Redefining “the elements of the world”

One of the most significant books I read in 2016 is Peter Leithart’s Delivered from the Elements of the World (IVP). It’s dense with substantial content. The book is comprehensive in scope, presenting an entire theological lens, not merely a study of a certain doctrine. Also, I was surprised to see how relevant it is for missiology and especially contextualization. Therefore, in a few posts, I’ll explore a few ideas that are likely paradigm shifting if considered fully. I myself... Read more

Check out “The Good News for Honor-Shame Cultures”

In the recent March 2017 issue of Lausanne Global Analysis, you’ll find an excellent article from my good friend, Jayson Georges. The article is short but very full. It explains… (1) the meaning of honor & shame, (2) how honor & shame is a feature of God’s mission,  (3) how honor & shame equips us for ministry in contemporary contexts. Jayson highlights aspects of honor-shame within Western culture. He also links to a number of other resources to help you... Read more

What Christianity in China Is Really Like (recommended reading)

The Gospel Coalition has a good introduction to Christianity in China. I love Colin Clark’s opening disclaimer: First, a disclaimer. I can’t tell you what anything in China is really like—that is, unless we’re comfortable with saying it’s like a bunch of contradictory things all at the same time. A faithful and honest description of Chinese Christianity will be nuanced and somewhat paradoxical, not definitive and one-sided…. When asked if China is like this or that, the answer is almost... Read more

Word studies when you don’t know Hebrew or Greek

Chinese pastors (and most missionaries I know) don’t know Greek and Hebrew. Yet, they know the importance word studies (字意研读) for tracing ideas and themes in the Bible. Word studies are especially challenging when Bibles, like the Chinese Union Version (和合本), routine oscillate between translations for the same Greek/Hebrew word. What’s a person to do? Typically, a person either: — reads a commentary (or Bible footnotes) and accepts whatever a scholar says — uses whatever definition is suggested by a... Read more

Which box do you belong in?

Humans always identify with groups. This is natural and good. Everyone simultaneously is an “insider” and an “outsider.” The former tends to bring honor; the latter shame. But few people recognize the pervasive power of group identity on their daily life, moral judgments, assumptions, sense of worth, and ways of doing ministry. We seemingly think we’re “individuals” who are interacting with other “individuals.” We cannot simply get rid of social group identity via words like tolerance and “personal salvation,” contrary... Read more

How Story Structure Can Clarify Ideas

“Story” is an extremely useful tool for clarifying our key ideas and bringing focus to our message. This won’t make sense to some people. Whatever you think about “story,” set that aside for a moment. The word “story” conjures contrary reactions among missionaries and theologians. Some see “storying” as a critical tool for sharing the gospel; others are more cautious, unsure of the relationship between story and theology. Scientists and Theologians Need Story The release of Star Wars popularized the... Read more

Individualism with “Chinese Characteristics”?

“Traditional” views of Chinese culture as so Qing dynasty. That’s what Danny Hsu argues in his recent article in Missiology. In many respects, Hsu is right. My saying this might surprise some people. Last year, he directly challenged my work in a published article. And, yes, he reiterates his criticism in this recent essay. However, he doesn’t sufficiently understand of my views and so presents a caricature of my thinking. The journal Studies in World Christianity graciously allowed me to... Read more

Let Us NOT Praise Famous Men: Success in Ministry

Today’s guest post comes from ANDREW T. KAISER, PhD, author of Voices from the Past and The Rushing on of the Purposes of God, has been living in Shanxi with his family since 1997, serving the people of the province through professional work and public benefit projects. As we turn the corner and enter the Year of the Rooster, it is natural to look back on the last year and take stock of one’s service. Are you succeeding in ministry?... Read more

Learning from the Past: Language Study

Today’s guest post comes from ANDREW T. KAISER, PhD, author of Voices from the Past and The Rushing on of the Purposes of God, has been living in Shanxi with his family since 1997, serving the people of the province through professional work and public benefit projects. The past is a laboratory for testing new ideas and methods, a convenient way to explore different options in cross-cultural service. This conviction rests behind my recently published book, The Rushing on of... Read more

Contextualize. Don’t Merely Theologize.

I was a math major. But it was my college soccer class that made me feel dumb. In our first scrimmage, the teacher told me to kick off the ball. Since I attended school in America, I knew what a “kick off” is. So, I naturally ran up to the ball and kicked it as far down the field as I could to the other team. The problem was that we weren’t playing American football; we were playing international “football”... Read more
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