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AFRICANUS JOURNAL
Vol. 6 No. 1 | April 2014
africanus journal
vol. 6, no. 1 April 2014
Contents
3
Goals of the Journal
3
Life of Africanus
3
Other Front Matter
5
Caring for a Groaning Creation
Woodrow E. Walton
13 The Contribution of African Leaders to the Early Development of the
East African Revival
Daewon Moon
23 Religion and Church in China: Trends and Dynamics
Kevin Xiyi Yao
29 What All Can Learn from the Jamaican Christians’ Dialogue with the
Rastafarians: Focusing on Jesus as the Only Way While Maintaining
Irenic Communication with Others’ Faith Stances
William David Spencer
36 Review of Christianity and Genocide in Rwanda by Timothy
Longman
Daewon Moon
39 Review of C. S. Lewis and the Middle Ages by Robert Boenig
William David Spencer
43 Review of C. S. Lewis: An Annotated Bibliography and Resource by
Paul H. Brazier
Timothy Paul Erdel
44 Review of From Pentecost to the Triune God: A Pentecost Trinitarian
Theology by Steven M. Studebaker
Woodrow E. Walton
46 Review of Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament: Acts by
Eckhard J. Schnabel
Jennifer Creamer
1
48 Review of Handbook of Women Biblical Interpreters edited by
Marion Ann Taylor and Agnes Choi
Joan G. Brown
51 Review of How I Changed My Mind About Women in Leadership by
Alan F. Johnson
Peggy Berns Mindrebo
53 Review of Huldah: The Prophet Who Wrote Hebrew Scripture by
Preston Kavanagh
Beulah Wood
55 Review of Jesus and Justice: Evangelicals, Race, and American Politics
by Peter Goodwin Heltzel
Matthew R. Mascioli
2
Goals of the Africanus Journal
The Africanus Journal is an academic, multilingual journal. Its goals are to promote:
a.
the mission and work of the members and mentors of the Africanus Guild Ph.D. Research Program of Gordon-Conwell
Theological Seminary, based on the Boston campus (the Center for Urban Ministerial Education [CUME]).
b.
the principles of the Africanus Guild (evangelical orthodox Christian men and women who are multicultural,
multiracial, urban-oriented, studying a Bible without error in a cooperative way).
Scholarly papers may be submitted normally by those who are in a Th.M., D.Min., Ph.D. program or have a Th.M., D.Min.,
Ph.D., Ed.D., or equivalent degree.
Current publications authored by professors and students of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, Boston Campus
(Center for Urban Ministerial Education) are featured interspersed throughout the journal.
http://www.gordonconwell.edu/boston/africanusjournal
© 2014 by the Africanus Guild
Life of Julius Africanus
Julius Africanus was probably born in Jerusalem, many scholars think around a.d. 200. Africanus was considered
by the ancients as a man of consummate learning and sharpest judgment (Ante-Nicene Fathers 6:128). He was a pupil
of Heracles, distinguished for philosophy and other Greek learning, in Alexandria, Egypt around a.d. 231–233. In a.d.
220/226, he performed some duty in behalf of Nicopolis (formerly Emmaus) in Palestine. Later he likely became bishop
of Emmaus (Eusebius, History, VI.xxxi.2). Origen calls him “a beloved brother in God the Father, through Jesus Christ,
His holy Child” (Letter from Origen to Africanus 1). Fellow historian Eusebius distinguishes him as “no ordinary historian”
(History, I. vi.2). Eusebius describes the five books of Chronologies as a “monument of labor and accuracy” and cites
extensively from his harmony of the evangelists’ genealogies (History, VI. xxxi. 1–3). Africanus was a careful historian who
sought to defend the truth of the Bible. He is an ancient example of meticulous, detailed scholarship which is historical,
biblical, truthful, and devout.
Even though Eusebius describes Africanus as the author of the Kestoi, Jerome makes no mention of this (ANF 6:124).
The author of Kestoi is surnamed Sextus, probably a Libyan philosopher who arranged a library in the Pantheon at Rome
for the Emperor. The Kestoi was probably written toward the end of the 200s. It was not written by a Christian since it
contains magical incantations (Oxyrhynchus Papyri III.412).
The Greek text of Africanus’ writings may be found in Martinus Josephus Routh, Reliquiae sacrae II (New York: Georg
Olms Verlag, 1974 [1846]), 225–309, and Martin Wallraff, Umberto Roberto, Karl Pinggéra, eds., William Adler, trans.,
Iulius Africanus Chronographiae: The Extant Fragments, Die Griechischen Christlichen Schrifsteller 15 (New York: Walter de
Gruyter, 2007).
The extant writings of Julius Africanus may be found in vol. 1, no 1, April 2009 edition of the Africanus Journal.
Other Front Matter
Editorial team
Jennifer Creamer, Mark G. Harden, Alvin Padilla, Seong Hyun Park, Nicole Rim, John Runyon, Patrick Smith, Aída
Besançon Spencer, William David Spencer
Resources
Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary faculty publications only and hard copies of this journal may be ordered by
emailing [email protected], [email protected], or by telephone at 617-427-7293.
Please note that each author is solely legally responsible for the content and the accuracy of facts, citations, references,
and quotations rendered and properly attributed in the article appearing under his or her name. Neither GordonConwell Theological Seminary, the Africanus Guild, nor the editorial team is responsible or legally liable for any content
or any statements made by any author, but the legal responsibility is solely that author’s once an article appears in print
in the Africanus Journal.
Summary of Content
This issue explores some important contemporary issues from a Christian perspective: the environment, the place of
nationals in the development of Christian faith in Africa and China, and how to communicate in an irenic way belief in
Jesus as the only way to God. Reviews of several books follow.
3
Africanus
Guild
the africanus guild
L to R: William David Spencer, Joo Yun Kim, Dae Sung Kim, Mark Harden, Quonekuia Day, Jennifer Creamer, Aida Besancon Spencer
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–Jennifer Creamer
Jennifer is currently studying for a doctorate in New Testament at North-West University and is a member
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4
Caring for a Groaning Creation1
Woodrow E. Walton
This article gains its title from Romans 8:18-23, where St. Paul acknowledges that the whole
“creation groans and suffers.” What I propose is a biblical and theological rationale for Christian
involvement in caring for a polluted environment, which is, indeed, groaning for recovery. St.
Paul states that all creation is anxiously longing for the redeemed children of God (Rom 8:19) as
participants in that recovery. Our natural creation is intimately intertwined with humankind and
its social relationships. We do not exist apart from the created order as we are part of the whole
creation. A redeemed environment is only possible with a redeemed humanity. Earth, sky, and sea
do not pollute themselves.
The late John R. W. Stott recognized that God’s plan of restoration included “not only our
reconciliation to God and to each other, but in some way the liberation of the groaning creation as
well.”2
There is also theological precedent from expressed biblical revelation and patristic, medieval,
and modern Christian history. The most interesting theological reflection from the early modern
period was that of Gerard Mercator, the famous cartographer of the 16th century, who “sought to
demonstrate “the marvelous harmony of all things toward God’s sole purpose.”3 It was his final
intellectual achievement. Caring for the groaning creation is part of the Christian mission to restore
that harmony. It was first envisioned in Scripture in passages as Isaiah 65:17 and then foreseen
in Revelation 21:1. Historical individuals as Paul, Gregory of Nyssa, and modern individuals as
Dana L. Robert,4 Jurgen Moltmann, Christopher J. H. Wright, and Gary Tyra have extracted from
Scripture the task and ways of that mission through a redeemed people of God.
Two other considerations are addressed here. One is the witness of world history done ably by
A.W. Crosby in 1973 in his book The Columbian Exchange (reissued in 2003)5 and most lately by
Charles C. Mann’s 1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created.6
The latest consideration is that of a Christian involvement keying off a question Dan Story
proposed in his book Should Christians be Environmentalists?7 Suggestions and choices for
Christian participation in renewing earth, sky, air, and sea are also set forth. There are a multitude
of opportunities and choices as to where to concentrate in redeeming the created order in which we
live.
Biblically and theologically we have to deal with the environmental problems from a creation
perspective rather than from a natural point of view. What this means is understanding caring for
our created order from God’s act of creation. Our natural world was created for His glory, not
ours. We cannot care for our environment from a naturalist’s vantage-point, as we are, ourselves,
part of the created order. We also have to draw from the whole testimony of the Bible and not just
1 This article was adapted from a paper given at the Other Voices in Interpretation study group of the 64th Annual
Meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Nov. 15, 2012.
2 John Stott, The Radical Disciple: Some Neglected Aspects of Our Calling (Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 2010), 50.
3 Andrew Taylor, The World of Gerard Mercator: The Mapmaker Who Revolutionized Geography (New York:
Walker, 2004), 248.
4 International Bulletin of Missionary Research, Vol.35, No.3.
5 A.W. Crosby, The Columbian Exchange: Biological & Cultural Consequences of 1492 (Westport, CT: Praeger,
2003).
6 Charles C. Mann, 1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created, Borzoi Book (New York: Alfred A. Knopf,
2011).
7 Dan Story, Should Christians be Environmentalists? (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 2012).
5
from Genesis 1 and 2. Earth, sky, climate, and universe are God’s doing, not ours. Ancient Israel
understood the world as God’s creation on the strength of the “saving events of the exodus, the
covenant and the settlement in the Promised Land.”8 Consider also the stirring English translation
of the King James Version of Psalm 8, where the Old Testament psalmist declares:
When I consider Thy heavens, the work of Thy fingers, the moon and
the stars, which Thou hast ordained (8:3).
An afterthought follows: “What is man, that thou art mindful of him?” This is followed by a
declaration: “Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands . . . (vs. 6).
Two things are very important to note. Psalm 8:3 declares that all creation belongs to God. The
possessive “Thy” is applied to the heavens. It does not say “mine.” “The work of Thy fingers, the
moon and the stars, which Thou has ordained” amplifies God’s ownership, not ours.
The English translation of 8:6 can be misleading when it indicates that God has given us
dominion over the works of his hand. The term “dominion” is derived from the Latin domus, a
house. The word domicile, a house, is also derived from domus. This creation is our dwelling, and
we are the curators thereof.
We are not to think that the earth, the sky, the waterways, and seas are ours to do with as
we wish. Psalm 19 reiterates God’s ownership: “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the
firmament sheweth his handywork” (Ps 19:1).9 Jeremiah 32:17 reiterates the subservience of the
creation to the creator, and not to humanity: “Ah, Lord God! Behold Thou hast made the heavens
and the earth by Thy great power and by Thine outstretched arm!” The dominion we have is one of
curatorship. Our work-order is laid out for us, and we are responsible for what is under our care.
For the most part, humankind has not been found trustworthy as worthy stewards of earth,
sky, sea, waterways, and the birds of the air, the beasts of the field, the creatures of the seas, rivers,
and lakes, and the treasures under our feet. We might also consider again the Psalmist’s question,
“What is man that thou art mindful of him?” We also are God’s creation. We are not separate from
the natural order. There is a symbiotic relationship of people to nature, nature to people, and people
to people. Even then, we are given a different value and also a responsibility and a role coherent
with that added value. The creation of humanity was judged to be “very good.”
There is no biblical comprehensive, or all-inclusive, presentation of our responsibility toward
wildlife, forests, rivers and streams, land and air. Directions are scattered throughout the Scriptures:
Leviticus through Ruth to Psalms, Proverbs, Song of Songs, and Isaiah. Isaiah alone has one
hundred and sixty references to wildlife and the Song of Songs is replete with references to nature:
floral, habitat, fields, forest, and wildlife. It is, however, the resurrection kerygma, the power and
experience of the Holy Spirit, proclaimed by the New Testament that activates the new creation
both of humanity and the natural world.
The biblical and theological perspectives provide the best ethic. In contrast, strict ecologists
whose concern for the environment is one of treating people the same way as one manages the rest
of the living world steers them close to population control. Others who are biocentric see every
species and each and every organism, including humans, as central. Martin Hodson identifies this
ethic to be at the heart of those who protest for animal rights.10 That, however, is a generalization
and opinion, which may be right or may also be wrong. It also fits the pantheistic “New Age
environmentalists.”
8 Jurgen Moltmann, God in Creation: A New Theology of Creation and the Spirit of God, The Gifford Lectures,
1984-1985 (San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1985), 54.
9 All Bible references are from KJV unless otherwise noted.
10 Martin J. Hodson and Margot R. Hodson, Cherishing the Earth: How to Care for God’s Creation (Grand Rapids:
Monarch, 2012), 16.
6
The special value placed upon the creation of humanity, reported in Genesis 1:26-31, stands
separate from the view which gives people such a special place that creation is put “under” us.
This is an anthropocentric view of humanity and the world.11 This approach favors calculated
exploitation of creation for the benefit of people. It excites differences among preservationists,
conservationists, protectionists, and special corporate interests, when it comes to economic
considerations: preserve what remains, conserve, or protect and, to an extent, place “halters”
on mining, oil and gas, and agribusinesses specializing in additives and pesticides. There are
also difficult questions to ask, when it comes to creation’s wildlife. In July 1896, a rift occurred
between John Muir, the co-founder of the Sierra Club, and Gifford Pinchot, the first head of the
United States Forest Service, who favored a “sustainable use of natural resources for the benefit of
the people.”12 Muir wanted to preserve; Pinchot wanted to conserve while making use of natural
resources.
To remain biblical and theocentric is to remember that God blessed the fish and the birds and
the beasts of the field as well as blessing humankind. Here is what Christopher Wright terms an
“ethical triangle.”13 The hymn “This Is My Father’s World,” written by Maltrie D. Babcock (18581901), describes such a triangle of God, us, and the created order. We have the role of stewards who
must make crucial decisions as to what to preserve, what to conserve, what to protect, and what
to “alter” by legislative means. Should Christians lobby for legislators to act? Another question to
ask is: “Are ‘all’ special interest corporations, such as oil companies, mining operations, lumber
interests, and pesticide industries guilty of endangering the environment?” Before taking on these
several concerns as well as commercial fisheries, hunters, and meat industries, what, or who, should
we support beyond our own personal capabilities as individuals? Are we also responsible to be
knowledgeable as to who is actually doing what?
Stewardship is front and center in both the Bible and in Christian theology. We are held
responsible to protect, conserve, preserve, and to ameliorate in cases that need damage control. We
also need to be aware of consequences of actions not of our own making. Solar storms occur and
bombard our earth and affect earth and weather. Dry spells and storms occur. How we respond or
react in those instances is also important.
“Steward,” as it appears in our English Bibles, translates the New Testament Greek term,
oikonomos, as in Luke 12:42: “And the Lord said, ‘Who then is the faithful and sensible steward,
whom his master has put in charge . . .’” Oikonomos is transliterated into English to create the
words economist, economics, and economical. Jesus’ statement carries a fuller weight of meaning
beyond that of simple management. Biblically and theologically, stewardship is exercised from
a Trinitarian stance. “This Is My Father’s world: the battle is not done; Jesus who died shall be
satisfied, and earth and heaven be one” run the words of Maltrie Babcock’s hymn. This retains
the ancient Eastern Christian position against that of New Age environmentalists or the natural
theology of environmentalists of deistic or naturalist persuasions.14 Eastern Orthodoxy is strongly
Trinitarian. Every concern of humanity falls under the review of the Triune God.
It is not, however, the purpose of this essay to examine or compare alternate avenues of
environmental action, but to make plain the biblical and theological rationale and to set forth the
expressed biblical mandate for conservation, preservation, protection, and amelioration. Those
mandates are clearly expressed. Conservation is encouraged and mandated in Deuteronomy 22:6.
11 Ibid., 17.
12 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John Muir.
13 Christopher J.H. Wright, Living as the People of God (Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 2010), 19.
14 In the first instance, Michael Psellus, De omnifaria doctrina, edited by Leendert Gerriit Westerink (Nijmegen, Neth:
n.p., 1948), 83, referenced by Jaroslav Pelikan in The Spirit of Eastern Christendom (600-1700), Vol. 2 of The Christian
Tradition: A History of the Development of Doctrine (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1974), 248. In the latter
instance, some of the nature poetry of Willliam Wordsworth and Henry David Thoreau’s Walden Pond reflects panentheism;
however Thoreau was more Transcendentalist than Pantheist yet there is a suggestion of God in the midst of nature itself.
7
Preservation is highlighted in Nehemiah 9:6 and Psalm 36:5-6. Protection that is continual without
any let-up is found in Psalm 104:10-30. Don Story refers to these Old Testament mandates in
chapter 5 of his work, Should Christians Be Environmentalists?15 in which he not only argues
for Christian presence in conservation, preservation, and protection, but also cites cases of active
involvement by churches and parachurch organizations. Prior to Story’s contention, some twentyfive years earlier, theologian William Dyrness, in an essay entitled “Stewardship of the Earth in the
Old Testament,” which appeared in Tending the Garden: Essays on the Gospel and the Earth,16
referred to Psalm 36:5-6 as “justification for the preservation of wilderness areas that exist for no
other purpose than to exhibit the greatness of God by preserving his creative work.” At the same
time, such preservation prevents erosion, maintains normal carbon dioxide levels, and protects the
habitats of birds and mammals.
The redeemed person makes the best steward. This is what all creation groans for. It is the
unredeemed who exploits and pollutes. If sin is defined as human self-centeredness in rebellion
against God’s will for us and expressed in how we treat our fellow human beings, it is also
exhibited in how we treat the created order in which we live. Hence, the person who is redeemed
from the mistreatment of others is redeemed also from the mistreatment of earth, sea, air, and
wildlife, and is, thereby, the better steward. What better person to “redeem creation” than “a
redeemed person.” Creation suffered not for anything amiss within its relationship with its Creator
but “because of you [Adam]” (Gen 3:17 NRSV). The New Revised Standard Version had the
translation right. Unredeemed people17 despoil their surroundings. The redeemed are the stewards
or “governors” of creation, to borrow a phrase from John Wesley’s sermon on the human and his
relation to the created order.18 In his sermon on “The New Birth,” Wesley explains God created
humankind to be “the channel of conveyance” of the blessings of God to our fellow creatures.
This stewardship exists under an evangelistic mandate, the spread of the gospel of Christ
which changes us from pursuing sin to participating in God’s making all things new. There is our
mission mandate, and both Christopher Wright and Gary Tyra put the care of creation and the
renewal of our environment alongside the salvation of humankind. This is not just some new twist
of thinking on the part of the evangelical Christian world. In 1994, Cal DeWitt, Ronald Sider, and
Loren Wilkinson were among evangelicals who signed “An Evangelical Declaration on the Care
of Creation.” Seven years later in July 2001, Ken Gnanakan, Vice-Chair of the World Evangelical
Fellowship (WEF) announced plans for an Environmental Stewardship Project to be conducted by a
WEF Commission. The aim of the project was “equip the WEF constituency to serve as responsible
stewards of God’s creation amid global environmental degradation.”19 More recently, in July 2011,
the Overseas Ministries Study Center of New Haven, Connecticut, published an edition (Vol.
35, No. 3) of its International Bulletin of Missionary Research, giving “Mission and the Care of
Creation” major attention with articles by Jonathan J. Bonk, Dana L. Robert, and Craig Sorley,20
and those were not the only contributions.
The stewardship goal is to make new, not simply restore. Isaiah 65:17 reads, “For behold, I
create a new heavens and a new earth.” We cannot restore Eden any more than we can restore the
15 Story, Should Christians Be Environmentalists?, 77-91.
16 Wesley Granberg-Michaelson, Tending the Garden: Essays on the Gospel and the Earth (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans,
1987), 63.
17 Christopher J.H. Wright, The Mission of God: Unlocking the Bible’s Grand Narrative (Downers Grove:
InterVarsity, 2006), 20-28; 189-288, 393-396; Gary Tyra, The Holy Spirit in Mission (Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 2011),
1-37, passim.
18 “The General Deliverance,” Sermons XLV & LX., Vol. 6 of The Works of John Wesley, vols 5 & 6, 3rd ed. (Grand
Rapids: Baker, 1996), 65-77.
