Saturday, 30 June 2012

Interview with James D.G. Dunn

Having heard James Dunn present a paper at a conference yesterday, I was interested to see an interview with him here, conducted by Frank Viola.
Among other things, Viola asks him what he considers to be his most important works and why, what he sees as the main misrepresentations or objections to his work among evangelical Christians, and about his writing routines.

Responsible Plurality in Biblical Hermeneutics

Yesterday, I was privileged to be among the great and the good at a conference hosted by the University of Nottingham in honour of Professor Anthony C. Thiselton on the occasion of his 75th birthday.
The title of the conference was ‘The Future of Biblical Interpretation: Responsible Plurality in Biblical Hermeneutics’. Different speakers addressed the issue of how far and by what means a plurality of approaches to interpreting the Bible, as well as interpretations of biblical texts themselves, should be circumscribed – whether because of a commitment to theological responsibility (Stanley Porter), ecclesial responsibility (Walter Moberly), scriptural responsibility (Richard Briggs), kerygmatic responsibility (Matthew Malcolm), historical responsibility (James D.G. Dunn), critical responsibility (Robert Morgan), or relational responsibility (Tom Greggs).
This wasn’t a day for debate or interaction between those scholars. I suspect there would be some variance between them as to how much weight should be given to the different dimensions of responsibility articulated – how much, for instance, a particular interpretation of a biblical text should be constrained by canonical factors against historical factors, say, or whether my commitment to church creeds over here trumps your commitment to critical scholarship over there.
Versions of the papers will be published by Paternoster in a volume edited by Matthew Malcolm. An additional volume of essays written in honour of Thiselton (edited by Stanley Porter and Matthew Malcolm) is also being published, by Eerdmans.
After a drinks reception and evening meal, Thiselton himself addressed the topic of the conference. With humility, warmth and a light touch, he took us through five areas relating to responsible plurality in interpretation: (1) the significance of genre, particularly Umberto Eco’s contrast between ‘open’ and ‘closed’ texts; (2) the relation between the two testaments, raising issues of allegory, typology, and correspondence; (3) the goal of hermeneutics being formation, but not through a Bible that can mean anything we like; (4) the significance of Bakhtin on polyphony for ways of appreciating ‘concordance’ in the canon; (5) the careful distinction between different levels and types of pluralist reading. He finished with some stimulating reflections on the future of biblical interpretation.
Earlier anticipations of the conference can be found by two of the contributors to the day: Stanley Porter (here) and Matthew Malcolm (here and here).

Byron Borger on Books for Life-Long Learners 18.0

Here is the eighteenth in an ongoing of notes by Byron Borger on recent books, including The Messy Quest for Meaning: Five Catholic Practices for Finding Your Vocation, by Stephen Martin (Sorin Books, 2012), which I happened to obtain earlier this week.

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Cherie Harder on Stories

Cherie Harder has a nice, short piece on The Trinity Forum offering three reasons in response to the question, ‘Why Read Stories?’
• Stories engage our imagination in a way that non-fiction cannot.
• Stories require, develop, and enhance the reader’s empathy.
• Stories develop our moral reasoning in unique ways.

The Bantam Review 1 (2012)

The Bantam Review is a new online student journal from Covenant Seminary. It takes its name from the association of the rooster with the apostle Peter and his three-timed denial of Jesus. As the Preface to the issue says: ‘By this logo we remember our purpose, namely that we are sinners in need of Jesus and in need of each other as we seek to glorify God with our work.’
The main essays (and their abstracts, where available) in the first issue are as follows:
G. Andrew Allen
An Old Testament ‘Extra Indwelling’
One’s view on the continuity between the Testaments will determine how they understand the faith and life of the OT believer, and in turn, will directly impact the influence of the true bonds between believers of every age. In this paper, I explore one such bond – the indwelling of the Holy Spirit – exclusively from OT texts and offers three arguments for an OT indwelling of all believers. First, the same OT foundations which prepared for the NT doctrines of Christ’s atonement and the Trinity prepare for the doctrines of regeneration and indwelling. Second, the OT focus on the Spirit of empowerment and prophecy does not exclude the distinct and likely simultaneous work of indwelling. Third, the exemplary lives of OT believers and longstanding OT familiarity with the concepts of regeneration and indwelling point to continuity between believers of all ages. To say that OT believers were not indwelt assumes that we possess a spiritual life superior to Abraham, Ruth and David (or, for that matter, any unnamed saint who was born, circumcised and lived a faithful life before YHWH). To assume otherwise is to provide a fresh reading of the whole of the Christian Scriptures, Old and New.
Steven Nicoletti
The History of Credocommunion: From the Early Church Until 1500
The question of credocommunion vs. paedocommunion has been a contentious one in the Presbyterian Church in America. In this article, I draw a brief historical sketch of the emergence and eventual dominance of credocommunion in the Western Church. I argue that the evidence indicates that credocommunion emerged as a thirteenth century medieval innovation, absent from the church’s practice before that time. I first establish the consensus that from the mid third to the twelfth century credocommunion was absent from the church, and the Eucharist was given to all the baptized, including young children and infants. I then argue that the best explanation of the evidence, regarding the church’s practice before the third century, is that it too included baptized infants in communion. Factors in the rise and dominance of credocommunion in the thirteenth century are discussed, especially the development of transubstantiation and the fear that infants may not properly swallow the transubstantiated elements. Additional factors are also examined, including the disintegration of the Christian initiation rite and Thomas Aquinas’ revision of the rationale for credocommunion practice. Finally, I draw out several implications for the church today.
Jake Neufeld
Protestant Theosis?
Jenilyn Swett
Being Sarah’s Children: A discussion of the reference to Sarah in 1 Peter 3:5-6
Questions of what the Bible teaches about how Christians are to live as male and female are raised frequently today, so one must carefully consider Scripture passages that are specifically instructive to men and women. One such passage is 1 Peter 3:1-8. In this article, I investigate the reference to Sarah in verses 5-6: why would Peter use Sarah, portrayed in Genesis as a secondary character who laughed and lied, as a pedagogical example for Christian wives? By examining the story of Sarah and Abraham in Genesis as well as the characterization of Sarah in Jewish tradition, I seek to acquaint readers with the Sarah that Peter commended. He knew her as a fully human but deeply faithful matriarch, a sojourner with whom the newly converted women of Asia Minor could identify and from whom they could draw encouragement and hope. Peter’s use of Sarah as an example has implications not only for the Christian wives he addressed but for all of Sarah and Abraham’s children.
Stephen Yates
Hegemony, Marginalization, and Youth Ministry: A Meta-analysis
An ideal environment for students new to a youth ministry can often be characterized by a series of individual actions – the friendliness of the students or the relevance of the program, for instance. Yet youth ministers who adopt this philosophy often unexplainably see student after student feel marginalized soon after coming into their programs. These workers fail to see their ministry from another perspective – systems. A systems perspective of youth ministry reveals a complex and broken network of ideological sub-groups negotiating hegemonic power and interest unconsciously under the auspices of visible teen culture. Using a biblical theology of marginalization, socio-political philosophical constructions, and Bonhoefferian discussions of power-in-community, I aim to persuade student ministers to become aware of these cultural structures in order to address pockets of marginalization currently and potentially present in their ministries. Such findings have immediate application to issues as diverse as social events and games on one hand, and leadership dynamics on the other, working ultimately towards a ministry climate of cultural intelligence and sacrificial dominance reflecting the heart of the incarnate Christ.


CHRISM stands for CHRistians In Secular Ministry.
According to the website:
‘CHRISM is an association for all Christians who see their secular employment as a primary field of Christian ministry and for those who would support and encourage that vision. Most of us during our major active years spend the bulk of our time, talents and energy in secular occupations of some sort, some paid, some unpaid. All of us have responsibilities and some degree of power in those roles, some are even in positions where the decisions we make can affect the lives and well-being of thousands of our fellow men and women. For those who are also Christian ministers it is vital to see how the great Christian truths are fully consistent with our working experience and with contemporary scientific and social understanding, for an essential part of our ministry must be to support and nurture those around us who also recognise and apply these truths in their working lives or are seeking to do so.
The fundamental aims of CHRISM are:
To help ourselves and others to celebrate the presence of God and the holiness of life in our work, and to see and tell the Christian story there.’
The website links to several helpful resources, including occasional papers and a journal, Ministers-at-Work.

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Anvil 28, 1 (2012) on Christianity and Sport

The latest issue of Anvil is now available online, with essays on Christianity and Sport.
Robert Ellis
‘Faster, Higher, Stronger’: Sport and the Point of It All
This article traces the rise of ‘modern sport’ since the middle of the nineteenth century and notes both a corresponding decline in church attendance over the same period and the use of sport in the service of religious (missionary) ends. The author asks whether sport itself may be said to have any religious dimensions. Having answered in the positive, a theology of sport is sketched with the notion of self-transcendence taken as the key idea around which such a theology might cohere. Finally, some cautionary theological observations are made regarding sport – relating to such matters as the distorting effects of competition. Sport mirrors, and perhaps sustains, some problematic notions of class, ethnicity, and gender, and its commercialisation also raises questions of which the theologian should be aware.
Dominic Erdozain
In Praise of Folly: Sport as Play
This paper considers the relationship between Christianity and sport under three headings, each broadly representing a different era in the relationship between religion and leisure: ‘puritanism’, ‘muscular Christianity’ and ‘sports evangelism’. It argues that each has led to impoverished experiences and understandings of sport. The first tended to condemn sport, along with other leisure activities; the second, exemplified by ‘Muscular Christianity’, tended to instrumentalise sport for moral gains, with mixed results; and the third, labelled ‘Sportianity’ by some commentators, has attempted to combine evangelism and the values of modern sport in ways that have arguably compromised both. The paper argues that a missing ingredient in each case is ‘play’ – a constituent element of any definition of sport which has so often been lost. It concludes with some practical and theological reflections on putting play back into sport.
Lincoln Harvey
Towards a Theology of Sport: A Proposal
This article seeks to understand sport in light of the Christian doctrine of creation. It does so by highlighting first a systematic connection between the ontology of the creature and the reality of play. Within this framework, sport is then argued to be the ritual celebration of contingency, a ritualised way in which we chime with the non-serious nature of our being. As a result, I propose that sport – though distinct from the Christian act of worship – needs to be accorded a rightful place within the life of the Sabbath-shaped creature.
Andrew Moore
‘Nearer My God to Thee?’: Theological Reflections on Mountaineering
Is mountaineering a sport, a game, or a lifestyle, and what might it have to tell us about the nature and meaning of sport? These are the questions discussed in the first part of these personal theological reflections. Central to the attraction of climbing is risk but that, the article argues, is only a simulacrum – albeit an instructive one – of the risks involved in Christian discipleship. The final section of the article argues that spiritual reflections on outdoor activities, including climbing, can be theologically and spiritually misleading both as to the nature of ‘nature’ and as to how the God who addresses us in Jesus Christ is known.

Currents in Biblical Research 10, 3 (2012)

The latest Currents in Biblical Research is now out; abstracts of the main articles are as follows:
J. Kenneth Kuntz
Continuing the Engagement: Psalms Research Since the Early 1990s
Updating the writer’s previous essay in Currents, ‘Engaging the Psalms: Gains and Trends in Recent Research’ (1994), this extensive essay targets the many diverse books and articles reflecting the multi-faceted research on the Psalms published during the past two decades. While necessarily selective, this survey opens with article and book-length studies focused on the Psalter in its entirety. These studies range from those primarily intended for novice readers, to intricate, in-depth scholarly commentaries. Subsequently, many publications invested in more specific topics are discussed. These address the Psalms in their ancient Near Eastern milieu, probe crucial form-critical and rhetorical-critical issues, and focus on the shaping of the Psalter, its potential as a book of theology, and its reception across the centuries.
Joel R. White
Recent Challenges to the communis opinio on 1 Corinthians 15.29
The conventional interpretation of 1 Cor. 15.29, according to which the phrase hoi baptizomenoi hyper tōn nekrōn (generally translated as ‘those baptized on behalf of the dead’) refers to vicarious baptisms for the dead, still enjoys majority support even though it is unsatisfactory for a number of reasons. Older minority positions have failed to offer convincing alternatives. In the last 15 years, however, several scholarly works have been published, all which dispute the majority position and are similar to each other in that they posit a causal nuance for the preposition hyper and take the literary context of this verse more seriously. Together they point to a possible way forward in the discussion of this enigmatic text.
Dan Batovici
The Second-Century Reception of John: A Survey of Methodologies
The last sixty years have witnessed quite different results on the topic of the reception of the Fourth Gospel in the second century. It is however at hand to notice that these significantly differing results are indebted to the dissimilar methodological approaches assumed by each scholar. The main aim of this paper is to reassess methodologically the bibliography on the reception of John in the second century. Given that we are far from having a consensus on the question of how to seek for John in the earliest Christian texts, some concluding considerations are offered on future possible development of the topic.
Benjamin Edsall
Kerygma, Catechesis and Other Things We Used to Find: Twentieth-Century Research on Early Christian Teaching since Alfred Seeberg (1903)
Inquiry into the content of the preaching and teaching of the early Church was commonplace in the first part of the twentieth century. Such research was carried out under a number of different headings – kerygma, catechesis, etc. – and pursued with the form-critical tools of the day. However, these reconstructions encountered serious criticism and since the 1970s such inquiries have been more reserved. Today the field is divided, if sparse, with some employing the methods and results of earlier scholarship and others all but ignoring the question entirely. The present article examines this history of scholarship from Alfred Seeberg into the twenty-first century.
Simon Lasair
Current Trends in Targum Research
This article proposes that targum studies is in the midst of a significant transition away from the traditional philological disciplines and toward methodologies more informed by contemporary literary and linguistic theory. This article traces the broad contours of this transition, surveying philological scholarship on the targums and outlining some of the ongoing issues with this scholarship. The article then moves to examine some of the emerging modes of study, ending with a brief discussion of some of the finished projects in the field.

Timothy G. Gombis on Ephesians

In some earlier posts (here and here), I referred to Timothy G. Gombis’ helpful book, The Drama of Ephesians: Participating in the Triumph of God (Downers Grove: IVP, 2010), which is a more accessible reworking of his PhD dissertation.
Gombis himself has helpfully drawn attention to the fact that the library at the University of St. Andrews has now made available online his dissertation (pdf here), which shows more of the exegetical work that funds the title subsequently published by IVP.
Here is the abstract of the thesis:
‘In this thesis I argue that the letter of Ephesians contains a coherent argument and that this argument is animated by the ideology of divine warfare. This ideological tool was utilized throughout the ancient world to assert and defend the cosmic supremacy of national deities, and appears throughout the Old Testament in texts that declare the exalted status of Yahweh over all other gods and over the forces of chaos that threaten creation. This ideology is applied to Ephesians with the result that what many regard as the central portion of the letter – Ephesians 2 – contains a complete cycle of this mythological pattern. Here, within a context of praise and worship (1:1-19), the cosmic Lordship of Christ is asserted (1:20-23) and the triumphs of God in Christ over the powers that rule the present evil age are elaborated (2:1-22). God in Christ has triumphed over the powers that hold humanity captive to death by raising believers to life and seating them in the heavenlies with Christ. Further, Christ triumphs over the powers and their divisive effects within humanity by creating a new unified humanity that shares in the life of God in Christ by the Spirit. I then attempt to demonstrate that reading Ephesians through this lens provides satisfying solutions to a number of problems in subsequent sections of the letter. The ‘autobiographical’ remarks in Eph 3:2-13 are not intended as an apostolic defence, but rather are an explanation of how Paul’s imprisonment, which would appear to be a devastating argument against the cosmic Lordship of Christ, actually serves to epitomize and reinforce that exalted status. I also argue that the difficult quotation of Psalm 68 in Eph 4:8 finds a satisfying solution through the application of divine warfare ideology. Finally, I argue that this reading demonstrates that the two halves of Ephesians are integrally related – that the exhortatory portion is a call to the New Humanity to engage in divine warfare against the evil powers, embodying the triumph of God in Christ in their corporate life.’

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Inner Resources for Leaders

I’ve had to do some work on leadership recently, and drew insight from some articles in Inner Resources for Leaders.
Published by the Regent University School of Global Leadership & Entrepreneurship, Inner Resources for Leaders describes itself as ‘a popular-press magazine on the subject of leadership and Christian spirituality’. The current issue is available here, with earlier issues archived here.

Jamison Galt on Church Practices in Public Life: Food

Cardus have started a new series on ‘Church Practices and Public Life’, which looks like it could be worth checking out as entries appear.
The editor’s note says:
‘We’re accustomed to thinking of the practices of the Christian faith as something that happens within the church, shaping those who engage in them. But we don’t always think about what it looks like when those same practices translate into and affect public life, informing society beyond the church walls. Comment asked some writers to explore this question in reference to a number of the distinctive practices of the Christian faith – like tithing, prayer, preaching, baptism, and singing – and we'll be publishing them in the coming months.’
Jamison Galt kicks off with a piece on food, reflecting on how ‘the history of the world from creation to consummation is enacted in the process of making bread’.
Some excerpts:
‘Food is central to who we are as human beings and communities; our food practices comprehend nearly everything important that we do in life: from the time we nurse as babies until our last meal we will use food to celebrate, to mourn, to court a spouse, to explore other cultures, to pursue health or its opposite, to medicate, to experiment, to delight, to worship. Food is present in most of what we do in life and food both shapes and expresses our personal habits and cultural values.’
‘The Christian story in the Holy Scriptures is where we should start in looking for the meaning of food. Food is central in the first scene of the Bible; it’s central in the last... If we’ll allow this story to shape our personal stories, we’ll find a way forward for feasting as Christians and in the public realm.’

Monday, 25 June 2012

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Foundations 62 (Spring 2012)

Issue 62 of Foundations: An International Journal of Evangelical Theology, published by Affinity, is now freely available (here in its entirety as a pdf).
Here is the editorial summary of the articles which are also listed below:
Steven Mittwede shows how the relationship between justification and sanctification in Paul’s letters helps us to avoid the pitfalls of legalistic religion; at stake, he says ‘is the spiritual health of individual believers and local fellowships of believers’. Derek Bigg contributes helpfully and practically on the neglected subject of the public reading of Scripture. Chris Thomas writes as a pastor and chaplain on the way in which chaplaincy work reflects a consistent theme throughout Scripture of God’s presence in the world he has made. He ends with a pertinent challenge to us all. Oliver Gross provides a thorough exegetical study of John 3:5 and comes to a well-argued (and, to some, controversial) conclusion. Finally, Kieran Beville gives us a useful survey of the main players in the phenomenon of New Atheism and encourages us, like David facing Goliath, to have courageous hearts. Book reviews from Stephen Clark, Gareth Williams, Paul Yeulett and Ro Mody complete this edition.’
Steven K Mittwede
The Relationship Between Paul’s Soteriology and his Ethics
Derek Bigg
Public Bible Reading: A Neglected Gift of Grace

Chris Thomas
Gospel Chaplaincy in a Secular World
Oliver Gross
The Interpretation of John 3:5
Kieran Beville
Aggressive Atheism
Book Reviews

