Monday, 13 March 2023

Theos Report on Data and Dignity

A new report from Theos has been published:

Nathan Mladin, Data and Dignity: Why Privacy Matters in the Digital Age (London: Theos, 2023).

Some paragraphs from the Theos website:

‘It’s becoming old news: we are continually tracked, analysed, and profiled by private companies and governmental agencies. Our data is hoovered up and used to predict and manipulate our behaviour. Indeed, the use of big data and algorithmic systems is on the rise in our world. A new cultural and economic order is here: surveillance capitalism or what this essay calls the “surveillance system”. […]

‘Of the many concerns raised, privacy is never far from the top. But what is privacy? Most often, it is seen as an individual’s right to control their data. But this is not enough. If it is to serve us well in resisting dehumanising applications of technology, privacy must be re–imagined around a truer, more rounded view of what it means to be human.

‘Drawing on Christian thought – though anticipating overlap with other religious and philosophical traditions – the second half of the essay sketches a conception of privacy rooted in the notion of dignity and based on the sort of creatures human beings are: embodied (with limits and susceptibilities to be honoured rather than violated for gain); relational (made for relationships of trust and mutual care rather than exploitation); agential (with a capacity for intentional action to be upheld rather than undermined).

‘Privacy is not dead, nor should it be allowed to die. Privacy is a form of neighbour love in the digital age.’

More information can be found here, a summary here, a video introduction here, and a pdf of the full report is available here.

Friday, 10 March 2023

Tim Chester on Voices from the Past

Every month, The Good Book Company make available digital versions of one of their books at no charge. This month (March 2023) it’s An Ocean of Grace: A Journey to Easter With Great Voices from the Past (including Augustine, Charles Spurgeon, John Bunyan, Catherine Parr, and Martin Luther) by Tim Chester, which is available in exchange for an email address here.

Thursday, 9 March 2023

Ink (Summer 2022)

The latest bumper issue of ink produced by Tyndale House has been available for a while now, this one including pieces on the medieval art of memorising Scripture, the dialogue between the Classics and the Bible, food and festivals in the book of Ruth, the imprecatory psalms, the Lachish reliefs, principles for making sense of Jesus’ parables, the Amorites, and whether Barabbas was called Jesus Barabbas.

UK residents can sign up here to receive issues through the post or subscribe for online updates, but articles from the publication are also available to read from here.

Friday, 3 March 2023

Foundations 83 (January 2023)

Issue 83 of Foundations: An International Journal of Evangelical Theology, published by Affinity, is now available (here in its entirety as a pdf), which includes the below essays.

Donald John MacLean


Andrew G. Bannister

Muslims, Christians, and God: Why Good Theology is Crucial for Effective Evangelism

This article seeks to explore the question of the relationship between Islam, Christianity, and Judaism. Are they all “sister religions”, or is Islam built upon entirely different theological foundations to the biblical faiths? We will also examine why this is no mere academic question but is a crucial starting point for evangelism and apologetics to Muslims – and why getting this starting point wrong risks, at best, confusing our Muslim friends and at worst, even a sloppy syncretism.

Thorsten Prill

Equipping Twenty-First Century Missionaries for Cross-Cultural Ministry: African and Western Realities and Perspectives

This article discusses the issue of cross-cultural training of both Western Christians who are called to serve as missionaries in Africa and African reverse missionaries who come to Europe and other parts of the world to be involved in evangelistic outreach and church planting. While the value of cross-cultural training for missionaries is widely recognised, both groups tend to demonstrate deficiencies in their cultural intelligence (CQ) which negatively impacts their missionary efforts. This, however, need not be the case. There are various ways in which cross-cultural missionaries can acquire and develop cultural intelligence to become more effective ambassadors of Christ. A solid foundation for mission work abroad is usually laid at home through active involvement in the local church and cross-cultural ministries. Building on that foundation, future missionaries can further increase their cross-cultural competence through short-term mission trips, missionary apprenticeships or formal training at a mission college, preferably outside their home country or in a multicultural and interdenominational setting. Having arrived in their country of service in Africa or Europe, a period of on-field orientation and, at a later stage, participation in continuing education programmes should complement their training.

