Vinoth Ramachandra

On Integrity

Posted on: August 8, 2011

Karin and I are in the departure lounge at Heathrow airport, on our way home to Colombo.  We have spent the past fortnight in London and Poland, at the Jagiellonian university of Krakow, one of the oldest universities in the world, where the quadrennial IFES World Assembly was held. The latter brought together around 600 student leaders, staff and Board members of about 120 national movements affiliated to IFES (sadly, many of the Francophone African delegates were refused visas to Europe).

We also had the privilege of attending John Stott’s funeral in London today. News of his death, at the ripe old age of 90, was announced at the beginning of the Assembly; which was wonderfully  appropriate, given that IFES enjoyed a very close relationship with him ever since its formation in 1946 and he was one of our greatest advocates. It enabled us to celebrate his memory collectively.

Much was said of Stott’s humility and integrity, both at the World Assembly and at his funeral. He was one of those rare Christian leaders who was willing to change his mind and admit that he had done so. Much of this thinking about the Gospel and Christian mission was challenged by his visits to the Two-Third world and his exposure to Two-Third World Christian leaders and their theologies. He actually listened to us, unlike so many others who only came to propagate their views. Commitment to the poor, and a growing engagement with social and political ethics,  came to the fore in his later writings, much to the consternation of his conservative friends.

In a plenary Bible reflection that I gave at the IFES assembly, I mentioned how, when Stott invited me to give the London Lectures of 1998 (lectures which eventually became my book Faiths in Conflict?), he urged me to “Please say something that will disturb and challenge us evangelical Christians. We need to see our blind-spots.” Here was a 77-year old man wanting to be taught by a non-Westerner roughly half his age. How different from other British church leaders I knew!

The difference emerged even during the World Assembly (which was one of the best I have experienced- though I confess that being on the program planning team may have biased my judgment!). My Bible reflections and talks are routinely criticised by some people, usually from older Western student movements, but this time the response was almost unanimously appreciative. But some did express their concern that, in preaching from Mark 12:28-34 and stressing Jesus’ summary of God’s requirements (loving God and loving one’s neighbour as oneself) I neglected to emphasise justification by grace. I was preaching “law and not Gospel” as one person from a Lutheran background put it.

I find it difficult to keep cool in the presence of such people who seem to read every passage of scripture through a lens comprising a doctrinal system, thereby deflecting the stark moral challenge of the text. Perhaps that is my own “blind spot”, and why it is so important to read scripture with people of different persuasions and backgrounds. But the emphasis on faith in the Western evangelical traditions, as opposed to obedience to Jesus’ actual teachings, has led to terrible acts (from Luther’s rants against the Jews to twentieth-century defences of apartheid and discrimination against blacks and women) which have prevented many thoughtful, morally sensitive men and women from turning to Christ.

Stanley Jones was an American Methodist missionary-scholar who spent most of his life in India and was a personal friend of Mahatma Gandhi. After his death in 1948, Jones wrote an “interpretation” of Gandhi for Christians. I quote from that book: “Mahatma Gandhi did not see in the Cross what the convinced Christian sees, namely, God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself and that He was bearing our sins in His body on the Tree. Gandhi did not see that. But what he did see, namely, that you can take on yourself suffering, and not give it, and thus conquer the heart of another – that he did see in the Cross and that he put into practice and put into practice on a national scale. The difference, then, is this: we as Christians saw more in the Cross than Gandhi and put it into operation less; Gandhi saw less in the Cross than we and put it into practice more. We left the Cross a doctrine, Gandhi left it a deed.”

We should neither pay lip-service to John Stott nor idolize him. Perhaps the best way to honour him would be to imitate his integrity and teachability.

About these ads

36 Responses to "On Integrity"

spot on vinoth
thank you

what are these below your artcile?

some ads appear below ur artciles?

