Posted by: timjdavy | September 4, 2015

Love the sojourner, therefore, for you were sojourners

What is the Church’s voice to be in the midst of the current refugee crisis and on what basis does the Bible call us to account for our actions and attitudes? I want to bring out two main points from this passage in Deuteronomy that might guide our thinking and actions.

12 “And now, Israel, what does the LORD your God require of you, but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, 13 and to keep the commandments and statutes of the LORD, which I am commanding you today for your good? 14 Behold, to the LORD your God belong heaven and the heaven of heavens, the earth with all that is in it. 15 Yet the LORD set his heart in love on your fathers and chose their offspring after them, you above all peoples, as you are this day. 16 Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no longer stubborn. 17 For the LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God, who is not partial and takes no bribe. 18 He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing. 19 Love the sojourner, therefore, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt. 20 You shall fear the LORD your God. You shall serve him and hold fast to him, and by his name you shall swear. 21 He is your praise. He is your God, who has done for you these great and terrifying things that your eyes have seen. 22 Your fathers went down to Egypt seventy persons, and now the LORD your God has made you as numerous as the stars of heaven. (Deut. 10:12-22, ESV)

Our ethics arise out of who God is

Deuteronomy is a kind of constitution for the newly forming nation of Israel as they stand on the brink of entering the promised land. What kind of nation are they going to be? What shape will their national life take as God’s priestly people displaying life with God to the watching nations?

Israel’s ethical life was defined by God’s character and values. How were they supposed to live? In a way that reflected who God is: they were to ‘walk in the ways of the Lord’, a phrase the OT often uses for one’s ethical life.

Note the central section of the passage: God’s greatness is put alongside the protection of the weakest. He loves the sojourner/alien, a category of people who from outside of Israel (for a whole variety of reasons, including war and famine) and now settled-but-vulnerable in Israel.

The Bible does give us specific instructions and commandments but ultimately it tells us who God is and places us within the story of his purposes. We are supposed to understand and celebrate who God is and act accordingly. God loves the sojourner. Let’s contextualise this: God loves the refugee, giving him food and clothing.

Our ethics are also motivated by memory and identity

If that wasn’t enough to call Israel to action God gives them a lesson from their history (and bear in mind, most of those listening to Moses at this point had did not have their own individual memory of the events he evokes). Israel had never been a nation before, but they had been refugees. They had experienced hospitality and hostility. Towards the end of Genesis we read that their forefathers had moved to Egypt because of famine. They knew what it was to be welcomed. However, they also knew what it was liked to be oppressed in a foreign land, which we read about at the beginning of Exodus.

Israel was supposed to draw on their memory as people who had been refugees and apply that part of their identity to their dealings with refugees in their midst in the future.

This, I think, is important for us Brits to consider. Has our sense of being an island nation made it seem like the refugee problem is ‘over there’ and, therefore, not our responsibility? Providing hospitality to more refugees will involve sacrifice: are we hesitant to incur this cost because we do not feel ‘sojourner’ is part of our national memory. Is this why we need to be shocked into action?

But ‘refugee’ is an essential part of our DNA as the people of God. Progressing through the biblical story we read numerous examples of the people of God being displaced and on the move, whether it is moving to or from Egypt, Exile and Return, or the dispersion of the early Church. Comfort and stability is not the norm. What are we as the Church prepared to do to live out the heart of God and our own displaced identity?

Posted by: timjdavy | August 7, 2015

What has the Levitical Priesthood got to do with Mission?

The Theology of the Levitical PriesthoodNicholas Haydock, a graduate of Redcliffe’s MA in Bible and Mission programme, has recently published a revised version of his very good dissertation under the title, The Theology of the Levitical Priesthood: Assisting God’s People in their Mission to the Nations.

Here is the blurb:

In this book, Nicholas Haydock explores the biblical presentation of the Levitical priesthood, drawing out themes that run throughout Scripture and reveal God’s intention for the priesthood. It is successfully argued that this intention cannot be divorced from God’s desire to reveal himself to the nations. This hypothesis is shown to be true in examining the various functions and metaphors ascribed to the Levites. Whereas in much of Old Testament criticism, the Levitical priesthood has been painted in a light contrary to the biblical depiction, The Theology of the Levitical Priesthood takes the canonical presentation of the Levites at face value. It is the author’s conviction that in attending to the biblical presentation of the Levites, the Church will be aided and better equipped to apply herself to Scripture and to participate within God’s mission, in the present day.

“”[This book] successfully argues that the theology of the Levitical priesthood is not only a coherent whole, but it expresses a missional purpose that aided the priesthood and the people of Israel in their witness to the nations at large and in their worship of the One true God . . . This will provide for many a whole new avenue of viewing the fact that Israel and her leaders were to be a ‘light to the nations.'”” –Walter C. Kaiser, Jr., President Emeritus, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, South Hamilton, MA

“”This helpful study brings together two important themes in the Old Testament that are often neglected by commentators and preachers: priesthood and mission. Haydock examines the role the priest was expected to play in Israelite society. His lifestyle, Haydock argues, should adorn Christian leaders, indeed all the people of God, and in this way draw the nations to the knowledge of God. This makes the priesthood central to the Biblical understanding of mission. [Theology is] a useful, original contribution to Biblical theology.”” –Gordon Wenham, Tutor in Old Testament, Trinity College, Bristol, England

If what Nicholas writes gets you excited about mission in the Old Testament, why not check out the Bible and Mission stream of Redcliffe’s MA in Contemporary Missiology?


Here are some details of a new research project we are starting at Redcliffe College.

Originally posted on Fostering, Adoption and the Church:

Welcome to the Fostering, Adoption and the Church research project!

This is just a short introduction but you can read more about what we will be doing on our About page.

The project is based at Redcliffe College, an interdenominational, evangelical, international College based in the UK with a focus on training for cross-cultural misson, leadership, member care and linguistics, translation and literacy.

Aim and vision

The aim of the project is to motivate and resource the Church in addressing the crisis of vulnerable children in the UK and beyond. Our vision is: Societal transformation through biblical, theological and missiological research that mobilises and supports Christians in fostering and adoption.


The ‘Fostering, Adoption and the Church’ project will carry out and communicate biblical, theological and missiological thinking through:

  • Rigorous published research that raises the profile of fostering and adoption in the academy and the Church;
  • Accessible writing (online and…

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Highlighted on the Redcliffe Research blog. Redcliffe teaches Bible and Mission and Scripture Engagement to MA level through specialist streams on our Contemporary Missiology programme. Visit here for more info

Originally posted on redcliffe research:

The Impact of Vernacular ScripturesThe Scripture Engagement website is an excellent website and is full of information and links for SE. A couple of recent graduates on Redcliffe’s Bible and Mission programme have posted their dissertations in the resources section. Here are the abstracts and links to the relevant pages. These were very good pieces of work so well worth reading for how to structure and write a dissertation as well as for the fascinating content.

Author: Mark Woodward

MA dissertation: Bible & Mission, Redcliffe College, UK (2014)


In many ways the Malila and Nyiha are typical of Tanzania’s numerous multilingual communities, where both Swahili and the local language are used as part of everyday life. Given that there are several versions of the Swahili Bible, two of which are generally available…

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Gorman - Becoming the GospelMichael Gorman has a new book out that approaches Paul’s letters from a missional perspective, Becoming the Gospel: Paul, Participation, and Mission. It is published by Eerdmans and is part of the Gospel and Our Culture Series.

In an interview on the Eerdmans blog he is asked to describe the book in 20 words: ‘Paul calls us not only to believe the gospel but also to become the gospel and thereby to advance the gospel.’

