Thursday, September 29, 2011

Evangelical Interfaith Dialogue Winter/Spring 2011 Issue

Winter/Spring 2011 Issue:

In the featured article of the winter/spring issue of this journal, Dr. Andrew Wingate describes the changing religious landscape in Western Europe, considers changes within the Christian and Muslim communities, and outlines important implications for Christian engagement in interfaith dialogue. Professors Sunday Agang and George Harinck provide reflections on these realities based on their Dutch and Nigerian experiences respectively. Dr. Andrew Smith makes the case for engaging teenagers in Muslim-Christian dialogue in the UK. Syrian born Chawkat Moucarry argues that mission and dialogue are compatible terms that must shape each other.

Download the issue (20 pages)

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Radical Love Campaign

Challenging followers of Christ to love Muslims as He does.

Christian relationships with Muslims have often been characterized by conflict, fear and lack of love. This is the opposite of the way Jesus taught his people to live. As his followers, we are promised a love that casts out fear. We are commanded to love neighbor and even enemy. Therefore we resolve to imitate and obey Jesus by making the following pledge:

  • I will repent of any hateful feelings toward Muslims and pursue love.
  • I will pray for Muslims that God will bless them and that they will experience His peace.
  • I will do at least one act of kindness for a Muslim in this next year.
  • I will respectfully share the good news about Christ.
  • I will not spread negative stereotypes about Muslims but will season all my words with grace.
  • I will champion this cause, armed only with love, truth and good deeds.

Be Radical like Jesus. Sign the pledge at and mobilize 10 friends to do the same.

Champion this cause and change the world.

More on the biblical basis for Radical Love

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Islam on Trial

Is Islam peaceful or violent?  How should Christians view the current political discourse on Islam in Western countries? Michael Raiter writes about the nature of Islam here (pages 22-33) by reviewing four recent books written from both sides of the issue.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Purpose (Vision) and Task (Mission) of Missions

What is the purpose and task of missions?  Perhaps no question is more important for those seeking to bless Muslims (or anybody!) in Jesus’ name.  Answering this question would serve as a guide for almost everything we think and do.

Here are a couple quotes from Encountering Theology of Mission that are well worth chewing on.  Here they define purpose of mission (formatting mine):

Doxology is the highest purpose of mission: God is drawing people from every nation to himself who declare his glory and become his worshippers. This worship will endure for all eternity.

Redemption is the foundation of mission in that God himself has reached out in grace to fallen humans by the sending of his Son, Jesus Christ. The work of redemption through his death and resurrection was at the heart of Christ's coming to earth. He thereby provided the way of forgiveness and restoration of the God-human relationship. This was at the heart of the gospel message and the core of the apostolic preaching.

The kingdom of God is at the center of mission in that the work of redemption results not only in personal salvation but in the restoration of God's reign over his redeemed people and through the redeemed community. The new kingdom people, the church, become a living sign of the kingdom in this age as they live under Christ's lordship and work for the cause of holiness, righteousness, and justice in all their relationships and in the world.

Eschatology is the hope of mission because we know that the kingdom will one day come in fullness when Christ returns. In this age the church lives in anticipation of that kingdom by bringing the gospel of the kingdom to the nations. This is done in the confidence that the promise of the Lord will be fulfilled: not only will the gospel be preached to every nation, but from every nation there will be those who embrace the Savior and enter the kingdom.

For this reason the nations are the scope of mission. As revealed in the scriptures, God has a plan to draw the nations to himself. Mission cannot rest until the gospel of the kingdom has been brought to people of every nation, ethnic group, language, and social standing.

Reconciliation is the fruit of mission because mission brings the message of reconciliation to an alienated world. This reconciliation begins with the restored relationship with God and moves outward to restore human relationships, becoming one of the most fundamental signs of the kingdom and evidencing genuine shalom. This too is in anticipation of the fullness of the restoration of all things upon Christ's return.

Finally, the incarnation is the character of mission. Everything the church undertakes in the cause of mission must be characterized by a spirit of humility, selflessness, and sacrifice, for these traits characterized Christ's sending. This is the fruit of the Holy Spirit, who both empowers and transforms for mission.

