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Mike hopes to see the world turned upside down through local communities banding together for social change, especially churches which have recognized the radical calling to be good news to the poor, to set free the prisoners and oppressed, and to become the social embodiment of the reign of God on earth as it is in heaven. He lives with the blessed memory of his wife, in Durham, NC, and has three adult children living in three different states. He also shares his life with the Mt. Level Missionary Baptist Church in Durham, the faculty and students of Shaw University Divinity School in Raleigh, NC, and the faithful fans of Duke and Baylor Basketball in his neighborhood.

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Friday, August 21, 2015

Missiology of "Out-Messaging" ISIS

I recently finished an essay on the notion of "light" in Christian missiology, including analysis of how in the modern age it became a cipher for spreading Western civilization.  One part of my research focused on John Winthrop's sermon about being "a city on a hill" because "the eyes of everyone" were watching.  In light of the "mission" of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, Winthrop's use of that text takes on a subordinate relationship to commercial development and acquisition of land to expand the influence of England. 

Well, today I was listening to foreign policy writers discussing the frustration over the continuing appeal and growth of ISIS in Syria and Iraq.  As they bemoaned the ineffectiveness of efforts to stop the growth of this military and ideological organization, one of them kept taking it back to the PR or propaganda campaign that some believe is needed to "out-message" ISIS's own outreach.  Describing the failure of "State Department twitter" to curb ISIS, he said, "there's no sense of turning any kind of 'beacon on the hill' or  'shining city' kind of message to give any kind of alternative options to the disenfranchised and the humiliated and the oppressed populations who have somehow made this decision that I'm going to become a person who is on the other side of the cage from that Jordanian pilot and light him on fire."

I wish I had had that quotation when I was writing.  It is about the best example of using that Matthew 5 text to describe promoting Western civilization that I have heard.  Without any direct attempt to be theological, this theological resource was pulled from the knapsack to promote a soteriology of civilization.

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