Archive for category: Ministry

Understanding Gender Dysphoria review

31 May
May 31, 2017

mark 2Dr. Mark Yarhouse, clinical psychologist and professor of psychology at Regent University, has put together a solid resource for leaders and those wanting to know more about Gender Dysphoria, or transgenderism, in his book, Understanding Gender Dysphoria: Navigating Transgender Issues in a Changing Culture. There are very few issues in my experience as a pastor as misunderstood as this topic, and in that misunderstanding, tremendous damage and hurt has been and will continue to be caused.

Yarhouse does a tremendous job of explaining the nature of gender dysphoria, as well the different theories surrounding the causes and treatment of gender dysphoria, and the pros and cons of each. He also explains his own approach as a psychologist and his rationale. Because the research is still in early stages regarding the ramifications for the different treatment approaches, he personally advocates taking the least invasive approach that can resolve the dysphoria; which in practicality means different approaches for each individual. I won’t try to summarize his content here; I would never be able to do it justice.

One of the strengths of Yarhouse’s book for those in ministry is his careful and well thought out Christian perspective and connections to scripture paired with his deep knowledge as a psychologist and his practical experience. He has done the research and it shows. By shedding light on this topic and confronting many of the wrong perceptions and faulty ideas, his book is both beneficial and a call to many in the church to rethink their assumptions. One particularly jarring quote from his book really hit home for me;

“What most people who are gender dysphoric find in the church is rejection and shame – the feeling that there is something fundamentally flawed in them, that the flaw is their fault (back to willful disobedience) and that if others knew about their gender incongruence, they too would reject them.” (Kindle location 946)

Yarhouse’s book is timely. As such a hot button topic, it is a relevant work for anyone who wants to grow in their understanding rather than allow news headlines and Facebook rants shape their opinions. As the church, this is an area where we need to grow in our love and empathy, and I think Yarhouse helps point in a direction that accomplishes that. I have personally read a number of resources and articles in my own pursuit of understanding, and his work is the first to really help address that need for me. He has clearly done his homework, supports his assertions with the research, yet writes in a way that is approachable and understandable. Definitely worth checking out.

Life Without Ed review

19 May
May 19, 2017

life without edLife Without Ed: How One Woman Declared Independence from Her Eating Disorder and How You Can Too, by Jenni Schaefer, is a powerful book detailing the author’s struggle with recovery. What makes the tenth anniversary edition particularly interesting to read is that she has added additional thoughts. Where she originally wondered if she would ever truly beat her eating disorder, ten years later, she is able to proudly declare her full recovery and offer hope through her experience to others that it is attainable.

While she does write about the methods she used to pursue recovery, the real strength in her book are her inner narratives. Like many who fight eating disorders, she personified her disorder as Ed, the inner voice driving her to devastating self image and decisions regarding health. As she documents the inner conversations, the struggle between her eating disorder’s views on her image, how she should live, what success looks like, and the reality of the destruction it was waging on her health. She writes that “eating disorders are about constant self-criticism, loss of self-esteem, and unrelenting perfectionism” (Kindle location 433). Seeing the constant, overwhelming presence of these thoughts in all interactions and aspects of life, begin to help the reader to understand the impact an eating disorder can have on an individual.

Her co-author, Thom Rutledge, is a psychotherapist and brings authority to the methods and approaches discussed in the book through Jenni’s experience. Having said that, my impression is that this book is not so much about communicating approaches to counsel those pursuing recovery – it is far too complex an issue with far too many variations for someone to be equipped to that degree from this book. Instead, this book is an essential tool on two fronts; for the individual struggling with an eating disorder it helps them to see they are not alone and there is hope. They will see their struggles, their thoughts, and story echoed in Jenni’s struggle, thoughts, and story. And secondly, for the family member or caring friend of someone dealing with an eating disorder; it is an essential look into what this experience is like and is a great resource in helping build understanding, or at the very least, how better to be supportive.

Jenni’s story is an important one, and her added reflections ten years later only add to its power. I certainly recommend it to anyone impacting by eating disorders – which honestly, at this point in our culture, is everyone – whether they realize it or not. We all are connected to someone battling this issue.

Thoughts on Graduating

18 May
May 18, 2017

graduation blog

September, 2013, when I began my first classes, I looked at the list of 31 classes that I would have to complete for a total of 93 credits and genuinely thought it was an impossibly overwhelming task. Last Saturday, after a hectic week of submitting final papers and assignments, I was awarded a Master of Divinity, with an emphasis in Pastoral Counseling. It went by fast, it felt like an eternity.

Being a full time student, working, and having a family would have been impossible without Heather’s support. Being a student affected the whole family. The ‘yes’ to school meant saying ‘no’ to a thousand other things. It’s why the whole family was so excited to go to the graduation and see this chapter conclude!

Speaking of which, graduation was a zoo! With President Trump as the commencement speaker at Liberty University, their normal graduation attendance of around 30,000 graduates and attendees nearly doubled to more than 50,000. They actually tore down a building to erect additional temporary grandstands for the larger crowd. Contrary to some media reports, which have taken a couple comments out of context, his speech was a good, traditional commencement speech. He didn’t talk about himself, or politics, and instead focused on the stories of two men in attendance; a hall of fame football player who had fought and beat cancer twice (whose daughter was a graduate), and a former vice president of the university who had survived the death march of World War II, and after returning home at only 88 lbs, was told he wouldn’t live to the age 40, is now 98 years old. He praised their tenacity and will to overcome great odds and used that as a challenge to all of the graduates to use their finished educations to push forward in making a difference.

The degree awarding ceremony happened later that afternoon; I graduated from Liberty’s School of Divinity which took place at the original Thomas Road Church. It was my favorite part of the day. Hearing from the Seminary professors, receiving my (symbolic – the real one will arrive in the mail) degree, celebrating with family and friends. It was a fun way to end the experience.

The process has been a good one for me. The classes, the readings, the demands by the professors, have all impacted me in more ways than I anticipated. My approach to sermon preparation and preaching has changed significantly. My thoughts on teaching and planning lessons has grown. The classes on all of the different aspects of leading a church, as well as the studies in pastoral counseling, have all given me a much deeper toolbox for ministry at my church. For any of my peers wondering about whether or not they should go after further education in ministry, I would strongly encourage them to do so!

The Lost World of Adam and Eve

04 Jan
January 4, 2017

lost world of adam and eveJohn Walton followed up his book, The Lost World of Genesis One (my review is here), with The Lost World of Adam and Eve, an exploration of Genesis 2-3 and human origins. Walton is the professor of Old Testament at Wheaton College (he had a similar position at Moody Bible Institute previously) and a widely recognized expert on Genesis. I found his first book fascinating; this was one was certainly as well, but also quite provocative in its proposals.

He spends the first few chapters summarizing the thesis of his first book; articulating both the critical need for understanding the culture and ancient writings from the time period Genesis was written, as well as his theories reconciling science and faith in such a way that they can complement one another rather than be at odds. From there he builds a series of propositions regarding Genesis 2-3 and the origins of humanity. He builds off the idea that Adam and Eve are both literal individuals as well as archetypal, he makes the case that the description and creation of the Garden of Eden was language that describes sacred space, or a temple, and therefore Adam and Eve functioned in a priestly role for a possibly already existing humanity from which they were called. Ultimately, God’s creation was about order, an order that Adam and Eve disrupted by eating the fruit and essentially positioning themselves as gods (much like Satan looking at God’s throne and believing He could take it), with Christ’s eventual arrival about restoring order to creation.

While Walton clarifies he is not necessarily espousing this view (a safe statement for a professor at Wheaton), he does argue that there is room to believe what he proposes without compromising scripture or faith. For me, the most provocative proposals regarded Adam and Eve serving in priestly roles together (not one over the other), as well as the idea that humanity had already come into existence over time, from which Adam and Eve were called out of it (as Abraham was called out of humanity to father the Jewish race, and Jesus was called/sent to bring order). He writes, “just as God chose Israel from the rest of humankind for a special, strange, demanding vocation, so perhaps what Genesis is telling us is that God chose one pair from the rest of early hominids for a special, strange, demanding vocation” (p. 177).

Ultimately, part of Walton’s motivation in attempting to reconcile faith and scientific evidence is the reality that one of the more cited reasons for young people and adults leaving faith is feeling forced to chose between science and God. He closes his book with this thought: “Think, then, of our children and grandchildren. When they come home from college having accepted some scientific understanding about human origins that we do not find persuasive, are we going to denounce them, disinherit them and drive them from the doors of our homes and churches? Or are we going to suggest to them that there may be a way to interpret Scripture faithfully that will allow them to hold on to both science and faith? Can we believe that such a path does not represent a compromise that dilutes the faith but rather one that opens new doors to understanding that the next generation may find essential even though we find ourselves paralyzed on the threshold?  Let us pray together that we can chart a path of faithfulness and stop the hemorrhaging.” (p. 210)

Overall, Walton’s book is packed with insights, thoughts, ideas and concepts that I will be wrestling with for a while. His expertise on ancient near eastern culture and literature is fascinating. While some of his ideas are more controversial than others, he definitely challenges the reader to look at Genesis, creation, and Adam and Eve with new perspectives. The book is both intellectually challenging as well as approachable to the casual reader. Definitely something worth reading and exploring.

Unintentional Arrogance

02 Jan
January 2, 2017

unintentional arrogance

I was listening to Mark Matlock’s “Transforming Conversations: Using Research from Barna’s State of Youth Ministry Report” session from the National Youth Worker’s Convention the other day and wanted to respond to part of it. Essentially, Barna and Youth Specialties did a massive survey on youth ministry in America, producing a lot of valuable data for youth workers and churches to process and discuss; you can find the research here. In his session at the convention, Matlock highlighted some of the data, including the topic of what obstacles youth workers face in youth ministry.

To reveal my own bias, before hearing the results, my immediate response to the question of my greatest obstacle in youth ministry is my own busyness.

According to the survey, the top two obstacles reported by youth workers were (1) the busyness of youth (74% said this) and (2) 34% reported lack of parent interest (respondents could put more than one obstacle). It is significant that student busyness was far and away the highest reported obstacle.

Further complicating the conversation was the survey responses from parents regarding the busyness of their children: 11% felt their teens are way too busy, 58% feel the balance is good, and 31% believe their children need more to do.

At this point Matlock opened up the conversation to the youth workers in the room to comment on the disparity between 74% of youth workers believing students are too busy, and 89% of parents feeling kids are at the right balance or actually need more to do. There were a number of different thoughts; some felt parents needed to be educated on the busyness of their kids, perhaps parents are not in healthy balance so cannot see that their kids are not either, etc. One person suggested that youth ministries are running too many programs so kids are picking and choosing, as opposed to them actually being too busy. Matlock suggested that perhaps some youth workers blame busyness because it puts the fault of lack of involvement outside their control; it’s the fault of families and other circumstances, rather than the youth worker not giving them something they value enough to participate in.

For me, it was frustrating to hear some of the responses. Sometimes I feel like we as youth workers can be unintentionally arrogant, genuinely believing we know more about what’s best for someone else’s child(ren). Yes, there are things students talk to us about that they don’t tell their parents; while it may make me uncomfortable at times to know that my fifteen year old may go to someone else about something instead of me, I remember my own discomfort with bringing up some topics with my parents as a teenager and so I try to surround him with Christian adults I respect and trust to be positive influences and role models for him. In the same way, some of their teens come to me; but it would be incredibly arrogant of me to believe that my limited interactions with their child compared to their lifetime of daily involvement would leave me knowing more than them, only that I may have a different perspective with limited insights.

Kids make time for things they value and are excited about. Parents prioritize that involvement when they know the important enough details far enough in advance to plan for it. Rather than looking to things outside of our control to blame poor response on (busyness of teens, lack of parent interest), we should be constantly evaluating and changing our approaches and programming in response to the rapidly changing youth culture. Further, this type of blame only builds invisible walls of disconnect instead of bridges with parents. One of the values I have constantly told my team is that we should never have to guilt or manipulate kids into coming to something, and we definitely should not have to be spending excessive amounts of time trying to talk them into participating – if they’re not excited about it, than we’re doing something wrong, not them. Maybe our schedule is overcrowded, maybe we’ve picked the wrong hook, the wrong date (yeah, the time I inadvertently scheduled a retreat on homecoming weekend – that’s not them loving school more than Jesus, that’s me creating an unnecessary conflict of interest), or the wrong content.

 

Divorce (research paper)

19 Dec
December 19, 2016

This is my most recent research paper; I wrote it for my Corinthian Correspondence course. The assignment was to look at 1 Corinthians 7 and what it says about divorce; I instead tried to take a wider view, looking at the teachings of Moses, Jesus and Paul, with the goal of reconciling them to each other, and the culture of the day. I actually really found the historical context fascinating and want to do some more reading about it.