Here is the contents and publisher description:

Invitation: Becoming the Gospel
1. Paul and the Mission of God
2. Reading Paul Missionally
3. Becoming the Gospel of Faith(fulness), Love, and Hope: 1 Thessalonians
4. Becoming and Telling the Story of Christ: Philippians
5. Becoming the Gospel of Peace (I): Overview
6. Becoming the Gospel of Peace (II): Ephesians
7. Becoming the Justice of God: 1 & 2 Corinthians
8. Becoming the Gospel of God’s Justice/Righteousness and Glory: Missional Theosis in Romans
Final Reflections: Becoming the Gospel (Reprise)

The first detailed exegetical treatment of Paul’s letters from the emerging discipline of missional hermeneutics, Michael Gorman’s Becoming the Gospel argues that Paul’s letters invite Christian communities both then and now to not merely believe the gospel but to become the gospel and, in doing so, to participate in the life and mission of God. Showing that Pauline churches were active public participants in and witnesses to the gospel, Gorman reveals the missional significance of various themes in Paul’s letters. He also identifies select contemporary examples of mission in the spirit of Paul, inviting all Christians to practice Paul-inspired imagination in their own contexts. He reveals the missional significance of faithfulness, hope and love in 1 Thessalonians; of Christlike servitude in Philippians; of peace, especially in Ephesians; of cruciform justice in the Corinthian correspondence; and of righteousness and glory in Romans. Finally, Becoming the Gospel identifies select contemporary examples of mission in the spirit of Paul, inviting all Christians to use their Paul-inspired imaginations in their own context to participate more fully in the life and mission of God.

Posted by: timjdavy | March 6, 2015

Thinking theologically about adoption and fostering

Last week I attended an excellent event on ‘Adoption, Justification and the Hospitality of God’, which was run by Home for Good, the EA, and St Millitus College. The purpose was to reflect theologically on adoption both as a ‘vertical’ phenomenon (being adopted into God’s family) and as a ‘horizontal’ act of fostering and adoption.

We were treated to a number of different talks from a range of eminent scholars and perspectives. With that fresh in my mind I came back to Redcliffe to teach two different OT classes (one on Isaiah and one on Genesis 1-12) and tried to reflect on what we were reading in the text in the light of what I had been hearing yesterday. Here are a couple of brief reflections:

Isaiah class

We were looking at Isa. 61 and considering the transformation God promised to the Israelites, but how it is indicative of the kind of work that is indicative of who God and, therefore, the kinds of work he calls us to. I enjoyed a quote from Walter Brueggemann on vv. 1-4:

there is a series of infinitive verbs to inventory what this empowered human agent will do: “to bring, to bind up, to proclaim, to release, to proclaim, to comfort, to provide, to give” (vv. 1b-3). All of these actions are powerful ministries to the weak, the powerless, and the marginalised to restore them to full function in a community of well-being and joy.

Genesis 1-12 class

We were looking at this video by David Firth, who highlights ‘alienation’ as a result of the sin in Gen. 3 and a key motif in what is wrong with the world and reflected on how the gospel is a transformation of bringing into relationship what has been alienated.

In both cases it struck me that the Old Testament has a profound and enormous capacity to speak into the critical questions concerning the care of vulnerable children. There was a sense coming from the conference that there is much valuable work to be done in thinking theologically about adoption and fostering. I can’t wait to get stuck in.

To find out more about the initiative please visit:

Posted by: timjdavy | February 10, 2015

The Asbury Journal and missional hermeneutics

Asbury Journal

The Asbury Journal has an issue available for free online which touches on a missional reading of the Bible at various points (most notably, the articles by Lines and Stone).

