I could not be more excited about our family gathering this summer in Anaheim! This year our national conference theme is Together Outward Leaning. The keynote speaker for the morning sessions is Christopher J.H. Wright, an Anglican clergyman, a scholar and author. I read several of his books while working on the theological framework for my doctoral dissertation. Most notable to me, The Mission of God: Unlocking the Bible’s Grand Narrative, IVP Academic, 2006. Also, Knowing the Holy Spirit through the Old Testament, Oxford: Monarch Press; Downers Grove: IVP, 2006 and Knowing God the Father Through the Old Testament. IVP Academic, 2007.
Here is why I hope you will make every effort to be with us in Anaheim. I believe as one of my mentors, Ray Bakke would say, “ I acknowledge two theological functions of any church – Church is never an end in itself, but rather points beyond to the reality of the Kingdom of God. The Church is called first to be a sign of the Kingdom in the present context, but also to be an agent for of that Kingdom in mission throughout the world.”
And as another mentor has said, “I have come to feel that the primary reality of which we have to take account in seeking for a Christian impact on public life is the Christian congregation. How is it possible that the gospel should be credible, that people should come to believe that the power which has the last word in human affairs is represented by a man hanging on a cross?
I am suggesting that the only answer, the only hermeneutic of the gospel, is a congregation of men and women who believe it and live by it. I am, of course, not denying the importance of the many activities by which we seek to challenge public life with the gospel– evangelistic campaigns, distribution of Bibles and Christian literature, conferences, and even books such as this one.
But I am saying that these are all secondary, and that they have power to accomplish their purpose only as they are rooted in and lead back to a believing community.”
–Lesslie Newbigin, The Gospel in a Pluralist Society (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1989), 227.
Because I believe with all my heart that the local church is the hope of the world I would love to hear your thoughts on congregations as a sign, agent and witness to the Kingdom of God. For me it is all about how we proclaim, embody and demonstrate that kingdom here and now where we live, work and play.
I hope to see you in Anaheim! You can register here.