19 WEF Theological News, July 2001, Vol. 30, No.3. Newsletter of the World Evanglical Alliance Theological
Commission.
20 Overseas Ministry Study Center, International Bulletin of Missionary Research, Vol. 35, No.3: 121-22; 123-28;
137-42.
8
life of an individual: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed
away; behold the new has come” (2 Cor 5:17).
Ezekiel 40 envisions a new temple, so we look forward. We cannot bring back what once
was: a pristine Eden. We are stewards who look forward, not backward. How do we operate? We
do what we see God doing: making new. Out of forest fires, over time new growth appears, and
new vegetation, as what happened to Yellowstone National Park a number of years ago. There
are basically three modes of operation in fulfilling the undertaking of caring for our environment.
The first is what we, as individuals, can do; the second is what the local congregation can do.
The third requires the synergetic operation of co-operative endeavor. I am not only referring to
interdenominational actions but to associations of any size: small, medium, and large. Few things
are ever accomplished through Political Action Committees (PACS) who apply pressure upon
legislators. Very seldom are legislatures, whether State or Congressional, fully effective. However,
private organizations and associations, as the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) which is
composed of citizens and scientists, are more effective. More than 40,000 UCS supporters and 2.3
million citizens across the country submitted comments to the Environmental Protection Agency,
and these were effective in setting a carbon pollution standard.21
While the United States of America has a variety of private and non-profit organizations
through which Christians can work and contribute, the United Kingdom (UK) has several churchrelated environmental programs. Martin J. and Margot Hodson list thirteen such programs. Among
such are Sage, which is Oxford’s Christian Environmental Group, founded in 1990; the Christian
Ecology Link, a multi-denominational UK Christian organization; and Christian Aid, an agency of
the churches in the United Kingdom.22
What cannot be lost sight of, whether one is involved through organizations like Ocean
Conservancy, The Trust for Public Land, Nature Conservancy, and the Environmental Defense
Fund (U.S.A.); or the Church-endorsed and supported programs like Jesus College Climate Change
Service (UK), Tearfund, and the European Christian Environmental Network is that the overriding
concern for the Christian is the adapting of ourselves to the demand of nature instead of adapting
nature to our way of living. What benefits our natural surroundings benefits us.
Therefore, we should define terms more carefully which describe the program of an evangelical
environmental task as preservation, conservation, and reservation. “Reservation” is that of setting
apart as are our National Parks in the United States of America, starting with Yellowstone in
Wyoming. “Conservation” is where the domestic and the predator (e.g. the lamb/deer and the
wolf), the agricultural and the undisturbed grassland, and the forestland and the soil’s fertility, exist
together as in a balance. “Preservation” is caring for what is left after exploitation and thereby
protecting what remains. An example of the last is when the sequoias of California were threatened
with the ax of the lumberman between 1850 and 1864 and, finally, on June 30, 1864, President
Abraham Lincoln signed landmark legislation which altered the relationship between the federal
government and this country’s natural resources. Lincoln ceded the Yosemite Valley and the nearby
Mariposa Big Tree Grove to the state of California “for public use, resort, and recreation [to be]
inalienable for all time.” It came to be called the “The Yosemite and Big Tree Grant.”23
There is a fourth category of concern which does not fit with the prior three areas. The
concern is with our rivers, streams, oceans, and the atmosphere. There is oscillation among ocean,
atmosphere, and forestlands which affects climate and weather patterns. The National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and their Environmental Research Laboratories keep track
of the climate and weather changes. Arguments over climate change and global warming may wage
21 “Union of Concerned Scientists” <[email protected] Thursday, August 2, 2012 to <[email protected] The UCS is
composed of citizens and scientists for environmental solutions.
22 Hodson and Hodson, Cherishing the Earth, 241-244.
23 Eric Rutkow, American Canopy: Trees, Forests, and the Making of a Nation (New York: Scribner, 2012), 77.
9
in legislatures and the United States Congress but whatever the truth may be, there is no argument
over the damages to water resources and the effects of carbon emissions and acid rains. 24
What should we, as Christians, do for our created order? What influence do we have? Despite
the August 26, 2012 EPA ruling over fuel economy and carbon emissions, the better course
for action is through the citizen non-profit and non-governmental programs such as Ocean
Conservancy and American Rivers and encouraging those industries and mining interests which
have taken steps of initiating clean-ups. Also, what is in the favor of supporting the non-profit
and non-governmental organizations is that they are more of one mind and one heart than are
governmental agencies and more able to get things done as they should be done.
In their creation focus, Christian Churches need to lift up the issue of human life within the
total picture of creation care. There have been environmentalists who have considered human
population growth as a potential problem. This, however, is a diminishing concern since the late
1970s when Norman Borlaug, a professor of agriculture and agronomy at Texas A & M University,
began developing hybrid crops and a method of agriculture which allowed much farmland to
go back to forest. In 2006, three years before his death at the age of 95 in 2009, he received the
Congressional Gold Medal. His work revolutionized agriculture in Asia, America, and elsewhere.
Hobby Farms and Farmer Markets have multiplied throughout the United States, thus making
population control no longer a viable problem. “The world’s farmers have more than kept pace.
Between 1961 and 2007, humankind’s population doubled, roughly speaking, while global harvests
of wheat, rice, and maize tripled” and chronic malnourishment has fallen. Hunger still exists, yet
it is steadily declining through the outreaches of such organizations as Samaritan’s Purse, Heifer
Project, World Vision, and Compassion International, to name but a few.25
In this article, my goal has been to broaden discussion of how Christians can best participate
in caring for our groaning natural world plagued, as it is, by droughts, hurricanes, torrential rains,
fires, and new strains of diseases crisscrossing continents and oceans.
Woodrow E. Walton holds the D.Min. from the Graduate School of Theology and Mission of Oral Roberts University.
He received his B.A. from Texas Christian University, a B.D. [M.Div.] from Duke Divinity School, Durham, NC; and a M.A.
in American History from the University of Oklahoma. An ordained Assemblies of God minister, he has also taught, having
been both a professor and Dean of a Graduate Theological School. He has also served at different times in Africa and in
Mexico.
24 Harold Kroto, winner of the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1996, has proposed that the “most ecological way of
producing energy in sufficient quantities to sustain present levels of consumption would use photons and water and in this
way combat global warming.” “Hope Comes from the Sun,” Oil Magazine, No. 18 (June 2012), 32-33. He teaches chemistry
and biochemistry at Florida State University.
25 The statistics and figures and quotation come from Mann’s 1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created,
180.
10
Appendix - Resources for Further Study on the Stewardship of Creation
Christian and Church-related Environmental Programs in the United States, United Kingdom, Europe, and Elsewhere
A Rocha (Christians in Conservation): An international organization with centers in increasing numbers of countries around
the world. www.arocha.org.
Anglican Communion Environmental Network (ACEN) encourages Anglicans to support environmental practices both as
individuals and in the life of the communities in which they live. www.anglicancommunion.org/ethics_technology/
introducing_the_network.cfm.
Asian Rural Institute (ARI): A Christian foundation in Japan which trains development workers and pastors in sustainable
agriculture. www.ari-edu.org/english/index.html.
Au Sable Institute of Environmental Studies, founded in 1980 in Wisconsin in the U.S.A., conducts courses and conferences
which bring together theologians and scientists to further the Christian approach to care of the environment. www.
ausable.org.
Christian Aid is an agency of the churches in the United Kingdom and Ireland that works toward the end of poverty in the
world. www.christianaid.org.uk.
Christian Ecology Link is a multi-denominational Christian organization in the United Kingdom composed of people
concerned for the environment. www.christian-ecology.org.uk.
Christian Rural Concern (CRuC) seeks to spread a Christian comprehension of rural and environmental issues in the UK.
One of its programs is Christian Rural and Environmental Studies (CRES), which offers certificate and diploma courses
through distance learning. CRES is jointly run by the Christian Rural Concern and the John Ray Initiative and is
validated by Ripon College. www.cres.org.uk.
Church of Bangladesh Social Development Program (CBDP) links together the issues of poverty, development, and the
environment particularly with respect to the country’s proneness to massive flooding. Bangladesh is the most densely
populated country in the world.
Eco-congregation is an organization which encourages churches in the United Kingdom to approach environmental issues
within a Christian worldview. www.ecocongregation.org.
European Christian Environmental Network links many Christian environmental groups and resources across Europe. www.
ecen.org.
Evangelical Environmental Network (EEN) is a non-profit organization in North America which educates, inspires, and
mobilizes Christians in an effort to care for God’s creation. www.creationcare.org.
Farm Crisis Network (FCN) works to relieve need, hardship, and distress in the farming areas of the United Kingdom by
providing pastoral and practical support. www.farmcrisisnetwork.org.uk.
The John Ray Initiative (JRI), begun in 2002 with a Climate Forum, brings together Christian and Scientific comprehensions
of the environment. www.jri.org.uk.
Milton Keynes Christian Environmental Group: Founded in 2007 in Milton Keynes, UK, this group promotes, highlights,
and challenges environmental concern within Christian churches and organizations in Milton Keynes. http://
nkchristianenvironment.wordpress.com.
Nueva Creacion is based in Lima, Peru, and is a Christian Institute for Ecology and Development. (There is an English
version of their website). www.nuevacreacion.info/ingles/home.html.
Operation Noah: The United Kingdom churches’ climate change campaign. www.operationnoah.org.
Plateau Perspectives: A non-profit program which supports local initiatives in conservation and sustainable development in
the Tibetan region of China. www.plateauperspectives.org.
Sage: Founded in 1990 in Oxford, UK, Sage is Oxford’s Christian Environmental Group. www.sageoxford.org.uk.
TearFund: An international Christian development agency working with the world’s poor. www.tearfund.org.
Also worth noting are:
Agroforesty Project in Niger’s Sahel and the work of Peter Cunningham in that country.
Casa de Videira (Home of the Vine) and the work of Claudio Oliver in Brazil.
Center for Reconciliation, Duke Divinity School, [email protected] duke.edu. www.dukereconciliation.com.
Global Farm sponsored by Educational Concerns for Hunger Organization (ECHO) is located near Ft. Myers, Florida.
Begun in 1981 by Martin Price, Global Farm’s present CEO is Stan Doer. Global Farm uses Sloping Agricultural Land
Technology, a form of regenerative agriculture. Global Farm is a training center for development workers in 180
countries.
11
Land Institute in Salina, Kansas, begun by Wes Jackson in the 1980s, employs the practice of regenerative agriculture (a
perennial polyculture with legumes, which are nitrogen setting, planted next to grains needing nitrogen).
The Lord’s Acre and Susan Sides in North Carolina.
Non-Profit Nation-wide Environmential Programs
American Rivers, Washington, D.C., (202) 349-7550, [email protected]
Audubon Society, New York, NY. www.audubon.org.
Defenders of Wildlife, Washington, DC, 1-800-385-9712. www.Defenders.org.
EarthJustice, a non-profit legal firm specializing in environmental issues. San Francisco, CA, 1-800-584-6460, [email protected]
earthjustice.org. www.earthjustice.org.
Earth Policy Institute, Washington, D.C.
National Parks Conservation Association, Washington, D.C. www.npca.org.
National Wildlife Federation. 1-800-822-9919, Nat’l Advocacy Center, Washington, D.C., 202-797-6800.
www.nwf.org/action
National Wildlife Federation Action Fund, Reston, VA, 703-438-6000, [email protected]
Nature Conservancy, Arlington, VA. 1-800-628-6860, 1-703-841-5300, and Oklahoma City, OK, 405-858-8557.
www.nature.org.
Ocean Conservancy, Washington, D.C., 202-429-5609. www.oceanconservancy.org
Trust for Public Land, San Francisco, CA, and Washington, D.C.
Union of Concerned Scientists, Cambridge, MA, 617-547-5552. www.ucsusa.org.
Wilderness Society, The, Washington, D.C., 1-800-THE-WILD. www.wilderness.org.
World Wildlife Fund, Washington, D.C., 202-293-4800; and Gland, Switzerland, +41 22 364 91 11, +41 22 364 88 36.
For Further Study and Investigation
Bahnson, Fred, and Norman Wirza. Making Peace with the Land: God’s Call to Reconcile with Creation. Downers Grove:
InterVarsity, 2012.
Davis, Ellen. Scripture, Culture, and Agriculture: An Agrarian Reading of the Bible. New York: Cambridge University Press,
2009.
Jackson, Wes. Consulting the Genius of the Place: An Ecological Approach to a New Agriculture. Washington, D.C.:
Counterpoint, 2010.
McKibben, Bill. Deep Economics: The Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future. New York: Times Books, 2008.
Reich, Lee, Landscaping with Fruit. North Adams, MA: Storey, 2009.
Stott, John R.W. The Radical Disciple: Some Neglected Aspects of Our Calling. Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 2010.
12
The Contribution of African Leaders to the Early Development of the East
African Revival
Daewon Moon
The East African Revival was arguably the most famous and influential revival movement of
Africa in the twentieth century.1 Also called the Balokole (“the saved ones”) Revival in East Africa,
it emerged as a notable spiritual renewal movement within the Church of Uganda beginning in
the mid-1930s, through a remarkable partnership between an English medical missionary, John E.
Church (widely known as “Joe Church”), and prominent African indigenous leaders from Buganda
such as Simeon Nsibambi, Blasio Kigozi, and William Nagenda. The movement started as an
attempt to revitalize the Anglican Church of Uganda from its spiritual formalism, and then quickly
spread to the Presbyterian and Methodist churches of Kenya and the Mennonite and Lutheran
churches of Tanzania in the 1940s and 1950s. It grew not only as an interdenominational revival in
many parts of East Africa, but also as an international movement whose impact was carried outside
of Africa, as far as to Europe, North America, India, and Brazil.2
One interesting aspect of the Balokole Revival is the origin and nature of the movement in
the early years. Most scholars agree that the British Keswick theology—which emphasizes the
post-conversion “Spirit-filling” experience (a so-called “second blessing”) and a strong desire
for continuing sanctification in the Christian life—had a profound influence on Joe Church, a
central figure of the revival, and, accordingly, on the whole revival movement.3 While a student
at Cambridge, Church had been actively involved in the Cambridge Inter-Collegiate Christian
Union (CICCU), which was considerably influential among Christian students interested in
foreign missions at that time. CICCU had already become a hallmark of Cambridge as a result of
Dwight L. Moody’s famous revival meeting and the commitment of “the Cambridge Seven” in the
mid-1880s.4 Church’s years in CICCU were crucial to his spiritual and theological formation. In
particular, a book popular in CICCU at that time, How to Live the Victorious Life, had a profound
influence on his religious conviction. Church later commented on the book: “It proclaims the
1 Most historians agree that the Balokole Revival had the farthest-reaching and longest-lasting impact of all the
renewal movements in Africa. Elizabeth A. Isichei, A History of Christianity in Africa: From Antiquity to the Present (Grand
Rapids: Eerdmans, 1995), p. 242; James Edwin Orr, Evangelical Awakening in Africa (Minneapolis: Bethany Fellowship,
1975), p. 165; Adrian Hastings, The Church in Africa: 1450–1950 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1994), p. 596; Kevin
Ward, “Africa,” in A World History of Christianity, ed. Adrian Hastings (Grand Rapids: W. B. Eerdmans, 1999), p. 224.
2 When the revival reached its peak in the late 1940s, Joe Church arranged for William Nagenda to visit England with
him to tell about what God had been doing in the East African Revival. Later, Church and African leaders such as Nagenda,
Yosiya Kinuka, and Festo Kivengere testified and spread the movement in Switzerland, France, Malawi, India, the United
States, Israel, and Brazil. John E. Church, Quest for the Highest: An Autobiographical Account of the East African Revival
(Exeter: Paternoster Press, 1981), pp. 214–25; Orr, Evangelical Awakening in Africa, p. 166; H. H. Osborn, Pioneers in the
East African Revival (Winchester: Apologia Publications, 2000), pp. 131–32.
3 Adrian Hastings, Emmanuel Hooper, Kevin Ward, and other scholars point out several distinctive features of the
East African Revival influenced by the British Keswick theology such as genuine repentance, open confession, personal
testimony, and assurance of conversion. Adrian Hastings, A History of African Christianity (Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press, 1979), p. 52; Emmanuel Hooper, “The Theology of Trans-Atlantic Evangelicalism and Its Impact on the
East African Revival,” Evangelical Review of Theology 31 (2007): 71–89; Kevin Ward, “Tukutendereza Yesu: The Balokole
Revival in Uganda,” in From Mission to Church: A Handbook of Christianity in East Africa, ed. Zablon Nthamburi
(Nairobi: Uzima Press, 1991), p. 113.
4 The Cambridge Inter-Collegiate Christian Union (CICCU) was founded in 1877 and split away from the wider
body, the Student Christian Movement (SCM), in 1910 because of doctrinal issues. The CICCU stood for a conservative
Evangelical view of the Bible, stressed a substitutionary view of atonement, and saw evangelism as its primary task. David
Goodhew, “The Rise of the Cambridge Inter-Collegiate Christian Union, 1910–1971,” Journal of Ecclesiastical History 54
(2003): 64–65.
13
glorious fact that victory may and ought to mark the daily life and witness of God’s children—not
in a dim and distant future but here and now.”5 The book well represented the Keswick theology
flourishing in CICCU at that time. In this light, it is no wonder that Church later drew on the
Keswick spirituality, the Scofield Reference Bible, and Charles Finney’s famous book Revival
of Religion in his work within the holiness renewal movement, particularly among nominal
Christians.6 Church believed that Africans, like Europeans, could experience a second blessing; he
wrote in his early years in Rwanda: “There is no doubt that an African can have a ‘second blessing,’
if you like to call it so.”7 In addition, the influence of the Keswick movement on his missionary
work can be seen through the Keswick Convention of 1938, which was held in Kenya especially for
Africans and became an integral part of the East African Revival thereafter.8
In spite of its notable influence on the early development of the revival, however, British
Keswick theology alone would not be sufficient to explain fully the revival in East Africa. This
European Evangelical Revival tradition apparently went through a process of contextualization
and indigenization according to the spiritual and social needs of African people. Since African
indigenous leaders, not European missionaries, played the major role in conducting and expanding
the movement throughout East Africa, the movement was profoundly shaped by these African
revivalists. That probably explains why scholars have been debating whether the revival was an
African expression of the precedent Evangelical Revival tradition in Britain and North America,
or a distinctively African movement against European missionary domination, which led to the
emergence of the African Independent Church movement in East Africa in the 1960s and later.9
This article will examine the origin and early development of the Balokole Revival in the 1930s
and 1940s with a special focus on the contribution of prominent African leaders. The focal point
will be the question of how the revival movement in East Africa developed as a distinctively African
renewal movement with contextualization and indigenization of the European Evangelical Revival
tradition, rather than a simple transplantation of the British Keswick movement on colonial African
ground. The indispensable influence and contribution of African revivalists to this development will
be discussed in detail.
Origin and Development of the Revival
Joe Church, a medical missionary from England, arrived at Gahini Hospital of the Church
Missionary Society (CMS) in Rwanda in 1927. After two years of intense work there, he found
himself in a state of acute spiritual dryness. In September 1929, he decided to take some time
off in Kampala, Uganda, and there he met Simeon Nsibambi, a promising young leader from an
aristocratic family in Buganda. Church and Nsibambi were both dissatisfied with the low spiritual
state of the Anglican Church of Uganda. Together, they began to seek “the filling of the Spirit and
the Victorious Life.”10 After several days of prayer and Bible study together— interestingly, they
searched the Scofield Reference Bible to gain a biblical understanding of the Holy Spirit—both
of them had a very real experience of the transformative power of the Holy Spirit.11 Church
5 Katharine Makower, The Coming of the Rain: The Life of Dr. Joe Church; A Personal Account of Revival in
Rwanda (Carlisle: Paternoster Press, 1999), p. 27.
6 Mark A. Noll, The New Shape of World Christianity: How American Experience Reflects Global Faith (Downers
Grove: IVP Academic, 2009), p. 183.
7 John E. Church, “Needs Spiritual and Temporal at Gahini,” Ruanda Notes 37 (1931): 18.
8 Church, Quest for the Highest, pp. 157–8.
9 Brian Stanley observes the paradox of the East African Revival; it was a movement manifestly “European” in its
theological orientation, but it became a vehicle for the expression of independent African initiative. He contends that the
characteristic features of the “Keswick” tradition—which significantly affected the missionaries in Rwanda—provided the
key enabling African Christians to take the initiative. Brian Stanley, “The East African Revival: African Initiative within a
European Tradition,” Churchman 92 (1978): 6–22.
10 Church, Quest for the Highest, p. 66.
11 Later, Joe Church often referred to this moment as the beginning of the revival in East Africa, although there was
14
returned to Gahini Hospital with a fresh, renewed spirit, and Nsibambi devoted himself full time
to preaching and renewal. Nsibambi soon became a famous figure in Kampala, preaching to people
around the Cathedral as well as in the market.12 It is important to note that he led two significant
Africans to Jesus Christ: Blasio Kigozi and William Nagenda, the future leaders of the East African
Revival.
Kigozi, after his conversion experience through Nsibambi’s influence, dedicated his life to
evangelizing the people of Rwanda.13 He was trained at the Mukono seminary in Uganda to be
a teacher in a church school, and then moved to Gahini in 1929.14 He served as headmaster of
the school and was also involved in evangelistic outreaches with Joe Church. Kigozi soon became
a prominent leader of an evangelistic fellowship meeting, along with his close friend Yosiya
Kinuka.15 His eloquent, passionate preaching attracted numerous African people, especially
nominal Christians. He and Nsibambi led a great ten-day convention in Kabale in 1935, which
is generally viewed as the formal beginning of the Balokole Revival.16 His impassioned plea—
Zukuka (“Awake”)—to the sleeping churches at the Synod of the Church of Uganda in 1936
had a particularly profound impact.17 Many regard this historic occasion—along with the Jubilee
Missions of 1936–37—as the most decisive moment of the revival that awakened the Anglican
Church of Uganda.18
In 1936, Kigozi died suddenly. William Nagenda, a government clerk who had come to faith
through the influence of Nsibambi, arrived in Gahini later that year to take over the running of
the Evangelists’ Training School.19 He was an outstanding member of the revival team with good
education, mature character, and spiritual leadership. In consequence, he began to play a big part in
the revival movement starting in 1937.20 Like his predecessor Kigozi, Nagenda had a wonderful gift
for preaching and bringing people back to Jesus Christ. Nagenda later accompanied Joe Church on
his trip to England in 1946 to tell about what God was doing in the East African Revival. They also
visited France, Germany, Malawi, Angola, and the United States to testify and spread the renewal
movement of the Holy Spirit.21
These prominent African leaders made profound contributions to the early development of
the Balokole Revival movement. First of all, they were capable leaders of each revival team and
fellowship meeting, which was the most effective means of spreading the movement throughout
East Africa. Second, they guided the revival movement to be Christocentric with an emphasis on
an authentic experience of the saving power of Jesus. Third, they endeavored to keep the church
unified throughout the revival, by preventing a schism of the movement into a new independent
sect. Finally, they contributed to the revival’s distinctively African character, by providing a new
identity as a new clan in Christ.
nothing very spectacular, nothing ecstatic. Ibid., p. 68.
12 Ibid., p. 114.
13 Nsibambi said of Kigozi, “He was my first fruit in Jesus.” Osborn, Pioneers in the East African Revival, pp. 12–13.
14 Church, Quest for the Highest, p. 63.
15 John E. Church, Awake! An African Calling: The Story of Blasio Kigozi (London: CMS, 1937), p. 24.
16 By 1935 many people began to recognize the revival as a notable renewal movement, although the first
manifestation of a large-scale revival occurred at Gahini in Rwanda in December, 1933. Church, Quest for the Highest, pp.
98–100.
17 Along with it, Kigozi also left an important message called “three points” regarding the spiritual state of the
Church of Uganda: 1. What is the cause of the coldness and deadness of the Church of Uganda? 2. Why are people allowed
to come to the Lord’s Table who are living in open sin? 3. What must be done to bring revival to the Church of Uganda?
Church, Awake! An African Calling, pp. 44–5.
18 Max A. Warren, Revival: An Enquiry (London: SCM Press, 1954), p. 45.
19 Osborn, Pioneers in the East African Revival, p. 114.
20 Church, Quest for the Highest, p. 138.
21 Osborn, Pioneers in the East African Revival, pp. 131–2.
15
Revival through the Fellowship Meeting
One of the most significant features of the Balokole Revival is that the movement started
through a spontaneous revival team for evangelization of the region around Gahini in Rwanda.22 It
sprang from the grass roots level through a small group of local evangelists without a great revival
preacher.23 Instead of modeling the team on European/American large-scale renewal movements
engineered by famous preachers, Church envisioned a team of young indigenous evangelistic
missionaries “for the building up of a true holiness movement in Uganda based exclusively on the
Bible.”24 He called the team “the Uganda Seven,” clearly an allusion to “the Cambridge Seven” in
England. Church wrote about this vision in the quarterly journal of the Rwanda Mission, Ruanda
Notes: “I have several times mentioned that I am training a band of Hospital evangelists to go
out and work with the teachers.”25 With continuous prayers and faithful preaching of Christ at
Gahini, the revival started without anything spectacular in 1933; A. C. Stanley Smith, co-founder
of the Rwanda Mission, described it as “quiet and almost imperceptible” meetings of the spiritually
revived Africans.26 Church explained how the movement began to grow as an evangelistic outreach:
It had been a custom at Gahini since about 1933 to send out parties of evangelists into
the district, especially on Sunday, and for the week-end to more distant places. Blasio
and Yosiya had become the leaders of the keen section, and they had their own special
meeting on Saturday afternoon at which those who were to go on these evangelistic
efforts were chosen.27
The fellowship meeting was not just the motive power for the larger revival movement; more
importantly, it was “the most precious fruits of the revival and something they should never
cease to aim at.”28 Unlike the European/American Revival tradition, which featured distinguished
revival preachers such as George Whitefield, Charles Finney, and Dwight L. Moody, the Balokole
Revival began primarily as small-group fellowship meetings in homes and villages, in which
lay Christians shared their testimony of “Spirit-filling” experience and desire for the higher
Christian life. These fellowship meetings were primarily devotional. They provided opportunity
for testimony and mutual encouragement, and all participants were free to share their problems
and spiritual progress.29 In a sense, the movement was never institutionalized; it had no officials,
no headquarters, no paperwork, no budget, and no membership lists. Rather, it existed as a fluid
network of people who gathered from time to time. Neville Langford-Smith, Bishop of Nakuru,
Kenya, explained the early spread of the movement as follows: “There was never any planned and
organized campaign for spreading revival. The movement spread as groups of revived Christians
were burdened with the need of some particular place and went to witness there.”30
Since the most integral part of the movement, the fellowship meeting, was led mostly by
lay people, it continuously emphasized the significance of the lay leadership. John Taylor rightly
observes that “the revival reaffirmed the spiritual responsibility of the laity in the church.”31
22 Warren, Revival: An Enquiry, pp. 52–3.
23 Although there were some eloquent preachers (such as Blasio Kigozi and William Nagenda), they never had the
stature of individuals such as George Whitefield or Charles Finney. They worked as a team, and no one was considered a
foremost leader above all.
24 Gordon Hewitt, The Problems of Success: A History of the Church Missionary Society 1910–1942, vol. 1 (London:
SCM Press, 1971), pp. 239–40.
25 Church, “Needs Spiritual and Temporal at Gahini,” p. 18.
26 A. C. Stanley Smith, Road to Revival: The Story of the Ruanda Mission (London: CMS, 1946), p. 54.
27 Church, Awake! An African Calling, p. 24.
28 Stanley Smith, Road to Revival, p. 110.
29 Warren writes in detail about one typical sequence of the fellowship meeting as follows: singing of “Tukutendereza
Yesu,” prayer, sharing of experience (also called “walking in the light”), Bible reading, prayer, hymn, saying “grace” all
together, going out with singing “Tukutendereza Yesu.” Warren, Revival: An Enquiry, pp. 118–121.
30 Neville Langford-Smith, “Revival in East Africa,” International Review of Missions 43 (1954): 77.
31 John V. Taylor, Processes of Growth in an African Church (London: SCM Press, 1958), p. 16.
16
Over against the centralized diocesan structure, particularly in Anglicanism, the revival entailed
a remarkable recovery of the indigenous structure of the church as a living Christian community
group.32 In a spirit of mutual trust and accountability, participants were willing to share the
burdens of others and accept brotherly admonition for spiritual growth.33 In particular, public
confession of hidden sins marked the first stirrings of the revival.34 This practice promoted not
only the egalitarian ethos in the fellowship groups, but more importantly, a higher standard of
holiness life among followers of the revival. The changed lives that resulted from the fellowship of
the revival became the most obvious appeal to other men and women in the villages. Once having
repented and confessed their sins, people were instructed to live a completely new life to please
Christ.35
The Christocentric Revival
The theological core of the revival movement in East Africa was a complete surrender to
Christ beneath the cross of Jesus, with a strong desire for a holy life. This implied the Keswick
message of complete surrender that Joe Church was exposed to as a student at Cambridge, as he
wrote later: “Revival is not a program but a way of life. A God-given hunger for more holiness and
Christ-likeness has come upon us and what is known as revival followed.”36 Despite the obvious
influence of Keswick theology, however, the revival movement tended to put more stress on the
saving work of Christ through the cross. The revivalists preached for an authentic experience of the
saving power of Jesus and daily submission to him, rather than the gifts of the Holy Spirit such as
speaking in tongues and spiritual healing. As Bishop Langford-Smith writes, “Revival as it has come
to East Africa is really a return to the simplicity of apostolic faith in a time of apostasy….There is
nothing new in the doctrine of revival.”37
The overriding theme of the revival meetings and African Keswick conventions was sin,
repentance, and salvation through the blood of Christ. Joe Church and his fellow African revivalists
were said to preach only Christ and Him crucified. Even in the overwhelming presence of the Holy
Spirit, they firmly believed that “the Holy Spirit glorifies Jesus and points us to the Blood of Jesus
for cleansing when we may have grieved Him on the way.”38 Mark Shaw rightly observes that
the East African Revival did not stress mass conversions or great miracles of the Holy Spirit, but
emphasized “existential liberation as a prerequisite for radical community and evangelical activism”
as in the Korean Revival.39 Unlike the Keswick movement in Britain, which stressed a second
blessing experience beyond initial conversion, the revival in East Africa focused more on the initial
conversion as “an overwhelming experience of brokenness at the cross.”40 It is important to note
that the African revivalists never endorsed the idea of a “second blessing.”41 Therefore, in many
32 John V. Taylor, The Growth of the Church in Buganda: An Attempt at Understanding (London: SCM Press, 1958),
p. 102.
33 Dorothy E. Smoker, “Decision-making in East African Revival Movement Groups,” in African Initiatives in
Religion, ed. David Barrett (Nairobi: East African Publishing House, 1971), pp. 107–8.
34 Church kept an account of how the revival began at Gahini in 1933 through the public confession of hidden sins.
Church, Quest for the Highest, pp. 98–9. Some scholars note that the public confession of sins in informal meetings was
probably influenced by Frank Buchman’s Oxford Group movement. Hastings, The Church in Africa: 1450–1950, p. 596;
Kevin Ward and Emma Wild-Wood, eds. The East African Revival: History and Legacies (Farnham: Ashgate, 2012), p. 4.
35 Church gave an account of the case of several senior Christians at Gahini compensating for what they stole, after
their confession of sins. John E. Church, “News of Gahini Hospital from Dr. J. E. Church,” Ruanda Notes 47 (1934): 17.
36 Church, Quest for the Highest, p. 126.
37 Langford-Smith, “Revival in East Africa,” p. 78.
38 Osborn, Pioneers in the East African Revival, p. 87.
39 Mark Shaw, Global Awakening: How 20th-century Revivals Triggered a Christian Revolution (Downers Grove:
IVP Academic, 2010), p. 96.
40 Ward and Wild-Wood, The East African Revival, p. 4.
41 Kevin Ward, “The East African Revival of the Twentieth Century: The Search for an Evangelical African
Christianity,” in Revival and Resurgence in Christian History, eds. Kate Cooper and Jeremy Gregory (Saffron Walden:
Ecclesiastical History Society, 2008), p. 384.
17
respects, the revival was a purely Christocentric movement that stressed the salvific power and
grace of Jesus Christ (John 3:16, Eph. 2:6–10).
The Christocentric character of the revival can be also seen in the terms that the revivalists
typically used: “born again,” “cleansed in the blood of Jesus,” and “walking in the light together.”42
In addition, the most famous, triumphant revival hymn—“Tukutendereza Yesu” (“We Praise You
Jesus”)—well captures the essence of the movement, that is, salvation through being washed in the
blood of Jesus.43 This Luganda hymn illustrates the widespread unifying influence of the revival for
those who shared a common spiritual experience all over East Africa—Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi,
Kenya, and Tanzania. The revivalists tended to care more about genuine repentance with a broken
heart than remarkable manifestation of the power of the Holy Spirit. The revivalists frequently used
a threefold challenge: Are you repenting? Are you walking in the Light? Are you being broken?44
John Taylor, the warden of the Bishop Tucker Memorial College in Uganda and later General
Secretary of CMS, offered a useful insight on the Evangelical characteristics of the revival theology
in Uganda, which became the distinctive theology and practice of the East African Revival. He
characterized the main features of Anglican Evangelical theology as “the sinful condition of man,
the Atonement and the Saviorhood of Christ, the conversion of the individual through conscious
repentance and faith, and the offer of sanctification through the Holy Spirit conditioned by
the surrender of the believer’s will.”45 In the same manner, Bishop Festo Kivengere, an African
ecclesiastical leader who was the best-known African evangelist of that time, testified at the First
Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization in 1974 that “the theme of the East African Revival
was the Cross.”46 In another interview, Kivengere stated unreservedly: “All sorts of things have
happened: dreams, visions in the night, conviction of sin; but no one ever put these above Christ
and him crucified.”47 Furthermore, he defined true revival as “when Christ becomes alive in a life,
changing that life… Real revival is Jesus Christ himself.”48
Revival within the Church
Another important characteristic of the Balokole Revival is that it did not split into a new
independent sect.49 “The revival in the East African Church is the very life of the Church. Many
who have discovered Christ are the supporters of the church who not only give their service but
who also support the Church financially,” as Josiah Kibira, Bishop of Bukoba, Tanzania, writes.50
Although the revivalists emphasized the fellowship meetings, they never intended for those meetings
to replace the regular worship of the church.51
42 “Walking in the light” means constant repentance of even the beginning of sin, and constant cleansing in Christ’s
blood. John E. Church, Forgive Them: The Story of an African Martyr (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1966), p. 26.
43 “Tukutendereza Yesu” was sung at every revival meeting and became the best known hymn of the Balokole
Revival. The lyric is as follows: Tukutendereza Yesu (“We praise you Jesus”), Yesu Omwana gw’endiga (“Jesus Lamb of
God”), Omusaigwo gunaziza (“Your Blood cleanses me”), Nkwebarza, Omulokozi (“I Praise you, Savior”). Church, Quest
for the Highest, p. 271.
44 Shaw, Global Awakening, p. 97.
45 Taylor, The Growth of the Church in Buganda, p. 252.
46 International Congress on World Evangelization, Let the Earth Hear His Voice (Minneapolis: World Wide
Publications, 1975), p. 277.
47 Festo Kivengere, “Revival That Was and Is: An Interview by Christianity Today,” Christianity Today 20 (1976): 11.
48 Ibid., pp. 10, 12.
49 Many scholars recognize the significance of the revival movement staying within the Church of Uganda,
maintaining fundamental loyalty to the organized church. David B. Barrett, Schism and Renewal in Africa: An Analysis
of Six Thousand Contemporary Religious Movements (Nairobi: Oxford University Press, 1968), p. 115; Stephen Neill, A
History of Christian Missions, 2nd ed. (Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 1986), p. 457; Orr, Evangelical Awakening in
Africa, p. 166; Ward, “Tukutendereza Yesu: The Balokole Revival in Uganda,” p. 130; Warren, Revival: An Enquiry, pp.
50–54; Frederick B. Welbourn, East African Christian (London: Oxford Univ. Press, 1965), p. 144.
50 Josiah M. Kibira, Church, Clan, and the World (Uppsala: Gleerup, 1974), p. 57.
51 Warren, Revival: An Enquiry, p. 121.
18
There was a risk of schism in the movement, as in other previous revivals. Those who had
“Spirit-filling” experiences in the Balokole tended to look down on others whom they did not
consider truly saved. The self-righteous tendency to criticize nominal Christians within the churches
became a serious problem, especially to church officials. In particular, by calling themselves
Balokole (“the saved one”), they implied that others, even those in the organized church, were not
yet saved. What is more, outsiders, especially some Ugandan clergy, disliked the excessive emotion
and public confession of sin during revival meetings because they thought it would bring disorder
and confusion to the church.
It should be noted, however, that contrary to the common view of African historians and
sociologists that the East African Revival was an outlet for independent African initiative against
European missionary domination, early African leaders of the revival clearly opposed a schism with
the Church of Uganda.52 For example, Nsibambi, the foremost leader among all Africans, always
insisted that the revival should aim for renewal of the existing church, and reject calls to form a
new independent one, even though the established churches were suspicious of the movement.53
When Mabel Ensor, an influential Irish medical missionary with an extraordinary zeal for the purity
of the gospel and church, suggested Nsibambi should leave the Anglican Church of Uganda and
start another church in Kampala because of the spiritual dryness and corruption of the established
churches, Nsibambi responded, “Those who are corrupt in this church that I am in, are my
brothers, and if I leave it, they will not hear, so I cannot leave them.”54 He decided to stay in the
Church of Uganda to bridge the gap between the Anglican Church and activist revivalists as “an
anchor to both groups, tempering the excesses of the revivalists and revitalizing the churchmen.”55
In addition, Nsibambi played a significant part in dealing with a controversial doctrine of the
Balokole. In the mid-1940s, some extreme Balokole began claiming that they reached a state of
sinlessness. Nsibambi publicly refuted their problematic doctrine and practice, and corrected them
by pointing to the work of Jesus at the cross. Simple but profound was his advice to Nagenda,
who despaired of his inability to achieve perfection: “Don’t you know, William, that your old man
was crucified for you, long ago, at Calvary!…Go home and rest, brother, rest in the finished work
of Calvary.”56 His discernment and correction were crucial in keeping the movement credible to
established churches. Nsibambi served as a wise counselor with a “special gift of discernment that
could detect anything detracting from the centrality of Jesus Christ.”57
One of the remarkable legacies of the Balokole Revival is that that none of its prominent
leaders claimed to be a principal leader above others. There was no great name, no great preacher,
no powerful leader. Joe Church always refused to call the Balokole “Joe Church’s Revival,” because
he believed that the Holy Spirit was the initiator of the revival. Many leaders of the movement
always worked together as a team, and their oneness beyond different cultures, races, and languages
became the most precious heritage that God taught the later generation.58 The revivalists were
careful not to make an idol of anyone, and they avoided hero worship.59 They simply wanted to
be remembered as ordinary lay Christians who loved Jesus Christ and followed him with all their
heart. All of their life and ministry pointed to Jesus, the Savior of all.
52 Welbourn, East African Christian, p. 144.
53 Church, Quest for the Highest, p. 88.
54 Osborn, Pioneers in the East African Revival, p. 27.
55 Mark Noll and Carolyn Nystrom, Clouds of Witnesses: Christian Voices from Africa and Asia (Downers Grove:
IVP Books, 2011), p. 109.
