Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Currents in Biblical Research 15, 3 (June 2017)


The latest Currents in Biblical Research recently arrived, with titles and abstracts of the main articles as below.

Thomas B. Dozeman
The Book of Joshua in Recent Research
Research on the book of Joshua is developing significantly in a variety of different areas. The review summarizes current scholarship in six distinct methodological approaches: (1) textual criticism; (2) composition and literary context; (3) history, archaeology and geography; (4) violence, genocide and conquest; (5) literary and ideological studies; and (6) reception history. The article will conclude with a brief summary of recent collected studies and commentaries on Joshua. The focus of interpretation will be the last ten years supplementing Greenspoon (2005).

David Tabb Stewart 
LGBT/Queer Hermeneutics and the Hebrew Bible
LGBT and queer interpretive approaches have moved beyond the identitarian and apologetic stances of the 1970s–90s, when the first order of business was to respond to anti-gay voices and understand social location as an interpretive standpoint. The HIV/AIDS health crisis helped move some LGBT interpreters away from homosexuality as an object of study to placing themselves inside the text as subjects, lamenting with the Psalms or putting God in the dock like Job. Queer interpretation, anti-essentialist in spirit, moved away from identitarian concerns placing queer interpreters outside the text as interrogators. Queer biblical criticism resists heteronormativity as the default interpretive stance, but embraces the study of the body, gender performance, midrash-making and playfulness with biblical texts. The queer interpretive approach has begun to mature as it seeks intersections with minoritized criticisms, disability studies and the rising consciousness of intersex people, while criticizing itself as well.

Nicholas A. Elder
New Testament Media Criticism
This article introduces and overviews New Testament media criticism. Media criticism is an emerging biblical methodology that encompasses four related fields: orality studies, social memory theory, performance criticism, and the Bible in modern media. The article addresses the methodological foundations of these fields and reviews recent contributions in each of them.

R.B. Jamieson
When and Where Did Jesus Offer Himself? A Taxonomy of Recent Scholarship on Hebrews
This article surveys how recent scholarship answers the question, ‘According to Hebrews, when and where did Jesus offer himself?’ Much interest has been paid to this topic in the wake of David Moffitt’s 2011 monograph, but the debate is often framed in potentially reductionistic binary terms: either Hebrews depicts a sacrificial sequence beginning on the cross and culminating in heaven, or else Jesus’ ‘heavenly offering’ is a metaphor for the cross. By contrast, this article asks how scholars correlate three variables: Jesus’ death, offering, and entrance to heaven. It registers five answers that have been offered, explores the textual basis taken to support each, and articulates the issues which divide each view from the others. Further, the article surveys recent answers to two material questions that arise in the wake of this formal one. First, is Hebrews’ sacrificial theology coherent? Second, in Hebrews, is Jesus’ death atoning?

Dov Weiss
The Rabbinic God and Mediaeval Judaism
From the earliest stages of Wissenschaft des Judentums, scholars of Judaism typically read statements about God in the classical sources of Judaism with a mediaeval philosophical lens. By doing so, they sought to demonstrate the essential unity and continuity between rabbinic Judaism, later mediaeval Jewish philosophy and modern Judaism. In the late 1980s, the Maimonidean hold on rabbinic scholarship began to crack when the ‘revisionist school’ sought to drive a wedge between rabbinic Judaism, on the one hand, and Maimonidean Judaism, on the other hand, by highlighting the deep continuities and links between rabbinic Judaism and mediaeval Jewish mysticism (Kabbalah). The revisionist scholars regarded rabbinic Judaism as a pre-cursor to mediaeval Kabbalah rather than mediaeval Jewish philosophy. This article provides the history of scholarship on these two methods of reading rabbinic texts and then proposes that scholars adopt a third method. That is, building on the work of recent scholarship, we should confront theological rabbinic texts on their own terms, without the guiding hand of either mediaeval Jewish framework.

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Credo Magazine 7, 2 (2017) on the English Reformation


The current issue of Credo is available, this one devoted to ‘The English Reformation’.

According to the blurb:

‘The word “Reformation” immediately brings to mind a young Martin Luther, his 95 theses, and his memorable stand at the Diet of Worms. But did Luther’s writings have any influence in England? And what led certain English reformers to similar, sometimes identical, convictions about justification and biblical authority? In this issue of Credo Magazine we are introduced to some of the key English reformers, men like William Tyndale, Thomas Cranmer, and many others. Outstanding pastors and scholars tell us how the Reformation took root in England under very different political circumstances than Germany and why many of these reformers were willing to be martyred for their faith.’

