Month: May 2007

Reviewing The Forgotten Ways, Hirsch

I don’t know what it is with some of the missional books being published these days, but their titles can be so out of touch and ambiguous (cf. Off-Road Disciplines, Creps). The Forgotten Ways: reactivating the missional church (subtitle is much better) is no exception to lousy titles, but the content is certainly thought provoking and generally summative of some missiological thought (McGavran, Walls, Bosch, etc).

In Section one, Hirsch brings the reader into his own missional and not-so-missional story as missionary and church planter. At one point he claims to have planted 6 churches in 7 years, not all of them successful. Hirsch draws on his rich and varied experience as a church planter to critique recent models of church in the West. He concludes that in order to have a truly missional church one must possess Apostolic Genius (AG. another naming failure), which he describes as “something that belongs to the gospel itself and therefore to the whole people who live by it.”

AG is comprised of six components of missional DNA: 1) missional incarnational impulse 2) disciple making 3) communitas 4) organic systems 5) apostolic environment and, at the center 6) Jesus is Lord. The longest and Second section of the book is devoted to defining and describing just what and how this mDNA is and does.

I am currently finished with about a third of the book, so I will offer one critique and one praise before concluding this review in another post.

Praise: Hirsch creatively combines elements which appear to be essential to missional movements, while incorporating the frequently neglected theological center of mission: monotheistic christology (cf. Wright, Bauckham) or as Hirsch puts it christocentric monotheism.

Critique: Despite the incarnational component of his mDNA, Hirsch ends up baptizing the decentralized, “organic” modes of church and incorrectly oversimplifies the connections between the early church and the missional church. On page 64 he includes a chart that reflects his stated simplification, drawing tight parallels to the Apostolic church and the missional church of the past ten years. Two issues arise here: 1) the NT does not concretize any form of church, allowing for diverse expressions of church 2) the missional movement is only ten years old and it remains to be seen how much in common it will have with the early church.

Review Part II

Following Jesus

The point of of following Jesus isnt simply so that we can be sure of going to a better place than this after we die. Our future beyond death is enormously important, but the future of the Christian hope is such that it plays back into the present life. We’re called, here and now, to be instruments of God’s new creation, the world-put-to-rights which has already been launched in Jesus and of which Jesus’ followers are supposed to be not simply beneficiaries but aslo agents.

N.T. Wright, Simply Christian

Tanna Volcano Cult Members Turn to Christ

People on the isolated South Pacific island of Tanna, in the
country of Vanuatu, have long put their faith in John Frum, a
figure they insist is a former American GI during World War II
who will someday emerge from the volcano and shower his believers
with wealth and knowledge. Frum has been described as a combination
of John the Baptist, Uncle Sam, and Santa Claus.

Yet members of the cult quickly forego their volcano ďgodĒ after
viewing the JESUS film. Among the
10,000 islanders who formerly adhered to the volcano cult, more
than 4,666 people from Tanna have converted to Christianity,
according to Wes Brenneman, director of Campus Crusade for Christ
in the Pacific Islands.

See the whole article here.

The Anger of God and the Anger of Man

Godís anger is not capricious or unjust. Instead His anger is purposeful, resulting in a thoughtful plan and process to reconcile all injustice. In short, itís good. Godís ultimate aim in displaying His anger is the demonstration of the glory of His justice. He delights in being a righteous and just God. Through and through God is fully righteous, thus any unrighteousness provokes his wrath. However, that is not all God is. God is love and Godís love also demands His wrath. As David Powlison has put it, “You canít understand Godís love if you donít understand his anger.Ē[2]

Understanding Godís anger inevitably leads us to the cross where Godís justice and mercy meet in perfect, soul-wrenching, Christ-crushing, sin-forgiving, life-giving harmony. The anger of God against our unrighteousness was mercifully diverted from us onto His beloved Son. As a result, God preserved and promoted both His justice and humanityís joy through the cross. Thus, Godís penultimate aim in His anger is the good of the elect, revealing the two-sided purpose of his wrath, His glory and our good. Briefly put, the purpose of Godís anger is to display the depth and character of his eternal justice and love.

The plan for the outworking of Godís wrath results in two main ends, salvation or condemnation. For those who hope in Christ for the forgiveness of their transgressions, salvation waits; but for those who hope in the world, the self, or other plans, only condemnation awaits. The only plan that fuels Godís purpose to glorify His justice and satisfy our need for love is the Gospel. The plan began at creation, finding redemptive expression through new creation and culmination in His consummation of all things. This plan operates through the process of cultivation, the cultivation of sinners made new, day by day, demonstrating that God is for us, not against us.

But what of our anger? What is the difference between God-imitating, righteous anger and self-glorifying sinful anger? Is anger just violent outbursts and wife-beating or can it take more subtle forms? How are we to be made new in the battle against anger?