Life, Faith and Urban Farming

The life and happenings of an unconventional pastor and urban farmer living in the city with a family of five.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Theology - beyond the norms

It's been a while, there's so much I could write about! The Open Door's first worship gathering at the Union Project, the first Pittsburgh Missional Cohort, Teah, TSE's CD release Party. I'll save all that fun stuff for now.

I went to a very interesting lecture yesterday given by Ralph Winter. He's a well known missiologist and missionary. I think he near 80 years old too. From what I understand his lectures over the past week at PTS have been very good, but I only made it to one. The one I heard was on the churches refusal to deal with 20th and 21st century science from a theological perspective. Sure we've argued against science and against things like evolution and the origins of the universe, but we've ignored the theological and missiological ramifications of things like bacteria, viruses and parasites.

I have to admit when he first went into this stuff I was lost, not because it was over my head, but because I was bored! But then it started to sink in more. Dr. Winter said that disease is evil, and Christians are called to combat evil. He spoke with frustration about how Christians will pray when someone gets sick, but we do not do anything to combat the evil thing making people sick. There are lots of Christians in Africa caring for and praying for Aids patients, but the church does not consider it their responsibility to destroy the cause of Aids, a tiny "evil" virus.

He said that drug companies will never develop ways to kill viruses and bacterias that are killing people in third world countries. It's up to the church to do this, and we're not, we haven't really considered it. Sure we care for people, but we don't do science!

It was very interesting to me. Is God disappointed in his church because we're not on the front lines fighting disease for the sake of those who suffer and those who will suffer?


Sarah Louise said...

Wow! Right up there with the statistic that always gets me: if you legalize abortion, crime drops in 18 years (b/c the babies that weren't wanted never got born, the children that grew up to be irresponsible adults). So extra-marital sex is actually a blight to society--we talk about abortion and yes, we talk about abstinence...I'm not sure where I'm going with this stream of thought, just that yah, we often think about the "BIG" issues like Africa or AIDS and forget about the smaller ones like washing our hands. Babbling...

dad said...

Dr. Winter is the guy that developed the Missions Perspectives course. It seems that what ever subject he is speaking about he is able to bring light and depth that I didn't have before. He's an amazing individual.

Tony Y said...

Intreguiging thoughts! Leads one to ask: Is theology done only by those who study scripture? Pastors, Preachers and Teachers? Is God's revelation contained only in scripture? Can a christian "do missions" outside of the church, and outside of what is normally considered evangelism? Can the work of an engineer, who designs the safety restraints of a car, saving several thousand lives be considered missions? Is that fighting evil? In Pittsburgh, with some of the finest scientific universities in the world, it always surprised me at the total disconnect between scientific thought/process and faith. You may be stunned at the number of scientists and engineers within the church who feel they need to leave all that they do during the week at the church doorstep before they enter. Most of us do indeed see the benefit to society, and hence fighting evil, or providing a good, in much of the seemingly boring (to others) and mundane daily work.But unfortunately your right, its not seen as very "theological" and sometimes we're perceived as an "enemy'if we are vocal not about the science, but its implications. I wonder if this ties into a theology of vocations, and therefore different parts of the body making up the whole body. Or does that theology just apply to those spiritual gifts that are listed?

John said...

Tony, it is a matter of vocational theology. We've allowed secularization to tell us that only theologians and pastors can do theology and understand God. We've allowed the culture to tell us that God is not active outside the church. If God is God of all creation then all that we do is being redeemed! It's a matter of us putting credit where credit belongs... with God.

Terry L. Mann said...


I was intrigued by your evil comment. When my podcast of my sermon from last week goes up "Laying it on the Line" or the mss in a few days, you should read or listen to what I said about evil. I have never met Dr. Winter or heard him, but I said those same words to my congregation. I almost fell off the seat in the business center here in Nairobi when I read that!