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DIVORCE

201640 Fall 2016 NBST 618-D01 LUO

The Corinthian Correspondence

by Matthew McNutt

December 16, 2016

 

Introduction

Divorce is an issue that has become both increasingly debated and normalized in American churches and the culture at large. As marriage rates decrease and divorce rates increase, the two statistics are almost equal.[1] As John Murray put it, “the question of divorce is one that perennially interests and agitates the church.”[2] The Apostle Paul answers questions from the Corinthians regarding marriage, singleness and divorce in 1 Corinthians 7. Gordon Fee points out that Paul’s approach in addressing these topics is different than anywhere else in the New Testament.[3] The challenge for the modern reader is reconciling what at first glance seem to be differences in the teachings on divorce from the different biblical authors, in particular the three main voices, Moses, Jesus and Paul. Moses not only allows it, but creates a legal system for it; Jesus forbids it except in the case of adultery; Paul recommends against divorce in the case of adultery, but allows it if a spouse is unsaved and desires divorce.

What is perhaps more important to this topic is what is left unsaid in scripture. These texts range in age from two thousand years ago to thirty-five hundred years ago, presenting a number of cultural and language challenges to surmount. Views and understandings of divorce left unwritten because they were assumed common knowledge at the time create challenges to understanding the intent of the authors today, creating a need to both understand the culture of the Jewish people as well as the influence of surrounding nations and cultural understandings of marriage and divorce relevant to the time period.[4] This paper will demonstrate that God’s view of the marriage covenant is that is binding and lifelong, with monogamy being His intent throughout scripture by primarily looking at the teachings of Moses, Jesus and Paul. However, while scripture presents a high standard for marriage, it also demonstrates and understanding of the reality of a sinful, fallen world, with a heart for protecting those who would be taken advantage of or injured through divorce. It is not an affirmation of divorce, rather, an uncomfortable tension between the holiness God desires and the ongoing reality of sinful flesh.

Moses

The first major instructions regarding the issue of divorce come from the Pentateuch, which tradition credits Moses as the author.[5] While there are a handful of mentions elsewhere in the Old Testament, it is Moses who describes both the beginnings of marriage in Genesis and the institution of divorce certificates as part of the law in Deuteronomy. There are many parallels between the marriage practices of the ancient Near East and the Jewish marriage practices.[6]

Ancient Practices

While covenant language was used in ancient marriage practices, it was interchangeable with the modern idea of contracts. Covenant language was used not just for marriages, but also for treaties, hiring labor, as well as other types of transactions.[7] Being a patriarchal society, marriage negotiations took place between the father of the bride and the husband-to-be’s household, with a contract decided on that included a bride-price to be paid to the bride’s parents.[8] The bride had no official voice in the negotiation process or the selection of a husband. One interesting aspect of the exchange was the dowry that came with the bride; it was delivered after the wedding was consummated and remained the property of the bride, to be passed down to only her children in the event of her death (in the case of polygamy), and if the husband were to divorce or break the relationship she was to be released with her dowry returned to her possession. The husband would only be allowed to keep the dowry if the bride was the one to violate the terms of the marriage covenant.[9]

Many of the stipulations went unwritten because they were universally understood. Culture dictated certain basic rights and responsibilities. While women were not considered property in the same way that land or livestock were, the comparison is still valid as the majority of the rights were possessed by men. The dowry was typically the only thing recorded in exact detail, in part because with marriage viewed as a contract, the loss of the dowry would have been the main penalty for breaking the contract.[10] In reality, short of committing adultery – which would result in a death sentence, there was no way for a woman to leave a man, while the man had significantly more freedom to put the woman out and divorce her.[11] Because divorces were not officially documented, however, a woman was not free to remarry because she technically stilled belonged to her former husband. This generally left abandoned women in a particularly vulnerable and untenable position.

Moses’ Instructions

The institution of marriage is first documented in Genesis 2:23-24, which following the naming of the animals in pairs, as well as Adam and Eve being created for one another, forms the foundation of monogamy being God’s intended plan for humans from creation.[12] Waltke writes that this first marriage, with Eve given to Adam by God, teaches that “every marriage is divinely ordained,” with the intent to correct the cultural teachings that stressed parental bonds over marital bonds.[13] While polygamy was common throughout the Old Testament, the growing view throughout the Old Testament writings suggests that monogamy was a value that was increasingly recognized as the ideal, with that teaching really coming to fruition in the years before Christ’s arrival.[14]

Research indicates that when it came to marriage, divorce, and remarriage, the Jews largely shared the same cultural views as the rest of the ancient Near East.[15] A reoccurring theme for Moses in Deuteronomy that sets Jews apart from the surrounding cultures is the protection of the dignity of a woman vulnerable to abuse in marriage.[16] One example is in Deuteronomy 21:10-14, which gives instructions regarding the capture of women in war and the process for making them wives. While barbaric in modern culture, what Moses mandates in this passage humanizes women by giving them a month to grieve the death of their former husbands in contrast to the ancient Near Eastern culture which typically allowed for a conquering army to not only claim the women of the men they killed, but to make them their wives that same day. In the same vein, Deuteronomy 24:1-4 dictates that a man divorcing his wife must give her a certificate of divorce, as well as clarifies that he is not allowed to remarry her at any point.

This creation of a divorce certificate is unique to Judaism; there is no evidence that any other culture required or created such a document in divorce.[17] This document served to protect the woman, not the man. When divorces took place, because there was no documentation, women were left in a vulnerable legal limbo; they were not married, but could not marry someone else as their first husband could technically still reclaim them, even after marrying someone else.[18] It left them financially, socially, and culturally ruined, with few prospects for the future. By mandating a divorce certificate, Moses was not affirming divorce as God’s plan, he was instead living out the ideals of Proverbs 31:8-9 by speaking for and defending those who could not do so for themselves. The certificate documented the formal severing of any claim on that woman her now former husband may have had, as well as required the return of her dowry to her, thereby giving her assets, as well as releasing her legally to remarry without fear of reprisals or demands on her or any future children.[19]

Jesus

There are four places in which Jesus taught on the topic of divorce in the gospels, largely in the response to questions based on the religious leaders of the days understanding of marriage, divorce, and the law of Moses. The passages are found in Matthew 5:31-32, 19:2-9; Mark 10:2-12; and Luke 16:18.

Jewish Practices

By the first century rabbinic leaders largely agreed on the laws regarding marriage and divorce; they taught that grounds for divorce were childlessness, material neglect, emotional neglect, and unfaithfulness.[20] While divorce was not considered ideal, they saw it as sometimes necessary, and only enacted by the husband – although legally a wife could petition the court to persuade the husband to divorce her.[21] Essentially, while a man had to enter a divorce voluntarily, a woman could be divorced against her will. The one area of disagreement was a more recent interpretation of Deuteronomy 24:1 by the Hillelites that suggested a divorce could take place for “any matter.”[22] This caused tremendous debate and had significant repercussions.

Jesus’ Teachings

While there are four passages where Jesus teaches on divorce, the bulk of his teaching happens in the parallel passages of Matthew 19:2-9 and Mark 10:2-12; the other passage in Matthew and the passage in Luke repeat in brief the same principles present in these two larger passages. Essentially, Jesus was teaching in public when the Pharisees came and tested him with the question of whether or not it is legal to divorce for any matter. While Mark simply records the question as to whether or not it is legal to divorce, the question as stated in Matthew 19:3, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?” is assumed to be the full question and is implied in the Mark reference as Jewish law made it clear divorce was already legal.[23]

A significant contrast between the two passages is that the Pharisees in Matthew are quoted as saying Moses commanded divorce, but then Jesus corrects them to say Moses permitted divorce, while the reverse is true of Mark. In Mark, Jesus references Moses’ command regarding divorce, while the Pharisees use the word “permitted.” Some interpret Jesus use of the word command in Mark as Christ’s way of not mandating divorce but as “an attempt to limit its worst consequences for women.”[24] A more likely reconciling of these differences centers on the order in which the two authors write their narratives and the resulting communication requirements with regards to the Mosaic law. With Mark writing Jesus’s response as the one bringing up Moses’ command; it would have been inappropriate for Jesus to refer to the Law as something Moses “allowed,” He would have naturally used the word “command” with reference to the passage in Deuteronomy.[25] Matthew’s version, however, has the Pharisees asking the question regarding Moses’ “command,” making Jesus’ reply regarding it being something permitted, not commanded, more allowable. In either passage, however, the teaching point comes through; in contrast to the general belief that divorce was required in the cases of adultery and even suspected adultery, the reality is that God simply permits it.[26]

Jesus highlights the reality that divorce was permitted not because God views it as necessary or part of His plan, but instead because of their hard-heartedness while at the same time condemning the idea that divorce could happen for “any matter.” It was a necessary reaction to protect women from further abuse. He then goes on to point out in the Mark passage by referencing directly the Genesis 2 passage, and in Matthew by indirectly Genesis with the words, “from the beginning,” that God’s intent for marriage is to be a holy and unbreakable covenant, while Moses’ law is a concession.[27] In Matthew only this permission hinges only on sexual infidelity, which leads many scholars to believe it was added to Matthew’s gospel as opposed to left out of Mark and Luke.[28]

Where Christ is truly shocking to his audience is the way in which He deepens the understanding of God’s view of the marriage covenant with His startling admonition in all four passages that remarriage is adultery. Bruner writes, “So sacred is the marriage bond that even when it is externally broken it lives on with a kind of inward taboo power, contaminating anyone who dares break what God’s own hands joined together.”[29] The message driven home powerfully by Christ then is this; divorce may be a concession allowed because of sin, but God’s plan is something far more beautiful, a covenant not bound by time, that ultimately is revealed later in scripture to be a picture of Christ’s love and eternal commitment for and to His church (Ephesians 5:31-32).

Paul

Paul’s writings produce some interesting insights into the topic of divorce. In Romans 7:2-3 he essentially repeats Christ’s teaching that remarriage while the former spouse is still alive is adultery as an example in the context of explaining the law to his readers. In 1 Corinthians 7, Paul goes into far more detail on the topics of marriage, singleness and divorce. Additionally, Paul’s insights would have been read differently than Jesus’ teachings for a couple reasons; the first is that he is writing to a specific church answering their specific questions. Secondly, he is writing to a mix of gentile and Jewish believers, as opposed to Christ who was speaking to an essentially Jewish audience. This is significant because while there were similarities in understandings of divorce, there would still be some differences in culture and understanding between the two scenarios.

Greco-Roman Practices

In Greco-Roman culture, and Roman law, there was a different level of freedom for women than in Jewish culture. Couples were involved in the decision to marry each other and had reciprocal rights in the marriage process.[30] Although, with the minimum age for women to marry at twelve years of age, while the men were typically much older when they married, one wonders how much say the woman had initially in the marriage as opposed to later on.[31] When it came to divorce, both men and women could divorce their partner without the need to name grounds for divorce or any warning.[32] Neither the man or the woman could prevent a divorce if their spouse decided to leave, and there was no need to document the divorce as it could be done verbally. Divorce was so common and expected that Greco-Roman marriage certificates were worded as though divorce was the expectation, not death, to end the marriage.[33]

Paul’s Teachings

It is important to keep in mind that Paul is writing in 1 Corinthians 7 in response to specific questions to an audience of people made up of those with a Jewish understanding of marriage and divorce and those with a Greco-Roman view. Throughout the chapter he addresses different groups; married, widowed, singles, divorced, those married to believers, those married to unbelievers, etc. He tackles divorce specifically in verses 10-16, but even in those passages he addresses at least two groups; those who are married to believers and those who are married to unbelievers, with his instructions changing depending on the intended audience.

The first group he speaks to regarding marriage is the believing married couple in verses 10-11. He changes his tone from his previous tone of giving advice to taking charge; he emphasizes his instruction with the word “command” that they are not to separate.[34] There are a three things that stand out in these verses:

The first is that Paul leaves off the exception of sexual infidelity that he mentions with this command elsewhere, which suggests that he is referring to a specific type of divorce being discussed at the Corinthian church that does not meet Christ’s qualifications for divorce and mentioning the exception of sexual infidelity would not be applicable to the situation.[35]

The second thing to notice is that he begins the command by singling out the wife first, and then the husband; typically, the man would have been addressed first, which again suggests that he is dealing with an individual, or a specific group of people, most likely women, with this answer.[36]

Finally, he singles out the woman as needing to be reconciled to her husband, but does not use the same word with regards to the husband. This word, “to reconcile” is used by Paul typically to describe a “reconciliation effected by the gospel.”[37] Again, the woman is singled out, with an emphasis on both reuniting with her husband as well as a call to the gospel, which hints that he is targeting a woman, or a group of women, with theological issues with these statements.

Some have theorized that verses ten through eleven are in reference specifically to a group of “eschatological women.” This was a group of women who reoccur throughout 1 Corinthians who were living as if they had totally entered the new age and believed they had already realized the “resurrection from the dead.” As a result, they believed they lived as the angels, which if this is the intended audience, would make sense in that they would have rejected sexual relations with their husbands (perhaps why the topic of spouses denying their husband or wife sex is addressed earlier in the chapter) and were perhaps even arguing for divorce.[38] With Paul’s opening statement in verse one that he is writing in response to matters they contacted him about, it makes sense that the “eschatological women” are the focus point of these verses; it would also explain why Paul ignores Christ’s exceptions for divorce and instead commands them. He has assessed their situation and recognizes that there are no valid biblical grounds for divorce, so he commands them to remain married and to be reconciled both to their husbands and to their God. Therefore, there is no contradiction between his commands here and Christ’s instructions in the gospels or the law of Moses.

Verses twelve through sixteen see a shift in audience from married couples who share faith but are dealing with the topic of divorce, to married couples where only one of the spouses is a believer. Mixing religions in a marriage is challenging in modern culture; in the first century it was far more complicated. Culture demanded that the wife followed the lead of the husband, and even the Old Testament (Ezra 10:3, 19) gave precedent for divorcing a pagan.[39] It is not surprising to consider given either of these realities, as well as the cultural prevalence of divorce, that some of the believers may have been considering leaving their unbelieving spouse. Given first century culture, it must have been surprising that Paul’s advice to the men and women was the same; to not leave their unbelieving spouse. As believers, they were to honor the covenant and take it seriously in a way that only believers could truly understand. Paul goes on to challenge them with the thought that their unbelieving spouse may become a believer because of their influence. Thom Rainer did extensive research on how the church reaches the unchurched in America; one of his startling findings was that relationships are the most effective way in reaching the lost, with marriage relationships being at the top – specifically, wives reaching their husbands are the most influential group in reaching the unchurched.[40] Modern research affirms what Paul wrote so long ago.

Conversely, Paul advises the believing spouses in this passage to let their unsaved spouses divorce them if they decide to do so. Essentially, Paul is saying that the church has no authority over someone who has not given their life to Christ, therefore there is nothing they can do to restrain them from this decision. There is great debate over whether or not this passage releases the believing spouse for remarriage with another believer, but that is not the focal point of Paul’s message here, which is that believers, when it is in their power to do so, should remain married.[41] His concern is not whether or not they remarry, but instead with both preserving their marriage covenant as well as reaching their lost spouse for God.

Conclusion

What becomes increasingly apparent, even in this brief survey of these passages and the culture of the day, is that scripture is both consistent in its teachings in marriage, as well as progressively challenging the followers to God to greater and greater Christ-likeness. The biblical standard is unbroken monogamy, ultimately to paint a picture of the relationship between Christ and His church. The law of Moses was a concession; not to give the people the divorces they wanted, but to protect the women who were already being taken advantage of. The ideal was still sacrificial, unbroken monogamy. The reality was that some abused their position of power and God created a way for the abused to be protected.

Jesus took the understanding to a far deeper level, revealing the true heart of God in marriage. Like Moses, His exceptions that permitted divorce were not the plan, they were a concession if remaining in marriage was not possible. Again, it flew in the face of a culture that discarded undesired spouses and affirmed God’s perfect plan. While Paul’s instructions at first seem different than Christ’s, a deeper study of the context of the passage reveals that Paul was not changing the standard, rather he was simply voicing the aspects of God’s standard that applied to the situation at hand, as well as emphasizing that God’s people are to be held to God’s standard, while the first priority for the lost is to be reached for God.

The incredible depth of scripture in the area of marriage is something to be deeply studied and not treated lightly. Scripture presents an uncomfortable tension between the high view of marriage that God intends and the reality of the ongoing fallenness of sinful flesh, demanding both high expectations as well as grace and mercy for those who call Christ Lord. Preserving the marriage covenant is the calling, divorce is a concession for protection.

Bibliography

Block, Daniel I. Deuteronomy (The NIV Application Commentary). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2012.

Bruner, Frederick Dale. Matthew: A Commentary. Volume 1: The Christbook, Matthew 1-12. Revised ed. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2007.

Bruner, Frederick Dale. Matthew: A Commentary. Volume 2: The Churchbook, Matthew 13-28. Rev ed. Grand Rapids Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2007.

Campbell, Ken M., ed. Marriage and Family in the Biblical World. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2003.

Ciampa, Roy E., and Brian S. Rosner. The First Letter to the Corinthians. Nottingham, England: Eerdmans, 2010.

Edwards, James R. The Gospel According to Mark. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2002.

Fee, Gordon D. The First Epistle to the Corinthians, Revised Edition (The New International Commentary On the New Testament). Revised ed. Downers Grove, IL: Eerdmans, 2014.

House, H. Wayne, ed. Divorce and Remarriage: Four Christian Views. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 1990.

Instone-Brewer, David. Divorce and Remarriage in the Bible: The Social and Literary Context. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2002.

Murray, John. Divorce. Philadelphia: P & R Publishing, 1961.

Rainer, Thom S. Surprising Insights from the Unchurched and Proven Ways to Reach Them. Nashville, TN: Zondervan, 2008.

Ross, Allen P. Creation and Blessing: A Guide to the Study and Exposition of Genesis. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 1988.

Taylor, Mark. 1 Corinthians: An Exegetical and Theological Exposition of Holy Scripture (The New American Commentary). Nashville, TN: Holman Reference, 2014.

Waltke, Bruce K. Genesis: A Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2001.

Walton, John. Genesis. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2001.

[1] H. Wayne House, ed., Divorce and Remarriage: Four Christian Views (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 1990), 9.

[2] John Murray, Divorce (Philadelphia: P & R Publishing, 1961), 1.

[3]  Gordon D. Fee, The First Epistle to the Corinthians, Revised Edition (The New International Commentary On the New Testament), Revised ed. (Downers Grove, IL: Eerdmans, 2014), 270.

[4] David Instone-Brewer, Divorce and Remarriage in the Bible: The Social and Literary Context (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2002), Kindle location 1508.

[5] John Walton, Genesis (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2001), 41.

[6] Instone-Brewer, Divorce and Remarriage in the Bible, Kindle location 47.

[7] Ibid, Kindle location 58.

[8] Ken M. Campbell, ed., Marriage and Family in the Biblical World (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2003), 10.

[9] Ibid, 11.

[10] Instone-Brewer, Divorce and Remarriage in the Bible, Kindle location 225.

[11] Ibid, Kindle location 111.

[12] Allen P. Ross, Creation and Blessing: A Guide to the Study and Exposition of Genesis (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 1988), 126-127.

[13] Bruce K. Waltke, Genesis: A Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2001), 90.

[14] Instone-Brewer, Divorce and Remarriage in the Bible, Kindle location 256.

[15] Ibid, Kindle location 238.

[16] Daniel I. Block, Deuteronomy (The NIV Application Commentary) (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2012), 557.

[17] Instone-Brewer, Divorce and Remarriage in the Bible, Kindle location 333.

[18] Ibid.

[19] Ibid.

[20] Ibid, Kindle location 948.

[21] Ibid.

[22] Ibid, Kindle location 1189.

[23] James R. Edwards, The Gospel According to Mark (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2002), 300.

[24] Ibid, 302.

[25] Instone-Brewer, Divorce and Remarriage in the Bible, Kindle location 1538.

[26] Ibid, Kindle location 1550.

[27] Frederick Dale Bruner, Matthew: A Commentary. Volume 2: The Churchbook, Matthew 13-28, Rev ed. (Grand Rapids Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2007), 260.

[28] Ibid, 263.

[29] Frederick Dale Bruner, Matthew: A Commentary. Volume 1: The Christbook, Matthew 1-12, Revised ed. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2007), 230.

[30] Campbell, Marriage and Family in the Biblical World, 148.

[31] Ibid, 149.

[32] Instone-Brewer, Divorce and Remarriage in the Bible, Kindle location 2140.

[33] Ibid.

[34] Mark Taylor, 1 Corinthians: An Exegetical and Theological Exposition of Holy Scripture (The New American Commentary) (Nashville, TN: Holman Reference, 2014), 171.

[35] Fee, The First Epistle to the Corinthians, 291.

[36] Ibid.

[37] Taylor, 1 Corinthians, 171.

[38] Fee, The First Epistle to the Corinthians, 290.

[39] Roy E. Ciampa and Brian S. Rosner, The First Letter to the Corinthians (Nottingham, England: Eerdmans, 2010), 294.

[40] Thom S. Rainer, Surprising Insights from the Unchurched and Proven Ways to Reach Them (Nashville, TN: Zondervan, 2008), Kindle location 1106.

[41] Taylor, 1 Corinthians, 175.

We are too silent on race

23 Sep
September 23, 2016

silence

“Seattle Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett told The Seattle Times on Thursday he believes at least one white player needs to join in the pregame displays for the protests to reach the next level in public discourse.” (read full article here) It had not even registered with me until I read this article that white players were not playing a more active role. I think Bennett is right.

I tend to not post on politically charged topics on social media or my blog. My rationale has long been that it’s too easy to misunderstand or blow things out of proportion in a purely digital communication forum – I prefer the face to face conversations. But it also protects me from risking my social capital in circles of relationships that have wildly different views. The other day I stumbled across a statistic, though, that has really shaken me; 67% of white people will not post about race. Two thirds of the majority ethnic group in our country avoids the conversation. And we have a list of justifications, but racism still happens. And what is so convicting to me is the lack of empathy so many of us white Christians have to the fear and struggles of not just our fellow Americans, but our fellow worshippers.

When I was fifteen my family moved to South America. The third day we were there, I was on a bus where a woman tried to pickpocket someone. The bus drove to the police station and we all sat there and watched while four or five police officers spent the next five to ten minutes beating her with their clubs while her children screamed for someone to help. I was stunned. I spent the next three years living in fear of the police; I knew as a perceived wealthy American, I was a target for bribery. Many of my friends had stories of being physically, sexually, or verbally intimidated by the police. It wasn’t sporadic, it was routine. And then I returned to the US and forgot my fear.

Two months ago I was pulled over for a traffic violation. My kids thought it was hilarious. My youngest two sons filmed the whole thing while giggling – which I made them delete when I found out! Whatever the time of day, wherever the location, it does not even occur to us to be nervous. My only fear was how big the ticket was going to be.

Am I labeling police officers as dangerous or wrong? No. It frustrates me that I have to clarify that. There are incredibly brave men and women who do incredibly brave and uncredited work to provide that feeling of security to so many of us.

But there is another reality that is easy to pretend does not exist if it doesn’t affect us directly; too many of my friends of color live constantly with the fear that I experienced for just a few years of my life. Mothers in our church that are afraid of what could happen to their sons or daughters because of the color of their skin – from other people, from teachers, from neighbors, from authority figures. And with the advent of social media, we are seeing these tragedies on greater and greater scales.

And there is no empathy from the majority. There is a long stream of arguments and defenses on why they are not valid in their fear, their anger, their hurt. Our friends wonder if it was their son, their daughter, their spouse, their parent, would we be so cavalier about it? All the evidence points to yes. If we do not push back, we just become part of the 67% who stay silent. Silence is dangerous.

“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves; ensure justice for those being crushed. Yes, speak up for the poor and helpless, and see that they get justice.” Proverbs 31:8-9

When we lack empathy, when we are not known for love and compassion for those who suffer, for those who are afraid, for those who cannot change things for the better on their own, we become the religious elite of the New Testament who opposed Christ. They were so caught up in their own rationalizations and interpretations of scripture that they closed their minds off to the opportunity of Christ working in and through them.

2016 Student Missions Slideshow

28 Jun
June 28, 2016

I’m sure I’ll post more thoughts soon … but I’m still slightly fried from the mission trips and all the buildup to them! The above is a slideshow I threw together late Saturday night (technically, early Sunday morning) giving a little bit of a taste of our three student ministry mission trips to Maine, North Carolina, and Nicaragua, which we shared during our reports Sunday. We got to take over both services Sunday morning and the congregation heard from all of the teens and leaders over the course of the two hours! It was a blast!

Song of Songs series

13 Jun
June 13, 2016

We completed a five week series on the Song of Songs (or Song of Solomon, depending on your Bible) the other week which ended up being a lot more fascinating to me than I originally expected. It’s an interesting book, with a lot more complexity to it than it may seem at first glance. One of the reoccurring themes in our series centered around the three Hebrew words that are translated ‘love’ in our English translations; they refer to friendship, commitment, and the physical. I had a few different sources to lean on, but Tremper Longman’s commentary is my favorite.

If you’re curious, you can find the audio from the five weeks on either our podcast page or the iTunes podcast section. And yes, we were reading graphic passages from Song of Songs, so there is some giggling in the audio …

Theology of Missions

09 May
May 9, 2016

missions

The following is a Theology of Missions paper I wrote recently for a missions class I am taking. It was an interesting challenge; on the one hand, missions is close to my heart and something I enjoy writing about. At the same time, I had to follow some structure guidelines so while it definitely reflects my opinions, with more freedom, and no word count limits (technically, I went over as it is …), it may have turned out slightly different (not in theology, but in format) than what you see here.

THEOLOGY OF MISSIONS

Introduction

A theology of missions is a critical need for any ministry leader, and ultimately, every believer. Every believer is called to live out the Great Commission, a reality too often missed. While missions is often thought of something done by a few in a foreign land, every believer is actually called to be a missionary – some in foreign lands, some in their neighborhoods, communities, schools and workplaces.

Missions in Scripture

The message of scripture, from Genesis to Revelation, is that of hope and salvation. The gospel message weaves in and out of both the Old and New Testaments, creating one unified narrative through many authors over the centuries that details God’s heart for His lost children, the call to missions. Decades ago, New Tribes Mission learned this lesson first hand. Initially in their mission to reach primitive people groups that had not been contacted before, their goal was simple. To immerse themselves in the tribe, learn the language and culture, and then share the message of Christ. However, they were caught off guard by either the lack of response to the New Testament teachings, or the very lukewarm, loose commitment that did occasionally happen.

They went back to the drawing board and developed a one year curriculum, called Firm Foundations, that takes the students from creation to Christ.[1] Over the course of the year, the narrative is built up from Genesis to the New Testament, laying out the foundations for why a Savior is needed. The change in response was dramatic; listeners finally understood why Christ was necessary! Over the decades this material has been used in people group after people group, including the Manjui tribe of Paraguay that the author of this paper lived with as a teen.

It is no wonder then that the message of missions saturates both the Old and New Testaments. Genesis 3:15 plants the seeds of this theme with the promise of offspring that will wound the serpent, a prophecy pointing to Christ’s arrival and provision of salvation. This was a direct result of the separation between man and God that was caused by Adam and Eve’s sin, sin that could only be healed through Christ’s death and resurrection.

Another clear moment of mission in the Old Testament is found in Genesis 12:1-3, when Abraham is set apart and given his calling. While he was specifically called to be the beginnings of a great nation, it was a setting apart that symbolized Christ one day setting apart His church. Through Abraham’s actions, God promised in verse three that “all peoples on earth will be blessed.” All peoples! Abraham was being commissioned for mission, a mission to reach and bless the world with Christ. Hebrews 11 affirms that it was Abraham’s faith that saved and guided him, not his actions. The same faith that is tied so vitally to the mission of reaching a lost world.

The gospels build on what the Old Testament began, revealing the God’s plan for salvation, and ultimately building up to the Great Commission – the command to spread the word to all the world about Christ and the salvation found in Him, the fulfillment of the promise made to Adam and Eve thousands of years before. From there, the rest of the New Testament gives the believer practical advice on how to live out that calling to worship God and reach the lost.

Christ consistently pointed His followers to the need and our role in being a part of the plan to meet that need. In Matthew 9:38, He told His disciples that “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into His harvest field.” Borthwick points out that there is an undercurrent in scripture that mission is an ongoing task, pointing out that “the command we translate as ‘go’ in Matthew 28:18-20 and Mark 16:15 is actually a participle: ‘as you are going.’”[2]

Mark 6 and Luke 10 both record instances where Jesus sent out the disciples in pairs of two to preach repentance wherever they could be heard. Before they fully understood the reality of who Christ was, before His death and resurrection, Jesus was already sending them out into the world to pave the way for the promise made to Abraham to be fulfilled at long last. Throughout the gospels, the disciples time and again had the misperception that Jesus was a political messiah for the Jews, while Christ demonstrated over and over His love for all people, regardless of nationality, gender or age, and His desire to see people connected to God.

Nature of God and Missions

The nature of God is far greater than this paper can adequately describe. Man has created words in an attempt to describe His nature; holy, omnipotent, omnipresent, sovereign, immutable, love – the list goes far longer. One of the critical aspects of God’s nature is His worthiness of worship. Passages like Isaiah 43:7, Romans 11:36 and Revelation 4:11 all speak of how mankind was created to bring glory to God, to worship Him. At His core, God’s nature demands worship. Meanwhile, mankind’s core purpose is to worship God. Piper said it well when he wrote “Missions exists because worship doesn’t. Worship is ultimate, not missions, because God is ultimate, not man.”[3] Driving that point home, he also observed that “The goal of missions is the gladness of the peoples in the greatness of God.”[4]

Humans were designed to have a relationship with God, given the incredible purpose of bringing glory to Him. This is why Christ’s primary concern was seeing people made right and connected with God. The secondary purpose, why Christ’s closing words before ascending to heaven were the Great Commission, having become right with God, is to in turn help others to be made right and connect with God so that in time all creation will be restored to its purpose of bringing glory to God.

Missions and Theology

“There is no more important question in encountering mission theology than this: How is a solid, biblically based foundation for mission theology constructed?”[5] A theology of missions does not stand in isolation; it is constructed in light of a healthy structure of theology. Theologies of God, humanity, creation, and so on, need to be developed and linked together. Just as God cannot be contained in a few descriptive words, theology needs to be linked to be understood.

Theology of Trinity

The Trinity, while not directly referenced in scripture, is a vital theology, both on its own as well as with regards to missions. “The doctrine of the Trinity is crucial for Christianity. It is concerned with who God is, what He is like, how He works, and how He is to be approached. Moreover, the question of the deity of Jesus Christ, which has historically been a point of great tension, is very much wrapped up with our understanding of the Trinity.”[6]

In understanding the Trinity, believers know both who to worship (God the Father, Son and the Spirit), how God functions, and how He is to be approached. Of particular note in regards to missions is the deity of Christ. Philippians 2:5-11 and Hebrews 1 are two critical passages that affirm the deity of Christ. He was not simply a man. Consequently, His death and resurrection have power for all mankind. His command to mission in the form of the Great Commission, has authority and is relevant to all believers. His approach to mission is an example to both follow and learn from.

