Saturday, 23 June 2018

Thomas R. Schreiner on Revelation

Today’s ‘Daily Dose of Greek’ links to a generous pdf excerpt from a forthcoming commentary on Revelation by Thomas Schreiner, to be published in volume 12 of the new ESV Expository Commentary. Further information on the volume is available here, and the pdf excerpt is available here.

Friday, 22 June 2018

Foundations 74 (Spring 2018)

Issue 74 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:

Martin Salter

Jamie A. Grant
Crisis, Cursing and the Christian: Reading Imprecatory Psalms in the Twenty-First Century
Many Christian readers of the Psalter balk at the psalms that call down curses on particular people in response to wrongs that have been perpetrated by them. We are uncomfortable both with the language and the ethical implications. Effectively, these psalms are omitted from the life and worship of the church. This article argues that this should not be the case. When understood in the light of the constraints of genre and when understood as prayers offered to the Sovereign, these psalms provide us with a spiritual vocabulary which enables us to deal with the horrific injustices of life before the throne of God.

Heather R.F. Harper
The Book of Job as a Theology of Isolation
Suffering is an inescapable part of life. As Christians it is difficult to comprehend that a God who is both omnipotent and benevolent could allow his people to endure such agony. This raises the issue of how Christians should respond to suffering. To answer the question this paper will firstly reflect on the aspects of isolation caused by suffering in the book of Job, paying particular attention to chapters 2, 3, 29, 30 and 31. Secondly, it will consider Job’s response to isolation caused by suffering, with particular attention to his lament and Job 42:7-17, and use this as a paradigm of how Christians should respond to God, our own thoughts and emotions, and others during times of suffering.

Jon Putt
Culture, Class and Ethnicity: A Theological Exploration
Christian discussion of culture, class and ethnicity are as important as they are heated. Often they fail to properly define terms or reflect deeply within theological categories. This paper is a theological exploration of the ways in which the concepts of class, culture and ethnicity are understood in biblical terms and subsequently interrelated. It is part of an attempt to uncover and confront our own cultural blind spots and biases, and in turn value the other more highly than ourselves.

Fiona R. Gibson
Overcoming Listlessness: Learning from Evagrius of Pontus
Early and medieval Christian writers cautioned believers against the Seven Deadly Sins. Even today most Christians could probably name most of them. However, the one that was considered one of the most deadly and complex – acedia – is now virtually unknown and little understood. This paper will briefly examine the nature of acedia by engaging with the writings of Evagrius of Pontus, who was one of the first theologians to deal extensively with what acedia is, and how to overcome it. Some of his remedies may be surprising, and have unexpected contemporary applications.

Daniel Stevens
Review Article: The Greek New Testament, Produced at Tyndale House, Cambridge

Book Reviews

Wednesday, 20 June 2018

Asbury Journal 73, 1 (2018)

The latest issue of Asbury Journal, containing the below main articles, mostly drawn from a colloquium on ‘Wesleyan Theology from Biblical and Missiological Perspectives’.

Laurence W. Wood
John Wesley’s Mission of Spreading Scriptural Holiness: A Case Study in World Mission and Evangelism
A manual of discipline, called The Large Minutes, was given to all Methodist preachers when they joined John Wesley’s annual conference, containing this explanation: “God’s design in raising up the people called ‘Methodists’” was “to spread scriptural holiness over the land.” This paper will trace a narrow slice of the larger developing story of how John Wesley arrived at his distinction between justifying faith and full sanctifying grace. It will also serve as a case study to show that the call to justification by faith and a subsequent experience of sanctification by faith became the theme of his evangelistic preaching. This paper will conclude with some observations about the importance of Wesley’s holiness message for the founding of Asbury Theological Seminary and the E. Stanley Jones School of World Mission and Evangelism.

Susangeline Y. Patrick
Seeing Lakota Christian Mission History Through the Eyes of John Wesley’s Image of God
This paper engages John Wesley’s understanding of the Imago Dei (the image of God) and examines the history of Christian mission among the Native American tribes, particularly Lakota on Rosebud Reservation and Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. Wesley’s view of the image of God in creation, partial loss of the image of God, and restoration of the image of God in Jesus Christ provides a framework to describe both the successes and failures in Lakota mission history. Wesley’s understanding of the Imago Dei challenges current mission theology and praxis to see God’s creation and peoples as worthy of honor and love, redeemable and restorable in the new creation.

