Friday, 31 May 2013

Foundations 64 (Spring 2013)

Issue 64 of Foundations: An International Journal of Evangelical Theology, published by Affinity, is now available (here in its entirety as a pdf), with the following contributions:

Ralph Cunnington

Ted Turnau
Displacing the Sacred: Thoughts on the Secularising Influence of Hollywood

Craig Blomberg
The Parable of the Good Samaritan: Redefining “Israelite” or Redefining “Neighbour”?

Andrew R. Evans
Allusion to the Song of Songs in John’s Gospel and Revelation

Stephen Clark
Using the Bible Ethically: An Introduction to Contemporary Challenges

Mark Pickett
Review Article: Center Church (Timothy Keller)

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Kevin Vanhoozer on Sola Scriptura

There’s a great 20:22 minute video, available from here, of Kevin Vanhoozer on sola Scriptura – reflecting on the need to do it as well as confess it.

Taking his cue from Eugene Peterson, he talks about reading the Bible formatively: to practise sola Scriptura is to ‘eat, pray and love’ these words. Moreover, Scripture is not an end in itself, but a means to Jesus Christ. The written word serves the living word.

Riffing on Jesus as ‘the way, the truth, and the life’, he explores three ways of ‘eating’ the book – Scripture is what lights our way, orients us to the truth, and indwells us with the life of Jesus Christ.

Sunday, 26 May 2013

Scripture Union Canada on the Biblical Story

‘The Story’, from Scripture Union Canada, is an online chronological Bible reading guide ‘emphasizing the biblical narrative and connecting our stories with God’s story’.

It uses the threefold Bible study methodology known as the 3 Rs – reading (Scripture text), reflection (commentary on the text), and response (prayer birthed from the text), ‘seeking to help readers engage, internalize and incarnate the Word of God’.

Thursday, 23 May 2013

9Marks Journal 10, 3 (May-June 2013) on Church and Churches

The latest issue of the 9Marks Journal, this one devoted to ‘church and churches’, is now available as a pdf here.

In the Editorial, Jonathan Leeman writes: ‘Christ’s kingdom is bigger than any one of our churches.’

And a little further on:

‘It is easy to be territorial as a pastor. You love your church, and who has time to invest in other churches? But part of building a healthy church is knowing how your church should relate to others. Right relationships help your church to be holy internally, to be a good witness outwardly, and to plant a new generation of churches.

‘In other words, cultivating good relationships between churches helps to fulfill the Great Commission.’

The Gospel Coalition 2013 National Conference

All 78 talks from The Gospel Coalition 2013 National Conference are available online from here.

This includes material from the missions pre-conference (7 plenaries, 15 workshops), the national conference itself (9 plenaries, 41 workshops, 3 auxiliary events), and the post-conference on ‘faith at work’ (3 plenaries, 3 panels), the latter exploring ‘the complex intersection between vocation and the gospel’.

Thomas Schreiner on the Bible as One Story

Having enjoyed and benefited from his work in New Testament theology, I’m looking forward to the publication later this year of Thomas Schreiner’s The King in His Beauty: A Biblical Theology of the Old and New Testaments (Baker), where he casts the net wider than just the New Testament.

So, I’m grateful to my friend Brett Jordan for pointing out an interview (linked from here) by Tony Reinke with Thomas Schreiner on the ‘The Bible as One Story’, with some helpful reflections on the book and about whole-Bible biblical theology more generally.

Monday, 20 May 2013

The Purpose of Pentecost

I contributed this week’s ‘Word for the Week’, a weekly email service provided by the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity.

God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of the fact. Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear... Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.
Acts 2:32-33, 36

Many Christians belong to a Pentecostal denomination, but there’s a sense in which all Christians are ‘Pentecostals’. We take our identity from the giving of the Spirit on that first day of Pentecost as much as we do from the crucifixion and resurrection.

Peter explains the significance of the dramatic events unfolding before the eyes and ears of those gathered in Jerusalem. The Father has raised Jesus and enthroned him as Lord of all. Now seated at the Father’s right hand, he has given the Spirit to his people, just as he promised. The coming of the Spirit has started God’s countdown to the last great day of the Lord.

And in this period before the end, what are God’s people to do? Jesus has already laid it out for the disciples in Acts 1:8 – they are to be his witnesses. That’s what the Spirit makes possible – empowerment for mission.

What comes with Pentecost is not a superficial burst of energy and excitement, or an injection of spiritual adrenaline to give us a boost when we’re feeling low. What comes with the Pentecost gift is the power to witness to Jesus. Nor is it just for overseas missionaries or church leaders, or for those who have attained a second tier of discipleship. Previously the Spirit was given only to special people or only for specific tasks; now all of God’s people receive the Spirit – men and women, old and young – as part of God’s end-time renewal of all things.

By God’s grace and the power of his Spirit, all of us are made a part of his mission to reach the ends of the world with the message that the crucified Jesus is none other than the Lord and Messiah, the only name on whom people must call if they are to be saved.

The book of Acts is clear that God calls some, like Paul, to plant churches. But it is equally apparent that the work was carried out by ‘ordinary’ believers, who spread the news wherever they went. The same gracious God, the same exalted Christ, the same powerful Spirit, and the same amazing plan means we too play a part in the continual unfolding of this story – witnessing to a renewed relationship with God and the restoration of the whole of life under the lordship of Christ.

Saturday, 18 May 2013

Catalyst 39, 4 (April 2013)

The latest of Catalyst is now online, with the usual collection of short but helpful pieces:

Orality Journal 2, 1 (2013)

The latest edition of Orality Journal, published online by the International Orality Network, is available as a pdf here; it includes a number of interesting-looking articles on different aspects of Bible storying.

Gilles Gravelle
Literacy, Orality, and the Web
What oral communication can accomplish in Bible translation projects that print communication alone cannot.

Pam Arlund
Church Planting Movements among Oral Learners
Case studies of using orality strategies in church planting movements.

W. Jay Moon
Using Rituals to Disciple Oral Learners: Part 1
What can we learn from the powerful effects of rituals from cultures and how can rituals be used for meaningful discipleship.

Clyde Taber
Contextualizing the Gospel in a Visual World
In a media saturated world, how do we contextualize Kingdom stories for the new generation?

Marlene LeFever
Inside-out Stories
When a ministry retools, what are the outcomes?

A. Steve Evans
Mind the Gap: If This Is Your Land, then Where Are Your Stories?
What and where are our stories that help us claim the land?

J.O. Terry
Ten Mistakes of a New Bible Storyteller
Wisdom from a storytelling practitioner.

Tara Rye
Story Proof: The Science behind the Startling Power of Story
Book review.

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Prayer on a Vast Canvas

I contributed this week’s ‘Word for the Week’, a weekly email service provided by the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity.

Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world... I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.
John 17:24-26

The scope of Jesus’ prayer in John 17 is huge, overwhelming even. It moves from the oneness between Father and Son ‘before the world began’ (17:5), through the mission of the Son sent from the Father, to the keeping and sanctification of the apostles as those in turn sent into the world (17:18), to those who believe through their testimony – us included – who come to participate in the eternal love of the triune God. Jesus’ prayer embraces nothing less than the whole history of redemption.

The prayer thus reflects God’s mission, and the goal of that mission – to gather a people to share in the fellowship of love and oneness that existed between Father and Son ‘before the creation of the world’ (17:24), that we might be loved by the Father with the love he has for the Son. Just bask in that for a moment.

In a sense, John 17 is the real ‘Lord’s prayer’, with the one recorded in Matthew 6:9-13 best thought of as the disciples’ prayer. It is Jesus’ prayer, not ours. And, as we eavesdrop on it, we hear not just his voice but his heart: his alignment with the will of the Father, his desire to complete the work given him to do, his concerns for his people. Above all, perhaps, the prayer demonstrates the intimacy between Father and Son. But it also beckons us into that intimacy, and invites us to reflect on how we will pray as a result.

John 17 helps us, not because it gives us a technique for prayer, but because it orients our praying. It shows us that prayer is addressed to God as Father and is rooted in relationship with one who knows us and loves us. It reminds us of the centrality of God’s glory. Our prayers can sometimes be focused on ourselves with concentric circles of legitimate interests and concerns, needs and responsibilities. But Jesus puts the Father’s glory at the centre, and the circles that radiate out are to do with his will and his purpose.

As Jesus promised, answers to such prayers prayed in his name are always given (John 14:13-14; 15:7, 16; 16:24). For those who truly know him – and are one in intimate union with him and the Father – pray out of a knowledge of his will and a desire to serve his interests.

Friday, 10 May 2013

Centre for Public Christianity (May 2013)

Among other items, the latest newsletter from the Centre for Public Christianity contains a link to a piece by Simon Smart on ‘the way the drugs in sport scandal reveals both the pervasiveness of utilitarian thinking in our society, as well as its limits’, a link to an audio interview with Lynn Cohick on ‘what life was like for women in the ancient world – and how their lives were changed in their encounter with Jesus’, and a link to a video interview with Erin Wilson on ‘the religious dimensions of contemporary political life’.

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Mission Frontiers 35, 3 (May-June 2013)

The May-June 2013 issue of Mission Frontiers, published by the U.S. Center for World Mission, contains a number of articles around the theme of ‘Equipping the People of God for the Mission of God’.

Here’s the opening sentence of the editorial by Rick Wood:

‘Making disciples of Jesus from every tribe, tongue, people and nation is the most important job in the world.’

Later, he writes:

‘Discipling someone must be a highly intentional, personal relationship between people where the disciple is trained in the process of making disciples by actually doing it, not just hearing about it in a sermon. It seems so basic but people learn by doing not by simply listening. I would never want to be operated on by a surgeon who simply listened to hundreds of lectures on how to do surgery. Neither should we send out disciple-makers with similar preparation.’

Individual articles can be accessed from here; the whole issue can be downloaded as a pdf here.

Friday, 3 May 2013

Stephen Backhouse and George Pattison on Søren Kierkegaard

This Sunday (5 May 2013) will see the 200th anniversary of the birth of Søren Kierkegaard. I expected to see slightly more made of this than I have done so far.

