Explorations in Theology

The series explores a theology that is human friendly! Jesus as the true human shows us who God is, and because of his consideration for us ('who are we, that God should make note of us?') defines who humanity was created to be. The nature of sin is to fall short of the glory of God. The glory of God as revealed in the truly human one - 'we beheld his glory full of grace and truth'. This volume is a foundation for the other volumes. And there are ZOOM groups available...
Volume 2 Significant Other and Volume 3 A Subversive Movement now also available!
El libro electrónico (en Español) también ya está disponible
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So go on... you know you want to!!! Order a copy Boz Publications

Inaccurate?

Inaccurate prophecy - an issue?

Prophecy, prophecy, prophecy and some more prophecy. Predictions…

Alongside getting blessed and helped, ever get troubled by what is / has been prophesied?

Maybe you are blessed when someone puts their hands up and apologises for getting it wrong? Well a big honour to anyone who walks in integrity and humility when that takes place… And yet, and yet there is something much deeper than accuracy that is often involved.

To compound issues there are inaccurate predictions recorded in Scripture. [There is in some charismatic circles a teaching that the prophets of the Old Testament spoke the ‘very words of God’, those in the New did not speak in such a way (Agabus is quoted). This approach was essentially formulated to back up a view of the inerrancy of Scripture, the New Testament being ‘apostolic’ and so the ‘very words of God’. Seems that whenever we start with a ‘this must be the case’ and then impose it on Scripture that we come to find out it does not stack up!]

So to the inaccuracies. There are a number of examples, and I am not thinking of ones such as Jonah and the ‘reversal’ of the word due to repentance. Here is one example:

Jeremiah prophesied that (king) Jehoiakim would die a death without any honour. No one would mourn for him, his corpse would be dragged around and thrown outside the gates of Jerusalem; unburied his body would decompose in the sun (Jer. 22:18-19, cf. 36:30). Jeremiah also prophesied that no descendent of his would sit on the throne (Jer. 36:30-31). As it turned out, however, Jehoiakim received a proper burial and his son succeeded him as king (2 Kings 24:6).

The predictions and the (non-)fulfilments are both recorded in Scripture.

Accuracy is important… but there is always something deeper that is more important.

There is an interesting passage in Luke 9 when Jesus and the disciples were on the way to Jerusalem. They were not welcome in some of the Samaritan villages and so the disciples asked if they should call down fire on them! Jesus turned and rebuked them (Luke 9:54-56).

In some Manuscripts (and rightly rejected) there are a couple of additions, the disciples say, ‘should we do what Elijah did’ (1 Kings 1 we read that Elijah twice called down fire on a group of 50 people), and we also read that in Jesus’ rebuke he added that they ‘did not know what spirit they were of’. Both additions are almost certainly not original, but seem to be from a scribe / scribes who are trying to make sense of what was written. I like the sense they make of the rebuke.

The problem is not their appeal to Scripture, perhaps even the problem is not their discernment / revelation, the problem was their spirit.

If the (additional to the text) explanation is deemed a good one it is very telling. We can be right but wrong. We can be right at a level but wrong at a fundamental level. Certainly this is where the weight of Scripture lies. It is not a simple judgement of ‘right / wrong’ but of the effect, and the effect runs along the ‘life / death’ paradigm.

Prophesying from our expectation causes all kinds of problems. Peter (and most of his compatriots) had an expectation about the coming Messiah. He received revelation that Jesus was the Messiah… had Jesus not rebuked him and he would have posted on some famous prophetic word internet site he would have prophesied ‘be ready, Jesus is about to come and kick those Romans out, restore all us nice people to tell them what do’. The revelation was affirmed by Jesus, and the expectation came from the ‘dark side’.

In the final days within Jerusalem before the fall of the city hope was kept alive by prophetic utterances that knew of the deliverance of God, after all remember our roots, God is the God of the Exodus. Imagine how the hopes rose in 68AD when the Roman general had to return to Rome in the year of the ‘four emperors’… And within 2 years all collapsed, at great cost.

