Friday, 19 August 2011

Eleutheria 1, 2 (2011)

The second issue of Eleutheria (an open access, peer-reviewed journal led, edited, and reviewed by graduate students of Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary) is online, containing the following mix of main articles:

Marcus Little

The Paradoxical Beauty of the Cross: Theological Aesthetics and the Doctrine of the Atonement in Athanasius’ Contra Gentes-De Incarnatio

In his two-part treatise Contra Gentes-De Incarnatio, Athanasius offers an interesting apologetic for the Christian doctrine of the atonement by employing various aesthetic themes and forms of expression drawn from the classical notion of beauty found particularly in the Platonic and neo-Platonic traditions. Although Athanasius never mentions the term ‘beauty’ in Contra Gentes-De Incarnatio, the concept certainly looms in the background. Writing against the Platonic, Epicurean, and Stoic systems of his day, Athanasius centers his apologetic on the philosophical tension evident in the doctrine of divine transcendence/immanence. This paper argues that Athanasius implicitly characterizes the tension of divine transcendence/ immanence as paradoxical in nature and, as such, is not solved but resolved in Christian doctrine of the incarnation and the culminating event of the crucifixion. For Athanasius, the aesthetic force of the crucifixion is its manifold paradox in which Christ, the God-man, conquers by being conquered, restores man’s spiritual form by becoming formless, and establishes universal peace by surrendering to violence. Thus, in the Christian tradition, the divine transcendence/immanence paradox is localized and expanded in the incarnation and crucifixion event invoking an overflow of aesthetic inspiration in the heart of the believer. Therefore, the purpose of this essay is twofold. First, it will identify certain themes in the classical definition of beauty and will examine how these themes are interwoven throughout Athanasius’ apologetic . Second, it will attempt to prove that the aesthetic superiority of the cross, as implicitly argued in Contra Gentes-De Incarnatio, is rooted in the paradoxical nature of the crucifixion event. Thus, for Athanasius, beauty shines forth through paradox.

Gordon D. Harris

Cyprian and his Role as the Faithful Bishop in Response to the Lapsed, the Martyrs, and the Confessors Following the Decian Persecution

In 249 A.D., in an attempt to bring about a renewal in the devotion to Roman authority and the Roman gods, Roman Emperor Decian issued an edict. The edict called for Roman citizens to take part in a simple sacrifice to the Roman deities. Cyprian, the recently named bishop of Carthage, opted to flee the city and avoid the persecution. Upon his return to Carthage in 251 A.D., Cyprian was forced to deal with the results of the persecution among those who had given in to the edict and those who had resisted. He did so with his now famous On the Lapsed. In dealing with both groups, Cyprian was faithful first to Christ and the biblical mandates that he felt the church was obligated to uphold. He was faithful also to the authority of the Church hierarchy, which he felt was being undermined even by the martyrs, whom he did believe had a special place within the Church. Finally, Cyprian was faithful to his position of bishop, which meant he was not only to lead but also to unite his community during difficult times such as persecutions, regardless of what situation or conditions existed that may have led to it. To complete this task, this study will look at a number of challenges that Cyprian faced while he attempted to remain faithful to these three areas. In doing so, the paper will focus mainly on Cyprian’s response to these challenges in his writings from On the Lapsed. The story of Cyprian and the issues surrounding the lapsed do not end with what he wrote in On the Lapsed, and the conclusion of this study will take a few moments to address some of those issues.

Russell Meek

Hans-Georg Gadamer: His Philosophical Hermeneutics and Its Importance for Evangelical Biblical Hermeneutics

Hans-Georg Gadamer’s influence on hermeneutics can hardly be understated. This article offers an evangelical perspective on the importance of his work and how it can be used to interpret the biblical text more faithfully. It discusses his influences and some of the major aspects of his work and offers suggestions for applying his work to biblical hermeneutics. The article concludes that his work is vitally important and should be utilized by the biblical interpreter, though not without caution.

Anthony C. Thornhill

Scholarship and Ministry in the Life and Thought of Augustine

Augustine is frequently recognized as one of the greatest Christian theologians in all of church history. His influence extends to both Protestant and Catholic circles, and his numerous theological works are still referenced by today’s students of theology. The context of his theological writings are often overlooked. While he did, on occasion, seek to write weighty and intricate theological works, his primary focus was upon better equipping himself to minister to the believers he served as the bishop of Hippo. This is clearly evidenced in his sermons and his letters, which provide an important window into his historical context.

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