Tuesday, May 15, 2012

"Hidden In Plain Sight": More on John Morehead, Evangelist to the Pagans

This post is just a bibliography (with a few notes) of essential reading for anyone interested in the career of John Morehead, Missiologist Extraordinaire and Self-Appointed Evangelist to the Pagans. I'll probably add more to the list later, but this is a good start.

Hidden in Plain Sight: The Mission Challenge of New Religious Movements
International Journal of Frontier Missions, 1998
"In 1993 I was privileged to be able to assist Jim Stephens as he served to prepare a special IJFM edition dealing with mission to Buddhists (IJFM, Vol. 10:3, July 1993). As a former member of a pseudo-Christian sect, and given my work as a Christian researcher and missionary to new religious movements (NRMs) after becoming a Christian, I was eager to someday explore the possibility of approaching a mission periodical about discussing the challenge of new religious movements to Christian missionary efforts. Thankfully, Dr. Hans Weerstra, the editor of IJFM, has provided us with just suchan opportunity."

The Watchman Fellowship: Morehead's former comrades in the spiritual war against "cults". Morehead joined Watchman in 1999, at which time the "discernment ministry" organization headed by Morehead, the "Truthquest Institute", merged with Watchman.

Tired of Treading Water: Rediscovering and Reapplying a Missiological Paradigm for 'Countercult' Ministry
paper presented at the annual meeting of Evangelical Ministries to New Religions, New Orleans, 2000.

Missiological Paradigms (2002)
Presentation to the annual meeting of Evangelical Ministries to New Religions
“Listening to the concerns of our critics [cults] …making changes in our ministries in light of any valid criticisms they may bring.”

Encountering New Religious Movements: A Holistic Evangelical Approach
Irving Hexham, Stephen Rost, John Morehead, published in 2004
excerpt from Introduction:
"Toward the end of the twentieth century, a new climate of opinion concerning new religions began to be expressed by Christian authors writing from different reference points in the United States, Canada, Great Britain, and Australia. Through various books, journals, and periodicals, they began to question the evangelical understanding of many new religious groups and movements, and the effectiveness of the dominant apologetic methodology in reaching their adherents. Many argued that the apologetic refutation of 'cultic' teachings had not translated into effective communication of the gospel to new religionists in understandable terms. They indicated that this impasse might be overcome through an interdisciplinary methodology that would include the integration of contextualized mission principles into the apologist’s task."

Insights from Communications and Missions for New Religions
A 2005 article by John Morehead published at the StandingTogether.Org website.
"The history of missions teaches us that the most effective evangelism takes place within the context of relationships. This may be one of evangelicalism’s greatest challenges as we face our need to move increasingly outside our evangelical subculture in order to develop relationships with our neighbors representing differing religions. We should also remember that these relationships need to be authentic and open, and not merely a means to the end of evangelism. Evangelicals might consider that not only do we have something to offer in relationships with those of other religions, but we can learn things of value from these relationship partners as well."

John Morehead on Ronald Hutton 2005

John Morehead on Ronald Hutton 2007

John Morehead interviews Irving Hexham 2007
"Irving, it is a pleasure to be able to talk with you and to learn a few important lessons about religion in our global culture. Let's start with a little of your background. How did you come to the Christian faith, and where did you pursue your academic studies?"

John Morehead interviews Karla Poewe 2007
"In your book you mention certain forms of Neo-Paganism played a part in the National Socialism of Germany. Of course, National Socialism and racist ideologies are still to be found in Europe and the West today, and there also seems to be an increase of interest in certain expressions of Neo-Paganism with emphases on racial and ethnic emphases. How are some forms of Paganism connected to the New Right today?"

Burning Man Festival as Life-Enhancing, Post-Christendom 'Middle Way'
An interview with John Morehead from 2007
"Perhaps our careful theological and missiological reflection on these aspects of Burning Man might be used by the Spirit to provide the seeds for the church's revitalization and renewed credibility in the post-Christendom West."

The Western Institute for Intercultural Studies (WIIS) (founded 2008)
"In the past I worked through an organization called Neighboring Faiths Project, but various circumstances have come together to result in a transformation of this organization into something new ... WIIS represents an expansion and revision of the work begun several years ago under the previous organization that have been transferred over to the new ministry. For some time now it has been my desire to help evangelicals and mainline Protestant Christians come to a new way of understanding the new rehttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gifligious movements in America and the Western world, one that shifts from viewing many of them as 'cults' to a broader framework that understands them as religious or spiritual cultures or subcultures. Within this context I have been pursuing a multidisciplinary approach to understanding the new religions, and have also been reflecting on the history of Christian missions and cross-cultural missiology as sources that can inform how the story of Jesus might more appropriately be shared with those pursuing alternative spiritual pathways." [from the Morehead's Musings blog]

New Religions, Subjective Life Spiritualities, and the Challenge to Missions in the Post-Christian West
By John Morehead (July 2008)
"One of the greatest challenges the Church faces in the modern Western context is the general turn away from interest in and involvement with institutionalized forms of religion, such as Christianity, and the corresponding move toward an inward and subjective expression of spirituality."

JOHN MOREHEAD and Friends: Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing?
by Carol Guffey February 28, 2008
This is a very interesting attack on Morehead by an evangelical who thinks Morehead is too cozy with teh Pagunz. That, of course, is perfectly predictable, and if that's all there was to it, this kind of attack would only serve to highlight Morehead's role as the "soft-cop" to the more typical evangelical "hard-cop". But what's interesting is the background the piece gives on Morehead's biography, and especially his trajectory from splinter group Mormon (Community of Christ, née RLDS), to ex-Mormon counter-cult activist, to the "more sensitive and holistic approach" of Moreheads current missionary efforts.

John Morehead on Ronald Hutton 2009

John Morehead on Ronald Hutton 2010

Lausanne Issue Group on Religious and Non-Religious Spirituality Set to Meet in Hong Kong (May 2012)
"This strategic group continues to address the often-neglected missional challenge of new religious movements, alternative religions and emerging spiritualities in the Western world. After the 2004 gathering the group completed a substantial document on this topic in the form of Lausanne Occasional Paper No. 45 that was published in book form in addition to the electronic file on the Lausanne website. The issue group has also created a website in preparation for a mini-consultation in Hong Kong at the Tao Fong Shan Christian Centre 30 September to 6 October 2006."

Also of interest: back in the 90s, Morehead was something of a "specialist" in Anthroposophy: