We held the second in a likely series of meetings this month with the assistance of a Belgian missiologist that does not live here, but with whom I resonate deeply. The first, last year, was about trying to understand the cultural nuances here that help or impede the Gospel. This year we took the idea several steps further to explore not only cultural issues but also to seek a common approach to overcoming the typical Russian’s objection to the Good News.
We started by reviewing the results of last year’s discussion, and then I added to the mix what I had learned earlier this month at a conference on the Russian mentality. I added in some theoretical considerations from a Christian social theorist, Gary North, who posits:
Beginning with the researches of George Mendenhall in the 1950s, Bible scholars, liberals and conservatives, have come to recognize that the Mosaic covenant has a particular structure. It has five points. There have been various attempts to label these five points, but they boil down to these: God’s transcendence and presence, hierarchical authority, ethics, oath, and succession. This can be expressed by an acronym: THEOS. This is the Greek word for God.
In 1963, a book by Westminster Seminary’s Meredith G. Kline appeared: Treaty of the Great King. It was a brief commentary on the Book of Deuteronomy. Following Mendenhall, Kline divided Deuteronomy into five sections. He then made comparisons of this structure with suzerainty treaties of the Middle East in the second millennium, B.C. They, too, had the same five-point structure. He concluded that this is evidence that Deuteronomy was written in the second millennium, B.C., and not almost a millennium later in the first millennium, B.C., which liberals have long insisted. Kline reprinted this commentary in his larger book, By Oath Consigned (1972).
In writing my economic commentaries on the five books of Moses (Pentateuch), I discovered that two other books are structured by this five-point model: Exodus and Leviticus. The Pentateuch itself is structured in terms of it.
Genesis: origins (sovereignty)
Exodus: covenant (authority)
Leviticus: boundaries (law)
Deuteronomy: inheritance (succession)
David Chilton in his Days of Vengeance (1987) has shown that the book of Revelation is structured in terms of it. In social theory, I have classified these categories as sovereignty, authority, law, judgment, and kingdom. In economics, I have classified them in terms of these questions:
Who’s in charge here?
To whom do I report?
What are the rules?
What happens to me if I obey? Disobey?
Does this outfit have a future?
In other words, all social theory must grapple with these five questions.
Then I introduced a paradigm that would come at these questions on an individual level.
- Whom can I trust?
- To whom do I belong?
- Who am I?
- What is my purpose?
- What am I good at?
Where I was trying to go was to help bring these three areas into a sort-of grand unified whole. I won’t go into any more here. Write me if you are interested. The point is that we discussed these kinds of things, and the participants enjoyed our interaction enough to be open to meeting regularly. What is amazing about this is that there is no such forum here for ministry leaders to meet and talk shop with each other. I feel like I am about to start a Russian version of the ministry I founded in Richmond, Christian Ministries United. There is certainly a need for it, but I hadn’t planned on doing it myself. We’ll see how it goes.