“…But the emphasis on faith in the Western evangelical traditions, as opposed to obedience to Jesus’ actual teachings, has led to terrible acts (from Luther’s rants against the Jews to twentieth-century defences of apartheid and discrimination against blacks and women) which have prevented many thoughtful, morally sensitive men and women from turning to Christ…”

Have you developed the thinking behind the above statement more fully somewhere else? I would be interested in seeing the connect between the cause and effects that you describe.

Thanks Vinoth for the eulogy. I was looking forward to it.

For readers who may not know, mp3 of Stanley Jones are available at http://foundationforevangelism.org/resources/audio-and-video/e-stanley-jones-sermons/

Listened to some of them some time back. Good ones…

Thanks Vinoth for your comments on John Stott. Quite a contrast to the preacher you noted in your essay “Whose Priority? Which Gospel?”

Thanks as well for your comments about E. Stanley Jones and Gandhi. So sad how confused we can get about the Gospel. How easily we forget, or worse dismiss, the words of Jesus in Matthew 25.

Suren, the price I pay for a free service is that WordPress can attach ads to my articles. Just ignore them!

Gregg, there is nothing new in what I said. Kierkegaard was saying the same thing in nineteenth-century Lutheran Denmark. And there are many books recounting the history of Protestant (Lutheran/Reformed) support for brutal regimes (e.g. Nazis, Afrikaner) and practices (e.g. discrimination against non-Christians) contrary to the teaching of Jesus.

Vinoth,

Thanks for the reply. I am well aware of the church’s history of discrimination and support of brutal regimes. The claim that the cause of these errors was an emphasis on faith is new to me. I am skeptical, but I am willing to explore. I know a couple of Kierkegaard enthusiasts who may be able to point me in the right direction. If any one else has suggestions, please send them along.

John, I was aghast to learn that this fellow whom you mentioned had pre-recorded his talk for the Lausanne SA!!! I wonder how the org committee can allow such televangelism… Are they sending out signals to the world that it’s ok to promote oneself via satellite uplink??

Also one of my very good friend attended the Asian caucus of Lausanne held recently at Ulan Bator. Many of the delegates were upset at the “going ons” in South Africa…. Seems like conservative folks had their hey day in Pretoria… The delegates in Mongolia, most of whom are women reported that in South Africa, they were told single women should be discouraged…. You very well know Piper’s ridiculous stand on women preaching….

Lausanne it seems has been hijacked and we’ve moved backwards…

@suantak,
Dr. Ramachandra’s blog emphasized Dr. Stott’s integrity and humility. Both the tone and content of your comments seem oddly out of place following such a post.

Vinoth,

Thank you for sharing this very thought-provoking and insightful blog, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed your work ever since I first picked up ‘The Recovery of Mission.’ Let me preface my comment by mentioning that I am a displaced Indian, raised in Africa, now living in America. Since moving to America, I have shared many of your concerns for American Evangelical Christianity’s ‘blind-spot’ towards poverty in the majority world (and, well, blind spot towards the majority world in general). The obvious lack of emphases towards issues that those of us raised in the majority world see as of primary importance is jarring, and provokes a (somewhat muted) sense of outrage. In the era of globalization in which we live, the contexts of those that live in the majority world has been brought squarely to our attention, and we can harldy claim ignorance anymore.
However, I wonder if the criticism raised against western evangelicals fails to properly understand the context in which they develop their theology. It was Lesslie Newbigin, a wonderful missiologist and underrated theologian, who described the West as “a pagan society whose public life is ruled by beliefs which are false.” If Newbigin is right, is it the fault of the theologians in the West then that they have developed a theology and apologetic in this context that focuses primarily on issues such as truth and morality? If the situation in the West is as dire as Newbigin and contemporary evangelicals make it out to be, and Christianity is indeed “under attack,” are Western theological, social and political emphases at least understandable, if not justified? If we lend a sympathetic ear to Gutierrez for creating Liberation theology within a context of systematic political and economic oppression, is there no such sympathy for the Western theologians and their context? These are just questions that I am pondering, and I’d be interested to know your viewpoints.

