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St Francis Magazine Vol 9, No 2 | April 2013


A.W. Tozer said that Only a disciple can make a disciple. The C apetown Commitment includes this statement: We need intensive efforts to train all God's people in whole-life discipleship, which means to live, think, work, and speak from a biblical worldview and with missional effectiveness in every place or circumstance of daily life and work. Continuing with our papers on discipleship we present further papers from the Workshop on Discipleship held in September last year. The first paper explores the way mission agencies articulate their vision and purpose, and asks where discipleship is placed in the work of the gospel today. The second paper explores the way the early church went about the task of discipleship and draws us back to consideration of the centrality of the Church in the discipleship of Gods people. Then we explore one of the significant tools for discipleship today, Theological Education by Extension (TEE). Case studies explore the way TEE has been used n the Mongolian context and the impact when it is part of the programme of the Church. There are two other papers. One studies the Riggs Report on evangelism and asks whether this was an early experiment into contextualisation. The second invites us to look at the meaning of adoption and its implications for ministry in among Muslims today. As you read and examine these papers, we invite you to search the scriptures and wrestle with ministry the gives evidence of the Kingdom of God come among us. Melanie McNeal Contributing Editor

St Francis Magazine is published by Arab Vision and Interserve

St Francis Magazine Vol 9, No 2 | April 2013

Please note: the views expressed in these papers do not necessarily represent the views of St Francis Magazine or its sponsoring organisations.

St Francis Magazine is published by Arab Vision and Interserve

St Francis Magazine Vol 9, No 2 | April 2013


By Melanie McNeil1
Abstract: What do the vision or mission statements and purpose statements of mission organisations tell us about the focus of mission today? Sound bites, strap lines, and branding are now big budget items for mission organisations. Organisational development consultants have invested hundreds of man hours in helping mission organisations develop the key phrase to describe their particular contribution to the mission endeavour today. This paper examines mission strap lines, their vision and mission or purpose statements, and asks whether these have contributed to a reductionist approach to mission today. 1 Introduction Evangelism, church planting, the unreached or least reached, finishing the task, hard places, a church for every people. Increasingly, in response to the changing dynamics of communication in our world, mission agencies, networks and movements have sought to capture their vision and purpose in short statements, catch phrases and sound bites. In the public arena, these communication pieces become the identity of the organisation and its work. Vision statements create a sense of what the end goal is. They communicate intention and provide the framework for strategic planning. Mission or purpose statements explain why the organisation exists, both for organisational and public understanding. Vision and purpose statements seek to communicate identity and purpose, to capture the big story of what the organization is about in a few dynamic words. They have to tell a story that others want to buy into, and become the branding for the organization.

Melanie McNeil has worked with Interserve for more than 25 years in Asia and the Middle East and is presently part of their International Leadership Team. She has a PhD in Gender Studies from the Australian National University.
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The question then is, how do the vision and purpose statements of mission organisations and networks reflect their understanding of and engagement with the task of mission? How do they cast vision for the future and describe the purpose of their existence? What do we learn about the emphasis of the missionary task today from vision and purpose statements? Here are just a small number of statements from mission agencies and networks today. (See Appendix 1 for a more comprehensive list).
Lives and communities transformed through encounter with Jesus Christ2 Our Purpose is to make Jesus Christ kno w through wholistic ministry, in partnership with the global church, amongst the neediest peoples of Asia and the Arab World.3 Through God's grace, we aim to see an indigenous, biblical church movement in each people group of East Asia, evangelizing their own people and reaching out in mission to other peoples. 4 To Glorify God by the urgent evangelization of East Asia's Millions.5 SIM is a community of God's people who delight to worship him and are passionate about the Gospel, seeking to fulfill the mission of Jesus Christ in the world. Our purpose is to glorify God by planting, strengthening, and partnering with churches around the world as we: 1. evangelize the unreached, 2. minister to human need, 3. disciple believers into churches, 4. equip churches to fulfill Christ's Commission.6 IMB's [International Mission Board's] mission is to make disciples of all peoples in fulfillment of the Great Commission found in Matthew 28:18-20.7

2 3

The vision statement of Interserve taken from brochure Serving with Purpose The Purpose statement of Interserve taken from brochure Serving with Purpose 4 Vision Statement of OMF Accessed 20.07.2012 5 Mission Statement of OMF Accessed 20.07.2012 6 Accessed 20.07.2012
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Calvary Ministries (CAPRO) is a non-denominational global Christian missionary movement of African origin, taking the gospel to the remaining un-evangelised parts of the world with a particular focus on the unreached peoples of Africa and the world.8 Peoples joining together to glorify God among all peoples. 9 To energize the Body of Christ for continuing initiatives among the one-fourth world or 27% of the world who have almost no access to the Gospel by...10

So, whats the task of mission? Paul Bendor-Samuel makes this observation:
The mission community has struggled to avoid a reductionist approach to mission. Jesus modelled and taught an approach to mission that is truly wholistic. He placed being and making disciples at the heart of mission. This simple but incredibly rich process is what binds wholistic mission together. The challenge for us is to discover how we can strengthen our own journey in discipleship while making wholistic di sciples who are living out and proclaiming the Lordship of Christ in ev ery sphere of life11.

This paper asks whether there is a reductionist approach to mission today by examining vision and purpose statements of mission organisations and networks, and examines how that is impacting fulfillment of the great commission. It is premised on an understanding of the great commission that in our going we would make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to observe all that Jesus commanded us. Accessed 02.08.2012 8 Accessed 02.08.2012 9 Accessed 02.08.2012 10 Accessed 02.08.2012 11 Bendor-Samuel, Paul Discipleship: The Centre of Wholistic Ministry, Unpublished article
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In the first section we will review the ways that the task of mission is being defined today by examining key words and phrases used to describe identity and purpose. The second section will explore how these definitions frame the way we measure the impact of mission work. Section three will offer a re-definition of the task of mission, seeking to explore Gods shalom grown through discipl eship. The fourth section asks what if discipleship became the heart of mission, that which defines, shapes and is our praxis in the mission of God. Section five will explore the cost of such a shift. 2 How is the task of mission being defined today?

The task of mission today has come to be defined as planting church among unreached people groups. Many missions and pan-mission organisations have brought a focus to that through their work. Finishing the Task describes it in this way:
Today there are 476 Unengaged, Unreached People Groups with populations more than 40,000 who are still beyond the reach of the gospel of Jesus Christ. These approximately 117,352,136 people are spiritually lost and helpless, like sheep having no Shepherd. Among them Christ remains unknown, unacknowledged, and unadorned. These 476 are perhaps the neediest of the needy. They are unengaged, which means that no one church, no one mission agency no one has yet taken responsibility to tell them of our great Saviour, Jesus Christ. The 476 are at the very heart of the unfinished Great Commission task 12

Pioneers mission organisation defines its task:

Pioneers mobilizes teams to glorify God among unreached peoples by initiating church-planting movements in partnership with local churches.13

The MANI (Movement for African National Initiatives) network says:

12 13 Accessed 03.08.2012 Accessed 20.07.2012


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St Francis Magazine Vol 9, No 2 | April 2013

MANIs purpose is to affirm, motivate, mobilize and network Chri stian leaders by inspiring them with the vision of reaching the unreached and least evangelized in Africa, and the wider world, through the communication of up to date research, reports and models; consultations and prayer efforts focusing on the unfinished task.14

There are a number of words that stand out in the vision and mission or purpose statements of organisations, whether mission agencies or networks. These include evangelism, church planting (movements), finishing the task, mobilisation, transformation, neediest, equipping the church. We will look at some of the most used words and examine the focus and direction they are giving to mission. 2.1 Evangelism The Lausanne Movement has played a pivotal role in shaping the vision of evangelical Christian engagement with the mission of God. It says that it is A Worldwide movement that mobilizes evangelical leaders to collaborate for world evangelization. Six of the fifteen points in the Lausanne Covenant explicitly focus on aspects of evangelism and the evangelistic task: The Nature of Evangelism; The Church and Evangelism; Cooperation in Evangelism; Churches in Evangelistic Partnership; The Urgency of the Evangelistic Task; Evangelism and Culture. It defines evangelism: To evangelize is to spread the good news that Jesus Christ died for our sins and was raised from the dead according to the Scriptures, and that as the reigning Lord he now offers the forgiveness of sins and the liberating gifts of the Spirit to all who repent and believe. Our Christian presence in the world is indispensable to evangelism, and so is that kind of dialogue whose purpose is to listen sensitively in order to understand. But evangelism itself is the proclamation of the historical, biblical Christ as Saviour and Lord, with a view to persuading people to come to him personally and so be reconciled to God. In issuing the gospel invitation we have no liberty to conceal the cost of discipleship. Jesus still calls all who would follow him to deny themselves, take up their cross, and identify themselves with
14 Accessed 03.08.2012


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St Francis Magazine Vol 9, No 2 | April 2013

his new community. The results of evangelism include obedience to Christ, incorporation into his Church and responsible service in the world.15 Reporting on the 2010 Lausanne meeting in Cape Town, Stanley Green wrote:
Again and again, echoing the calls from Lausanne 74 and Manila 89, the imperative of upholding the urgency and priority of evangelism was pled from the platform at CT2010. These voices seemed to accommodate a broad range of witness activities if the activities create conditions more conducive to the success of evangelism. Younger, newer voices, by contrast, highlighted initiatives that are aligned with a broader definition of mission that includes justice and freedom for the poor and oppressed, food for the hungry, and healing for the diseased (HIV and AIDS received special focus at the congress). Those championing this larger register of mission engagements did not advocate that these responses to a broken and hurting world be prioritized above evangelism. They did, however, see these responses as aligned with Gods purposes in the world and as urgently required for the sake of the churchs cred ibility. Those advocating the priority of evangelism seemed to be yet tied to a position that predominated at Lausanne 74, with strong claims being made for the need for propositional truths and the need for a vigorous defence of the Gospel.16

What does evangelism mean today? While it is a contested term, most evangelical Christian organisations would embrace the meaning articulated in the Lausanne Covenant: spreading the good news primarily through proclamation of the propositional truths of the go spel. In Harold Netlands assessment of modern evangelicalism:
There has been a tendency to understand the Great Commission primarily in terms of verbal communication of the message of the gospel (information transfer), and there has often been an accompanying reduc-

15 Accessed 03.08.2012 16 Green, Stanley. Report on Cape Town 2010 in International Bulletin of Missionary Research, Vol. 35, No 1 January 2011
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tionism which views the gospel simply as necessary information for getting to heaven17

When the task of mission is defined by evangelism it reduces the commission of Gods mission to proclamation of the message that Jesus is Saviour and Lord. Did Lausanne Cape Town 2010 miss an opportunity to go beyond evangelism in calling the Church to action in mission today? 2.2 Church planting (movements) A survey of the promotional material of mission agencies and networks shows that there is a distinct focus on church planting or church planting movements. OMF speaks of indigenous, biblical church-planting movements18; SIM says its purpose includes planting, strengthening and partnering with churches19; WEC speaks of engaging in a broad range of work styles but concentrating on plan ting churches20; Pioneers says it mobilises teams for the task of initiating church planting movements21; Vision 5:9 says that it exists to see effective church planting efforts among every Muslim people group by 202522. Church planting is the focus of the mission effort of many organisations and partnerships. In fact, it is an essential strap line for mobilization of people and financial resources. My own organisation, Interserve, has been encouraged, some might say urged, to put the words church planting into its vision or purpose statement because this will assist in mobilising certain sections of the evangelical tradition. There has been movement within missions in their understanding


Netland, Harold quoted in Steven Steinhaus Exponential Disciple-Making: A Fresh Approach to Church-Planting Movements. Seebed Vol xxv, No 2, December 2011 p 7 18 Accessed 20.07.2012 19 Accessed 20.07.2012 20 Accessed 20.07.2012 21 Accessed 20.07.2012 22 Network News: A progress Update for the Vision 5:9 Network, Issue 4, December 2010
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of church planting. In an edition of the Seedbed magazine dedicated to Assessing Approaches to Launching Church-Planting Movements editor Don Little noted:
In my generation, we strove to plant healthy churches that would naturally reproduce. Now church planting teams seek to catalyse church planting movements23

Significant debate about church planting movements is built around contentions about the possibility of birthing church planting movements by implementing certain principles and approaches under the Holy Spirit. Proponents of church planting movements advocate the transfer of technique between cultures and countries. Curtis Sergeant contends that discipleship and church planting processes are entirely what God is calling us to and the theories and themes of these are reproducible, while evangelism, he says, is context specific24. Those who disagree with the thrust of CPMs as a strategically reproducible model across any context argue that the centrality of strategy, models and steps fails to recognise social structures and cultural themes, and boxes in the work of God by his Spirit to a particular process. The role of proclamation in church planting movements is also contested. Steven Steinhaus speaks of church planting movements being about discipleship built on leadership development, which happens through self-discovery, inductive bible studies25, but Paul Mullins argues that preaching and teaching are central in the Gospels and Acts of the Apostles26 and are missed in CPMs. That God is at work establishing his Church is undisputed. How he is working and what we can to as part of that is debated.

Little, Don. Editorial: CPMs and the Initiative of the Spirit. Seedbed Vol xxv, No 2., December 2011 24 Sergeant, Curtis. Planting Rapidly Reproducing Churches, reproducing_churches.pdf Accessed 06.08.2012 25 Steinhaus, Steven. Exponential Disciple-Making: A Fresh Approach to ChurchPlanting Movements. Seedbed Vol xxv, No 2, December 2011 p 5-7 26 Mullins, Paul. The Drunken Swagger of CPM Methodology: A Response to Steinhaus Exponential Disciple-Making. Seedbed Vol xxv, No 2, December 2011. p. 21-22
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2.3 Finishing the Task Strategies of finishing the task provide the heartbeat of the mission call in many places. Their target is bringing closure among all unreached peoples groups27. The International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention has defined Unreached People Groups in this way:
A people group is unreached when the number of Evangelical Christians is less than 2% of its population. It is further called unengaged when there is no church planting methodology consistent with Evangelical faith and practice underway. A people group is not engaged when it is merely adopted, is the object of focused prayer, or is part of an advocacy strategy28

Others, like Ralph Winter, defined it this way:

An unreached people group is a people group within which there is no indigenous community of believing Christians able to evangelise this people group29

Finishing the task is premised on a particular eschatological reading of scripture. Matthew 24:14 is read to urge that we hasten Jesus coming by completing the evangelisation of the nations. Establishing witness to the gospel among every people becomes the driver for mission based on an eschatological reading of this verse. However, Christopher Wright says that Jesus use of the word must was not about setting a timetable, rather it represented the imperative of scripture, that Gods mission is to make his salvation known to all nations30. In conceptualising the task of mission, Winter and Koch described the essential missionary task in terms of viable indigenous church


Parsons, Greg H. Strategising to reach the Unreached: A Report on Singapore 2002. International Journal of Frontier Missions Vol. 21:1 Spring 2003 28 Accessed 03.08.2012 29 Winter, Ralph D and Bruce A Koch. Finishing the Task: The Unreached Peoples Challenge on Accessed 03.08.2012 p 536 30 Wright, Christopher J.H. The Mission of God: Unlocking the Bibles Grand Narrative, Intervarsity Press, Nottingham 2006. p 511
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planting movements, and speak of the completion of the basic missionary task when there are indigenous movements among people groups31. Advocating that the task can be completed has great appeal, and Winter has led the way in articulating advancing the gospel into the last frontiers. The idea of the irreducible, essential mission task of breakthrough in every people group has captured imagin ation and fired missionary endeavor. A number of partnerships and networks have grown up to speed the completion of the task through cooperative efforts: AD2000 and Beyond, now the Joshua project; Ethne to Ethne this Generation; Finishing the Task; Vision 5:9. Conceptualising completion has created a new imperative in mission that continues to create momentum for mobilisation and resourcing mission, and strategising the task. 2.4 Mobilisation God has chosen to use people as part of his mission in the world. In building his church, he wants to use it to manifest his glory and show his Lordship among the nations. The assumption in Matthew 28:19, the great verse of mobilization, is that people would be going and making disciples, baptizing and teaching the whole story of God. While people are a resource in mission, are they the end? Mobilisation is high on the list of things mission agencies do. OMF says:
We provide Christians with opportunities to share the love of Christ with East Asians worldwide32

Pioneers starts off the description of its task by saying it mobilises teams33, and Operation Mobilisation says it is about motivating and equipping people so that they can share the good news about Jesus Christ34. Interserve is presently engaged in reflection on purpose, recognizing that traditional recruiting offices are struggling where their primary focus is mobilization. International Director, Paul Bendor Samuel wrote:
31 32

ibid p 538 Accessed 20.07.2012 33 Accessed 20.07.2012 34 Accessed 20.07.2012
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For over 200 years the primary approach to mission has been the sending of international cross-cultural workers. These workers have been seen as the primary agents in the churchs mission. Newer mission movements in Asia, Africa and Latin America have followed this model.

This approach can be summarised as mission by mobilisation. The second half of the 20th [Century] saw this become mass mobilisation, a trend picked up and popularised further by the short-term mission movement. The drive and direction for this approach to mission lie almost exclusively with the sending church35. So much of mission organisational life is focused around mobilisation, and the services associated with that. But, should this continue to shape the identity and purpose of mission? 2.5 Transformation The vision statement of Interserve speaks of Lives and communities transformed through encounter with Jesus Christ. Transformation is one of the defining foci of mission today. Transformation conceptualises the changes that are brought when the gospel of Jesus Christ interacts with every aspect of life. Proponents of wholistic mission, the key promoters of transformation, argue that proclamation, evangelism, church planting and social transformation are a seamless whole in mission. Interserve, whose purpose states that they are committed to making Jesus Christ known through wholistic mission, defines wholistic mission like this:
Intentionally bearing witness to the whole character of God and his mighty acts of redemption through proclamation, service, and fellowship36.

This approach to mission has gained prominence since 1983. Rene Padilla, tracing the historical roots of wholistic or integral mission, says that the Wheaton 1983 Statement, Transformation: the Church in Response to Human Need gave strong evangelical affi rmation of a commitment to integral or transformational mission. It was the synthesis of the theological basis for wholistic mission with
35 36

Bendor-Samuel, Paul. Clarify purpose, then mobilise, Unpublished paper, 2012. Gods Big Idea, Interserve, Vision and Practice Series

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recognition that the Church is Gods agent for wholistic transformation that created the impetus for a view of the Church and its mission that was wholistic37. While many mission histories tell the story of preaching the gospel, Interserves history tells a story of wholistic mission. This began when two women who, having heard a story of transformation that happened when women were able to read, started a mission that embraced ministering to the education and health needs of women. They noted that society in India would only change when all of its members were able to contribute and that this meant enabling women to be educated and participate in the whole life of their community. They identified the link between spiritual and social transformation and set about forming a mission that would embrace a wholistic approach to life and ministry. Debates about transformation as mission focus around the place of evangelism and proclamation, the gospel and church planting. Labels like social gospel have led some evangelical circles to reject transformation and wholistic mission for its perceived failure to proclaim the good news. They charge that wholistic mission makes life better but still sends people to hell. It was John Stott, at the 1974 Lausanne Congress, who argued that the mission of the church should incorporate evangelism and social concern38. Others have struggled to integrate evangelism and social involvement so that they are more than two activities simply done alongside each other. Tim Chester says that:
In integral mission our proclamation has social consequences as we call people to love and repentance in all areas of life. And our social involvement has evangelistic consequences as we bear witness to the transforming grace of Jesus Christ. If we ignore the world we betray the word of God which sends us out to serve the world. If we ignore the word of God we have nothing to bring to the world 39.

