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Category Archives: Mission

Christian Leader; Who, What or How is that? 1/2

Never before were people so occupied by the theme of leadership as today. If Christian leaders do not pay attention to this gentle relation between leadership and culture we might find ourselves sooner or later lost in the mixture of biblical teaching and cultural influences.

Leadership in its Complexity

Before we dive straight into the topic of leadership I believe it must be remarked that this single subject could be easily spread over thousands of pages and dozens of books due to its variety. Any further discussion about leadership will strictly depend on the very group of people it is exercised over, considering their socio-economic background, history, geographical location, intellectual level, age group, but among others also religion, denominational ranges and individual personality traits.[1] All these contribute somehow to a resulting sum of attitudes, leadership chaosexpectations, perceptions, customs, practices and the whole atmosphere in, from or towards a Leadership Culture (further only LC) in any given environment. LC will substantially influence matters such as assertiveness, gender differentiation, terms of hiring (Nepotism[2] and Cronyism[3] vs. Meritocracy[4]), power distance (top-down or flat), focus (task or people), mutual mindset (collectivistic or individualistic), communication (specific or diffuse), time horizon, space orientation, desired leadership traits, emotional relation and decision making processes all the way to the very core definition of what is leadership.[5]

For instance, taking into consideration only the attribute of power distance, while openness and room for discussion given by a leader is well appreciated in most parts of Africa and Western Europe (flat), in many Asian and Latin American situations this would be perceived as a weak leadership. On the other hand, Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on March 11, 2013 in Mission, Theology

 

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The week deal


“You can give without loving, but you cannot love without giving.”

Amy Carmichael


 

Pr. 3:27; Matt. 6:3-4; James 2:15-16;

 
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Posted by on January 22, 2013 in Mission, The week deal

 

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True be or not true be?

Previous: Christian: “Jesus is the truth!”; Postmodernist: “…whatever” (in attempt to get the complete picture it is strongly advised that you’ll read the previous article before moving on to this one.)

For decades modern approach of Enlightenment period was exhaustively rational in its way of dealing with reality and the world around us. Science was considered to be the sole measure of truth, where knowledge was certain, objective and good. Postmodernist does not believe any of those things. Actually, also here could be established another common ground as Christian believes that some truth lies even beyond reason and cannot be accessed by reason, secondly we find ourselves in a historical and cultural context and thus cannot work as external agents uninfluenced by it, thirdly the knowledge being perceived as intrinsically good can only hardly hold in the light of the past nuclear events that ascribe to knowledge possible future Armageddon that would never be possible without scientific discoveries around splitting of the atom. Thus, confident reason that suggests definite solutions alone would most likely be unwelcomed by many also in the sphere of apologetics.

Figure 1 – Retrieved from Kinnaman, D. (2011). “You lost me: Why young christians are leaving church..and rethinking faith.

Yet another issue signaled by this chart is the direct opposite. Frequently Christians completely neglect the duty to involve themselves in intellectual debates whereby positive conflict could be stirred and are left with bullet-proof social tolerance of postmodernism. To illustrate how serious this problem is in this generation I attached one more diagram made by Barna Group in 2009.

Figure 2 – Retrieved from Kinnaman, D. (2011). “You lost me: Why young christians are leaving church…and rethinking faith.”

Thirdly, new methods were offered that strive to contextualize our approach to such an extent that they suggest we too should abandon the notion of objective truth and merely focus on our action in the world that will alone raise the question in those around us. Phillip Kenneson in his chapter called “There’s no such thing as objective truth, and it’s a good thing, too” recommends the following:

“I realize there are plenty of Christians who think it makes good sense to say that the proposition “Jesus Christ is Lord of the universe” is objectively true; that is, our temptation is to insist that this is simply true whether we or anyone else believe it or not. But succumbing to such a temptation is deadly for the church… giving up on the notion of objective truth will force the church to take responsibility for its judgments about the way it sees, understands and acts in the world. This means that what will give our testimony authority will not be that what we say is “objectively true” such that any reasonable person would be required to take us seriously. Rather, what will lend our testimony authority is that by the grace of God we live in such a way that our lives are incomprehensible apart from this God.”

It seems to me that by giving up objective truth we might lose more than gain, for without it, it is only very hard to show why Christianity is different from any other religious mysterious lifestyle. Moreover it is difficult to find basis for biblical imperatives stemming out of preaching that draw upon the authority of the truth breathed in the biblical text. At last this view appears to be rather idealistic, for after considering the doctrine of Hamartiology, we can see that due to our sinful nature, while in our human bodies, we are not able to live a life that would alone speak unequivocally for Gods existence and His redemptive activity on the cross.

This fallen condition however equally influences our intellectual capacities as well, which are not only limited, but also deceptive (Romans 1:21-28).

Thus I believe conclusion does not lie in a revolutionary method but somewhere on the middle way. Here, both reason and personal example walks co-operatively in humble apologetics, persuading people to make an informed decision for Christ always relying on the power of Holy Spirit in the Gospel. “Such a persuasion does not have to be perceived as propaganda” for as Chan points out: “Despite postmodernism’s pronouncement on the demise of reasons, we maintain that interpersonal persuasion of a reasonable sort continues to be practiced in everyday life. Sellers seek to persuade potential buyers that their products are superior to those of their competitors. Schoolteachers appeal to the reasoning faculty of students, while government leaders defend the rationale for their policies. Even enthusiastic relativists who are out to convince others of the superiority of their philosophies of life do so by turning to the tools of persuasive speech, reasoning with their listeners or readers.”

