Friday, 22 September 2017

James K.A. Smith on Awaiting the King

It will come as no surprise to some visitors to this blog that I have greatly appreciated the work of James K.A. Smith over the years (see here, here, here, here, here, and here), nor that I am looking forward to the imminent release of the third volume in his ‘Cultural Liturgies’ project – Awaiting the King: Reforming Public Theology (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2017) – looking at how worship shapes us as citizens of the King.

There’s more information about the book here, and a series of 10 short videos here in which he talks about the book, its emphases, and its relationship with other parts of his work.

He describes the book as a remix of Augustine and Oliver O’Donovan, nourished by his location in the Reformed (especially Kuyperian) tradition, but also pushing back on that tradition by making the church more central in how we think about our political witness.

In line with the earlier volumes in this series, and with Smith’s work elsewhere, he describes citizens as ‘lovers’, not just rational information processors. Our public and political life is caught up in dynamics of desire and formation. If we want to judge the character of a people, we have to discern what they love. The book is a liturgical analysis of what we worship politically, and what we are being trained to love when we step into those places as Christians.

We are, he says, to be a people whose political vision is animated by a vision of the King who is coming. For Smith, this means learning to walk a line between quietism and activism. We’re not just sitting around, not caring our shared public life; we’re waiting for the King. But nor are we activists in the sense that we think we’re going to bring the end about. We wait actively. We are caught up in what God is doing in the world, and the formative practices of the church shape us as a people who then shape the world.

In this sense, Smith hopes the book will recalibrate our posture towards public life, and he makes some helpful comments in this respect on steering between what he sees as the dangers of the ‘court evangelicals’ (those cosying up to power) and the Benedict Option.

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Southwestern Journal of Theology 59, 2 (2017) on Faith, Work, and Economics

The latest volume of the Southwestern Journal of Theology contains the below essays on the theme of ‘Faith, Work, and Economics’. Here’s an excerpt from the opening editorial:

‘[M]any Christians find themselves thinking of faith as a weekend endeavor and not something applicable to the whole of life. This is understandable if one thinks of the Christian life as existing only when one is gathered for religious events. The remaining time of the week must be for something else – something other than religion. However, if one considers Christianity as a whole-life faith endeavor, more than Sunday is in mind. Christianity then becomes something that is an everyday occurrence. If this is the case then work – what most people spend their time doing – must be a part of that lived-out faith. This raises the question, does the Bible actually speak to this concept of whole-life Christianity? The answer to that question is a resounding yes and the articles that follow are engaged with the broader question of what does the Bible say about faith, work, and economics.’

David W. Baker
Are Business People the Bad Guys? Person and Property in the Pentateuch

John S. Bergsma
The Year of Jubilee and the Ancient Israelite Economy

Eric Mitchell
Limited Government and Taxation in the Old Testament

Edd S. Noell
Land Grabs, Unjust Exchange, and Bribes: Economic Opportunism and the Rights of the Poor in Ancient Israel

John Taylor
Labor of Love: The Theology of Work in First and Second Thessalonians

Thomas W. Davis
The Business Secrets of Paul of Tarsus

The entire issue is available as a pdf here.

Saturday, 16 September 2017

Lausanne Global Analysis 6, 4 (July 2017)

July’s issue of Lausanne Global Analysis, from The Lausanne Movement, is available online from here, including pdf downloads.

In the issue overview, editor David Taylor writes:

‘In this issue we examine how the 2011 Japan earthquake transformed gospel understanding in Japanese churches; we consider how to reach Muslims through music, drawing on bridge-building lessons from Pakistan; we address the challenge of  ‘fake news’ and its impact on Christian witness in today’s post-truth society; and, in the light of his first 100 days in office, we ask what the ‘Trump Effect’ means for the church and mission.’