Vested interest. Interest tied in the case of Peter and Jerusalem to national interests and a strong ‘dominion’ theology that the people of faith will rise to the top, vindicated visibly from on high.

Yes I am disturbed when predictive prophecy does not come to pass… but am more disturbed by some deeper issues.

Where do you want the world to go?

So we have a birthday in the apartment today. I have had more birthdays than Gayle (they do get a little repetitive don’t they?) so this one is definitively hers. She is now older than 45… Been an interesting few weeks.

Gayle is convinced that many aspects from 23 years ago (did you pick up the maths there – 46 divided by 2) are somehow coming round again but very differently. Interesting cos when I was 46 I got up in the early hours of the night with two prayers. ‘If it’s OK with you I would like anther 46 years, I think I might need at least that long to make some kind of difference…’ and a second prayer… ‘Raise up some 23 year olds who carry all the maturity of a 46 year old, who show no fear of demonic powers, can discern where cities are at and call for their destiny.’ First prayer took no length of time at all, the second quite a bit longer. A few weeks after this I had an interesting experience. I called someone asking them if they would be willing to take on something that I had initiated. I had not spoken to them prior to this on the phone, and as far as I remember never after. I recounted my 46/23 night time experience and the person listened, then once I had finished said to me ‘You do know what day this is?’ I had no idea what they meant (Tuesday, Friday… whatever). It was their 23rd birthday. I might at times be slow to catch on but that got my attention.

I am no longer 46, indeed I had a revelation a few days back while running. The revelation was that I am probably already beyond half my life span. I’ve had to think about that since then – as I am only half way between 60 and 70…

So today belongs to Gayle. And amazingly in the days before her birthday so many ‘coincidences’ of what took place 23 years ago.

We are both very grateful for months of protracted meetings in ‘Marsham Street’ 24/23 years ago. So many people found faith. A wonderful input to those gatherings, Dale Gentry, said amongst many other snippets of wisdom ‘sow where you want to go’. Inspired by those gatherings in 1998 and went to Leeds to meet with Steve, Mike, Paul and others to suggest we meet across the city to pray (I met with them 23 years ago). A couple of months later Sowing Seeds for Revival began. Never asking to go anywhere, but one city and region opened after another and led to 8 years of fairly intensive travelling.

Now here we both are 23 years on from that time. So much has changed. Nothing looks the same. The fires burn as strong but the expectation of outworking? So different.

Sow where you want to go has become

Sow where you want the world to go.

Sow into people who are carrying / desire to carry something of the future. This I understand as being the nature of the New Testament understanding of ‘gift’. Freely offered to enable someone to move toward their destiny.

Seedtime and harvest. 23 years ago a lot of seed. Seed sown with expectation. But… expectation just does not cut it by itself, for expectation is shaped by the past. 23 years later, and during these past 23 years fruit, fruit, fruit. Seed sown on good soil; but then seed sown into the world; seed that was ‘the word of God’ becomes seed that is the ‘sons and daughters of the kingdom’ (parable of the sower gives way to the next parable). Sow where you want your life to go becomes sow where you want the world to go.

We are grateful for the connections we have where there is church growth. But absolutely sold out to the places where there is world growth.

It is a good time to have a birthday.

Should be a good read

I was given a copy of this book (Thank you Keith) and have just opened the pages. It seems an original piece of work that firmly places the Christian meal in the context of the Imperial world of the first century and a subversive act of resistance.

I have only just started but a choice few paragraphs that Gayle and I read this morning are sufficient to get us ready for the day!

When the Lord’s Supper is placed within the historical context of a Jesus movement that nonviolently opposed the tyrannical practices of the empire, it becomes clear that it was an act of resistance and took on political significance. Believers not only gathered to eat and satisfy their appetites, they engaged in various kinds of anti-imperial symposium activities that included prophetic utterances, singing protest songs, and lifting a toast to a man whom Rome deemed worthy of a criminal’s death.

And so the text continues… Makes one hungry for a protest meal and a toast to our ‘criminal’ Lord.

The Door is Out

Trying to enter through the exit door

After I finished recording the previous two conversations with Michele she launched into two dreams she had had a number of years prior that shaped her direction. I said, let me record that second one! Here it is. When God has called us out there is something to see (if we turn around)… OK I will let her tell it.

Inside Out

Gayle and I met Michele Perry 10+ years ago when we had just moved to Cádiz. She carries a spirit of adventure and was working at the time in South Sudan. As she says many were quite surprised at this 4ft 6inch (1.37m) tall woman who had arrived… and to top it all a woman with only one leg and at times her transport being on a motorbike kind of was not the norm!!

She has also made huge transitions and never afraid to pioneer. I decided a while back that she would be a great conversation partner to add some videos for those who are involved in Zoom groups.

[Zoom Groups – I am contemplating starting a day time group in the next month or so… if interested go to the page ‘Zoom Discussion Groups’ from the menu and have a look to see if a Zoom Group would be of interest.]

The first interview resulted from a throw-away comment that I am still mulling over when I interviewed Michele on ‘The Seven Mountains’. She said it is not to be ‘top down’, nor ‘bottom up’ (and how many times have I said that it is ‘bottom up’) but it is ‘inside out’.

Jesus offered Caesar’s throne

The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And he said to him, “I will give you all their authority and splendour; it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. If you worship me, it will all be yours” (Lk. 4:5-7).

Quick acknowledgement: I picked up the consistent use of the Greek word ‘oikoumene’ as being a reference to the inhabited world of Rome in Andrew Perriman’s writings, then began to look at Luke’s use.

Skip the next part if you wish… it is simply the background as to why this word ‘oikoumene’ is not simply a synonym for ‘world’ (kosomos), but is more concrete… and in the Lukan context is referring to the Roman Empire.


All the kingdoms of the world (πάσας τὰς βασιλείας τῆς οἰκουμένης): the kingdoms of the oikoumene. This last word can be used (at times) interchangeably with the term ‘world’ (kosmos) and Matthew uses this term (kosmos) in his account of the temptations (Matthew 4:8), where Luke uses the term oikoumene.

The two terms can be used interchangeably, the kosmos term is certainly global and the term oikoumene is rooted in the verb oikeo (to dwell), and although it can carry a global sense, being simply synonymous to the word kosmos, many authors choose to use it in a more restrictive way, to refer to where people dwell, the inhabited world, the civilised world. This then opened it to something even more specific: the boundary of a specific political entity.

Luke is one of those authors, and given that he is writing his two volumes for the world of the Roman Empire it makes sense that he uses this word oikoumene in the restrictive sense of the ‘Roman world’, the ‘Roman Empire’. Before coming to Luke’s use a few other examples.

Josephus (Jewish aristocratic Jewish historian, 37AD-100AD (approx datre of death)) uses the term oikoumene to refer to the geographical extent of the Roman Empire, recording that Agrippa had said to Caius that he hoped one day Caius would be appointed ruler of the world (oikoumene), in other words that he would become Caesar over the Roman Empire.

Likewise the Old Testament uses it to describe territory within a political boundary.

  • Babylon, for her sins, will experience an armed nation coming and destroying the whole oikoumene (Is. 13:4,5,9,17,18,19). The Medes come and destroy the Babylonian empire, they destroy the whole oikoumene, not the whole world.
  • In Daniel we have Nebuchadnezzar ruling the whole oikoumene (Dan. 3:2), he is the ruler of the Babylonian Empire.

Luke seems to consistently use oikoumene to carry this meaning of territory ruled by a political entity, and that entity being Rome.

  • The whole oikoumene was to be registered (Lk. 2:1), the whole ‘world’ being the world that Caesar ruled over.
  • Agabus warns of a famine that would come on the whole oikoumene (Acts 11:8), this famine came during the reign of Claudius (Roman Emperor).
  • The Gospel proclamation turned the whole oikoumene upside down, the order of Rome (Acts 17:6-7).
  • Artemis was ‘worshiped throughout the province of Asia and the oikoumene‘ (Acts 19:27). The claim was that she was worshiped throughout the Roman province of Asia and beyond throughout the whole Roman Empire.

Luke is therefore using the term for the Graeco-Roman world, using it very concretely.

Back then to the temptations of Jesus. It is not too far a stretch to push Luke’s account of the temptations to being a concrete offer of the Roman Empire to Jesus. That fits with his consistent use. The offer of being the new Caesar: Jesus appointed as anti-Christ!

Luke 3 begins with the setting, not simply historically, but concretely and ‘spiritually’ in terms of the dominating powers:

In the fifteenth year of the reign Tiberius Caesar.

Replace Tiberius… bring about the change you want!

In Mark’s Gospel we have the intriguing extra that Jesus was in the wilderness with the ‘wild animals’. A truly eschatological scene fulfilling ‘the wolf will lie with the lamb’ (Is. 11:6 and Mk. 1:13), but perhaps given that Israel was the counterpart to Adam who is given responsibility for creation, for the animals, it was not surprising to have Israel as ‘son of man’ and all opposing kingdoms to be presented as beasts (wild animals, hence the description of political powers opposing heaven’s agenda as ‘beasts’). In Mark then there is probably also a hint of true shalom to the nations, even to the nations that opposed the direction of heaven.

He does not rule over the nations as per Rome; the Rome that brought peace through war! Jesus brought peace, but not peace as the world gives (woe to you who say ‘peace, peace’ fits this context). There is a shalom, true peace, the wild animals were with him.

Peace on earth, being the announcement from heaven (Lk. 2:14) then takes on a strong anti-imperial sense.

Kenarchy, love, politics, practicalities

We covered the four interviews in just an hour. Not sure about you but I could have extended each one to an hour or more, and then we would have opened up other areas… and if we had taken a breather I could have put Sue on for a few follow ups! All goes to say a deep appreciation for the resource they both have been to so many; not simply a resource – knowledge and perspective wise – but as people who come alongside.

I hope you have all found the interviews as stimulating and as encouraging as I did. One final one to come, but hold on just a minute!

If you would like to connect more with the writings and communications from Roger there are a number of ways you can do this.

His blog with a place to interact through the comments:

https://rogerhaydonmitchell.wordpress.com

There is a Kenarchy Journal that Roger is the main editor for. Click on the image or the link to be taken there:

https://kenarchy.org

His academic papers and articles can be found here:

https://wtctheology/academia.edu/RogerHaydonMitchell

His books can be sourced through normal stockists.

The Church Gospel and Empire: How the Politics of Sovereignty impregnated the West

This is an adaptation of his PhD for publication as a book, and if you wish to engage with his original research this is what to read.

The Fall of the Church: I found this book ever so helpful. I profess to be deeply influenced by an AnaBaptist approach to Scripture and the Gospel (though go research the Dirk Willems story and see if I am genuine!) and expected that I would read something along the lines of ‘pre-Constantine pretty good; post-Constantine all goes wrong’. Much more profound. If ‘The Church, Gospel and Empire‘ is a read too-far, this one I would love to see everyone access and read.

Discovering Kenarchy

Discovering Kenarchy:

Written by a number of contributors pushing into the practicalities of an outworking in different areas of kenarchy.

And finally the video:

The cross

I talked with Roger on Good Friday, so thought what a day to ask about the cross. Given that his push toward his research was the encountering of the cross (video #1) at the very practical level of addressing the issue of corporate sin that had been expressed through the action of western colonialism… OK what I am saying is what a great few minutes this video is.

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