Prophets and Margins
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ISSN 1481-0794

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Everywhere will be Called Eden

The Role of the Spirit in Creation

The Role of the Spirit in Redemption

Theology Back to the Mission Frontier

The Black Church in Canada

Future Faith Churches

Perspectives on Justice

Doctor of Ministry Abstracts

The theme of the inaugural issue of the electronic McMaster Journal of Theology and Ministry is that of "Prophets and Margins." Throughout the history of Israel and the Church, the Spirit has consistently called God’s people to address situations of marginalization in the name of divine justice, compassion, and mercy. In fact, these communities of faith have traditionally understood the prophetic imperative to be rooted not simply in social or ethical mandates per se, but more fundamentally in the character of God, first revealed in God’s own historical acts of redemption and deliverance. Accordingly, the articles that follow discuss the church’s mission under the impetus of the Holy Spirit, reflecting on various ways in which the God calls forth ministries of justice on behalf of those who—from one perspective or another—are marginalised within society.

In his convocation address at McMaster Divinity College in May of 1997, Theology Back to the Mission Frontier, the Bolivian missiologist Samuel Escobar invites us to consider the implications of the Western church's current situation for the task of theological reflection. He proposes that the church's recognition that it stands on a missionary frontier actually sharpens such reflection, calls for a new partnership between churches of different cultural backgrounds, and demands a new openness to the work of the Holy Spirit in our day.

Taking up this challenge, Clark Pinnock, McMaster Professor of Systematic Theology, addresses the role of the Holy Spirit in creation and redemption in a pair of essays first offered on October 3-4, 1996, as the Theta Phi Lectures at Asbury Theological Seminary in Kentucky. The first lecture, The Role of the Spirit in Creation, seeks to recapture the cosmic dimension of the Spirit’s work as the means of God's dynamic presence, gracious stewardship, and ongoing ministry of life to the entire created order. The second lecture, The Role of the Spirit in Redemption, explores the implications of a "Spirit Christology" for redemption, understood beyond merely individualist and juridical categories in terms of a transformative process of incorporation into Christ. These two articles first appeared in Asbury Theological Journal 52.1 (Spring, 1997), 47-62, and are reproduced here by kind permission of that publication.

Seeking to clarify the philosophical foundations on which the church bases its understanding and practice of justice, Joyce Bellous (Assistant Professor of Lay Empowerment and Discipleship at McMaster Divinity College) debates the role of perspective in determining norms for ethical conduct. In her article, Perspectives on Justice, she explores the differences between Aristotelian and Hebraic/Christian concepts of justice, as they apply to issues of current debate.

Kate Penfield’s essay, And Then Everywhere Will Be Called Eden Once Again, is adapted from a lecture offered on February 17, 1997 to the sixth annual John N. Gladstone Festival of Preaching at McMaster Divinity College. She explores the disjunction between the constraints on the role of women that the church has often adopted and reinforced, on the one hand, and the radical social implications of Scripture for women’s ministry, on the other.

Reviewing the history of The Black Church in Canada, Denise Gillard, a recent McMaster graduate and Baptist pastor, provides a valuable summary of the Black Church experience both in New France and under the subsequent British regime (particularly in Nova Scotia and what would later become Ontario). By way of conclusion, she identifies key metaphors for interpreting the difficulties, as well as the achievements of that experience from an Afro-centric perspective.

With a view to the situation of the church in Canada, Don Posterski (Vice President of National Programs for World Vision Canada and Associate Professor in Christianity and Culture at McMaster Divinity College) explores the topic, Future Faith Churches: In Pursuit of Soul Care and Social Care. This article summarizes the author’s several addresses to Praxis ‘97, a conference on Christian social engagement that he co-led with Ron Sider in seven cities across Canada throughout October of 1997.

Finally, the McMaster Journal of Theology and Ministry shares with McMaster’s Doctor of Ministry programme a commitment to encouraging and strengthening the ministry of the Christian church. The purpose of the D.Min. degree is to equip church leaders to be more competent and effective in their ministries. To that end, the programme seeks to facilitate the integration of traditional academic disciplines with the practice of ministry, and spiritual maturation with effective vocational leadership. Included here are summaries of Doctor of Ministry thesis projects currently in progress; we hope to publish some of the results of this research in future issues of the Journal.

We welcome your comments and responses either to the McMaster Journal of Theology and Ministry in its entirety, or to any of the articles that are included in this issue. Edited versions of these responses will be posted as they are received.

Michael Knowles

Editor, McMaster Journal of Theology and Ministry.