Padilla, C. Rene. Integral Mission and its Historical Development, s_historical_development_padilla.pdf Accessed 4.08.2012 38 Chester, Tim, Barriers to the Embrace of Integral Mission, Micah Challenge Framework Papers, Framework Paper 1 p. 1 39 ibid p 2-3
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2.6 Neediest Who are the neediest? For some mission organisations spiritual needs are over-arching and so the neediest are those with least access to the gospel. Other definitions of the neediest have been framed in economic and development terms. The earliest days of mission were associated with reaching the poor, what Greg Parsons has described as a civilising action around the uplift of the downtrodden40. Anna Johnston has argued that the focus on the needy in the early growth years of mission came from the idea of charity and benevolent societies that energized social action in Britain in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries41. With development and social enterprise driven by the state and a range of civil actors, need is now defined in much more nuanced ways. This has led to a rise in the number of missions that have specific focus on single areas of need in society. Some of these include: She is Safe, focused on exploited and abused women in high risk places; Make Way Partners, committed to prevent and combat human trafficking and all forms of modern day slavery; Save the Mothers, dedicated to growing awareness and the prevention of maternal mortality; International Justice Mission, rescuing victims of slavery, sexual exploitation and other forms of violent oppression; Agape International Mission, focused on women and children involved in the sex trade. Interserve uses the neediest in defining its task in mission. It says:
We serve in the hard places amongst the neediest peoples of Asia and the Arab World wherever they are found. This includes ministry amongst migrant communities from these countries. We prioritise the most spiritually, materially and socially impoverished, in places where the good news of Jesus is least known, spiritual and physical needs are the greatest and the church is small or oppressed42.

40 41

Parsons op cit Johnston, Anna. Missionary Writing and Empire, 1800 1860, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2003. p14 42 Accessed 20.07.2012
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In defining the neediest in this way, Interserve creates a space for interpretation of the neediest. This means their work in some of the richest nations of the world is still categorised as the neediest because of the spiritual and social deprivations that mark the lives of people in such places. It means that in countries where there is a significant church, identifying those who are marginalized in society and in terms of the gospel they can engage with the neediest. Research on the websites of many mainstream traditional mission organisations found that few used words associated with needy, although unreached and least reached were prominent and regularly found. This perhaps indicates the focus of mission and its identification of need today. 2.7 Equipping, empowering, serving the church Almost without exception, mission agencies and networks recognize a role for the church, and the role of the church, in mission. What that role is, perhaps, is less defined. OMF says it serves the church43; SIM speaks in terms of planting, strengthening and par tnering with the church44; WEC explains its role as planting churches and to help worshipping communities of believers multiply among the least reached45; Operation Mobilisation says its role in the Church is to mobilise people to share the knowledge of Jesus and his love to every generation in every nation46; Interserve speaks of making Jesus known through wholistic mission in partnership with the global church; CAPRO says it is involved in mobilizing the local church and planting churches47; the Indian Missions Association defines its role to assist Missions and Churches in the proclamation of the Good news and making disciples of Jesus Christ48. While Dick McClain looks at the need for mission agencies to engage with the church not just to serve their own purposes at the

43 44 Accessed 20.07.2012 Accessed 20.07.2012 45 Accessed 20.07.2012 46 Accessed 20.07.2012 47 Accessed 03.08.2012 48 Accessed 03.08.2012
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mobilisation end49, research by Gene Daniels in Central Asia showed that local church leaders often felt that missionaries were out for their own ends and wanted to control the agenda of the local church50. There is a dilemma for mission today. Whereas once the church did not exist in many countries, today there is hardly a country where some form of the church is not found. This demands the question, what is the role of missions in relation to the church in countries where they serve today? Enthusiastic new missionaries, shaped by their generational culture and by their home church culture, can act as if they have the answers to the problems of the church in the country they have moved to. Missionaries often want to start their own church which, they state, they will hand over to locals when faced with resistance to their methods and theories of church or in reaction the brokenness they see in the church. The history of the birth and development of the protestant church in Egypt demonstrates the dilemma that missionaries faced as evangelicals who did not understand the Coptic Orthodox Church. There has been a legacy of animosity between these arms of the church that still profoundly affects relationships at times. Mission workers who serve through their professions must face the possibility that their ministry will grow up in parallel to the church, an issue Paul Bendor-Samuel identified at an Interserve-St Francis conference on the Church and Mission in 200951. With an emphasis on the church in mission, assumptions should not be made about the role missions and their workers should play. Recognizing God at work in building his church requires missions to engage with the global church in defining their role. Bendor-Samuel gave this challenge to Interserve:


McClain, Dick. Church-Minded Missions: Taking the local church seriously, EMQonline April 2010 50 Daniels, Gene. Seen in a Different Light: A local perspective on missionaries in Kyrgyzstan. n.d. p. 15 51 Bendor-Samuel, Paul. Striving for Dynamic Church-Mission Partnership: Interserve experience past and present, in Church and Mission: Partnership in Mission, Rev. Dr John Stringer (ed) Grassroots Mission Publication No 5, Interserve and Arab Vision 2011. p. 38
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The primary driver of international mission can no longer be the mobilisation of international workers from the church-rich nations. Instead, the driver must be the empowering of the national churches of Asia and the Arab World to take up their responsibility for mission52.

Mission organisations and networks use a range of words to define their task and how they go about doing what they believe the task of mission to be. These descriptors, statements of vision and purpose, and the meanings attached to them through the strategic thrusts of mission today, provide a window into the way Gods mission is being defined and pursued. Is it enough? Does it get to the heart of what God desires for his world: the purposes he has been revealing in his story of interaction with humankind? In this next section we will begin to look for answers to such questions by looking at the way we measure the impact of mission today.

3 Measuring impact
What indicators should mission organisations be using to assess the impact of their work and whether it is fulfilling Gods mission? How should mission organisations decide when their task is complete? This is a fraught subject that seems to be tackled mainly from two angles, though I will suggest there is a third way. 3.1 The unfinished task Unreached or least reached and visible or viable church are the two most used categories for determining the unfinished task. Some people would argue the need to add a third category, the human need indicators in the nations of the world. 3.1.1 Unreached or least reached ReMAP II, the database created from a study conducted by the World Evangelical Alliance (WEA), collected data to review shifts in evangelical mission activities among the least reached people groups over the last twenty years. Detlef Bloecher, in his paper Proclaim the gospel where Christ is not known Evangelical Missionaries engaged with Least Reached People Groups, concluded that there had

Bendor-Samuel, Paul. Clarify Purpose then mobilise. Unpublished paper. 2012


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been a noteworthy shift in the focus of global missions towards the least reached peoples in the last 20 years53. The statistical evidence presented by the study indicated that missionaries from the global south are leading this shift in focus. A range of figures exist on how many groups make up the unreached or least reached peoples. The Joshua Project has this table: Global Statistics54 Peoples-by-Country All People Groups 16,639 Unreached People Groups 7043 % Unreached Peoples 42.3% 10/40 Window Total 8686 10/40 Window Unreached 6020 10/40 Window % Unreached 69.3%

Individuals 6.94 billion 2.87 billion 41.4% 4.57 billion 2.79 billion 61%

Finish the Task describes 476 unengaged, unreached people groups with populations of more than 40,00055. The International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention lists 413 people groups with a population of 100,000 or more who are not engaged, with 6,524 people groups where Evangelical Christianity is less than 2% of the population56. These figures, being both challenging and disturbing, provide strategic focus by highlighting the task that is still to be done. 3.1.2 A visible or viable church A visible or viable church is closely associated with unreached people groups, but has more definition around the task and more debate about what that means. There are a number of themes that can be

Bloecher, Detlef. Proclaim the gospel where Christ is not known - Evangelical Missionaries engaged with Least Reached People Groups, 2009 Accessed 07.08.2012 p. 6 54 Accessed 07.08.2012 55 Accessed 03.08.2012 56 Accessed 03.08.2012
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identified among mission practitioners who focus on this area: multiplication of indigenous churches planting churches or church planting movements; intentional engaged missionaries with church planting strategies; planting naturally reproducing churches; catalysing church movements; rapidly reproducing churches. When speaking of the visible or viable church, there appears to be a missing element in defining what is still to be done. It revolves around definitions of evangelical Christianity, and also the existing church and the role it is playing as salt and light, engaging the peoples of its community, extending the borders of its tent and seeing people come into the body of Christ. In a number of countries in the Middle East, where there is a visible and viable church, the contribution of that church among the majority population is often given limited recognition by mission organisations and networks that focus on church planting. The formation of small groups from least reached people groups within the existing churches is not reported in statistical data, for a number of reasons. In the opinion of this author, these include security issues in the country which mean that many existing churches do not publicise what is happening in their work; evangelicals have a bias against traditional and orthodox churches and their ministry; definitions of rapidly reproducing carry particular theologies and missiologies that are formed outside of the context of many of these difficult nations; and perhaps in mission we have decided how and where and when God will work, so we fail to recognize his work apart from our strategies. It may be argued that the visible or viable church statistic is the same as the unreached people groups, but it is this second part of the equation that calls for a review of how we define the task that is still to be done. 3.1.3 Human need indicators Wars, corruption, poverty, injustice, political instability, inequalities, environmental degradation are just some of the indicators that show how much is still to be done in Gods mission. This lack of evidence of the Kingdom of God challenges mission agencies and networks when they consider what still needs to be done. The 2011 Corruption Perceptions Index rated more than half of the world on the highly
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corrupt side of a sliding scale57. Indices for poverty look at it from differing perspectives, but all show that significant sections of the worlds population are being marginalised in human development. 22% of the world population, an estimated 1.29 billion people, live on less than $1.25 per day58. The Gender-related Development Index (GDI) and the Gender Empowerment Measure (GEM) provide insight into the struggles faced by women who are disempowered within state and society59. While there is no single database or definition for trafficked women, European Parliament identified trends that suggest there are four million people throughout the world who are trafficked each year60. Whatever way the figures are interpreted, the evidence is unavoidable that transformation is needed in the world, and there is much that is still to be done. 3.2 The finished task Another way of measuring the impact of mission is to view what has been done. Few mission organisations have statements of their achievements on their public websites. This may be because of the sensitive nature of the material for the countries where they work, the difficulty in measuring, fear in measuring numerical statistics and the incomplete picture that numerical statistics would give. SIM gave a picture of what God had accomplished through its work in the last 100 years:
Gods main work is invisible, within human hearts. SIM has, however, been involved in: 1. planting thousands of churches serving millions of believers and seekers 2. over 60 hospitals and community health ministries 3. around 90 institutions for training Christian leaders 4. 33 Bible translations

57 58 Accessed 06.08.2012 Accessed 06.08.2012 59 See UNDP reports at 60 European Parliament. Trafficking in Women, European Parliament DirectorateGeneral for Research, Working Paper, 2000 p. 5
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5. distributing millions of books for Christian workers around the world 6. providing sources of safe water for more than a quarter of a million people 7. innovative HIV and AIDS ministries in Africa and Asia 8. dozens of Christian radio ministries (20 in Benin alone) 9. encouraging and facilitating new mission agencies in former mission fields61

Figures on the Church Planting Movements website said that mission researchers are tracking some 200 church-planting movements in Asia, Africa, Europe and the Americas62. The International Mission Board said that 809 people groups were engaged in 2011 and there were 28,873 formed in the same year63. A range of statistical data gives figures on the growth of the number of Christians each year, sometimes by country and sometimes globally. There is a lot that has been done. 3.3 Evidence of the Kingdom of God Can we, or should we, seek to measure the impact of mission by looking for evidence of the Kingdom of God? Do we understand enough about what the kingdom of God looks like so that we can look for the evidence of it? Is the task of mission to be focused on the end, the return of Christ, so that seeking to measures evidence of the kingdom now is a false starting place? While I acknowledge inherent difficulties in pursuing this line of evidence, I am arguing that it is, at the very least, a useful additional measure for assessing the impact of mission. It provides another piece of data for hearing the story of God at work. The assessment of the modern mission movement is not always flattering. Debra Beunting wrote:
The past 150 years have witnessed an unprecedented missionary movement aimed at preaching the gospel and planting churches among the least reached of the world. Largely, this movement has been success61 Accessed 20.07.2012 62 Accessed 06.08.2012 63 Accessed 06.08.2012

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ful at what it set out to do save souls and plant churches. Today there are more churches and more Christians in the world than at any time in history. But to what end? Poverty and corruption thrive in developing countries that have been evangelised. Moral and spiritual poverty reign in the Christian West. In many parts of the world where the church is growing, the growth is a mile wide and an inch deep. It has lost its characteristic of being salt and light in society (Matt 5:13-16)64.

At the same time there are stories of society being changed through the building of trust, resources shared, dividing walls broken down, justice written into legal frameworks, microenterprise changing the lives of some of the poorest, peace coming to people groups where war once dominated, corruption being exposed and fought, widows and orphans cared for, marginalized single mothers finding identity and hope, the disabled valued and integrated into society. Dave Andrews tells a number of stories that demonstrate the Kingdom of God at work in his book, Hey: Be and See. Provocatively, he suggests that Jesus did not so much define the Kingdom but described it so that while we may not fully understand the theology behind it we can experience it65. Measuring the impact of mission through peoples experience of the Kingdom of God provides another piece of evidence for how well the Church and mission organisations are doing.

4 Re-defining the Task

Do present definitions of the task of mission capture the commission of God for participating in his mission? Christopher Wright has pointed out that the story of God, unfolded in his revelation in the Bible, has at its centre God making himself known to the ends of the earth. In the New Testament we find God making himself known to the nations through Jesus, and choosing others like the Apostle Paul for his mission to the nations. The story of God is that he makes

Beunting, Debra. Evangelicals and Social Action: YWAMs Adoption of Kingdom Mission (quoting Millar, Moffit and Allen in The Worldview of the Kingdom of God), International Journal of Frontier Mission, Vol 26:1, Sprint 2009. p. 18 65 Andrews, Dave. Hey: Be and See. Authentic Media Limited, Milton Keynes. 2010. p. 3
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himself known in relationship. It is the nature of God, who He is, and it is his story told through the Old and New Testaments. This demands a question: have we reduced mission to a task and in so doing diminished Gods heart for love and relationship? 4.1 Shalom: Gods plan for humankind The story of creation and the Garden of Eden gives us a glimpse of the sort of society God envisaged for humankind. It was marked by harmony of relationships between God and humans, between humans, between humans and the rest of creation. Gilbert Bilezikian describes this as the gift of oneness that God gave to humankind at creation, a oneness that was then broken with the rebellion of humans and the fall66. Debra Beunting captures this idea: Gods plan for humankind is captured in the Hebrew shalom which is more than just peace. It is alternatively translated as peace, prosperity, welfare, well-being, wholeness, harmony. It is used to describe bodily health (Ps 38:3), security and strength (Dan 10:19, Judges 6:23), a long life ending in a natural death (Gen 15:15), abundance (Lam 3:17, Ps 37:11, Zech 8:12, Job 5:18-26), successful completion of an enterprise (Judges 18:5, 1 Samuel 1:17), and even victory in war (Judges 8:9). The Hebrew concept of salvation includes similar meanings such as aid, victory, prosperity, health, help and welfare. In the New Testament, the Greek words for salvation encompass notions of healing, preservation, making whole, keeping safe and restoration.67 This is a vision of wholeness, oneness in relationship between God and humankind, humans with each other, and humans with the rest of Gods creation. The transformation of individual lives i mpacting and transforming society under Gods rule, the Lordship of Christ, is experienced in all facets of life. People will hear the good news of the mighty acts of God for them and respond; evangelism will be part of the story. The body of Christ will be formed as communities of Gods people come together and the bride is prepared for


Bilezikian, Gilbert. Community 101: Reclaiming the Local Church as Community of Oneness, Zondervan Press, Grand Rapids Michigan 1997 67 Beunting, Debra op cit p. 15
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her Lord; churches will be planted. Those from every tribe and nation and tongue will be included. Societies and nations will be transformed as all of creation begins to experience the Lordship of Christ. At the heart of it is relationship, the journey into relationship with God and the maturing of that relationship: some would say discipleship. 4.2 Making disciples: the forgotten piece in mission Have the Church and mission organisations and networks missed an essential part of our God-given commission? What is the command given by Jesus in Matthew 28:19? For the past 200 years, mission has used go as the command for mission, the motivator for the Church responding to the needs of the nations. This singular focus on going has, at times, failed to embrace the command to make disciples. Other foci have emerged in our attempts to respond to the needs of our world, but each of these is a part of the greater whole of discipleship. Churches will be planted, communities of Gods people sharing life, when people are journeying together in maturing their relationship with God. Evangelism will be part of the whole of discipleship that walks with people into a relationship with the God. While it appears many of the older traditional mission organisations are reluctant to talk about discipleship as part of their task, newer mission groups are not. The Indian Missions Association says that it is a federation of missions that exists to assist missions and churches in the proclamation of the gospel and discipleship68. The Ethiopian Kale Heywet Church says that their mission is proclaiming the good news of Jesus and his Kingdom so that people becomes Christs disciples69. Youth With A Mission (YWAM) has built its work around discipleship schools. Singapore 2002 drew a distinction between the mission task and discipleship. It argued from a finishing the task perspective, distinguishing between the initial cross-cultural mission task and finishing the on-going discipleship task in people groups70.
68 69 Accessed 03.08.2012 Accessed 06.08.2012 70 Parsons, Greg H Strategising to reach the unreached: A Report on Singapore 2002 IJFM 20:1 Spring 2003 p 7
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The article goes on to say:

We must all be on board with whatever God is doing, but the task of making the gospel accessible and the forming of growing replicating fellowships of disciples is that uniquely mission task71.

This seems to be premised on a reductionist view of Gods commission to mission, and demonstrates the reductionism that has plagued mission organisations. Paul Bendor-Samuel has argued that participating in Gods mission today is about our response to Gods invitation to come, the invitation to come to him and be his disciples. He suggests that our own discipleship both precedes and is part of Jesus invitation to be making disciples of all nations72. In his article Christ, Creation Stewardship, and Missions: How Discipleship into a Biblical Worldview on Environmental Stewardship can transform people and their land, Craig Sorley argues that discipleship is transformational. Challenging differing articulations of the task Jesus gave his disciples, he said that discipleship transforms people, communities and entire nations73. Sorley demonstrates that discipleship is not a programme contained in a set of lessons, but rather a process of transformation that comes as Gods people learn to obey all he has commanded, and integrate those teachings into every part of their lives. It is a worldview change that starts with God as the centre. In his work on discipleship of those who come from a Muslim background, Edward Evans agrees. He has shown that identity is fundamental to the growth of followers of Jesus74. Evans and Bendor-Samuel are both proponents of something they call wholistic discipleship. Evans defines this to include growth in the knowledge of Gods word, skills in Christian service and Christ -like character,

71 72

Ibid p7 Bendor-Samuel, Paul. Clarify Purpose then mobilise. Unpublished Paper, 2012 73 Sorley, Craig. Christ, Creation Stewardship, and Missions: How Discipleship into a Biblical Worldview on Environmental Stewardship can transform people and their land. International Bulletin of Mission Review Vol 35:3, July 2011. p.138 74 Evans, Edward. Discipling and Training for Muslim Background Believers Part 1: A Growing Need, St Francis Magazine Nr 2. Vol III. September 2007.
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or alternately growing in confidence and competence75. BendorSamuel brings concepts of community and discipleship together in his understanding76. Discipleship is a journey of whole-life transformation that sees individual lives, communities and nations impacted by lives being made in the image of Christ.

5 If discipleship became the focus of mission

5.1 Ministry would be wholistic and transformational The either/or dichotomies of ministry would become part of a whole that embraces experience of the Kingdom of God with its now and not yet nature. Bendor-Samuel believes that faulty theology of the Kingdom of God has seen it reduced to either something that is purely spiritual, or something we achieve through our own efforts77. But, proclamation and evangelism have social consequences when the transforming grace of the Lord Jesus Christ is witnessed to. Tim Chester puts it like this:
our proclamation has social consequences as we call people to love and repentance in all areas of life. And our social involvement has evangelistic consequences as we bear witness to the transforming grace of Jesus Christ78.

Discipleship as a process of journeying into growing, maturing relationship with Jesus Christ embraces the whole of life: spiritual awakening, social interactions and responsibilities, identity and security, lived daily life, life in community. Mission therefore would have a concern for the whole of peoples lives and seek the welfare of the individual and their community. 5.2 Ministry would flow out of and build into community Mission that is about discipleship would address the challenges of individualism and the ego-centric view of involvement in mission
75 76

Evans, Edward. Ibid p.1 Bendor-Samuel, Paul. Interserve at the Crossroads: International Directors Report to LC2011. Unpublished Report 77 Bendor-Samuel, Paul. Discipling: The Centre of Wholistic Ministry. Unpublished paper. 78 Chester, Tim. op cit. p 2-3
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because it would flow from communities of Gods people enacting love for God and each other. Communities that are marked by mutual accountability, compassionate and mercy-imbued love for each other would demonstrate Gods kingdom made visible on earth. Community is Gods will on earth as it is in heaven, and discipleship is growing to maturity in living this truth. Not only would ministry flow from community, discipleship would build community. The issues of identity for those who choose to follow Jesus from a Muslim background highlighted by Evans, give focus to the significance of community. Identity and the sense of belonging for followers of Jesus are found in the new community to which they belong. Through restoration of their oneness with God there is restoration of relationship with others who are followers of Jesus. Discipleship at the centre of mission will empower the people of God to serve their community, that is, it will empower the church. Veteran Interserve missionary, Vivienne Stacey observed that the nations are best reached by people of their own people group. Empowering the Church to embrace its God-given task will be one of the results of discipleship at the centre of mission because discipleship has community at its core. 5.3 There would be increased persecution Discipleship that is wholistic and transformational will see Gods people challenging structures in society that are anti-Kingdom of God in their values. Wholistic discipleship will effect changes in society as individuals, and the communities into which they are built, seek justice, compassion, mercy, and an end to practices that discriminate, marginalize, and are corrupt. The way of the Kingdom, in Jesus teaching in Matthew 5 and 6, is radically different from the e xpectations of society and its rulers. It is not based on power but on the subversion of power by values that are antithetical to the worlds order. In this same passage Jesus warns that to live these kingdom values will be tough. People will hate those who choose to follow him and will persecute them. The nature of being a disciple is that there will be opposition. Jesus took time to prepare and teach his disciples about opposition,
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reminding them that it is a part of following him. In the context of the coming of Gods Kingdom on earth, being messengers of that Kingdom, subverting the order of the day with Gods way of caring for the weak and needy, even submitting to the authorities and loving their enemies, disciples of Jesus will face opposition. Mission agencies must develop a theology of risk and suffering that embraces the reality of participating in Gods mission. They must be able to affirm it within their own ranks, preparing and equipping their people as disciples; and their ministries must nurture disciples and communities of disciples who are rooted in the reality of God and the cross. The tasks of mission, working out discipleship, will involve persecution because discipleship and transformation are centred on the cross. 5.4 Measures of success would be different Monitoring and evaluation must be embraced as mission agencies and networks give account of the resources invested through them. At the same time, models of business that have values are antithetical to the Kingdom values and often these have shaped the measures of achievement and records for accountability. If discipleship were to become the centre of mission activities, these measures would change, or embrace other data. How would mission agencies measure the investment in discipleship, the journey into relationship with God and a maturing walk as part of a community of God-related people? Would they include the discipleship of their own workers in their statistics, and would this change the dynamic of the task of mission? Attention would be given to evidence of the kingdom of God being made visible in lives and communities. Stories would be told of the rule of God through the Lordship of Christ evident in lives and communities. Evidence of community in action, caring for individuals, embracing the marginalised, sharing resources to meet needs, no one in need, Satan falling like lightening, power structures dismantled would all tell Gods st ory of his work in the nations. The message would be preached, people would hear, invitations to follow would be given, former lives would be left behind. Discipleship would change the measures because it would focus on Gods story in lives and communities.
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6 Counting the Cost

Jesus reminded his disciples that following him in radical whole-life discipleship had a cost that they needed to count. Likewise, mission agencies and networks must count the cost in embracing discipleship as a central task of Gods mission. What might some of those costs be? 6.1 Mobilisation and placement of workers will need to change There will be a cost as mission agencies look for people with qualities that are focused on being and making disciples. It calls for a people who know what it is to be on a journey to wholeness in community. Selection criteria will change, in order to look for demonstrations of being disciples. Knowledge of scripture and bible or pastoral training, professional qualifications, psychological wholeness still have a place, but walking with people to understand their journey will place a different set of demands on recruiters. The message of mobilization will no longer be about helping people get to where they can work out their personal call, a regular theme on the promotional websites of the majority of mission agencies. Instead, a new language will need to be developed that calls people to come and follow Jesus, to be disciples and share that journey with others whom God will call to follow him. 6.2 Training Training will want to see increase in knowledge but it will not be the focus. Edward Evans has shown the value in intentionally planned programmes for discipleship and ministry training79, but it will not be the focus. Training will become discipleship focused, and involve journeying together. This is a huge challenge in generations that no longer see the benefits of living in community. Mission agencies may need to be counter-cultural if they are to embrace the story of God at work in his people. This is not to decry the need for trained theologians and apologists, but that will not be an end in itself; it will be part of the journey of discipleship.


Evans, Edward. Discipling and Training for Muslim Background Believers: Programme Design. St Francis Magazine Nr 2: V April 2009. p. 2
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More radically, training will be an ongoing journeying throughout the whole of life, so that it may not happen before the individual moves cross-culturally. This will challenge expectations about ministry, the deployment of resources, expectations of the churches mission agencies work with, understandings of team and community. The emphasis of mission agencies will become more wholistic and not so singularly focused on what they do. 6.3 Identity crisis and culture shift Mission agencies could face an identity crisis. If discipleship were the focus of ministry, the thing from which everything else flowed out, mission organisations would no longer be the organization that reaches out to bring the gospel. They would identify more wholly with the church, that community of Gods people that is growing together in living out relationship with Jesus Christ. Organisational focus would radically shift from structures and mission statements, vision and resources, to community and expressions of life together with the different parts of the global church. 6.4 Mutuality and accountability While each mission agency and network brings its own skills and giftings to the task of mission, a refocus on discipleship will challenge present mission structures. The old divisions of continents and nations between agencies, dividing up the task, protecting name and image, will need to be broken down. Discipleship will mean we need each others particular skills and gifts shared together, not e nacted alone. Communities will be built that weaken the silos of agency and network and affirm the oneness of the body. Growth will be nurtured in each other through mutual accountability and a focus on the Kingdom of God, not our own. This will require a radical paradigm shift for most mission agencies to loosen their hold on the reigns of their own necessity and let God do a new thing in community.

7 Discipleship at what cost?

We have explored the way the task of mission is described today by modern mission agencies, and I have argued that the reductionism of
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modern missions has resulted in a narrow definition of Gods co mmission. I have shown that the definitions of the task being used today fail to embrace the whole of Gods vision for the world he created. Whole life discipleship, the radical journey into relationship, and maturity of relationship with God is the core of God making his name known in the nations. God invites us to participate with His mission, and this will require a radical shift in the mission paradigms of today. I have sought to demonstrate that such a shift opens up paths of radical transformation that impact both lives and communities, but it will come at a cost. The question is whether we in missions, and the Church, are prepared to count the cost and move into new things together with God, and with each other. The review of methods and vision and mission statements here is not a judgment on any individual agency or strategy. It is a call for all of us who are disciples of Jesus Christ to embrace whole life discipleship and the radical rule of God in our lives and organisations.

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Vision Statement
Lives and communities transformed through encounter with Jesus Christ.

Purpose Statement
Our purpose is to make Jesus Christ known through wholistic ministry, in partnership with the global church, amongst the neediest peoples of Asia and the Arab World. To glorify God by the urgent evangelization of East Asia's Millions.


SIM (Serving in Missions)

Through God's grace, we aim to see an indigenous, biblical church movement in each people group of East Asia, evangelizing their own people and reaching out in mission to other peoples. SIM is a community of God's people who delight to worship him and are passionate about the Gospel, seeking to fulfill the mission of Jesus Christ in the world.

SIM (Strategic Indigenous Missions)

We believe that the best way to reach the unreached is through the national, indigenous workers. Our goal is to train and equip them so that they can be effective in establishing churches in their own nations as well as in neighboring and more difficult to reach people groups. Beginning with Portugal and networking internationally we are raising up national workers to go into unreached parts of the world. We are determined to see churches planted among every ethnic group in Africa and Europe; especially among those under the influence of Islam.

Our purpose is to glorify God by planting, strengthening, and partnering with churches around the world as we evangelize the unreached, minister to human need, disciple believers into churches, equip churches to fulfill Christ's Commission. Our purpose is to bring the gospel of Jesus Christ to unreached peoples of the world through witnessing communities of believers. By establishing churches, we can help those new believers to evangelize their own people with a living witness of the Kingdom of God. Our goal is to use our experience, gifting and callings to equip the indigenous church to form strategies in effective church planting, prayer and spiritual warfare.

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St Francis Magazine Vol 9, No 2 | April 2013 Pioneers Pioneers mobilizes teams to glorify God among unreached peoples by initiating churchplanting movements in partnership with local churches. WEC International reaches out to people who have limited or no access to the good news of Jesus Christ, particularly where there is no church. They work in multicultural teams to help worshipping communities of believers multiply among these people. OM's role in the body of Christ is to motivate, develop and equip people for world evangelization, and to strengthen and help plant churches, especially among the unreached.

WEC (Worldwide Evangelisation for Christ)

OM (Operation Mobilisation)

a passionate, flexible, truly international movement, so devoted to Jesus, that it empowers this generation to impact the least reached peoples of the Earth with the transforming power of the gospel. ~International Leadership Statement Transforming lives and communities.

YWAM (Youth with A Mission) Wycliffe

To know God and to make Him known. That God's Word is accessible to all people in a language that speaks to their heart. Sharing Jesus, changing lives. To see a Bible translation program in progress in every language still needing one by 2025. We want the world to know Jesus.

CMS (Church Mission Society) International Mission Board

Our vision is a multitude from every language, people, tribe and nation knowing and worshipping our Lord Jesus Christ.

Our mission is to make disciples of all peoples in fulfillment of the Great Commission.

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St Francis Magazine Vol 9, No 2 | April 2013 Frontiers With love and respect, inviting all Muslim peoples to follow Jesus. Global Frontier Missions (GFM) is a movement of Christ-centered communities dedicated to mobilizing, training, and multiplying disciples and churches to reach the physical and spiritual needs of the unreached people groups of the earth. (We see) The Body of Christ working together towards accomplishing the Great Commission (Matt 28:18-20). To connect and enhance missions and churches to establish Jesus worshipping fellowships among every people group within India and beyond.

GFM (Global Frontiers Missions)

Philippines Missions Association

(The Philippine Missions Association exists) to catalyze a dynamic Philippine missions movement for Gods glory. India Missions Association is the national federation of missions in India, which assists Missions and Churches in the proclamation of the Good news and in making disciples of Jesus Christ among all peoples, languages, and geographical areas through members who partner to share resources, research, and training by their effective accountability and care of their personnel. a non-denominational global Christian missionary movement of African origin, taking the gospel to the remaining unevangelised parts of the world with a particular focus on the unreached peoples of Africa and the world. Our passion is to make Christ known where He is yet to be known.

Indian Missions Association

CAPRO (Calvary Ministries)

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St Francis Magazine Vol 9, No 2 | April 2013 Nigeria Evangelical Missions Association Our vision is to add value to the Nigerian Church missionary effort by providing cohesive leadership development programme; evolve and sustain strategic manpower training; generate evangelism resources for the missionaries and mobilize the Nigerian church to fulfill her role in the Great Commission. The mission of the Nigeria Evangelical Missions Association (NEMA) is to provide a nationwide service based platform that enables the Nigerian church to carry out her missionary work, accelerate her pioneering efforts and increase the fruitfulness of current missionary thrust in and out of Nigeria. NEMA assist and empower mission agencies and missionsending churches in the proclamation of the gospel and the making of disciples among all peoples, languages and geographical areas in Nigeria, Africa and beyond. We help to initiate strategic partnership among members to share ministry resources, information and training including faith based specialized/ holistic training and other related matters. We exist to mobilize, assist and equip the Nigerian Church and the missions movement to a higher level of efficiency and effectiveness in the preaching of the gospel and discipleship. NEMA pursues the unity in ministry, upholds evangelical truth and principles as evident in all its leadership development programs. MANI's purpose is to affirm, motivate, mobilize and network Christian leaders by inspiring them with the vision of reaching the unreached and least evangelized in Africa, and the wider world, through the communication of up to date research, reports and models; consultations and prayer efforts focusing on the unfinished task.

MANI (The Movement for African National Initiatives)

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St Francis Magazine Vol 9, No 2 | April 2013 COMIBAM (Cooperacin Misionera Iberoamericana) Iberoamrica llevando todo el evangelio a todas las etnias. Mateo 28:19 Por tanto, id, y haced discpulos a todas las naciones (etnias). [Google translation] Latin America taking the whole gospel to all ethnicities. Matthew 28:19: Therefore go and make disciples of all nations (ethnic groups). Servir al Cuerpo de Cristo en Iberoamrica, cooperando en la generacin de reflexin, servicios y oportunidades para que el evangelio llegue hasta lo ltimo de la tierra. Hechos 1:8 ..y me seris testigos en Jerusaln, en toda Judea, en Samaria, y hasta lo ltimo de la tierra. Iberoamrica llevando todo el evangelio a todas las etnias. Mateo 28:19 Por tanto, id, y haced discpulos a todas las naciones (etnias). [Google translation] Serve the Body of Christ in Latin America, to cooperate in the generation of reflection, services and opportunities for the gospel reaches the ends of the earth. Acts 1:8 .. and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the tierra. Iberoamrica taking the whole gospel to all ethnicities. Matthew 28:19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations (ethnic groups).

Korean World Missions Association

We achieve the remained mission task through reciprocal cooperative and unified efforts.

To achieve the vision, Korean churches/denominational mission boards and mission agency groups with world churches cooperate together in working for sharing of mission information, missionary training, mission administration, mission strategy development and all other mission-related activities.

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St Francis Magazine Vol 9, No 2 | April 2013 IJFM (International Journal of Frontier Missions) IJFM seeks to: promote intergenerational dialogue between senior and junior mission leaders; cultivate an international fraternity of thought in the development of frontier missiology; highlight the need to maintain, renew, and create mission agencies as vehicles for frontier missions; encourage multidimensional and interdisciplinary studies; foster spiritual devotion as well as intellectual growth; and advocate "A Church for Every People." EMQ is a publication to assist the worldwide missionary movement.

EMQ (Evangelical Mission Quarterly) Tokyo 2010

Making disciples of every people in our generation.

Cape Town 2010 (Lausanne Movement)

Consecrate/Celebrate: Worship and Thanksgiving reviewing what God has done in missions since 1910 Commemorate: Honoring those who have served in the last 100 years include martyrs Coordinate: Connecting mission agencies of all nations promote greater interdependence Cast: Cast vision for the future how can we work together Look at new opportunities, models & Strategies Bless the Japanese church & people A worldwide movement that mobilizes evangelical leaders to collaborate for world evangelization.

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St Francis Magazine Vol 9, No 2 | April 2013 AD2000 & Beyond Joshua Project A church for every people and the gospel for every person by the year 2000. Joshua Project is a research initiative seeking to highlight the ethnic people groups of the world with the fewest followers of Christ. Accurate, regularly updated ethnic people group information is critical for understanding and completing the Great Commission. Jesus said in Matthew 24:14 "This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come." Jesus directly links His return to the fulfillment of the Great Commission. While no one knows the date or time of His return, we do know that this gospel of the kingdom must be preached to all the nations first. Revelation 5:9 and 7:9-10 show that there will be some from every tribe, tongue, nation and people before the Throne. The Global Network of Mission Structures (GNMS) was initiated by the late Dr. Ralph Winter and organized by a group of mission strategists in 2005 for the purpose of bringing together mission agencies from every sending country in the world to cooperate more effectively in finishing the task of reaching the remaining least-reached peoples. Its first assignment was to plan for a follow up consultation to Edinburgh 1910 and 1980, which is scheduled for May 11-14th in 2010. The three distinctives of Edinburgh 1910 and 1980 were that they 1.) Brought together leaders of all the major mission sending nations and agencies, 2.) Focused on the frontiers of the Great Commission, 3.)

GNMS (Global Network of Mission Structures)

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St Francis Magazine Vol 9, No 2 | April 2013 Organized follow up cooperative efforts to implement plans made to finish the task of world evangelization. Edinburgh 1910 gave rise to the International Missionary Council, which helped mission agencies work together at the field level for at least half a century. Edinburgh 1980 gave rise to the AD2000 and Beyond Movement, which brought together a large coalition from around the world to see a church for every people and the gospel for every person by the end of the millennium. In keeping with this tradition, the overall purpose of the GNMS is to develop and coordinate a global alliance of at least 2,000 mission agencies around the world working together to finish the task of reaching all the remaining frontier people groups. Towards this end, the GNMS will act as a forum for developing and stewarding a global strategy to recruit, train, deploy, and empower a new wave of church-planting teams among the least-reached such that the goal of full engagement will have been achieved by the year 2020, or at the latest by the year 2025. The infinite, incalculable value of developing a global strategy with specific objectives and outcomes will be that existing networks, associations, partnerships, sending agencies, training programs, etc., will be able to plug in and take responsibility for a particular component of the strategy. As this is done over the months and years ahead we will be able to more accurately assess what is missing and propose the creation
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St Francis Magazine Vol 9, No 2 | April 2013 of any new structures required to fill the gaps.

Finishing the Task

To see every people group in the world engaged with an indigenously led church planting movement.


Business as Mission Network Vision 5:9

To form a global network of local churches, denominations, church planters, and mission agencies that are willing to work together in partnership to see church planting initiatives launched among the 476 Unengaged, Unreached People Groups (UUPGs) with populations over 40,000. Ethn is a global network focused on serving the 28% of the world's people without access to the Good News of Jesus the Savior. News, resources and tools to turn good business into great ministry. Vision 5:9 is a multi-ethnic, international network representing more than 10,000 church planters from a broad spectrum of Christian agencies both western and nonwestern working in the Muslim world today. Vision 5:9 exists to see effective church planting efforts among every Muslim people group by 2025. This partnership is inspired by the powerful picture of the end times in Revelation 5:9. World Evangelical Alliance exists to foster Christian unity and to provide a worldwide identity, voice and platform to Evangelical Christians. Seeking empowerment by the Holy Spirit, they extend the Kingdom of God by proclamation of the Gospel to all nations and by Christcentered transformation within society.

WEA (World Evangelical Alliance)

Seeking Christ-like transformation around the world, the World Evangelical Alliance serves as the dynamic center for equipping and resourcing, the globally trusted Evangelical voice, and the connecting hub for greater strategic impact.

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St Francis Magazine Vol 9, No 2 | April 2013 Micah MICAH lives out the prophetic vision that calls us "to do justice, to love mercy and to walk humbly with God". (Micah 6:8) MICAH will realize this vision through organizing congregations of faith and community partners to change the political climate and public policies so that all communities preserve and build affordable housing.

References: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24
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25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 Network News, Issue 10, July 2012

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Discipleship in the Early Church

Rev Dr Jos M. Strengholt 1 Introduction
How did the ancient Church train its members to be faithful Christians? In this paper I will give a brief introductory overview of the methods that churches in the first four centuries developed for what we would nowadays call discipleship training or spiritual formation. In the ancient church, there were different focal points for following Jesus Christ as a disciple.1 The first centuries of the church were times of persecution; so following Christ in the way of martyrdom was not unknown for the Christian community. Many believers fulfilled in their martyrdom Christs command to follow him by carrying his cross. A very early record in the post-apostolic period is found in Ignatius of Antioch. According to him, the perfect disciple of Christ is one who follows him to the very end, even to death. On the way to Rome he pondered his imminent martyrdom: Now I begin to be a disciple2 and when the world shall no longer see his body, he will then truly be a disciple of Christ.3 The love of Christ developed a commitment to make him known, so that to follow Christ in missionary commitment could be seen as another form of discipleship; disciples make other disciples. Around 248AD, Origen wrote:
Christians do not neglect, as far as they can, to take measures to disseminate their doctrine throughout the whole world. Some of them, accordingly, have made it their business to travel not only through cities, but even villages and countrysides, that they might make converts to God.4

The division into four types of discipleship comes from On Becoming a Chri stian: Insights from Scripture and the Patristic Writings, with some Contemporary Reflections [Report of the Fifth Phase of the International Dialogue Between Some Classical Pentecostal Churches and Leaders and the Catholic Church (1998-2006)], published by the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity 2 Ignatius of Antioch, Letter to the Romans 5,3. 3 Ibid. 4,2. 4 Origen, Against Celsus 3.9.
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Following Christ in ascetic and monastic life also became a way of radical discipleship. Asceticism was a strong ideal within the context of monastic life although it could also impact all Christians. Human perfection consists of the imitation of Christ. This idea then developed further in the Cappadocian Fathers, particularly in Gregory of Nyssa. The motivation to follow Christ and to live an intense life of discipleship gave rise to monasticism that flourished in the ancient church. For example, prior to 379AD Basil, one of the founders of monasticism in the east, writes:
For, we must deny ourselves and take up the cross of Christ and thus follow him. Now, self-denial involves the entire forgetfulness of the past and surrender of one's will. [...] Readiness to die for Christ, the mortification of one's members on this earth, preparedness for every danger which might befall us on behalf of Christ's name, detachment from this life this is to take up one's cross.5

Following Christ in daily life was the most common form of discipleship. It meant living one's whole daily life in the imitation of Jesus. In this paper we will only focus on this last form of discipleship and on the question of how the Church tried to enliven its (future) members to obeying Jesus Christ in daily life. 2 Catechetical training of Christians In the ancient Church, the normal Christian formation required of all (new) church members was primarily seen as a matter of catechesis. The verb katche, like the substantive katchsis, has been used in the New Testament to signify both the act of teaching and its content.6 Cyril of Jerusalem (313-386AD) testified to the importance of this process of catechesis for new believers: Let me compare the catechizing to a building. Unless we methodically bind and joint the whole structure together, we shall have leaks and dry rot, and all our previous exertions will be wasted.7

5 6

Basil, Longer Rule 6. Luke 1:4; Acts 18:25, 21:21,24, Rm 2:18; 1 Cor 14:19; Gal 6:6. 7 Cyril of Jerusalem, Prochatechesis 11.
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We have enough catechetical works from the ancient church to know what the content of the teaching to the (new) believers was. Catechesis in the early church was in the first place a commentary on the Bible with concrete applications to life. Catechesis was seen as a major task of church leaders. Many of the well-known church leaders of the ancient church set aside much time and energy for instructing new believers in the faith, in spite of their many administrative tasks. 2.1 Didache The earliest example of a catechetical book after the books of the Bible itself, is the Didache. The Didache, also know as the Teaching of the 12 Apostles, is one of the most fascinating books of the Apostolic Fathers. Most scholars believe it evolved between 50 and 150AD; most agree that major parts of the book date from the time before most of the Apostle Pauls letters were written. The Didache begins by offering two ways of living, the one of life and the one of death. Its focus is on proper and ethical living. The material was a summary of basic instruction about the Christian life to be taught to those who were preparing for baptism and church membership. Then, the Didache discusses in the central rituals of the church: baptism, fasting, the Lords Prayer and what is said at Eucharist. It then contains some matters related to the proper leadership in church: teachers, itinerant apostles, prophets, bishops and deacons. It ends with a final call to follow the Gospel in view of the expected return of Christ. Interesting to note is that the instruction to new believers was focused on proper living and on how to participate in the Eucharistic church servicethat is, ethics and liturgy. The document is not particularly focused on theological education. In the Epistle of Barnabas (ca 70-135AD) we see a similar description of the two ways: the way of light and that of darkness. This suggests that in the early church, this practical approach to instructing new believers in what was good and bad, was common. 2.2 Irenaeus Proof of Apostolic Preaching Around 190AD, Irenaeus, bishop of Lyon, wrote Proof of the Apostolic Preaching. This catechetical material was clearly written
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against the background of Gnostic heresies that influenced the church. The book, divided in 100 short chapters, can be summarized thus: 1. Preface (1-3a) 2. Exposition of Apostolic Preaching (3b-42a) 2a. Of God and Man (3b-16) 2b. Salvation History until the coming of Christ (17-30) 2c. Salvation by Son of God (31-40a) 2d. Summary and conclusion (40b-42) 3. Scriptural (Old Testament) Proof of Apostolic Preaching (42b97) 3a. Preface to this section (42b) 3b. Eternal existence of Jesus Christ (43-52) 3c. Human birth of Jesus (53-66) 3d. Predictions about all aspects of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus (67-85) 3e. Calling of gentiles predicted by prophets (86-97) 4. Conclusion (98-100) Whereas in the first and early second centuries, the focus of catechesis seems to have been more practical, there seems to have been a shift to a stronger stress on theological teaching. This is logical given the fact that the church was now more distant from the Apostles who were responsible for the original canon of all teaching in Church, but also because both non-Christians and heterodox Christians were questioning the beliefs of the church. The members of the Church had to be trained in giving the right answers when questioned. 2.3 The Apostolic Tradition, Hippolytus The document The Apostolic Tradition is ascribed by many scholars to Hippolytus (170-235AD), a bishop in Rome in the first half of the third century. Whether this is correct is debated but most agree that the documents milieu is early third century Rome. The document was certainly representative for what happened in the churches of Rome in regard to spiritual formation of new members, and it soon

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spread all over the Christian world as a book to be used in catechesis.8 The Apostolic Tradition is full of liturgical and other rules, but of interest for us here is how The Apostolic Tradition describes the catechetical preparation of new believers for baptism. Because of its interest, I quote a major part of the text here:
15 Those who are newly brought forward to hear the Word shall first be brought before the teachers at the house, before all the people enter. Then they will be questioned concerning the reason that they have come forward to the faith. Those who bring them will bear witness concerning them as to whether they are able to hear. They shall be questioned concerning their life and occupation, marriage status, and whether they are slave or free. If they are the slaves of any of the faithful, and if their masters permit them, they may hear the Word. If their masters do not bear witness that they are good, let them be rejected. If their masters are pagans, teach them to please their masters, so that there will be no blasphemy. If a man has a wife, or a woman has a husband, let them be taught to be content, the husband with his wife, and the wife with her husband. If there is a man who does not live with a woman, let him be taught not to fornicate, but to either take a wife according to the law, or to remain as is. If there is someone who has a demon, such a one shall not hear the Word of the teacher until purified. 16 They will inquire concerning the works and occupations of those are who are brought forward for instruction. If someone is a pimp who supports prostitutes, he shall cease or shall be rejected. If someone is a sculptor or a painter, let them be taught not to make idols. Either let them cease or let them be rejected. If someone is an actor or does shows in the theatre, either he shall cease or he shall be rejected. If someone teaches children (worldly knowledge), it is good that he cease. But if he has no (other) trade, let him be permitted. A charioteer, likewise, or one who takes part in the games, or one who goes to the games, he shall cease or he shall be rejected. If someone is a gladiator, or one who teaches those among the gladiators how to fight, or a hunter who is in

It was widely used; it has been preserved in Egyptian (Sahidic and Bohairic), Arabic, and Ethiopic manuscripts. Portions of The Apostolic Tradition were used in the composition of several other church orders, including The Apostolic Constitutions, the Canons of Hippolytus, and the Testamentum Domini.
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the wild beast shows in the arena, or a public official who is concerned with gladiator shows, either he shall cease, or he shall be rejected. If someone is a priest of idols, or an attendant of idols, he shall cease or he shall be rejected. A military man in authority must not execute men. If he is ordered, he must not carry it out. Nor must he take military oath. If he refuses, he shall be rejected. If someone is a military governor, or the ruler of a city who wears the purple, he shall cease or he shall be rejected. The catechumen or faithful who wants to become a soldier is to be rejected, for he has despised God. The prostitute, the wanton man, the one who castrates himself, or one who does that which may not be mentioned, are to be rejected, for they are impure. A magus shall not even be brought forward for consideration. An enchanter, or astrologer, or diviner, or interpreter of dreams, or a charlatan, or one who makes amulets, either they shall cease or they shall be rejected. If someone's concubine is a slave, as long as she has raised her children and has clung only to him, let her hear. Otherwise, she shall be rejected. The man who has a concubine must cease and take a wife according to the law. If he will not, he shall be rejected. 17 Catechumens will hear the word for three years. Yet if someone is earnest and perseveres well in the matter, it is not the time that is judged, but the conduct. 18 When the teacher finishes his instruction, the catechumens will pray by themselves, separate from the faithful. The women will also pray in another place in the church, by themselves, whether faithful women or catechumen women. After the catechumens have finished praying, they do not give the kiss of peace, for their kiss is not yet pure. But the faithful shall greet one another with a kiss, men with men, and women with women. Men must not greet women with a kiss. All the women should cover their heads with a pallium, and not simply with a piece of linen, which is not a proper veil. 19 After the prayer, the teacher shall lay hands upon the catechumens, pray, and dismiss them. Whether such is one of the lay people or of the clergy, let him do so. If any catechumens are apprehended because of the Name of the Lord, let them not be double-hearted because of martyrdom. If they may suffer violence and be executed with their sins not removed, they will be justified, for they have received baptism in their own blood. 20 When they are chosen who are to receive baptism, let their lives be examined, whether they have lived honorably while catechumens,
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whether they honored the widows, whether they visited the sick, and whether they have done every good work.9

People interested in the Christian faith were first seriously questioned, and then entered into a period of three years of learning. This strict control of whether people were worthy of baptism was needed because of the fast influx of new believers. The teaching of these new believers was mostly, it seems, what was also taught to all believers in church in the first part of the liturgy. After that initial part they had to sit apart in church to pray by themselves, and after these prayers they would be blessed by the laying on of hands by the preacher who could be a layperson or clergy. They were then dismissed before Eucharist. After a period of about three years they would be allowed to be baptized, based on the testimony of their lifestyle. From this document we learn that in Rome at the beginning of the third century, catechesis was not separate from the community of the church, even though there was a clear distinction between those preparing for baptism through catechesis, and those already baptized members of the church. Christian formation was not individualistic but took place in the community of believers. With the growth of the churches, the number of catechetical works increased. This is how the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity describes these instructions:
Even with many differences of style and cultural background, these catechetical instructions aimed at orienting and motivating the choices and practical behaviour in life. They sought to move the heart, not only the mind, and to lead to liturgy, to the sacraments, and to service in the ecclesial community as well as in the world.10

A focus on the sacraments, especially Baptism and Eucharist, is obvious in all catechesis in the early church. Typical of this approach are the Catechetical Lectures of Cyril of Jerusalem who


Hippolytus (?), The Apostolic Tradition, 15-20. On Becoming a Christian.

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wanted to help the faithful during the phase before and after the initiates received the sacraments of initiation Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist. Cyril explained the symbol of the faith, the rite, and the meaning of the initiation. Tertullian's On Baptism (c. 198-200), Ambrose's On the Sacraments (387) and On the Mysteries (387), and Theodore of Mopsuestia's Catechetical Homilies (c. 347-348) have a similar focus. The Diary of a Pilgrimage by Egeria, a rich lady who visited the Holy Land around 400AD, described the rites before Baptism in Jerusalem at that time. The norm was still that catechists had three years of instruction before their baptism, but Egeria describes how in Jerusalem, catechetical instruction was given to those being baptized three hours each day during the seven weeks before Easter. The teaching began with an overview of the Scriptural events of salvation history. The last two weeks before baptism at Easter were used for explaining the creed. The candidates were supposed to know the creed by heart and to explain its basic meaning. Then, after Baptism, for a whole week the bishop explained the meaning of the sacraments that had just been received. Bible, creed and sacrament were the overall topics of the baptismal instruction. It included a strong spiritual dimension, with such features as discussion of The Lord's Prayer, and instructions about ethics.

3 Elements of spiritual formation

Even if the catechumenate, in its organization and structure, was focussed on the initial stage of Christian formation, in its significance and objectives it intended to be pedagogy of the faith, which continued throughout the whole of life. Having gone through catechesis with others and being baptized together with them, a strong bond of community was created. The catechumenate was followed by on-going formation. There was obviously continuity between the catechumens hearing the churchs teaching during their time of initiation in church services, and then hearing the same teachings by the same preachers in daily mass and weekly Sunday worship services after their Baptism

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3.1 Word of God Central to the formational teaching in catechesis were the Holy Scriptures. This aspect of formation was part of catechesis, but it was not different from the teaching all church members received in the formal meetings of the church. Proper formation in Church was verbal and directional. It told people how to live and what to believe, based on the Holy Scriptures. I find it an interesting challenge to consider how new believers were taught in sermons that were intended just as much as for the mature believers in church. Teaching was not done separately, but in the one community. The major difference for unbaptized new believers was not in the aspect of teaching in the first place, but in them not being present at Eucharist. 3.2 Baptism and Eucharist I agree with Abu Daoud who proposes that the process of discipleship should focus on Baptism:11
[Baptism] must be a major goal of our missionary activity. [] Disc ipleship leads to baptism, then after baptism one is further instructed in the teachings of Christ and obedience. In fact, discipleship becomes the means of evangelism.

In the ancient church the sacraments were not only taught in catechesis and catechesis was not just a preparation for participating in those sacraments, but catechesis also intended to make these sacraments an important part of the continued spiritual formation in the early church as foci of the Christian faith. The new believers had prepared for the sacraments and now these sacraments testified to the believers for the rest of their life. Every celebration of the sacrament brought to mind the material and ethics learned during catechesis. This is fully in line with how the Apostles in the New Testament often referred to Baptism and Eucharist for spiritual teaching of the believers.


Abu Daoud, Sacrament and Mission Go Together Like Bread and Wine, Part I: Baptism, Discipleship, and the Apostles Creed, St Francis Magazine (SFM) 4:1, June 2008.
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One reason why these sacraments could play this formative role was because they were celebrated in a liturgical context. The same words and rituals were used each time, thus repeating the same Gospel facts in every worship service. The continuous reenactment of the salvation history of God with mankind was the great discipleship tool, especially as the ancient church functioned in low-literacy contexts and in societies where oral communication was preponderant. Baptism and Eucharist were permanent visible reminders of the Christian faith and life. They had an important formational impact on the believers. That the sacraments in themselves had this permanent formative role to play was for instance recognized by Cyril of Jerusalem, who offered special catechesis immediately after baptism. Baptism was not only a special rite de passage, but it was a permanent proclamation in itself. Cyrils catechesis was designed to lead the neophytes to a deeper understanding of the meaning of the celebrated mystery. It assisted believers to enter more deeply into communion with God, to penetrate into the spiritual and mystical depth of faith, to progress in what many Eastern Fathers referred to as de ification in Christ through the Spirit.12 Baptism and Eucharist were the focal points for the ancient Churchs teaching of the faith. 3.3 The Creed As soon as the church created formal Creeds, these were used in the training of new believers. They had to learn the Creeds by heart and they needed to be able to have a modicum of understanding of them. This was specifically taught in catechesis, but it was also repeated in the liturgy of the Church. In each church service this reminded the believers of the basis of their faith. According to S. Chan, reciting the Creed is more than a mental reminder of what we believe:
When we recite the creed, we are doing more than telling ourselves what we believe; we are engaged in what in speech-act theory is called a performative act. We are making a pledge of self-giving to the God we be-


On Becoming a Christian.

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lieve in. In the practice of recitation, the creed functions like a nations national anthem or pledge.13

What do we teach believers in the process to Baptism? Why not make the Apostolic Creed the centre of our teaching? That is wholly in line with what the ancient church taught new believers, and it is also the Creed that is used by the major churches in the world today. It ensures that we focus on the heart of the Christian faith, and not on the latest fad; for the new believers this is also strong unifying factor with all other Christians.14 3.4 Prayer The Lords Prayer was part of the instruction to new believers. New believers were ordered to learn this Lords Prayer by heart. Thus, they were taught how to pray, and after Baptism, during Eucharist they would pray this same prayer over and over again. What they learned during their time of initiation would be repeated weekly in church for the rest of their lives. The Didache commanded the believers to pray the Lords Prayer three times each day. Hereby the Church reminded the believers again and again of how to pray. 3.5 Spread all over Roman Empire and beyond It is interesting to note that the liturgies and rituals as briefly described before, spread rather quickly through the Roman Empire and beyond, even though the Church initially did not have a highly formalized leadership structure. Even after the break-up of the unity of the church, in different cultures similar liturgies and rituals were cel-


S. Chan, Rediscovering the Catechumenate Church & Society (2005, Vol 8(1), p. 4. 14 Abu Daoud in Sacrament and Mission Go Together Like Bread and Wine, Part I, writes: what is to be the content of our teaching to our disciples? [] Should we pick up the latest fad from the West, like the Prayer of Jabez or the latest Rob Bell videos? Or should we judiciously exegete entire books of the NT? For how long does this go on? What are we trying to accomplish? I suggest two things: The goal of our discipleship is baptism: this comes quite clearly from Matthew 28 once we understand that there is an important sequence in the Great Commission. Second, as our goal is profession of faith in Christ in baptism, at least initially, the content of our teaching should be the Apostles Creed.
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ebrated. The main adaptation was the translation of the liturgy in the Roman, Greek, Aramaic, Coptic or Armenian language. This unity in liturgy and ritual, even in spite of some major political and theological differences, was the result of a strong sense of community among the Christians: a community in the first place with the apostles, and also with all early fathers of the church. The liturgies that were inherited from them were not to be tampered with. We should wonder whether this is not an altogether more wholesome approach to the Church and its worship, than the efforts to create worship styles and theologies that match each and every culture.

4 Conclusion
To the above examples of the sermon, Baptism, Eucharist, the Creed and the Lords Prayer we could add other liturgical elements like the confession of sins, the announcement of forgiveness, the readings from Holy Scripture, greeting each other with the kiss of peace, etc. that because of its weekly repetition played an important role in the formation of Christians in the ancient church. I propose that in our work of making disciples or spiritual formation, we take liturgy, sacraments and the language that pertains to that, seriously. Or, to say in other words, that we adopt a robust Nicene approach to the Christian faith.15 The liturgy was the early churchs most effective manner of Christian formation for all of its members. After the formal period of instruction for newcomers (which was part of the liturgy), the believers were taught the Christian life weekly through the liturgy of the church the verbal and visual re-enactment of all the basic aspects of the Christian faith. Through its liturgy and all aspects in it, the believers were taught how to be true followers of Jesus Christ. This Christian formation discipleship training was church based, communal, and led by church leadership. It was not some15

Thomas Oden coined this as paleo-orthodoxy. Abu Daoud makes a similar point in his articles Mission and Sacrament, Part II, in St Francis Magazine (SFM) Vol IV No 3 (December 2008) and Mission and Sacrament III: A Paleo-Orthodox Approach to Contextualization in the Muslim World, in St Francis Magazine (SFM) Vol V No 2 (April 2009).
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thing separate for those interested in discipleship classes, but something all believers were forced to undergo, initially in formal training, and after their baptism, through participation in the communion of the saints in the normal life of the Church.

