Saturday, 4 July 2020

Mission Frontiers 42, 4 (July-August 2020)

The July-August 2020 issue of Mission Frontiers, published by the U.S. Center for World Mission, contains a number of articles on the theme of ‘Missions in the Age of Coronavirus’.

According to the blurb:

‘In this issue we observe how COVID-19 is leaving its impact on outreaches across the globe.  As this virus is changing our lives in dramatic ways, it is also changing the way we go about doing missions – which is what this issue is all about. How do we reach people and make disciples while wearing masks and practicing social distancing?

‘We take a fascinating look back at how the Church has responded to pandemics throughout history and review ways that we can respond biblically as Christ followers. We take you on a journey to see how some movements around the world are using the pandemic to reach people for Jesus. You will be called to action when you read how God’s people move directly into suffering – despite the circumstances surrounding them.’

The issue is available here, from where individual articles can be downloaded, and the entire issue can be downloaded as a pdf here.

Wednesday, 1 July 2020

The Bible Project on the Character of God

The Bible Project team has produced a video on Exodus 34:6-7, ‘the most repeated and re-quoted text in the Bible’, kicking off a brand new series on the character of God. They write:

Exodus 34:6-7 is the first description of God’s attributes found in the Bible, and it’s referenced throughout much of the Bible. Here we learn that all of God’s actions are an expression of these attributes: compassion, grace, patience, loyal love, and faithfulness. This list of God’s character traits has been carefully designed to help us see the meaning and importance of each trait in relation to the others.’

Monday, 29 June 2020

The Journal of Inductive Biblical Studies 7, 1 (2020)

The latest issue of the Journal of Inductive Biblical Studies is now available online, with the below articles and their abstracts (where available). Individual essays are available from here, and the journal is available in its entirety as a pdf here.

David R. Bauer

From the Editors

David Schreiner

“Now Rehoboam, Son of Solomon, Reigned in Judah”: Considering the Structural Divisions of Kings and the Significance of 1 Kgs 14:21

This essay discusses the main divisional breakdown of the Book of Kings. After detailing a disconnect in scholarly discourse over the main units of Kings, I argue that the first major literary unit spans from 1 Kgs 1:1–14:20. Moreover, I argue that any chiastic arrangement of the material within the first literary unit is eventually found wanting. As an alternative, I argue that the sub-divisions within the first unit are best determined by grammatical and comparative considerations. With this established, this essay concludes with commentary on the three major literary units that organize the presentation of Kings.

Lindy D. Backues

Construing Culture as Composition—Part 3: Traina’s Methodology Culturally Applied

We come now, in Part 3 of the series, to employ Traina’s inductive Bible study method, as discussed in the earlier articles in the series, to the sociological issue of slums. If, then, we are to discuss slums, we need to remind ourselves, at the outset, that we are not talking about overcrowding, lack of amenity, poverty or want as such; but about the relationship of such conditions to a context of meaning that changes with your point of view. Unless we remember this constantly, any proposal in terms of slums becomes unconscious ideological imposition.

Wilbert Webster White

The Resurrection Body “According to the Scriptures”—First Installment: Foreword and Chapters One and Two

William J. Abraham

Robert A. Traina: Teacher, Scholar, Saint

Thursday, 25 June 2020

Scottish Episcopal Institute Journal 4, 2 (2020)

The most-recent issue of the Scottish Episcopal Institute Journal is now online, this one devoted to ‘Church, Ministry and Coronavirus’.

According to the editorial board:

‘The impact on our lives is unprecedented, and significant theological concerns have come to the fore in the worldwide crises of the COVID-19 pandemic. This issue of the Journal reflects not only on the life of the Church, but on society, community and the value of human life [...]

‘“Church, Ministry and Coronavirus” draws together contributions from a variety of disciplines to resource the people of God in their exploration of the issues and discernment of the theological truths to be applied now and in the coming years. The present crises demand our theologically informed vigilance. In the bedrock of our Christian faith is the belief that each and every human being is created in the image of God and that the glory of God is each one of us fully alive and flourishing in a community of persons. In a time when a cacophony of voices shout for our attention, the prophetic voice of the Church is urgently needed.’

The entire issue of the journal can be downloaded as a pdf here.

Wednesday, 24 June 2020

On Being in the Wilderness

The below is an excerpt from an email written for the congregation where I am one of the pastors.

Like me, you’re probably listening to updates from the government, wondering what we can do this week that we weren’t allowed to do last week. Indeed, there has been some lifting of restrictions in recent days, and we’ll continue to monitor their implications for us as a church, especially in terms of when and how we might be able to gather again. For the most part, though, a return to ‘normal’ (remember that?) still seems a fair way off. In our more honest moments most of us sense that to be the case.

As a result, it’s easy to feel betwixt and between at this time – neither one thing nor another, neither where we were when the year started or where we hope we might be when the year ends.

As unsettled as we might feel during this season, we are not the first to walk this path. And we might be encouraged to know that God has worked through such circumstances in the past.

In the book of Exodus, after their deliverance from Egypt and their escape through the sea, God’s people enter the wilderness. It’ll be another two months before they arrive at Mount Sinai where God will make a covenant with them. Meanwhile, the wilderness is an ‘in-between’ place, a transitional moment where the people stand on the boundary of something new, the next chapter in the story of God’s dealings with them and the world they will be called to serve.

But the wilderness is not a place to mark time or to circle the runway. Nor is it a moment for them to grit their teeth and get by. It’s a place of formation. It’s during this period that they are to trust that the God who rescued them is the God who will provide for their daily needs (literally their ‘daily bread’ in the form of manna). It’s in the wilderness that these former slaves learn the rhythm of work and rest, set in place at creation. Their service to Pharaoh has been replaced by their service to God, and growing into their identity as God’s people will require living a different way. In addition, while they were largely passive in the destruction of the Egyptian army, it’s in the wilderness that they have to fight new enemies, showing that they’ll need to take a more active role in events going forwards.

In short, it’s in the wilderness that the God who delivers his people also trains them, forming them into a ‘holy nation’ (Exodus 19:6) who will obey him and represent him to a watching world.

Perhaps for us, too, this is a time to grow our trust in the Lord’s care and provision, a time to reflect on how he is training us to live differently, a time to grow in loving our neighbour as ourself.

So keep listening to those updates from the government. It’s right for us to want to come through this period, to get to the next chapter! Nevertheless, it’s good to remember that God is still at work meanwhile – in us and through us – conforming us to the image of his Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.

Tuesday, 23 June 2020

Centre for Public Christianity (June 2020)

Among other items, the Centre for Public Christianity has two ‘Life and Faith’ podcasts, one with historian Tom Holland and one with fiction writer Christos Tsiolkas, both of whom ‘while not believers themselves, have been profoundly influenced by Christianity’.

Tom Holland explores the revolutionary and enduring influence of Christianity here, while Christos Tsiolkas talks about the personal experiences that led him to choose early Christianity and the Apostle Paul as the subject of his latest book Damascus here.

In a further post, they draw attention to a podcast on ‘Ode to Teachers’, here, in which five different teachers share their stories of the highs and lows of the job.

Friday, 19 June 2020

Keith Ferdinando on Spiritual Warfare

Issue 10 of Primer (published twice a year by the Fellowship of Independent Evangelical Churches, and designed ‘to help those in church leadership stay theologically sharp and engaged’) is devoted to ‘the devil, demons, and spiritual warfare’.

The article by Keith Ferdinando, ‘The Battle Belongs to the Lord: A Biblical Theology of God’s Warfare’, is made available as a pdf here. This includes a final section on the spiritual warfare of God’s people which is not available in the printed version due to space constraints.