Thanks!
Roby Mathew.

Roby, thanks for your kind words.

I don’t know where in the US you are living, but it greatly surprises me that your understanding of the American “context” does not include poverty, institutional racism, militarism, legalized corruption, support for dictators, sweatshops, exploitation of undocumented workers, unjust trading practices, environmental destructiveness, colonial wars, war crimes, torture, human trafficking, etc etc. Do not these have to do with “truth and morality” as you put it? But, then, where are these reflected in the vast majority of Christian books that come out of the US and shipped to the rest of the world?

I had an earlier Blog post on Newbigin to commemorate the centenary of his death. Newbigin used to point out the anomaly of British missionaries in India protesting against the caste-system while remaining silent about the caste-system in their home country. As well as perpetuating their denominational rivalries in India.

We don’t seem to have made much progress since his day.

Thanks for your response Vinoth, and I think you’re absolutely rightly regarding all these issues that face Western Christianity and do not receive the amount of attention they deserve. This is not to say that they do not receive any attention, because there are certainly many churches stateside that pay considerable attention to these issues and attempt to live out the gospel by transforming these situations. Though, arguably, not enough churches.
What occured to me though, while reading your list, was that almost every single one of those tragedies, plus numerous more, could be applied to my native country India, and the general Christian response in that country has been equally apathetic (I was somewhat shocked to realize that my church in America did more relief work in India then my home church in India).
Is this not a universal flaw among Christians in any culture (particularly those where Christians tend to be from the middle class)?
Perhaps one possible explanation for inaction in America is due to the influence of a secular philosophy that delineates ‘facts’ from ‘values’, essentially privatizing faith and insisting on its removal from the public square. ‘Faith’ is reduced to a personal, private and preferably non-offensive worldview – which, as you well know, the Christian faith is anything but. Theologians such as Stanley Grenz have sought to return Christianity back to its communal nature, although with a post-modernist bent. Tom Wright also seems to be offering a corrective with his view of the Kingdom of God. However, in a society that fiercely contends that religion ought not to be in the public square, much Christian writing in America argues first for its rightful place in society, which could provide a platform and voice for these communities to then move into action. This obviously doesn’t justify inaction, I’m just offering a possible explanation…
Again, while I argue this, it is also plain to see that American Christianity is captive to its own culture; espousing individuality (and consequently privatizing faith), embracing materialism and allowing itself to become a political handmaiden.
Why though, is American (Western) Christianity singled out for the fiercest criticism, when it seems clear to me that most Christian communities across the globe suffer from similar maladies. Is this a case of ‘for those whom much is entrusted, much is expected’ and thus American Christians can, and should, wield their influence more?

Now you’ve moved from theological writings to “doing relief work”. There is a large Indian Christian literature on poverty and other social issues in India. Also, remember that most Indian Christians are poor themselves and proportionately few have had a college education.

I guess the comments forum on a blog is not the best forum for discussing this, and I’m sure that you’re a fairly busy individual. I would like to discuss the points I made in my last post in greater detail with you, if you ever find the time, it’s an area that I’m hoping to explore in my thesis – and I think your input would be invaluable.

(sidenote: I believe my professor is an acquaintance of yours – Dr. Dieumeme Noelliste)

If you do have the time and inclination to continue the discussion with me(it’s perfectly understandable if you don’t), my email is roby.mathew@my.densem.edu.

Thanks for taking the time to interact with folks that read your blog.
Roby

Thanks for posting this, Vinoth… especially the Stanley Jones/Gandhi quote. This quotation has challenged me deeply in reflection post World Assembly. Good to sit under your teaching.

The more I reflect on the Stanley Jones/Gandhi quote, the more I am appalled by it. It reflects thinking that is in conflict with both the IFES and IVCF statements of faith.

Greg, do you think that is a negative thing? I think we have to reconsider our statements of faith. That is why I really like the statement that we should not live out of the doctrine of faith but we should live in obediance to Christ. This is much much more than ‘simply’ converting people. Jesus changes people, but He also wants to change the wicked systems in this world in which injustice rules. And He choose to use us. We have a calling!

