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Chloe's people.

Chloe was likely a businesswoman from Ephesus whose "people" were probably business agents acting for her. These agents reported to her and to Paul disquieting news from the church in Corinth, notably about serious splits, triumphalism that devalued the cross, and immorality. The articles in this issue, in addition to the one that directly addresses church conflict, deal with issues that can cause division: biblical interpretation, ecumenical relations, mission strategies, and interfaith dialogue. Tradition--the living faith of the dead--and appropriate appreciation of context, our authors insist, can turn potential conflicts into opportunities for growth and mission. We hope you will agree.

Robert Saler brings the theological resources of the Lutheran Confessions into dialogue with contemporary theology by discussing biblical hermeneutics. The key exegetical key used in the Confessions is gospel-formulated-as-promise, with an emphasis on the sacramental/communal dimensions inherent in promise. Promise therefore is more than simple opposition to law. The article suggests that the Lutheran Confessions, properly understood, can incorporate marginalized or disenfranchised "fragments" in radical and prophetic ways. David Tracy has pointed out that the hidden God today "comes to us principally through the interpretive experience and the memory of the suffering of whole peoples, especially the suffering of all those ignored, marginalized, and colonized by the grand narrative of modernity." Because the exegetical category of "promise" presupposes the hiddenness of God--even within God's revelation to human beings--to which the biblical texts bear witness in diverse ways, it can provide means for avoiding the injustices of hegemonic interpretation and for bearing witness to the God whose promises are simultaneously mysterious and sure. To take refuge in the absurd promise of mercy from God disrupts any totalizing schemas that efface what cannot be incorporated. The Cross shatters self-contented isolation and frees us to engage in dialogue with the other without fear.

Winston D. Persaud offers a Lutheran reflection on the document Eucharist and Ministry, which was published by the Lutheran-Roman Catholic dialogue in 1970. That document acknowledged that the ministry of the whole people of God and (ordained) Ministry are inextricably bound up with the church's task of proclaiming the gospel to all. Roman Catholic participants conceded that there is no clear biblical evidence that the Twelve were the exclusive Ministers of the Eucharist in New Testament times and also that there is difficulty in making affirmations about what is necessary in Eucharistic Ministry. On the other hand, they insisted that occasions in the history of the church where priests (rather than bishops) ordained other priests are to be viewed as exceptional and not normal. Nevertheless, the Roman Catholic participants concluded that the Lutheran Church by its devotion to gospel, creed, and sacrament has preserved a form of doctrinal apostolicity. Thirty-five years after Eucharist and Ministry was published, the author asks: Would consideration of missio Dei, in which the church participates, press us in unprecedented ways to find the way toward intercommunion?

Christopher R. Little points out that "Christianity" made in America is a local phenomenon without universal relevance, as recent mission efforts by evangelicals in Russia and China have demonstrated. American missionaries must make a renewed commitment to contextualization by adopting the model of transculturation. This entails the ability to move from the communicator's culture through biblical cultures to the receptor's culture so that the latter can comprehend God's message. This approach is particularly helpful for mission work in the Arab world. By serving within the honor/shame cultural context of the Arab world, similar to the one in which Christianity initially spread, a brighter day for American missions is possible. The author draws heavily on authors and experiences from the "evangelical" world, but his analysis of the New Testament honor/shame culture and the challenge of witnessing for Christ in a culture other than one's own are relevant to all who want to bear effective witness today.

Jerry L. Schmalenberger discusses congregational conflict, which is a growing phenomenon in Christian communities around the world. Chloe's people in 1 Corinthians reported to Paul that trouble was brewing in the congregation he had started at Corinth. This article reviews publications dealing with levels of conflict (Kenneth Haugk), unmet psychosocial needs that cause people to become dysfunctional in their relationships (Ron Susek), nine common sources of congregational conflict (Roy W. Pneuman), and strategies to solve conflicts (David Augsburger and Dudley Weeks). A special feature of the author's current Asian setting is conflict avoidance in order to save face, with the result that the conflict is never really addressed or resolved. Good preparation can lessen the havoc of conflict--the appointment of a mutual ministry committee, open communication, clear job descriptions for all on the staff, including committee chairs, and well-distributed responsibilities to a number of different people.

Finally, Harold Vogelaar has penned an extensive letter to the editor that responds to questions about the nature of Christian-Muslim dialogue at LSTC that were posed in an article by James A. Scherer in our June 2006 issue.

We know nothing about the motivations of Chloe's people or how they informed Paul about their findings. Were they busybodies, antagonists, or peacemakers? Chloe herself possibly typifies one type of woman who belonged to the Pauline community: female heads of households and businesses, women accustomed to social leadership and decision-making roles. Chloe and her people were important enough to evoke the great epistle of 1 Corinthians--not to mention to tie together this issue of Currents.

Ralph W. Klein, Editor
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Author:Klein, Ralph W.
Publication:Currents in Theology and Mission
Date:Feb 1, 2007
Previous Article:Fifth Sunday in Lent: March 25, 2007.
Next Article:The Lutheran confessional heritage and contemporary hermeneutics.

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