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TEE, Church-Planting and Discipleship in Two Mongolian Churches

by Graham Aylett Introduction
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age. Matthew 28:19 - 20.

The Great Commission emphasizes the process of making disciples, disciples who will put into practice all that Jesus has commanded. This paper looks at the role that TEE (Theological Education by Extension) has had in assisting discipleship and church-planting in two different situations in Mongolia.

What is TEE?
TEE stands for Theological Education by Extension. The TEE movement began in Central America in the 1960s as a tool for equipping church leaders in their context, and has since broadened in scope. Today, TEE programmes in different countries have a range of training packages serving different groups, from new believers to local and national leaders. All of these provide training in the students context through local learning groups. It is important to say that TEE is an approach to training rather than a particular set of training courses. It is an approach that combines three essential elements. The first element is disciplined home study using specially prepared self-study texts. This preparation leads to the second element: weekly group discussion led by a facilitator. The learning group is closed, and the aim is to build good and close relationships. Following on from the discussion is the third element: practical application and ministry assignments. This methodology therefore includes a sustained commitment to continuing Bible study, fellowship and contextualization through discussion and application.
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The context in Mongolia

For most of the Twentieth Century, Mongolia was closely allied to the Soviet Union, and almost completely closed to the west, and to the gospel. The Christian Church in recent times in Mongolia began to grow following the disintegration of the Soviet Union in 1990. Many of the churches have a vision for mission within Mongolia and further afield. In August 2004, churches under the umbrella of the Mongolian Evangelical Alliance embraced a mission statement for the Mongolian Church: We, the Mongolian Church, will make disciples of Mongolians throughout the world, and proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom to all nations. The following year, a target was set, known as the 20/10 challenge, to pray and work for 10% of the Mongolian population to be Christs disciples by the year 2020. This mission statement and this target have both helped to keep discipleship in focus. Some years back, a senior church leader challenged other leaders to make the quality of the disciples their churches were growing the criterion for evaluating their work. In the same way that a factory is evaluated on the quality of its products, so a church may be evaluated by the quality of its disciples. Mongolia TEE was started in 1995. Since 2003, its mission statement has been MTEE provides the churches of Mongolia with Theological Education in an Extension mode, helping all church members to find their national cultural inheritance and identity in Christ, and to become effective ministers in church and society. The MTEE curriculum begins with simple courses for new believers (Abundant Life and Abundant Light), and continues to a four-year Certificate in Christian Ministry training program. Recently, this programme has been re-packaged to allow greater flexibility. Most of these training materials were provided by SEAN International ( and translated and adapted, with a basic level of contextualization in terms of illustrations, names and examples. One course has been written and published in Mongolia.

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St Francis Magazine Vol 9, No 2 | April 2013

Two examples of the use of TEE materials in Mongolia:

1 House of Prayer Church House of Prayer church began in January 2004, when a church nearer the centre of the capital of Mongolia, Ulaanbaatar, sent out a believer, L., and his family to plant a church farther out from the centre of Ulaanbaatar. L. had a background in the Mongolian Armed forces, serving for fifteen years as an officer. L. went to one of the ger districts, so-called because here people do not live in blocks of flats but in small, one- or two-storey small buildings, or the traditional round Mongolian felt-lined tents called gers. L. and his family began to tell others about the Christian message, and gathered together anyone interested, in their own ger, for cell group meetings. By July 2004, around thirty people were involved, and they started to meet for worship in a ger set aside for church meetings. The church chose the name, House of Prayer. After discussion with one of the Mongolia TEE staff, L. made a decision to build TEE into the fabric of the church. In October 2004, he started two groups, of a dozen people each, studying Abundant Life, the first TEE course for new believers. He took the role of facilitator of these groups himself. By 2008, a total of eighteen local elders and leaders had been prepared using TEE materials as the training framework, and as of July 2012 more than 120 people have taken at least one course. House of Prayer church began to send some of their leaders out to plant churches. The first church plant was Jesus Flock, on the outskirts of Ulaanbaatar. One of the leaders of Jesus Flock commented in 2012 that the four members of her TEE group had all become part of the leadership team in the church. We had not really any knowledge or experience at the start - but now they have become leaders! I hadnt thought about that. Another member of the House of Prayer church sent out was G., a single young lady who was one of the members of L.s October 2004 groups. She continued studying with L., and became one of the first graduates of Mongolia TEEs Certificate in Christian Ministry program. Although it was hard for her as a single woman, she felt called to go to a distant countryside location. There she used her hairdressSt Francis Magazine is published by Arab Vision and Interserve 59

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ing skills to earn a living, make contacts in the community, and gossip the gospel. As some became believers, she used TEE materials to help them to grow. Other people have also been sent out to different parts of Mongolia, and are now using TEE materials to disciple and equip their members. Some of the factors that made this use of TEE materials fruitful were that L. created an expectation that church members would work through the first two courses of the TEE programme. He also gave a high profile to new groups, and to completing groups within the church. He led the first groups himself, and trained the leadership of the church through the TEE programme. His leadership by example was very important.

2 Salvation of Jesus Church

Salvation of Jesus Church is in a very different setting from House of Prayer Church, in the provincial centre of South Gobi province, in the countryside. From its beginnings in 1998, until now, the church has had a remarkable vision and passion for church planting, kindled and encouraged by a Korean missionary, and shared by the Mongolian church leadership. In just ten years, Salvation of Jesus church has established church plants in each of the fourteen administrative districts of that huge province, the size of England and Wales combined. Groups from all the church plants gathered in the stadium of the provincial capital for the churchs tenth anniversary celebration in 2008. The senior pastor, N., was a well-known figure in South Gobi province, having been part of the Mongolian equivalent of the Russian KGB. He came to faith in 1998, and became a strong church leader, but with great love and compassion. Of his first contact with TEE materials, he said:
I first came across the TEE course with the title, Abundant Life. The title spoke to me. I was the son of a family of shamans. I had Buddhist/shamanist leanings myself. But this book was not religious. I wanted to know more about this Abundant Life, so I studied with great interest. Later I saw the potential of this material for training.

In April 2011 he shared his thoughts about TEE at a User Churches Forum.
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Weve used TEE materials from 2002 until the present: all the daughter churches weve planted also see TEE as a key part of the ministry, and all the church planters weve sent out have been trained as facilitators . We see that leading Abundant Life and Abundant Light brings people together in a group for discussion and fellowship. This ministry has become a means of getting a church going. Abundant Life and Abundant Light can provide a foundation in faith, and then the beauty of TEE is that it can provide a step-by-step, orderly education. Not everyone can study at a residential college. But the advantage of TEE is that through the facilitator, training can be provided where the students are.

Key factors for the fruitful use of TEE materials The pastor of Salvation of Jesus church identified a number of key factors for fruitful use of TEE materials, clustering around: 1 Attitude and understanding of local church leadership: If the local church leader does not understand or value TEE, there will be little fruit. Group facilitators need encouragement to start, as they may feel inadequate and unprepared. They need encouragement to keep going, because it can be hard work. They need protection and help. 2 Choice of small group facilitator: Spiritual people whose hearts are open and ready to serve are vital for good fruit. If you dont choose the right people as tutors, then youll see no fruit. 3 Prayer: Pastor N. emphasized the importance of prayer and fasting in overcoming the difficulties. Salvation of Jesus church has regular early morning prayer, and night prayer. Pastor N. himself did not lead many groups, but he appointed an energetic and capable mature lady who was a good friend of his wife as Coordinator for the TEE work. TEE and Discipleship. What understanding of discipleship do members of these two churches have, and how can this be related to their use of TEE materials?

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The following quotes are taken from notes made during discussions with TEE facilitators from these two churches, at a training camp in July 2012: 1 Understanding what discipleship means:
A disciple is someone who displays Christ in every area of their lives whether at home, at work, at church - wherever. (SoJ) You become a disciple little by little as the Lord makes changes inside. (SoJ) A disciple has to have vision - this is important! Without vision - its no good. I work hard to plant vision in the hearts of those I am discipling. And there must be fruit - a changed life, otherwise how can you say that person is a disciple? (HoP) Well, once someone has accepted Jesus, then they start to follow him so in one sense they are a disciple straight away but it does take time for them to really look like a disciple. (HoP) It is someone who can devote themselves to the Lord, and to the se rvice of others (SoJ) Someone who is able to imitate Jesus in every aspect of their lives They are able to commit everything in their lives to Jesus They have patience, obedience, faith, commitment, love. (HoP)

2 The use of TEE materials in discipleship training:

2.1 the importance of the lifestyle of the group facilitator: The pastor helped me to understand what a disciple was. I was fort unate to have such a man as my example. I learnt so much from him. If the first disciple is good, then those who follow will also be good (HoP) At first, practically, the model that I took/ people take is the pastor or church leader. But as we mature we become aware that behind the pastor is Jesus, and we look to him more. (HoP) Now that I am discipling others, I am very aware of the need to be a credible example myself. And I know that I need to cover all I do in love, and to care for those I am discipling. (SoJ) 2.2 the difficulties encountered in the early stages: Abundant Life [the very first course] is the hard phase - the phase of real spiritual struggle. We will have to lead a group of at least three people through Abundant Life to fulfil the Certificate requirements. That will be hard. You have to pray, run after people, and try very hard at this stage. Abundant Light [the second course] is easier, and then by the
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Life of Christ phase [more advanced, leadership training courses], things have become much simpler. (SoJ) At first, I had no particular interest in study or growth: I thought, No, I am just going to be an ordinary believer, Ill come on Sunday, but Ill live my life. (People dont want to re -arrange things so that they can study, or be regular at first - this is a problem!) For me Abundant Life was difficult. But little by little I became accustomed. (HoP) 2.3 The importance of a strong lead, a church culture that prioritizes the spiritual disciplines of prayer, the Word, and fellowship. The Pastor was very strong on TEE! Whether you can read or write, it doesnt matter - everyone must sit in and listen at least. Our pastor is good with the hard word. (HoP) 2.4 The role of discussion in bringing understanding. I first studied Abundant Life by myself. I found it difficult. Then I studied Abundant Light in a group, and learnt far more from that. You learn from the discussion. (SoJ)

Conclusion Here are two examples of churches with a vision for biblical disciplemaking and church-planting that show something of the potential of TEE. The method and materials of TEE provide for continuing Bible study, discussion and practical application. Because of this, they give opportunities for learning individually, through home study, learning study skills, learning to relate to written materials, and learning to go deeper into the Bible. They give opportunities for learning together, through group discussion, learning to open up and express thoughts and feelings, learning to listen to others, learning to pray together and support one another. They give opportunities for learning by doing, through practical assignments, developing many different skills. These two examples illustrate the key importance of local church leadership grasping a vision for TEE and leading by example. The support, encouragement and strong leadership shown in these two churches was clearly an important factor in leading to the fruitful outcomes they experienced. They also implicitly demonstrate how learning through TEE can lead to the development of an understanding of every member mi nSt Francis Magazine is published by Arab Vision and Interserve 63

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istry, as church members grow in confidence, in skills and in opportunities for service. In Mongolia, the church is relatively young and the need to train, equip and empower every member, as well as to grow strong, local church leadership is very evident. There are also many areas where new churches still need to be planted. TEE is providing a valuable tool for churches to use in facilitating not only discipleship, but also leadership training and church-planting. It is worth noting here that it is not only in contexts like Mongolia that TEE can be helpfully used. There are many other examples of TEE programmes around the world where TEE continues to be a valuable tool, in contexts where the church is much longerestablished, and particularly in contexts of persecution - but these are beyond the scope of this current paper! In presenting these examples from Mongolia, my hope is to encourage a greater understanding of the potential of TEE for discipleship and local leadership training, as well as for church-planting, and to give a picture of how God is using this tool in this part of the world. It is my belief that for any church, which prioritizes being and making disciples, whatever their context, the method and materials of TEE are well worth exploring as a tool to equip and empower their members for effective and fruitful service. 1

See, for more information.


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St Francis Magazine Vol 9, No 2 | April 2013

The 1938 Riggs Report on the Near East Christian Council Inquiry on the Evangelization of Moslems: an aborted beginning to the Insider Movement strategy
By Duane Alexander Miller1
After decades of Protestant mission to (or among, one might rather say) Muslims, there was precious little fruit to show for very substantial investments in time, personnel and money. This 1938 inquiry sought to investigate this issuewhy had the mission to Muslims been, on the balance, unsuccessful? And what could be done do change that? The report was composed by Henry Riggs with the aim of summarizing the findings of the 1938 research of the Near East Christian Council (NECC) which was based in Beirut, Lebanon. The report has recently been made available online2 and its complete title is Near East Christian Council Inquiry on the Evangelization of Moslems: Report3. Riggs was a long-time missionary in the Anatolian city of Harpoot, today called Elazig in Turkish. There he witnessed the slaughter of many of the Armenian Christians whom he served as an educator and a missionary. His recollections can be read in Days of Tragedy in Armenia: Personal Experiences in Harpoot, 1915-1917. The manuscript was prepared in 1918 but was only recently published in book form4. Many of the findings of the report are helpful, if not revolutionary. For instance, we read that Christian teaching does not mean the same to the Moslem that it does to a Christian (Part I). It then goes onto list the classical points of contention that make the Good News of Christians foolishness (if not blasphemy) to Muslims, like the doc1

Miller lectures in church history and theology at Nazareth Evangelical Theological Seminary (NETS) in Israel. His blog is 2 3 I am indebted to my colleague Bob Blincoe for sharing this report with me. I interviewed him recently and he mentioned the document (Blincoe, Miller 2013). 4 Armenian Genocide Documentation Series, Gomidas Inst, 1997.
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trines of original sin, the incarnation, and the atonement. Another difficulty is that religious conversion is often interpreted by Muslims as leaving ones people. That is, to become Christian was to b ecome Greek or Armenian and cease to be a Turk or an Arab. The NECC inquiry sought advice and input from missionaries and Henry Riggs used that information to compose this report. People interested in contemporary mission theory will recognize the importance of this document in that it appears to be the earliest known endorsement of what is today called Insider Movement a pproach to mission to Muslims. The main section is point 6 of Part II:
It is the conviction of a large number of workers among Moslems that the ultimate hope of bringing Christ to the Moslems is to be attained by the development of groups of followers of Jesus who are active in making Him known to others while remaining loyally a part of the social and political groups to which they belong in Islam. The ideal is that there should thus come into being a church whose only head is Christ, and which does not carry the stigma of being an alien institution, drawing men away from their natural social and political connections. In spite of the stupendous difficulties in the way of such an outcome, many workers are convinced that only as the spiritual significance of Christ is thus separated from external and unhappy connections in past and present can the way be opened for the power of Christ to do its work in the Moslem world.

This is, in a nutshell, the Insider Movement strategy of mission to Muslimsnot seeking to make Muslims into Christian, but Sunni [or Shia] Muslims into followers-of-Jesus Muslims. Riggs explicitly points out that some other term than Christian must be found and some other terminology must be developed (Part II, point 8). With updated spelling, some of the specific phrases used could be straight out of a contemporary journal article, as when he talks about, b elievers who thus remain a part of their Moslem social-political group (Part II, point 11). The document was known to the meticulous historian of mission, Lyle Vander Werff in his influential book Christian Mission to Muslims: The Record (1977). Vander Werff records how in 1938, at the Tambaram conference on mission to Muslims, Henry Riggs advocatSt Francis Magazine is published by Arab Vision and Interserve 66

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ed the ideas set forth in this report. The majority at Tambaram r ejected the ideas set forth by [] Riggs (263). Riggs 1941 article in Moslem World titled Unbeaten Paths in Moslem Evangelism does appear in Phil Parshalls bibliography for New Paths in Muslim Evangelism (Baker House, 1980), though the emergence of the term insider movement is much later. I contacted Dr Parshall by e-mail5 and showed him the Riggs Report and he said he had never seen it before. In any case, even if Parshall was influenced by Riggs (and it appears he was not), he was and is not an advocate of IM. But was this document the inspiration of the contemporary IM strategy? That seems unlikely to me. Rather, this document is obscure and it does not appear in the original IM literature. For instance, the entire issue of IJFM Vol 24:1 (Spring 2007) is devoted to the topic of C5 contextualization and Insider Movements, yet neither this report nor the Riggs 1941 article is mentioned by any of the authors. Also, Matthew Sleemans careful study of the roots of IM does not even mention the Riggs Report. The same is true for Wolfes 2011 doctoral dissertation on the IM topic. It is unlikely that the Riggs Report could have influenced early IM proponents without making it into their bibliographies or being detected by scholars like Sleeman and Wolfe. This does not mean that this report is without significance, though. It does demonstrate that mission strategists have had these ideas before, indeed during a very different age of missions. It also means that the critique of the old Protestant missions of being uncreative and narrow-minded is not entirely fair. The Riggs Report of the 1938 NECC inquiry proves that the a key concept of Insider Movement missiology surfaced many decades ago, but an examination of the bibliographies of early contemporary IM advocates leads to the conclusion that they were not aware of this reality until recently. Continuity between the Riggs Report and more recent advocacy for IM as a missionary strategy cannot be established. Riggs advocacy for IM was stymied, and the strategy was

November 2012.

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eventually forgotten, only to be revived later by proponents who, at first, were unaware of the Riggs Report.

Blincoe, Bob and Duane Alexander Miller. 2013. The Day of Salvation for Muslims Everywhere: an Interview with Bob Blincoe in Global Missiology Vol 10:2, January. < > Parshall, Phil. 1980. New Paths in Muslim Evangelism: Evangelical Approaches to Contextualization. Grand Rapids: Baker House. Riggs, Henry H. 1938. Near East Christian Council Inquiry on the Evangelization of Moslems: Report. Beirut: American Mission Building. _____. 1941. Unbeaten Paths in Work for Moslems in Moslem World Vol 31, pp 116-26. Sleeman, Matthew. 2012. The Origins, Development and Future of the C5 / Insider Movement Debate in St Francis Magazine Vol 8:4, Aug, pp 498-566. Vander Werff, Lyle L. 1977. Christian Mission to Muslims: The Record: Anglican and Reformed Approaches in India and the Near East, 1800-1938. Pasadena: William Carey Library. Wolfe, J Henry. 2011. Insider Movements: An Assessment of the Viability of Retaining Socio-religious Insider Identity in High Religious Contexts. PhD Dissertation. Louisville, Kentucky: The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

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Adoption in Christ: the best gift ever

By Salaam Corniche
But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, Abba! Father! So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God. (Galatians 4:4-7 ESV) Adoption is an act of Gods free grace, whereby we are received into the number, and have a right to all the privileges of the sons of God. (Shorter Catechism, Question 34). "Adoption is an act of God's free grace, whereby for the sake of Christ, he formally translates the regenerate from the family of Satan into his own and legally confirms them in all the rights, immunities and privileges of his children. (John Girardeau)1 "When we pray, 'Our Heavenly Father,' we find that God is so near and dear to us. (Bengali Christian from a Muslim background 2)

Consider the following scenario: with an authoritative thud of the gavel and solemnity in his voice, the judge pronounces that a criminal has been graciously pardoned of a heinous crime: insulting the highest authority in the land. He stands up, tears apart the criminal record, comes down from the bench and walks up to the pardoned criminal. He extends his hand in a friendly manner, shakes the former criminals hand, and gathers the people in the courtroom toget her to tell them he plans to welcome the former criminal into his family. The people look on in wonder at this strange turn of events.