Individual articles in the magazine are available to read from here.

Saturday, 29 July 2017

Chris Wright on John Stott’s Legacy


On a long car journey recently, I thoroughly enjoyed listening to a lecture by Chris Wright on John Stott – ‘John Stott’s Legacy and the Mission of the Global Church’ – which was The Alfred Stanway Lecture in Global Mission for 2016, given at Ridley College, Melbourne.

The audio for the lecture is available here or here, and Chris’ handout is available here.

He covered the below points, with most of the time spent on the first section, the five components of John Stott’s legacy and their impact on global mission. This section in particular is fascinating not only on Stott, but on evangelicalism more generally in the latter part of the 20th century.

A. Five components of John Stott’s legacy and their impact on global mission

1. Two organizations he founded

• Langham Partnership
• London Institute for Contemporary Christianity

2.Two movements he fostered

• IFES
•The Lausanne Movement

3. The books he wrote

• Evangelistic
• Teaching
• Mission
• Society and culture

4. The church he shaped – All Souls, Langham Place

5. The people he loved

B. The ‘Five Marks of Mission’ 

1. Evangelism

2. Teaching and Discipling

3. Compassion

4. Justice

5. Creation-care

C. Four biblical and missional models reflected by John Stott 

1. Abraham 

• Blessing the nations
• ‘The obedience of faith’

2. Moses 

• Leadership
• Humility

3. Paul 

• Evangelist and theologian of mission
• Teacher of the churches
• ‘Remember the poor’

4. Jesus 

• Prayer
• Simplicity

Thursday, 27 July 2017

The Asbury Journal 72, 1 (2017)


The latest issue of Asbury Journal, containing the below main articles, with the one on Lesslie Newbigin particularly catching my eye.

Nathan Crawford
Improvising with the Quadrilateral: An Augustinian Approach to Recovering the Use of the Wesleyan Quadrilateral in the Theology of Preaching
This article explores the improvisational nature of preaching through a closer examination of Augustine’s view of the theology of preaching in De Doctrina Christiana, and an exploration of the Wesleyan framework, known as the Wesleyan Quadrilateral as an additional, but key supplement to developing a theology of preaching which maintains the centrality of scripture, but permits the important addition of improvisation to meet the needs of changing times and congregations.

Samuel K. Law
Waltzing with Wesley: Wesleyan Theology as a Renewing Framework for Chinese Christian Spirituality and Global Identity
This paper argues that Wesleyan theology, understanding that God’s prevenient grace is working toward the restoration of all Creation, serves as a means of grace for global Christians to incarnate Christianity with their indigenous cultural identity. Using the Chinese context, this paper explores how a Wesleyan perspective, being itself a pragmatic and integrative theology, provides a pathway for the Chinese church, suffering from a hobbled spirituality as consequence of an over-identification with Confucian philosophy, to achieve a synergistic spirituality that balances both biblical and Chinese cultural components. A brief review of Chinese spirituality is first provided.

David J. Fuller
The Theme of Creation in Old Testament Theology from the Twentieth Century Onwards: Assessing the State of Play
One particularly disputed topic within the field of Old Testament theology is the subject of creation, specifically the theological and ethical import of the creation materials. The present study conducts a survey of positions on the theme of creation in significant works of Old Testament Theology (excluding works that utilize a narrative or book-based approach) from the seminal volumes of Eichrodt and Von Rad to the present day. It is the intention of the present study to identify the various zones of general agreement and disagreement within the subcategories present in different discussions of creation in Old Testament Theology, in order to clearly isolate the areas that require further research.

Kelly J. Godoy de Danielson and Robert Danielson
Pentecostal Music in the Public Square: The Christian Songs and Music of Juan Luis Guerra
This article explores the issue of contextualization of music in Latin America, particularly through the lens of Pentecostal singer-songwriter Juan Luis Guerra and his story of healing and conversion. Instead of leaving the pop music scene that had made him famous, he chose instead to stay in pop music and introduce Pentecostal Christian songs into his secular albums and concerts. This is a continuation of a long history of creative contextualization by Pentecostal musicians in sharp contrast to mainline Protestants who still primarily rely on translations of English hymns and music in a world where music is an integral part of the culture.

Kelly J. Godoy de Danielson and Robert Danielson
Música Pentecostal en la Plaza Pública: Las Canciones Cristianas y la Música de Juan Luis Guerra

Samuel Lee
An Eschatological Framework for Assessing the Effectiveness of Business as Mission Companies
This paper attempts to address the following question: “What metric or indicator is most useful for assessing the effectiveness of BAM (Business as Mission) companies?” Several books have provided evaluative tools for assessing ministry viability and business effectiveness, but there are currently none that explicitly deal with a BAM measuring stick for holistic BAM effectiveness. This study thus will seek to offer several possible outlets for the emergence of a relational metric that can be used by BAM practitioners in a variety of different contexts. Specific avenues that will be explored include the business world, economic theory, the Christian canon, as well as church history.

Shawn P. Behan
A Hermeneutical Congregation: A New Reading of Lesslie Newbigin’s Missional Ecclesiology through the “Congregation as Hermeneutic of the Gospel” Principle
Within the Missional Church Movement, the work of Lesslie Newbigin in developing a missional ecclesiology has been foundational. Yet often his ideas are not fully followed, rather just his language or overarching principles. Thus, a new reading of Newbigin’s central idea for missional ecclesiology, the congregation as hermeneutic of the Gospel, is necessary. Looking at his initial work on this concept, expanded with the work of others, along with examples from churches, forms the content of this article. Ultimately, it provides a new way of reading Newbigin’s missional ecclesiology for application in local churches.

From the Archives: E. Stanley Jones and Nellie Logan

The entire issue is available as a pdf here.

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

‘You Are My Witnesses’


Peter Leithart has a great post here on the recurring refrain in Isaiah, of the Lord to his people, ‘You are my witnesses’ (Isaiah 43:1, 12; 44:8).

I was preaching on Sunday from Luke 24:36-53, in which Jesus says to his disciples, ‘You are witnesses of these things’ (Luke 24:48), language which is then picked up in Acts 1:8, ‘you will be my witnesses...’ On both occasions, their witness extends beyond to Jerusalem to ‘all nations’ (Luke 24:47), ‘to the ends of the earth’ (Acts 1:8).

I didn’t make much of it on Sunday, but I think there is a clear echo of Isaiah in Jesus’ commission to the disciples:

‘You are my witnesses,’ declares the LORD,
‘and my servant whom I have chosen...
And now the LORD says...
‘It is too small a thing for you to be my servant
to restore the tribes of Jacob
and bring back those of Israel I have kept.
I will also make you a light for the Gentiles,
that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.’ (Isaiah 43:10 and 49:5-6)

Mission to ‘all nations’ doesn’t start with Christ’s various commissions at the end of the gospels. It has always been God’s mission to bless all nations. We see it in his original design for creation, in his promises to Abraham, and his calling of Israel – later reiterated through the servant figure in Isaiah who is chosen, made to be a light to the nations.

This is what we see at the end of Luke and the beginning of Acts. In line with the Lord’s promise through Isaiah, the first disciples – and all disciples since – are God’s ‘witnesses’, the servant community who will bring the message of salvation not just to Israel but to the ‘ends of the earth’.

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Christian History Magazine on the Catholic Reformation


The latest issue of Christian History Magazine is devoted to The Catholic Reformation’, the fourth in a four-part series on the Reformation.

Here is the paragraph of blurb:

‘The fourth and final issue of our Reformation series features the story of Catholic reform in the sixteenth century. Renewal spread through the Catholic church through new religious orders – foremost the Jesuits – and through individuals and groups who sympathized with “evangelical” ideas while remaining under papal authority. The Council of Trent, the official response to the Protestant critique, would set a course for Catholicism for the next 500 years. The issue also includes closing thoughts on the long-term effects of the Reformation and the prospects for ecumenical dialogue between Catholics and Protestants today.’

The whole magazine is available as a 6.8 MB pdf here.

The previous three magazines in the series are available



Monday, 17 July 2017

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 also 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.

Saturday, 15 July 2017

Tyndale Bulletin 68, 1 (2017)


The latest issue of Tyndale Bulletin has arrived, containing the following collection of articles.

