Monday 14 December 2020

Themelios 45, 3 (December 2020)

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


D.A. Carson

I’m so Grateful That I’m among the Elect

Strange Times

Daniel Strange

J. I. Packer – Fingerprints, Footprints and Reprints

Eric Ortlund

The Wisdom of the Song of Songs: A Pastoral Guide for Preaching and Teaching

This article explores the way in which the Song of Songs instructs its readers in wisdom with regard to romance and marriage. Although neither a straightforward narrative or a simple set of instructions, the poetry of the Song does portray God’s ideal for human love. Special attention is given to the importance of waiting (2:7, 3:5, 8:4), the climactic place of marriage and the subordinate (though still good) role of physical sexuality, the role of the woman, and the non-ultimacy of marriage. The spiritual significance of human romance as a “flame of the Lord” (8:6) is finally discussed with special reference to the sweeping changes in Western sexuality morality in recent decades, and the way in which the Bible’s narrative about love and sexuality is simultaneously more realistic and more beautiful than recent humanly-constructed alternatives. Attention is given throughout to the particular way in which the Song communicates, by adorning and beautifying its subject through poetry, rather than through direct commands.

David M. Cook

The King’s Fear of the Lord as a Theme in the Books of Samuel

Evangelicals have long sought to understand the core difference between David and Saul. The answer exposes a theme touched on elsewhere in the Bible: the role of the fear of the Lord in leadership. As Samuel crowns Saul king, he points readers back to Deuteronomy 17:18–20. There readers will see the importance of a God-fearing king and find four qualities he will bear: obedience to the Lord, good treatment of others, a long rule, and a long dynasty. The writer of 1–2 Samuel then carefully documents Saul failing at all four and David fulfilling all four. Finally, David’s dying words reinforce the virtues of God-fearing leadership, leaving leaders with a profound appeal to learn the fear of the Lord.

Andreas J. Köstenberger

Reconceiving a Biblical Theology of Mission: Salvation to the Ends of the Earth Revisited

Scholarship on the biblical theme of mission has made significant strides in the couple decades since the original publication of my work Salvation to the Ends of the Earth: A Biblical Theology of Mission (co-authored with Peter T. O’Brien) in 2001. The present essay discusses changes made to Salvation to the Ends of the Earth in the second edition (published in 2020) in which T. Desmond Alexander wrote the chapter on mission in the Old Testament. The adjusted flow tracks the development of mission within the framework of the story of Israel, Jesus, and the early Christians, enhancing both the historical and the narrative dimensions of mission. The presentation integrates the Gospels with related New Testament writers – in particular, embedding the Pauline mission within Luke–Acts – resulting in greater cohesiveness and appreciation for the organic interconnections among New Testament voices and leaders of the early Christian mission. It also discusses Paul’s letters in chronological order of writing and considers the contribution of all of his letters to a biblical theology of mission rather than focusing on Paul individually and selecting one book (such as Romans) as the primary focus. Finally, material on mission in the Second Temple period remains in the background (in an appendix) rather than interrupting the biblical-theological flow and canonical connection between the Testaments. In all these ways, readers can gain a sharper vision and more accurate picture of the biblical theology of mission.

Daryn Graham

The Earthquakes of the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Jesus Christ

This article analyses the effects of the earthquakes of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ, including possible damage done to the temple, the darkness that accompanied the crucifixion, the splitting of rocks, the opening of tombs and the resurrection of saints, and the responses by the centurion and his accompanying guards. By far the most prevalent method used throughout is that of sociohistorical analysis. In order to draw conclusions about the factual nature of the Gospel of Matthew, this article does not present a discussion of biblical usage of earthquakes generally, but rather tests Matthew’s precise evidence for these two particular seismic events against their contemporaneous geological, archaeological, and historical contexts in an historical manner. By contextualizing the Matthew passage within its wider cultural and historical world in this way, this article finds that this Gospel’s factual basis is strongly supported by extra-biblical data.