George A. Blackburn. The Life Work of John L. Girardeau, D.D., LLd.: Late Professor in the Presbyterian Theological Seminary, Columbia, S.C. (Columbia, S.C.: The State Co, 1916), p. 336. Note how close this quote is to John Owen's [1657] definition: Adoption is the authoritative translation of a believer, by Jesus Christ, from the family of the world and Satan into the family of God, with his investiture in all the privileges and advantages of that family. in his Communion with God, (London: Baynes, 1808 reprint of Glasgow: Miller, 1792), p. 235. 2 James Tushar Halder, former President of the Bangladeshi Bible Society
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Doesnt he know that this person had an abusive father? Doesnt he know that this person has always been a misfit and has huge debts? Doesnt he know that this person will probably make his adoptive family look bad, just as he did with his birth family? The judge looks at the shocked man he has pardoned and declares: Even though I know all about your past, I have made a final decision. From this day forward, you are going to be a part of my family. I will pay for your debts and you will be privileged to carry the family name with your head held high along with the rest of my children. When I die, you will join them in having a part of the family fortune. The inheritance and adoption papers are irrevocable. Here they are.3 This paper will examine the rich vein of theological gold that shines in the doctrine of adoption. John Murray called it the apex of redemptive grace and privilege.4 The practical ramifications of this doctrine on identity and discipleship, especially for those of a Muslim background will be a primary focus. Salvation will be seen to include redemption from and adoption to. My hope is that this paper will lead to a greater sense of wonder at the love of the blessed Trinity for his adopted children in union with Him through the very work of the second person of the Trinity applied by the Holy Spirit. In the words of the Puritan William Perkins this should make all believers to be rauished with ioy in this, that hee [or shee] is the childe of God.

1 Why is this doctrine so important?

J.I. Packer stressed the importance of adoption as follows: He was asked to summarize the teaching of the New Testament and respond3

This writer is aware that the reality of costly substitutionary atonement by God's own Son is missing from the story. 4 John Murray. Redemption Accomplished and Applied. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1955), p. 170. It was Robert Candlish lecturing in 1864 who suggested that the area of theology dealing with the Fatherhood of God was akin to a rich field of precious ore yet to be surveyed and explored.and that on this subject there is fresh work to do and fresh treasures to be brought out of the sto rehouse of the Divine Word; Cunningham Lectures. The Fatherhood of God . 5th ed. (Edinburgh: Black, 1870), p. 193.
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ed in three words: adoption through propitiation.5 Kevin DeYoung recently said adoption was: The wrath of God has been turned away from sinners because of the death of Christ so that we might be reconciled to God and brought into His family."6 It would seem obvious that theologians from Paul onwards would have made much of the doctrine of adoption, and that the churchs teaching over time would reflect it. Studies by Tim Trumper and David Garner, however, conclude that, with some notable exceptions, teaching that can be literally rendered the placing of sons/ adoption as sons/sonship by adoption/full rights as sons [Gk. huiothesia] has not received the attention it should.7 Irenaeus, Calvin8, the Westminster Confession, a number of Puritans9 and a few others are the exceptions. In his dissertation Trumper cites the work of Robert Webb who laments the dearth of theological thinking on the subject relative to its importance. Webbs definition of adoption in Christ is worth no ting as well. He observes: The evangelical doctrine of adoption succinctly described as an act of God's free grace, whereby we are received into the number, and have a right to all the privileges, of the sons of God" has received but slender treatment at the hands

J.I. Packer asserted: "[W]ere I asked to focus the New Testament message in three words, my proposal would be adoption through propitiation, and I do not expect ever to meet a richer or more pregnant summary of the gospel than that.; Knowing God, 20th anniversary ed. (Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press, 1993), p. 214. 6 Kevin De Young. The Good News We Almost Forgot: Rediscovering the Gospel in a 16th Century Catechism. (Chicago: Moody, 2010), p. 71. 7 Tim Trumper, An Historical Study of the Doctrine of Adoption in the Calvini stic Tradition, (Diss: PhD, University of Edinburgh, 2001) Trumper refers to ado ption as a major salvific blessing of God the Father to which he has predestined his people in Christ and through/by means of Christ (p. 3); David B.Garner, Adoption in Christ, (Diss: Ph.D., Westminster Theological Seminary, 2002). 8 Concerning John Calvin, Tim Trumper asserts that he is the theologian of adoption par excellence in his "The Theological History of Adoption II: A Rationale," Scottish Bulletin of Evangelical Theology 20.2 (Autumn 2002), p. 198. 9 Joel Beeke has detailed the contribution of the Puritans in his monograph, Transforming Power and Comfort: The Puritans on Adoption (Accessed 2012/10/3) and in his book Heirs with Christ: The Puritans on Adoption (Grand Rapids, MI: Reformation Heritage, 2008).
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of theologians. It has been handled with a meagerness entirely out of proportion to its intrinsic importance, and with a subordination which allows it only a parenthetical place in the system of evangelical truth.10 Herman Ridderbos in Paul: An Outline of His Theology gave a precise summary of the vital role of adoption in Christ for the life of the believer and the church. It has, he said, an all-embracing significance for the present and the future and noted especially its thoroughly Trinitarian nature:
It is the privilege of the church as the true people of God, but at the same time it affects the individual believer in the deepest motives of his existence. It has bearing not only on his inner, but also on his physical life; indeed, it brings with it the redemption of the whole cosmos. The present and the future are therefore spanned by it. The whole love of the Father, the whole redeeming work of Christ, the whole renewing power of the Holy Spirit, are reflected in it. 11

Ridderbos work underscores the fact that any attempt to dilute this doctrine, whether by teaching or Bible translation, has widespread consequences in the areas of evangelism and discipleship.

2 Preliminary notes
It is important to note the definition of huiothesia which is used five times by Paul (Rom. 8:15, 23; 9: 4; Gal. 4: 5; Eph; 1:5.) According to James Scott it always denotes either the process or the state of being adopted as son(s).12 It both is and is not gender specific. The Scriptures make clear that adoption in Christ applies to males and females, but in the Graeco-Roman context, to apply this to sons was


Robert A. Webb. The Reformed Doctrine of Adoption. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1947), p. 188. cited by Trumper, "Thesis, p. xiii 11 Herman N. Ridderbos. Paul: An Outline of his Theology. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1975), p. 204. 12 James M. Scott in his "Adoption, Sonship," in Gerald F. Hawthorne et al eds., Dictionary of Paul and his Letters (Downers Grove, Illinois: IVP, 1993), pp. 16-18. Note: huiothesia comes from two Greek words Huios = son; and tithemi = to place, appoint. Literally it means the placing as sons. Its theological significance goes far beyond its etymology.
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also to suggest that one had the full rights of family honor and inheritance. In Christ these immense privileges are available to all, gender notwithstanding. In Christ the Son is all important. For apart from the work and person of Christ as the Son of God, and the believers union with Him, there is no such thing as adoption into the family of God. This is thoroughly Trinitarian. The Father as the fountainhead wills the adoptive choosing and sets the process in motion (cf. Eph 1:5); the Son accomplishes the adoptive spadework (Gal 4:5) and the Holy Spirit applies and ratifies this adoption to the believer (Rom 8:15).13

3 Adoption in the grand design

In order to understand the doctrine of adoption in Christ it is vital to examine the grand design to which Ridderbos has alluded. This is critical because many studies have taken their concept of adoption from the civil adoption law in ancient Rome. They then imposed that concept on the Biblical text. The doctrine has a history prior to civil laws of Rome. A fully Biblical understanding of this teaching must start with the Old Testament and encompass the entire Biblical revelation.14 3.1 Old Testament At the very beginning of Genesis mankinds representative, Adam, was in the Garden of Eden as a son (cf. Lk 3:38 Adam = son of

Writing in 1886, the theologian A.A. Hodge put this Trinitarian work into simple words: Adoption proceeds according to the eternal purpose of the Father, upon the merits of the Son, and by the efficient agency of the Holy Ghost. Cited by Tim J.R. Trumper, The Metaphorical Import of Adoption: A Plea for Realisation II, Scottish Bulletin of Evangelical Theology 15 (1997), pp. 106-107. 14 Scott, ibid and also his Adoption As Sons of God: An Exegetical Investigation into the Background of Yiothesia in the Pauline Corpus. (Tbingen: Mohr, 1992) ; Ridderbos, ibid, pp. 197-204; James I. Cook, "The Conception of Adoption in the Theology of Paul," in Saved by Hope: Essays in Honor of Richard C. Oudersluys. (ed. James I. Cook; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1978), pp. 44-63. Cook, for instance says: "We may say, then, that the concept of adoption in the theology of Paul belongs to the history of salvation, inaugurated at the naming of Israel as God's son, and continued and perfected in the adoption of men and women into the family of God through the work of Christ and the Spirit." p. 137.
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God) who would exercise proper dominion over the works of his Fathers hands by obeying his Creator. Yet this princely rule of so nship came to a thundering crash when Adam disobeyed and sinned, thus becoming subject to trouble and death for himself and his posterity. Another son who completely reflected the image of the Father would become the second Adam to reinstate a trajectory for select sons and daughters to once again regain their elevated status and eventually to live in a garden-like city in perfect union with Him (Rev 21-22). To the patriarch Abraham, God promised that he would be the progenitor of a chosen people, via a son coming from your own body will be your heir (Gen 15:4). He was promised the whole world (Rom 4:13) and was to be a conduit for its blessings (Gen 12:2). As a response to YHWHs gracious choosing of him and su bsequent command to leave Ur, Abraham set the precedent for obeying by leaving his own country, his kindred and his fathers house (Gen 12:1-2). To ratify this sovereign selection YHWH had Abraham undergo ceremonies that demonstrated his response to YHWHs covenant. Out of his loins would come a people whom God would call my first-born son, namely Israel. They are identified as such in Exodus 4:22-23 (cf. Deut.14:1-2; Is. 1:2-4; Jer. 31:9; Hos. 1:10). For no inherent reason of its own, Israel is given a title that is pre eminent in dignityto use Calvins words-but it is a result of Gods kindness. It is as if YHWH went into an orphanage, found the most sickly and diseased child with its siblings and said, I am making you part of my family with a mandate to let people know about me.15 Just as God promised to Abraham that this would occur at a certain fullness of time or time appointed by his father (Gal 4:2; Gen 15:16) so Paul picks up the same idea that God worked in the ful l-


Israel was to be set free; for they were sons of God, the LORD, who graciously had adopted them as his special inheritance and had set them apart from the nations to be his instrument for bringing blessing to all the nations of the earth, Walter C. Kaiser, Jr. Exodus. (Expositor's Bible Commentary 2; Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1990), p. 332.
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ness of time (Gal. 4:4) to set another group of slaves free to be his first-born sons.16 It is these former slaves to the laws weak and miserable principles (Gal 4:9) who are now part of Christ, who is the culmination of the seed of Abraham (3:16). It is this Seed of Abraham, the Firstborn Son (Gal. 1:16; 2:20; 4:4, 6), who was the fulfillment of the Messianic promise to David in 2 Samuel 7:12-14 (cf. 2 Cor. 6:1618), that he too would have an offspring (v.12); he would be the heir of an eternal kingdom to whom YHWH would be a father, and he shall be to me a son (v.14). Those, then, as Paul argues in Galatians 4:5, have been purchased by the First-born Son, to enjoy all of the benefits of being in union with Him. 3.2 New Testament To the three churches of Galatia, Rome and Ephesus, all of whom were under the Roman legal system, Paul employs the socio-legal term of adoption and adapts it to explain the Christian life.17 He approaches the subject through the sanctified worldview of his Jewish, Greek and Roman backgrounds, and one would expect breadth, depth, and warmth. We are not disappointed and can concur with Trevor Burke that Pauls theology of adoption represents the pinnacle of Pauline theology.18 Some have diagrammed the all-encompassing nature of adoption as a line which begins before the creation of the world, and which continues to eternity after the second coming. Thus, before the foundation of the word in conjunction with the eternal Son, God the Fa16

Or as James Scott observes: the Father who redeemed Israel as his son in the first exodus at the appointed time is the Father who redeemed mankind as his son in the second Exodus at the fullness of time. In Trumper, Metaphorical II, (1997), p. 112. 17 At the time of writing the books of Galatians, Ephesians, and Romans, the lineage of the ruling family in Rome was secured by adoption. James Walters points out that Paul was a native of the Greek East, and that Galatia was in this area. Greek adoption law would have been familiar to Paul. "Paul, Adoption, and Inheritance," in Paul in the Greco-Roman World: A Handbook. ed. J. Paul Sampley pp. 42-76, (Harrisburg, PA: Trinity Press International, 2003), p. 44. 18 Trevor J. Burke. Adopted into God's Family. (Downer's Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2006), p. 26.
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ther decreed that he would choose his adoptive sons (Eph 1:4-5), not by some cold and arbitrary deterministic fate, but in love. This was the basis of his gracious adoption of Israel as his son (Romans 9:4 cf. Hos 11:1). He was to be a pointer to a true Israelite, namely Christ as the epitome of a messianic Son (Gal 4:4-5) who paradoxically would have to endure the Fathers wrath in order to redeem his new sons and daughters in order that they could pray Abba Father just like Him (Gal 4:4-7). The new age has been ushered in and it is the Spirit of adoption who makes real the new status of these adoptive children (Rom 8:15-17). He also orients their lives to longing for the full consummation of their inheritance (Rom 8:22-23) guaranteed by the Sons resurrection, as this affects them in the present and in the future along with the entire creation. 19 Tim Trumper renders this diagrammatically under theological categories as: 20


Adapted from An Interview with David Garner, Nightlight Adoptions. (Accessed 2012/10/1). At pages162163 of his thesis he demonstrates the christological cast to adoption, namely: it was Christ as eternal Son of God who participated in the pre-temporal decree for adoptive sonship (Eph 1:5) and carried out the decree as Son redemptivehistorically, Christ as messianic Son who fulfilled the character of Israelite, typological sonship (Rom 9:4-5), Christ as incarnate Son who in his humiliation and exaltation inaugurated the eschatological and pneumatic age for adoptive sonship (Gal 4:5; Rom 8:15), and Christ as consummate Son whose resurrection grounds the resurrection/adoption of the believer (Rom 8:23). Also see his A World of Riches in Reformation 21 (April 2011) (Accessed 2012/09/30) 20 Trumper, Thesis, p.3, figure 1.
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David Garner gives a concise summary of this treasured status of the wide-angle view of adoption. It should lead the awe-struck adoptee in Christ to praise:
When we begin to ponder the fact that Gods adoptive grace is rooted in his pre-temporal decision to love us, typified in his elective love of Israel in the Old Covenant, brought to us fully in the loving obedience of his Son, applied to us in the ministry of the Holy Spirit, and consummated in us at the consummation of the ages, we can only be drawn to worship, gratitude, and awe.21

4 Privileges of this treasured status

As we have come to see, the doctrine of adoption in Christ is one of the most wonder-inducing teachings of the scriptures. This section will delineate a number of them from historical examples, and will reserve the practical ramifications for discipleship for a later section. The now-aging Apostle John marveled at the wonder of being called a child of God by stating with all of the excitement of newfound love:
All of you, come look and see, what absolutely foreign kind of love is this, that has been lavished with prodigal generosity from the Father that we should actually be called His own childrenand more than t hat, we actually are!22 (I John 3:1)

The Puritan, William Perkins (15581602) was similarly enthused over this amazing doctrine. He compared the natural birth of a prince with the supernatural birthright of a child of God:

21 22

Garner, Interview Paraphrase by the author who is also aware of the academic discussions as to whether Pauline adoption motifs should be commingled with regeneration motifs of John. The emphasis is on the idea of wonder. Trumper distinguishes Johannine usage of children with Pauline usage of son stating tha t the former encapsulates the idea of birth into the family/kingdom, with its closely connected concept of family likeness, while the former involves the idea of adoption into the family and focuses more on the status and freedom of an adopted son or daughter within the family; The Metaphorical Import of Adoption: A Plea for Realisation I, Scottish Bulletin of Evangelical Theology, 14 (1996), p. 137.
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If one compares the childe or heire of any earthly Prince the sonne of the greatest Potentate may be the childe of wrath: but the child of God by grace, hath Christ Iesus to bee his eldest brother, with whom he is fellow heire in heaven; hee hath the holy Ghost also for his comforter, and the kingdome of heauen for his euerlasting inheritance.23

Another Puritan, Richard Sibbes (1577-1635), commented on this treasured status by calling it a world of riches which are of an all encompassing nature:
"All things are ours by virtue of our adoption, because we are Christ's, and Christ is God's. There is a world of riches in this, to be the sons of God."24

The authors of the Westminster Confession of 1646, detailed the benefits of adoption. With theological precision they demonstrated that only in Christ are these treasures to be found. In the words of Article 12:
All those that are justified, God vouchsafes, in and for His only Son Jesus Christ, to make partakers of the grace of adoption,[1] by which they are taken into the number, and enjoy the liberties and privileges of the children of God,[2] have His name put upon them,[3] receive the spirit of adoption,[4] have access to the throne of grace with boldness,[5] are enabled to cry, Abba, Father,[6] are pitied,[7] protected,[8] provided for,[9] and chastened by Him as by a Father:[10] yet never cast off,[11] but sealed to the day of redemption;[12] and inherit the promises,[13] as heirs of everlasting salvation.[14] (dated 1646)25

The brevity of the Confession, and its use of legal language, might deflect from the important point being made. It is the warmth of the familial relationship that comes with adoption. It is no hin-

23 24

As quoted by Joel Beeke, Transforming, p.3. Richard Sibbes. Works of Richard Sibbes. (7 vols. ed. Alexander B. Grosart; Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 1983). IV.502, cited by Garner, Thesis, p. 258. Originally in Sibbes The Excellencie of the Gospell above the Law Wherein the Liberty of the Sonnes of God is Shewed. With the Image of Their Graces Here, and Glory Hereafter. Which Affords Much Comfort and Great Incouragement, to All Such as Begin Timely, and Continue Constantly in the Wayes of God . (London: Tho. Cotes, 1639). 25 Numbers are for Scripture references.
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drance to note that a legal declaration of the marriage bond between husband and wife precedes their shared intimacy, and so it is with Gods children. Just as the opening paragraphs of this paper portrayed an allegory of a judge who has acquitted a person and then adopts him, so in a legal sense we are declared non-guilty due to Christs sacrifice, and then legally welcomed into the warmth of the Fathers house, due to the Sonship of Christ. 26 (The righteousness of the Son which is credited to the account of the former criminal is yet another wonder, but beyond the scope of this paper.) John Calvin exhibited an equal sense of wonder as did the Apostle John, Perkins and Sibbes, when he wrote:
For who are we, that God should honor us by taking us into his own house? For when God decided to adopt us as his children, that already constituted an honor that overshadowed all the possible honors of this world.27

Calvin glorified in this wonderful exchange where because of the measureless benevolence of the Father of merciesas he frequently refers to God-- the diabolical abusive father Satan, has been replaced with an All-caring One, and a formerly cringingly battered child is now an honored heir. Thanks to God in Christ becoming Son of man with us, he has made us sons of God with him.28 The challenge going forward, of course, will be to incorporate this nowfreed criminal, likely with vestiges of thinking like a prisoner, into a new family.


