07 November 2007

12 ways centuri0n can get himself in trouble

by Frank Turk

You’ll all have noticed that I didn’t really post anything last week except for my d-blog exchange with Jesse on the necessity of the charismatic gifts, which is now over and you can read for yourselves. I’m sure many of you will have breathed a sigh of relief that I didn’t post at TeamPyro last week because you’re tired of me beating you up over you and your local church.

Yeah, OK: I get that.

Because Christmas is coming and the goose is getting fat, I’ll change subjects for you slightly. Alert reader Joel Griffith e-mailed me a link to this article about world mission agencies, and it culminates in an interesting list of mistakes, thus:
12 Mistakes Western Mission Agencies Make:

1. The Mistake of Starting Bible Schools, Not Universities
2. The Mistake of Only “Salvation in Heaven,” not “Kingdom on Earth”
3. The Mistake of Congregations Sending Missionaries, Not Using Mission Agencies
4. The Mistake of Whole Congregations in Direct Involvement, Not Professional Missions.
5. The Mistake of Insisting that Devout Followers of Jesus Call Themselves “Christians” and Identify with the Western Church
6. The Mistake of Sending Only Money, Not Missionaries
7. The Mistake of Sending Short-Termers, Not Long-Termers
8. The Mistake of Not Understanding Business in Mission and Mission in Business
9. The Mistake of Healing the Sick, Not Eradicating Disease Germs
10. The Mistake of Thinking “Peace” Not “War”
11. The Mistake of Assuming Science Is a Foe Not a Friend
12. The Mistake of An Evangelism That is Not Validated and Empowered by Social Transformation
I asked the handful of journeyman readers of my blog (which has not fully recovered from my hiatus in spite of my really cool new blog template) to take a poke at this list of 12 mistakes, and I liked the idea so well that I decided to take a poke at the “12 mistakes” myself here at TeamPyro under the heading of “missiology” or some such thing.

As you read this list, some of the items will pop out at you and you will say, “that sounds suspiciously familiar," and other parts will be completely alien to you. And no doubt: you will have some kind of opinion about every one of these randy statements because you are quite an assortment of readers.

So today I’ll address Mistake #1, and we’ll try to make this a 12-part series ...

Is it a mistake of mission agencies to establish Bible Colleges and not Universities?

Here’s the mistake, which is in the presupposition of the question: the mistake is assuming that there are two kinds of education – secular and “Christian”. There is only one kind of education proper, if we define education as “development mentally, morally, or aesthetically especially by instruction”, as m-w.com does.

And to get this, I want you to think about something: someone who is a great baseball player obviously plays a lot of baseball. In fact, he probably does more baseball than anything else because he wants to be great at baseball. But here’s the truth: he also does other kinds of conditioning in order to be a better baseball player. He may be a runner; he may lift weights; he may play other sports which have related skills. And some of these guys realize that they aren’t going to be hitting a hard ball with a hardwood bat for the rest of their lives, so they also develop other skills like the ability to speak in public, or run businesses, or manage money, or write copy for sports news, or maybe leadership skills which a coach will require.

So in summary, a baseball player may know baseball best, but he doesn’t know baseball exclusively. He knows other things because baseball isn’t everything even if it relates to everything.

And in education in general, the fundamentalists on all sides of the ideological rubick’s cube make the same mistake: they fence themselves into a pen with other ideological livestock just like themselves, and they all make the same cattle noises – whether those sound suspiciously like the Gaither Vocal Band, or Nine Inch Nails, or David Crowder, or Michael W. Smith, or whatever – and they believe that they have established a culture by which all other cultures ought to be measured. In that conclusion, they start to believe that they are the only ones who have anything useful to say.

But what education ought to be is something a little more frankly humble. But humble toward what?

Well: humble toward the fact that we are all created beings.

Now, the naturalist/atheist is ready to check out of this discussion, because by G... um, by his troth, he’s not created: he’s just part of an eternal universe of matter and nobody made him – or maybe everything made him, and therefore there’s no intention in what he is, so the word “created” is anathema to him.

Yeah, well: that’s what I’m talking about.

Even the atheist ought to have the good sense to admit that he didn’t make himself, and he didn’t spring out of nothing like some kind of subatomic particle: there was something before him which caused him to be born, and then to grow, and then to know something that he knows. None of us are self-caused, and we are a consequence of something prior to ourselves.

And this, dear readers, is a foundational premise of education.

Now, since I have just crested page 3 in WORD here, I’ll not rant too much farther on what education is. I’ll instead apply it to mission agencies and what they ought to be doing when they set up school for missionaries.

Listen: there is a secular counterpart to the “Bible college” which helps line out the problem here. It’s called a “trade school”. And without offending anybody – or intending to offend anybody – there’s a reason there’s a difference between college and trade school. And in order to avoid offending, I’m not going to detail that any farther than this: the key difference is breadth of knowledge and ability to work outside of a narrow band of experience.

It’s a fine pursuit, I think, to “major in Bible” as they say at a 2-year school. But while most people at a bible college are doing that, all the rest of the world is having a radically-different world-changing experience at college (and not all of it good, in case you wanted to ask). But the people in college are (allegedly) reading books which they wouldn’t have otherwise read; they are encountering (allegedly) ideas which are not their own, and testing them (allegedly) to see if they are better than the ones they came to college with.

And if you come out the other end of your Bible college with a very denominationally-informed survey of the Bible and some basic homiletic skills, you have the problem of being connected to no other culture but the denominational culture you started in. And how many lost people (in theory, anyway) is that going to reach?

You know, my pastor coined a term which I highlight at my blog: The Gospel is the Solution to Culture. But what that means is that the Gospel has to come in contact with other cultures to “solve” them or offer the Jesus solution to the people inside that culture.

And the current problem of post-modernism in the church, frankly, is not something which happened 6 years ago when McLaren published a New Kind of Christian. It happened decades ago in the 60’s when Derrida started writing his ridiculous screed and there was nobody in the Christian church who was equipped to answer him on his own terms.

Intellectually, we are a bunkered-down people. It may be nice to have me instead of Dennis Miller, but the problem that we cannot engage the culture because we don’t really grasp the intellectual foundations of the culture has to cause us to ask more questions of what it means to be a people tasked with the great commission.

We don’t have to be the smartest kids on the block; we don’t have to be riding the intellectual equivalent of $5000 racing bikes. But when everyone else has a 3-speed 2-wheeler, there’s no way we can keep up if all we have is our homejob skateboard.

And I dare you in the meta to tell me I have denigrated the sufficiency of Scripture to say that Christian education ought to be more than memorizing the Bible.


Nash Equilibrium said...

Well, I agree with you, I think.

The fact is that the thought-leaders of most societies come out of universities, not out of Bible schools. So we build Bible schools, while the atheists and liberals are building universities for the purpose of indoctrinating the next generation of leaders into a non-Christian worldview.

The people who control the media, the corporations, and the university adminstrations (i.e., the real power to influence culture on a wide scale) hence come from the secular universities. Bible-schoolers mostly go into obscure pulpits.

That's the serious part of my message. The funny part is that when I heard you talking about making cattle noises, just for a second I thought you might be referring to the "toronto blessing." :)

David Regier said...

Hear, hear! The Bible is an amazing book. It's the revealed Word of God. The God that it reveals can stand against any other view that the world has to offer. And we should let Him. We should expose ourselves and others to His Word. And then as we are refined in Him, we should let Him interpret the rest of the world for us.

When Christ is exalted in our minds, we can interpret the great works of the world in His light. He will help us to discern truth from error as we study the great works of history.

Solameanie said...

I think it is interesting in terms of America's own history how many of the Ivy League colleges were begun by clergymen. And yet we have ceded higher education to unbelievers and look at the fruit.

I have concerns with several of Mr. Winter's ideas, but I think in terms of education he's on to something. This is ground we never should have yielded, and that takes nothing away from seminaries, Bible schools etc. We need all of them. Unless they've gone apostate like some I could mention. In that case they need to be closed down and turned into arboretums.

Phil Johnson said...

Bible Institutes were originally established to train adult laypeople for practical ministry as a supplement to whatever apprenticeship or education they already had. They weren't supposed to be in lieu of a college education. (I still think there might be a valid place for schools like that, if people were willing to make the sacrifice and endure two or three extra years of college-level study.)

The problem came in the prosperity of post-WWII, when Bible schools began to compete with and supplant bona fide colleges, and the Bible-college movement has pretty much gone steadily downhill from there (with, perhaps, one or two notable—and hopefully not merely temporary— exceptions).

I fear that there's a serious down-side to trying to blend practical training for Christian work into the university model. For one thing, it's apparently well-nigh impossible to keep colleges doctrinally sound in the context of modern and postmodern academic institutions. Going all the way back to about a generation and a half after the founding of Harvard, seminaries and theological schools in American university contexts have shown a persistent inability to keep a firm grip on their confessions of faith for much longer than their founders' lifetimes.

And the second half of the twentieth century would seem to indicate that the very same problem exists when independent Bible schools start thinking they might supplant universities.

Which is to say I think Ralph Winter's "solution" is probably as wrongheaded as the tendency he opposes, but I'm not sure what a better solution would be. I would lean toward having church-based (rather than university-based) seminary training.

Or perhaps (since no one has yet found a fool-proof way of keeping any school doctrinally sound for more than about a century at a time) we should found our theological schools with a built-in expiration date.

FX Turk said...

Let's make sure that nobody reads my posting of this list as a blanket endorsement. There are some real screwball ideas on the list, and some really good criticisms of business-as-usual on this list.

However, the amtter of what we know culturally and how we know it is, I think, a real issue that people should have some kind of broad agreement on in the context of whether someone is an educated person or an uneducated person.

Robert Fraire said...

And if you come out the other end of your Bible college with a very denominationally-informed survey of the Bible and some basic homiletic skills, you have the problem of being connected to no other culture but the denominational culture you started in. And how many lost people (in theory, anyway) is that going to reach?

My answer to the quoted question would be "a large number".
In my estimation if you come out of a Bible college experience having learned deeply what the Bible teaches and having learned from Bible teachers with which you share demoninational agreement: that you are now well equipped to engage the culture. Romans 1 tells us (among other things) that God has placed truth about himself inside us that man suppresses, that creation tells each person of his attributes, and that the Gospel is the power of God unto salvation.
So, whether the person is a Modern skeptic or a Post-Modern skeptic, or simply an ignorant man, God's Word is relevant to them and the Truth from scripture is sufficient to arrest their unbelief (by the power of God and at his choosing).
Perhaps I don't understand what the point is of "Mistake 1" and your explanation of it. As I understand it now I would say that a doctrinally correct Bible college is in fact a worthy way of training believers for missions.

James Scott Bell said...

Knowing culture is a translation tool. You have to know how to translate biblical truth into whatever language you have to speak. The EC mistake is in capitulating to the culture, in making the language the message.

I think Francis Schaeffer is a good model, despite the lederhosen and knee socks. An evangelist at heart, he studied culture for that purpose.

The problem is we have many pastors ill trained to think that way. How many even care to be up to the task? Isn't it rather like a soldier fighting with a Sprinfield instead of being trained in the new weaponry?

FX Turk said...


I like your optimism. I like the foundation for it.

My observation, and I would be interested in anyone else's observation of the facts for personal correction, is that young pastors who graduate from small Bible colleges without the benefit of some broader classic liberal arts or science training tend to be the ones who fall victim to heresy and squirrely thinking.

The Bible ought to be enough to teach, guide, protect them: but because they don't really understand their Bibles, because they don't really understand how to read, and in addition to their deeply-traditional views which are actually laid on top of what the Bible teaches which forces them into a position of saying, "this is what I was taught, but this is what the Bible says, so now I have to work out the contradiction on my own without the help of my denomination (because they won't admit they are wrong) and without the help of people outside my tradition (because we know all of them are wrong)," these right-hearted young men wind up thinking and doing all kinds of things which pushes them off the apple cart.

That's not an attack: that's a question. Do Bible coplleges really build better pastors or not? That's what at the heart of this so-called mistake.

Nash Equilibrium said...

Somewhere along the line, the distinctively Christian component disappeared. I'd aver that based on historical experience, building universities instead of Bible colleges is a false proposition. (Or consider Oxford, Cambridge, or Phil's example of Harvard for further evidence.)

If universities had a clear doctrinal statement of beliefs, and required in no uncertain terms that those who are teaching there and are on the Board actually confess to believe these doctrines, the universities would probably need no expiration date. Harvard et. al. were founded in a time that could not have conceived of disbelief on a scale we have today, and hence neglected this protection.

Stefan Ewing said...

I have to agree with Phils's point, that Christian universities founded with even the highest of intentions will eventually become simply secular, liberal arts or science institutions with no distinctively Christian component to the education they offer. In addition to Phil's example of Harvard, consider also Oxford or Cambridge.

The Presbyterian-founded Yonsei University in South Korea has followed a similar trajectory: from a key agent for social transformation in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, to a ticket to a career with the country's biggest employers today.

I agree, however, that saying that we must build either Bible colleges or preferably (from that missiologist's point of view) universities is a false dichotomy. If only there were some way of building a university where Christian education is a fundamental, integral, flesh-and-blood part of the school's overall program, and where every couse was driven by the desire to better proclaim the Gospel. But it seems that due to human sin, such institutions always have a "best before" date built right into them.

Stefan Ewing said...

(For the record, Stratagem was quoting a comment I posted; then, true to fashion, deleted, rewrote, and reposted.)

Stefan Ewing said...


Even your proposed solution may, sadly, not be an airtight safeguard. Consider how far the SBTS had drifted away from its own statement of faith, such that when Al Mohler came on board required instructors to agree with it, most of them left. Then again, in the long run, that statement of faith did serve to ultimately get things back on track.

Pastor Steve said...

Being a graduate of a small Bible College (Northland Baptist Bible College, WI), I think Bible colleges do build better pastors, simply for the fact that you have a focused environment specifically for Bible training. Going only by what I have seen, my brother attended Bob Jones University, a university tends to get more watered down and you have a wider assortment of people who just aren't as committed to growing in Christ as those attending a Bible college are. Not that everyone is perfect at a college, but you get my drift.

Northland did an excellent job of making sure we weren't learning in a bunker and required us to have an extension ministry every weekend where we consciously got out and rubbed shoulders with the community. I think that helped.

Also, shouldn't any Christian who wants to witness to the world be well versed in what makes the world tick? For example, I am a huge sports fan naturally. That opens up doors for conversations and witnessing everywhere. I don't like literature as much, but I keep up to date on the best seller lists to try and stay educated. I think it is really a case by case type of question you are asking, and ultimately the duty of each individual Christian to be culturally relevant while not being culturally infected.

Solameanie said...

I guess my time in secular college only served to deepen my biblical conservatism, as odd as that might seem. However, I was pretty well-grounded in the faith by the time I began college studies and had been reading apologetic-type materials prior to that point. Not all students entering college, even Christian students, have done that.

What Phil says is true, unfortunately, about the way universities decline. However, I am not willing to give up the idea that a biblically-grounded university is possible. It just takes extreme care to make sure your professors and your board of trustees are on the same page. And that's not always easy.

Go back for a moment to a thing I pointed out in an earlier meta about pastors and doctrinal statements in their denominations. I have personally known a few who no longer agree with their denominational doctrinal statement, but they continue to sign on the dotted line to keep their ordination in good standing. That is appalling. So if you have professors who officially agree with the universities' doctrinal statement (nudge, nudge, wink, wink), and then do all they can to undermine it in the classroom in the name of "academic freedom," you can see how the rot can set in.

MexicoMitchells said...

Being a graduate of a Bible College and a Trade School, I can't help but agree with what you wrote. If we are to honour God with all of our minds we should be taking every advantage of understanding the arts and sciences in addition to Gods word. I grew up in a generation that assumed that if it was not education from the Bible alone it was worthless drivel. How sad. God gave us such a wonderful creation full of things to be explored that we may honour and praise him. Though I am greatful of my Bible College education I do wish I could have explored more things and appreciated God's hand in the panoply of history, biology, art and the like. Blessings to all.

Robert Fraire said...


Thank you for the reply, I understand better now the point of the post, and I look forward to reading the observations.

Strong Tower said...

Where did the idea of trade schools come from? For my money, I like better the idea of Trades School. In fact our local community college has a BuildingTrades Curriculum (I like that word cur). In it a participant will learn all phases and trades involved in planning, layout, and construction of a house. I am going to insist my boys go through it.

Trade Schools developed to provide skilled workers primarily for unions. If they could get the government to do it, heh, tax payer dollars are belong to us.

The trades were introduced in primary education for the same purpose. Utilitarianism. Not the bad kind, necessarily, (even though we were following the European model, a Prussian model, Deweyan educational model) but to accomplish what previous generations did. That is to inculcate in the youth the abilities of life. Again, it was to produce workers for the American economy, our greatest asset were our children, a utility. This was good. Because a child graduating from eighth grade had basic skills in carpentry, metal working, electrical and drafting. Unfortunately the skills were gender based and students all would have benefitted from home-ec, budgeting and bookkeeping, and the like. The point being, that it is better to teach to fish than to give one.

When the trades are blended with academics an amazing thing happens. Children are equipped not just with practical living skills, but with a humanities background through which to better understand the world around them. When we deemphasized the trades training in schools we put students at the mercy of the "specialty," market.

If you have followed the trends in education, we have become a world of specialists. Get this, our first ambasador to France was 14. But, by that time he had not only mastered the academics, he had learned a trade, and that meant all the skills of life as well as the specialty, to some extent.

The university gets it name from the fact that many colleges were gathered under one roof. Unity in diversity. That scheme of education of bringing all under one canopy became the norm in education. The idea was so that no skill was left behind. If you had graduated from a liberal arts college you would have had the equivalent to a master's in each of the major subjects which today are specialized fields of study, which in the past would have been founded in individual colleges. At that time, life skills were a given. The necessity to teach them was unnecessary because they were part of an agronomist economy, taught in the home. With the diversification of the industrialization of society, and specilized trades it was thought necessary to spend government dollars on educating the yewts with a plethora of skills for daily living, which then, if the talent and desire prevailed could be culled for the specialized trades, benefitting the nation. In the end the nation, blossomed, exploding economies ensued, so did properity, so did leisure, so did hiring another to do what they could have done themselves.

There was another pay-off. The children, even those dropping out at eighth grade, which was typical, had an well developed academic and trades education to perform and survived in a diverse economy. If you go back just eighty years, the education that an eighth grader had was the near equivalent of a bachelor's. More specialized skill could be found in Highschool, and of course with those then came more opportunity to excel in a particular trade.

What does this have to do with anything. Missions should follow the whole life scheme. Equipping in all areas. The Scripture includes both and it is not one in opposition to the other. Older women, teach the younger women to care for their children and love thier husbands, husbands work with your hands, young men obey your fathers...

So, a true university education, a true missions education, starts at the kindergarten level and proceeds through all ages. Specialization should not be outside of but the end of the educational whole life mission of the church.

There is economic benefit in this for the church. When you can do what would otherwise need to be farmed out, you save money. And, working with your hands you have to give. Kchingkching!

So, it is not an either or, but both. In fact, our home missions, you know the church you go to is a mission, remember, would do its members a great service to offer and to be part of the discipling effort, life skills courses as well as bible study. It is all good and fine to count the mint and cumming, but do not neglect the weightier matters of the law. Just think what it would mean for giving, if instead of that $250.00 plumbing bill that needed to be paid, it could be given to the mission. Impossible you say? And you are prolly right. Someone would just buy Soccer tickets with it, or something like that. I could use a new computer, the baby need clothes, the chickens in the kitchen, the cows in the corn, little boy's blues, gas is going to hit $5.00 a gallon, bread will go to ten a loaf, and when you think of the materialistic mentality that even the church loves so much you would think that we would learn that a wise man loves his animals. That means that mainenance of the things that God has given us. It requires that we love things in the right way. There is a good way and a bad way. Ours is a throw away society, even in the church. So we think in terms of elitists. We need specialists, because we want someone else to do the work for us. Get a univeristy education and everything will be alright if you specialize and get a good job. Never mind that you do not have the skills to plant a field, repair a engine, fix lights. And, none of that matters, until there is no where to ply your trade. Then you must do that which you have never learned to do, take care of yourself, and your neighbor as you do.

So, no, I cannot agree with the "mistake." We need it all and not just a cause celeb.

FX Turk said...

Hey Lordo:

What you have just done is make the case of Christian homeschooling, and you have overlooked that the list of "mistakes" is a list of "institutional" mistakes rather than personal ones.

You need your own blog, dude.

candy said...

Cent. My husband's son was enrolled in a great Christian high school in New Hampshire. Not only did it adhere to rigorous academic training, it also taught the kids to build using old time methods such as wooden mallets and such. Each year they built another addition to their school. They built a sugar shack for maple syrup (which they sell each year), and a chapel, and other buildings as well. They work in greenhouses, and hold a Christian History fair. Each Friday they do outdoor education such as hike Mt. Washington. I think the school is an excellent example of utilizing academics and useful trades.

Phil said, "and I would lean toward having church-based (rather than university-based) seminary training..

That is one reason why I really like Sovereign Grace Ministries. They have a Pastor's College to train up men and wives to serve in the ministry. They pattern the idea after Spurgeon's Pastor's College. I think it is an 18 month program.

FX Turk said...

this post prolly deserves a footnote or two, so here's a half-hearted attempt to give such a thing.

-- Not every man who graduates from a bible college is a wash-out. But what's at stake here is if graduating from Bible college produces a finished product. If you're a Bible college grad, you need to do more reading. It's good for you.

-- What is also at stake is whether or not a bible college is what's best, for example, for a place like Zimbabwe. Maybe what they also need are some biblically-literate guys who can also build bridges or something and be a blessing to the place in more than just a "not yet" way. That's not focusing on the present only: that's saying that the present and the future are connected in some way.

-- And this is also not to say that "university" is the be-all and end-all. Notice all the "allegeds" in my post. Just because you have a "university" degree doesn't mean you're the cat's pajamas, dude. But if you don't have one, as I said above, you need to get after what you missed -- and you don't really need a professor to get you there. You just need to start visiting the library a little more and watching TV a little less.


James Spurgeon said...

Good stuff to make me think. Agree with the overall premise in point #1.

I am really looking forward to your taking on #2, especially in light of Phil's criticisms of some of McLaren's premises in an earlier post. I would like expansion on the heaven vs. earth salvific focus. It seems to me what we have so far is a practical argument from McLaren for a terrestrial salvific focus to which Phil responded with an argument from principle--pointing to scripture and the example set by Jesus and the apostles. This makes sense coming from the guy who edited The Gospel According To... books. Now I see it has come up again and, as I said, I am interested in more on this from perhaps both of you guys.


Anonymous said...

Why in the world would we want anything that remotely mimics the failed public education system? Does anyone really believe that, as a rule, the major universities are turning out mental giants? They are turning out specialists. People who can do one thing but hardly are well rounded in the things of life. Modern education is all about training people in how to make a living rather than teaching them how to live.

There are a number of Bible Colleges that are 4 yr schools. Hardly "trade schools" as Frank suggests.

Now a lot of students who go to Bible Colleges do indeed learn a trade. No Federal Pell grants. No loans. They work their way through school.

DLW said...

Interesting analogy with the ball player. So are you saying that someone who wants to be a great Pastor should do what? Broaden his experience so he better understands the human condition? Be a voracious reader? Seek opportunities to serve under experienced Pastors? Spend many years searching the scriptures and reading through volumes of Owens, Calvin, Wesley, the Puritans, Edwards, etc.?

Those are all fine pursuits and serious dedicated study should not be dismissed out right, but why the notion that you can only do that at a University or a Bible college? That in no way guarantees a strong biblically sound Pastor. What about the desire and passion of the individual man. Does he truly have a heart to serve God and devout his life to seeking and defending God's truth. There are many degreed individuals that are products of prestigious theological seminaries and respectable bible colleges that do not preach the Word.

Take the educational types out of the picture and bring in men who have a passion for truly serving God, by doing whatever it takes to raise and train up other men to be sound teachers.

Strong Tower said...

No I didn't make the case for Homeschooling. But, that is a good thing. The fact is that our school systems mimic in a failed way what schools used to be. The "free public schools" were for all intents and purposes run by local churches. Trades for the most part did not need to be taught because it was generally the common possession of the people, passed from generation to generation.

Yeah, I ought to get my own blog, and I do have one, but I do not possess the scholarship that you have and I am blog illiterate.

No, I did not miss the institutional nature of the points and did not even consider the personal or individual aspect. I was veiwing it purely from a "missional" perspective. Missions should grow the disciple up from the foundation through the copula to the cupola, as well as provide the means to move beyond to the universe of knowledge outside.

And, yes, one thing that this article leads to is the need to reexamine missions structures to see if they are truly providing what is commanded in Scripture, spiritually and practically. The guys a nut and I only addressed one of many mistakes that he makes in the mistakes. But, if you are not wanting to hear a response to the question you asked, so be it.

I think you're mad because I said something about Soccer. I really do not know anything much about the game. That is why I slam it. The one thing that I do know about it is that it, like other sports takes a multiplicity of skills. And, like some others, endurance and patience that stretch our natural bent.

I just met a man who had been a missionary to Zimbabwe, South Africa, and Malawi. Over the course of two hundred years of patiently working they have established Universtities, but bible colleges also, and local schools. The children for all intents and purposes do not have fathers and are raised mostly by mothers and more likely by aunts or grandparents due to the high mortality of AIDS. For these missionaries, the skills training of the children is of paramount importance, for they are the future. The missionaries pay the custodians in seed so that their wards can come to bible schools and learn basic academic and life skills. The point being, without a universal education, not divorced from the University, there will be no next generation. The church is oikos, one household, a family, and missionaries trained up by missionaries in a missionary community is the true mission.

God bless, cent. Take a pill, man. Forgive me all of you that I spaced out the length of my response. Truly. I think I will just join the ranks of Helen. :(

Rick Potter said...

"...but the problem that we cannot engage the culture because we don’t really grasp the intellectual foundations of the culture has to cause us to ask more questions of what it means to be a people tasked with the great commission."

I'm going to have to think this through, though my first thought was "How do we restore ourselves to a position above the 'line of despair'"? Of course I then realized that even those absolutes that were then believed in (culturally speaking) were simply romantic notions of absolute. And I think the last part of that quote is the focal length. It's easy to hold a prism up and observe the diffusion of light but try and describe the first quanta of light before refraction begins - without knowing from whence it came. Isn't that what a lost and dying world would be (is) doing without hearing the hope of the Gospel?

Why do you stretch us so? Now, off to get my thinking cap on!

Rick Potter said...

One other thing. A visiting pastor to our meeting house at First Baptist relayed the following quote to the Church:

"I would like to buy three dollars worth of God, please. Not enough to explode my soul or disturb my sleep, but just enough of Him to equal a cup of warm milk or a snooze in the sunshine. I don't want enough of Him to make me love a black man or pick beets with a
migrant. I want ecstasy, not transformation. I want the warmth of the womb, not a new birth. I want a pound of the Eternal in a paper sack, please. I would like to buy three dollars worth of God, please." (by Wilbur Reese)

I'd never heard the quote before but I was struck with how many today seem to be seeking to make the same purchase. And yes, both the King and the people must repent (Jonah 3:6-9)that God in His mercy will turn away His Wrath - both from our Bible Colleges and our Universities. God have mercy on me - A sinner. God have mercy on us all.

Norman said...

Well, you confused me.
I thought your list of mistakes had to do with what Mission agencies do in foreign lands.
But it seems you really mean this:
I’ll instead apply it to mission agencies and what they ought to be doing when they set up school for missionaries.
Which is it?

FX Turk said...


Read the article the list comes from.

Saint and Sinner said...

What a horrible list! Yuk.

I don't think that you can go quite so far in making your point, at least in saying that Bible school + basic homiletical skills = hindered ability to reach the lost. That is wrongheaded, because the gospel is sufficient. Cultural immersion happens, through the media and just normal interaction in the marketplace and job force. No greater exposure is necessary. I don't have to understand post-modernism to preach the gospel to a post-modernist, at least in theory. Why? Sufficiency of the gospel. Isn't this what we are always complaining about with integrationist type of counseling models?

Norman said...

Captain of 100:
I did.
World renowned missiologist Dr. Ralph D. Winter shared 12 past mistakes made by Western mission agencies that Asian missiologists should avoid.
Winter’s first criticism was that Western missions are starting Bible schools rather than universities...
Yet later when evangelicals who never went to college did missions they built Bible schools, Bible Institutes or theological schools that “replaced” or “ignored” the university tradition.
“Often their students have already failed to get into several other schools. Meanwhile, the gifted leaders of many growing church movements cannot get help from these schools,”

Seems clear to me he's talking about mission agencies that build schools in "foreign" countries.

FX Turk said...


I think Paul would disagree with you. You're not just proclaiming: you're proclaiming to somebody.


It is both, not either/or. The problem domestically is just being trasposed internationally.

Nash Equilibrium said...

OK, at the risk of creeping in unawares, I am going to ask a silly question in a old meta: What the heck does "all your base are belong to us" mean? I see that all the time on this blog, and it must be funny, but I have no idea why it would be. I would like to share in the joke.

If you tell me what it means, you also get to lambast me for being a culturally irrelevant, old kind of Christian. That's the trade. thanks!

Norman said...

Leader of 100:
Ralph Winter is not thinking of both, I'm pretty sure.
What does it matter?
I tremble to think of this blog and its audience sinking its teeth into foreign mission and cross-cultural issues.

Jamie McBride said...

Stratagem, here you go.


Nash Equilibrium said...

Thanks Jamie. Also for not branding me a culturally irrelevant 'old kind of christian'. (Or maybe I am simply a 'new kind of old christian'?)

The wikipedia article says that this phrase was a short-lived phenomenon among gaming geeks, five years ago. So why are the pyros still using it as if it would still be funny and universally understood?

Phil Johnson said...

Stratagem: "why are the pyros still using it as if it would still be funny and universally understood?"

Becasue we are culturally irrelevant.

Jamie McBride said...

That is because you went to a Bible college.

Link said...

One of the biggest problems with starting Bible colleges is, the way the church system is set up in so many countries, Bible college promote an unbiblical clergy system.

If you want to be an engineer, get a degree in engineering. If you want to be a doctor, you get a degree in medicine. If you want to be a pastor, can you get a degree in being a pastor? If you get a degree in apostolic studies, does that make you an apostle? Clearly, something is wrong when we try to equate God-gifted ministries with getting a degree.

In so many church movements and denominations, the Biblical requirements for overseers are either ignored or added to. One cannot be accepted as an overseer unless he graduates from a Bible college or seminary. And many Bible college and seminary graduates are not Biblically qualified for these roles. They are 'youngers' and not 'elders.' They do not know what it is to rule their houses well because they are too young to have had this experience.

Many men who are qualified to be elders are overlooked in churches because they have not followed the socerdotal career path of going to Bible college or seminary. In some cases, the spiritually less mature person is put in a 'pastoral' role over his spiritual elders. And many churches follow the unbiblical model of having one senior pastor. Many churches have the unbiblical model of a 'pastor' or 'pastors' over the elders. In many of these churches 'elders' are not expected to pastor, but serve as board elders. This concept of elder traces its roots back to Geneva's governmental structure in the Reformation period, and not to scripture.

Missiologists George Patterson is in a unique position. He is a seminary educated seminary professor, but with his experience in the field, he sees through the weaknesses of the seminary system. In a 'MentorNet' article cowritten with Galen Currah, they warn against introducing the practice of sending young people with potential to Bible college. The young people come back with education and are tempted to look down their noses on home grown local leaders. These men have seen the research as well that shows the success of the more Biblical model of raising up local leaders from within the congregation.

In some countries, parents send their naughty children to Bible college to straighten them out. It was funny to hear a German missionary who had ministered in India say this, because I knew this happened so much in Indonesia as well. Apparently, he'd seen it in other countries.

Is it profitable for preachers of the Gospel to learn the Bible, Greek and Hebrew, church history, and theology? Of course it is. But let us imagine Paul telling Timothy,
"I will train you in preaching, teaching, and all aspects of ministry, but only if you pay me tuition of half a talent of silver three times a year. If you do not, you may not finish your degree and graduate to become an evangelist or apostle of Christ."

Something does not sound write about my example. But don't seminaries do this? Maybe the fact that it is an 'institution' doing it rather than an individual charging money makes the situation a bit more palatable. But it is the same in principle.

The Bible college/seminary system is not in scripture. What we do see is the system found in II Timothy 2:2. Timothy took what he had learned from many witnesses and taught faithful men, who would be able to teach others also. The 'seminary system' of the New Testament is the local church and itinerant ministers. New ministers are taught and trained either by these itinerant ministers or within the context of the local body, or a combination.

Stefan Ewing said...

Link: Good insights.

FX Turk said...

Before I shut off the meta here, I just want to say that all your base are belong to us, and talking monkeys are always funny.

Always. It's like a test to find out if you have a sense of humor.