I’ve spent the past 2 days with some 15-20 reverends from the Dutch Reformed Church, Smith, Reggie Nel, Gert Steyn, the lecturer that taught me exegesis (although maybe he don’t want to be linked to that), and Scot McKnight. We started a discussion on the theology of Acts and what that might mean in practice for the church in South Africa today. The final reports was done by myself and three others that also blog, so we’ll be giving some thoughts on our reports. I’ll add the links as the posts come in.

Reggie Nel on Acts 21-28

Our group worked on Acts 15-20. Between 11:00 and 12:00 today, we identified the following as the most important theological thread for South Africa today:

Looking at our text, but also at the whole of Acts, we notice that Acts tell the story of boundries that was crossed. Of course, we didn’t notice this first, the scholars that introduced he discussion also pointed us to this. ¬†However, what we believe is important is that the boundry crossing always caused the Jerusalem church to change their theology. When Peter visit Cornelius, the theology change. At the meeting in Jerusalem, the fact that boundries have been crossed changes the theology.

That we need to cross boundries is commonly accepted in South Africa today. But crossing boundries need to change the theology of those on the inside. The Dutch Reformed Church need to cross the racial and economic boundries (among others) that form our context, and this need to deeply change the theology of our church.

Missiologists call this contextualization. Contextualization should not be misunderstood as mere translation. Bosch pointed to this in Transforming Mission. I’ve written some thoughts on this about 2 years ago (check page 4 about of this document). Translation would imply a rethinking of symbols and language. Contextualization would imply a rethinking of theology, a transformation of our reflection on God and what that would mean for this day and age, within a differing context.

The core question for our church today: How would our understanding of God and the gospel be transformed when we cross the borders of our community? How would this changing reflection on God impact the practice of congregational and church life today?

Thoughts?

You know what must be one of the worst things in life to do? Re-typing something! I absolutely hate re-typing! I don’t mind writing, I do that a lot, and actually like doing it. But when I loose something and have to re-do it, that’s really bad. Although usually it ends up being written better. Well, I lost this post. Saves it on a flashdisk, and I think I didn’t stop the flasdisk the last time I used it. First time I loose data this way.

So, Scot McKnight from jesuscreed.org is visiting South Africa. Attie Nel from Attie se Koffietafel got him over for Pentacost. We have a tradition in the Dutch Reformed Church to celebrate Pentacost with¬†a series of church services over throughout the week, Mcknight is leading these in Attie’s congregation, and Attie dis the rest of us the favour of arranging a whole program full of other speaking arrangements for McKnight.

Yesterday morning I attended a lecture McKnight gave on the New Perspective on Paul. Actually it was presented to the fourth year New Testament class, Stephan Joubert’s, from e-kerk, class, but it was opened up so that the rest of us can also attend. There wasn’t a lot of visitors however, but I found it interesting to see how bloggers got together. Attie en McKnight got together, both bloggers. I visited, because of blogging. And Tom Smith also came to visit, although we didn’t talk about it, I guess also thanx to blogging.

I found out that McKnight disagree with the New Perspective, and the things flowing from it. Also with NT Wright’s idea that Paul was writing against a Roman political system, an idea very influencial in the later works of Brian Mclaren (Secret Message of Jesus and Everything Must Change). I also found it interesting that McKnight was introduced as a leader in the emerging church, this while I can swear I read McKnight himself writing that he write about the emerging church from the outside. However, I think this he does very good, do read his article on What is the Emerging Church? if you haven’t doen that yet.

Then later I had the oppurtunity to have lunch with McKnight and some other pastors from our denomination. We had some interesting conversations on the theological influences on South Africa. Someone at one stage summarized it like this: We are Dutch people, watching American television, reading German theology and talking an obscure language which no one understand. Interesting that British theology never really had a big influence on South Africa.