Kim Phillips
A New Codex from the Scribe behind the Leningrad Codex: L17
Samuel b. Jacob was the scribe responsible for the production of the so-called Leningrad Codex (Firkowich B19a), currently our earliest complete Masoretic Bible codex. This article demonstrates that another codex from the Firkowich Collection, containing the Former Prophets only, is also the work of Samuel b. Jacob, despite the lack of a colophon to this effect. The argument is based on a combination of eleven textual and para-textual features shared between these two manuscripts, and other manuscripts known to have been produced by the same scribe.

David B. Schreiner
‘We Really Should Stop Translating nir in Kings as “Light” Or “Lamp”’: A Response
This essay responds to Deuk-il Shin’s recently published ‘The Translation of the Hebrew Term NI?R: “David's Yoke”?’ I contend that Shin’s argument does not do enough to counteract Douglas Stuart’s call to stop translating nir in Kings as ‘light’ or ‘lamp’. Among other things, Shin does not consider important contributions to the discussion, which therefore renders his argumentation deficient. All things considered, Ehud Ben Zvi’s suggestion of territorial dominion is most appropriate.

John Makujina
‘Behold, There Were Twins in Her Womb’ (Gen. 25:24-26; 38:27-30): Medical Science and the Twin Births in Genesis
Eran Viezel claims that the book of Genesis is ignorant of the fundamentals of childbirth, particularly the presenting foetal member. While the head normally emerges first, Genesis mistakenly thinks that the hands present, as they do in livestock deliveries. Therefore, the veracity of the twin births in Genesis 25:24-26 and 38:27-30, where a hand exits the womb first (Jacob and Zerah), should be rejected. The present article, however, exposes significant inaccuracies and unsupported assumptions on Viezel’s part. Moreover, while maintaining that both births are anomalous, this article proposes medically realistic scenarios for the parturitions of the twins in Genesis.

Murray Vasser
Grant Slaves Equality: Re-Examining the Translation of Colossians 4:1
This essay offers a fresh challenge to the widely accepted translation of Colossians 4:1. Though isotes normally means ‘equality’, most scholars insist that in Colossians 4:1 the term must instead mean ‘fairness’, for the author evidently assumes the continuation of slavery in the Christian community. Thus English versions render the command ‘Masters, treat your slaves justly and fairly’ (RSV). In support of this translation, scholars routinely cite a handful of texts that are purported to demonstrate that the term isotes could mean ‘fairness’ instead of ‘equality’. In this essay, I challenge such an interpretation of these texts. Furthermore, by demonstrating that a first-century moralist could exhort masters to treat their slaves as equals without thereby recommending the abolition of slavery, I challenge the assertion that the context of Colossians 4:1 requires a meaning of isotes other than the one well attested in the extant Greek literature. I conclude that Colossians 4:1 should be rendered as follows: ‘Masters, grant slaves justice and equality.’ This conclusion has important implications not only for Bible translators, but also for scholars attempting to reconstruct the situation at Colossae or describe early Christian attitudes towards slavery.

Jermo van Nes and Harro Koning
Motif-Semantic Differences in Paul?: A Question to Advocates of the Pastorals’ Plural Authorship in Dialogue with Michaela Engelmann
New Testament scholarship is witnessing a growing number of studies advocating the plural authorship of the Pastoral Epistles (PE) on the basis of their mutual differences. Among them is the recent study by Michaela Engelmann highlighting ‘motif-semantic’ differences between the PE in terms of their Christology/soteriology, ecclesiology, heresiology, and image of Paul. While Engelmann and others challenging the common authorship of the PE offer significant contributions to the study of the PE’s origins, their overall approach also raises methodological questions. By way of illustration, 1 Thessalonians and Philippians are studied in a way similar to that of Engelmann. Both letters are shown to exhibit a good number of motif-semantic differences, which might bring into question their explanatory power.

Daniel Hill
The State and Marriage: Cut the Connection
I argue that the connection between the state and the institution of marriage should be cut. More precisely, I argue that the state should not (i) solemnise or purport to solemnise any marriages, (ii) register any marriages and (iii) make any laws, civil or criminal, respecting marriage. I advance several arguments for this thesis, and then respond to many possible objections. I do not argue for any change in any of the typical Western laws respecting sexual intercourse; in particular, I do not argue for any change in the laws regarding rape, the age of consent to intercourse or intercourse with a minor.