Greg,

Can you unpack more the claim that the E. Stanley Jones statement is in conflict with the IVCF and IFES statements of faith?

Thanks,

Gordon

Roby,

I am now living in Berlin, Germany but grew up in the U.S. I think many in the world can unfairly peg Christianity in the U.S. as ignoring the plight of many in the majority world. Also…the U.S. has problems of its own as in some cases it perpetuates oppression throughout the world due to some of its political and business practices — however — the U.S. Christian community does give a lot to the majority world in terms of support — both spiritual and financial. I think Vinoth can be unfair and biased at times when he speaks of Western Christianity – especially the American flavor.

Matthew,

Please show me where, in all my writings, I make blanket statements about “Western Christianity” or “Western Christians”? If you are responding to my post on Integrity, please show me what I have said there that you think “unfair and biased”. I think it is you who are making sweeping statements about “Christianity in the US”. I would never dream of using such language. My criticisms have been more pointed and specific.

Thanks for the reply Vinoth.

No disrespect intended, but it did seem like in your post above you were pegging the U.S. and its Christian counterparts as all being associated with war crimes, legalized corruption, warfare, etc. — just to name a few. I may be wrong in my interpretation, and if so please accept my full apology — however if I am not such statements did come across to me as being biased and one-sided.

Also, in some of your other posts/blogs the language you use and the tone that comes through the text seems to indicate that you have some issues with the west — particularly the U.S. I can quote the portions if you would like. Thanks so much for listening.

Please could you read what I write a little bit more carefully, Matthew, before you comment? It really is disrespectful to refer to things I say without attending to their proper context. If you are referring to my comment to Roby Matthew above, I was challenging his statement that American Christians are not facing the context of poverty and social injustice that Third World Christians live in.

If you disagree with what I said, that’s ok but please say so – instead of charging me with “pegging the US and its Christian counterparts” (whatever that whole clause means- I have no idea). Of course I “have issues with the US”, as you put it, but I do with my own country and several others too!

I would suggest you also read all my Blogs critical of war crimes, corruption, nepotism, etc in India, Sri Lanka, and also some European countries (including my latest Blog). Nobody from these countries complains abut my “tone” in these. Nobody implies that I am “biased” against these countries and the Christians in them. Nobody says I am “anti-Indian” or “anti-Sri Lankan” or “anti-British” (because of what I said about “most British church leaders I know” in my “Integritity” post). Sadly, it is only when I touch on some particular sin in the American church or society that it is guaranteed that an American somewhere starts to whine that I am “biased” against “the US and American Christianity”!

Thanks once again for the response Vinoth.

I´m not whining…I´m simply attempting to report that there are other sides to the story you report. It is easy to complain and be angry, but to offer solutions as well is typically a better route.

I hope as Christian brothers we can discuss the issues openly and with the same love that Christ would exhibit.

Vinoth,

A few points:

-In ‘Subverting Global Myths’ you commend the many churches that took a stance against the Iraq war, so I think it would be unfair to label you as simply criticizing Christianity in America with a broad brush.
-You quote Jenkins’ assessment of American public opinion as overwhelmingly parochial, as well as Miroslav Volf’s criticism of a media that ignores good acts of Christians while emphasizing acts of depravity – how much effect do you feel the left-leaning, parochial, secular media has on American Christianity’s naievete and blind spots?
-I think my aim here (as well as the poster Matthew’s) is to find the root cause of the failings that Western Christian’s have. (What you describe as ‘something at work in the collective American psyche that fills non-American observers with alarm’).
-All theology is obviously contextual, and different contexts produce different emphases (and blind spots). What theological model would you say enables one to accurately criticize the theological failings of a particular context? (i.e. is it a person’s unique context that allows him/her to critique another, or can a person be a-contextual in their approach?)
-The amount of time and space you spend in ‘Subverting Global Myths’ critiquing American foreign policy is obviously overwhelmingly larger than space you devote to criticizing any other country’s policy (including your own). Is this because of the wider range of influence and impact that American policy has?
-Not being an American, I can still empathize with them feeling ‘picked on’ – the critiques of the OT prophet (which is a role I feel you have embraced) were never easy to accept. Though I do get that idea that ‘hurting their feelings’ is not a concern of yours right now.
-Emphasizing certain social injustices over others is inevitable in any culture. Do you feel the American evangelical emphasis on fighting abortion and the hundreds of thousands of unborn lives lost each year is misplaced? How do we determine what should be #1 on that list, or #2, or #3?