Daniel M. Gurtner

Hermeneutics and Historicity in the Matthean Crucifixion Narrative: A Response to Daryn Graham

This short piece takes up some challenges to Daryn Graham’s article, “The Earthquakes of the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Jesus Christ.” While the present author agrees with Graham on the historicity of the events in question (Matt 27:51– 54), the author exposes some hermeneutical challenges in Graham’s treatment of the material. In his attempt to answer the question, “What happened?,” Graham risks misunderstanding distinctive hermeneutical nuances pertinent to the answer the question, “What does it mean?”

Obbie Tyler Todd

American Prophets: Federalist Clergy’s Response to the Hamilton–Burr Duel of 1804

More than any event in early American history, the duel between Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr in 1804 revealed Federalist clergy to be the moral guardians of American society and exposed the moral fault lines within the Federalist party itself. In the aftermath of Hamilton’s scandalous death, godly Federalists spoke prophetically to the American people, to politicians, and even to their own party. While other Federalists chose to present Hamilton as something of a political martyr, Federalist clergy broke with the party line in order to issue a nationwide clarion call against the practice of dueling, a clear violation of the sixth commandment. Their prophetic voice helped to end the menace of dueling in America.

Jenny-Lyn de Klerk

“Love One Another When I Am Deceased”: John Bunyan on Christian Behavior in the Family and Society

In the last two decades, Bunyan studies has seen an increase in scholarship that examines his life and thought from various angles, such as the psychological experiences and socio-political convictions found in his allegorical and autobiographical works. This scholarship has greatly enriched our understanding of Bunyan as a whole person living in a particular historical context. However, it has also led to some unwarranted critiques of Bunyan for being tyrannical, cold, and sexually immoral, appealing to his clearer didactic works like Christian Behaviour for proof. One way to balance these extreme views is to examine the context and content of Bunyan’s Christian Behaviour, as well as relevant aspects of his life. In the end, this will show that Bunyan was giving instructions on what he considered to be a primary aspect of the Christian life, that these instructions called for a gentle, warm love both within and outside of the family, and that he sought to follow these instructions himself.

C. Ryan Fields

A Generous Reading of John Locke: Reevaluating His Philosophical Legacy in Light of His Christian Confession

Locke is often presented as an eminent forerunner to the Enlightenment, a philosopher who hastened Europe’s departure from Christian orthodoxy and “turned the tide” toward a modern, secularist orientation. Yet there are reasons to think that such an understanding of Locke has not sufficiently taken into account his Christian faith as it relates to his philosophical project. A more generous reading of Locke requires further grappling with the works which emerged during the final period of his life (1695–1704), works which demonstrate distinctly religious interests and provide greater clarity regarding his proper philosophical legacy. Locke’s views on human nature serve as a case study.

Michael Berhow

Did the New Atheists Rationally Lack Belief?

For those who enjoy debates, there has never been a debate more routinely rehashed than the debate over God’s existence. If you have followed the various iterations of this debate over the past two decades, you might have come across a somewhat influential argument that is definitional in nature – what I call the Definitional Argument For Atheism (DAFA). In short, this argument claims that atheism is not a positive belief system, and therefore requires no justification to be considered rational. Such a claim implies that theists bear the full burden of proof when arguing about God’s existence. In this article, I provide an epistemological and a metaphysical critique of DAFA, and then attempt to show why theism is more reasonable than atheism.

Jonathan D. Worthington

Deep Motivation in Theological Education

“How can I motivate my students more?” In theological education, as in all education, students will gain the most from our classes and programs if they are deeply motivated and therefore engaged. So, the question of motivation is not minor. But the quantitative aspect of the question above – motivate them more – is actually not quite right. Rather, “Are we helping our students be motivated in the best way?” This article explores the basic difference between “intrinsic motivation” and “extrinsic motivation.” Most scholars of education think intrinsic motivation is the most potent for deep learning. It is potent, and important for theological education. But there are actually four types of extrinsic motivation, the final of which is just as deep and potent and essential for transformative theological education as anything. This article lays a theoretical foundation and a few practical ideas toward subsequent crucial practical experiments and suggestions for transformative theological education.

Book Reviews

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