Julian Rivers
Could Marriage Be Disestablished?
In this paper, I respond to Dr Daniel Hill’s argument that English law should cease to recognise marriage. Rather than focusing on general arguments of political theory for and against such a proposal I consider practical arguments based on the development of the law in response to injustice in family relations. A law of marriage of some sort seems inevitable. This conclusion is reinforced by the arguments of libertarian and feminist writers who seek to ‘abolish’ marriage. Looked at more closely, they do nothing of the sort; they redefine it. Finally, I discuss the problem of unregistered marriages among British Muslims as an already existing example of marriage without the state. I conclude that law has to respond to existing social forms according to an idea of justice in domestic relations, and for that reason marriage cannot simply be ‘disestablished’.

Dissertation Summaries

Sookgoo Shin
Ethics in the Gospel of John: Discipleship as Moral Progress
This study seeks to challenge the dominant scholarly view of John’s ethics as an ineffective and unhelpful companion for moral formation. The Gospel of John has been an unwelcome outsider when it comes to the discussion of ethics since it has been accused of being morally bankrupt, not ethical enough to be included in New Testament ethics, and a puzzling book – indeed, a major challenge – for ethical enquiry. No one has been, however, more sceptical about the value of John’s ethics than Wayne Meeks, whose criticisms have contributed significantly to this negative view. In order to demonstrate the inadequacy of such claims, this study aims to identify the undergirding ethical dynamic that shapes John’s moral structure by bringing out the implicit ethical elements that are embedded throughout John’s narratives, and thus suggests a way to read the whole Gospel ethically and appreciatively of its literary characteristics.

Peter Malik
Studies in P.Beatty III (P47): The Codex, Its Scribe, and Its Text
The importance of papyri in NT textual criticism, if properly understood, is difficult to overestimate. Despite their state of preservation, they allowed the critics to move beyond the fourth-century ‘barrier’ of the Constantinian period, in which the earliest ‘Great majuscules’ were produced. The early papyri thus provided a venue for revisiting previous theories concerning transmission history and even some of the ‘canons’ of textual criticism. And perhaps of equal significance is the fact that the early papyri have provided the historians with valuable evidence of early Christian material culture and worship. Although to varying degrees this applies to all the papyri from the pre-Constantinian time, it is particularly true of those from Chester Beatty (P45-47) and Bodmer (P66, 72, 75) collections.

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Journal for the Evangelical Study of the Old Testament 5, 2 (2016-2017)


The latest issue of the Journal for the Evangelical Study of the Old Testament is now available online. The main articles (listed below with their abstracts) are available from here, with a pdf of the entire issue available here. As always, it’s worth checking out its book reviews as much as anything else.

Andrew E. Steinmann
A Note on the Refrain in Genesis 1: Evening, Morning, and Day as Chronological Summary
The meaning of the refrain in Gen 1 “There was an evening and there was a morning, X day” (Gen 1:5, 8, 13, 19, 23, 31) has long been in dispute. This paper argues that the refrain is a chronological summary of the preceding text by demonstrating what the syntax and usage of such summaries are in the OT. The phrase then means “In summary there was an evening and then a morning, X day,” thereby encompassing an entire day beginning at sundown and ending at the next sundown. Moreover, the phrase “evening and morning” is further defined in the refrain as a single day.

Drew S. Holland
On the Commonalities of Deuteronomy 13 with Ancient Near Eastern Treaties
This article evaluates the numerous potential influences upon Deut 13 from ancient Near Eastern treaties. After assessing both the features Deut 13 shares with Hittite, Aramean, and neo-Assyrian treaties and the ways in which Deut 13 is distinct from them, it will become apparent that this biblical text shares some significant literary traits with these ANE treaties, but the degree to which it differs from them does not enable us to confirm literary dependence, a claim many scholars have asserted. Rather, Deut 13 expresses a uniquely Israelite treaty style within a general ancient Near Eastern treaty tradition.

Greg Goswell
King and Cultus: The Image of David in the Book of Kings
The image of David in the book of Kings is of a cultically-observant king, who does not commit the sin of idolatry, and, as a result, David becomes the model of proper royal behaviour for all kings that follow. In the theology of Kings there is an essential link between kingship and the temple cultus, and the kings who were like David reformed the cult and suppressed deviant cultic expression. The author of Kings measures and assesses the performance of every king by the rule of whether he supported the primacy of the YHWH and his temple in Jerusalem (of which piety David is the exemplar). It is argued that the image of David found in Kings is not without connection to the memory of David preserved in the preceding book of Samuel. In terms of the fate of the Davidic house in exile and beyond, various features in Kings suggest that the book is at best ambivalent as to the long term future of kingship as an Israelite institution.