Roby, I don’t think I am embracing any particular “roles”, prophetic or otherwise. Anybody who has come to know the God of the Bible is passionate about social justice. Jesus himself said in the Beatitudes that to “hunger and thirst after justice” was a mark of those who belonged to his kingdom. And there are far more references to justice in the NT than to evangelism. So I am simply trying to be a disciple of Jesus in my context. I am sure you are too. So, isn’t it curious how anybody who is outspoken about justice suddenly gets labeled “an OT prophet” as this was something extraordinary… (I am not thinking only of your comment, but others too)

My “context” in Sri Lanka actually includes US policies and the impact of American evangelical churches and organizations. But yours in the US doesn’t include Sri Lanka. That is the difference- an important one. That is why we have every right to speak to (and about) the US, and Americans must listen.

If you want to know what I have said regarding my own society and governments, you can visit me here and I can show you a thick file with all the articles and letters I have written in national dailies over the past 30 years. I have to smuggle my last book (Subverting Myths) into Sri Lanka, because if the political authorities read what I have written there, I can be arrested under the draconian emergency laws. So, I am not asking you or anybody else in the US to do in your own country what I am not doing in mine. For us, being a Christian is a matter of life and death, literally. (It is also why I am impatient with “theological” questions that do not spring out of costly social and cultural engagement).

You ask about where and why “Western Christians” (strange how you and the other Matthew seem to love these generalizations, not me!) fail. I can answer by using your last post as an example, if you don’t me doing so (and I have self-styled “conservative American evangelicals” in mind here):

1. Wanting quick answers to big questions (read Mark Noll’s Scandal of the Evangelical Mind for the simplistic approach evangelicals tend to take to issues)

2. A fascination- even an obsession- with “priorities” and “rankings”(which is more important?- please number 1, 2 or 3)

In some of my Blog posts I have pointed out that, in my experience, many American evangelical Christians are poorly informed about the world, despite possessing the latest communications and information technologies. Also, they are taught individualistic and therapeutic “Gospels” which they then export to other parts of the world in the name of “mission”. (Hence their struggles with what I say: to grasp how Christian unity, justice, reconciliation or environmental concerns have anything at all to do with the Gospel). And, related to these, is a curious inability to separate their American and Christian identities- often the former trumps the latter. Hence the hyper-sensitivity to any criticism of American politics, business, etc.

Hah, I do believe you’re right, I was using the term “Western Christians” in a rather broad and unfair way. I am, of course, referring to a subset to Western Christians (I should preface it with “many,” as you do). I’m glad (and not surprised) to hear that you have written a great deal regarding political and social issues in Sri Lanka, I only have your published books to go on, which obviously don’t reflect all your concerns. I truly admire your brave stance and I hope that God both protects you and uses you to influence the hearts and minds of those in power.

I think I would disagree with Noll’s assessment that American evangelicalism has divorced intellect from piety and attached itself to the latter (if Amazon is right in their description of his book). Rather I agree with Alister Mcgrath’s assessment in “A Passion for the Truth” that there is a lingering enslavement to Enlightenment Rationality in Western evangelicalism. There is an emphasis on coherence and logic that at times simplifies issues that are complex and deserve more nuance. We can see this in doctrines such as the ordo salutis – as you said, a kind of obsession with orders and priorities that seems misplaced (or at least unduly emphasized).

