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 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

The small

I am just finishing the edits of volume 3 in the amazing series (oops… and I had some paragraphs in earlier versions of not believing one’s own advertising) of explorations in theology. The second volume will be available any day soon. Below I put in some extracts from the closing chapter of Volume 3.


We can be very thankful when there are believers who have a position where they can influence the future. In those situations they face particular challenges as to how they exercise any influence they have. The powers might even make space for believers who do not understand the kenotic nature of God. As a result the church might rejoice, and yet the healthy outcome the kingdom of God should bring is set back years. In such situations I think we might be witnessing two aspects: answered prayer and kingdom setback! So ironic as those two phrases (‘answered prayer’ and ‘kingdom setback’) should be a total oxymoron.

Following Jesus was once simple for me. Respond to Jesus as Saviour, read the Bible with a set of lenses that my tradition gave me, keep on track and make sure that I remained thankful for the ticket to heaven. Now, I realise that with a fresh prescription, the Bible ends up more wonderful, relevant and challenging than ever, that there is a path to follow, and as I long for heaven to come… I think you get the thrust.

I can only see the future that is healthy being made up of the multiplicity of the small. Not the uniformity of the big, the ‘one size fits all’ program. The small complemented by the richness of diversity.

Some will be positioned in a place of influence. Use it wisely, prayerfully, and in following Jesus, kenotically. Others will be marginalised, their gift not welcomed. Seek to live at peace with all, ‘as far as is possible’ (Rom. 12:18), and find a way of rejoicing that the one you follow was likewise marginalised.

The body of Christ is here to influence, to shape the world as is. Paul, working in specifically defined localities, used the highly politicised word, ekklesia, to describe the community he planted. The politicised term for those called to speak up concerning the future direction and to act in a way that helped shape their localities. We should expect that to continue, and with the incredible developments beyond localities (even now with ‘virtual spaces’) we should also anticipate that there will be an even greater diversity of expression. Shapes can change, ways of doing things can develop, but faithfulness to the story has to continue.

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With the resurrection of Jesus a new world had already been brought to birth therefore old values were not appropriate. The ethics he proposed were based on behaviour suitable for a world different to that of the Imperial order. Rome instructed behaviour to be ordered ‘because you are members of Rome’; Paul instructed believers to behave a certain way because they ‘were members of each other’. Those who had received the Spirit of Jesus, and Spirit as in Person, were equipped to be the ones acting in that world. They were uniquely placed to live it out, to show and to inspire, and also to be persecuted.

In the course of the ongoing history of the world’s interaction with the people of Jesus there have been times of influence (for good and for bad), times of compromise and also of great opposition. The church has grappled with the questions raised. Questions such as, ‘Is the church to be separate, somehow holy and set apart from the world?’ And at times of extreme opposition, ‘Is the world destined to always oppose the values of the kingdom?’ And at times when the lines have been blurred, the question arises ‘Is the world to embrace the values without embracing the Person of Jesus?’

Those, and many more, questions persist. This volume has not answered them all. In this book you will have had hints at my responses to the questions. My responses, not the final word, and my responses at this time and context. We can, and should, seek to make our response so that at this time in history we are faithful to the trajectory as we understand it. To do that we need wisdom from heaven, grace toward one another, and an insatiable draw to the world, the environment where God has placed us.

One thought on “The small

  1. In 1988 I was involved in a program, post-theological college, on doing contextual theology. I was placed in an emerging neighbourhood, a new development, in Toronto. It lacked almost all community services and yet a population of low income people had been placed there in subsidized housing. How to do contextual theology? What did it even mean? It meant living for those people. It meant getting involved in tenant organizing, something new to me. I sat across the table from thug landlords and tried to improve life for the people they housed. They did not restrain themselves from physical threats to me. In the end I wrote a thesis on contextual theology – the theology of the local.

    I think we are in an interesting moment. Empire building is ongoing but will become increasingly irrelevant in light of the ongoing, never ending crises associated with climate change. And while climate change is a global issue requiring global cooperative action, I believe that the local, small and practical actions become critical. It will be contextual theology in action. Empowering people to have agency in addressing their own issues is critical right now.

    It is also a moment not to seek power. So much of the church is corrupt, sold it’s soul for political power and wealth. This is especially visible in the USA right now but applies to the church wherever and whatever expression it is and has been. It becomes important to back away from all of that. Seek to be hidden. Become unimportant. There is a whole theology based on advancing as an army to conquer the earth in the name of the Kingdom, in the name of righteousness, in the name of evangelism. Despite the long history of an imperial church, I suspect it is a time to renounce all such methodologies and to seek anew what it means to live a small and particular life not unlike Jesus.

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