The importance of thinking globally

Recently the Minister for World Mission from All Souls Church in London, Anna Bishop, came to visit Tearfund to speak in our Staff Prayers. Somewhere between a school assembly and a church service, these hour long meetings are a chance for Tearfund staff to get updates on our work, to worship together, and to also hear from Christian leaders and thinkers.

So Anna Bishop dropped in, and as well as speaking eloquently about the importance of the global church acting as one body, drawing from 1 Corinthians 12, she also gave us a very long reading list with titles from all across the world.

Describing the title of her talk ‘Global Theology’ as her ‘favourite subject’, she emphasised why we should be reading a diverse range of theological books, and not just from the UK or the US.

‘I never read one book and agree with it all, so in those twenty books I wouldn’t say that I agree with everything. But I think it’s so important for us to read and to engage and to think critically about what we can learn from the worldwide church... I’d really encourage you to investigate, to see what might help you, what might bless you, what gifts the worldwide church might have for you.’

We know many people who have linked with Tearfund partners through Connected Church would love to know more about global theology, so we have compiled some of Anna’s recommendations below. When you’ve read one, let us know what you think by emailing churches@tearfund.org

The Africa Bible Commentary, the South Asia Bible Commentary, and two single-book commentaries by Prof. Samuel M. Ngewa.

As we read the Bible

Anna recommended grabbing one or both of the regional Bible commentaries that have come out recently - the Africa Bible Commentary and the South Asia Bible Commentary. There’s also a Latin American one due out soon.

She says: ‘They are brilliant! Brilliant to use in your quiet times, brilliant to use in your church or your group Bible studies. They give you lots of different views from the region, all in one big book.’

If you’re a little bit intimidated by the size of a whole Bible commentary, why not try a study guide written for a book of the Bible? Professor Samuel M Ngewa is a Kenyan theologian who contributed significantly to the Africa Bible Commentary, but he has also written study guides to Galatians, 1 & 2 Timothy, and Titus.

Thinking about our character

If you’re wondering how the global church thinks about leadership, why not consider one perspective from Sri Lankan theologian and church leader Ajith Fernando? His book The Jesus Driven Ministry was highly recommended by Anna, who described it as ‘One of my favourite books of all time. About servant leadership, about the joys and pains, about the people centred-ness of Jesus’ ministry and what he calls us to.’

Or perhaps you would like another view on how Christians should interact with politics? You could try Toward a Christian Political Ethics by José Miguez Bonino, a renowned theologian from Argentina, described by the World Council of Churches in his obituary as ‘a perennial ally and a prophetic critic’ of the ecumenical movement.

Noticing Our Blind Spots

One area Anna thinks reading more widely can help us with is our blind spots. ‘I think the global church can help us to identify the things we’re not even thinking about.’ One area where she feels her eyes have been opened is spiritual warfare.

‘So I know that being from a reformed, quite conservative, quite Western, rich church, we don’t think about spiritual warfare very much. We don’t talk about the devil very much, and so there is a great book by the Lausanne Movement, Spiritual Conflict in Today’s Mission, to help us think through what are the spiritual elements, what are the spiritual forces in what we’re trying to do, whether that’s church planting, or development.’

What global theology books have you read lately that you would recommend to others? Let us know by emailing churches@tearfund.org

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