Richard Mouw on the Atonement

Christianity Today makes available a short article by Richard Mouw, summarised nicely in its tagline: ‘Each atonement theory highlights a truth about the Cross – but none more so than Christ's substitutionary death.’
Mouw begins by describing overhearing a young pastor’s comment that he ‘seldom’ talked any more about substitutionary atonement, preferring instead to talk about about how Christ encountered ‘the powers’ of consumerism, militarism, racism, super-patriotism, and the like.
He goes on to highlight different attempts to ‘liberate’ the cross from what, to some, looks like abuse and bloodlust, leading to a turn to ‘moral example’ and ‘Christus Victor’ as the main ways of understanding the atonement.
Yet, in spite of their potential significance for witnessing to others, he says, ‘we must also think about what is necessary for a more mature, biblically faithful understanding of the nature of our salvation’. By itself, for instance, the Christus Victor motif ‘is not enough to capture the full meaning of Christ’s atonement’.
As Mouw says:
‘Our burdens of shame and guilt have been nailed to the cross. Evangelicals have always insisted on that message as central to proclaiming the gospel. Again, a variety of images capture this emphasis – debt-repaying, ransom, sacrifice, enduring divine wrath against sin. But all these images have this in common: They point us to the fact that on the cross of Calvary, Jesus did something for us that we could never do for ourselves as sinners. He engaged in a transaction that has eternal consequences for our standing before a righteous God.’
Borrowing from Geerhardus Vos, Mouw notes the significance of the issue of how we understand the human problem: ‘If we have a reduced understanding of our sinful condition, then we also have a reduced Savior.’
He goes on:
‘This is precisely the problem with limiting the nature of the Atonement to a moral example. It sees Jesus primarily as presenting us with a moral lesson, one that he taught by embodying forgiving love. Here our lostness is something like our wandering without an accurate map. Our fundamental problem is ignorance. Our sinfulness – willful rebellion against our Creator – is not acknowledged. Christus Victor also runs the risk of downplaying our sinfulness. It is easy to depict “enslavement” to rebellious spiritual powers in terms of victimhood, rather than to acknowledge our own guilt.’
He concludes by saying that those who want to retain the notion of Jesus experiencing divine wrath against sin ‘have to be very careful in how we depict the punishment inflicted on the cross’. Drawing from John Stott, he commends an understanding of the Father and Son being united together ‘in the same holy love which made atonement necessary’.

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Thomas Schirrmacher on World Mission

Thomas Schirrmacher, World Mission – Heart of Christianity: Essays (Hamburg: RVB International, 2008).
This book, available here as a pdf, is a selection of articles by Thomas Schirrmacher on mission or mission-related topics. They’ve been written over a span of years (since 1979), but are conveniently gathered together here in one document.

Jordan Ballor on the Vocational Theology of Luther

Not, in the first place, the 16th-century Reformer, but the TV police detective character, John Luther, from the gritty BBC series Luther.
I know the two series that have run so far have been largely panned. Indeed, some of the characters are a bit ‘out there’ and many of the plot lines strain credibility. But I have been a fan of Luther – the character of John Luther, in particular. In particular, although he is deeply flawed and damaged, I’ve been struck by his determination to do ‘right’ for people even at personal risk to himself.
So, I was very interested to read this short article by Jordan Ballor which explores what he calls ‘the Lutheran theology of Luther’. In summary:
‘There is little overt religiosity in Luther, but in the vicarious representative action of John Luther on behalf of others, we see a broken and fragmentary expression of common grace, God’s preserving work in the world.’

Friday, 8 June 2012

Crucible 4, 1 (April 2012)

The latest issue of Crucible, a free online journal published by the Australian Evangelical Alliance is now out, containing the following articles:
The Cauldron: peer reviewed articles
Graham and Eleonora Scott
Heart-Language Worship in Multilingual Contexts
Karl Hand
The ‘Christian’ Assumptions of Secular Hermeneutics
Michelle Trebilcock
Living with Jesus in Liminality: An Invitation to ‘Be Dead with the Dead God’
The Test-tube: ministry resources
Tom Frame
Launch of the John W. Wilson Publishing Fund
May Ngo
Responding to Simone Weil
Douglas Hynd
Safety, Fear and the Church: The Ambiguities of Engaging a Corporate Culture
Darren Cronshaw
Interviews and Other Practical Research Approaches for Theology
The Filter: book reviews

Andy Draycott and Jonathan Rowe (and Others) on Missional Ethics

Here’s a new collection of essays from IVP. I was honoured to be asked to provide a commendation for the volume, and this is what I wrote:
‘Here, at last, is a genuine step forward for the “missional” conversation. Exploring the integral link between morality and mission, this theologically informed set of essays provides a rich resource on the centrality of ethics as encompassing the whole life of the people of God – called to live in a distinctive way as witnesses to the redemptive activity of God in the world. Concerned for the transformation of existing thinking and practices, the authors issue a strong reminder that mission occurs wherever God is at work through his people – in families and friendships, in the challenges that come with handling money as well as migration, in politics as much as in preaching.’