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Knowing and Doing (Fall 2017)

The Fall 2017 edition of Knowing & Doing – ‘A Teaching Quarterly for Discipleship of Heart and Mind’ – from the C.S. Lewis Institute is now available online (from here), and contains the following articles:

Joel Woodruff
President’s Letter – From Black and White to the Wonderful World of Color
In this President’s Letter, C.S. Lewis Institute President Joel S. Woodruff shares highlights of the new features and layout of our quarterly Knowing & Doing publication.

David George Moore
Where’s Waldo?
Ralph Waldo Emerson was a gifted nineteenth century American writer who helped launch a movement of sorts called transcendentalism, in which the individual supplanted religious traditions and institutions. David George Moore argues that while Emerson’s work isn’t well known among Americans, his influence on our lives is incalculable. In this article, he offers suggestions for how Christians can address the ongoing challenges posed by Emersonian philosophy.

Michael Ward
The Good Serves the Better and Both the Best: C.S. Lewis on Imagination and Reason in Christian Apologetics Part 2 of 3
In Part 2 of this article, Michael Ward continues his examination of some of the groundwork to the thinking of C.S. Lewis that enabled him to become so effective an apologist.

Gregory Ganssle
The Christian Story and Our Longing for Relationship
According to Gregory Ganssle, the Christian story makes sense of our deepest longings. That is, the story that Christianity sets forth fits well with the things we value most and with the kinds of people we want to be. In this article, he develops one aspect of this fittingness, the centrality of relationships to our well-being.

Robert Saucy
Born to Grow: Moving Beyond Forgiveness to an Abundant Life
Robert Saucy observes that the message of Scripture is that our life in Christ is more than the forgiveness of sins, more than the escape from God’s condemnation, but a new way to live, a new source of zest that thirsts and hungers for more. In this article, he explains that spiritual growth is a process, and Scripture gives light to the means of growth and the dynamic operations of these means.

Randy Newman
Introducing: “A Book Observed: An Online ‘Old Book’ Club” (An Interactive Feature from Knowing & Doing)
In this article, Randy Newman introduces a new, regular interactive feature from Knowing & Doing to help readers benefit from reading the great “old books.” The feature is called “A Book Observed: An Online ‘Old Book’ Club”. He also offers some thoughts on the question: Why read the great old books?

Randy Newman
An Encouragement to Read Jonathan Edwards’s The Religious Affections: How Sweet It Is!
In a culture where Christians are affected by fragmentation and compartmentalization, Randy Newman argues that getting “back to the Bible” means pursuing a holistic vision for what it means to be human and what that looks like in every way. Then, we will love God with all our heart, soul, strength, and mind. To help us do this, he recommends reading Jonathan Edwards’s classic The Religious Affections (1746). Edwards wanted his hearers and readers to know that just having an opinion about God or believing the right propositions about God doesn’t make one a Christian. Saving faith must be felt as well as understood.

John Chrysostom (350 – 407 AD)
The Importance of Daily Scripture Reading From the Sermon, “On Lazarus”
An inspiring classic sermon from the pulpit of John Chrysostom that we hope will be a blessing to you.

Richard Baxter (1615 – 1691)
Lord, It Belongs Not to My Care
In each issue of Knowing & Doing we include a poem as part of our desire to promote discipleship of the heart and mind. Poems stir affection, inspire devotion and stimulate emotions. No wonder the Scriptures contains so many of them! And by the way, C.S. Lewis loved poetry.

Friday, 8 September 2017

Centre for Public Christianity (September 2017)

Among other interesting items, the Centre for Public Christianity has posted a video interview with Sarah Williams (from Regent College in Vancouver) on ‘Life or Death’, in which she describes how 20 weeks into her third pregnancy she and her husband received the devastating news that their baby was not ‘viable’.

Also posted is an audio interview with Sarah on ‘The Story of Gender’, looking at the history of gender, how we’ve arrived at the understandings we have today, and the key roles that the Bible and Christianity have played in gender equality and women’s rights movements.

