent or contradictory to some aspect of the original OT intention.
    • [It] is not necessary to claim that we have to have such inspiration to reproduce their method or their conclusions. The fact that we don’t have the same “revelatory stance” as the NT writers only means that we cannot have the same epistemological certainty about our interpretive conclusions and applications as they had. Exegetical method should not be confused with certainty about the conclusions of such a method, since the two are quite distinct.
    • They have, however, set the central issue before us. Evangelical Christians will either stand upon the authority and total truthfulness of the Bible, or we will inevitably capitulate to the secular worldview. Giberson and Stephens force us to see, and to acknowledge, the consequences of the evangelical surrender of truth.
    • Yes, sadly, I have found that while many in the evangelical community pay lip service to excellence, far fewer have a demonstrated track record of excellence. Frank Schaffer wrote about evangelicals’ “addiction to mediocrity” years ago.
    • In other words, as recipients of God’s grace we don’t simply move from a state of bondage to a state of freedom where there are no more constraints whatsoever. Rather, as committed Christian disciples, we are now expected to serve God with distinction—not because we have to, but because we want to. God is more than worthy of us giving him everything we’ve got, rather than just presuming on his grace and being satisfied with mediocrity.
    • A biblical understanding of spirituality must be centered in the work of the Holy Spirit, not self-effort, no matter how sincere or noble one’s motivation might be.
    • By contrast, a Christian approach to excellence, as I argue in my book, must start with the excellence of God. On this theological foundation, we must understand our own call to excellence, which entails the pursuit of virtues such as diligence, courage, passion, restraint, integrity, humility, interdependence, and love.
    • I make a case for the need to pursue excellence not merely in the vocational realm but also in one’s personal life and moral sphere.
    • There is no escaping the snare of resentment, save for the sovereign grace of God. Once you let the seed of bitterness get planted and take root, the flower only blooms what is bitter. No matter how much you reason, no matter how much you listen, no matter how much you care or critique, the matter is as clear to the resentful one as it ever was: it’s all your fault.
    • But here’s the thing: being a good leader also means learning how to lead from the bottom up. It means being a foundation, a buttress, a platform for the activity of others. You employ the authority you’ve been given to enable others to run, to work, to minister. You become the platform on which they live, the stage on which they dance.
    • Leadership is not about running after all your dreams and ambitions, it’s often about getting on your hands and knees and making your life a stage on which those you love can pursue their ambitions, hopes, and ministries. It’s about building up as much as it’s about moving up. It’s about equipping and enabling and empowering.
    • Typically we think of the leader as the one who “casts a vision.” And often he does. But there’s also a sense in which he lays himself down and becomes the ground on which others envision their visions.
    • One thing to know
    • One thing is necessary
    • One thing to do
    • One thing to ask for
    • First, they represent legitimate concerns and perspectives on some of the issues.  But, second, they sometimes reveal competitive pride, jealousy, and even indifference.
    • The often-forgotten reality is that my local church and your local church are not in competition with one another.  We’re not.  We belong to the One Lord who has one Church serving one mission.  We’re family, though we forget it.  We hang our signs, print our cards, develop our programs, and fill our niche–often with our conscience stabbed by competitive pride–but we’re one Church.
    • Is the mission of the church only to preach the Word—evangelizing an making disciples—or it is also (or mainly) to do justice? . . .

       

      I am of the opinion that [Abraham] Kuyper is right: it is best to speak of the “mission of the church,” strictly conceived, as being the proclamation of the Word.

       

      More broadly conceived, it is the work of Christians in the world to minister in word and deed and to gather together to do justice.

    • Strange [“Evangelical Public Theology”—now see “Not Ashamed! The Sufficiency of Scripture for Public Theology“], Carson [Christ and Culture Revisited], and Hunter [To Change the World] all recommend a chastened approach that engages culture but without the triumphalism of transformationism.

       

      All of them also insist that the priority of the institutional church must be to preach the Word, rather than to “change culture.”

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

About Joe Fleener

Lover of Christ & His Gospel, Husband to Mandy, Father to three wonderful children, Servant to the Local Church, Bible College Lecturer
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