Month: March 2006

More Edwards…

Michael McMullen has released a second volume of Edwards previously unpublished sermons: The Glory and Honor of God

As many of you may know, Yale is launching a new Jonathan edwards online site with tons of previously unaccessible manuscripts made available. I am beta testing it and it looks pretty good so far. For more go to: Jonathan Edwards online

Jonathan Edwards Does Not Have an Evangelical Christology

Many evangelicals worship Christ, sometimes the Father and rarely the Spirit. Many of these doxological binitarian evangelicals are monotheistic (not trinitarian) in practice. Many of these Christ-worshipping monotheists only know Christ as “Savior.” They love and worship and follow Jesus because of his substitutionary, reconciling death and resurrection. A few know him more intimately and can explain the treasures of redemption in Christ by pointing out our Lord’s work of expiation, propitiation, imputation, reconciliation, etc. Such christology is narrow. The gospel of Christ and the Christ of the gospel are so much more, but certainly not less. To be sure, Christ is a mediator, the Mediator (1 Tm 2.5), but he is mediator of more than “salvation.” Jesus Christ is mediator of creation, redemption and consummation. He is mediator on behalf of God and on behalf of man, between the Spirit and God and man and God. Perhaps teh most overlooked aspect of christology today is Christ as consummator. We all agree that he is coming back to wrap things up and “take us home.” However, Christ as consummator is infinitely more. Jonathan Edwards knew this well and explains the necessity of Jesus as consummator in a previously unpublished sermon on 1 Tm 2.5. Read it. Re-read it. Think about it. Think about him. Worship him afresh; worship him in unison with Father and Spirit:

“God had a design before the foundation of the world of gathering all things to himself. Since all things are of him and through him, so he intended they should be to him and also of uniting all chosen creatures one to another in one society in perfect union, one unto another. When he made the world, it was with this purpose. When he made heaven an d made the angels in it, it was with this design. When he made this lower world and made man in it, it was with this design. His Son was the person pitched upon and chosen of God, by whom and in whom this great event should be brought about. He was to be the head of the union, that all might be united in him and by him to himself. Therefore, God created all things by Jesus Christ (Eph 3.9-11).”

Taken from “Jesus Christ isteh Great Mediator and Head of Union,” in The Blessing of God, ed. Michael D. McMullen

With One Voice- Reggie Kidd on Worship

Many thanks to Josh Otte for turning me on to Reggie Kidd’s With One Voice. Here’s a quote on Kidd’s redemptive-historical, Jesus-centered book on worship:

“When Paul tells his churches to “let the word of Christ dwell
. . . richly” among them by means of “psalms, hymns and spiritual
songs” (Col. 3:16 niv), he’s inviting them to do more than use
music as a “warm-up” to the sermon. The song is not ornamentation;
it is participation in the very redemption of all creation. It
plays its own role in God’s showcasing his saving power before
humans and angels (Eph. 3:10).”

The Next Christendom

Relevance: Jenkins offers a broad scale analysis of the current and coming state of Christianity around the world- a foundational thesis for the theme of this course.

Contribution: Using both historical and statistical analysis, Jenkins establishes a case for the global character of past, present, and future Christianity. Although Jenkins does not offer new observations, he does offer them to a new audience. In reflection upon the vast and voluminous influence of Christianity, Jenkins explores possible reasons for its longevity and global presence. He concludes that while Western domination and emulation has played a part, they can not account for the whole of Christianity’s remarkable residue, “…emulation can not be the whole answer. If the faith had been a matter of kings, merchants, and missionaries, then it would have lasted precisely as long as the political and commercial order that gave it birth, and would have been swept away by any social change (43).”

Critique: While Western achievements in sociology, mathematics, and science have contributed to the expanse and affect of global Christianity in many positive ways, it appears that Jenkins (and Christian missiologists) may be placing too much faith in statistical projections. Commenting on the shift of Christianity’s historical centers of influence Jenkins writes, “In 1950, a list of the world’s leading Christian countries would have included Britain, France, Spain, and Italy, but none of these names would be represented in a corresponding list for 2050 (2).” While population projections may provide some degree of accuracy, population growth does not ensure spiritual growth. Akin to the success of local meteorologists, global forecasting is something not even the scientific prophets can do accurately. Thus Jenkin’s dependence upon statistical extrapolation would seem to presume upon the actions of both mankind and Providence. However, many of his conclusions about Western ethnocentric assertions are prophetic and powerful. For instance, when speaking about “what Christians believe” and “how the Church is changing” should be done with the global contours of Christianity in view.
Explanations of growth are chalked up to the forces of urbanization and modernization, resulting in the displacement of traditional communities, many people reaches the city without a sense of community.

Moreover, if anything has been learned from the travesties and tragedies of ethnic cleansing and genocide over the last century, it would be that humanities’ actions and the course of nations are anything but predictable. R.J. Rummel, professor of political science at the University of Hawaii estimates that from 1900 to 1987 governments murdered almost 170 million people- a figure that far exceeds the 34.4 million battle deaths thought to have resulted from all the international and civil wars fought during the same period. A country with such a population would, today, be the sixth largest on earth. Taken from “Murder by the State”, Atlantic Monthly vol. 292, Nov 2003
While helpful in their place, such modernist-driven modes of mobilization may, if left unchecked, result in a subtle shift in Christian faith from Christ to statistics. In short, sociology replaces eschatology.
To be fair, Jenkins does offer a word of warning regarding projected Protestant expansion (62), but in chapter five attempts to justify “foolish speculation”.
Although spiritual formation is not the thrust of Jenkins’ book, statistical projection can not produce the kind of humility necessary to foster a truly global, yet indigenous Christianity. Such changes in missions methodology require a transformation of both the heart and the head.