Thursday, 24 August 2017

Themelios 42, 2 (August 2017)

The latest Themelios is online here (and available here as a single pdf), containing the below articles.

D.A. Carson
On Knowing When to Resign

Strange Times
Daniel Strange
The ‘Only’ Option

John C. Wingard Jr.
Confession of a Reformed Philosopher: Why I Am a Compatibilist about Determinism and Moral Responsibility
It is not fashionable among Christian philosophers today to be a compatibilist about morally significant freedom and determinism. This essay sketches a case for the reasonableness of embracing compatibilism that involves both theological and nontheological considerations. This is followed by a critique of the most widely recognized challenge to compatibilism, the consequence argument against compatibilism, that attempts to show why such an argument cannot succeed. The essay concludes by noting several implications of the sort of compatibilism defended here for developing a satisfactory moral psychology.

J. Daniel McDonald
Natural Selection and an Epistemology of Evil: An Incompatible Pair
Underlying the atheistic naturalist’s argument from evil against God’s existence is an assumed knowledge of evil—they know what evil is. For atheistic naturalists, Darwinian evolution serves as the framework of their worldview with natural selection as the blind agent of change. Assuming natural selection is true, how can one who holds to natural selection know what evil is and that something is evil—what the author calls an “epistemology of evil”? This article argues that the beliefs in natural selection and in the existence of evil are contradictory, undermining the argument from evil against God’s existence.

Jacob Shatzer
Wendell Berry’s “Risk”: In the Middle on Gay Marriage?
Wendell Berry’s influence has grown in recent years as many people, Christians or not, have found his agrarian vision a compelling corrective to various modern problems. However, Berry publicly took what we might call a “middle road” on gay marriage. This position surprised (and disappointed) many evangelicals that do not agree. But how does Berry’s position on gay marriage stand up to Berry’s own criticism? Does he agree with himself?

Obbie Tyler Todd
The Preeminence of Knowledge in John Calvin’s Doctrine of Conversion and Its Influence Upon His Ministry in Geneva
John Calvin believed that the mind served as the “citadel” to the soul, commanding the seat of conversion whereby God first remedied the noetic effects of sin before liberating the bound will. Therefore the Reformer consigned particular importance to human knowledge in the process of conversion that reverberated throughout his entire Genevan ministry. It is the aim of this article to examine Calvin’s developed hierarchy of faculties, particularly the chief functional status ascribed to the mind, and how this preeminence of knowledge influenced his view of sin, salvation, and Christian homiletics respectively.

Christopher Woznicki
Redeeming Edwards’s Doctrine of Hell: An “Edwardsean” Account
Jonathan Edwards provides subsequent generations of theologians and ministers with one of the most influential versions of the traditional account of hell. However, his account of hell has its detractors. Those who oppose Edwards’s account argue that it is morally appalling and philosophically problematic. As such, I attempt to defend Edwards’s account by addressing one of its most philosophically pressing objections: the issuant account objection. In order to do this, I turn to Edwards’s doctrine of the blessed state of the redeemed in heaven. This is a doctrine the resources of which can help provide a redeemed “Edwardsean” account of hell, one that is both traditional and issuant.

George A. Terry
A Missiology of Excluded Middles: An Analysis of the T4T Scheme for Evangelism and Discipleship
This article analyzes the theological premises of the popular T4T model for evangelism and discipleship. The analysis argues that the T4T scheme largely depends on several false dichotomies that do not engage the Scriptures except in order to proof text and it regularly excludes the middle area that conveys the biblical balance. The result is an overly rigid methodology that undervalues the influence of context in crosscultural communication. Rather than a theological vision that holds in biblical tension both truth and context, T4T sanctions an inflexible evangelism scheme that is more conducive to receptive audiences and a discipleship model that is more conversant with what is expedient than what is biblical.

Book Reviews

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Crucible 8, 1 (June 2017)

The latest issue of Crucible, published by the Australian Evangelical Alliance and largely produced by the faculty of the Australian College of Ministries, is now available online here, with the below articles (abstracts included, where available).

The Cauldron: peer reviewed articles

Bron Williams
Taking Stock, Taking Heart, Taking Action: Australia, refugees and the ethics of Isaiah
“Taking Stock, Taking Heart, Taking Action” applies the ethics of Isaiah to Australia’s treatment of asylum seekers and refugees. Since Federation, Australia’s responses to asylum seekers and refugees has ranged from positive encouragement and welcome (post-WWII) to punitive discouragement and detention (current ‘illegal maritime arrivals’). Representative passages and themes across the book of Isaiah are explored and examined to support a consistent ethical emphasis on the compassionate and just treatment of the marginalised and needy. When evaluating and challenging Australian policy in the light of Isaiah’s ethics, the sovereignty of God over world issues is emphasized, particularly in times of political turbulence. Isaiah 1–39 calls for a taking stock of the use (or misuse) of language and power, with righteousness and justice used as yardsticks against which God judges the attitudes and actions of people. After judgement, Isaiah 40–55 encourages a taking heart, as the voices of the marginalised and the suffering servant (in this case asylum seekers and refugees) point to a future beyond what has previously been experienced or hoped for. Finally, in Isaiah 56–66 the true fast of God addresses the need for action, both for others and for ourselves.

Jeff Pugh
The Transforming Power of Preaching With Imagination
This article explores the connection between the imagination of a gifted preacher and the illuminating work of the Spirit. There is a commonly held assumption that the stimulation of a congregation’s imagination by a sermon is critical if it is to have any transformative effect on the hearers. Robert Dykstra first explored this connection by drawing upon Donald Winnicott’s version of Object Relations Theory as it relates to infant play and development. He also asserted that boring preaching was in a congregation’s interest and a product of collaboration between both parties. While Dykstra’s proposal is compelling this leaves the tension unresolved that this would imply that the transcendent purposes of the Spirit depend upon the talents of the preacher evoking human God imaging processes. Winnicott’s theory also implies that the images provoked by imaginative preaching are just projections from the psyche of the hearers and nothing more. A more compelling paradigm for the connection between God’s revelation and human imagination can be found by applying Moshe Spero’s recent version of O.R. theory as it allows space for a divine revelatory role in the playful/transformative preaching-hearing encounter. Parallels between the work of the imaginative preacher and therapist show how imagination actually respects the redemptive initiative of the Spirit in several key ways. Practical implications for those preparing compelling sermons follow automatically from this theological insight.

The Test-tube: ministry resources

Wilma Gallet
Practical Theology and Contemporary Social Issues

Ian Hussey
A Sermon: Migration and the Mission of God

The Filter: book reviews

Centre for Public Christianity (August 2017)

The Centre for Public Christianity has posted a helpful 5-minute video interview with Amy Orr-Ewing (Director of the Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics) on ‘The world we know: why trust (and read) the Bible?’.

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.