You can download the articles at this web address: The Asbury Journal

Here are some links:

Journal in Entirety

Posted by: timjdavy | December 18, 2014

Jerry Hwang on The Missio Dei in the Book of the Twelve

The latest issue of the Tyndale Bulletin (65.2 2014) includes a article looking at the missio Dei in the Minor Prophets: ”My Name Will Be Great Among the Nations’: The Missio Dei in the Book of the Twelve’ (pp.161-180) by Jerry Hwang at Singapore Bible College. Here’s the abstract (you will need a subscription to the journal to read the whole article):

Recent OT scholarship has increasingly recognised that the Minor Prophets were compiled by Hebrew scribes to be read as a cohesive anthology. While acknowledging that each book of the Minor Prophets exhibits a distinctive individuality, scholars continue to debate how to interpret the collection as a coherent whole. In this vein, I propose that the major themes of the Minor Prophets – land, kingship, the move from judgement to salvation, and the relationship of Israel to the nations – fine a unifying link in the missio Dei. The plan of God to redeem his entire creation is progressively unfolded in the Minor Prophets, in that the apostasy of God’s people in God’s land (Hosea; Joel) is but the first step in a history of redemption which culminates with the recognition by all nations that YHWH alone is worthy: ‘For from the rising of the sun to its setting my name will be great among the nations’ (Mal. 1:11). As such, the missio Dei in the Minor Prophets not only provides a reading strategy for interpreting the collection as a unified Book of the Twelve; it also shows how the Minor Prophets make a unique contribution to an OT theology of mission.

Posted by: timjdavy | December 2, 2014

Wrestling with the Big Questions: A Day In Job at LICC

Screen Shot 2014-12-02 at 10.15.17On 26 January I will be leading a day on the book of Job at the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity. If you are in the London area do come along!

Here are some details from LICC’s website:

Wrestling with the Big Questions: A Day in Job

The book of Job speaks a compelling word of honesty and hope into the deepest and most difficult of human experiences. Job’s story of suffering and the process he goes through with his comforters and with God is just as relevant for Christians and local churches today as we wrestle with our own questions and the questions of those around us.

Join us for this day workshop exploring the background, content, and contemporary vitality of the book of Job. Combining teaching sessions with opportunities for discussion, the day will be suitable for all those who would value an opportunity to dig deeper into the book of Job, exploring how Scripture nurtures Christian identity and mission in the world today.

The day will be led by Dr Tim Davy, Director of Research and Innovation at Redcliffe College in Gloucester. Having worked in student ministry in the UK and Russia, he has taught Biblical Studies and Mission at Redcliffe since 2004, and recently completed his PhD on a missional reading of the book of Job.

Things you need to know:

Date: Monday 26 January 2015, 10.30am-4.00pm (coffee from 10.00am)
Venue: LICC, St Peter’s, Vere Street, London W1G 0DQ
Cost: £18 – includes lunch and light refreshments throughout the day
Booking: Book online. Alternatively you can email us or call us on 020 7399 9555

Posted by: timjdavy | November 11, 2014

100 questions for missional Bible reading – question 2

“How does this text relate to the big story of God’s mission?”

We continue our series of 100 questions for missional Bible reading by asking a slightly different question concerning the missio Dei. In question one I asked, “How does this text fit into the big story of God’s mission?”. So how is today’s question different?

Over the last few years I have been working on a PhD on a missional reading of the book of Job at the University of Gloucestershire, under the supervision of Prof. Gordon McConville. Many more post on this topic to follow(!), but the key thing I want to pick out today is that asking how a text ‘fits into’ the big story of the Bible is only one (albeit important) way of probing the relationship between the text and that story.

Why is it that writing on the Old Testament and mission often ends up circling around texts that progress the chronological storyline or ‘plot’ of the Bible? It is easy to see how a text like Gen. 12:1-3 fits into and progresses the story of God’s purposes in the world because it is a key point in the chronological development of that story.

But what about those texts that do not progress the storyline, like Job, Proverbs, Song of Songs, etc? It seems to be that they require a different kind of question to unlock more fully their relationship with the grand narrative. Hence my original, if rather general and bland question, “How does this text relate to the big story of God’s mission?”

In the case of Job, one of the ways it can be seen as relating to the grand narrative is not by fitting into it but standing apart from it. More on this at a later date. In the meantime, let me ask you a question: Which biblical texts do you think are neglected in mission thinking and practice, and why do you think they are?

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