House Churches and bishops during the Apostolic Period

I’m enjoying reading an article by Nicholas Taylor in the Scottish Episcopal Institute Journal. I particularly enjoyed his reconstruction of how house churches eventually became congregations that were not just members from one family and the associated slaves or servants, and also of how the local house churches leaders eventually gave birth—early on—to having one house church elder with oversight over other congregations, which is to say a bishop:

It is clear that congregations were, or rapidly became, more than simply the household at worship. As well as itinerant Christian missionaries and other travellers who might temporarily attach themselves to a Christian congregation, and avail themselves of the hospitality of the householders, cities attracted disparate and displaced individuals who, for whatever reason, had temporarily or permanently lost their roots in the household to which they had belonged. If these were converted, they might have attached themselves to an existing church and household, or perhaps have formed a church of their own, apart from the patronage system of household and city. Churches may also have been formed of more than one household, particularly when a person of wealth and status was able to provide a degree of protection and access to Christian teaching not available to a poorer household.

It is precisely at the point at which a church moves beyond the parameters of the household that the emergence of distinctive, defined, and titled forms of hierarchy and ministry should be sought. The most powerful householder in a city or town, who would almost certainly have hosted gatherings of the church, either in his own home or in a public building rented for the purpose, would at this point have emerged as bishop. (p. 32, Volume 2:4, Winter 2018)

The entire journal can be downloaded through academia.edu.

Celebrating 25 years of ministry for Anglican Frontier Missions: *Shadows from Light Unapproachable*

Shadows from Light Unapproachable:

AFM’s Silver Anniversary Book

Tad de Bordenave, ed.

We are familiar with shadows and signs of God’s work in many places in the world.  The focus of this book, however, is on shadows overlooked or not recognized. These shadows come from the Gospel spreading to each and every ethnic group. Shadows of Light Unapproachabledraws the mind’s eye to behold the beauty of the searching love deep in the heart of “Light Unapproachable.”

The book traces the origins, the people, and the continuing foundations of Anglican Frontier Missions at its 25th year. I open my chapter with this brief profile of AFM: “The passion of AFM is the humbled and amazed awe before the slender glance we have of the love of God. The direction of our path is to those who do not yet know of this love.”

CoverThe ensuing chapters describe the way this missionary society has served God’s vision. They cover the basic questions of who,where, and how.

For the who, three chapters give transparent stories of ordinary people called into this ministry. One traces a couple’s very surprising call to Nepal. Another describes the strategic efforts by a creative husband and wife to plant the first church in a remote population. A third gives the adventures of a couple carrying out pastoral care for the missionaries in very far-flung areas.

The where takes us to about a dozen countries and ethnic groups within them. The dominant religions in these are Buddhist, Communist, traditional religions, Hindu, and Islam. Missionaries recount their challenges, their persevering efforts, and the support of God directly and through his church.

The how comes in two ways. First, we are given deep insights into the major religious forces of today. One who interacts with Muslims and teaches Islamics gives a clear analysis of Islam and Muslim goals. Two workers in India tell of their strategies among ethnic groups in highly resistant areas of that great country. We read of the remarkable missionary expansion of the Diocese of Singapore, initiated about the same time as AFM.

The other section on howcomes from three essays that uncover what are called “the treasures of Anglicanism in the world of frontier mission.” These chapters show the application of the plain essences of our tradition and the enormous advantages they bring to the world of church planting in frontier settings. These chapters will increase our appreciation for what may be familiar in our tradition but will become more valued in this new light.

Chris Royer begins his Introduction with Yogi Berra’s wisdom that if you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up somewhere else. In fact, as Chris goes on to say, AFM follows a vision that is not our own. He states this clearly in his final chapter, titled “Pressing Onward,” where he concludes with the hope and the future of AFM:

And so, AFM’s vision remains unchanged from our founding days: to mobilize the church to pray for and send missionaries to the largest and least-evangelized people groups and geographical regions, that churches might be established among all the 16,833 ethnolinguistic nations on our planet. Before this became our vision, it was Christ’s vision. And human history is marching forward toward the fulfillment of this vision: ‘With your blood you purchased for God persons from every tribe and language and people and nation.  You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth’ (Revelation 5:9-10, New International Version).

Hallelujah!  Amen.

Shadows from Light Unapproachable (Northumberland Historical Press, 2018) is available through Amazon.com. Read the Table of Contents here. Download the press release here.

The above press release is by the Rev. Tad de Bordenave. I was privileged to contribute a chapter titled “The World of Islam”. Download the PDF here: Duane Miller The World of Islam.

Willa Cather’s *Death Comes for the Archbishop*

Death Comes for the ArchbishopDeath Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Enchanting, profound, elegiac, epic, beautiful. As a man with a PhD in Divinity and professor at a seminary I will tell you that the missiology and anthropology of religion in this book is penetrating and deep. As a priest and pastor I found it incredibly moving, sometimes to the point of tears.

Anyone interested in the history of the West of the USA or missiology should read this book or listen to the audio version.

View all my reviews

“Thinking about Mission the Anglican Way” in *The Living Church*

I’m glad to share a new article just published at the blog of The Living Church. I am basically asking why Anglicans have a concrete approach to music, theology, and architecture, but don’t seem to have anything like this when it comes to global mission. Here is the lead:

Like most Christians, we Anglicans tend to love our traditions and cherish our identity, from the prayer book and particular holy days, or to the very idea of being a via media, Reformed and Catholic at the same time. We are excited when a new church plant or satellite campus opens, and in some Anglican circles there has been a veritable revival in church planting in North America and the United Kingdom. We usually appreciate our diversity — that one can be catholic or evangelical or liberal, though the last decade has tested some important boundaries. We like to send our ordinands off to seminaries within our tradition, we read books by our tradition’s authors (though not exclusively, of course), and we even have our styles of architecture and hymnody.

But then something funny happens on the way to world evangelism. When it comes to cross-cultural missionary work, we quickly forget about our Anglican distinctives. This doesn’t happen in other areas, so why does it happen with cross-cultural and global mission?

Check it all out here.

Movements from Islam to Christianity

In the 1960s we saw the beginning of a historically unprecedented series of movements from Islam to Christianity. In this lecture I present a summary of some key elements of three of them–Indonesia, Iran, Algeria–and then offer an overall analysis of three categories of factors facilitating conversion in the modern and late modern context.

This is the second of my four Copenhagen lectures.

Delivered at St Nathaniel’s Evangelical Lutheran Church in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Celebrating 500 years of Reformation in Madrid–guest post for VirtueOnline

The Reformation fell on hard times in Spain. The Spanish Inquisition was vibrant and energetic and that institution was not disbanded until 1834. This meant that anyone sympathetic to Protestant ideas had to flee from Spain or keep their ideas to themselves.

There is a bit of my article on our special celebration of the 500th anniversary of the beginning of the Protestant Reformation which took place on October 31st at the Cathedral of the Redeemer here in Madrid.

Read it all at VirtueOnline.

“La Iglesia Catedral del Redentor”

The Reformed Episcopal Church of Spain (of which I am a clergy member) published this booklet some decades ago. It really needs to be updated! However, there is little information available about the Anglican Cathedral of the Redeemer in Madrid, so I thought I would make this booklet available to any researcher or curious party.  I scanned it and it can now be found at Scribd. Also, check out the cathedral’s homepage.