What does the Bible say about power?

This is the title of a Lent series put on in partnership between the Methodist Relief and Development Fund and the Evangelical Alliance.

The attainment and abuse of power has not, to my knowledge, always been a prominent theme in scholarship. Is this because those with power tend not to think about it, in the same way as those with money tend not to think that money is not an issue?

Three books among many that deal with the issue are Mary Evans commentary on 1 & 2 Samuel in the NIBC series; Dewi Hughes’ Power and Poverty: Divine and Human Rule in a World of Need; and my doctoral supervisor Gordon McConville’s God and Earthly Power: An Old Testament Political Theology, Genesis-Kings.

Here’s the blurb for the MRDF series:

Power – we have more of it than we think.

Poverty robs people of much more than food, clean water and access to education – it robs them of the power to control their lives.
The Bible has a lot to say about the uses and abuses of power. This study pack draws on examples from scripture and the contemporary world to explore the nature of power; and challenges us to think about the power we have and how we can use it.
The six-part course includes:
  • in-depth Bible studies
  • modern day examples of empowerment from MRDF’s work
  • engaging group discussions
  • ideas for individual and group action

For more details, as well as downloads and links, visit the MRDF website.


Biblefresh is an exciting new initiative that is just being launched around the UK to encourage Bible reading and engagement. Here’s some info about it from the EA/Slipstream website

What is Biblefresh?
Biblefresh is a joint initiative which aims to encourage and inspire churches across the UK to make the most of the year 2011, empowering Christians to a deeper level of engagement with the Bible. The initiative brings together nearly a hundred agencies to raise the level of biblical literacy across the UK, through the following four tracks:

1. Bible reading

According to recent research only 1 in 7 Christians are likely to read the Bible outside of a church meeting. Making use of developments in digital technology and creative publishing, this track seeks to inspire Christians to read the Bible afresh, individually, in groups and as whole churches. Watch out for the Biblefresh handbook, packed full of creative suggestions and inspirational material arriving in May 2010.

2. Bible training

Our research tells us that only half of church leaders are confident in their Bible knowledge. Forty percent of Christians even feel undermined in their confidence in Scripture particularly after the recent militant atheism onslaught. Many Christianswho teach the Bible, such as Sunday school teachers and house-group leaders, have received no training in interpreting and applying the Bible. This Biblefresh track aims to equip Christians with improved Bible handling skills. Initiatives include:

– opportunities to learn at the major Christian festivals including: Keswick, Soul Survivor, Spring Harvest, CRE

– special courses and seminars at Bible colleges, churches and institutes around the UK

3. Bible translation

With over 200 million people without the Scriptures in their own language and 2393 language groups yet to have their own Bible, Biblefresh will be asking churches during 2011 to give financial support to a translation project facilitated jointly by Bible Society and Wycliffe Bible Translators, enabling more people worldwide to access the Bible. However we also recognise that the Bible is ‘foreign’ to many people in our own communities. This track also seeks to make the Bible more accessible to those outside the church.

4. Bible experiences

This track seeks to provide fresh experiences of the Bible to draw people back to reading and living it. Through the arts; particularly film, music and painting this track seeks to whet the appetite for biblical engagement. During 2011 the Biblefresh tour and resources will highlight some of the ways this can be achieved by local churches.

Download the Biblefresh Leaders Guide for more helpful information.

Square Mile initiative

Square MileJesus calls his followers to be salt and light in the world (Matt. 5:13-16). Salt and light make a difference. You would notice if they weren’t there. But,

‘Would anyone in your community notice if your church ceased to exist?’

This provocative question is asked by the Evangelical Alliance as part of a new initiative called ‘Square Mile’, which aims to encourage churches to engage in truly integral mission.

Here’s what they say,

Square Mile is an Evangelical Alliance initiative which aims to catalyse and equip Christians to take a truly integrated approach to mission, expressed in four dimensions:

Mercy: demonstrating God’s compassion to the poor
Influence: being salt and light in the public life of the community
Life Discipleship: equipping Christians for missional living as workers & neighbours
Evangelism: faithful and relevant communication of the gospel

For more information, check out the Square Mile website

Mission, the resurrection and HIV AIDS

Today’s post is a contribution to Slipstream’s synchronised blogging day. Slipstream is part of the Evangelical Alliance and “exists to network, equip and grow leaders across the generations”. They asked bloggers to post an entry on the resurrection on Maundy Thursday.

In my recent post Human trafficking and mission I asked how we might connect certain texts in the Old Testament with the issue of contemporary slavery and trafficking. Today I want to highlight one aspect of the importance of the resurrection in relation to the global shadow of HIV/AIDS. In his The Mission of God: Unlocking the Bible’s Grand Narrative, Chris Wright offers the following comments, which are well worth reflecting upon:

Only the gospel offers and proclaims the promise of a new humanity to those whose present humanity has been shattered and shredded by this virus.

I say “only the gospel” with a double intention. First, because this essential gospel promise of eternal life for all who believe, founded on the cross and resurrection of Christ, is nonnegotiable and cannot be substituted for or sublimated into any of the other responses that we must make to HIV/AIDS, all of which have their own equally nonnegotiable validity and Christian interpretation. But secondly, I say only the Christian gospel, as distinct from all other religions and their view of death. For actually, it is the stark fact of death that throws up and defines most clearly the chasmic divide between religions and between the myriad views of what salvation might mean…

a missiology that omits the only ultimate answer to death from the range of responses to those in the grip of death has no claim to a Christian name either. (pp. 440-441, emphasis in bold is mine)