Timothy J. Christian
The Problem with Wesley’s Postmillennialism: An Exegetical Case for Historic Premillennialism in 21st Century Wesleyan Theology and Missions
This article presents an exegesis of Revelation 20:1-10 followed by a critical assessment of Wesley’s interpretation of Revelation 20:1-10. Overall, Wesley’s postmillennial interpretation of Revelation 20:1-10 is not supported by an exegetical reading of Revelation 20:1-10 (Scripture); it is not rooted in the early church (tradition); and it is based largely upon the optimism of the 18th century which was shattered by the 20th century (experience). Historic premillennialism, however, does exegetical justice to Revelation 20:1-10 (Scripture), takes seriously the early church’s view (tradition), and accords with our reason and experience in the 21st century (reason and experience). As such, Wesleyans should abandon postmillennialism and instead embrace historic premillennialism for the sake of having a biblically based theology and approach to missions and evangelism in the 21st century.

Wilmer Estrada-Carrasquillo
The Relational Character of Wesley’s Theology and its Implications for an Ecclesiology for the Other: A Latino Pentecostal Testimony
This article assesses the impact of John Welsey’s theology on relationship, both between human beings and God and between human beings within community. This theology of relationality is then used as a framework for reading the Christological hymn in Philippians. Finally the implications of our understanding of a theology of relationality are explored in the light of missiological and ecclesiological lenses. All of this is done through the added lens of the author’s experience as a Latino Pentecostal.

Ryan Kristopher Giffin
The Good Work of Justification, Sanctification, and Glorification: John Wesley’s Soteriological Explanation of Philippians 1:6
Numerous scholars have described John Wesley’s use of scripture as soteriological in orientation. This article discusses how this soteriological hermeneutic is present in Wesley’s explanatory note on Phil 1:6, a well-known Pauline text. The article highlights how Wesley’s brief note on this beloved text can provide readers with an entry point into a discussion of three theological themes Wesley held dear, the themes of justification, sanctification, and glorification. In this way, Wesley’s explanation of Phil 1:6 presents Wesleyans with a convenient way of reflecting on both Wesleyan hermeneutics and Wesleyan theology.

Howard A. Snyder
John Wesley, Irenaeus, and Christian Mission: Rethinking Western Christian Theology
John Wesley (1703-1791) was a theologian and practitioner of mission. The theological sophistication of his missiology has never been fully appreciated for three reasons: 1) Wesley seldom used the language of “mission,” 2) he intentionally masked the depth of his learning in the interest of “plain, sound English,” and 3) interpreters assumed that as an evangelist, Wesley could not be taken seriously as theologian. Quite to the contrary, this article shows the depth and sophistication of Wesley’s doctrinal and missiological thinking. Reviewing Western Christian theology from the first century to our day, this article examines the close use of Irenaeus by Wesley, which carries high potency for Christian fidelity, discipleship, theological integrity, authentic mission, and Spirit-powered transformation in persons and culture.

Marcus W. Dean
A Wesleyan Missiological Perspective On Holiness Across Cultures
Missiology has focused on various aspects of contextualization and the importance of salvation, but has not dealt extensively with the biblical concept of holiness. From a Wesleyan perspective this paper looks at holiness from the lens of contextualization. A biblical support of contextualization is presented. Then the cultural factors of values – the dynamics of shame, guilt, and fear are explored – and purity are examined as starting points to contextualize the holiness message. While holiness is ultimately about ethical life and relationships, the message must be built upon culturally understandable concepts.

Mark R. Elliott
Methodism in an Orthodox Context: History, Theology, and (Sadly) Politics
The history of Methodism and Eastern Orthodoxy goes back to the early days of Wesley and his interest in the teachings of the Greek Church Fathers. The relationship between Methodists and the Orthodox Church has gone through positive and negative periods, but the growth of the Soviet Union and the challenge of Communism placed new challenges on both groups. The emergence of the Russian Orthodox Church and its reaction to growing Protestant missions has led to new problems, although the ongoing hope is that commonalities in our theology will overcome some of the challenges of current political realities. This paper was originally presented at the United Methodist Church Eurasia-Central Asia “In Mission Together” Consultation, held in Fulton, Maryland on May 6, 2017.


From the Archives: Frances Havergal’s Letter to Hannah Whitall Smith about her Sanctification Experience

Book Reviews

The entire issue is available as a pdf here.