56 Church, Quest for the Highest, p. 215.
57 Although the public ministry of Simeon Nsibambi came to a close in 1941 due to his illness, he continued to
serve as an influential mentor and counselor of other leaders of the revival movement for another thirty years. Richard K.
MacMaster, A Gentle Wind of God: The Influence of the East Africa Revival (Scottdale, Pa.: Herald Press, 2006), pp. 65–66.
58 Zeb Kabaza, the later evangelist of the revival, testified about this regarding what he observed and learned from
the early leaders of the revival. Osborn, Pioneers in the East African Revival, p. 262.
59 Ibid., p. 261.
19
New Identity as a New Clan
The East African Revival did not merely transplant the European Evangelical Revival. It was
a profound expression of African Christianity as “a new ‘clan,’ stressing the intense solidarity of
the group, arranging marriages, looking after widows.”60 In particular, Bishop Kibira emphasizes
Ab’oluganda (“Brethren”) as a new clan and as a new blood brotherhood in the blood of Christ
Jesus, which provides a stronger uniting effect than the traditional clan.61 The revivalists established
and spread the idea of a new clan distinct both from the traditional clan and from the ordinary
(or nominal) Christian “clan.” In submission to Jesus—the true head of the clan—they tended to
be critical of some traditional clan obligations such as giving children clan names and not eating
clan totems. Yet, they did not completely withdraw from traditional society, just as they did not
split away from the organized church.62 In addition, John Taylor observes, “The revival profoundly
challenged the old assumption of European superiority in the church, and opened the way for a
recovery of African responsibility and leadership.”63 The Balokole Revival is considered to provide
the historical and theological background for some independent church movements in East Africa
in the 1950s and ’60s that searched for a more spiritual Christianity.64
More than anything else, the revival created a radical community of faith within and around
the established churches in East Africa. Kevin Ward, a leading historian of Ugandan Christianity,
assesses the significance of the revival as follows:
The Balokole Revival has had a deep impact on many of the Protestant churches of
Eastern Africa, invigorating and renewing their life and offering to individuals the
challenge of a deeper experience of salvation in Christ and a more radical commitment
to Christian discipleship.65
Even in the context of colonial Africa, those in the revival began to perceive themselves as the
“saved one” or the “awakened one.” The movement offered a new identity, new status, and new
structures for them to be active agents, not simply the colonized. The revival, to some extent, helped
to decolonize the mission-founded churches during crucial decades and enabled them to stand on
their own apart from European domination or state control.66
It is also worthy of mention that the Balokole Revival produced a number of important
indigenous church leaders. Among them were two great Ugandan Anglican churchmen, Archbishop
Janani Luwum and Bishop Festo Kivengere, and the prominent Tanzanian Bishop Josiah Kibira, the
President of the Lutheran World Federation from 1977 to 1984.67 As a matter of fact, Cyril Stuart,
Bishop of Uganda, had a warm sympathy for the movement from its early days because of his hope
and vision to recruit educated and passionate young leaders for the church’s ministry.68 He firmly
believed the revival could revitalize the Church of Uganda and provide spiritually and intellectually
capable indigenous leaders. This spiritual heritage from the revival of eight decades ago has
carried into the present, as the current Archbishop of the Church of Uganda, Henry Orombi,
who also served as chairman of the Africa Host Committee in the Third Lausanne Congress on
60 Ward, “Africa,” p. 224.
61 Kibira, Church, Clan, and the World, pp. 46–50.
62 Ward, “Tukutendereza Yesu: The Balokole Revival in Uganda,” p. 134.
63 Taylor, The Growth of the Church in Buganda, p. 103.
64 David Barrett gives an illustration of how the Balokole Revival affected the independent movement among Luo
Anglicans in Kenya in the 1950s and ’60s. Barrett, Schism and Renewal in Africa, pp. 11–13.
65 Ward, “Tukutendereza Yesu: The Balokole Revival in Uganda,” p. 113.
66 Shaw, Global Awakening, p. 108.
67 Kevin Ward, “Obedient Rebels: The Relationship between the Early Balokole and the Church of Uganda,” Journal
of Religion in Africa 19 (1989): 194.
68 Ibid., pp. 201–202.
20
World Evangelization in Cape Town, South Africa in 2010, was hugely influenced by the revival in
Northern Uganda.69
Conclusion
The initial revival movement in East Africa arose within the Church of Uganda in the 1930s “as
a protest against nominal Christianity.”70 From early on in the revival, Church and Nsibambi had
two clear goals: to revitalize the Church of Uganda, and to keep the purity of the Christian faith
from the influence of modernism and liberal theology.71 Instead of aiming at something spectacular
and dramatic in the Christian life, they simply called for returning to the genuine experience of true
conversion and promoting victorious daily life in the power of the Holy Spirit.
The Balokole Revival was neither a missionary-led movement nor a replica of the European/
American Evangelical Revival of the previous century. Though the movement began with the
grand vision of CMS missionary Joe Church, he deliberately cooperated with many prominent
African leaders from the very beginning. Africans’ leadership in the early years of the revival was
crucial. It was these committed indigenous leaders who spread the revival through fellowship
meetings, helped the movement be Christocentric and remain in the organized church, and made it
distinctively African. This extraordinary work of God in East Africa was able to be fulfilled through
these ordinary but faithful people of Africa.
Daewon Moon is a Ph.D. candidate (Missiology) in the joint program of Boston University School of Theology and
Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. He received his M.Div. from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in South
Hamilton, MA. Daewon is also Adjunct Faculty of Missiology at International Leadership University, Bujumbura, Burundi.
69 Ward, “The East African Revival of the Twentieth Century,” p. 381.
70 Ward, “Obedient Rebels,” p. 219.
71 It is interesting to note that the British Keswick movement and CICCU had already dealt with these two issues
several decades earlier. Joe Church maintained the uncompromising stance of CICCU against the dead “formalism” and
“modernism” of the Church of Uganda. Church, Quest for the Highest, pp. 182–6; Hastings, The Church in Africa:
1450–1950, p. 596; Ian S. Rennie, “Fundamentalism and the Varieties of North Atlantic Evangelicalism,” in Evangelicalism:
Comparative Studies of Popular Protestantism in North America, the British Isles, and Beyond 1700–1900, ed. Mark A. Noll
et al. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1994), pp. 340–41.
21
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Religion and Church in China:
Trends and Dynamics1
Kevin Xiyi Yao
An Overview
In recent years, religion has repeatedly made headlines in China and abroad. In December
of 2012, “Eastern Lightening,” a long-banned cult, suddenly burst into sight of the public. They
publicly endorsed a popular doomsday prediction that the world would end on December 21,
2012, and launched aggressive, nationwide campaigns to urge people to repent and join their
group before the apocalypse. Founded in the late 1980s, this group claims Christ has returned to
the world, and a woman in Henan province has been identified as the second Christ. Those who
do not accept her words will suffer severe punishment. Outlawed as an “evil cult” by the Chinese
government a long time ago, it re-emerged in the name of the Church of Almighty God, but quickly
found over one thousand of its key members rounded up by police. Severely suppressed in mainland
China, it is still very active in Hong Kong and Taiwan, and currently headquartered in the United
States.
During the summer of 2013, a Qigong master by the name of Wang Lin suddenly became
the focus of public scrutiny. An obscure man living in a small county of the Jiangxi province,
Mr. Wang claims he possesses such supernatural powers to cure terminal illness and perform
all kinds of miracles including resurrecting a dead person. And he once bragged that American
intelligence agencies were so impressed by his ability that they offered him a green card over 70
times. Throughout the years he has cultivated relationships with the rich and famous in the country,
and obviously gained fame among them. And he has constantly been visited and consulted by top
business people, government officials, and movie stars. The leaking of the numerous photos of him
rubbing shoulders with the country’s elite immediately created a huge media sensation and online
uproar. Mr. Wang was then forced to go into hiding, and Chinese authorities were said to consider
prosecuting him for fraud.
What do these two recent incidents tell us about religion in nowadays China? First, we can say
that, after almost thirty years of the communist attempts to eradicate religion, religion is not only
alive, but actually flourishing in China today. And religion is playing an increasingly important role
in that society. It is so much so that I would argue that it is no longer accurate to say China is a
communist, atheist country. Instead, what we see in China is an increasingly religious society, even
though the communist party is still in power.
Secondly, just as the country is in general, religious life in China is going through tremendous
change. The collapse of the dominance of the communist ideology and the rise of a market
economy has created a spiritual void that is yet to be filled. People in that country are hungry for
new spiritual direction and new religious products. To meet such tremendous spiritual needs, all
kinds of religions and ideologies are competing for bigger shares of the spiritual market. New
religious or quasi-religious movements are clashing with conventional, organized religions, western
religions clashing with native ones, all religions clashing with secular ideologies, and modern
values clashing with post-modern ones. The result is a fluid, dynamic and even chaotic religious
scene full of surprise and uncertainty, having become a hotbed for new religious ideas, practices,
and movements. In my opinion, what we are witnessing in China right now is a massive religious
experiment quite remarkable in modern world history.
1 Most of the contents of this essay were presented at the Boston Theological Institute Annual Dinner and Lecture
2013, held on October 3, 2013 in Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, South Hamilton, MA.
23
This whole dynamic process was unleashed in the early 1980s, as the country embarked
on economic and social reform. In the wake of the Great Cultural Revolution (1966-1976),
the communist authority under the leadership of Mr. Deng Xiaoping realized that it is utterly
unrealistic to turn China into a totally atheistic country in the foreseeable future. And these leaders
decided to restore a much fine tuned policy and apparatus that aims to tolerate but contain and
even manipulate religion to their own advantage. As a result, a great deal of religious freedom
is granted, and significant room created for religious activities in the society. Not surprisingly,
huge spiritual demands and adjustments of governmental policy have combined to create a social
environment for an unprecedented religious boom and resulted in waves of religious revivals
throughout the 1980s and 1990s. Yes, China’s record of religious freedom may not be quite up
to American standards yet, but I would argue that it has improved significantly throughout the
years. There is no comparison between the kind of religious persecution of the 1960s and the kind
of religious tolerance Chinese citizens enjoy today. I would challenge any attempt to lump China
together with such countries as North Korea. And we need to be more aware of the complex and
developmental nature of the church-state relation in China.
The Rise of Christianity
When I mention religious revivals in nowadays China, I mean all kinds of religions: Buddhism,
Confucianism, Daoism, Christianity, Islam, folk religions, and new religious movements. Since
the 1980s, many religious traditions have experienced a boom in one way or another. However,
among all mainstream religions in China, most of China observers seem to agree, Protestantism
has been the fastest growing one for the last several decades. It was said that throughout the 1990s
millions of new members were added to the Protestant community. Today you can find in China
one of the largest Protestant communities around the world: fifty to one hundred million believers,
as estimated by many observers,2 even though their percentage in the general population is still
not high. Ironically, another indicator for the growing influence and status of Christianity is the
mushrooming of “Christian cults” in the recent decades. Out of the fifteen so-called “evil cults”
officially banned by the Chinese authority, twelve are the offshoots of Christianity.3
The Protestant Church in contemporary China is very dynamic, unconventional, and complex,
often full of paradox, and defies any generalization. One of the most striking features of the
Protestant church in China is perhaps that, instead of denominationalism, it is divided into the
Three-Self Patriotic Movement (TSPM) and the house church, or the official church and the
underground church, as often referred to by some observers.4 This division has much to do with
the roles of the government. It is fair to say, ever since the 1950s, the church-state relation has
been a crucial factor in the evolution of Christianity in China. Church life is very much shaped and
over-shadowed by the government’s religious policy and the church’s attitude toward the political
authorities. It remains so even today.
No one can deny that the 1980s belonged to the TSPM. Throughout the 1980s, the TSPM
spearheaded the rehabilitation and growth of the Protestant community in China. And it was the
most important, if not the only, voice for the entire church. Its achievements, such as Bible printing
and theological education, are undeniable.
However, since the mid-1990s, the movement has been facing some unprecedented challenges
even to the point of crisis. As many observers point out, the root problem is that the current
2 See the World Christian Database (Brill 2013).
3 Xi Wuyi, “Jian Lun Dang Dai Zhong Guo Xie Jiao Yang Bian De Li Shi Gui Ji” (On the Historical Trajectory of
Cults in Contemporary China), in http://www.globalview.cn/ReadNews.asp?NewsID=3948
4 A recent attempt to interpret this great dichotomy within the Protestant community in China has been made along
the line of the “Magisterial Church vs Free Church.” See Wang Ai Ming: “Jian Zhi Jiao Hui yu Zi You Jiao Hui: Wen Ti, Wei
Ji he Ke Neng De Chu Lu” (The Established Church vs. Free Church: Problems, Crisis, and Solution), in http://www.21ccom.
net/articles/zgyj/gqmq/article_2013022077383.html.
24
TSPM was initiated and established in the 1950s. As Chinese society and culture are getting more
pluralistic, diversified, and commercialized, the movement is increasingly lagging behind social and
cultural development at least in terms of its mode of thinking and current policy. Consequently,
many believers feel their spiritual needs cannot be adequately met under the current structure.
And the TSPM seems to have been outgrown quantitatively and qualitatively by the house church
movement. It is no wonder that the TSPM’s status as the only voice of the Protestant church in
China is apparently challenged and its legitimacy is being increasingly questioned. In other words,
the TSPM is facing the danger of being marginalized.
Since the 1990s, the house churches have been the fastest growing sector of Protestantism in
China. Till the mid-1990s the house churches were still strongest in rural areas, and many of their
members tended to be from marginal social groups such as women and the elderly. However, in
recent years, the highest growth rate is found in urban areas and among the social elites.
As the house church is undergoing a historical demographic change, how to define the house
church becomes a tricky issue. How to define the house church is always a tricky issue. Can you
still categorize a congregation with several thousand members, which worships publicly in an
office space but is not yet registered with the government as an underground house church? Is
“unregistered church” a better term than house church? If the house churches share the same
evangelical theological outlook with a majority of the Three-Self churches, then what exactly
distinguishes the former from the latter? I would argue the defining factor is the house churches’
shared attitude toward the TSPM: They all want to maintain their independence from the TSPM.
And all house churches hold hostility, distrust, or at least reservations toward the TSPM, for they
believe the TSPM is simply tied with the authorities too closely.
From the very beginning the house churches have demonstrated certain well-known features:
theologically evangelical, highly indigenized, heavily relying on lay involvement and leadership, and
very enthusiastic for evangelism. In fact, the house church movement has been a major missionary
force responsible for the massive evangelistic efforts in Chinese society for the past decades and
increasingly embraces the vision of world mission. The well-known “Back-to-Jerusalem Movement”
may be controversial, but can certainly serve as an indicator of the kind of missionary enthusiasm
and dynamics in China. And a growing role of the Chinese Church in worldwide missions is
perhaps the next big thing for us to anticipate.
In any case, the division and tension between the TSPM and house church movement should
not be exaggerated. The suspicion and hostility between them at the top level may be deep-rooted
and intense. But it is much less so at the grass-roots level. Most of the TSPM churches share the
same evangelical theological tradition with house churches. In other words, the differences between
the two movements are largely historical, social, and political, rather than theological and doctrinal.
In fact, at least at the grass-root level, there is often considerable cooperation between the TSPM
and house congregations. This once again reminds us of the existence of a huge gray area in the
religious life in China, which defies any black or white interpretation.5 Of course, the reconciliation
between these two sectors is no doubt desirable. But, given the formidable structural and
psychological barriers, it is likely to take a long time before anything can happen at the national
level.
From the 1980s to the present, the Roman Catholic Church in China also registered a
significant growth, but it is dwarfed by its Protestant counterpart. As we know, the huge challenge
facing the Catholic community in China is always its difficult relation with the Vatican; and the
church is deeply divided over this issue. At this point, there seems to be very little hope for a major
breakthrough in the stalemate between Beijing and the Vatican.
5 Sociologist Fenggang Yang’s discussion of the Red, Black, and Gray Markets of religion in China is very helpful
here. (See Fenggang Yang, Religion in China, Survival and Revival under Communist Rule (New York, NY: Oxford
University Press, 2012), chap. 5.)
25
The Chinese Church in a World of Religious Pluralism
After three decades of tremendous social changes, the Protestant Church has apparently
emerged as an early winner in the competing religions’ scramble to fill in the Chinese people’s
spiritual void. Actually, an argument has been made that Christianity benefited much under the
communists’ effort to uproot all religious traditions from the country in the 1950s and 1960s,
because the communists under the leadership of Mao cleared the ground for the Christian
intrusion, and made possible the dramatic surge of the Church since the 1980s. In recent years, it
has also become clear that the success of Christianity has turned the church into a sort of common
enemy for many other religious and ideological contenders.
As the old ideological monopoly of Marxism is giving in to cultural and ideological diversity,
traditional religions such as Confucianism, Daoism, Buddhism and folk religions are all making a
comeback. Along with declining Marxism and other secular ideologies, almost all major religious
groups consider surging Christianity a great rival, perhaps a number one rival in the battle for
China’s soul. Endorsed by the Chinese government, they charge that Christianity as a Western
religion served as a running dog of Western imperialism in the past and once again becomes a threat
to Chinese cultural tradition and national identity today. And it is said that the unprecedented
spread of Christianity profoundly tips the balance of the so-called “religious eco-system” which is
critical to a stable and harmonious society. Therefore, every effort should be made to restore and
sustain the balance of the “religious eco-system” for the country’s best interest.6 And even more
ominously, a point has been frequently made that Christian missionary efforts in recent decades are
actually a part of a Western conspiracy to undermine the rule of the communist party and China’s
sovereignty, and therefore should be treated as a potential menace to China’s national and cultural
security. Unfortunately, behind this kind of mentality and rhetoric the powerful influence of Samuel
Huntington’s theory of “Clash of Civilizations” looms large.7 In China, Huntington’s famous theory
is always cited or misinterpreted to vindicate the alleged rivalry between the Chinese Confucian
civilization and the Judeo-Christian civilization. And it provides many Chinese intellectuals with
a convenient lens through which the rise of Christianity in their own country can be perceived
and interpreted. Once church growth is perceived with a framework of “Clash of Civilization,”
it immediately takes on a whole set of new meanings, and becomes a part of a geo-political game
between China and the West.
I am not saying this kind of nationalistic hostility or even resentment toward Christianity and
geo-political consideration are the only driving forces behind the recent revivals of non-Christian
religions in China. But nationalistic hostility is definitely one of the strongest and most significant
forces. To counter-balance the growing popularity of Christianity and Western values, grass root
religious groups joined hands with the government to promote native religions and traditional
values that are identified as the soft power of the Chinese nation.8 Extravagant rituals are staged to
commemorate Confucius’ birthday, Confucian, Daoist, and Buddhist scriptures are re-printed and
circulated, and efforts are made to instill Confucian values into the minds of young generations,
and so on. Here is the irony of the day: a supposedly secular communist regime is spending tax
payers’ money in sponsoring a selected group of religious organizations and their activities; and a
theoretically still atheist ruling party who attempted to eliminate all religions in China just twenty
years ago has now found unlikely allies in certain religious groups in their joint efforts to contain or
minimize the growing influence of allegedly Western religion. As happened many times in Chinese
6 Mu Zhongjian, “Zhong Guo Zong Jiao De Duo Yuan Tong He Mo Shi (The Pluralistic and Harmonious Paradigm
of Religious Ecosystem in China),” in www.people.com.cn/24hour/n/2013/0614/c25408-21833645.html.
7 See Samuel P. Huntington, The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order (New York, NY: Simon &
Schuster, 1996).
8 For an explanation of the concept of soft power, see Joseph S. Nye, Jr., Bound to Lead: The Changing Nature of
American Power (New York, NY: Basic Books, 1990); Soft Power: The Means to Success in World Politics (New York, NY:
PublicAffairs, 2004).