I asked Stephen Backhouse, expert on all matters Kierkegaardian, to write a short piece on him for LICC’s weekly ‘Connecting with Culture’, which he kindly did, and which is available here. Stephen notes that in a world in which becoming a Christian was as easy as being born and being ‘civilised’, Kierkegaard waged an ‘attack upon Christendom’ by making Christianity harder and more offensive.

George Pattison has also published a piece in The Tablet – ‘Passionate Thinker – Celebrating Kierkegaard’ – which is available here. Reflecting on how Kierkegaard’s contribution has been understood by some, Pattison also draws attention to ‘the way in which Protestant Christianity was itself absorbed into secular society in such a way as to leave no critical distance between Church and society’.

‘[W]hatever else is to be said for or against him, Kierkegaard matters today: he is one of the few post-Enlightenment thinkers whose work is both defined by a Christian agenda and nevertheless remains a major point of reference for the secular world. He can be seen as the progenitor of existential angst and of postmodern irony just as much as he can be read for his extraordinary insights into pastoral care. And, typically, an academic seminar on Kierkegaard today is as likely to include secular moral philosophers as practitioners of the devout life.’

Theology and Ministry: An Online Journal

From St. John’s College Durham comes Theology and Ministry, ‘a peer-reviewed annual publication featuring innovative work at the interdisciplinary interface of theological study and ministerial practice and reflection’, which ‘encourages the rapid and inexpensive on-line publication of distinguished work, making articles available to a world-wide readership at minimal cost’.


The first issue is available now, with articles and reviews downloadable from here.

All the pieces look interesting, but the first one particularly caught my eye, by Richard Briggs and Pete Phillips – ‘The Bible as Augmented Reality’:

‘This paper explores the notion of the Bible as “augmented reality”, a phrase used to refer to the addition of a layer of digital data superimposed upon our normal field of vision. We look at some points of contact between this notion and that of the Bible as the Church’s book and a light for its life. We then turn to various reference points for thinking through this image more widely, in literature, theology, and philosophy. A final section considers initial areas for further exploration in developing the image, as one among many useful ways of thinking about the Bible in today’s world.’

Thursday, 2 May 2013

Christian Reflection on Women in the Bible

The latest issue of Christian Reflection, published by the Center for Christian Ethics at Baylor University, is now available, this one devoted to ‘Women in the Bible’. The whole issue is available as a pdf here, and an accompanying Study Guide is available here. The main articles, with their abstracts, are as follows:

Robert B. Kruschwitz
Studying the stories of women in the Bible can point us to the heart of the scriptural narrative. Without ignoring some of the difficult androcentric passages in the Bible, our contributors show us the liberating implications, for both men and women, of studying the women in the Bible.

Junia Pokrifka
Redeeming Women in the Grand Narrative of Scripture
In light of the biblical grand narrative of redemption and restorative justice, patriarchy and androcentrism can no longer be seen as normative, but as regrettable conditions that God and God’s human agents are working to overcome.

Mary Ann Beavis
Who is Mary Magdalene?
The traditional image of the Magdalene as a repentant prostitute, not to mention contemporary speculations about her being a priestess or goddess figure or bride of Christ, are quite mistaken. They fail to do justice to the biblical and historical woman behind the legend.

Mona Tokarek LaFosse
Women’s Roles in the Letters to Timothy and Titus
The letters to Timothy and Titus reveal a growing consciousness about reputation in early Christian communities. Behavior that outsiders might find distasteful – especially the behavior of women – could be perceived as immoral, compromising the honor of the group. How do these observations (and prescriptions) bear on the present?

Joy A. Schroeder
Deborah’s Daughters
As prophetess and judge, Deborah became a potent symbol of female authority and speech, an obvious exemplar for women aspiring to claim a public voice in the nineteenth century. These women – preachers, devotional writers, suffragists, and abolitionists – were Deborah’s daughters.

Other Voices

Heidi J. Hornik
Biblical Women in Christian Art

Jeanie Miley
Worship Service

Jocelyn Mathewes
Women with Icons
In the Orthodox tradition, icons – like the saints and stories they portray – point to the power of the larger story of Scripture, and show how great a God is our God. The photographs in the Women with Icons project reveal how the icons of patron saints, and the women who hold them close, point to Christ.

Katherine Callahan-Howell
Ripples of Freedom
God desires that the spiritual freedom that we receive in Christ Jesus should cascade into others’ lives. Sometimes this happens in unpredictable ways. In Acts 16:16-34, an unnamed slave woman sets in motion a course of wonderful, freeing events that we remember and celebrate today.

F. Scott Spencer
Preaching about Women in (and on) the Bible
Since women experience and interpret the world differently from men, it would be nice if the viewpoints of women scholars were seriously considered in preaching today – not least in dialogue with women’s stories in the Bible.

Sheila Klopfer
Feminist Scholarship on Women in the Bible
While acknowledging the difficult androcentrism of the Bible, the three books reviewed here also affirm its liberative and authoritative nature. They present a constructive way forward for modern interpreters who are committed to feminism and who maintain a high view of scriptural authority.