Thursday 19 April 2018

Perichoresis 16, 1 (2018) on European Baptist Theology and History

Perichoresis is the theological journal of Emanuel University, Romania, published twice a year.

The latest volume, freely available from here, contains the below essays, continuing a series on ‘Celebrating 500 Years since the Reformation, 1518-2018’, with this issue devoted to ‘Insights into Contemporary Baptist Thought: Perspectives on European Baptist Theology and History.

Tim Noble
Nowhere is Better than Here: The Strengths and Weaknesses of Early Sixteenth Century Utopias
This article examines the utopian vision present in the eponymous work by Thomas More and in the early Anabaptists. In the light of the discussion on the power and dangers of utopian thinking in liberation theology it seeks to show how More struggled with the tension between the positive possibilities of a different world and the destructive criticism of the present reality. A similar tension is found in early Anabaptist practices, especially in terms of their relationship to the state and their practice of commonality of goods. The article shows that that all attempts to reduce visions of a better world to a particular setting end up as ideological.

Rupen Das
Becoming a Follower of Christ: Exploring Conversion Through Historical and Missiological Lenses
Conversion is a critical part of Evangelical theology and missiology. It has been defined as a crisis experience or a decision at a specific point in time. However, there is always an aspect of development, a process, involved. Increasingly, the phenomenon of conversion of those from non-Christian backgrounds, for example from other world religions, indicates that how they become followers of Christ is often characterised by a gradual journey, sometimes accompanied by visions and dreams. This paper looks at the phenomenon of conversion through a historical and missiological lens to explain and understand the dynamics of the conversion.

Marion L.S. Carson
In Whose Interest? Ante-Bellum Abolitionism, the Bible, and Contemporary Christian Ethics
Christians look to Scripture to inform their ethical decision-making, believing that God speaks through it. However, disagreement as to what the Bible requires us to do can often lead to acrimonious splits within the church. So long as sharp divisions amongst Christians over ethical issues remain, injustices continue, and the reputation of the church is undermined. This article suggests that lessons may be learned from the story of the use of the Bible in the American Abolitionism debate which can help the contemporary church to discuss and perhaps even resolve some enduring ethical questions which are dividing Christians today.

Stuart Blythe
Open-Air Preaching: A Long and Diverse Tradition
For many people, open-air preaching is associated with a particularly limited understanding of the nature of the event. In part this is related to the fact that open-air preaching has received relatively little serious academic study. From a variety of sources, however, it is possible to piece together something of a critically analytic sketch of the practice. This sketch demonstrates that not only can open-air preaching claim longevity but that in turn it is a practice with considerable diversity as open-air preachers seek to make meaning through their gathering and encounter with audiences.

Anthony R. Cross
The Place of Theological Education in the Preparation of Men and Women for the British Baptist Ministry then and Now
Using principally, though not exclusively, the learning of the biblical languages, this paper seeks to demonstrate four things. Firstly, from their beginnings in the early seventeenth century the majority of British Baptists have believed that the study of theology is essential for their ministers, and that the provision of such an education through their colleges is necessary for the well-being of the churches. Secondly, and contrary to misconceptions among Baptists and those of other traditions, Baptists have always had ministers who have been highly trained theologically, and that this has enriched their service as pastors. Thirdly, it reveals that Baptists today have a wealth of both academically-gifted and theologically-astute pastor-theologians and pastor-scholars. Finally, it argues that theology has always played its part in the renewal of Christian life and witness for which so many Christians today are praying.

Lina Toth
Strangers in the Land and True Lovers of the Nation: the Formation of Lithuanian-Speaking Baptist Identity, 1918-1940
How does an emerging community of faith develop its identity in the context of a semi-hostile and increasingly nationalistic culture? The story of the early years of Lithuanian-speaking Baptists provides an interesting and informative case study. This article focusses on the formative stage of the Lithuanian-speaking Baptist movement during the interwar period of the independent Republic of Lithuania (1918-1940). It considers four main factors which contributed to the formation of Lithuanian-speaking Baptist identity: different ethnic and cultural groupings amongst Baptists in Lithuania; the role of the global Baptist family in providing both material and ideological support; the community’s relationship with the Lithuanian state; and their stance towards the dominant religious context, i.e. the Lithuanian Catholic Church. Out of this dynamic emerges a picture of the particular ways in which these congregations, and especially their leadership, navigated their understanding of loyalty to the Kingdom of God in relation to their belonging to a particular national grouping.

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