Wednesday, 15 August 2018

Theos Report on Religion and Violence

The latest report from Theos has recently been published:

Here are some paragraphs from the Theos website:

‘Religion and violence seem inextricably linked in the public’s mind. But what does linked actually mean?

‘The public certainly isn’t clear. While 61% of people think that the teachings of religions are essentially peaceful, 70% think that most of the wars in world history have been caused by religions. Only 8% think religions are inherently violent, but 47% think that the world would be a more peaceful place if no one was religious.

‘If there is confusion, it’s probably because the relationship between religion and violence is confusing. In this essay, ethicist Robin Gill brings some balance to a debate that, particularly of late, has been marked more by caricature than clarity.

‘Recognising that there is a problem to be addressed (if not necessarily the pathological one alleged by New Atheists) Gill goes to the heart of the issue – the specific religious texts that are hijacked to legitimise violence – and argues that read rightly they can be “defused”.

‘Killing in the Name of God will not only deepen our understanding of religion and violence but, in doing so, will enable a richer and more measured debate about these major issues of our time.’

A pdf of the full report is available here.

Monday, 13 August 2018

Gary S. Shogren on Romans

Gary Shogren, New Testament scholar, who blogs at ‘Open Our Eyes, Lord!’, has kindly made available a pdf (here) of his commentary on Romans, originally written for the Comentario Bíblico Contemporáneo, published by Editorial Kairós.

John G. Stackhouse Jr. on Why You’re Here

I wrote the following mini review for July 2018’s edition of Highlights, produced by the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity.

John G. Stackhouse Jr., Why You’re Here: Ethics for the Real World (Oxford: OUP, 2018).

In short, ‘why you’re here’ is about vocation, understood as applicable to ‘everyone, everything, everywhere, in every moment’. There is the call of God on every human being, what we were made for. And there is the distinctive call God gives to Christians. Our human calling is to make shalom, our Christian calling is to make disciples. And the sphere in which we work out those callings is, as Stackhouse so helpfully reminds us, the ‘real world’. Living in a time where wheat and weeds grow together until the final harvest, a ‘Christian realism’ trusts God that will work through the various means he has given us, bringing as much shalom as possible but without thinking it’s down to us to build the New Jerusalem. Compelling and accessible, this is essential reading for all those who want to respond in hopeful faithfulness to the call of God on their lives.

Friday, 10 August 2018

Tom Simpson on Academic Freedom

The latest Cambridge Paper from the Jubilee Centre is available online (here, from where a pdf can be downloaded), this one by Tom Simpson:

Tom Simpson, ‘Academic Freedom’, Cambridge Papers 27, 2 (June 2018).

Here is the summary:

‘There is a widespread perception that academic freedom is under threat, including in the UK. Is this true, and if so, does it matter? This paper suggests some Christian principles for valuing academic freedom, before considering the evidence for whether it is under threat and what may be done about this. It argues that although academic freedom exists in name, it is being eroded in practice. While academic freedom is a relatively recent doctrine, it is of great value, and its loss matters for the public good. The paper concludes with some proposals.’

Tuesday, 7 August 2018

Themelios 43, 2 (August 2018)

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

D.A. Carson
When Revival Comes

Strange Times
Daniel Strange
The Rolling Stones Will Stop

Thomas R. Schreiner
Paul and Gender: A Review Article
Cynthia Westfall has written a wide-ranging book on Paul and gender, examining key texts in their literary, cultural, and theological context. Her discussion is fresh and stimulating, and many of her insights are to be warmly welcomed. She recognizes that Paul’s view of gender must be distinguished from common conceptions in the Greco-Roman world. Nevertheless, the perspective advocated as a whole fails to convince, especially in the exegesis of key texts like 1 Corinthians 11:2–16 and 1 Timothy 2:8–15.

Robert S. Smith
Songs of the Seer: The Purpose of Revelation’s Hymns
What are the purposes of the songs of the Apocalypse? What effect are they intended to produce? After a brief discussion of the question of sources, the function played by Revelation’s hymns is explored with particular attention being paid to their connection to the cosmic conflict theme, the way they model celebration in the face of tribulation, the comfort they offer believers and the warning they present to unbelievers. The article then turns to some of the key theological emphases the songs – in particular Christological and salvific themes. While Revelation’s hymns are transparently doxological, they are also richly pedagogical and pointedly pastoral. For this reason, they pose a much-needed challenge to many contemporary praise practices.

Jackson Wu
Have Theologians No Sense of Shame? How the Bible Reconciles Objective and Subjective Shame
Everyone agrees shame is a pervasive problem; yet, in book and articles, we find writers often talk past one another. Missionaries and anthropologists speak of “honor-shame” cultures. Psychologists describe shame as an individual, emotional experience. Strangely, theologians typically say little about the topic. Christian scholars tend to treat guilt as “objective” and shame merely a “subjective.” This misunderstanding undermines our ability to develop a practical theology of honor and shame. Therefore, this article demonstrates how the Bible helps us have an integrated understanding of shame in its theological, psychological, and social dimensions.

Michael McClymond
Apocalypse Now: The Neo-Bultmannian Universalism of David Congdon’s The God Who Saves
In The God Who Saves (2016), David Congdon seeks an elusive synthesis of Karl Barth’s dogmatics and Rudolf Bultmann’s hermeneutics: he integrates Bultmann’s insistence on the concrete historicity of individual human experience with Barth’s stress on the universal salvific significance of Christ. Despite his “demetaphysicizing” rejection of a substantive God and a Chalcedonian Christ, Congdon propounds universal salvation based on a universal “cocrucifixion” with Christ that may occur in nonreligious experience (e.g., in viewing artwork, watching a baby’s birth, etc.). His intricate argument shows little theological coherence and a lack of grounding in scriptural exegesis or empirical observation.

James D. Clark
The Kuyperian Impulse of the Benedict Option
Evangelicals have criticized Rod Dreher’s Benedict Option and the idea of strategic withdrawal, with some citing Abraham Kuyper as a model of how Christians should engage the world today. This article argues that the Benedict Option and the Kuyperian tradition harmonize with (rather than contradict) each other in significant ways, including their promotion of cultural engagement in general, their recognition of the need to withdraw from the world in some sense in order to enable the Christian formation that makes robust engagement with the world possible, and their openness to a cultural transformation that is distantly future rather than imminent.

Adriani Milli Rodrigues
The Rule of Faith and Biblical Interpretation in Evangelical Theological Interpretation of Scripture
One of the features of the Theological Interpretation of Scripture movement is the use of the rule of faith in biblical interpretation. However, a comparison of evangelical scholars in this movement shows that there are significant disagreements on the concept of the rule and its hermeneutical role. The present study attempts to clarify these disagreements and briefly analyze them. This article suggests that an engagement with Cullman’s notion of apostolic and post-apostolic traditions and with aspects of Irenaeus’s concept of rule of faith might be helpful for the understanding of the concept and role of the rule of faith.

Book Reviews

Friday, 3 August 2018

Lausanne Global Analysis 7, 4 (July 2018)

The latest issue of Lausanne Global Analysis, from The Lausanne Movement, is available online from here, including pdf downloads.

In the issue overview, editor David Taylor writes:

‘In this issue we examine how faulty foundations bring nations to their knees, drawing on the Sierra Leone experience; we address the global abuse of women and how women flourishing in church reflects the Imago Dei and is a witness to unbelievers; we ask how and why Christians should be involved in providing quality aftercare for survivors of trafficking and trauma; and we revisit the issue of balancing grace and truth in our approach to Muslims and Islam.’