Monday, 18 June 2018

Echoes of Blessing #1: A Favoured People

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

The LORD said to Moses, ‘Tell Aaron and his sons, “This is how you are to bless the Israelites. Say to them:
‘“‘The LORD bless you and keep you;
the LORD make his face shine on you
and be gracious to you;
the LORD turn his face towards you
and give you peace.’”
‘So they will put my name on the Israelites, and I will bless them.’
Numbers 6:22-27

How would it feel to go into the rest of this week joyfully confident of God’s favour resting on you? What difference might it make to how you’d approach the things you’ll do, the conversations you’ll have, the decisions you’ll make?

Confidence comes in knowing that God is the source of every blessing.

We see something of his intent on the first page of the Bible when God blesses the creatures he has made – to be fruitful, to multiply, and flourish. And he blesses human beings too – as made in his image and called to steward the earth, to exercise loving rule over other creatures. God’s plan to bless creation is reinforced with the call of Abraham in Genesis 12 when God promises to form a people through whom he will extend blessing to all nations.

The Lord reinforces his larger purpose in the ongoing blessing of the Israelites mediated through the priests. Somehow he knew they’d need a regular reminder.

For them as for us comes the reassurance that the Lord and the Lord alone is the one who blesses his people. For them as for us the blessing declares that God cares for us and keeps us, delights in us and forgives us, watches us and restores us. That’s how God marks out those who belong to him. No wonder that these words of blessing shaped the worship of Israel through the centuries as, in different contexts, the people of God echoed the promises made and occasionally glimpsed how it would spill over to others.

And the words speak to us and shape us in the process of doing so. It’s somehow too easy to look for blessing in all the wrong places, to be uncertain of the father’s love for us, unaware of his enfolding grace, unsure of his gift of peace. It’s too easy to forget that every day his face lights up as he sees us, because his favour rests on us.

Because of the God he is, we’re not only encouraged to live under the reality of being treasured by him, but emboldened by the conviction that there is nothing worth having that he withholds from us. This God who, as Paul says in Ephesians 1:3, has ‘blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ’, is the same God today.

Wednesday, 13 June 2018

Anvil 34, 1 (2018) on Mission

The Journal Anvil is hosted online by Church Mission Society. The latest issue contains the below articles, along with a good number of book reviews, and is available as a pdf here.

Mike Pears
Mission and Place: From Eden to Caesarea
Mike Pears examines the significance of place and geography in relation to mission in a world where many feel displaced, dislocated and precarious.

Kyama Mugambi
Mission is Not Western: Kenyan Perspectives on Identity, Church Planting, Social Transformation, and Bold Mission Initiatives
Kyama Mugambi shows how mission is operating in a new paradigm that involves an explosion of church planting, social transformation and global gift exchange.

Cathy Ross
Lament and Hope
Cathy Ross draws on African theology to explore how lament can address injustice and offer new hope.

Debbie James and Thomas Fowler
Mission Is... Good Question: Reflecting Upon the Pioneering Call to Join in with the Mission of God
Debbie James and Thomas Fowler discuss some of the findings of CMS’s 2017 Mission Is survey and some myths that may need busting.

Paul Bradbury and Tina Hodgett
Pioneering Mission Is... A Spectrum
Paul Bradbury and Tina Hodgett have designed an incredibly helpful map that offers insight into the spectrum of pioneer ministry.

Paul Ede
Our Hammyhill: What Creative Ways Can a Church Express Its Mission at the Heart of the Community, for the Benefit of the Community?
Paul Ede shows how a local community have been participating in transformation with God

Book Reviews

Thursday, 7 June 2018

Theos Report on the Response of Faith Groups to Grenfell

The latest report from Theos has recently been published:

Amy Plender, After Grenfell: the Faith Groups’ Response (London: Theos, 2018).

Here are some paragraphs from the Theos website:

‘The fire at Grenfell Tower on 14 June 2017 shocked and horrified the country, the agony and trauma of its victims compounded by the apparent indifference and disorganization that ensued.

‘In the chaos, the role of the diverse faith groups in the community stood out. Churches, mosques, synagogues, and gurdwaras all stepped up to the plate, responding practically, emotionally and spiritually to a moment of pain and confusion...

‘This report explores what the faith communities did, how they managed to do it, and what can be learned from the experience. Based on interviews with representatives of faith communities in the vicinity, as well as representatives of statutory bodies and emergency services, the report charts the faith groups’ response in the immediate hours, days and weeks after the tragedy.’

A pdf of the full report is available here.