Great Post on Insider Movements & Theology

Dr. Bruce Ashford is Dean of the College at Southeastern. He served a couple of years with the International Mission Board in Tatarstan, Russia, and has a PhD in Theology. If you love philosophy, you’ll enjoy reading his dissertation on Wittgenstein. Recently, he releases an edited volume on the Theology and Practice of Mission. If you are looking for a PhD mentor in Missiology or Theology, Bruce is your man!

He recently posted on the Southeastern faculty blog about Insider Movements and Theological Method. He defines an insider movement in the post, but in case you don’t know, an insider movement is an intentional effort to allow potential or actual converts to Christianity to remain in their cultural and religious communities as a form of Christianity. [Here is an even better definition] Ashford argues that such movements, though often well-meaning, have a faulty starting point and thus shortchange Christians from experiencing the fullness of what God has provided for them through Christian community and theological reflection. Here is a salient quote:

In summary, a healthy theological method recognizes the entire biblical canon and brings its full teaching to bear on any situation; further it allows the canon to be provide the framework and parameters in which we craft our ministry strategies, methods, and literature, rather than allowing a lived existential scenario to provide the framework and parameters.

A canonical approach to theology and praxis, I believe like Dr. Ashford, is not only a proper starting point for theology, but the most fruitful starting point. God has defined the nature of reality for us through the canonical unity and He continually speaks to universal humanity through the canon. I suggest reading the entire article.

Also, in this post, Ashford plugs a recent dissertation that was published in the EMS Dissertation Series by a former classmate of mine *Doug Coleman, entitled “A Theological Analysis of the Insider Movement Paradigm from Four Perspectives”. If this subject interests you, please consider purchasing this dissertation.



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  1. That second link is broken.

  2. Have you seen the PhD Diss, by J Henry Wolfe from Southwest Baptist? I really enjoyed it, and it is on the topic of IM.

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