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Showing posts from May, 2011

What about mission?

Given the biblical revelation that God has reconciled all humanity to himself in and through Jesus Christ (2Cor 5:17-19), why should the church be concerned about reaching out to the world in mission? And if it is to be concerned, what does that mission look like? In order to answer these questions, we first must answer this one: Who is God? The Bible;s answer is that the one God exists eternally as a tri-personal communion of love. In his being (nature), God is love (1John 4:8), and God does what God is. The triune God of love is a God who, in love, reaches out to others.

Missional God
In love, God created the cosmos as a time/place in which to share his triune love and life with his creation. And because his love never ceases or diminishes, he became Redeemer to rescue his creation from its inability, due to the fall, to live in communion with him. As Creator and Redeemer, God has, from before time, been on mission.

The mission of God (missio Dei) in creation and redemption originat…

Generous God: generous people

Trinitarian, incarnational theology shapes our understanding of Christian stewardship. It points us to the life and love of Jesus, who represents and substitutes for us as the perfect human steward of God's grace in all its forms (1Pet 4:10 KJV).

From this perspective, Christian stewardship is a believer's active participation in Jesus' lavish generosity (his own love, which "compels us," see 2Cor 5:14), as he lives in union with the Father and the Holy Spirit (in the Trinity), and with all humanity (through his continuing incarnation).

I'm reminded here of a phrase coined by Mark Vincent in A Christian View of Money: Generous God, generous people.

In the above cited passage from Peter's first epistle, the Apostle is addressing the stewardship of spiritual gifts (one aspect of God's amazing and bountiful grace to us). These gifts are the very ones that Jesus possesses in himself. Through the indwelling Spirit, he shares these gifts (abilities) with u…

Lighten up already! Karl Barth’s remedy for thinking too highly of ourselves

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Sure, ministry involves the important stuff of life, but have you ever attached so much importance to the ministry in which you serve that you begin losing your sense of playfulness, humor or joy? Or in taking your role as a servant seriously, have you also begun taking yourself a bit too seriously? It’s an easy trap to fall into.

(Confession time here. In leading worship through the years, I’ve seen more than a few photos of myself looking more serious than a solemn judge, and not so much like a joyful worshiper. Though none of us will do it perfectly, those who serve in visible roles should be aware of the impressions given.)

And if we take ourselves too seriously, we might also think too highly of ourselves and our work—especially if folks regularly offer thanks and appreciation for our work.

Remedy arrives in the wisdom and humor of Swiss theologian Karl Barth. Barth was perhaps the most highly acclaimed theologian of the 20th century, and no one had written more about the serio…

Gospel-centered baptism

In an essay in Incarnational Ministry, Colin Gunton writes against an individualistic approach to baptism and for a gospel-centered approach. In doing so, he addresses various pastoral concerns, including the practice of infant baptism.

Against an individualistic approach
Gunton decries an approach to baptism that emphasizes the individual person, thus separating baptism from the shared life of the church:
While baptism is in part the concern of the particular person, it is not primarily a matter for the person as individual but for the person in relation to other people in the community of salvation, the covenant people of God. Baptism cannot, and should not be treated in isolation form the life of the community of faith (p100). Historically, individualistic approaches emerged from the idea (grounded largely in Platonic philosophy) that each person inherits, via descent from Adam, the stain of "original sin." According to this idea, the purpose of baptism is to remove this …

Keeping it practical: understanding how to lead in a worship setting

Our recent posts have discussed the relationship of the Church’s worship in the earthly realm and the ongoing intercession of Christ at the right hand of God where saints and angels give praise and thanks. We were reminded that through the power and working of the Holy Spirit we participate in that heavenly worship and are included in our Mediator Christ’s ongoing intercession and prayers—as well as in the Son’s ongoing praise and thanks to the Father.

Scrolling down the right hand of this page in the quote section you will find this quote:
"Christ receives all that we offer God, in thanksgiving, in worship, and in service, converts it in himself, and presents it as something prefect and wholly acceptable to his Father, who is our Father...The theology of incarnation reminds us that all humanity has been caught up in Christ's ascended and glorified humanity, so making it possible for us to participate by the Spirit in the Son's perfect communion with his Father" (Grah…

A three-fold ministry of the Word

The book Incarnational Ministry, the presence of Christ in Church, Society and Family contains an essay by Geoffrey Bromiley, The Ministry of the Word of God.

Bromiley notes that some (including many of the Reformers) define the Word of God as the Bible. However, Bromiley (following Karl Barth and others), views that definition as incomplete. For him, the Word of God is three-fold: a "triune perichoresis" of the written Word of God(Holy Scripture), the proclaimed Word of God (the church's proclamation of the apostolic gospel), and first and foremost the incarnate Word of God, Jesus Christ. For Bromiley, this three-fold Word informs and shapes a three-fold ministry of the Word. Following is a summary of his thoughts concerning each part:

1. Ministry of the incarnate Word
Ministry is not our own - it is our participation (as the body of Christ) in the ministry of, by and through the Lord Jesus Christ, the incarnate Word of God:
We often forget the threefold nature of the Wo…