Book Reviews

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

I’ll Praise My Maker While I’ve Breath


For the Love of God, Volume 1 (Wheaton: Crossway, 1998) is a series of daily reflections by D.A. Carson based on the Bible reading scheme of Robert Murray M’Cheyne. Carson notes that one of the psalms for today (Psalm 146) inspired the following hymn by Isaac Watts, which I haven’t sung for years but which I think is wonderful.

I’ll praise my Maker while I’ve breath,
And when my voice is lost in death,
Praise shall employ my nobler pow’rs;
My days of praise shall ne’er be past,
While life and thought and being last,
Or immortality endures.

Why should I make a man my trust?
Princes must die and turn to dust;
Vain is the help of flesh and blood:
Their breath departs, their pomp and pow’r
And thoughts all vanish in an hour,
Nor can they make their promise good.

How happy they whose hopes rely
On Israel’s God, Who made the sky
And earth and seas with all their train:
His truth forever stands secure;
He saves th’ oppressed, He feeds the poor,
And none shall find His promise vain.

The Lord gives eyesight to the blind;
The Lord supports the sinking mind;
He sends the lab’ring conscience peace;
He helps the stranger in distress,
The widow, and the fatherless,
And grants the pris’ner sweet release.

He loves His saints, He knows them well,
But turns the wicked down to hell;
Thy God, O Zion! ever reigns:
Let every tongue, let every age,
In this exalted work engage;
Praise Him in everlasting strains.

I’ll praise Him while He lends me breath,
And when my voice is lost in death,
Praise shall employ my nobler pow’rs;
My days of praise shall ne’er be past,
While life and thought and being last,
Or immortality endures.

Isaac Watts (1674-1748) 

Word and World 3 (2017)


Word and World, published by IFES, ‘aims to promote conversation and reflection about God’s Word and God’s World’, seeking ‘to enable those involved in student ministry to be nourished by the gospel and attentive to the world that students inhabit’.

The current issue explores persecution and suffering, from the days of the early church to a variety of modern contexts, including Iraq, Gabon, and Nigeria.

Saturday, 8 July 2017

Vern S. Poythress on the Book of Revelation


Vern S. Poythress has made available a 125-page Study Guide to the Book of Revelation (here as a pdf). After some introductory matter, most of it contains questions on the book divided into 23 sections, which could be helpful for personal or small group Bible study.

Thursday, 6 July 2017

Theos Report on Christianity and Mental Health


For any of the three or four readers of this blog who may be interested, this is my 2000th post, which feels like something of a milestone. Thanks for checking in.

The latest report from Theos has just been published:


Here are the opening paragraphs from the Executive Summary (the bold text is original):

‘This report follows on from the findings of the Theos report Religion and Wellbeing: Assessing the Evidence. That report looked at 140 academic studies and sought to analyse the underlying relationship between religion and wellbeing. This report, by contrast, looks more specifically at Christianity and is an attempt to assess what Christians are actually contributing to society in terms of addressing mental health needs.

‘It should be read as a scoping study, an initial foray into the field which is looking to suggest a research agenda, rather than presenting any firm conclusions. It draws on 15 informal interviews with Christian experts and practitioners within the field, representing a range of denominations, theologies, and particular engagements with mental health.

‘The report provides a brief overview of the mental health situation in the UK today, suggests some Christian principles on which an authentic Christian response could be built, makes a preliminary effort to map such services as already exist, and finally looks to establish how effective those services are and how they could be improved.

‘Throughout, the report returns to “what next?” questions, outlining a programme of research that is needed to encourage, inform, shape and amplify the Christian response to current mental health problems.’

A pdf of the full report is available here.

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

David McIlroy on Finance


The latest Cambridge Paper from the Jubilee Centre is available online, this one by David McIlroy:


Here is the summary:

‘The Global Financial Crisis ought to have been a wake-up call. Instead, it has largely been an opportunity missed. It is not, however, impossible to take the steps which are required to transform the financial services industry into one which lives up to its name. This paper seeks to remind us that the shape of banks and the nature of banking are not fixed, that there is an alternative to the domination of our financial system by a few large banks focused on short-term profits. Banking was different in the past and it could be once again.’

