Thought Leaders Series: 2017

Where are the prophets?

The prophets were not hyper mystical individuals as Christian tradition evokes, rather, they were thinkers, academics, social critics, community organisers; pressing for socioeconomic reforms for the people. They tackled the issues of their time headlong by Speaking Truth to Power, hence they were unpopular with the elites of their time. 

When the Old Testament makes reference to the phrase: “Then the word of the Lord came to…”, or, “The Spirit of the Lord came upon…”; these were not some trancelike episodes, but the translation of their ideas to their audience. From their ideas of Yahweh and their vision of how their society should work, they spoke in the place of God. 

They were highly controversial within the circles of mainstream thinkers, and hugely unpopular among the elites; in fact they were marginalised. They were mostly on their own, they suffered poverty, violence and persecution. They did not speak for money, recognition or power, hence the story in Kings of the greedy disciple, and that of the Unknown Prophet. But they were filled with desire for social justice, so much so that Jeremiah chose a celibate life.

They drew insight from history, cultural trends, classical texts, wisdom texts, poetry, and geopolitical developments around their world. Once the seeds of their ideas were uttered they came alive – although invisible. These ideas will catch up with their times, often revisited decades or even centuries after they were born. Dear friends, their ideas outlived them and are now mainstream.

To this end Jesus spoke against those in authority in his time:

“You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell? Therefore I am sending you prophets and sages and teachers. Some of them you will kill and crucify; others you will flog in your synagogues and pursue from town to town. And so upon you will come all the righteous blood that has been shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah son of Berekiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar.” 

– Matthew 23:33-35

So, in response to the question: Where are the prophets? I say, they are with us. But can you see them?

This Sunday @ Healingsprings fellowship

By the time of our Lord, the radical reforms by Ezra et al., had been fully assimilated into Jewish life. It had also sustained the Community through wars, natural disasters, famine and military various invasions. 

Yahweh was sovereign over all, even so much so that excellence in vocation was also part of their worship to him. When we arrive at the New Testament we see Jesus demonstrating lordship over material and immaterial realms.
Jesus will come on the scene centuries later to make further reforms to the existing framework, then commission his disciples to move it beyond the Community, and into the World. To this end Paul argues that,

“in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us.” – 2 Cor. 5:19


Join us on Sunday as we continue with my series: God was in Christ, when I will be speaking on: Incarnation, Nativity and Second Coming.
3pm 

The Parish Hall 

St John’s Sidcup,

Church Road, 

Sidcup, 

Kent DA14 6BX

What is the point with the Old Testament?

With the understanding of our New Covenant in Christ, many people question the role of the Old Testament in Christianity. 
The answer to this pertinent question can be captured in Paul’s challenge to Timothy,

[do] your best to present yourself to God as one approved by him, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly explaining the word of truth. (2 Tim. 2:15)

At the time of writing, Christianity was still at its formative state, hence there was no text known as the New Testament. Clearly this admonition was for the study of the Torah, Mishnah, Midrash, and other classical Jewish writings. 
Paul himself had studied under Gamaliel, a known Rabbi with intellectual lineage to back his teaching and worldview. With a view to assert his authority, Paul gives us a preview of his credentials when he notes,

“I am a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia,but brought up in this city. I studied under Gamaliel and was thoroughly trained in the law of our ancestors. I was just as zealous for God as any of you are today.” (Acts 22:3)

Paul, and by proxy Timothy, were both baptised or filled with the Holy Spirit; yet he exhorted Timothy to study these texts. 

Dear friends, Paul was passing on old Jewish culture or tradition, in this case: lineage of knowledge or philosophy, and excellence in vocation. For example, like Jesus, Paul’s studied the equivalent of a degree in Theology; while Gamaliel would have stood on platforms as a Professor of Theology. 
In fact when the gospel writer asserts that Jesus,  

“taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law.” (Matthew 7:29); 

they were highlighting the fact that he was doing something unique with the text; in other words, shifting from his lineage. The same is done about John the Baptist when the writer notes that ‘he shall be called John’, and that he was, ‘in the wilderness until the day of his showing to Israel’.

To this end the Old Testament serves the following primary purpose:
1. It provides us with materials to explore the rich history, culture, context and worldview of the Jews, for the purpose of understanding and teaching 

  1. It shows us the theological progression of the Jews, and the intersection by Christ, in his effort to Reconcile the ‘Gentiles’ into a New Covenant
  2. It gives us an understanding of what the New Testament writers were trying to achieve in their effort to bridge the gap between Judaism and what we know today as ‘Christianity’ 

  3. It gives a blue print for the Christian faith. Which can be best described as a universal form of Judaism whose vision is for a kingdom bound by a common faith and destiny that is centred around Christ, as to a kingdom bound by heritage.
    Father, enlarge our hearts. Give us a vision for humanity. We ask through you son Jesus Christ. 

To a blessed week!

This Sunday @ Healingsprings fellowship

The destruction, collapse, and eventual Exile of the Northern and Southern kingdoms posed major challenges for the elites and people of Israel and Judah.

Faced with defeat, destruction of infrastructures and institutions, how do you sustain and rebuild a nation? How do you create new narratives when the prevailing one fails to hold water?
In a strange way instead of wallowing in defeat, The Exile afforded them the opportunity to debate, challenge old paradigms, and to come up with a roadmap for nation building. 
When the opportunity came, they seized it! Some returned to Palestine, started capturing and documenting their oral history and culture, addressing loose ends in theological understanding, and providing new narratives to old and new challenges, some based on what they gleaned from other cultures. 
Perhaps most importantly they realised that they lacked military might (By strength shall no man prevail, 1 Sam. 2:9), so they invested in knowledge acquisition. This also meant moving away from the central authorities of the monarchy and priesthood, and making the people sustainers of the Nation. No need for kings, prophets or oracles. Rather, the people were to be educated, and the Text made accessible to them. So the synagogues became the centre of knowledge transfer and community life, the home a hub for reinforcing such knowledge. 
They designed a curriculum, and embarked on an educational system which many argue is the blue print for Western education. The Community was bound to One God and Covenant; hence the term ‘gentiles’. This curriculum is what we know today as the Old Testament. Scribes and Rabbis will be trained to maintain this system, commentaries will be added to the original Text, and the Text will be revised and edited a few times; leading to the version we have today. 
By the time of our Lord, these radical reforms would have sustained the Community through wars, natural disasters, famine and various military invasions. 
Jesus will come on the scene, make further reforms, then commission his disciples to move it beyond the Community and into the World. To this end Paul argues that,

“in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us.” – 2 Cor. 5:19

Join us on Sunday as we continue with my series: God was in Christ, when I will be speaking on: Incarnation, Nativity and Second Coming.
3pm 

The Parish Hall 

St John’s Sidcup,

Church Road, 

Sidcup, 

Kent DA14 6BX
Reachout | Revive | Recover

http://www.healingsprings.org.uk

Sin?

Some of the ideas we hold as ‘truths’ in judaeo-Christian traditions were very radical ideas when they were advanced.  
For instance when Amos took up the plight of the poor and disenfranchised (who at the time were seen as cursed by Yahweh), he was very unpopular with the ecclesiastical authorities and the people of him time. 
In fact, Jesus’ continuous mingling with ‘sinners’ was the chief reason why he was unpopular with groups like the Pharisees, eventually, leading to his death. In a strange way affirming that he died for ‘the sins of the world’.
I say this to note that what we term as ‘sin’ today have not always been absolutes. A case in point, the writer of Ruth vindicated Boaz for accepting Ruth (a Moabite) in marriage, in what can also be best described as a polygamous relationship. In similar vein Jesus challenged ‘sacred’ concepts like: fasting, giving, sabbath, and even Temple worship. 
Friends, we miss the mark if we don’t realise that Christianity and her older cousin Judaism has always been about people – especially those at the fringes of society. It’s about the bringing together of ALL, even the lost. It’s about creating ‘One New Man’.

Therefore, if people are hurting, we ought to be listening. If they are left behind, we should be reaching out. If they are tired, we should be reviving.
It’s also noteworthy to stress that most of what we refer to as the Old Testament was written retrospectively as part of nation building after The Exile.

As such, the Hebrew cannon (the Old Testament) consists of oral, administrative and historical documents that were edited and crystallised with a political vision of keeping the people and their culture together. A project which I believe Africa can learn from.

Perhaps, also important is the fact that the Christian notion of sin emerged from these Old Testament texts, and the prevailing view of the time. Hence we should be very wary when the shadows of these texts are cast on us today.
We need to build on the foundations laid by Christ: love towards God, through our love towards humanity, especially the ostracised. Even at the cost of our very lives. 

Healingsprings fellowship: JuneSeries2017

JuneSeries 2017: Reconciliation (2 Cor. 5:19)

This Sunday we will be hosting a dear friend and partner of Healingsprings fellowship, Pastor Stephen Abraham (Glory Life, Dartford).
Pastor Stephen will be strengthening our focus for JuneSeries 2017, as we draw this year’s conference to a close.
Refreshment will be provided, and opportunities for networking and collaboration. 
https://healingsprings.me/events/
Join us as at 3pm as we continue the work of Reconciliation entrusted to us by Jesus.

Healingsprings fellowship: JuneSeries2017

JuneSeries 2017: Reconciliation (2 Cor. 5:19)
We stand in solidarity to Reconcile our brothers and sisters in the Congo with social and economic justice.
This Sunday we will be showing the Award Winning documentary: When Elephants Fight.
Following the doc we will take questions from panel members with a view to stir up a call to action! 
Refreshment will be provided, and we have opportunities for networking and collaboration. 
Join us as at 3pm as we continue the work of Reconciliation entrusted to us by Jesus.