Thursday, 7 September 2017

Just Thinking 25, 4 (2017)

The current issue of Just Thinking, the magazine of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries, was recently posted online. The magazine is available to view from here, from where it can also be downloaded as a pdf.

Thursday, 24 August 2017

Themelios 42, 2 (August 2017)

The latest Themelios is online here (and available here as a single pdf), containing the below articles.

D.A. Carson
On Knowing When to Resign

Strange Times
Daniel Strange
The ‘Only’ Option

John C. Wingard Jr.
Confession of a Reformed Philosopher: Why I Am a Compatibilist about Determinism and Moral Responsibility
It is not fashionable among Christian philosophers today to be a compatibilist about morally significant freedom and determinism. This essay sketches a case for the reasonableness of embracing compatibilism that involves both theological and nontheological considerations. This is followed by a critique of the most widely recognized challenge to compatibilism, the consequence argument against compatibilism, that attempts to show why such an argument cannot succeed. The essay concludes by noting several implications of the sort of compatibilism defended here for developing a satisfactory moral psychology.

J. Daniel McDonald
Natural Selection and an Epistemology of Evil: An Incompatible Pair
Underlying the atheistic naturalist’s argument from evil against God’s existence is an assumed knowledge of evil—they know what evil is. For atheistic naturalists, Darwinian evolution serves as the framework of their worldview with natural selection as the blind agent of change. Assuming natural selection is true, how can one who holds to natural selection know what evil is and that something is evil—what the author calls an “epistemology of evil”? This article argues that the beliefs in natural selection and in the existence of evil are contradictory, undermining the argument from evil against God’s existence.

Jacob Shatzer
Wendell Berry’s “Risk”: In the Middle on Gay Marriage?
Wendell Berry’s influence has grown in recent years as many people, Christians or not, have found his agrarian vision a compelling corrective to various modern problems. However, Berry publicly took what we might call a “middle road” on gay marriage. This position surprised (and disappointed) many evangelicals that do not agree. But how does Berry’s position on gay marriage stand up to Berry’s own criticism? Does he agree with himself?

Obbie Tyler Todd
The Preeminence of Knowledge in John Calvin’s Doctrine of Conversion and Its Influence Upon His Ministry in Geneva
John Calvin believed that the mind served as the “citadel” to the soul, commanding the seat of conversion whereby God first remedied the noetic effects of sin before liberating the bound will. Therefore the Reformer consigned particular importance to human knowledge in the process of conversion that reverberated throughout his entire Genevan ministry. It is the aim of this article to examine Calvin’s developed hierarchy of faculties, particularly the chief functional status ascribed to the mind, and how this preeminence of knowledge influenced his view of sin, salvation, and Christian homiletics respectively.

Christopher Woznicki
Redeeming Edwards’s Doctrine of Hell: An “Edwardsean” Account
Jonathan Edwards provides subsequent generations of theologians and ministers with one of the most influential versions of the traditional account of hell. However, his account of hell has its detractors. Those who oppose Edwards’s account argue that it is morally appalling and philosophically problematic. As such, I attempt to defend Edwards’s account by addressing one of its most philosophically pressing objections: the issuant account objection. In order to do this, I turn to Edwards’s doctrine of the blessed state of the redeemed in heaven. This is a doctrine the resources of which can help provide a redeemed “Edwardsean” account of hell, one that is both traditional and issuant.

George A. Terry
A Missiology of Excluded Middles: An Analysis of the T4T Scheme for Evangelism and Discipleship
This article analyzes the theological premises of the popular T4T model for evangelism and discipleship. The analysis argues that the T4T scheme largely depends on several false dichotomies that do not engage the Scriptures except in order to proof text and it regularly excludes the middle area that conveys the biblical balance. The result is an overly rigid methodology that undervalues the influence of context in crosscultural communication. Rather than a theological vision that holds in biblical tension both truth and context, T4T sanctions an inflexible evangelism scheme that is more conducive to receptive audiences and a discipleship model that is more conversant with what is expedient than what is biblical.

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