Theology of Inerrancy

The authority of scripture to speak into people’s lives is in part based on the theology of inerrancy. This directly impacts the theology of mission as that is shaped by the words of scripture. Why is inerrancy important? The dependability and reliability of scripture is critical both to the integrity of faith, but also to the development of faith practices and theology. The truth of scripture impacts each of the following:

  • Truth of scripture frees from Satan; John 8:32, 2 Timothy 2:24-26.
  • Truth of scripture mediates grace and peace; 2 Peter 1:2.
  • Truth of scripture sanctifies; John 17:17, 2 Peter 1:3-12, 2 Timothy 3:16-17.
  • Truth of scripture serves love; Philippians 1:9.
  • Truth of scripture protects from error; Ephesians 4:11-15, 2 Peter 3:17-18.
  • Truth of scripture saves; 1 Timothy 4:16, Acts 20:26-27, 2 Thessalonians 2:10.
  • Truth of scripture is the ideal of heaven; 1 Corinthians 13:12.
  • Truth of scripture is approved by God; 2 Timothy 2:15.

If the believers call to mission and support of mission, both locally and globally, is based on scripture, theology of inerrancy is a key part of that call.

Two Themes of Mission Theology

There are a number of themes that are tied to a healthy theology of mission; the Kingdom of God, Jesus Christ, contextualization, liberation, justice, mission Dei, and others.[7] Particularly relevant to this paper are the themes of worship and the Great Commission. These two themes drive both the purpose and the scope of missions.

Worship

Piper wrote, “Missions is not first and ultimate; God is. This truth is the lifeblood of missionary inspiration and endurance.”[8] Worship defines the theme behind why missions exists. When confronted with even glimpses of God’s glory, the only natural response is worship. Over and over throughout scripture, both the lost and saved, the demons and angels, always respond the same; they drop to the ground in worship and awe. So many behaviors and disciplines have to be learned, compelled, or practiced. In describing His people, God said in Isaiah 43:7, “I created for my glory … I formed and made.” The drive to worship God should motivate all that we do; “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31).

Our natural response to God is to worship Him, and that ultimately, when we are faced with His glory in eternity, there will be no other response possible. As Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians, worship, or giving glory to God, is tied to all that we do – even activities as mundane as eating and drinking. How we work in our jobs, how we interact with others, how we serve in our neighborhoods and in our churches, all should bring glory to God. Even Piper’s comment describing the motive behind missions bears relevance; the Great Commission, the calling to reach a lost world is ultimately based on the reality that not all creation worships God.

The Great Commission

The Great Commission, Jesus final words to His followers before ascending into heaven, define the task itself and the method; “Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:18-20).

Luke records these final words slightly different in Acts 1:8, conveying the same theme but with some additional insight to the method; “[Jesus said] you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” From these two passages, we get the Great Commission, the command to reach the world. This is done through making disciples; in other words, creating students of Christ who in turn create students of Christ. The scope? It begins locally, spreads nationally, and ultimately reaches the world.

Practical Mission Theology

Theology of mission is primarily lived out in three contexts; the missionary serving away from home, church leadership in their support and example of mission, and the lay believer not in full time ministry.

Missionaries

For many, the traditional missionary defines what missions is. The individual or couple who moves to a different location with the intent of being a witness for Christ to those there. Often times this is accomplished through learning language and culture, building relationships and understanding of the region they are in, and finally as opportunity arises, presenting the message of Christ, planting a church, and eventually moving on once the newly planted body of believers is self-sustaining.

The danger of not having a theology of mission while serving as a missionary is in losing sight of the purpose of missions. A healthy theology guides and directs the missionary, giving them both a plan for action as well as the purpose behind it. It becomes the source of encouragement and endurance as they struggle through the challenges of immersing themselves in a culture not their own, the time and effort it takes to learn languages and preach Christ, and so on.

Church Leadership

One of the roles for leadership in the church is that of equipper. Ephesians 4:12 charges pastors and leaders to equip the congregation for acts of service. This is important when it comes to missions; leadership must have both a theology and plan for missions, as they are in the unique role of facilitating every level of the Great Commissions – locally, nationally and globally.

Leadership should provide opportunities for growth, education, understanding and for living out the call to mission in the local environment and community. While not all are called to full time ministry elsewhere, every church should be raising up and sending some. In addition, they should be challenging the congregation in their giving to support missions at every level of the Great Commission financially. Paul frequently touches on this point; 1 Corinthians 16:1-4, 2 Corinthians 8-9, Philippians 4:10-20, and 1 Timothy 6:17-19.

Lay Believers

Finally, lay believers active in the local church live out a healthy theology of mission when they understand that each individual is called to be a missionary in the Great Commission – not just the ones who go to other countries and immerse themselves in other cultures. Believers are “aliens and strangers” (1 Peter 2:11) called to reach their Jerusalem for Christ. So often, the church prays for God to move in their communities but fail to recognize that He has already placed His missionaries in every community, school, and workplace. Believers truly worship and serve God when they recognize their vital role in both supporting missionaries abroad through prayer and finances, and serving as missionaries to their community.

Bibliography

Borthwick, Paul. Western Christians in Global Mission: What’s the Role of the North American Church? Downers Grove, IL: IVP Books, 2012.

Erickson, Millard J. Christian Theology. 3 ed. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2013.

Moreau, A. Scott, Gary R. Corwin, and Gary B. McGee. Introducing World Missions: A Biblical, Historical, and Practical Survey (Encountering Mission). 2 ed. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2015.

Piper, John. Let the Nations Be Glad! The Supremacy of God in Missions. 3rd ed. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2010.

[1] https://answersingenesis.org/gospel/evangelism/firm-foundations-lasting-faith/

[2] Paul Borthwick, Western Christians in Global Mission: What’s the Role of the North American Church?, (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Books, 2012), 112.

[3] John Piper, Let the Nations Be Glad! The Supremacy of God in Missions, 3rd ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2010), Kindle location 547.

[4] Ibid.

[5] A. Scott Moreau, Gary R. Corwin, and Gary B. McGee, Introducing World Missions: A Biblical, Historical, and Practical Survey (Encountering Mission), 2 ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2015), Kindle location 1809.

[6] Millard J. Erickson, Christian Theology, 3 ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2013), 292.

[7] Moreau, Corwin, McGee, Introducing World Missions, Kindle location 1887.

[8] Piper, Let the Nations Be Glad!, Kindle location 594.