26
history, ideological correctness and orthodoxy are replaced by political expedience and religious
favoritism, and political and ideological pragmatism seems to be in full swing. In any case, the
restoration of Chinese religious tradition is well under way, and re-alignment of the religious and
ideological scene seems to be inevitable. It is perhaps wishful thinking on the part of the Confucian
faithful that the old religious order would be one day reinstated, which would put Confucianism in
the center and all other traditions on the periphery. But future religious life in China will definitely
be much more diverse and dynamic. Surely, there are already some sporadic friendly interactions
and gestures of good will between different religious communities. However, as religious surge and
rivalry are still the game of the day, and as the secular political force is still meddling in religion for
political gain, a genuine interreligious dialogue remains a dream.
Christianity may have become the envy of others, but that does not mean that its future
in China looks all rosy. In fact, after three decades of exponential church growth, many signs
seemingly point to a slow-down. Frankly, I do not see any solid ground for such a prediction that
“Christians will constitute 20 to 30 percent of China’s population,” the Chinese nation will be
Christianized, and the country will adopt a new, “pro-Western” political direction accordingly.9 For
me, this kind of prediction is overly optimistic and even a bit triumphalistic.
In fact, Christianity is facing tremendous challenges and pitfalls in the China of the 21st
Century. Internally, the Church will continue to wrestle with uncertain theological orientations,
inadequate theological education, rampant heretical teachings, the rising tensions between church
unity and emerging denominational identities, and so on. Externally, the Church will continue to
cope with a swiftly changing society and persistent governmental pressure. Particularly relevant
to our discussion are two following issues: First, in responding to rising nationalism and nativism
in Chinese society, the Church once again has to reckon with its historical ties with western
imperialism and colonialism, and work even harder to forge a genuine Chinese identity and
image. Second, in responding to emerging religious pluralism, the Chinese Church has much soulsearching to do, and has a long way to go before a viable approach or strategy is in place. Right
now there is considerable confusion over this issue. In my view, potentially, the most dangerous
sign is the popularity of Christendom’s mentality and rhetoric among a large number of Chinese
Christians. There is a lot of talk about how, eventually, to make Christianity the mainstream of
Chinese culture and even to turn the country into a so-called “Christian” nation. And the rhetoric
of Christian conquest and hegemony, which is reminiscent of nineteenth century missionary
triumphalism and paternalism, can once again be heard from the lips of some Chinese believers and
some of their Western supporters today. I always wonder how biblical and how realistic this sort
of “grand vision” is. In my opinion, a vision of a faithful, loving, and humble Christian minority
with a prophetic voice in a pluralistic world would be healthier and more desirable for the Church
in China, for it is more akin to the Chinese churches’ evangelical heritage, more relevant to their
context and their social status, and more conducive to their future in that great nation.
Kevin Xiyi Yao graduated with a B.A. and M.A. from the History Department of Nankai University, Tianjin, China in
1984 and 1987. In 1992 he was awarded a M.A. in Theological Studies by the Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminaries in
Indiana, U.S.A. In 2000 he earned a Doctor of Theology from Boston University School of Theology. In the late 1980s, he
worked at the Institute of World Religions, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. From 2003 to 2011 he taught at the China
Graduate School of Theology, Hong Kong. Currently, he is Associate Professor of World Christianity and Asian Study at
Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. He is the author of The Fundamentalist Movement among Protestant Missionaries
in China, 1920-1937 (Lanham, Maryland: University Press of America, 2003).
9 David Aikman, Jesus in Beijing: How Christianity Is Transforming China and Changing the Global Balance of
Power (Washington, DC: Regnery Publishing, INC, 2003), pp. 287-289.
27
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AÍDA BESANÇON SPENCER (PhD, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, KY; ThM, MDiv, Princeton Theological Seminary) is
Professor of New Testament at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, South Hamilton, MA, and Extraordinary Researcher for North-West University,
Potchefstroom, South Africa. She is the author or coauthor of thirteen books, including 2 Corinthians (Bible Study Commentary), Beyond the Curse: Women
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What All Can Learn from the Jamaican Christians’ Dialogue with the
Rastafarians: Focusing on Jesus as the Only Way while Maintaining Irenic
Communication with Others’ Faith Stances
William David Spencer
That our Christian faith, its offshoots, and its opponents have been steeped in sometimes
violent controversy is a sad fact of history. Considering what happened to Jesus, its founder, how
could its trajectory be any different in this fallen world? These days, given the frequent religious
violence across the globe, many voices are urging Christians in particular, “Can’t we all just agree
we worship the same God, so we all just get along and live in peace?” For Evangelical Christians,
the answer to such a question has to be clearly no. Not that we do not want to live in peace. We
do. But, for Evangelicals, Jesus Christ is not an incarnation of Krishna, and Haile Selassie was
not a reincarnation of Jesus.1 God is not a monad, whose prophet is Jesus. God is not “the “Godprinciple,” Christ merely “the ideal truth,” and Jesus simply “the name of the man who, more
than all other men, has presented Christ, the true idea of God.”2 We cannot all agree we worship
the same God, but we can strive to recognize differences and strive to live in peace. This is a third
option to violence or acquiescence that sponsors irenic reasoning in discourse that does not insult
other religions by minimizing their distinctives and does not betray our faith by controverting the
message of Jesus as recorded by his follower John in his gospel (14:6).
Evangelical Christians should be concerned with preserving historical orthodox evangelical
doctrine on the key precepts of God, humanity, God’s plans for us, and our activities in response
toward God and one another. Irenic reasoning need not mean acquiescence on doctrinal points.
With the weakening of assurance of the uniqueness of Christ as solely salvific in “the spirit of the
age” and cultural pressure to see Jesus as the way for Christians, the law for Jews, the Tao for
Buddhists, etc., what is essential is that all historically orthodox Christians center on Jesus as the
only way to God as we address other faith stances.
But, at the same time, we need to distinguish between what is the kerygma – the dogma that we
cannot compromise – and what is the overlay, the cultural aspects that, having been lenses through
which we have viewed our faith, may have become to many of us synonymous with our faith.
Using the example of the changing relationships between Christian Churches and Twelve Tribes
of Israel Rastafari as my test case example, this article will discuss how an irenic contextualized
approach without compromising the central keynote message of salvation in Christ alone guided
this group to adjust its faith stance to a more historically orthodox Christian soteriological
position. My conclusion is that evangelicals, who are a global, multicultural movement can
learn from these Rastafari and the Jamaican Christians with whom they were in dialogue to be
more consciously engaged in this type of domestic and global witness. After reviewing briefly the
Rastafari history, I will propose four steps in creating a bridge from Christianity to another faith.
Who Are the Rastafari?
As with many other offshoot heterodox belief systems, Rastafari, ninety percent of whose
members were drawn from Christian churches, began to distinguish itself from Christianity in an
atmosphere of conflict, as rhetoric was fired by each side at the other and violence resulted.
1 Leonard Howell, a founder of Rastafari, taught this perspective. See my book Dread Jesus (Eugene, OR: Wipf and
Stock, 1999, 2011), 83.
2 Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures (Boston: First Church of Christ, Scientist, 1934), 473.
29
The movement itself was the culmination of an intense period of messianic-type expectancy
that stretched back to the days of slavery on the island of Jamaica. As early as February 13, 1829
in a book published in New York, entitled The Ethiopian Manifesto, Robert Alexander Young
announced “the time is at hand” for “the divine will of our God” to break “the vile shackles of
slavery” through the hand of a deliverer: “in appearance, a white man, although having been born
of a black woman, his mother…in Grenada’s Island, Grand Anta Estate.”3 On September 28 of that
same year, David Walker composed his Appeal in Four Articles; Together with a Preamble, to the
Coloured Citizens of the World, reminding his readers to “remember, also to lay humble at the feet
of our Lord and Master Jesus Christ, with prayer and fastings” for “God has prepared for them
a leader, who awaits but for his season to proclaim to them his birthright,“ and “when that hour
arrives and you move, be not afraid or dismayed; for be you assured that Jesus Christ the King of
heaven and of earth who is the God of justice and of armies, will surely go before you. And those
enemies who have for hundreds of years stolen our rights, and kept us ignorant of Him and His
divine worship, he will remove.”4 In the years that followed, expectation centered on one and then
another potential deliverer, until, once again in New York City, a violent reaction to the burning
of a United States flag as the culmination of a parade by a “prophet” of the “Abyssinian Order”
from Chicago, revealed that their deliverer was “The Lion of Judah,” “The King of Ethiopia,” “His
Majesty Menelik II, King of Kings of Ethiopia.”5 By September, 1924, in a speech in Jamaica’s
Liberty Hall and a book, the Rev. James Morris Webb was announcing, A Black Man Will Be the
Coming Universal King, Proven by Biblical History, declaring, “The world cannot realize this now.
It will take time. When the prophetic part of the Bible is preached the world will realize that the
universal black king is coming.”6 A spurious prophecy was even attributed to the great Marcus
Garvey urging people to look to Africa for deliverance at the crowning of a black king, though
with Garvey’s fierce anti-royal, pro-democratic proclivities, such a sentiment seems impossible.
Nevertheless, the fusing of a deliverer, the Bible, and Ethiopia in a united concept appeared to be
fulfilled, when, on November 2, 1930, Ras (meaning, Prince or Field Marshall) Tafari Makonnen
ascended to the throne of Ethiopia as Haile Selassie I (Amharic for “Might of the Holy Trinity”),
sending a cadre of Jamaican preachers suddenly abroad on the streets of Kingston proclaiming the
divine deliverer was now at hand.
George Eaton Simpson of Oberlin College, the first academician to study the movement in
1953, discovered that meetings in these early days were opened with the challenge: “Death to
the white man,” to which, in call and response style, adherents would answer, “And to the black
traitors!” He reports, “Occasionally, arguments and scuffles occurred in the street” between
Rastafarians and a syncretistic Revival Zion church he had been studying.7 A series of early clashes
between police and Rastafarians sent leaders of the movement to jail, as hostility to the new
movement increased and grew through the years.
3 Robert Alexander Young, The Ethiopian Manifesto, Issued in Defence of the Black Man’s Rights in the Scale of Universal
Freedom (New York: Robert Alexander Young, 1929), collected in Stirling Stucky, comp., The Ideological Origins of Black
NaƟonalism (Boston: Beacon, 1972), 32, 38.
4 David Walker, Appeal in Four Articles; Together with a Preamble, To the Coloured Citizens of the World, But
in Particular, And Very Expressly, To those of The United States of America, Written in Boston, State of Massachusetts,
September 28, 1829 (Boston: David Walker, 1830), collected in Stirling Stucky, The Ideological Origins of Black
Nationalism, 50-51.
5 The Chicago Commission on Race Relations, The Negro in Chicago: A Study of Race RelaƟons and a Race Riot (Chicago:
University of Chicago, 1922), 59-64.
6 Cited in Robert Hill, “Leonard P. Howell and Millenarian Visions in Early Rastafari,” Jamaica Journal, vol. 6, no. 1
(Feb 1983), 25.
7 George Eaton Simpson, “Personal Reflections on Rastafari in West Kingston in the Early 1950s,” in Nathaniel
Samuel Murrell, William David Spencer, and Adrian Anthony McFarlane, eds., ChanƟng Down Babylon: The Rastafari Reader
(Philadelphia: Temple University, 1998), 220, 223, adapted from Simpson’s “Some Reflections on the Movement in Jamaica:
West Kingston in the Early 1950s, Jamaica Journal, vol. 25, no. 2 (December, 1994), 5, 7.
30
Finding a Bridge
How does one enter into such a polarized situation and attempt to find the bridge for witness
that is inherent in such a faith?
Step one was to figure out what it was all about. This was not a foregone conclusion for
Christians. In the early 1990s, I was shocked to be invited to lecture on Rastafari to a class of
college students at Jamaica Theological Seminary in Kingston, Jamaica. I protested that a white
man from New Jersey had nothing to tell Jamaicans about an indigenous Jamaican Movement.
Their professor, Timothy Erdel, assured me that I would be surprised. I made my presentation and
asked for responses. The class was silent. I kept trying to draw the students out, when, finally, a
young woman, sitting in the third row, waved her hand in dismissal and said, “I was taught to just
let that pass by.” It made sense for her, when so many church youth were being influenced by this
heterodox, separatist movement.
Step two was for the churches to engage the Rastafari irenically under the leadership of
apologists like the philosopher Clinton Chisholm, who was pastoring in Spanish Town, teaching
at the University of the West Indies, and befriending the Rastafarian community, churches like the
Family Church on the Rock, which was sponsoring concerts of Christ-oriented reggae, and similar
thinkers, pastors, churches, artists, musicians.
What they learned is that this “faith,” though religious in many aspects, was something other
at its core. As I point out in my book, Dread Jesus, which is a study of the Rasta views of Jesus,
Rastafarians have many different opinions of who Jesus and Haile Selassie were. Despite popular
opinion, some worship neither and did not recognize Haile Selassie as God or Jesus returned. Yet all
of them considered themselves Rastafari. This is because, at its center, Rastafari is, in my opinion,
an Afro-Caribbean consciousness movement, as was the Ethiopianism which spawned it.
Thus, step three was listening to valid points Rastas were raising on cultural identity. As a
result, Christian leaders began to drop their atavistic missionary suits and ties and to effect dashikis
and other African garb. Christian bands and gospel choirs, among which was Jamaica’s leading
Christian performing choir, The Grace Thrillers, began to present reggae songs about Jesus. Soon
high profile Rastafarians like the great Judy Mowatt, winner of Jamaica’s distinguished Musgrave
Award and former member of Bob Marley’s accompanying group the I-Three, as well as a respected
writer and performer in her own right, guided by an experience in her youth of being befriended
by the St. Vincent de Paul Society, began to experience high profile conversions, still singing reggae,
but doing so now with a Christian perspective. By the late 1990s and the early 2000s, Christian
reggae was reportedly outselling secular reggae in Jamaica. In 1997, Dr. Vernon Carrington, known
as the Prophet Gad, founder of the Twelve Tribes of Israel, the Rastafarian sect to which many
intellectuals, including professors at the University of the West Indies and, before his death, the
iconic performer Bob Marley, belonged, declared this group’s loyalty to Jesus as Savior and Haile
Selassie, not as God among us, but as a faithful follower of Jesus:
We see Christ, and that die and rose again, and that die for our sin, we see that
person…Christ is to return and sit on the Throne of David, so I strongly believe that ,
you know, Christ is the person…Because Christ the same yesterday, today and forever.
And…His Majesty say, Him saved not by the man character but by the blood of Jesus
Christ.8
Following this announcement, a number of high profile Rastafarian conversions to Christianity
began, as that of entrepreneur and celebrity, Tommy Cowan, reported in the May 10, 1998 issue of
Jamaica’s premier newspaper, The Sunday Gleaner:
8 Dr. Vernon Carrington interview with Ms. Andrea Williams, Running African, Irie FM (Kingston Jamaica),
transcribed by Messian Dread of the Netherlands, July 13th, 1997, http://web.sur.edu/-affellem/Gad.ht, accessed June 1,
1998, p. 3.
31
Veteran Master of Ceremonies (MC), Tommy Cowan has joined the congregation of
Christian converts. An announcement was made at last weekend’s Ron Kenoly show,
and the dread-locked Cowan, a Rastafarian for decades, made good on his word and
was baptized at the Church On The Rock, Cassava Piece, St. Andrew, last Sunday.
Cowan’s son Che,9 serves as youth director at the church.10
Seven days later, I interviewed Tommy Cowan at the Family Church on the Rock. He explained
that he had been repulsed “by the name ‘Jesus’” being “used to enslave” Blacks and the refusal
of “many of the churches in the early churches” in the Caribbean to “condemn slavery.” As a
result, “in my search as a Christian, I went into Rasta,” but his mind began to change “doing my
search up in Rasta. Because I saw ‘When ye shall come again as the King of Kings, Lord of Lords,
Conquering Lion of the Tribe of Judah,’ and ‘He shall be of the line of David.’ And did Selassie fill
that role? Because I search for Selassie. Selassie pointed to Christ. And if you look into his works,
you will see even in his first twenty five years of ruling in Ethiopia that he built over three thousand
churches.” This does not mean that Tommy Cowan ceased to be a Rastafarian. He assured me, “I
am still a Rasta. Yeah, because it’s his teachings. It’s just like Bob Marley; Bob Marley said, ‘Give
me the teachings of His Majesty. I don’t want the Devil’s philosophy.’ What is the teachings of His
Majesty? His Majesty is a final way to Christ…Selassie’s saying, ‘Jesus!’ He’s saying , ‘God!’”11
Judy Mowatt told me that she recognized Haile Selassie as her “king”: “I would say every
nation has a king. And, you know, the black race should also have a king…every nation should
have a king. And also as a people, our king is His Imperial Majesty.” But, he is no longer her God:
“When I found Christ, I dreamt I saw His Majesty smiling with me. Smiling like he was saying, ‘My
darling’ or ‘My daughter, I’m so glad you’ve found the truth.’”12
Other groups in Rastafari, still hostile to Christianity, objected, calling the Twelve Tribes “Jesus
boys,” as Rasta teacher Marcel Goffe reports.13 Judy Mowatt agrees, “On the Rasta side they are
saying that I have sold out; I’m a traitor; I have betrayed them. I should not have done that. And I
mean it has caused a serious animosity – hostility.”14
Some like Judy Mowatt joined Christian churches anyway, but others like Marcel Goffe did
not, though still affirming to me, “The message we want to tell people is that the Davidic throne is
very important, and, if the king on the throne obeys, he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, which is
basically accepting Christ as Lord and Savior. Filled with the Holy Spirit, Christ is in that person.”
But, he adds, “The person is not the Christ.”
Why do all Rastas with such a firm grasp of the gospel not opt for joining Christian churches?
For many, the barrier is the Christian refusal to accept the use of ganja, the potent cannabis that,
from about the 1950s, many Rastas have used to gain spiritual insight. Some, like Professor Dennis
Forsythe, whose take on Rastafari is more akin to the Rosicrucian positing of a Christ Spirit that
descends on various leaders in different generations, a modern version of the ancient heterodoxy
of adoptionism, depicts ganja, in Forsythe’s words, as “the mystical body and blood of ‘Jesus’ – the
9 In some cultures, the idea that a father and son might have different faiths may seem unusual, but Jamaicans like to
say that everyone on the island is related to everyone else, so it is not unusual for Rastafarians and Christians to be in the
same family.
10 Reginald Allen, “No Change for Born-again Tommy: Yes indeed!” The Sunday Gleaner (Kingston, Jamaica), May 10,
1998, sec. E, p. 1E.
11 Tommy Cowan interview with the author, Family Church on the Rock, outside Kingston, Jamaica, May 17, 1998.
An expanded version of this interview is available in William David Spencer, Dread Jesus (Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock,
2011) (London: SPCK, 1999), 156-58,
12 Judy Mowatt interview with the author, Caribbean Graduate School of Theology, Constant Spring, Kingston,
Jamaica, May 12, 1998. An expanded version of this interview is available in Dread Jesus, 141-49.
13 Marcel Goffe, Interview with the author, Kingston, Jamaica, May 28, 1998. An expanded version of this interview
is recorded in Dread Jesus, 148, 152-56.
14 Judy Mowatt, interview with the author. An expanded version of this interview is available in Dread Jesus, 141-49.
32
burnt offering unto God made by fire which allows a member to see and know the ‘living God’
or the ‘God-in Man.’”15 Such an interpretation, of course, is completely unacceptable to Christian
churches in Jamaica.
In one of his most beautiful and poignant songs, Peter Tosh depicts a priest and a minister
befriending a Rasta and sharing some cannabis with him so that “(Rasta) Nah Goa Jail (for Ganja
no more).”16 This, however, did not happen.
Step four, then, was realizing where these movements could and could not merge, namely, the
churches not compromising their stance on rejecting ganja and many of the Rastas of the Twelve
Tribes of Israel not discarding it. So, the movements could not fuse, but they were in obvious
reapproachment. They could remain distinct without unity in the all or none fashion, culturally
speaking. What had brought them together was a stronger tie than a behavioral difference on an
hallucinatory drug. It was a shared belief that Jesus is the only way to God, himself God-Among-Us
and the unique Savior of humanity.
