Monday, February 26, 2007

Missional Theology

John Franke has written a great article on missional theology.

Click on the title to read the article.

Dr. Nate

I have heard the cries from the wilderness. Nathanael sent me this email a week or so ago, and has since then spent most of his time complaining that I didn't post it...

So here it is:

It’s a question I have heard asked a thousand times.  What about the people who live in foreign countries and have never heard the “gospel?”  What about the people who don’t know Jesus died for them?

Then you get the response from Romans 1:19-20 “…because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them.  For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse…” and it goes on from there.

But see here is where the problem arises.  I have read that passage a number of times and no where do I find a “sinners prayer,” or anything about, Jesus dying for them.  But isn’t that the fundamental step into becoming a Christian?  The faith in believing Jesus died for them?

And furthermore, what if instead of calling God, God.  What if they refer to him as Bobobebo, and worship him for giving them rain and food.  What if they praise Bobobebo for killing their enemies, getting their wives pregnant, and instead of a cross they put up as a symbol of their creator, they make a man of wood as an image of God?  (not to say they worship the image, but let’s not get side tracked.)

Are they “saved”? Do they get to go to “heaven?”

As far as our American Salvation is concerned, and I mean if you literally base salvation on what a preacher will tell you during the invitation, the answer would be no.

(As well, of course not many people believe that the “sinners prayer,” or as I call it, the “magic prayer,” is all there is to salvation, but almost everyone I talk to they say that it has to be the FOUNDATION for everything else.)

So there is my problem, if the FOUNDATION for becoming a Christian is the “sinners prayer” and what it contains, then there must be a lot of people in “hell” with no idea why.


Let me know your thoughts about Nathanael's post!

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Karl Barth and Scripture

My understanding of truth [and Truth] in a postmodern context came into clearer focus today with a discussion on Karl Barth and his view of revelation.

Barth contended that Truth [capital T] was from the Word of God. The Word of God functioned in three ways:

1. Revelation -- Jesus Christ is the revelation of God. Jesus is Truth [capital T]
2. The Bible -- The Bible functions as witness to the revelation of God. The Bible is the Word of God, but since it comes to us in the form of human words it can only contain words about God. It is not the direct revelation of God, it is therefore truth [small t]
3. Proclamation -- Good preaching contains proclamation about God. However, as a human construct, like the Bible, it contains truth [small t]. It is truth to us, but it is not the Truth.

Only God is Truth, but since God is beyond all our understandings, all we have access to is truth [small t]. We access Truth [God] through the Bible, and through proclamation of the Bible. However, we must keep in mind that the closest we can come is truth [small t].

In Scripture God makes Himself cognitively available to us in such a way that we can provide formulations as good as we can make them. And yet even our best formulations remain inadequate in relation to the one whom they bear witness to.

Absolute Truth is only available to God, not to us. The best we can come to is truth [small t again].

So maybe the church's fascination of Absolute Truth is a discussion that we cannot engage in. Even our best constructions and formulations of God fall frustratingly short.

So what do you think? Can we know Absolute Truth?
Is this discussion beyond us?
Should the church purposely get away from Absolute Truth statements?
How much Truth, and truth are contained in other churches, and other religions?
Interested in your thoughts

Monday, February 19, 2007


"At Biblical the Bible is not under scrutiny, but our interpretations of the Bible are under scrutiny."

--Dr. David Dunbar
President Biblical Seminary

Tuesday, February 13, 2007


“The doctrine of universal salvation is the expression of a boundless confidence in God: what god wants to do he can do, and will do. If he wants all human beings to be helped, he will ultimately help all human beings. The doctrine of the double outcome of judgment is the expression of a tremendous self-confidence on the part of human beings: if the decision ‘faith or disbelief’ has eternal significance, then eternal destiny, salvation or damnation, lies in the hands of human beings. What will happen to people in eternity really depends on their own behavior. God’s function is reduced to the offer of salvation in the gospel, and to establishing acceptance or rejection at the judgment. Christ becomes a persons savior only when that person has ‘accepted’ him in faith. So it is the acceptance in faith which makes Christ the savior of that man or that woman. But if this is so, do people not really save the damn themselves?

Who makes the decision about the salvation of lost men and women, and where is the decision made?”

Jurgen Moltmann
"The Coming of God"

Monday, February 12, 2007

Women in Ministry

On Saturday I asked the following question:

Which areas of our theology are in need of further development?

Almost everyone agreed that our view of women in ministry was in need of revision.

Maybe it's time that we admit our errors, and make a 180 degree turn.

More Thoughts On Salvation

I appreciate the comments on the last post.

A few thoughts on the subject matter of salvation.

I agree with Nathanael when he says that salvation in the Old Testament must include the idea of salvation from exile. Nehemiah 9:36 makes this clear. "We are servants to this day [in our own land]." Isreal viewed themselves as still in a state of spiritual exile. While they had returned to their land geographically, they still remained in a spiritual exile. The parable of the prodigal son is an excellent example of such a belief.

For too long we have viewed the parable as a simple story about the great love of God. But look at the paralells. A son [Israel] tells his father [God] to give him the inheritance [saying in essence that he wishes his father were dead]. He goes off to a far country [exile], and ends up with the most humbling of jobs [feeding pigs for Gentiles]. When he returns the father welcomes him back into the family [God welcoming the sinners, and the nation of Israel back into his family]. It is a picture of the radical forgiveness of God. The wrong people are getting into the kingdom, those who rejected God. The older brother [the Pharisees] cannot comprehend how the father could welcome the son. [He kills a fatted calf, far too much meat for a single family, it was the entire community that would celebrate the return of the son].

So Luke 15 is a beautiful picture of Isreal, exile, and return. Jesus tells the story with these obvious implications.

Evangelicals have wrongly assumed that Christ came to die on the cross for the primary reason of being substitutionary atonement for our sins. While I do agree that Christ's death on the cross does offer a covering for our sins, I also believe that His death is far more well rounded.

The death of Christ on the cross must be seen primarily through the lens of faithfulness to His covenant. In Jesus we have the beginnings of new creation [i.e. John 1, and Genesis 1. See also Luke 24:31, and Genesis 3:7]. Jesus saw Himself as fulfilling the vocation of Isreal [Isaiah 52-53], not simply as a covering for our individual sins.

This understanding of salvation keeps us from a "get out of hell" salvation, and helps move us forward to a more holistic understanding. For the Jews Jesus offered salvation from exile, and restoration. However, it came in a most unusual way. The kingdom was established [Mark 1:15], but it did not look as they imagined it would.

This also leads to our understanding of justification, but more on that at a later date. This is getting long already.

Tuesday, February 6, 2007


A couple of starting points for discussion from chapter one:

1. Do you agree with McLaren's statement about salvation in the Old Testament:
"It's clear that in these passages [Exodus 15:2; 2 Samuel 22:3; Luke 1:69-73] the speakers aren't talking about being saved from hell. They're talking about being saved from the Egyptians, King Saul, the Romans -- about being liberated from violence and oppression and the distressing fear they engender" [pg. 21]

2. McLaren says that salvation needs to be seen not only as "salvation from hell" but rather "being rescued from fruitless ways of life here and now, to share in God's saving love for all creation, in an adventure called the kingdom of God, the point of which you definitely don't want to miss." [pg. 25]

Interested to hear your thoughts on chapter one. Email me your thoughts and I will post them here so that the conversation can begin!


Monday, February 5, 2007

And Off We Go!

Hey guys,

Here is the blog that we will use for our conversation. If you want to post a blog, just email me: the information, and I will post it for discussion. A couple of ground rules [even though I hate to put restrictions on a conversation]
1. Make sure your posts are well thought out.
2. Make them as concise as possible
3. Don't dominate the conversation [I want everyone to have a chance to post here]
4. Participate

Well, I'll try and post a starter discussion topic later today. For right now, we are blogging about the book "Adventures in Missing the Point".

And off we go!