JR Woodward is about 2/3 of the way through his Good News Series, where he puts a question to 50 bloggers, asking them for an article explaining what the “good news” is — but the article is to be about 500 words and written as though for publication in each blogger’s local newspaper. It’s quite a good series with a variety of responses and approaches posted so far. Today’s post is Jamie Arpin-Ricci in Winnipeg, which is also my city. I found it very poignant and compassionate approach to presenting the good news, opening with the account of a suicide that did feature very recently in our local media. Jamie takes an approach which is not theology-first, something I appreciate and attempted to do as well. My contribution was the sixth in the series. It didn’t generate a lot of discussion, perhaps because it appeared on a weekend, but I thought I would post it here as well now that it’s run on JR’s blog for a while. In the disclaimer that ran with my article, I said that I wanted to write early in the series “to get it out of the way before reading what so many astute thinkers would write so I wouldn’t feel the pressure to come up with anything so profound. This way as I follow the series, I’ll only have to say, ‘Gee, I wish I’d written that…’.” As I expected, a number of such approaches and statements have already appeared in the series. In any event, what I said follows below.
A number of people have already pointed out the blog series on ‘The Good News’ being run by JR Woodward with daily contributions from almost 50 bloggers to carry us through the Easter season, until May 31st. And according to the schedule, I’m up tomorrow… which, really, is just scant hours away now. But I’m not worried.
Building on my previous post of A Biographical Profile of Lesslie Newbigin, I wanted to now provide a theological profile to illustrate the nature and significance of Newbigin’s contribution to the theology of mission and most particularly to the present emerging/missional conversation. Newbigin’s work predates the emerging/missional terminology, but particularly as regards the missional conversation, his work is foundational. In 1998, the year he died, The Bible Society published a special issue of The Bible in TransMission as a Tribute to Lesslie Newbigin with contributions from Martin Robinson, Wilbert Shenk, Harold Turner, Dan Beeby, George Hunsberger, and Colin Greene. Wilbert Shenk calls him a missionary theologian, a contextual theologian, and strategic theologian, three of the headings in his article, “Lesslie Newbigin’s Contribution to the Theology of Mission.”
Lesslie Newbigin is one of the most significant figures to the emerging/missional conversation, and is often referenced but less often read. A large number of conversational participants were born in the 1980s around the time his seminal Foolishness to the Greeks: The Gospel and Western Culture was printed. It was brand-new and required reading for anyone with more than a passing interest in the “missions” track when I entered Bible College. With new books arriving on the emerging/missional scene weekly we can sometimes forget the dusty imprints that have gone before, and in the case of authors like Newbigin who have passed into the beyond, the fact that new books do not appear can push them from our minds as anything more than an endnote in the bibliography of something more “currently relevant.” In Newbigin’s case, he was much before his time, and anyone engaged in this ongoing conversation owes it to themselves to understand something of his work and his contribution. With that in mind, I thought I’d take it upon myself to attempt to provide a sketch.
I was just rereading Todd Hiestand’s post that asks, “How Does the Church Engage the World? Build an Ark?” He critiques an old song by the Gaither Vocal Band called “Build an Ark,” the lyrics of which talk about bundling your family and friends into an ark where they’ll be safe from the world around them, with its villains and “killin’s.” Like Noah… “safe from the world around us.” Hoo-boy. You can just imaging what Todd said (or better still, go read it) and what I think… pretty much agreeing with Todd (except I think he means the Essenes, not the “Essences”).
For lack of anything better, I’m starting a meme… but hopefully an interesting one that’s not too hard to handle. Rules are simple: name your favorite book of the Bible, and explain why. Link back here and tag 5-ish people. Jump in with a comment below if you don’t have a blog, or to point back to your entries.
Naturally, I’ll dive in first.
Favorite book: John’s Gospel.