However, if you don’t mind me doing so, I actually believe that I could use your post as an example of the same approach that you decry in “self-styled conservative American evangelicals”:
- Using a hermeneutic that quantifies the references in the NT to justice and evangelism and uses the result to conclude that justice is more important than evangelism is both a rather simplistic answer to a big question, and implicitly involves “rankings.”

Of course, I know that your theology isn’t that simplistic, and I hope you realize that mine (as a conservative evangelical) isn’t either.

thanks,
Roby

Roby wref to

“However, if you don’t mind me doing so, I actually believe that I could use your post as an example of the same approach that you decry in “self-styled conservative American evangelicals”:
- Using a hermeneutic that quantifies the references in the NT to justice and evangelism and uses the result to conclude that justice is more important than evangelism is both a rather simplistic answer to a big question, and implicitly involves “rankings.”

You are absolutely wrong. I wish you’d think twice before posting the rather silly contention which caricaturize all of his theology- integral mission.

Tell me in all honesty, did you know that there are more references to justice than to evangelism in the NT before Vinoth’s post? If so good for you:). I didn’t!

There’s such thing as language and reference.

Vinoth’s riposte/observation was not a matter of pushing forth a first principle on the basis of word count or something that cries for ranking priorities. Anybody with a fairly analytic mind can see it’s a reference/reply to the wrong headed push by many north American evangelicals to put evangelism (as understood by them) as # 1. And that is its use in a limited sense here. There’s the language and the reference….

If you’ve read Vinoth’s books, you’ll find that the only thing that comes close to our language of priority in the Gospel is…

Mark Noll is an American and McGrath is an outsider? Having listened to Noll and Os Guinness and others’ fav reference, I don’t think his analysis is simplistic thought McGrath may have thrown an additional strand…

By simplistic I mean reasonable grounds for serious disagreement. I think Noll is right on target… Sorry for the typo. Have to rush for a class now..

“vaiphei” if you have to interject yourself into a dialog between Vinoth and I, I’d appreciate it if you’d introduce yourself.
Secondly, if you are going to quote/criticize my post, have the intellectual honesty to quote my entire post. You left out the last line of the block quote that you took from my post, which was the whole point of it, and thus you completely missed the point of that post. Perhaps if you re-read our conversation very carefully you’ll understand the point I was trying to get across.
You seem to be very cross about unfair caricatures, yet you think Mark Noll, who’s book starts with the phrase “The scandal of the evangelical mind is that there is not much of an evangelical mind.” is “right on target.” You don’t seem to have much empathy for unfair caricatures of evangelicals.
And again, if you’d read my posts carefully, you’d realize I quote liberally from Vinoth’s books, so I have read his books.
Like I’d mentioned earlier to Vinoth, I don’t think the comments section on a blog post is an adequate medium for detailed theological conversations (hint, that was the point of my post you criticized), and this just reinforces my opinion.

Roby,

I did get what you (were trying to) say in your last para –

Of course, I know that your theology isn’t that simplistic, and I hope you realize that mine (as a conservative evangelical) isn’t either.

If you reread my 1st response, I was merely exposing the logical inadequacy of the return compliment you gave Vinoth – I actually believe that I could use your post as an example of the same approach that you decry in “self-styled…

Because I feel

- Using a hermeneutic that quantifies the references in the NT to justice and evangelism and uses the result to conclude that justice is more important than evangelism is both a rather simplistic answer to a big question, and implicitly involves “rankings.”

is a very weak springboard/example to transition to your conclusion.

And also because that completely misses Vinoth’s Theology of Integral Mission in case you mistakenly presume Vinoth is in the priority-linguistic-game.