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Mission Frontiers 39, 4 (July-August 2017)


The July-August 2017 issue of Mission Frontiers, published by the U.S. Center for World Mission, contains a number of articles on ‘The Roma’.

Editor Rick Wood writes:

‘The Roma, they are the people of myth, legend and media creations. They are commonly known by the name, Gypsy, given to them by outsiders. Most of us have images in our minds of what “Gypsies” are like even though the vast majority of us have never gotten to know someone who is Romani...

‘The only way to overcome these stereotypes is to confront them with the truth. That is what we are doing with this issue of Mission Frontiers. We are allowing actual Roma people to speak for themselves – to give you a glimpse into the reality of who they are, their struggles, and their passion to make Jesus known among their own people.’

Individual articles can be accessed from here, and the whole issue (5.3 MB) can be downloaded as a pdf here.

Monday, 3 July 2017

Foundations 72 (Spring 2017)


Issue 72 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, most of them on the theme of church planting.

Ralph Cunnington
Editorial

Neil Powell
The Nature and Necessity of Church-Planting Movements
This paper introduces church-planting movements and considers how they differ from both networks and institutions. It next addresses the nature of gospel partnership within such movements and the place theological vision plays in enabling and establishing a partnership. Further, the paper reflects on some of the challenges movements face, and how they may be overcome, including defining a biblical basis for such partnerships. Finally, it seeks to establish the claim that the development of church-planting movements is necessary to reach our cities and our nations for Christ. 

Philip Moore
Defending Specificity on Doctrinal Distinctives for a Church-Planting Network
Acts 29 is a church-planting network of over 630 churches from 18 different denominations in 30 countries. Acts 29, as well as subscribing to the Lausanne statement of faith, has five specific doctrinal distinctives which its members must accept whole-heartedly. Two of these are Reformed soteriology and complemantarian relationships for men and women in the home and in the church. This article argues for the legitimacy of a network setting distinctives like these as boundaries for the network, describes how Acts 29 lives them out in its different constituencies and finally shows how they relate to the church-planting mission of the network.

Neil MacMillan
Building a Church-Planting Movement in a Traditional Denomination
This article explores how we can have the best of both worlds. The dynamic growth of a church planting movement welded to the resources and depth of a traditional ecclesiastical setting. Because most European Christians belong to traditional denominations it is crucial that these institutions learn to embrace church-planting movement dynamics that can counter the decline of the church. The article begins with a definition and analysis of church-planting movements and contrasts these with the benefits of institutional environments. It is argued that movements and institutions cannot flourish without elements of the other and that it is possible to blend the best features of movement and institution in one organisation. This is followed by a case study of how the Free Church of Scotland has worked to foster a church-planting movement within its existing structures. I try to outline the processes necessary to allow this to happen and some of the challenges involved. The article concludes with a look to necessary future developments that might allow this movement to take root and mature. 

Andy Paterson
Multi-Site Church
Multi-site churches litter the American churchscape and are beginning to crop up on the British scene. This article examines what they are, how the multi-site movement arose and what biblical rationale there might be for their existence. Appeals have been made both to church history and to evangelistic success by their advocates whilst the critics major on the nature of church and its oversight. The paper investigates whether multi-site church is an end in itself, a dangerous distortion to be avoided or a pragmatic tool that might help structure a transitional phase for some church plants and mergers.

Stephen Lloyd
Chronological Creationism
This paper coins a new term, “Chronological Creationism” to describe a nuanced approach to the creation-evolution debate which is theologically, apologetically and scientifically appealing. The importance of the Bible’s chronology, both relative and absolute, is introduced and then chronological considerations are applied to a series of doctrinal issues relating to origins: Adam and humanity, Noah’s flood and the relationship between Adam’s sin and death. It is concluded that if the Bible’s relative chronology in these doctrinal areas is maintained then it is impossible to reconcile the absolute chronology of the Bible with the dating used in evolutionary history. While this presents a formidable challenge, it is only if the relative chronology of the Bible is maintained that we are able to provide coherent responses to many contemporary attacks on Christianity. Starting with the relative chronology of the Bible also allows us to develop a robust scientific approach to origins that is innovative and enriching.

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