Cf T. Rees Justification is the act of a merciful judge setting the prisoner free, but adoption is the act of a generous father, taking a son to his bosom and endowing him with liberty, favor, and a heritage in Adoption; Sonship, in Geoffrey W. Bromiley et al eds., The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, vol. I, (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, rev. 1995), p. 54. C.f. Howard Griffith, "The First Title of the Spirit': Adoption in Calvin's Soteriology," Evangelical Quarterly no 73 (2001), pp. 135-53. 27 John Calvin. Sermons on the Book of Micah. trans. and ed. by Benjamin Wirt Farley (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2003), p.193. 28 John Calvin. Institutes of the Christian Religion. 4.17.2.
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4.1 Specific benefits of adoption in Christ 4.1.1 Family honor The prodigal son comes home and the Father declares, This son of mine. Clothing and jewelry denoting status are employed along with lavish celebrations. Jesus stooped down when taking on our flesh in order that we might regain this status, not having anything to do with our achievements, but only by His. Thomas Watson reflected on this transfer from a state of sin and misery to that of excellency and dign ity: It were much for God to take a clod of dust and make it a star; it is more for God to take a piece of clay and sin and adopt it for his heir.29 Jonathan Edwards raises our sights even higher as he sees the church as a body endued with the family honor of the Trinity. In the conclusion to his sermon The Excellency of Christ he writes: Christ has brought it to pass, that those whom the Father has given him shall be brought into the household of God; that he and his Father, and his people, should be as one society, one family; that the church should be as it were admitted into the society of the blessed Trinity.30 4.1.2 Family name A recurrent theme in the Hebrew Testament is that Israel is called the people who bear My name. In Isaiah 43:6-7 sons and daughters are given the great privilege of carrying the family name of their Great Deliverer in the second exodus. This great benefit carried with it the obligation that the children act in ways that raise the weighty reputation of their new progenitoras it were: "Who are these sons and daughters but those who are "called by My name" and "whom I have created for My glory?" Ancient Roman law confirmed the change of status that an adopted son gained: Adoptive sons in their adoptive family are in the
29 30

Cited by Beeke, Transforming.., p. 12. Jonathan Edwards. Sermons of Jonathan Edwards. Peabody, Mass: Hendrickson, 2005. p. 227. See also Thomas Allan Smail. The Forgotten Father. (reprint. Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock Pub, 2001, original 1980), p. 129.
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same legal position as real sons (Gaius', Inst.2.136) May it be your will and command that L. Valerius may be to L. Titius in right and in law his son just as if he were born from him as pater and from his materfamilias and that he [Titius] may have in relation to him [Valerius] the power of life and death, as there is to a father in the case of a son. (Gellius, N. A. 5.19.9)31 This is also the consummate privilege of Gods children as Revelation 22:4 states, They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads (cf. Rev. 3:12; 14:1). Pauls Galatian readers would be prepared as good Roman cit izens to understand the adoption language Paul used when he called them 'brothers' (Gal. 1:2,11; 3:15; 4:12,28,31; 5:11,13; 6:1,18) and members of the household of God (Gal.3:26); as fellow heirs (3:29). 4.1.3 The family inheritance
Fear not little flock, for it is your Fathers good pleasure to give you the kingdom (Luke 12:32). Will he not also, along with him, gr aciously give us all things? (Romans 8:32).

Just as Roman adoption law focused less on origins than it did on the new status of the adoptee and his guarantee of a being an heir, so did Paul. In Galatians and elsewhere the inheritance, which ultimately is the gift of God Himself, is not conditional on circumcision or the Law but on faith in Gods promises and in being a co-heir with Christ. As a co-heir's with Christ the King, believers will inherit "the kingdom of God" (Gal 5:21). Also Paul refers to the inheritance as: reaping eternal life (6:6-7); redemption of the body (Rom 8:23) and the resurrection of the body (I Cor. 15:50). What is all the more heart-melting is that this inheritance is irrevocable.32 The words of the Larger Catechism, Answer 74 give a precise rendition of the benefits which we in Christ possess:

31 32

Walters, p. 53. William Ramsay in his A Historical Commentary on St. Pauls Epistle to the Galatians suggests that the will which puts in place the adoption of a son is irrevocable and unalterable.(Grand Rapids: Baker, 1965, reprint 1900 Putnam ed.), p. 337.
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Adoption is an act of the free grace of God, in and for his only Son Jesus Christ, whereby all those that are justified are received into the number of his children, have his name put upon them, the Spirit of his Son given to them, are under his fatherly care and dispensations, admitted to all the liberties and privileges of the sons of God, made heirs of all the promises, and fellow-heirs with Christ in glory. (cf. Ans. 86 on the full consummation)

The gift of the Spirit of the Son is the believers seal of their inheritance (Eph 1:13-14) in Christ, the first-fruits (Rom 8:23) of what will come when their fully redeemed bodies will be in complete communion with the Trinity. This present exalted status of being an heir, as Paul argues in Galatians, will necessarily change ones day to day life in the present. (See section on discipleship below). 4.1.4 Family freedom ....the glorious liberty of the children of God (Romans 8:21). No longer do the Galatians need to fear the laws curse (3:10), their own sin (3:22), or the overall inability to keep the laws commands (3:23; 4:4; 4:5). They need not experience a paralyzing fear of God now that they are sons. Thus Romans 8:15 reads: For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of Sonship. This also gives them and their fellow adoptees joy in their mutual companionship and confidence in their approach to the Father. It is the Spirit of adoption that makes the reality of this liberty an actual experience in these adopted children. 4.1.5 Fatherly affection
This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased (Mt. 3:17). Those who are in Christ can know this divine favor as well. J.I. Packer said that To know that God is your Father and that he loves you, his adopted child, no less than he loves his only begotten Son and to know that enjoyment of God's love and glory for all eternity are pledged to you brings inward delight that is sometimes overwhelming; and this also is the Spirit's doing,33


J.I. Packer. Keep in Step with the Spirit. (Grand Rapids: Fleming H. Revell, 1984), p. 77 cited by Garner Thesis, p. 123 - fn 208.
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This is not just good theory. Our hearts should be warmed as they were for Howell Harris, an 18th century Methodist, when he penned the following in his journal on June 18th 1735:
.being in secret prayer, I felt suddenly my heart melting within me like wax before the fire with love to God my Saviour; and also felt not only love, peace, etc., but longing to be dissolved, and to be with Christ. There was a cry in my inmost soul, which I was totally unacquainted with before, Abba, Father! Abba, Father! I could not help calling God my Father, I knew that I was His child, and that He loved me and heard me.34

4.1.6 Fatherly provision

Our Father who art in heavengive us this day our daily bread. (Ma tthew 6:9, 11)... how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him (Matt 7:11).

Reflecting on these truths, John Calvin wrote:

"God has received us, once for all, into his family, to hold us not only as servants but as sons. Thereafter, to fulfill the duties of a most excellent Father concerned for his offspring, he undertakes also to nourish us throughout the course of our life." (Inst. IV: xvii).

His pastoral warmth for his suffering flock is highlighted when he reminds them of the care of their Heavenly Father for them:
I cannot sufficiently magnify the infinite goo dness of God, which is so powerfully manifested in you, and especially because in the midst of the fears and assaults to which you are daily exposed, that indulgent Father fortifies and renders you invincible by his Spirit. It is much that he keeps in check, nay, even in fetters, so many enemies who ---seek but to devour you, and have the means of doing so were they not otherwise restrained. But I prize still more the grace by which you are sustained, and through which, relying on his promises you persevere; for it is by this grace that he shews the efficacy of his Spirit and wishes it to be known in his church.35 (15th March 1557).

34 35

Quoted by Trumper, Thesis, p. 23. "To the Church of Paris", dated 15th March 1557, Letters , vol. 3,320.

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4.1.7 Fatherly perpetual love Knowing that his disciples feared he would abandon them, Jesus made it crystal clear that he would not leave them as orphans (John 14:18). Jesus perpetual love to his Fathers adoptive children stems from the Fathers perpetual love to Him. 4.1.8 Fatherly assurance which leads to security God the Father gives more than a legal document to his children; he provides the Holy Spirit to give an inner assurance in their hearts that they are his children (Gal 4:6). Cotton Mather noted that this works in an experiential way in all parts of our being:
There is a Testimony of the Holy SPIRIT unto our Adoption, which comes as a Mighty Light, more Directly breaking in upon our Minds, to assure us, that we are indeed the Adopted of GOD. There is a Discursive Assurance of our Blessedness; which is drawn from the Marks and Signs of a Soul and becomes an Habitation of God thro the Spirit. And then there is a more Intuitive Assurance of it; In which the Holy SPIRIT, more Immediately, and most Irresistibly, and with a Mighty Light, bears in upon the Mind of the Beleever a powerful perswasion of it, That he is a Child of GOD, and his GOD and Father will one day bring him to Inherit all things. The Soul of the Beleever is now wonderfully moved and melted and overpowered with such Thoughts as these; GOD is my Father, CHRIST is my Saviour, and I have an Inheritance in the Heavens reserved for me.36

In addition to the legal witness of the adoption by the Holy Spirit, as was called for in Graeco-Roman law, Paul likely knew the legal dynamic at work, in which adopted sons actually had a higher standing before the law than natural ones. William Ramsay demonstrates that it was much more difficult to disown an adopted son than a biological one, and it is likely Paul is using this idea to instill in his readers that they can have security and assurance in their adopted status.37

36 37

As quoted by Beeke, Transforming, p. 18. Ramsay, p. 353.


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4.1.9 Family belonging The title of Trevor Burkes work on adoption in Christ appropr iately demonstrates that there are no only-children in Gods family. The closing words of his Adopted into Gods Family: Exploring a Pauline Metaphor further reinforces this idea:
And to be sure, there can be no greater privilege, responsibility or sense of belonging than having God as our adoptive Father and be related by faith to a vast network of brothers and sisters in Christ who constitute the world wide family of believers.38

That is to say, adoption is much more than a private affair; it is the gateway to the highest corporate belonging. One author called it the sphere of the Fatherhood of God where all of the blessings of the older Brother can be shared in community. This becomes the ultimate place of refuge. Calvins congregation which included many refugees from religious persecution certainly understood him when he said: If we are cast out of our own house, then we will be the more intimately received into God's family (Inst. III: viii) 4.1.10 Access to the Father As John Girardeau observed, there is a huge difference between someone who bows before Gods throne and one who sits at Gods table. There is a difference between being the accepted and honored subject of a king, and enjoying all the privileges of the kings hous ehold. It is this adoptive relationship then that gives the radical confidence to address the Almighty King as dear Father. In summary we see that the Biblical teaching on the benefits of adoption in Christ reaches into the deepest needs of humanity. The cry of the human heart for security, intimacy, community, a sense of belonging, acceptance and honor are all found in the Beloved. Of even greater import is that this treasured status has the iron-clad guarantee of the resurrection, the witness of the Holy Spirit, and will last for eternity. Finally the words of a hymn might say it best as of course all good theology must lead to doxology:

(Nottingham, England; Downers Grove, Ill.: Apollos; InterVarsity Press, 2006), p. 197.
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1 Abba," Father - thus we call Thee, (Hallowed name!) from day to day; Tis Thy children's right to know Thee, None but children "Abba" say. This high honor we inherit, Thy free gift, through Jesu's blood; God the Spirit, with our spirit, Witnesseth we're sons of God. 2 Abba's purpose gave us being When in Christ, in that vast plan, Abba chose the saints in Jesus Long before the world began; O what love the Father bore us! O how precious in his sight! When he gave the church to Jesus! Jesus, His whole soul's delight! 3 Though our nature's fall in Adam, Seemed to shut us out from God, Thus it was His counsel brought us Nearer still, through Jesu's blood; For in Him we found redemption, Grace and glory in the Son; Oh the height and depth of mercy! "Christ and we, through grace, are one." 39

5 What adoption leaves behind

A contemporary American legal document finalizing an adoption by non-birth parents is called the Final Adoptive Decree. It reads in part thatfor all intents and purposes whatsoever, the said child is and is hereby declared to be in the same relationship to the Petitioners [the adoptive parents] as if born to them by natural birth, and remaining in such relationship as if the child were their own . . .40 We

39 40

Hymns of the Little Flock No. 104, (1881) Dan Cruver, Interview with Sam Storms [June 14, 2012] (Accessed 2012/10/1)
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might call this the positive aspect of adoption when the child is thoroughly engrafted into the adoptive family. This is true of our standing in Christ as well, with the Father as the ultimate adoptive parent, the Son paying his own precious blood to accomplish it, and the Holy Spirit being witness to the fact. A second part of an adoption decree, however, addresses the fact that old claims on the adoptive person are terminated. The decree reads: the rights of all other persons, if any they have, to the care, control and custody of said child be and the same are hereby forever and finally terminated . . . Compare this contemporary legal la nguage for secular adoption procedures with the theological language for adoption used by Southern Presbyterian John L. Girardeau more than 100 years ago: "Adoption is an act of God's free grace, whereby for the sake of Christ, he formally translates the regenerate from the family of Satan into his own and legally confirms them in all the rights, immunities and privileges of his children.41 Recent sociological literature has begun to examine the dynamic of leaving the identity of one family and joining another and how it fits with the Biblical witness. One of the more thorough treatments is Trevor Burkes Pauline Adoption: a Sociological Approach. His work becomes more poignant because there is a growing chorus of missiologists who would try to suggest that staying in ones rel igion is not only a good suggestion, but is the most excellent way wrongly applying Paul's teaching in 1 Corinthians 12:31. But what does the data on adoption, which we have demonstrated is at the core of someones identity, actually show, and how does this even affect how they look and act in the larger society? 5.1 Adoption and Roman law The subject of leaving which corresponds to the Biblical motif of a response to a divine callthink of Abraham, the children of Israelalso shows up in the topic of adoption. Francis Lyall, a professor of law, suggests that it is the legal device by which a person leaves


Blackburn, op. cit, p. 336.


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his own family and enters the family of another.42 In a widely quoted statement, Lyall delineates with precision what this legal arrangement entails:
The adoptee is taken out of his previous state and is placed in a new relationship with his new paterfamilias. All his old debts are canceled, and in effect he starts a new life. From that time the paterfamilias owns all the property and acquisitions of the adoptee, controls his personal relationships, and has rights of discipline. On the other hand he is involved in liability by the actions of the adoptee and owes reciprocal duties of support and maintenance.43

Lyalls thinking is similar to Pauls when he says those in Christ have been brought out of the realm of Satans control---like an abusive, enslaving parent---and brought into the kingdom of the Son where love reigns (cf. Col 1:13). Following Scripture, the Heidelberg Catechism aptly states that adoption also means that an adoptee can say, I am not my own, but I belong body and soul to my faithful Saviour Jesus Christ. Thus the right of self-determination must be relinquished. One is adopted into a larger family and just as maintenance of the child is expected, so is the reciprocal duty of upholding the family honor. Lyalls assertion is not overstated. Other authors show the radical disjunction involved in the adoption relationship, which the Apostle Pauls readers would have been well aware of. These clearly demon-


Francis Lyall, Roman law in the writings of Paul: adoption, in Journal of Biblical Literature, 88 no 4 (D 1969), pp. 458-466. It could be argued that Lyall has only stressed one part of Roman law in attempting to build bridges with the Biblical data, and that is a point well taken. The fact that Roman adoption law looked for suitable heirs to carry on the family name contradicts the Biblical data which demonstrates that God the Father chooses the most unlikely candidates to be part of His family. 43 Ibid, p. 466. Cf. Yigal Levins work, Jesus, 'Son of God' and 'Son of David': the 'adoption' of Jesus into the Davidic line which examines both of the R oman legal practices of adoption called adrogatio which caused causing his birth-family to become legally extinct (p. 236) and adoptio in which the adoptee became a member of the gens and tribus of his adopter and assumed his status which in effect cut off all legal obligations towards his birth-family in the Journal for the Study of the New Testament, 28 no 4 (Je 2006), pp. 426-427.
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strate that there is no area of life that is not changed; including the former religion of the adoptee. 5.2 Changes as a citizen and in a family 5.2.1 James Walters (2003) calls adoption a metaphor for [radical] status change. He shows that this was the result of seve ring all legal ties to the natural father and establishing legal ties with the adoptive father. In doing so both he and his offspring would reflect the name of the adoptive father. 44 5.2.2 Lene Rubenstein (1997), although describing Athenian law, which Walters suggests has many commonalities with Roman law, affirms that all three types of adoption changed the identity of the adoptee. as a result of the adoption, he would henceforth exercise his citizen-rights, not as the son of his natural father, but as the son of the adopter.45 5.3 Changes in the religious realm Jack Goody (1969) stated that according to Roman laws of ado ption the separation was radical. In the case of adoption, a man b ecame a stranger to his natal agnatic [=Related on or descended from the father's or male side] or family and in the case of abrogation he renounced the worship of the gods of that family by the act of sacrorum detestatio (i.e., detestation of the sacred). He took over new gods and it was said of him, in sacra transit, he has passed into the worship of the new familythe separation was irreversible. 46 John Barclay (1992) points out that conversion to Christianity was seen as a rejection of the family cult that constituted nothing less than betrayal of the family honor. All members of the family were called on to carry the traditions that had passed through generations of the family, and suddenly a person changed their allegiances to
44 45

Walters, p. 56. Lene Rubinstein. Adoption in IV. Century Athens. (Copenhagen: Museum Tusculanum Press, 1993) .p. 55. 46 Jack Goody, Adoption in Cross-Cultural Perspective, Comparative Studies in Society and History, no 11 (1969), pp.59 also cited by Burke, Pauline..,p. 127. Sacrorum detestation is defined as the solemn renunciation of the family sacred rites, and thereby of the gens itself, which in arrogatio was made by the son, (Gell. 15, 27, 3; cf.: Liber (Servii Sulpicii) de sacris detestandis, id. 6, 12, 1.)
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something novel which was said to be of recent manufacture. In a word, to be incorporated into a new family by faith was nothing less than a scandal.47 Margaret MacDonald (2004) identified the link between adoption and the practice of baptism by the fact that it was a ritual line in the sand which someone crossed. Adoption as a child of God necessarily means separation from those who are not the same kind of children. Baptism functions as a cleansing rite; a water bath symbolizes a transition from a 'dirty world into a 'clean' sect48 Wayne Meeks (1985) demonstrates that biological ties have been eclipsed by spiritual ties in the concept of adoption. Kinship is no longer king, but the gift of a new family of human brothers and sisters in the faith becomes primary. He says this is what a modern sociologist might call the resocialisation of conversion.49 The theme of radical change permeates Graeco-Roman adoption law. We observe a completely new identity and status evidenced by forsaking of old names for new ones, forsaking of old gods for new, forsaking old family allegiances with new ones. The movement of fromto is unmistakable. Similarly Burke observed, From a social perspective, adoption primarily and fundamentally constituted on the one hand a break with the old family ties and on the other, a commitment to a new one with all its attending privileges and responsibilities. In short, it involved a whole new way of life. Can it be only coincidental that the Apostle Paul observed that in Christ the old has gone and the new has come (2 Cor 5:17)? 5.4 Response to an objection
But this is just a clever way to extract someone from their culture and their family so the words might go. Then they would be useless as salt and light, and you are trying to create some kind of a Christian


John M.G. Barclay, Conflict in Thessalonica, Catholic Biblical Quarterly, no 55 (1992), p. 515. 48 , Margaret Y. MacDonald. The Pauline Churches: A Socio-Historical Study of Institutionalization in the Pauline and Deutero-Pauline Writings. (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2004), p. 67. 49 W.A. Meeks. The First Urban Christians: The Social World of the Apostle Paul . (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1983), p. 88 quoted by Burke, pp. 124-125.
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ghettothe family in the Muslim context is different after all, than in the Graeco-Roman and Hebrew context, isnt it?

It is a given that pastoral sensitivity is needed in outworkings of a new core identityto use the words of Tim Green -of an individual and a group of believers in their larger context.50 The primal role of the family both in Jewish culture and in Graeco-Roman culture has been amply demonstrated (see Appendix, Question 3). Thus Jesus perhaps provides the best question that must ever remain on the mind of all believers, Who is my mother [i.e. the one who brought me into the world], and who are my brothers [i.e. my siblings]?" (Matt 12:48).

6 Duties flowing out of adoption in Christ and ramifications for thinking about discipleship
A number of authors have recognized the all-encompassing nature of adoption in the Christian life. Calvin stated, Let the first step t owards godliness beto recognize that God is our Father to watch over us, govern and nourish us, until he gather us unto the eternal inheritance of the kingdom ( Inst. II: vi: 4). Brian Gerrish su ggested that "the whole of Christian existence - the life of the new self - is... perceived as nothing but the life of God's adopted sons and daughters. 51 Benjamin Palmer remarked, 'Probably no word in our science of theology more completely covers all parts of the system of grace than does this word, adoption.52 Finally, Robert Peterson concurs, that adoption is an overarching way of viewing the Christian faith.53


Tim Green, Identity Issues for ex-Muslim Christians, with Particular reference to Marriage, St. Francis Magazine, 8 no 4 (August 2012), p. 440. 51 Brian A. Gerrish. Grace and Gratitude: The Eucharistic Theology of John Calvin. (Minneapolis, Minn: Fortress Press, 1993), p. 100. 52 Benjamin Palmer. The Threefold Fellowship and the Threefold Assurance: An Essay in Two Parts. (First published Richmond, VA 1902; reprint ed. Harrisonburg, PA, 1980), p. 39. 53 Toward a systematic theology of adoption, Presbyterian, 27 no 2 (Fall 2001), p 121.
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The incorporation of a former child of the devil (I John 3:10)/ sons of disobedience/ children of wrath/ inhabitants of the household of the living dead/ and slaves to the Prince of the power of the air (Eph. 2:1-3) into the family of God the Father, in and through the Son, necessarily entails certain familial obligations which flow out of this esteemed status. Whether one should call them obligations or duties is debatable as they could still have connotations of a slavish mindset. Perhaps, in line with the Heidelberg Catechism, one might call these responses of gratitude or as is fitting for children of this royal status, expectations for nobility. As we examine these in closer detail, we will see that they constitute the life of a follower of Jesus lived out individually, in the Christian community, and in the world. In a word: discipleship. Michael Dewalt developed a catalogue of responses that flow from the doctrine of adoption. They are helpful in that they can set the stage for discipleship of individuals, but are rather limited in terms of communal items like family honor or family solidarity. His list includes the fact that: Adoption calls one to: o live as a child of God o live a life of suffering o live a prayerful life o live a life that is in pursuit of holiness o live an indebted life o to praise the Father o live an obedient life in cross bearing o live a life that desires the third use of the Law o live a life of humility54 This list will form the basis for the subsequent section and missing items will be added at the end.


Maarten Kuivenhoven and Michael Dewalt, Calvins Practical View of Adoption: Its Privileges and Duties, (Paper for Soteriology, Puritan Reformed Seminary, April 23, 2009)
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6.1 Living as a child of God The saying goes, like son but in this context it would be better to say, Like Fatherlike sonslike Father. As the first-born unique Son is like the Father, so the sons [and daughters] becomeby growth in grace-- more and more like their older Brother in whom they are adopted, and by extension their lives mirror more and more the Person of the Father. Once again J.I. Packer gives a helpful lesson concerning our core identity: Just as the knowledge of His unique sonship controlled Jesus living of His own life on earth so He insists that the knowledge of our adoptive sonship control our lives too. 55 6.2 Living a life of suffering Just as adopted children celebrate the stability, status and security of their irrevocable inheritance due to being co-heirs with the Son, so they necessarily follow His lifes motif, namely that suffering pr ecedes glory. Thus the Apostle Paul in Romans 8:17 writes if indeed we suffer with him not as a tentative condition, but in the manner of contingency. In a word, one could rephrase the statement as when, as will inevitably be the casewe suffer with him.56 A co-heir must necessarily be a co-sufferer even with the not yet realized fully consummated inheritance in view. Thus, at the end of the book of Revelation, bruised and battered saints are told that the greatest prize awaits them: The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son. (Rev 21:7). 6.3 Leading a prayerful life The Apostle Paul, who could be dubbed the Apostle of Adoption exhibits the spirit of an adopted son in his own prayer life. for this reason I kneel before the Father. (Ephesians 3:14 cf. 1:2, 17; 2: 18-19; 3: 14-15; 6: 23). Coming to God as Abba Father as Jesus did is not only the prescribed way of prayer, it is an expression of the
55 56

Packer, Knowing God, p. 190. John Calvin put it this way: Those whom the Lord has chosen and honored with his intercourse must prepare for a hard, laborious, troubled life, a life full of many and various kinds of evils: it being the will of our heavenly Father to exercise his people in this way while putting them to the proof. Having begun this course with Christ the first-born, he continues it towards all his children. (Inst 3.8.1.)
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highest privilege accorded to adopted sonsand daughters of courseall due to the work of the Son. 6.4 Living a life that is in pursuit of holiness There are two aspects to holiness, namely the positive which seeks to emulate the holiness of the Father, Son and Spirit, and the negative which puts to death the deeds of the flesh. In union with the Holy Son, and via the power of the Holy Spirit, adopted children grow progressively Son-like. Another indicator of sonship is found in Romans 8: 13b-14 which declares that those being continually led by the Holy Spirit are those who are continually (Gk. thanatoute -present tense) starving the flesh. Other translations include putting to death the misdeeds of the body (NIV), the deeds of your sinful nature (NLT). The church father, Irenaeus, who described this process as sons who know God the Father, and to love Him with the whole heart, and to follow His word unswervingly, while they abstain not only from evil deeds, but even from the desire after them. But He has also increased the feeling of reverence; for sons should have more veneration than slaves, and greater love for their father."57 Calvin picks up the same theme in his Commentary on 2 Corinthians: It is no common honour that we are reckoned among the sons of God: it belongs to us in our turn to take care, that we do not show ourselves to be degenerate children to him. For what injury we do to God, if while we call him Father we defile ourselves with abominations of idols! Hence the thought of the high distinction to which he has elevated us, ought to whet our desire for holiness and purity. (Comm. 2 Cor. 6:1) 6.5 Living an indebted life John Knox, writing with a healthy sense of humility for Gods gr acious choosing in adoption, writes: We affirm, those whom he [God] judgeth worthie of participation of salvation to be adoptate and chosen of his free mercie for no respect of their own dignitie.58
57 58

Irenaeus, Against Heresies 4.16 (ANF 1:482), cited by Garner, Thesis p. 229 Cited by Tim J.R. Trumper, "The Theological History of Adoption I: An Account," Scottish Bulletin of Evangelical Theology, 20 no1 (Spring 2002), p. 21.
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Knox also was a co-author of the Scots Confession of 1560 which sets out the relationship of a justified child of God to the Father; one which can only engender praise. In the words of Article 15: God the Father beholding us, in the body of his Sonne Christ Jesus, acceptis our imperfite obedience, as it were perfite, and covers our warks, quhilk ar defyled with mony spots, with the justice of his Sonne." The Puritan Thomas Watson further delineated the life of gratitude in his words: We have enough in us to move God to correct us, but nothing to move him to adopt us, therefore exalt free grace, begin the work of angels here; bless him with your praises who hath blessed you in making you his sons and daughters. It is this life of gratitude for the wonder of adoption which shifts the motivation for Christian living from abject fear to one of wanting to please the Father. It also precludes any attempt at gaining merit by good deeds as the whole basis of adoption has nothing to do with merit. 6.6 To praise the Father The story of the acquitted and adopted criminal at the opening of this paper, would anticipate a life of praise from the former felon. How much more when he realizes that his status as an adopted son cost God the Father His own Son as a substitutionary atonement. This praise should even occur if in His infinite wisdom this Father of lights (James 1:17) decides that discipline for growth is needed (cf. Hebrews 12:5-7). This praise also occurs in community as members of the family collectively declare the marvelous deeds of Him who brought them out of darkness into light (I Peter 2:9). Slaves would only do this under compulsion, but sons and daughters do this out of devotion. 6.7 To live out an obedient life in cross bearing: Like Sonlike sons. Need we say more? 6.8 To live a life that desires the third use of the Law Freed children enjoy the maximum amount of freedom when they operate within the house-rules. Such is the third use of the Law. Their joy in each others company within these boundaries also reflects on the head of the household, namely God the Father.
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6.9 To live a life of humility There is no greater ego crushing doctrine than that of being chosen in spite of obvious demerits. Add to that, the endowment of an honorable status, access to God the Father, security, a sense of belonging, an irrevocable inheritance, and one ceases to talk about themselves. The following are in addition to the list proposed by Dewalt. 6.10 To live a transformed life with an upward focus Just as creation groans for the full manifestation of the sons of God (Rom 8:22-23), so it is true of the sons who anticipate the full consummation of their adopted status. The result is that by eager anticipation their hearts are pulled upwards and forwards, and this helps them to put into perspective their pilgrim status where at times cosuffering seems to overshadow being a co-heir.59 As they do this, and their future state breaks into the present as it were, they will necessarily be transformed in the inner man and in their body (Romans 8:23). 6.11 To maintain the family honor A filial spirit, so Robert Webb notes, lives for the well-being of its father, and for the family pride. He states: The family blood courses through his veins; the family history and traditions made him a sharer in the past; the family name, with all its honors and distinctions are his heritage; the family home and patrimony and position are his; the family prosperity and interest are common with his welfare. He finds himself endowed with a proprietorship in all the family pride, and participator in all the family prestige and future glory or shame.60 If this is true simply on the level of human families, how much more should it be true of those privileged to be adopted into God the Fathers family?


John Calvin writes: --- because the fruit of our adoption is as yet hid, for in heaven is our felicity, and we are now far away travelling on the earth. Calvins Commentaries on 1 John, Vol. 22 (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2005 reprint), pp.2045. 60 Robert Alexander Webb. The Reformed Doctrine of Adoption. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1947), p. 32.
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In summary, a life or lives lived out in affectionate obedience to the Father of mercies will inevitably bring honor to Him. That is the goal of our adoption according to Ephesians 1: 4-6:
For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love5he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will--6 to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.

Finally, the expectations placed on a precious, chosen, cherished adopted child of God the Father are parallel to those of a disciple. This is because disciples are often categorized as followers of Jesus. It is in his life of obedient Sonship that we have the example and the power to live a life of obedient sonship/daughtership.

7 The importance of the doctrine of adoption in Christ for ministry in a Muslim context.
A discussion took place in a worshipping group of ex-Muslim believers. The topic was: should they continue to do the ritual Islamic prostration in their church or not? Some said it was a hangover of Islam. Others said it showed reverence for God. Others said that it denied the glorious liberty of the children of God. Others said they would follow the leaderships decision. What advice should be gi ven? As much as it is in vogue to simply state, "Let them be guided by the Word and Spirit," and it contains much truth, it actually might be reductionistic. That is because four contexts actually are needed to answer the question in depth. There is the context from which these believers came; the context into which they have been placed in Christ; the context of the history of the Christian church and what it has learned along the way; as well as the context of the wisdom of the global church at present. All of these voices must be given consideration. The believers knew their former context very well. They knew that through and through Islam served to enslave them in multiple ways. They knew that they were referred to individually as a bdulah or a slave of Allah who had better keep in line or know his
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wrath. They knew that he only loved those who followed the rules meticulously. They knew that they had better demonstrate their servile attitude in their rituals of ablution and in performing their daily prayers as they prostrated themselves. They knew that the forms of their religion were pregnant with theological meaning and that they reinforced their beliefs. They had had no relationship with God as a Father. For them, to be considered adopted sons was tantamount to the sin of associating things with God, namely shirk. They were proud in a warped way to be under the law of Allah. They knew that to turn from the family of Islam could come at the cost of family, livelihood or life itself. Yet, now that they were in Christ, they were new and free creations engrafted into a new family, who still had to show proper and healthy reverence for their Father in Heaven who was also their Creator and Master. These were the challenges of the fledgling community. In order to help the worshipping community with its deliberation, let us consider some principles drawn from the doctrine of adoption that could apply to their situation. Before doing that, however, some general principles that could be drawn from this doctrine should be examined. 7.1 General principles and practical suggestions: [We will use the word adoption as a short-hand for adoption in Christ and all that it entails.] Adoption strikes a death blow to any kind of universalism. The diagrams of kingdom circles used by some Western missionaries that attempt to show that in and of itself Islam is part of the kingdom of Christ and that it shares some kind of unity of spirit with Christianity, is simply a deep deception. Spurgeon addresses this possibility of some kind of a brotherhood between religions as he asserts: Be lieve the doctrine of the Fatherhood of God to His people. Abhor the doctrine of the universal Fatherhood of God, for it is a lie and a deep deception 61


From his sermon Our Lords Last Cry from the Cross

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Adoption suggests that the spiritual family eclipses the biological family,62 while providentially it provides an external source of grace large enough for a person to truly love their former biological family. Adoption places a person in a spiritual community with a sense of belonging stronger than any biological family or the ummah can give. Theirs is the community of the Father who sends the Holy Spirit to make real this sense of belonging. Consider these words from a former Muslim:
As a Christian from a Muslim background, the biblical doctrine of being adopted in Christ is an essential part to who I am. When I was a Muslim, I had no hope of knowing God, being in His presence, and was His enemy. Eph.1 tells me that I have been adopted as a son of the living God in Christ Jesus. Through this adoption, I now know God, can be in His presence with boldness, and I am no longer His enemy; but a son. As a son in the family of God, I now have a heavenly inheritance in which the Holy Spirit sealed me for (Eph. 1:1314). Therefore, God's gift of salvation for me is not just being saved from the lake of fire, but the awesome work of Christ to make me a child of God. That is who I am, I am not a Muslim follower of 'Isa ('Isa is not Jesus Christ), and I am not a messianic Muslim (Islam is not a continuation of the O.T.). But, I am a Christian and a child of God.63


Jeanette Stevenson-Moessner speaks strong words against those who would elevate the biological family over the family of faith: The fact that we always a ssume the family is biologically knit reveals our prejudice in favor of biological "seed and our elevation of physical progeny. It is to miss the family of faith in her The Spirit of Adoption: At Home in God's Family, (Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 2003), p. 99. 63 (E-mail correspondence with EA, 2012/09/27) The words of this person are all the more remarkable when one considers that according to the Islamic legal system even so called adopted childrenalthough they are not adopted in the common sense of the word (cf Surah 33:4; 33:37)--still retain membership in their birth families. Robert Spencer observes that the delegitimization of adoption had the added benefit of striking at Islam's chief spiritual rival, Christianity, with its doctrine of Gentiles as adopted sons of God. in his Did Muhammad Exist?: An Inquiry into Islam's Obscure Origins. (Intercollegiate Studies Institute, 2011), p. 87. Adoption in Islam was annulled after Muhammad needed a rationale to marry Zayneb, his adopted sons wife.
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Adoption provides the ultimate core identity which no suffering or deprivation can take away. This might even address the threat or actual removal of spouses or children or wealth or even life from the believer. It gives perspective to suffering as a co-sufferer with the Son and places all societal rejection in perspective as well. Adoption which provides status, freedom and security for sons and daughters of the Father, will necessarily challenge those who are hired servants. 7.2 Specific principles and practical suggestions for the prostration debate: Adoption suggests that the old has gone and that the new has come. From slaves to sons is the new motto.64 This was true of GraecoRoman adoption law which prevented one from having their cake and eating it too by straddling allegiances of both families and is so much more in Christ. When one can feel like they have finally come home to the welcome of the kind Fathers house, why look back? Adoption changes a slave with a slave-like mentality into a valued person of liberated status, who like Bilquis Sheikh can say, I Dared to Call Him Father, in her Miraculous Story of a Muslim Woman's Encounter with God. All subsequent actions must demonstrate this glorious liberty, whether in talk, worship or prayer . For people who come out of a law-based meritorious system, all due diligence must be paid to prevent reversion to this. At the same time due diligence must be paid to demonstrate, even with the body, a stance of reverence to the Heavenly Father. Adoption pulls ones focus upward and forward to anticipate the final consummation of this new status. This must always be the accent in any worship service. The Psalms are excellent examples of

David Garner in his thesis (p. 122 fn 206) summarizes the work of Robert Alexander Webb who outlines seven differences between slaves and sons. They differ (i) as to their respective origins; (ii) as to their respective natures; (iii) as to the fundamental forms of government under which they respectively have their careers; (iv) as to the motive regulative of their obedience; (v) as to the ground of their expectation of reward; (vi) as to the design had in their respective punishments; (vii) and as to their respective freedom and fullness of access into the presence of their superior. From his The Reformed Doctrine of Adoption (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1947), pp. 28-40.
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the exuberance of a liberated people sing with joyworship and bow downcelebrate abundant goodnesspraise His name with.. The book of Hebrews accentuates healthy reverence. Hebrews 12:28-29 states:
Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe for our God is a consuming fire.

In principle, then, the prostration debate must be guided first and foremost by the context of the community being adopted in Christ and all that stands for, and only by a distant second, their former context. In addition to being guided by the Word and Spirit in their immediate context, this community needs to be informed by the rich heritage of 2000 years of Church history as it has examined the subject of adoption in Christ and what that means for believers. The voice of the global Church and how it wrestles with their local cultural expressions must also weigh in on the discussion. In summary, the doctrine of adoption in Christ functions as a world of richesto borrow Sibbes phrase, in ministry in a Muslim context. In a pastoral context it provides the promise of comfort, provision, status and belonging, especially when pressures of the former community threaten to eclipse the new life in Christ. Would that this doctrine would permeate the methods of missionaries who continue to accentuate biological and social identity more than the new identity in Christ! In the words of A.B. Bruce, writing in 1894, What a change would come over the face of. [missions] if the Spirit of adoption were poured out in abundant measure on all who bear the Christian name"65

8 Conclusion
The Puritan Samuel Willard (1640--1707) concludes what was earlier introduced about the reader being rauished with ioy in this, that hee [or shee] is the childe of God. Willard is enthralled with the joy of this doctrine as he pastorally advises:

Alexander B. Bruce. St. Paul's Conception of Christianity. (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1894), pp.203-204.
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Be always comforting of your selves with the thoughts of your Ado ption: Draw your comforts at this tap, fetch your consolations from this relation; be therefore often chewing upon the precious priviledges of it, and make them your rejoicing. Let this joy out-strip the verdure of every other joy. Let this joy dispel the mists of every sorrow, and clear up your souls in the midst of all troubles and difficulties as you await heavenly glory, where you will live out your perfect adoption by forever communing with the Triune God. There you will dwell at the fountain, and swim for ever in those bankless, and bottomless Oce ans of Glory.66

9 For further reflection

9.1 A number of signers of the Biblical Missiology petition to retain Father and Son in the Bible link those two words and the doctrine of adoption to the essence of the Gospel.67 Question: Are they correct? a. Having lived in a dominant Moslem area in the US for 6 years was strong medicine for testing true identity. If we cannot become actual children of God the Father through the Spirit of Jesus and His sonship, there is no gosepl. [sic]. We're wasting our time. Really. [Kris Cowles, Warren, Ml, United States, 2012/01/04] b. Adoption into God's family through Jesus alone is the heart of Christian faith~and this is communicated through God's chosen terms of "Father and Son." That God is OUR Father, because of Jesus his Son~this is the single greatest news I've ever heard: and I think when understood rightly, the greatest news anyone could ever hear. [Coby Strausbaugh, Steilacoom, Washington, United States, 2012/01/05] c. The Triune God loves sinners enough to not mince words and to confront their idolatry and show them their need for a Savior. He loves them enough to tell them that they are the sons of the devil and need to experience the grace of adoption through Jesus Christ, the Son of God, so that they may become the sons of God the Fa66

Joel R Beeke. Heirs with Christ: The Puritans on Adoption (Grand Rapids, MI: Reformation Heritage, 2008), pp.109-110. 67 (Accessed 2012/10/08)
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ther. [Pastor Jerry Slate, Jr. Powder Springs, Georgia, United States, 2012/04/12] 9.2 It has been objected that the ties to the family in Muslim contexts today are so strong that the doctrine of adoption from Pauls day should not apply. Question: How does one square this with the data that suggests that, in the Graeco-Roman culture in which Paul taught, the family was the primary social unit which had an all-encompassing character as it served as a chief basis, paradigm and reference point for religious and moral as well as social, political, and economic organization, interaction, and ideology."68


As cited by Todd D. Still, THLIPSIS in Thessalonica: A Study of the Conflict Relations of Paul and the Thessalonian Christians and Outsiders, (Diss: PhD, University of Glasgow, 1996), p. 251.
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