We conclude by defining mission in this way: Mission is the sending activity of God with the purpose of reconciling to himself and bringing into his kingdom fallen men and women from every people and nation to his glory. Mission is a sign of the kingdom and an invitation to the nations to enter the kingdom and share the hope of the kingdom promised in Christ's return. (Chapter 4)

The purpose of mission should be distinguished and united with the task of mission.  No “vision statement” (purpose) is complete without a corresponding “mission statement” (task).  Why are we here and what are we supposed to do about it?  Something must happen in order for the vision to be realized.  The task of missions is thus summarized in Chapter 6 (formatting mine):

Mission is God’s sending of Christians, the church, into the world as messengers of reconciliation and renewal to bring men and women of every nation into God’s kingdom.  They are to live as salt and light in their communities as a sign of the coming kingdom when all things will be restored under God’s rule.  However, the church has not fulfilled its mission by merely being such a community wherever it finds itself, as great a challenge as that is.  Rather such communities must be multiplied among the diverse peoples of the world, and this is the task of missions.

Thus the task of missions is the sending activity of the church to create and expand such kingdom communities among every people of the earth.  This will be done through evangelism and church planting that is not satisfied with superficial conversion or institutional advancement.  Rather, these new communities must be nurtured and challenged to manifest the reign of God in word and deed, impacting all areas of life – spiritual, social, mental, and physical – thus furthering God’s mission in the world.

I like these definitions because they integrate holistic service with evangelism and church planting while emphasizing that mission is actually God’s undertaking to redeem his creation back to himself.

So could we synthesize and summarize?  Here’s my stab at it… for the biblical mission (purpose and task) of the church:

  • Vision (what does the Bible envision?): to see lives and communities among all the nations transformed for God’s glory
  • Mission (how is that vision realized?): to foster a movement of indigenously-led, multiplying churches that manifest the rule of king Jesus in word and deed

What would be your biblical vision and mission statements be for the purpose of God through the church (there is more than one way to say it)?  You got a problem with mine?

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Muslim Missions: Then & Now (CT article by Woodberry)

Another interesting, lucid, and informative article by Dudley Woodberry, from CT Sept 2011:

Ten years ago, my wife, Roberta, and I were in Peshawar, Pakistan, two blocks from the Taliban hospital. We were in the home of our son and his family, joining in a farewell party for a Christian pilot. Another pilot approached us and said, "I don't know whether I should tell you the news now or after the party." Of course we said, "Now." He said the BBC had just reported that a plane had flown into the World Trade Center.

A quick check on the Internet showed a little picture of a building with a quarter inch of a flame—one that radiated heat and light through the following decade to where we stand today. That heat and light have generated conflicting responses: increased resistance and receptivity to the gospel among Muslims, and increased hostility and peacemaking among Christians. It has been the best of times and the worst of times for relations between Christians and Muslims…

Keep reading…

From the conclusion:

Ultimately, the future of missions to Muslims will be affected less by the flames of 9/11, or even the flames that started the Arab Spring, than by the inner flames that are ignited if we so follow our Lord, who modeled the basin and the towel, that our Muslim friends may echo the words of the disciples in Emmaus: "Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?"

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Encountering Theology of Mission

51Qu-BcotQL__SL160_I wish this book was required reading for everyone on my team and in my mission organization: Encountering Theology of Mission: Biblical Foundations, Historical Developments, and Contemporary Issues (2010).  From Amazon:

This fresh, comprehensive text fills a need for an up-to-date theology of mission. It offers creative approaches to answering some of the most pressing questions in theology of mission and missionary practice today. The authors, who are leading mission experts, discuss biblical theology of mission, provide historical overviews of the development of various viewpoints, and address theologically current issues in global mission from an evangelical perspective. This readable yet thorough text integrates current views of the kingdom of God and holistic mission with traditional views of evangelism and church planting. It also brings theology of mission into conversation with ecclesiology and eschatology. Topics covered include contextualization, the missionary vocation, church and mission, and theology of religions. Sidebars and case studies enable readers to see how theology of mission touches real-life mission practice.

In addition, there is good stuff on the missional church, the relationship between social action and evangelism, spiritual warfare, and contextualization, all while staying focused on establishing “kingdom communities” among the nations.  I really like the discussions of the historical developments of various viewpoints.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Pray on 9/11 Video Online

Download it here.  I give it 3 out of 5 stars.  There were a couple aspects I didn’t like.  It was definitely something only an American church could show.  Loritts was calling for a revival in America.  And it appeared at times to mix Biblical faith with Americanism.  For instance, Rankin says,

“…Our international relations are strained, we find ourselves embattled with a global terrorist enemy that has created fear and paranoia.  What a difference it would make in the future if we moved from fear to faith, believing that God’s love could sweep over the Muslim world through our prayers and witness.”

I think unclear language like this only perpetuates the syncretistic confusion between American politics and American Christianity.  But Richardson and Piper were on the right track on in giving a prophetic call to the church to sacrifice that Muslims may come into the Kingdom.

Call to Prayer: Moving from Fear to Faith

I would love to hear your reactions to the video.  And especially if your church watches it on Sunday morning 9/11.