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Calvin and World Mission

The World Evangelical Alliance makes available a copy of this book from this page (pdf here), a collection of essays in German and English on the role of Calvin in theological reflection on mission.
The description gives some idea of the scope of the collection:
‘At the end of the “Calvin-Year”, in which Christians all over the world celebrate Calvin’s 500 birthday, this books emphasizes Calvin’s role for establishing a Protestant mission theology which later led to a worldwide expansion of Protestant Christianity. The book presents major articles on the topic through 125 years of history and from different viewpoints from 1882 to 2002. Some of the articles discuss Calvin and his writings and thinking on mission alone. Some add the question, what kind of mission has been organized from Geneva during Calvin’s time, because Calvin did not only speak about evangelism and mission, but also helped establish it in reality, even though on a quite small scale compared to later centuries. Some articles go further, and follow the students and followers of Calvin and their relation to mission through history. Thus sometimes the wider topic of “Calvinism and Mission” is included. This book has not been edited to defend ‘Calvinism’ and its dogmatic system. This has even from Calvinism’s own firm position to be done on exegetical grounds. Nevertheless some of the authors wrote their articles as a defense of Calvinism or at least as very convinced Calvinists. Others write more from a neutral point of view as historical researchers.’

Saturday, 2 June 2012

Vern Sheridan Poythress on Inerrancy and Worldview

Vern Sheridan Poythress, Inerrancy and Worldview: Answering Modern Challenges to the Bible (Wheaton: Crossway, 2012), 272pp., ISBN 978-1-4335-2387-8.
I don’t know how Poythress and Crossway manage to do this – but I’m very grateful that they do: this brand new book is freely available in its entirety as a 4.3 MB pdf here.
Poythress addresses from a ‘worldview’ perspective what he sees as various challenges to the Bible, its inerrancy in particular: challenges from science and materialism, from history, about language, from sociology and anthropology, from psychology, from examples, from our attitudes, and from corrupt spirituality.

The Mission of God Study Bible

Broadman & Holman are publishing what they are calling The Mission of God Study Bible. Here’s some of the blurb:
The Mission of God Study Bible encourages followers of Jesus Christ to see their everyday life from God’s perspective and have His heart for people. It’s a reminder that we live around people in desperate need of redemption and reconciliation with God, which can only be found in Jesus. The mission of God has never been just for specialists; it is for all believers to live out through their daily lives and by sharing the good news of what God has done through the death and resurrection of His Son Jesus. Wherever you are, you are on mission.’
Using the text of the Holman Christian Standard Bible, the biblical text is supplemented with articles and brief commentary – in Study Bible fashion – along with ‘letters to the church’ from elder statesmen, including Billy Graham, Erwin Lutzer, and R.C. Sproul.
The Bible also includes QR codes which lead to websites with further input.
There are more details here, including a video trailer.
One of the editors, Ed Stetzer, has been posting about the Bible on his blog (e.g., here).

Duane Litfin on Works and Words

Duane Litfin author of Word Versus Deed: Resetting the Scales to a Biblical Balance (Wheaton: Crossway, 2012), has a piece (here) in Christianity Today devoted to that topic – the balance between ‘the relative roles of words (proclaiming the gospel) and deeds (loving action) in what Christ has called his people to be and do’.

He devotes some space to the saying, wrongly attributed to Francis of Assisi – ‘Preach the gospel at all times. Use words if necessary’ – noting:

‘The belief that we can “preach the gospel” with our actions alone represents muddled thinking. However important our actions may be (and they are very important indeed), and whatever else they may be doing (they serve a range of crucial functions), they are not “preaching the gospel.” The gospel is inherently verbal, and preaching it is inherently verbal behavior. If the gospel is to be communicated at all, it must be put into words.’

Towards the ends of his piece he notes three consequences of conflating the roles of words and deeds: (1) ‘it can lead to an eclipse of our verbal witness’, (2) ‘it can deceive us into thinking the power of the gospel lies within us’, and (3) ‘it can put us out of step with God's own modus operandi in the world’.