In this age it is the last two adjectives of 1.Peter 3:15 that presumably matter more than ever before for such a balanced approach addresses both obstacles presented in the beginning. “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,…” (NIV) Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on June 22, 2012 in Ethics, Mission, Reasonable Faith

 

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Christian: “Jesus is the truth!”; Postmodernist: “…whatever”

(or) Bringing Gospel into the Postmodern world.

The truth can be spoken only by someone who is already at home in it; not by someone who still lives in falsehood and reaches out from falsehood towards truth on just one occasion.”

These words came from an Austrian-British philosopher Ludwig Josef Johann Wittgenstein who contemplated about the logical relationship between the propositions we make and the world. In the end he concluded that there cannot be such a relationship.

While the Great Commission found in Matthew 28 certainly remains unmodified, the context (space and time) for which it is originally meant, on the contrary is nearly always different that is a natural result of the phrase “all nations”. If apologetics is perceived to be one of the ingredients of effective evangelism, then it follows that the way one reasons or promotes the defense for Christian case must go along with any adaptation to the particular environment. It is not otherwise with major group of the western world that was swayed by intense thoughts of Postmodernism and Relativism presented by Foucault, Derrida and Rorty. This would cover mostly all the people born between the years 1984 and 2002, which some usually refer to as Millennials or Gen Y, while Barna Group uses a very apt expression – Mosaics for “it reflects their eclectic relationships, thinking styles, and learning formats, among other things.

Postmodernism

Since Postmodernism can be understood variously, depending on the point of view we are taking we must be careful with some assertions of a definite sort. In fact the postmodern inability of being accurately defined could serve as some sort of definition itself. Due to its syncretistic nature it accepts no simple answers or singular truths and disapproves any core foundation for an ideology. A postmodern person does not believe that in any way we can examine, prove or access the objective reality or truth, if there is such a thing. At best we can observe what works and what does not. Claims about any higher truth are perceived as an attempt to impose view or push someone’s agenda (propaganda). Since all people were born into an environment, all were influenced by their context and thus cannot serve as independent agents in search for a truth. Because of that what is true for a group of people at a certain point in time is not necessarily true for another group, therefore as Jim Leffel said: “There is no possibility of “transculture objectivity.””. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on June 8, 2012 in Mission, Reasonable Faith

 

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The week deal


“I’d rather have people hate me with the knowledge that I tried to save them.”

Keith Green


 

Mark 16:15-16

 
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Posted by on May 15, 2012 in Mission, The week deal

 

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The week deal


The more false any man is in his religion, the more fierce and furious he is in maintaining it; the more mistaken, the more imposing.”

Benjamin Whichcote


 

James 1:26-27; John 14:6

 
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Posted by on April 17, 2012 in Mission, The week deal

 

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Why not have a Civilized Church?

  Lesslie NewbiginWe must…acknowledge the fact that there is not and cannot be a gospel which is not culturally embodied. This is simply another way of affirming…the historical nature of the gospel”.

Bishop James Edward Lesslie Newbigin

What is Gospel?

Before entering the debate about cultural relevance and historicity of the gospel I believe it is first important to speak about what it is when we mention the word gospel. Often when we refer to the gospel, we add to it its meaning found in Greek as “the good news”. While Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary says quite neatly and explicitly that the gospel is “the message concerning Christ, the kingdom of God, and salvation” it is hard to find any good news in this definition alone. Thus it is only natural to ask for more, if the gospel is to “live up” to its Greek notion.

The Big PictureSpeeding

Roughly, if the message is to be complete and clear we need to start by going all the way back to Genesis, showing God’s wonderful creation and the fall that happened right after which separated us from Him. We may continue by explaining God’s holiness and his hatred towards sin and then stop for a while at “the last judgment”. Now when the big picture is painted, only at this moment the entire message about Christ’s reconciling death on the cross makes sense and makes the news good. Without it, I am like a person that tells his friend that he had paid a very high speeding ticket for him. Yet, if my friend doesn’t know he had one, he will not appreciate it and will only consider me to be a fool for saying something like that. Only when I first stop and explain him the circumstances he will appreciate the good news I am about to tell him.

Jesus Christ

While we need to pay heed to the big picture it is the person of Jesus Christ who is in the very center of the gospel message. He is the one whom prophets were speaking about in the Old Testament pointing towards the future. And the one about whom the apostles in the New Testament spread the news, referring to the past. Therefore it is crucial to look at Jesus and his stay on the Earth. Above all, it is evident that He was born into a specific context and culture in a specific time and space. Into well-defined group of people with their particular language, traditions, habits and way of thinking also depended partly on the level of knowledge available to them at that moment.

Even though the thoughts he presented were for most people radically revolutionary and some of his behavior by all means surpassed the conventional demeanor we can also find many aspects or instances in which he displayed very contextual conduct. Stating the obvious he spoke the local languages, wore common clothes, had a usual profession or even engaged himself in public celebrations.  Anyway, if we could somehow observe him for a while we would quite easily be able to strictly categorize him as a lower-class craftsman from Middle East in times of late Ancient History.

The Weight of CultureOld Scripture

The latter of the previous two considerations affirms that the core section of the gospel is indisputably rooted in a historical context and former indicates that without a proper application there can be no gospel. In other words if our communication is not clear and complete the message we intended to communicate might be anything but gospel. Thus it is crucial to employ appropriate, contemporary means of communication that will meet recipients in their situation, in their language so they would understand the overall message we strive to get over and not focus on mere exact transfer of biblical vocabulary.

What Does it Mean for us Today?

Now when we know that the gospel was culturally embodied and that culture is inevitable part of any group of people and it influences their thought processes there are two Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on April 10, 2012 in Mission, Theology

 

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