Now, in observing this, neither I nor the Jamaican churches are setting aside the need for
sanctification. Paul tells us that continuing in sin prohibits us from inheriting (klēronomos) God’s
kingdom (1 Cor. 6:10). His list includes drunkards (methusos), under which we include anyone
under any chemical influence.17 We have to take our part of the covenant seriously. But what I am
observing is that one must be born into God’s holy nation before one can begin to grow as a citizen,
and, for that action, one needs to take on oneself and confess the Lordship of Christ and believe in
Jesus’ resurrection by God (Rom 10:9-10).
What precipitated this change of heart among previously bitter adversaries?
•
The chief cause, of course, was the Holy Spirit at work changing lives and perspectives.
•
The bridge was Jesus Christ, honored in both movements.
•
The signpost was Haile Selassie, who, as a Christian, clearly denied he was God, warning
followers “they should never make a mistake in assuming, or pretending that the human
being is emanated from a deity.”18 A friend of Billy Graham, he preached the opening
devotional at the 1966 world conference on evangelism and placed at his own expense
the Ethiopian Orthodox Church in Jamaica to point Rastafarians away from worshipping
him as God to worshipping his God, Jesus, as the only God and Savior of humanity.
•
But, even given all these factors, the Holy Spirit could have been quenched if the climate
of the church remained hostile to the Spirit’s work, so the irenic attitudes of recent
Jamaican Christians, no longer attacking Rastas, but finding common ground both in the
bridge of Jesus and in appropriating Rasta cultural concerns in dress, music, language,
and even dreadlocks (adapted as they are from Num 6:5), have set up a supportive
environment in which the Holy Spirit has chosen to work.
What all this has meant to me is a wakeup call to remind myself what my task really is.
Granted, I am not satisfied with some Rasta continuance with ganja. But, I am also not pleased
with Massachusetts churches’ acquiescence to our state legalizing marijuana for so-called “medical
purposes,” which has become a travesty as it has eviscerated the law against cannabis and made
15 Dennis Forsythe, “West Indian Culture through the Prism of Rastafarianism,” TS (Mona: Department of Sociology,
University of the West Indies, 1979), 3.
16 Peter Tosh, “Nah Goa Jail,” Mabrak Music, Inc. 1987, from the album No Nuclear War, EMI America, ELT-46700,
c. 1987 EMI Records, Ltd.
17 See also Eph 5:16-18; 1 Pet 4:4; Gal 5:20.
18 Haile Selassie, interviewed in Addis Ababa by the Rev. Dr. Oswald Hoffman of The Lutheran Hour, Int., Project 67,
“The Lutheran Laymen’s League Presents a Special Program on the Celebration of Christmas in Ethiopia, Bringing Christ to
the Nations: The Conquering Lion of Judah: A Profile Study of His Imperial Majesty, Haile Selassie I, Emperor of Ethiopia
(Dec. 1968). I am indebted to Clinton Chisholm and Judy Mowatt for giving me a copy of this broadcast on audiocassette.
33
it practically unenforceable. As a city pastor for 47 years, I know that cannabis is a threshold
drug in sufficient (though not all) cases. In my experience, those who argue that it is not are naïve,
inexperienced, under the influence themselves, or simply wrong. But the focus of my evangelism is
not cannabis, it is Jesus as Savior. The rest comes with instruction on holiness, which, as I noted, is
the principle within Ephesians 5:18.19
This is a lesson I learned from the Christians of Jamaica. Rather than ignoring the heterodox
or remaining combative toward them, these believers became peaceful, focusing on what is at the
center of our faith: the uniqueness of Jesus, as God-Among-Us, to lead them into salvation from
temporal and eternal estrangement from the God who created us. They also stopped focusing on
subsidiary issues. They were very clear they still did not approve of ganja use, but they did not
continue to make it their major point of contact. Further, they became responsible in listening to
these erstwhile opponents to the faith, acknowledged where they were right (in their case recalling
the African heritage that had slipped away and the need for churches not to ignore social injustice),
and pointed out gently where they believed they were wrong and why they thought so. And, in
short, they helped many of these former opponents instead to become positive forces for the gospel.
William David Spencer is Ranked Adjunct Professor of Theology and the Arts, teaching in Gordon-Conwell’s Boston
campus, Center for Urban Ministerial Education. He is the author of over 200 articles, stories, poems, editorials, and author
or editor of 13 books, the latest of which are Marriage at the Crossroads: Couples in Conversation about Discipleship,
Gender Roles, Decision Making and Intimacy, Dread Jesus (reprinted by Wipf and Stock), Reaching for the New Jerusalem:
A Biblical and Theological Framework for the City, Urban Voice Series, and an urban adventure mystery novel, Name in the
Papers.
19 The question that arises, of course, is “What if a Rasta never stops smoking ganja?” This is a similar issue
conservative Evangelicals are puzzling over with many chronic sins in many cultures. In Africa, my students who are
pastors and church leaders have told me, the issue is polygamy. Many churches respond by permitting membership in a
congregation, but not allowing a polygamist to take any form of leadership.
34
35
A Review of Christianity and Genocide in Rwanda by Timothy Longman
(New York: Cambridge University Press, 2010)
Daewon Moon
Rwanda is one of the most Christianized countries in Africa—62.6% Catholics, 18.8%
Protestants, and 8.4% Seventh-Day Adventists, according to the 1991 census. Then, where were the
churches in the long history of ethnic conflict between Hutu and Tutsi? Why did the churches fail
to prevent Christians from killing other Christians during the horrible 1994 genocide? To answer
this tough question, we need to approach the issue through historical, political, theological, and
anthropological analyses, because the genocide is not a clear-cut affair. Timothy Longman, Director
of the African Studies Center at Boston University, gives a careful analysis of the relationship
between Christianity and ethnic conflict in Rwanda, with attention to how the church engaged
in shaping the ethnic and political realities in Rwanda that made genocide possible “by acting to
define and politicize ethnicity, legitimizing authoritarian regimes, and encouraging public obedience
to political authorities” (p. 10). His extensive field research in Rwanda in 1992–93 and 1995–96
allowed him to gain first-hand information of ethnic division and its sociopolitical implications.
The book begins with a chronological history of Christianity in Rwanda and its relationship
to the states, first to the colonial state (i.e., the Germans and Belgians) and then to the
independent state (i.e., the Hutu Republic). The Christian mission in Rwanda was initiated in
1900 by Catholic missionaries from the mission society called the White Fathers. Its founder,
Cardinal Charles Lavigerie, believed that conversion of non-Christian peoples would be most
successfully accomplished by focusing on the evangelization of political leaders. Accordingly, early
missionaries in Rwanda aimed to convert the ruling class by maintaining a close and collaborative
relationship with them. The missionaries worked closely with both indigenous chiefs and colonial
administrators, and urged their followers among the common people to support and obey political
authorities.
One of the grave blunders in the early period of mission that Longman points out is the
misinterpretation of Rwanda’s social structures by the White Fathers. In their effort to understand
and analyze the political and social structure of Rwanda, early missionaries applied contemporary
European ideas about race and ethnicity. A well-known sociobiological theory of that time, the
“Hamitic hypothesis,” suggested that the Tutsi migrated from Ethiopia and conquered the original
inhabitants, the Hutu. Accepting this hypothesis uncritically, the missionaries presumed that Tutsi
were racially superior and more civilized than Hutu. This ethnic mythology was soon adopted by
colonial administrators, especially by the Belgians who took over Rwanda in 1916, and became a
significant basis for colonial policy. For instance, the Tutsi were given exclusive opportunities for
education and public services. Although it was not their intention to discriminate against the Hutu,
the missionaries helped “to strengthen the rigidity of the division between Hutu and Tutsi” (p. 45).
Longman’s discussion of the shift in the missionaries’ sympathies from Tutsi to Hutu after
the Second World War is especially noteworthy. A younger generation of missionaries, influenced
by Catholic social democratic ideas in the 1950s, began questioning the church’s alliance with
the privileged Tutsi, and raising their voices for the human rights of the exploited Hutu. In
consequence, the missionaries created more opportunities for Hutu and promoted a group of Hutu
counter-elite, who later sought to gain political power under the slogan “Hutu democratic majority
rule.” Several White Fathers offered affectionate support for the 1959 Hutu Revolution and the
installation of the first Hutu president, Kayibanda, when Rwanda gained independence in 1962.
Longman rightly notes that throughout the revolution, “the principle of the church acting as an
important political player remained consistent” (p. 75).
36
Even after a military coup by Habyarimana in 1973, Longman argues, the active involvement
of church leaders in national and local politics continued. Since they lacked political legitimacy,
the Habyariman regime sought to establish cooperative relationships with the churches,
particularly for social service and economic development (p. 91). By maintaining a patron-client
system with the state, the churches enjoyed state-supported resources such as education, health
care, and finances, and used them to attract a number of impoverished people to their parishes.
During the late 1980s when public discontent emerged in Rwanda because of economic decline
and official corruption, however, it was from the churches that the major democratic reform
movements began to spread, largely influenced by liberation theologians. It is important to note
that “the church reaction to the democracy movement in the early 1990s was mixed” (p. 140).
Longman contends that most church leaders were still tied into the patrimonial structures within
the churches and benefited from their links with the authoritarian regime. In a social and political
context of confusion and conflict, the churches failed to act as neutral arbiters (p. 159).
The second part of the book is devoted to a more localized, micro-level account of two
Presbyterian parishes in rural Rwanda: Kirinda and Biguhu. Longman describes and compares
the relationships between the church and local elites in each parish. In the long-established parish
of Kirinda, the clergy had close links with the local elite in a “patron-client system parallel to and
linked with the state patrimonial system” (p. 200). Therefore, the democratic reform movement
targeted both the state and the church. In response, the church became involved in ethnic violence
in order to suppress challenges to the established order. In the recently-created parish of Biguhu,
on the other hand, the younger clergy were influenced by liberation theology, and thus remained
much more sympathetic to poor, marginalized people. As Biguhu’s pastors pushed the church to
ally itself with the less powerful and to break down the local system of patronage, the church
was perceived as a challenge to the dominance of local elites and soon became a target of attack
by those participating in the genocide. Longman’s examination of these two cases reveals that
the churches were both participants in and targets of the genocide; they were, in fact, a major
battleground between those defending the patrimonial system and others supporting radical social
change.
Despite Longman’s convincing presentation of Christianity and ethnic conflict in Rwanda,
however, there are a few areas of concern that readers should keep in mind. First, his conclusion
that “ethnic and political violence was consistent with church teachings” involves a leap in
logic (p. 162). It is true that the churches never condemned specific instances of ethnic violence;
however, their repeated call for peace and reconciliation between Hutu and Tutsi served as a clear
prophetic voice against ethnic violence. Second, he does not adequately examine the East African
revival’s role in the overcoming of ethnic division. Longman only briefly mentions that members
of the revival movement opposed the genocide, and he maintains they did so because they “were
generally not integrated in the established structures of power” (p. 196). His contention that
the revival movement in Rwanda had a narrow emphasis on evangelism without involvement
in public life appears to be reductionistic and he does not support this contention with proper
evidences. Third, Longman does not stress the process that demonized the Tutsi as evil before and
during the genocide. In the early 1990s, Hutu extremists developed a strong anti-Tutsi ideology,
demonizing them as feudalistic exploiters who threatened democracy in Rwanda. When the
exiled Tutsi army (the Rwanda Patriotic Front) invaded Rwanda, for Hutu to kill Tutsi became a
legitimate act of self-defense. Church leaders may have considered the genocide to be an element
of defensive warfare, and may have considered it acceptable within the framework of traditional
just-war theory.
Overall, Longman’s insightful and original contribution provides a fresh perspective on the
role of the churches in Rwanda, analyzing them as inherently political organizations that had
become too closely tied to state power and continuously stressed obedience to political authorities.
37
He aptly summarizes his point that “the Christian message received in Rwanda was not one of
love and fellowship, but one of obedience, division, and power” (p. 10). From the very beginning
of the missions by the White Fathers, the churches in Rwanda were not set up as alternatives to the
state, but as indispensable partners of the state, with the state depending on the church to maintain
an orderly and prosperous society. In this respect, the case of church-state relationship in Rwanda
may well serve as a warning to Christians elsewhere that extremely close and mutually beneficial
relationships between the church and the state could entail theologically and morally abhorrent
consequences.
Daewon Moon is a Ph.D. candidate (Missiology) in the joint program of Boston University School of Theology and
Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. He received his M.Div. from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in South
Hamilton, MA. Daewon is also Adjunct Faculty of Missiology at International Leadership University, Bujumbura, Burundi.
In Teaching the Faith, Forming the Faithful: A Biblical Vision for
Education in the Church, Parrett and Kang propose a core curriculum for
recovering the full scope of Christian proclamation and reinvigorating the
teaching ministry of the church. Their vision has implications not merely
for catechesis, but for preaching, worship, children’s and youth ministry,
and much more. The body of Christ can become all that God intends it
to be, through intentional practices that foster personal and corporate
formation. Here is guidance for individuals and congregations on that
journey.
A Many Colored Kingdom: Multicultural Dynamics for Spiritual
Formation addresses how ethnic and cultural diversity affect spiritual
formation. The authors of A Many Colored Kingdom explore Christian
formation and teaching in the church, with a particular focus on
intercultural and interethnic relationships.
Well-qualified to speak on issues of diversity, the authors describe
relevant aspects of their own personal journeys; key issues emerging from
their studies and teaching germane to race, culture, and ethnicity; and
teaching implications that bring right practice to bear on church ministry.
A final chapter contains a conversation among the authors responding to
one another’s insights and concerns.
38
Review of C.S. Lewis and the Middle Ages by Robert Boenig (Kent, Ohio:
Kent State University, 2012)
William David Spencer
Clive Staples Lewis became a household name in England through the BBC broadcasting
his lectures on Christianity as the country was besieged in World War II. Books and articles and
recordings of his radio talks spread his influence abroad. In 1988-90 the BBC produced a series
of filmed versions of four of the Narnian Chronicles, which increased his popularity, and recently
Walden Media with Disney hyper-spaced his reputation with three big budget versions of the three
earliest appearing Narnian Chronicles, which was followed by a stage play. Meanwhile pastors
and professors the world over have been quoting his many memorable statements. That he is the
most prominent, respected, and popular Christian apologist from the twentieth century seems selfevident.
But, from his earliest published poems to his final complete adult novel, Till We Have Faces,
and his reflection on loss, A Grief Observed, and in his academic studies and apologies and
children’s stories in between, Lewis was building a coherent scholarly vision. What it was exactly
has appeared to have escaped much of the secondary writing on this enigmatic writer – that is until
the publication of this present book.
This is not to say that a dearth has existed in books and articles expounding Lewis and his
works. Not at all. There are a multitude of books about him, but this may very well be the book
on C.S. Lewis the writer. Lewis was a professor of medieval literature and not taking that key
factor into account has stunted a fuller understanding of his vision. What all of us needed was an
established scholar of early English literature to open for us the trajectory of Lewis’s thought across
the sweep of his work. This is what the present piece of meticulous scholarship does for us and it
promises to change the course of discussion on Lewis. What it reveals is that C.S. Lewis from his
earliest years was locating his thought in a specific place and for the rest of his life he developed the
ramifications of that orientation through his poetry, his non-fiction, and his fiction. To understand
Lewis as fully as we can, we must understand where he located his thought and how, on that
decision, his work was predicated.
The author, Robert Boenig, is professor of English at Texas A&M and he writes with the
fluidity of someone who loves words and phrasing. The book is beautifully written and very
accessible. As a lover of Lewis and one who respects his readers and wants us to understand his eyeopening insights, he assumes we bring basically our love of Lewis to his book, and so he explains
every technical term and every reference to keep us in the conversation. And, as he does this, he
takes us skillfully into corners of Lewis’ thought that I, for one, had not explored.
How does he do it? He plunges into Lewis’ letters to friends and family members, along with
reports of conversations with colleagues, Lewis’s scholarly writings and lectures, etc., using these
to locate Lewis’s sources, then gages the differences, in order to discern and then explicate for his
readers the significance of Lewis’s key books and writings. His task is to discover what is propelling
Lewis’ thought and determine how each book and article is serving to amplify the message Lewis is
conveying to his readers, his colleagues, his admirers, and his opponents.
The scholarship, therefore, is painstaking – even to the extent of calculating which edition
of William Morris a fifteen year old “Jack” (as Lewis insisted on calling himself since he was a
toddler) bought and why Lewis highlighted the rustic and “glorious old English” setting in which
he found the book as Lewis does when explaining his purchasing it to a friend in a letter dated
39
November 10, 1914. The point for the author is not the gathering of minutia. What he is revealing
to us by assembling this puzzle piece is the significance of the boy Lewis’s attraction to ancient
England and his accessing Morris’ work as a lens to filter medieval thought through to him. With
that discovery set before us, Lewis’ entire approach to thought and soon to his mode of writing is
now opened up to us. As Boenig explains: “What I find interesting about the passage is the setting
Lewis provides for his quest to find Morris’s book – a journey up a hill in the shadow of a Norman
castle. Morris is the intermediary who provides Lews with medieval stories, and Lewis responds
by crafting a micro-narrative of his own that is evocative of the Middle Ages” (52-53). Essentially,
we have discovered “a playful Lewis who lives imaginatively in the late Middle Ages – or, perhaps
more accurately, in a fantasy novel,” but that is not all he is showing us. He has penetrated to a
deeper level, as well, as he reveals, “what Lewis liked about the Middle Ages at this stage of his life
was actually its capacity to excite the imagination, to create dreams” (61). But, the goal of such
dreams was not merely to escape from the threatening rise of Kaiser Wilhelm and the “war to end
all wars” that would soon engulf him and all England, take Lewis himself into the thick of battle,
wound him, but deepen his understanding of human conflict. It was something even greater. The
author explains these were Lewis’s first steps toward the condition that would make his discovery
of God and his reception of Christian faith possible: “This dreamlike state is not strictly Lewis’s
Joy, but it is, I suggest, something akin. Perhaps the best way to think of it is as the threshold to
Joy. Joy pierced him early on” (61) in his explorations of literature, and this “Joy,” this longing for
and discovery of God’s love and grace, is what Lewis will eventually describe in his autobiography,
Surprised by Joy.
Reading the literature of the Middle Ages was not so much, then, Lewis’s attempt to catapult
himself back among a different people than those who warred around him, in fact, the author
explains Lewis was repulsed by “the coarse parts of Chaucer…too mundane, too ordinary” (61).
Instead, Lewis was reaching through their work to find wonder:
I will venture here a thesis about Lewis and the Middle Ages: what appealed to him
was not medieval people writing about their own world but instead their treating the
marvelous, the far away. In fact, he anticipates an insight he will develop shortly after
his conversion to Christianity about his feelings of Joy. As Joy can never reside in the
object that occasions it…so do the Middle Ages for him simultaneously offer and
withhold: he longs for the medieval as it longs for something else.
The Middle Ages are his window to the discovery of God. This is why he locates there. So, Lewis
did not so much retreat to the Medieval World to escape the present one, he brought the valuing of
the marvelous that was living in Medieval thought and writing into the modern world in which he
lived.
This decision by Lewis then determined the way he would write. As Boenig explains in his
chapter, “What Lewis Really Did,” Lewis studied Chaucer’s method and found that what was
going on was that the best authors of the Middle Ages were not inventing their stories as much as
adopting earlier traditional tales but putting their own creativity to work on them to make them
new stories. In the retelling came the creativity. Lewis then wrote a “highly influential article,”
“What Chaucer Really Did To IL Filostrato” demonstrating how this was done. According to
Boenig, this, then, determined how Lewis himself would write his own work:
Medieval creativity often resides in an author’s adapting a prior text, making it the
author’s own. Lewis’s muse was a reactive one, for to a greater or lesser extent each of
his works of fiction has either an identifiable source or several recognizable sources;
Lewis reacted to these works, developing his own ideas and grafting them, like a
medieval gardener imping shoots onto fruit trees, onto an already well-rooted stem.
