Philosophy

I’m currently in the early stages of articulating a holistic philosophy called Hodos, meaning simply WayHodos sees religious faith as a Way of Life, rather than a creedal belief system. Entering into that Way of Life centres around a discernment of vocation and spiritual transformation.

Hodos draws its deepest inspiration from the story of the People of God: the Jews and the followers of Y’shua, the Jewish Messiah (Jesus, the Christ). Even so, Hodos invites a way of living vocationally that is accessible to all—not merely those who readily identify with religious faith.

Until Hodos is articulated and published, the following themes introduce the primary threads of philosophy and theology that influence my approach to life:

  1. Messianic discipleship
  2. Intercultural mutuality
  3. Contextual missiology
  4. Hebraic worldview
  5. Vocation.

Messianic discipleship

Discipleship is a deeply-rooted concept within Christianity.

In the era of Euro-centric modernity (i.e. post-Enlightenment), discipleship has been largely eclipsed by congregational, denominational and political priorities. That historical position is being challenged by expressions of Christianity emerging in the Majority World contexts of Africa, Asia, Latin America and, to a certain extent, amongst post-moderns in Western contexts.

“Disciple” essentially means “learner,” but it implies a form of learning that is lived out in practice, rather than being merely creedal in form.  I believe a revival of the centrality of discipleship will continue to shape, challenge and redefine how we understand Christian faith, throughout the next few decades.

Messianic discipleship is a form of learning centred around the Messiah, Yeshua (Jesus, the Christ).

Yeshua’s resurrected presence is experienced by receiving his Spirit. Through the Spirit, God’s covenant community is transformed into a charismatic community. A group of people endowed with spiritual gifts profoundly shaped to liberate human beings from idolatry and the allegiances and falsehoods that compete against the knowledge of God. (2 Corinthians 10:3-5).

The charismatic community is brought under God’s authority by being baptised into the Messiah. A body of people learning to walk in the footsteps of Jesus. Learning to exercise its God-appointed role, under the direction of the Spirit.

God’s intention is to co-work with this messianic, charismatic, covenant community. A community functioning with the strength, the power, the spiritual life, the anointing that he provides. The pathway to experiencing an anointed, messianic life is through yielding ourselves to God the Father.

This is the message of the cross: as we die to self, we become alive to God (Romans 6:4-13). As we embrace a practical form of discipleship, dying daily to ourselves, we learn the reality of living in union with God. Through spiritual union we are equipped to serve his eternal purpose.

My missional experience and missiological exploration of scripturally-based discipleship has led to the development of a resource named Maize Plant Discipleship, which is currently being published on a module-by-module basis.

Intercultural mutuality

Intercultural mutuality implies a working relationship between people of different cultures, based upon a mutual inter-cultural appreciation and compatibility of gifts, talents, characteristics and culture—all of which is rooted in a shared, vocational commitment to serving God’s eternal purpose, the missio Dei.

Intercultural mutuality embraces a missional stance that looks beyond colonialism, post-colonialism, independence and even inter-dependence and partnership, as typically understood. I neologised the terminology and and defined the concept (of “intercultural mutuality”), in my doctoral dissertation, Facilitating a Renewal of Discipleship Praxis Amongst Burkinabé Leaders and Learners.

A précis of how I explored intercultural mutuality and a presentation relating how it is relevant, in particular, to the interaction between African and Western Christianity is available here.

Contextual missiology

Missiology is the study of mission. It is a relatively new academic discipline that is becoming quietly established in a number of centres around the world—including Fuller School of Intercultural Studies, with whom I conducted my doctoral research. It draws upon numerous other disciplines, besides theology, in its search to understand mission.

A simple way of appreciating the significance of missiology is related to what David J. Bosch identifies as an “almost imperceptible shift from an emphasis on a church-centred mission to a mission-centred church” (Transforming Mission, 2005, p.370). This implies or leads to recognition of several vital realities:

  • The church is missionary by its very nature, because God is by nature missionary.
  • The church is a servant community, called into existence to serve God’s eternal purpose.
  • The church exists in tension with, but not separate to, a world in which injustice and corruption is both intrinsic and endemic.

Contextual missiology seeks to understand the unique ways in which God is at work and calling his covenant people to enjoin him in particular contexts. Key to this is an understanding of contextuality and contextualisation.

  • Contextuality is a missiological discernment of the “signs of the times.” These critical factors indicate the significance of a particular context to the missio Dei. In other words, contextuality explores what God is doing in particular contexts. It specifically challenges assumptions that God’s mission will be similar in diverse contexts. It insists that cultural insiders must lead the way in the process of contextualisation.
  • Contextualisation is the struggle of the People of God to embody God’s ‘eternal purpose’ in a particular context. Two elements keenly influence this struggle for embodiment: culture and Scripture. The people of God must live with this tension and hold them together in their embodiment. In this way, they express a continuity with both their spiritual history (Scripture) and their contextual history (culture).

Hebraic worldview

The Hebraic worldview offers deep and significant insights that are relevant to all of life. It is foundational to an appropriate hermeneutical perspective of Scripture (the Bible) and thus particularly valuable (read: challenging) for people immersed in modern evangelicalism. My own appreciation is indebted to several scholars, whose work I highly recommend: David H. Stern, Paul Sumner and Andrew Perriman:

  • David H. Stern’s magnus opus of the Jewish New Testament and accompanying Commentary, together with his “Messianic Jewish Manifesto” provides not only a lively translation, but a profoundly insightful one.
  • Paul Sumner’s unique scholarly work, of the Hebrew Streams website portal, is highly accessible. It is invaluable in appreciating how and why the Hebraic worldview is so valuable.
  • Andrew Perriman is concerned with a narrative-historical approach to scripture that seeks to grapple with “how we retell the biblical story as we negotiate the difficult transition from the centre to the margins of our culture following the collapse of Western Christendom.”

My own exploration of the Hebraic worldview is explored in particular in my Masters thesis, The Eternal Purpose of God. It is also woven into the theological fabric of the Maize Plant Discipleship syllabus.

 

Vocation

Throughout my entire adult life, the ground of my vocational work has been discerning and following God’s call upon my life. A call to me as an individual that is bound to God’s call to his Messianic Community, of which I am a member. 

Recently, insights from human development theory have helpfully informed my personal development and spiritual maturity. Unlike the disciplines listed above, I have not studied this discipline deeply. Even so, it has significantly shaped my understanding of vocation.

  • Alan Jamieson, in his thesis, A Churchless Faith, opened my eyes to the stages-of-faith thesis of James Fowler. Exploring that thesis, in Becoming Adult, Becoming Christian, informed my understanding of vocation, as something holistic and encompassing. Vocation is the central element of my personal philosophy of human being and development.
  • Elaine Aron, in The Highly Sensitive Person, documents and promotes the concept of high sensitivity. I experienced this as an enlightening ‘window onto my soul.’ It enabled me to, first of all, to accurately understand the traumatic experiences of my youth and young adult life. I was then became able to reframe my trauma and to work effectively on my personal sense of human being and development.
  • Parker J Palmer’s Let Your Life Speak provides a superb and simple introduction to some of the complexity involved in listening to the inner voice of our true selves, which is always guiding us towards an authentic expression of our personal vocation.

I am in the early stages of articulating a personal perspective on vocation and spiritual transformation, in the context of post-modern society. If you are interested in this, please follow this blog, join my personal mailing list, or follow me on social media.

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