One of our themes in this edition is engaging with ourselves in Aotearoa New Zealand and with others.
In our opening article, Hamish MacLean offers a thought-provoking piece exploring how Te Tiriti o Waitangi can be understood as a covenant relationship. He draws on definitions from both the Old and New Testament to explore the variety of meanings of the concept of covenant, and what this concept offers to tangata tiriti today.
Also writing about cultural identity, Tala Page-To’oala, the daughter of a Pākeha father and Samoan mother reflects on her own journey in our Synergeo column. In particular, she explores how in her counselling practice she values both Miroslav Volf’s drama of Embrace (a Western concept), and poem by a writer who also identifies as Afakasi (half Samoan, half European). She offers a highly creative and moving reflection on culture, faith, and practice.
In our second article, taking his cue from Colossians 4, Mark Keown writes about how the Colossians (and us) are urged to make the most of every opportunity to engage in gracious conversation with those outside the faith; and that the sharing of the gospel involves the embodiment of gospel virtues of holiness, humility, and love.
In our third article, New Zealand church historian Stuart Lange charts the influence of the Evangelical Alliance in New Zealand from 1848-1986, focusing on the aim for a “spiritual” unity among New Zealand evangelicals.
This edition also contains a raft of creative engagements with theology in the everyday world. We have Peter Jelleyman’s evocative review of Derek Lind’s song “Brunelleschi's Dome,” and two poems by Miriam Fisher: “A Love Song for Leah” and “Mercy of Christ.”
In Geoff New’s column The Voice, he looks at two stories with one focus: what it’s like to have empathy for the other person – the one thought of as ‘wrong’ – in Jesus’ encounter with Mary and Martha (Luke 10), and the parable of the prodigal son (Luke 15). Ministry Corner features an interview with American musician and theologian Jeremy Begbie, facilitated by Judith Brown.
We then have a review by Yael Cameron of the game-turned TV series “The Witcher.” St Imulus offers his Even Newer Testament in brief. Rounding off this edition, in Laidlaw’s centenary year, Terry Pouono writes about the establishment of the Manukau campus of Laidlaw. We finish with a wealth of reviews of contemporary books.
This edition is the last with the current team of editors. Since 2017, Sarah Penwarden, Mark Keown, and Fiona Sherwin have helmed Stimulus, with the assistance of Derek Tovey as book reviews editor. With Sarah and Mark stepping back from their roles, we welcome a new team of Myk Habets and Erica Griffin, with Fiona Sherwin and Derek Tovey continuing.
As an editorial team, we have had many highlights since 2017. One of these was publishing the enormous special Covid editions in 2020. When the pandemic struck, we saw that the church in New Zealand had been thrust into an unprecedented time. We wanted to hear the voices of thinking Christians during lockdown, to help us make meaning of what was occurring. We sent out a call for papers and received over sixty submissions. This led us to publish three special Covid editions in one semester, rather than the usual one. This meant that for these editions we had around fourteen articles per issue, rather than the usual three or four.
The result was a collection of articles which viewed the pandemic from a wide range of perspectives. One perspective was biblical studies, where various authors drew on the Old Testament (Genesis, Esther, Job, Psalms, Isaiah), or the New Testament (Matthew’s Gospel, Romans, Philippians, Revelation), as well as systematic theology. Church history also featured including the writings of Augustine, a pastor in seventeenth-century plague-ridden London, and British theologian Evelyn Underhill. We also had articles on ecclesiology: the church as the pained body of Christ (Steve Taylor), on pastoral care and mental health (Lynne Taylor), church life and practice (Marty Folsom), the challenges of online communion (Jason Goroncy), as well as missions and monastic movements.
All these pieces were written by people of Christian faith who were seeking understanding; living in the world around them and having their faith tested, stretched, or grown through the pandemic. This is the vision of Stimulus – to encourage thoughtful, reflective, and faithful engagement with the contemporary world we find ourselves in.
We are grateful for this journey as the Stimulus team. We commend this issue to you and wish the new editorial team well for this next stage.
The Stimulus Team March 2023