This is not to say that Lewis had tendencies that brought him dangerously close to
40
plagiarism. Very much a twentieth-century man, he knew how to keep his distance –
something that medieval authors, writing before the compilation of plagiarism laws,
did not always do. Though they are all Lewis’s own stories, his creative works often
depend on prior texts that Lewis expects his readers to know. The counterpoints
between the prior texts and Lewis’s new texts generate Lewis’s artistic success as well
as establish what one could term his theses (79).
Using another metaphor, that of cooking, our guide to Lewis tells us “his recipe for a good book.
Not only should it be a retelling of an old story, it should also excite the sense of dream, even Joy…
This recounts a conscious decision on Lewis’s part to strive after Joy in his creative writing” (68).
This, of course, Dr. Boenig assures us, put Lewis somewhat out of phase with his age, since “in
the world into which Lewis was born, the Middle Ages were used to clarify political, religious, and
social positions of the present; the literature of the past was often not promoted solely for its own
sake” (10), but Lewis’s approach was “not utilitarian but aesthetic, for he does not use medieval
literature as polemic or as support for patristic ideas or as a basis from which to critique society. He
likes stories and enjoys the old ideas –even those he must discard” (14).
What we have here is a very clear explanation in accessible, well-illustrated language, carefully
chosen to help us understand. As is evident from these quotations, Boenig is an elegant writer. His
book is a model of first rate academic writing. And, as his book goes through letter after letter
by Lewis, carefully describing sources and influences to show us how each of the books Lewis
wrote develops ideas Lewis found in these earlier writings, we see a model of top drawer research
methodology as well. In that sense, this is a detective story without any gruesome murders. Instead,
our guide is taking us with him to explore the mystery of where each book we have read or enjoyed
has come from. And bit by bit we understand. The talking animals in The Lion, the Witch, and
the Wardrobe make perfect sense. They have a Medieval precedent. Out of the Silent Planet, That
Hideous Strength, The Allegory of Love, each book is explained so that we exclaim, “So, that’s
what that story was all about!”
Therefore, to label C.S. Lewis and the Middle Ages “insightful” is akin to calling a masterpiece
like Vanity Fair (one of my all-time favorite books) “a good read.” It is not that the description is
erroneous. It is that these books are so much more. In this case, Boenig’s delightful study is eyeopening. One feels one has not understood Lewis in his vision or his work until reading this book’s
engaging and careful analysis. In its pages everything finally becomes clear.
Perhaps Prof. Boenig’s assessment of Lewis’s Allegory of Love might serve well as a description
of his own C.S. Lewis and the Middle Ages, “The book is, moreover, very well written – sprightly,
engaging, erudite, invitatory. We leave it having not only learned much but also having spent time
with a critic who loves books and is unashamed to share his enthusiasms with us” (39). To read a
medievalist on a medievalist, one who recognizes and shares the motivating vision of Lewis’s life as
a thinker, a scholar, and a major influence on twentieth into twenty-first century Christian thought
is a privilege that is not to be missed. That is why I believe this exceptional study has the potential
to change the way many of us look at C.S. Lewis and his work.
William David Spencer is Ranked Adjunct Professor of Theology and the Arts, teaching in Gordon-Conwell’s Boston
campus, Center for Urban Ministerial Education. He is the author of over 200 articles, stories, poems, editorials, and author
or editor of 13 books, the latest of which are Marriage at the Crossroads: Couples in Conversation about Discipleship,
Gender Roles, Decision Making and Intimacy, Dread Jesus (reprinted by Wipf and Stock), Reaching for the New Jerusalem:
A Biblical and Theological Framework for the City, Urban Voice Series, and an urban adventure mystery novel, Name in the
Papers.
41
A N U RBAN A DVENTURE N OVEL
Mystery, Romance and Adventure
Serving a small city church plunges young ministerial student Jim Dowd into the midst of a diverse
and unforgettable group of characters, including
an intriguing young Latina mission minister whose
caring work among the families of prison inmates
introduces him to a whole new world of street
gangs, sorcerers, refugees – and the attention of
Homeland Security! In the center of the action, Jim
learns that faith is not an abstract matter – it is
the essential stuff of life. 12 years in its crafting, this is a novel about grace and community, as
a linked series of stories connect up together in a
rousing, pot-boiling adventure full of mystery, suspense, romance, and some serious insights about
ministering in today’s multi-cultural cities.
what readers are saying:
“This book is so much fun! I loved when it started bringing all of the stories together. I was especially impressed by
the treatment of immigration issues. It was rare, in that it
treated a controversial subject without throwing it into the
audience’s face. Letting the protagonist come up against his
prejudices and mull over them gradually (the way that peoWinner of the Southern California Motion Picture Council ple actually change), rather than giving the audience an earful, allows your audience to come on that same journey with
Golden Halo Award For Literary Excellence
you. Well done – hard to do! I laughed so hard!”
Jasmine Myers, 2013 winner of Gordon-Conwell/Boston CUME’s
Eldin Villafaῆe award for her Still Small Theatre Troupe ministry.
“I just finished reading Name in the Papers. Was that great! It
is a breath of fresh air! With great creativity, it transports the
reader into a thoroughly engaging adventure that is vivid,
brimming with action, and difficult to put down. I loved the
characters and was left wanting more when the book ended.”
Jen Creamer, School of Biblical Studies, Youth With A Mission.
About the Author
Bringing to this provocative story 47 years of active city ministry, the
Rev. Dr. William David Spencer is Ranked Adjunct Professor of Theology and the Arts at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, Boston
Campus, Center for Urban Ministerial Education. He is co-founder
of Africanus Journal, author or editor of 13 books and over 200 articles, stories, poems, including Mysterium and Mystery (“The definitive work on religious detectives,” Jon L. Breen, Synod of Sleuths).
Available in ebook and in print from
amazon.com; barnesandnoble.com; kobobooks.com, www.MyHelpingHandsPress.org
42
Review of C. S. Lewis: An Annotated Bibliography and Resource by Paul
H. Brazier Vol. 4, C. S. Lewis: Revelation and the Christ (Eugene, OR.:
Pickwick, 2012)
Timothy Paul Erdel
This is a rather curious yet invaluable bibliographical guide to writings by and about C. S.
Lewis that unexpectedly contains an overview of Christology (pp. 5-33), focusing especially on the
Patristic period, plus a glossary of theological terms with fairly substantial definitions (pp. 139166). Though Paul H. Brazier merits praise for this useful compilation, the result juxtaposes several
different endeavors within a slim volume that simultaneously provides a coda of sorts to a much
larger project. Thus the exact audience for this particular volume is a little hard to pinpoint.
While intended to stand on its own as a guide to writings by and about Lewis, the title under
review also serves as the final work in a multivolume set entitled C. S. Lewis, Revelation and the
Christ. The other volumes in the series, all appearing under the imprint of Pickwick Publications,
are more substantial—book one: C. S. Lewis: Revelation, Conversion, and Apologetics (2012);
book two: C. S. Lewis: The Work of Christ Revealed (2012); book three, part one, C. S. Lewis: On
the Christ of a Religious Economy (2013), with another part to come. It would appear that the
entire project is the most careful, sustained, and systematic analysis of C. S. Lewis as a theologian
to date. Having thus acknowledged the overall enterprise, this review will focus on the final (fourth)
volume, which was chronologically the third of a projected five physical parts to appear.
Here are some of the matters I found rather curious, even apart from the sections on
Christology, Patristics, and theological vocabulary that one might not have expected to find
in a bibliographical guide to Lewis. First, there is no direct discussion of previously published
bibliographical guides to the writings of and about C. S. Lewis. It would have been helpful to know
not only what makes this guide fairly unique (such as its currency, the coverage of numerous web
sites on the Internet, and basic bibliographic leads to other members of the Inklings, including
persons on the outer rings of their fabled informal gatherings), but also what other guides offer that
this one does not (such as analytical details about the primary literature that this one sometimes
lacks, or much more comprehensive [if now dated] listings of secondary literature about Lewis).
Second, given how much explanation the author provides about topics a bit extraneous to Lewis,
one wonders why there are relatively few substantive annotations for the entries by and about
Lewis himself. Third, landmark studies by Mary Stewart Van Leeuwan are inexplicably absent.
Fourth, the name index omits most of the authors.
A more thorough and technical review could find further things to question here and there. The
discussion of the Patristic era follows standard lines while occasionally missing important nuances
(e.g., the sharp Antiochene/Alexandrian dichotomy [p. 22] is probably more of a modern construct
than an ancient reality, which was quite complicated). There are occasional typos (e.g., Selected
Literary Essays lacks italics on pp. 56 & 57). But this sort of nitpicking seems both irritatingly
pedantic and uncharitable given all the resources Brazier lists, not to mention other dimensions of
his larger project. Any serious student of C. S. Lewis should applaud Brazier’s accomplishments,
and all but the most experienced and exacting of researchers will discover delightful new trails to
explore.
Timothy Paul Erdel is Professor of Religion & Philosophy at Bethel College, Indiana.
43
Review of From Pentecost to the Triune God: A Pentecostal Trinitarian
Theology by Steven M. Studebaker (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2012)
Woodrow E. Walton
The first comment this reviewer feels compelled to make is that From Pentecost to the Triune
God is not an easy to read book. This observation, however, does not detract from its significance
or its importance. From Pentecost to the Triune God is best read slowly, carefully, and studiously.
It is on page 94 of the book where Studebaker sets forth his contention that “only in the Holy
Spirit does the triune nature of God find fullness of fellowship.” Four pages later the author states
that “the Spirit is the divine person who constitutes and consummates the immanent fellowship of
the Trinitarian God.” Furthermore, “Pentecost is an eschatological work of the Spirit.” Studebaker
follows a close-knit logic which knits creation, incarnation, redemption, and consummation
together. “Rather than being supplementary and extraneous to salvation,” Pentecost is the
eschatological fulfillment of God’s plan for our salvation by constituting the church. In Genesis the
Spirit of God brooded over the waters and there was creation. By the Spirit came the incarnation
and by the Spirit of God came the resurrection and the new creation. By the Spirit at Pentecost
came the church, the fellowship (koinonia) of a new humanity. The Trinity is, therefore, best
understood from the work of the Holy Spirit and particularly from its ultimate work at Pentecost.
Studebaker’s argument is reminiscent of a statement attributed to Gregory Nazianzus that
“From the Spirit comes our new birth, and from our new birth our new creation, and from the
new creation a deeper knowledge of the dignity of him from whom it is derived.”1 By this kind
of argument, the author counters both the claim that Eastern Orthodoxy makes in insisting the
Father sends the Holy Spirit and the claim that the Catholic Church makes with its filioque clause
by which the Holy Spirit is seen as sent by the Father and the Son. There was no sending agent
as the Holy Spirit is in itself the breath of the Father, the power by which Jesus healed, taught,
calmed the storms, and called humans to “Come, follow me.” By the Spirit came the resurrection
and at Pentecost, a new humanity was born, the Church, the fellowship of the Holy Spirit. This
is significant and this is where Studebaker makes his major contribution in understanding the
Holy Spirit. Frequently, the Holy Spirit is presented as either pertaining to individual salvation or
subsequent to salvation. The Holy Spirit is part of the whole in creation, the new birth, and the
making of the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, the Church, “the communion of saints” – to use a
description common to Anglicans and Catholics.
Studebaker begins his work by first examining Western theological understanding of the Holy
Trinity. He progresses to consider Eastern Orthodoxy’s stand regarding the Trinity. In doing so he
first reaches back to the Patristic period and then considers modern proponents representative of
the Western and the Orthodox Churches. For the author, an interpersonal theory of the relationship
of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is insufficient. Studebaker contends that “Pentecost discloses the
centrality and essential nature of pneumatology to God’s redemptive work” (99). As he states on
page 136, “The Spirit is not only a procession or a bond of love. The Spirit is the divine person who
completes the triune life and personal reality of God.”
The author admits that he did not come to his position on his own research. He gives credit to
D. Lyle Dabney who wrote on the presence of the Holy Spirit in Jesus and in Jesus’ ministry (84).2
1 “Fifth Theological Oration: On the Holy Spirit,” NPNF2, vol. 7:318-28.
2 D. Lyle Dabney, “Pneumatologia Crucis: Reclaiming Theologia Crucis for a Theology of the Spirit Today,” Scottish Journal
of Theology 53 (2000): 511-24 (esp. 524).
44
In the last third of his book, the author sets his position within the larger framework of
Reformed Evangelical Trinitarian Theology (ch. 4), Charismatic Trinitarian Theology (ch. 5), and
the theology of religions (ch. 6). He ends his work by relating the Spirit of Pentecost with creation
and creation care. In the former instance he dealt with Jonathan Edwards and progressed on to
Mike Habets. He also dealt briefly with Donald Bloesch and Millard Erickson. In the chapter
on the Charismatic theology, he dealt mainly with his “mentor,” D. Lyle Dabney but set him in
“interaction” with Killian McDonnell, Frank Macchia, and Clark Pinnock. In chapter 6, Studebaker
places the Pentecostal contribution in relation to inclusivism and the theology of religions. In this
consideration he looks first at the contributions of Veli-Matti Karkkainen and Amos Young and
secondly admits to the Christocentrism of Pentecostal faith. He closes his book with a possibility
of a Pneumatological theology of religions and discusses the mission of the Spirit of Pentecost.
This latter discussion held this reviewer’s rapt attention as he dealt with David Bosch’s concept of
the Missio Dei and Jurgen Moltmann’s The Church in the Power of the Spirit, both of which this
reviewer is well familiar [and owns the latter]. He also gave excellent coverage of the Spirit’s work
as recorded in the Acts of the Apostles.
This reviewer feels that Studebaker’s work is well worth the reading and for two basic reasons.
Studebaker writes first for an ecumenical audience and not just for the Pentecostal. He admits this
from the start. He considers the contributions of Pannenberg, Gunton, Fee, and Moltmann to name
but a few. Secondly, though the work requires a slow and studious reading, it makes the reader
think through the meaning of the Trinity in one’s Christian faith and the place of the Trinity in the
ongoing mission of the gospel and of the Church who proclaims that gospel.
Woodrow E. Walton, D. Min. (Oral Roberts University School of Theology and Ministry) is a “retired” Assemblies of
God minister, a member of the Evangelical Theological Society, the American Association of Christian Counselors, a part
of the “Long African Day Coalition” of the Division of World Missions of the Assemblies of God, the Overseas Ministry
Study Center, and the International Society of Frontier Missions. He is currently involved with Living Hope Ministries which
operates Esperanza Viva (a children’s and youth center) in Puebla, Mexico. He and his wife, Joy, live in Shattuck, Oklahoma.
45
Review of Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament: Acts
by Eckhard J. Schnabel (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2012)
Jennifer Creamer
It is not often that first-rate exegetical scholarship pairs up with life changing application in a
commentary. Eckhard Schnabel does just that in his recent offering on the book of Acts. The Exegetical
Commentary on the New Testament: Acts combines a comprehensive discussion of the text with thoughtprovoking insights for life and ministry in a global context.
Dr. Eckhard Schnabel is the Mary F. Rockefeller Distinguished Professor of New Testament at Gordon–
Conwell Theological Seminary. Schnabel has an extensive background in both academia and missions, and
is a leader among evangelical scholars on the topic of mission in the New Testament. Among his works is the
noteworthy two-volume set, Early Christian Mission.
The Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament: Acts is written for teachers, preachers, missionaries,
and students of the Scriptures worldwide. It may be most useful for those who have studied Greek, although
those without Greek will still benefit much from the discussion of the text.
This substantial (1,162-page) commentary includes a relatively compact introduction to Acts followed by
a detailed exposition of each passage. The systematic discussion of each passage includes sections on literary
context, main idea, translation, structure and literary form, exegetical outline, and explanation of the text.
An application section follows the discussion of each passage. Those who have studied Greek will appreciate
the presentation of the Greek text immediately after each verse in translation. Explanations demonstrate a
full array of exegetical skills commonly taught in seminary courses including grammatical analysis, word
study, historical background, interrelationship with the Old Testament, and interaction with both English and
German scholarship at key junctures. Overall, the commentary focuses on the text more than on academic
debate.
This volume has much to commend itself to the reader. While attending fastidiously to the details of each
verse, Schnabel continuously draws the reader into the unfolding narrative of the unstoppable growth of the
early church and the realities of missionary proclamation of the gospel. Schnabel’s work engages the reader
with the text as well as with the mandate to proclaim the gospel around the world today. The thoughtful
verse-by-verse comments are grounded solidly in primary source research. The application sections transport
the message of Acts into the 21st century setting. In these sections, Schnabel addresses matters of current
interest to pastors and missionaries. For instance, after discussion of the instantaneous growth of the church
that followed Peter’s sermon at the outpouring of Pentecost (Acts 2:37–41), Schnabel comments: “Apart
from the oral proclamation of the gospel, this passage does not contribute to a ‘tool kit’ of church growth
methodology. There is no method that guarantees numerical success” (168).
The application sections consistently address Christians both in the West and around the world. Readers
from nations where persecution is common may appreciate the honesty of comments such as “Being a
Christian does not protect from suffering: on the contrary, it is often the cause for suffering” (321). Readers
from the Western world may appreciate the challenge to consider more carefully the global context in which
they minister.
The Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament: Acts presents solid evangelical scholarship in an
eminently readable format. The well balanced use of a variety of exegetical skills as well as the thoughtprovoking application sections make this volume an excellent choice for students, teachers, and ministers of
the gospel worldwide.
46
Jennifer Creamer is currently studying for a doctorate in New Testament (North-West University, S. Africa) and is a member of the
Africanus Guild of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, Boston campus. She has taught biblical studies in various locations around
the world with the University of the Nations.
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2 TIMOTHY AND TITUS
A NEW COVENANT COMMENTARY
Aída Besançon Spencer
A THOROUGH AND INSIGHTFUL COMMENTARY ON PAUL’S
letter to his coworker Timothy, which the Apostle wrote before and during Nero’s
persecution. Spencer carefully examines each part of the letter and relates it to the
overall flow of the argument and in light of the larger biblical, historical, social,
and cultural contexts. How Paul’s writing related to the ancient communities is
highlighted in the light of original data gleaned from her explorations on location
in Crete, Ephesus, and Rome. In addition, Paul’s rhetorical and ministry strategies,
especially as they relate to women and their role in the church, are explored.
Throughout, Spencer presents an in-depth exegesis in a readable format enhanced
by forty years of ministry.
ISBN 13: 978-1-62564-253-0 / paper
“By explaining both lexical, grammatical, historical, and theological matters, and by focusing consistently on canonical connections and pastoral application, Aída Spencer has written a lucid commentary that will prove helpful for general readers, students, and pastors alike.”
—ECKHARD J. SCHNABEL, associate editor of Bulletin of Biblical Research
“This volume completes Spencer’s valuable commentary on the Pastoral Epistles. Concise and readable, it also provides in-depth analysis of the flow of each
letter, and serious word studies sensitive to both biblical and Greco-Roman usage. . . . This volume is especially sensitive to the gender-oriented instructions
concerning leadership and conduct in Titus 1 and 2. Highly recommended.”
—JOHN R. KOHLENBERGER III, editor of The NIV Greek and English New Testament
“Aída Spencer’s rich exposition of Paul’s last letters is a welcome companion to her work on the first of the Pastoral letters, 1 Timothy. The commentary
beguiles as it combines brevity and economy of expression with rich and deep insight into the meaning of Paul’s message to the pastors he sent to Crete and
Ephesus. As always, Spencer carefully attends to the world of the author and his recipients, framing his message within the cultural matrix of the GrecoRoman world. At the same time, she helps pastor, teacher, and student bridge the gap between the message then and now. Listen and relish as you hear the
timbre of the apostolic voice afresh and anew.”
—GENE L. GREEN, author of The Letters to the Thessalonians
NCCS
New Covenant Commentary Series
AÍDA BESANÇON SPENCER (Ph.D., Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, KY; Th.M., M. Div., Princeton Theological
Seminary) is Professor of New Testament at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, S. Hamilton, MA, and Extraordinary Lecturer for
North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa. She is the author or coauthor of fifteen books, including 1 Timothy, New Covenant
Commentary Series, 2 Corinthians, Daily Bible Commentary, Beyond the Curse: Women Called to Ministry, and Paul’s Literary Style.
Media, Examination, and Review Copies:
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47
Review of Handbook of Women Biblical Interpreters edited by Marion Ann
Taylor and Agnes Choi (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2012)
Joan G. Brown
These are exciting times for anyone interested in women’s history, especially for anyone interested
in women in the Christian tradition. In the early 1970s, when Roland Bainton published his Women
of the Reformation books, he was charting new ground by creating a compendium of leading female
voices during an historical epoch. Most of the women he wrote about were well-known personalities,
so his contribution was not so much one of original research. What was striking about his work
was the fact that he gathered women together as women, all individuals who made significant
contributions to the great conversation we call Western Civilization. Since that time, research
into women’s history has grown exponentially, producing a vast wealth of books and articles on
Christianity’s rich female legacy. Handbook of Women Biblical Interpreters (HWBI) is such a work,
perhaps the most thorough compilation of female interpreters to date.
Each of HBWI’s 180 entries, all written by reputable scholars, includes a brief biography, a list
of each interpreter’s major works, comments on her interpretive framework, usually “popular” but
sometimes “systematic,” and a summary of each interpreter’s views on gender issues (if she expressed
a view). Dates range from the fourth to the twenty-first centuries. During the first twelve centuries
after Christ, few records remain of female biblical interpretation. No doubt that is partially due to the
general conditions of the times. Numbers began to grow in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries and
exploded after the Protestant Reformation, especially during the nineteenth century in the Englishspeaking world. Yet the writings of most women, regardless of how influential they might have been
at one time, were usually suppressed and forgotten, almost never making it into the “canon” of
important interpretive work. How encouraging it would have been for women (and men) of even a
generation or two ago to have ready access to Gertrude the Great’s Herald of God’s Loving Kindness
or to blind, Protestant exegete Justitia Senger’s reflections on the psalms!
Given the ever expanding number of female interpreters, the editors limited entries to those from
the post-nineteenth century period to women who are deceased and whose work is representative
of a larger category of writers and whose major publications predate “the globalization of the
profession of biblical studies and the significant expansion in the involvement of women and ethnic
minorities in professional biblical studies in the 1970s and 80s” (6). This does not exclude, however,
the powerful witness of a number of nineteenth-century African-American women, like Zilpha Elaw
and Amanda Berry Smith. Even so, there are significant omissions, ranging from Lady Jane Grey to
Hannah Whitehall Smith and Mother Teresa. The volume does include several Jewish interpreters and
even a few women, like Mary Baker Eddy, whose views extended well beyond the limits of Christian
orthodoxy. Although entries include early women interpreters who lived all over the Mediterranean
world, almost all are Westerners, one exception being Pandita Ramabai of India. I am eagerly
anticipating a volume number two!
HWBI belongs on the shelves of every theological library. As the editor points out, it is an
extremely helpful resource for those wanting to include the writings of women in courses on
Scripture, theology, history, religious formation, and preaching. Scholars and graduate students will
find HWBI a great starting point for a variety of research projects. So many of the entries remark on
the need for additional study. In fact, I suspect we are just scratching the surface in the field of women
biblical interpreters.
Given my unabashed enthusiasm for this invaluable resource, I would say it belongs in every
academic library that has a modicum of interest in women’s history and/or church history. The history
48
of the advancement of womankind is inextricably bound up with the history of Christianity. Although
women within the church have fought long and hard to exercise their gifts, Christianity is the only
world religion that has provided women with a pathway to full personhood. HWBI chronicles that
struggle, from early female Bible scholars, like Paula, Melania the Elder, and Marcella, who we know
primarily because of their association with early church fathers, to those who participated in the early
modern querelle de femmes (the “Are women human?” debate), to nineteenth-century social activists,
like Sarah and Angelina Grimké. All these were biblical interpreters, struggling to find their voices and
to serve as valuable human beings in the eyes of God and in human society and discourse. The entry
on Maria W. Miller Stewart (1803–79) remarks that Stewart “became the first documented woman,
black or white, to speak publically on political themes in America” (475). With Stewart and those
who follow, the connection between Christianity and women’s emancipation becomes even more
evident. No serious student of women’s history wants to miss this important work.
Other aspects of the book were of great personal interest to me. As an educator, I was impressed
with how many of these women were conversant in a number of languages, particularly Hebrew,
Greek, and Latin. Some theological institutions today have become soft on learning the grammar and
syntax of the original biblical languages, but many of the women biblical interpreters in this volume
had a solid grounding in languages in spite of being locked out of institutions of higher education.
Concerning the issue of education in general, most were surprisingly well educated. This education,
however, usually took place at home, under the direction of family members (often fathers) or private
tutors. What was missing for all women, until the twentieth century, was the “iron sharpens iron”
experience of the academy. Consequently, many women wrote out of their experiences in the “private
sphere” of home and family. Many also wrote on themes of suffering and vulnerability. Women were
very instrumental in writing Bible study material for children, and, in doing so, created a new genre
(nineteenth century).
Genre itself is an interesting topic in HWBI. Although it was acceptable for women to translate
portions of Scripture or other theological works, extensive, original Bible commentary was rare,
until the twentieth century (see Elizabeth Achtemeier, 23). Most women wrote in literary genres,
ranging from poetry to drama to prose. In this context, some would elaborate on biblical themes and
characters, as Elizabeth Singer Rowe does in her epic poem, The History of Joseph (430). One area
where women had equal standing with men was in the life of the soul, expressing itself in devotional
literature. Thus, we have the better known works of women such as Julian of Norwich (299) and
Madame Guyon (228). I was surprised at how many women first began to write out of financial
necessity, concern for family being paramount.
Finally, I believe we are just beginning to re-discover the works of women who taught and
preached with authority in the past. HWBI is a timely resource in this regard and includes many such
examples. One would be preacher, biblical interpreter, and spiritual counselor, Domenica Narducci
da Paradiso (1473–1533) of Florence (383). Another was Marie Dentière (1495-ca. 1561), the
courageous Protestant apologist from Geneva (155). A more demure example would be Esther Copley
(1786–1851) of Henley-on-Thames, who wrote Sunday sermons for her alcoholic husband William
(138). HWBI contains a treasure trove of examples of such women. In addition, I have long suspected
that egalitarian arguments concerning the meaning of creation and the fall and arguments supporting
the ministry of women in the church have an older, more consistent lineage than hierarchist
arguments. Egalitarian arguments may have represented the minority position, but they have not
changed over time like the hierarchist arguments have. There are ample indications in HWBI that
this contention is correct. The next generation of scholars needs to take up the challenge. From my
vantage point, I can only opine, “So much to do, so little time!”
A recently retired history teacher, J. G. Brown holds master’s degrees from Washington University, St. Louis, and the
University of Florida, Gainesville. She has published articles in various journals and a book entitled An Historian Looks at I
Timothy 2:11-14, The Authentic Traditional Interpretation and Why It Disappeared.
49
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1 TIMOTHY 2:11–14
The Authentic Traditional Interpretation and Why It Disappeared
J. G. Brown
In the controversy over the role of women in the church,
complementarians/hierarchists routinely claim to be
upholding the “traditional” position. Like the little boy who
declared that “the emperor has no clothes,” J. G. Brown
exposes the fallacies in this claim. The authentic traditional
interpretation of passages such as 1 Timothy 2:11–14 differs
substantially from contemporary readings, whether egalitarian or hierarchist. Most prominent Protestant exegetes—from
Luther and Calvin through those in the early nineteenth
century—understood
creation
ordinances
(male
headship/female subordination) as foundational to the
temporal world, not the church. An Historian Looks at 1 Timothy 2:11–14 brings history and theology together in a fresh
way, with startling implications for the ongoing debate.
“For years 1 Timothy 2:11–14 has been at the center of an exegetical firestorm prompted by the ongoing debate over what the Bible
says about women’s place in church and society. Providing new
grist for an old mill, J. G. Brown poses a bold challenge to those
who appeal to the ‘traditional’ argument that complementarianism is embedded in the creational order. This invocation of tradition, Brown provocatively argues, is misguided precisely because it
is historically unfounded.”
—Nicholas Perrin
Franklin S. Dyrness Chair of Biblical Studies, Wheaton College
978-1-61097-600-8 / $15 / 118 pp. / paper
J. G. Brown resides in St. Louis, Missouri, and has recently retired from a career of teaching history and
government on the high school and community college levels.
Order via phone (541) 344-1528, fax (541) 344-1506
or e-mail us at [email protected]
50
Review of How I Changed My Mind About Women in Leadership:
Compelling Stories from Prominent Evangelicals edited by Alan F. Johnson
(Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2010)
Peggy Berns Mindrebo
Book’s Intended Audience
How I Changed My Mind About Women in Leadership is the next good book you need to
read:
•
if you believe in the power of personal story interwoven with biblical scholarship to
communicate truth;
•
if you wonder whether modern evangelicalism may have missed half the church in its
understanding of giftedness and calling;
•
if you realize, as Dallas Willard states in the foreword, that getting this wrong will “restrict
the resources for blessing, through the church, upon an appallingly needy world”;
•
if you want a fresh narrative for the discussion of “the role of women” in the church that is
generous and not argumentative.
You may believe God has a place at the table for women, and you want a readable, winsome,
interesting and yet scholarly way to share this message with others. You may be one who has
your own story to tell and need to be inspired by the examples of others who have spoken with a
credible voice. Perhaps you know gifted women or are one yourself. You will find that the collection
of authors Johnson has gathered to stand in this gendered gap speak encouraging words that are,
“careful, accurate, and above all truthful” (17).
Thesis or Goal
Johnson, by allowing others to speak, reveals that God calls women who have the “want to, the
can do and the led to” (261) understanding of their life to live out their callings without hindrance.
The cost is high, and these writers reveal, “By not embracing women in leadership roles, the Western
church is actually impairing the advancement of the gospel in their own countries” (262).
Content
Through personal accounts, all angles are covered: those of interpretation, inspiration, and
calling. Each author presents a model of how to look at the whole of Scripture for our theology of
male and female from an “historical, cultural, and broader theological context” (16).
This is a book for insiders. Those outside the church have a different starting and ending point.
The stories in this book reveal that as a church we have perhaps “encouraged men to prideful
domination and women to irresponsible passivity” (224).
For those of us who are younger than these authors, we stand on the shoulders of giants, and the
giants are here named; those who have risked and sometimes experienced loss in order to proclaim a
voice that makes a way for women to succeed in ministering.
Authors’ Sources and Credentials
The twenty-seven contributors are credible witnesses to the work of God in our present day.
These men and women have worked hard, gained respect, had a great influence, and have found their
ways to live and speak into gender issues. Of the twenty-seven contributors, seventeen are male, ten
are female. Although their backgrounds, gender, and expertise are varied, we are missing the voice
of African Americans, Asian Americans, and Hispanics to name a few. We have a lot to learn from a
51
bigger conversation, by including those whose stories also need to be written.
I highly recommend that this book be familiar to as many readers as possible. Dr. Johnson’s
collection of credible witnesses needs to be a familiar voice in the dialogue of ideas and
implementation. Readers should buy four copies: one to mark and keep, two to give to skeptics, and
one to encourage another who is in the trenches.
No matter where your starting point is on these issues, our communal call from God is to be filled
with the Spirit, and “any deep change in us, such as the change from patriarchalism to egaliterianism,
results only from the transformative power of the Holy Spirit of God” (326). May the Spirit continue
to speak anew through the pages of these stories.
I am a woman who has been steeped in Evangelicalism since my years at Wheaton College (1976-80). After a brief foray
into some seminary courses in the 1980s, I returned to house, home, and the rearing and caring of four children (along with
horses, chickens, etc.). I never quit reading or asking questions, and I never quit studying. In the midst of family, managing my
husband’s medical practice, board work, and teaching, I have found my way back to Wesley Seminary. I am currently in the
M.Div. program and have a ministry that includes conversation, hospitality, and horseback riding.
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52
Review of Huldah: the Prophet Who Wrote Hebrew Scripture
by Preston Kavanagh (Eugene, OR: Pickwick, 2012)
Beulah Wood
To evaluate this book would require, in addition to ample Hebrew, a methodology to critique
the unusual techniques described. The author describes these as: anagrams (e.g., “whoring contains
an anagram of Huldah”) and athbash “secrets of manipulating the alphabet” (“Athbash generates
twenty-one other ways to spell any Hebrew word” [xv]). The critic would also need to understand
coded spellings (one “letter from consecutive text words to spell a name” [xv]) and the use of
chi-squares (explained as “a statistical calculation that this book employs to test” frequency of
anagrams and coded spellings [xv]) A detailed critique would also need to assess the grounds for
a postulated group of authors deemed to have written or re-written Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges,
Ruth, 1 and 2 Samuel, and 1 and 2 Kings.
The writer claims at the outset, “As queen mother – even in exile - Huldah became head
of the Asherah cult, something that deeply offended former colleagues who were exclusively
monotheistic” (1).
I shall quote from the book itself for the reader to note levels of conjecture (italicised for this
review). Here are some passages from chapter 1:
During the last several decades, this writer [Kavanagh] has enjoyed a monopoly on
applying anagrams, coded spellings, and Word Links to Hebrew Scripture. As a result,
this present search for the historical Huldah often assumes as given events that are yet
unrecognised by others (10).
The Huldah coding within the call verses (Jer 1:1-6) praise and probably describe the
female prophet; The spellings that underlie verses 16-17 bristle with hostility toward
her… Perhaps Jeremiah had told Huldah his call… but the fact must be that they were
her own words (11).
In view of all this, it is most likely that the prophetic call that until now has been
associated with Jeremiah is in reality Huldah’s own call… the best scenario, then,
appears to be that Huldah outlived Jeremiah… (12).
Joshua is probably Asaiah. Quite possibly he led the Israelite forces during the Cyrus
revolt (13).
As reviewer, I experienced scepticism about the writer’s methods at this point. My concern
increased with the author’s discourse in chapter 2 that much of the research was based on
anagrams, with the explanation that “an anagram has the letters of a name amongst the letters
of a text word that is of equal or greater length.” There are close to 1800 Huldah anagrams in
Scripture, Kavanagh states. These anagrams, he says, are based on “mighty,” on “elders,” on
“wares,” “clothes,” “heroes,” “strong drink,” etcetera, and prove, where they occur, that Huldah
was involved in the writing.
Chapter 3 “informs” us that, after Huldah was consulted by King Josiah’s emissaries in 622
BCE (at which time she was married to Shallum), she married King Jehoiakim and bore him a son,
Jehoiachin, later becoming the Queen Mother and a devotee of Asherah.
I, myself, did a Bible search for the name Huldah. It occurs only twice, prophesying for Josiah’s
privy counsellors, as the wife of Shallum.
53
I flicked over to chapter 7 and read:
It is likely that Huldah and Daniel wrote those verses [the Shema] together. The Shema
defined the relationship between Yahweh and Israel. It demanded “that Israel show
exclusive loyalty to our God, YHVH – but not thereby to deny the existence of other
gods! Imagine that the two most tarred by association with foreign gods (Daniel by
those of Babylon, Huldah by the Asherah) wrote Scripture’s definitive statement on the
supremacy of Yahweh! (109)
The editorial policy of Africanus is committed to an inerrant understanding of the Bible and to
interpreting it in conversation with the realities of the world we live in. I concluded the readers will
not find this a useful book in either area.
Dr Beulah Wood, a New Zealander, is adjunct faculty at South Asia Institute of Advanced Christian Studies in
Bangalore, South India. Her writings include The People Paul Admired: The House Church Leaders of the New Testament.
She has a D.Min. in homiletics from Gordon–Conwell Theological Seminary.
54
Review of Jesus and Justice: Evangelicals, Race, and American Politics by
Peter Goodwin Heltzel (Ann Arbor, MI: Sheridan, 2009)
Matthew R. Mascioli
In Jesus and Justice, author Peter Goodwin Heltzel, Associate Professor of Systematic Theology
at New York Theological Seminary (Heltzel also received his M.Div. at Gordon-Conwell), argues
that current evangelical political engagement has its roots in the traditions of Martin Luther
King, Jr. and Carl F.H. Henry, long-time editor of Christianity Today and evangelical leader in
the middle and latter 20th century. Heltzel suggests that in order to understand current American
evangelicalism and its politics, one must understand its history and also its primary modern
manifestations. He traces the history of modern evangelicalism to early 19th century revivalism,
pointing out that from that movement sprang two great traditions, one among white Americans
and the other among black Americans. It is those two movements, each of which are alive and well
today, that have, do, and will continue to shape evangelical politics in America. Going forward, he
is optimistic that the two perspectives can be properly combined to produce a theologically sound
and socially engaged evangelicalism of the 21st century.
The primary thrust of Heltzel’s argument is that race is a crucial factor in evangelical history
and politics and that it cannot be overlooked in our assessment of each. After having explained
the history of white and black evangelicalism in the 19th and early 20th centuries, Heltzel focuses
on King’s “Theology of the Cross” and Henry’s “Uneasy Conscience.” He explains that while
both were evangelicals, each emphasized a different aspect of Christ. King emphasized the cross
and Christ’s identification with those suffering, while Henry focused on Christ’s sovereignty and
transcendence, not fully working out how to act upon the social ills which plagued his conscience.
Out of each focus came a broader theology and approach to society, which came to shape each
strand’s political action.
Heltzel discusses four of the most active evangelical entities in current American politics, the
first two of which were directly related to or can trace their roots to Henry and his emphases,
the latter two to King. He does so with fairness, but at points a degree of partiality. Mark Noll
of Notre Dame, in his forward, writes, “Heltzel does not try to hide his own progressive bias, but
this standpoint does not prevent him from sympathetic treatment of a wide range of evangelical
political efforts.” I completely agree with Noll’s assessment. Heltzel explains relatively fairly and
accurately the perspectives of James Dobson and Focus on the Family, The National Association
of Evangelicals, with which Henry was very involved, John Perkins and The Christian Community
Development Association, and Jim Wallis and Sojourners. Although it is clear that his own
leanings are towards the latter two and their more progressive style of social engagement, he is fair
throughout, and even more impressively presents a compelling case as to how all four strands are
relevant in terms of understanding current evangelicalism and in terms of how each can positively
contribute to charting a way forward. That way forward for evangelical political engagement, as
Heltzel sees it, is in blending the strongest points of the largely white and largely black traditions.
He envisions a movement which is theologically solid and socially and politically engaged,
particularly around issues such as poverty, AIDS, and the environment.
I personally learned a great deal concerning the history of American evangelicalism, the
particular theologies of King and Henry and the impact that each had, and regarding the four
movements addressed. I was also encouraged that a great opportunity exists for American
evangelicals to at the same time remain doctrinally sound and to join others to works towards
curing some of our nation’s and world’s gravest social issues. The strongest critique one may have
55
is that Heltzel, in his explanation of current and future evangelical politics, focuses too heavily on
race and racial justice alone, to the exclusion of other very relevant and explanatory causes and
variables. However, to be fair, he states at the outset that this will be the case, and then goes on to
make a very compelling one.
Matt Mascioli received his M.Div. from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, South Hamilton, in 2010. After having
served for four years with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship (while completing his M.Div.), Matt moved with his wife,
Janet Ha, to Bloomington, IN where she completed an M.F.A. in Creative Writing. He is currently a Major Gifts Officer at
DePauw University and volunteer chaplain at the Backstreet Mission homeless shelter.
A Must-Have Resource for Youth Ministry
www.bakerpublishinggroup.com
“Dean Borgman, a nationally known youth ministry expert, offers a new edition of his influential
classic. Reaching a broadly ecumenical audience, this book challenges readers to think about the
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