In early October, the Hembree boys and I had the opportunity to commemorate the Protestant Reformation 500 Conference at Wycliffe College in the heart of downtown, Toronto. Chocked full of Reformation scholars, each presentation respectively and diligently underscored contextual juxtaposition between the contemporary, or better, modernized sense of Church theology and Protestant tradition to its intellectual forefathers: the sixteenth century scholarship of John Calvin, Martin Luther, John Wycliffe, Huldrych Zwingli, William Tyndale, Erasmus of Rotterdam, among others. Unlike today, in 1517 Europe the Church and State were married, for better or for worse. The Catholic Church had its hand in every back pocket and its face in every bedroom, so the level of impact that the Reformation had on the social, political and economic scale, and especially that of Christian missiology, was colossal. With the Gospel in every hand and household, propagation was personal and easily accessible. For those who, perhaps, have never been acquainted with the term missiology, it is a branch of practical theology that explicitly deals with a wide variety of evangelism from interpersonal to mass forms of communication. In laymen, it is known as the Great Commission; in scholarship, its core concept is referred to as the Missio Dei (“Mission of God”), where the sole purpose, mandate and duty for each missionary is to spread the Gospel: “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.” (Mark 16:15) as well as “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20). As simple as this may sound, its scope is so pervasive that people often get their knots tied up on how to do it right, specifically in relation to God’s Will in the Old Testament. And, like most Reformation scholars, temptation to isolate the Epistles over the Gospel and favour theology over the historical narrative is readily available.
Consider the following question carefully: Does your faith in God keep you safe? If you said “yes” you’re not alone. For the majority of us living in West, we can expect a level of safety. We have freedom and rights where other nations have violence and oppression. Our culture has influenced our expectation of safety. The problem is this expectation can lead us to forget we are not promised safe and comfortable lives. Rather than living our best life now we should be reaching out in love, willing the good for others and fulfilling the Great Commission (Matthew 18:28-20). C.S. Lewis expressed in God In The Dock, “I didn’t go to religion to make me happy. I always knew a bottle of Port would do that. If you want a religion to make you feel really comfortable, I certainly don’t recommend Christianity.” 
Previous to the 16th Century it seems people of various cultures mostly made the prejudice assumption they were superior to others based on cultural differences – colour did not equal culture and culture was not defined by colour. It was not until Darwin’s evolutionary theory became popular that biological racism and colour inferiority received its powerful prejudice momentum. In Professor Stephen Gould’s book Ontogeny and Phylogeny he makes the point that “biological arguments for racism may have been commonplace before 1859, but they increased by orders of magnitude following the acceptance of the evolutionary theory” (Gould, 1977, 127). The evolutionary theory being 1) the controversial claim that people evolved from apes over millions of years and 2) the well-accepted claim that humans are able to adapt in different environments all over the world thanks to evolution. Darwin was equal to evolution but the effect of Darwin could not be safely contained to those two claims (and that is why I explored the book The Darwin Effect by Jerry Bergman which I refer to in this piece).
It seems like more and more people nowadays are just saying they only do ‘what the Bible says’ because the ‘Bible says so’ and they ‘believe in the Bible’ yet the interpretation, application and opinion of what select Biblical texts mean varies from Christian to Christian – all of who appear saved or at the very least dedicated to good works. How then can legalism be so rampant in the modern church?
The world’s understanding of love is very different from God’s definition. As a word, we use ‘love’ all the time and it seems the distinctions have been worn away. People say they love everything from their family to movies to food to Lego to coffee. It affects our society at all levels and as a culture, we describe it using many metaphors: crazy love, love sick and falling in or out of love. According to the ancient Greeks, there are eight different types of love. Today’s definition seems to be ‘unconditional acceptance’. Read More »