<a href="https://biblicalmissiology.org/author/jspan/" target="_self">John Span</a>

John Span

John Span has worked with his family in West Africa among an unreached 'Fulani' people group for the last ten years. His mentors have challenged him to think theologically, especially in the area of missions to Muslims and he desires to inspire others to do the same. In the last year he has been a frequent contributor to the St. Francis Magazine.

8 Comments

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    Thank you Foilbled for your suggestion. I would like to hear what ideas you might have.
    On judging preaching, I have to think of what Tim Keller said about the 3 subtexts of a sermon. They can be:
    1. Look how great I am. (that is to say, the pastor is showing everyone what a great scholar/communicator/whatever he is.)
    2. Look how great we are. (that is to say, the pastor structures his sermon to tell his audience that they are better than most people on earth.)
    3. Look how great He is. (that is to say, look how great Jesus is.)
    I have run this grid by some of my own sermons, and some are too close to number 1 as I think about it.

    Blessings and look forward to hearing from you
    John

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    I like the idea of a grid.

    Two observations:
    – In the West, most new winds of doctrine a discussed and sometimes taught for quite a while before ending up in a paper or book.
    – Outside the West, new doctrines are preached or propagated be “believers” and may never be written down.

    How about a version of this grid adapted to judging preaching or other oral sources?

  3. Avatar

    1.Carl Medearis says:
    January 2, 2011 at 12:57 pm .John “Missions exists, because worship doesn’t.” This Piper
    quote has been my favorite since I first read it in “Let the
    Nations Be Glad” many years ago.”

    This comment from Piper which Carl qoutes. . . . seems out of date. Besides what record has hedonist Piper on mission? The Great Commiision has to be obeyed in between times. . . and teaching models the final goal (Revelation 7) as a western-European type Church worsip pattern falls short of that goal and , really, kind of discourages others to go on mission

    Mbuzana

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    John “Missions exists, because worship doesn’t.” This Piper
    quote has been my favorite since I first read it in “Let the
    Nations Be Glad” many years ago. Note that I didn’t say that we
    “exist” to lead Muslims to Christ. I simply said that in that
    respect, I think we have the same goal. You’d find it odd probably
    to note that I have been an outspoken critic of “contextualization”
    for years. As you now know, I don’t like to refer to myself as one
    or as an Insider proponent – for exactly the reasons you suggest –
    it sets the bar too low. It focuses us on the Mission rather than
    The Missionary (Christ, Himself). I’m also a skeptic of the whole
    Missions enterprise for the same reasons…. That’s why I think
    that any “side” in this whole debate can easily get off-track. And
    be too “pro” a certain methodology leads the the same place as
    being too “anti” a certain methodology – it takes away from the
    Greatness of Jesus and his ability to use any and all of us. Trying
    to “set the bar too low” as you say the IM and C-5 guys are doing –
    might, in the end, be the same as you trying to “raise the bar.”
    Both are focused in the wrong place. No?

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    A response to the responders. Thank you Douglas and Georges
    for your kind words. On reflection, I realize that post-modernism
    really does not like to be scrutinized. It prefers to keep things a
    bit slippery. Maybe it comes from a lack of commitment to really
    submit one to another. I wonder what you think? Carl. Thank you for
    your kind words. As to your doubts as to the use of a grid, I can
    appreciate it to a point. I hear you loud and clear that looking at
    presuppositions is vital. I will add that to the grid as well.
    There is one area where I would like to give you a
    counter-challenge, and where you reminded me of another area that
    should likely be added to the grid. In your words: “I’ve said it
    now many times – we all want the same thing: we want to see Muslims
    (and everyone else) to submit themselves to the full revelation of
    the Biblical Jesus Christ. How that happens is what’s up for
    debate. We disagree on how it looks and where it leads, but not the
    essence. ” A while back I read a similar statement, and it said,
    “The goal of Muslim evangelism is to get converts.” I think I have
    heard you right when you say roughly the same thing. Do you know
    that the church growth movement says the same thing in so many
    words as well? It says, “the church exists for evangelism.” Now you
    might respond, “so what is the problem?” The problem, as I see it,
    both from your statements, the quoted statement above, and the
    church growth movement, is that all of you shoot far too low. Again
    you might ask in incredulity, “but how can you say that when I and
    the others have just said such a wonderful motherhood statement?”
    Consider this with me. When the church growth movement says that
    the church exists for evangelism, and then turns around and says
    that we need to do everything to avoid offending the
    sensibilities/sensitivities of unchurched Harry and Mary, then it
    is not long before we remove the offense of the cross, sermons that
    touch on the idols of their culture, the judgment to come, church
    discipline, holiness and so forth. The gospel has been gutted.
    Inadvertently, by shooting too low, the church growth movement has
    opened itself up to all kinds of ungodly methodologies and
    ultimately compromised the gospel.. This is ditto with the parallel
    Muslim-friendly–to an extreme—missions movement. Might I suggest
    that we take the church growth movement phrase and reword it to
    read, “The church exists for the glory of God.” Then perhaps the
    quoted person would no longer say “The goal of Muslim evangelism is
    to get converts” but would rather say, “The goal of Musllim
    evangelism is to glorify God.” That would also challenge your
    statement, and show that we do not actually all want the same thing
    at the presuppositional level.. Some want so called evangelism at
    any cost. Others want the glory of God at all costs. The first
    opens one up to pragmatism and any novel methodology that comes our
    way. The second puts rigorous controls on any or all methodologies.
    Carl, might you be shooting too low. What do you think? All said, I
    think I need to add the following lines to the gridwork: #23. What
    are the presuppositions of the author? How do you know? #24.
    According to the author, the church/missions exists for
    _________?

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    John

    This is good. I would like to use the same grid. But it doesn’t lead the debate that you’re having anywhere new. Because you will enter and exit the discussion with the same viewpoints. It’s a much deeper issue then how you read a paper. It’s about what’s behind your theology. What’s behind how you read the Bible.

    I’ve said it now many times – we all want the same thing: we want to see Muslims (and everyone else) to submit themselves to the full revelation of the Biblical Jesus Christ. How that happens is what’s up for debate. We disagree on how it looks and where it leads, but not the essence.

    So to lay out a rubric like this for discussing this paper you’re referring to, while a good idea, won’t actually change anyone’s mind – not yours, not mine.

    But I appreciate the effort….
    carl

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    Thank you John for providing help in examining any method or idea. It is not easy these days to remain faithful to the biblical truth. Too many winds of doctrine have been blowing. You are one who is a rock and have not allowed those winds to blow you away.
    Blessings as you press on

  8. Avatar

    Hi John,

    Your grid-work is a great tool and method, efficient. I can see how its application could both render a more fully developed context and clarified specifics of what is being critiqued. Thank you!

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