I have read almost everything written by Vinoth and listened to all his available talk. Hence I am quite sensitive, I mean attuned to picking up dissonances in other folks’ portrayal of Vinoth’s thoughts…. I thought I detected one. I should have made myself clearer. As far as I know, Vinoth is not in the priority language game and that the justice in NT example was a gentle reminder to those who insist on everyone toeing the ideological line of having evangelism (as they understand, never mind others) as the #1; and also to those who think equating OT with justice and NT with evangelism is chic?

I don’t mean to say I am always right in my understanding of Vinoth’s thoughts:-).

So it was not a dishonest isolation of your texts out of context. I was merely trying to inject some Wittgensteinian rigor in the examples we use, especially when we try to come back on a point by trying to turn around….

But do correct me if I still missed your point.
***********************

As an Evangelical himself I don’t think Mark Noll was/is unfair. He’s rather being “brutally” honest in his in-house self criticism.

Please take an honest self assessment of this (courtesy Leonard Sweet) on being an Evangelical Reject If:

http://www.thepangeablog.com/2011/06/06/you-might-be-an-evangelical-reject-if/

****************
I am Samuel Vaiphei.

Samuel, you are still missing the point of my post. I’m not sure why I have to explain myself to you given that you weren’t part of the conversation, but here goes:
-I asked Vinoth for his perspective on why many in Western Christianity ‘fail.’
-His response (in what I felt was a slightly belittling manner) was that my post itself exemplified why it fails: simplistic and obsession with priorities.
-My response was that I could critique his theology in the same way that he just did mine – based on a blog post – but I don’t, I realize his theology is much deeper than that, and I’d appreciate it if he’d afford me the same courtesy.

The Leonard Sweet page is a joke. Literally. It’s based on a rather famous comedic routine by Jeff Foxworthy. If you want to have a serious conversation about evangelicalism, that’s not a particularly good away to initiate it, and I’m not going to waste my time with it, sorry.

Roby and Samuel,

I think I need to call a halt to what is becoming a senseless exchange. Your thoughts seem to have wandered somewhat astray, Samuel. You don’t need to ask Roby to read all my writings! All you needed to do was ask him to read the paragraph in which my reference to justice and evangelism occurred. I was responding to the “OT prophet” terminology, pointing out that the passion for justice is not limited to OT prophets. There is nothing in my comment about “priorities/rankings” or of one being more important than the other.

English readers of the Bible are often misled because of the strange tendency to use “righteousness” rather than “justice” in many places where the latter is the appropriate term. This, too, is a cultural blind spot. Wolterstorff suggests that it is because the English-language translators think of justice as purely “secondary justice” (e.g. retribution) rather than “primary justice”. What a difference it would make in our churches if we changed “righteousness” to “justice” wherever the context shows that this is indeed its sense (as in Matt 5:1-13).

As for the noun “evangelism”, I can’t find that anywhere in my Bible, English or whatever translation! We have a funny way of turning verbs and adjectives into nouns, which fossilizes them. It is why I never call myself “an evangelical” and distance myself completely from that dreadful word “evangelicalism”.

But let the issue rest.

Thanks so much for all the insight as well as the clarification.
I will say that I hope Mr. Noll admits that there is in fact a fair amount of intellect in evangelical circles. Blogger Jacques Berlinerblau is quoted as saying “A more professorial and thoughtful strain of Evangelicalism is finding its public voice.” Not all evangelicals fall into the trap of simplifying complex problems or “individualizing” the Gospel at the expense of justice.

Finally…continuing from my last post…I would like to say that in some comments I read on this thread (and others) there appears to exist a negative sense of intellectual “pomp” and a fair amount of condescending fodder. Neither of these qualities is in line with the teachings of Jesus I do not think. Also…since when is it necessary to rely on intellectualism as the foundation for a credible Gospel and witness?

Here is another moving tribute to John Stott by Brian J. Walsh,

http://empireremixed.com/2011/08/02/remembering-john-stott/#more-1020

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Categories

August 2011
M T W T F S S
« Jul   Sep »
1234567
891011121314
15161718192021
22232425262728
293031  
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 298 other followers

%d bloggers like this: