Depending who you read, there are around 7 unique views of providence. All these postulate certain biblical criteria that have to be met — in other words they are built around other key issues like God’s foreknowledge, human freedom and Christology, etc. The two broad camps are Calvinist and Arminian, with the open theist conversation being more recent.

I’ve been reading Thomas Oord’s “The Uncontrolling Love of God,” but also have listened to Greg Boyd speaking on these issues, and have found much that resonates. Yesterday I found Terrance Tiessen’s summary of Boyd’s position.

Greg Boyd is a nice place to begin, because he has been researching the problem of evil, and more broadly, what we do with evil and God’s providence in the OT, for quite some time. His sermon series on “The Shadow God,” working from that little phrase of Pauls’ in Colossians 2:17, was helpful for me in approaching the OT. One has to find SOME way of reconciling the OT picture of God with Jesus, or else one splits off the Father from the Son.

Tiessen summarizes Boyd’s approach by listing four Christocentric criteria – these Boyd proposes as essential in evaluating models of providence.

Since “everything Jesus was about centered on manifesting the reign of God against forces of evil that oppose God,” a model should “render intelligible the reality and scope of evil in the world and the need for God to battle against it” (184-85).
God’s struggle against evil, as revealed in Christ, is distinct from pagan views because God relies primarily on wisdom rather than on power (185-86).
Taking the cross as paradigmatic of God’s way of overcoming evil, a model of providence should adequately portray God’s reliance on other-oriented love and his willingness to be affected and influenced by humans (186-87).
In principle, God has already won the battle with evil, bringing ultimate good out of the evil that led to Jesus’ rejection and crucifixion, so a model of providence should demonstrate God’s ability to bring good out of evil and thereby accomplish his overall purposes for creation (186-87).

These criteria are a helpful place to start. Note how they already assume a particular theological frame. Tomorrow I’ll post the seven views Oord lays out, and then the two views that I like the best.

tao of leadership

Leaders should not seek power or status;
people will not then crave power or status.
If scarce goods are not valued highly,
people will have no need to steal them.
If there is nothing available to arouse passion,
people will remain content and satisfied.

The truly wise do lead
by instilling humility and open-mindedness,
by providing for fair livelihoods,
by discouraging personal ambition,
by strengthening the bone-structure of the people.

The wise avoid evil and radical reform;
thus the foolish do not obstruct them.
They work serenely, with inner quiet.

The best leaders, the people do not notice.
The next best, the people honor and praise.
The next, the people fear;
and the next, the people hate.

If you have no faith, people will have no faith
in you, and you must resort to oaths.

When the best leader’s work is done
the people say: “We did it ourselves!”


Ron Heifetz: “in a crisis, we call for someone with answers, decision, strength, and a map of the future — in short, someone who can make hard problems simple… Instead of looking for saviours, we should be calling for leadership that will challenge us to face problems for which there are no simple, painless solutions — problems that require us to learn new way.” Leadership without Easy Answers

the problem with language

Christians have always had a good word for human flourishing: shalom. It’s a word that comes out of an old story, and so its meaning is carefully scripted. We can tell others what it means because of what God has been doing and what he has promised to do. Memory is an important piece here.

But there is another, newer word that has become increasingly hip. Andy Crouch talks about the proper end of power as flourishing in his newest book, Strong and Weak: Embracing a Life of Love, Risk and True Flourishing. And also Miroslav Volf, in his latest, Flourishing: Why We Need Religion in a Globalized World.

It’s not a bad word, but it’s a word that has different stories, and in fact, the narratives are being contested. Robert Joustra talks about “flourishing” here.


Walkers are ‘practitioners of the city,’ for the city is made to be walked.
A city is a language, a repository of possibilities,
And walking is the act of speaking that language,
Of selecting from those possibilities.

– Rebecca Solnit, “Wanderlust”

The Micah Declaration on Integral Mission

Integral mission or holistic transformation is the proclamation and demonstration of the gospel. It is not simply that evangelism and social involvement are to be done alongside each other. Rather, in integral mission our proclamation has social consequences as we call people to love and repentance in all areas of life. And our social involvement has evangelistic consequences as we bear witness to the transforming grace of Jesus Christ.

If we ignore the world, we betray the word of God that sends us out to serve the world. If we ignore the word of God, we have nothing to bring to the world. Justice and justification by faith, worship and political action, the spiritual and the material, personal change and structural change belong together. As in the life of Jesus, being, doing and saying are at the heart of our integral task.

The grace of God is the heartbeat of integral mission. God by his grace has given local churches the task of integral mission the future of integral mission is in planting and enabling churches to transform the communities of which they are part. Churches as caring and inclusive communities are at the heart of what it means to do integral mission.

Wonsuk Ma and Brian Woolnough, eds., Holistic Mission: God’s Plan for God’s People (Eugene, OR: Regnum, 2010)


covrGraham Hill in Global Church (IVP, 2016, 33) quotes Kosuke Koyama,

“Contextualization of theology implies two critical movements. First, to articulate Jesus Christ in culturally appropriate, communicatively apt words; and second, to criticize, reform, dethrone, or oppose culture if it is found to be against what the name of Jesus Christ stands for.”(Water Buffalo Theology, 1999, xiii-xv)

“Al Tizone examines postcolonialism in the Philippines. He says that it can teach the global church a lot about healthy local-global conversations. Filipiono contextual theology resists many Western forms of mission and theology. It finds them patronizing and controlling. This indigenous theology values prophetic sociopolitical engagement in institutions and the society at large. It emphasizes ministry to whole persons and communities. It constructs a Filipino theology of beauty and mission and worship and community. And it fosters indigenous theological approaches to the spirit world and cosmology.” Hill, 36

“Orlando Costas says that we must root our contextualization and contextual mission in Scripture and in the incarnation. Scripture, after all, is contextual…” (Hill, 49) Costas writes, “The incarnation turns theology proper and anthropology into a Christological issue. It also makes contextualization an inevitable and indispensable process for a proper understanding and communication of the Christian faith.” (Christ Outside the Gate, 1982, 12).

“We must contextualize offshore models and theologies of church and mission if we are going to be faithful to the gospel. We also need to catalyze first-level, homegrown theology and approaches to mission and church. To do this well, we had best examine Scriptures, traditions and cultures.” Hill, 49

This is as far as I read last night and this section looks particularly interesting. I’ll try to make a second post from the book on the weekend. For now, the majority of the TOC —

Part I: Salt: Reshaping Our Conversations
2. Glocalizing Conversations

Part II: Light: Renewing Our Mission
3. Contextualizing Mission
4. Liberating People
5. Showing Hospitality
6. Embracing the Spirit
7. Caring for Creation
8. Living Ethically
9. Transforming Neighborhoods

Part III: City: Revitalizing Our Churches
10. Indigenizing Faith
11. Devouring Scripture
12. Renewing Education
13. Practicing Servantship
14. Recovering Community
15. Developing Spirituality and Discipleship
16. GlobalChurch: Embracing a New Narrative

See also GlobalChurchProject