E.M. Hicham

A Missiological Assessment of the Insider Movement

This paper addresses Insider Movements (IMs) within the world of Islam and presents a missiological evaluation of the principal IM paradigms. A definition of the movement will be given and discussed. We will also consider five major controversial areas that summarise the debate: 1) The legitimacy of IM members’ dual Islamic and Christian identity, 2) The openness of ‘Insiders’ towards the prophethood of Muhammad, the founder of Islam, 3) The Qur’an as Scripture, 4) The new translation of the Bible, and 5) The role of the local Church. The results of the preceding analyses will be synthesised, conclusions regarding the sociological and theological merits of IMs will be made and alternatives will be suggested.

Robert Strivens

Do Christians Meet for Worship? A Review Essay: William Taylor, Revolutionary Worship: All of Life for God’s Glory

This review article considers recent evangelical reflections on the nature of worship. Many evangelicals are positing that as all of life is worship it is inappropriate to speak of Christians going to church to worship. Indeed, for many evangelicals, this is now the ruling paradigm: we meet for worship only in the sense that the whole of the believer’s life is worship. If we think that we meet for worship, our language and our thinking about such meetings needs to undergo a radical transformation. This position has been argued in a recent and influential book on the subject, Revolutionary Worship: All of Life for God’s Glory, by William Taylor, rector of St Helen’s, Bishopsgate. In contrast to this view, this article argues for the historic understanding of the meeting of the local church as a meeting for the worship of God, at which the Lord’s people may expect to know Christ’s presence with them by his Spirit in a special manner.

John W. Keddie

John Davidson and the General Assembly of 1596

In this article we consider one of the most remarkable post-Reformation revivals in Scottish Church history. It concerns what happened at the General Assembly of the Scottish Reformed Church in 1596. It is little known by Christians today, even in Scotland. Yet one contemporary historian, David Calderwood (1575-1650), was to write that “This year [1596] is a remarkable year in the history of the Kirk of Scotland.” We do need to bear in mind that the Word of God is the same, that the Lord Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and today and forever, that sin is the same, essentially, in every generation, and the overwhelming need for sinners to be saved is the same in the twenty-first century as it was in the sixteenth. It is a modern arrogance that because we are in such a supposedly advanced society, we have somehow left such things as religion behind. We are in a secular world which holds out no hope for eternity, and has no recognition of answerability to God, or serious thought of judgement to come. We should therefore be moved by the experience of the Church even as far back as 1596 and, after all, the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity, is undiminished in His power to quicken those who by nature are dead in trespasses and sins. We are always invited to believe that what He did then, He can do again in His sovereign grace. Besides this, here is a vital tenet for the Church to maintain: Christ, who has all authority in heaven and earth, is building His church so that the gates of hell will not prevail against it (Matthew 16:18). In this reconnoitre in Scottish Church history, we can therefore learn many things of timeless value.

Màiri MacPherson

Book Review: When Christians Face Persecution Theological Perspectives from the New Testament

Peter Sanlon

Book Review: Strange New World: How Thinkers and Activists Redefined Identity and Sparked the Sexual Revolution

Wednesday, 1 March 2023

Centre for Public Christianity (March 2023)

Among other items, the Centre for Public Christianity has just posted a ‘Life and Faith’ interview with Christopher Watkin on his recently-published book, Biblical Critical Theory.

‘In a conversation that touches on globalisation, the profit motive, radical justice, the nature of society, and a God of “superabundance”, Chris makes the case for why he thinks looking at our culture through the lens of the Bible makes the most sense of reality as a whole.’

Listen from here.

Monday, 27 February 2023

Evangelical Review of Theology 47, 1 (February 2023)

The latest Evangelical Review of Theology, published by The World Evangelical Alliance, is now online and available in its entirety as a pdf here.

Get a Global Perspective

More Great Reading from the WEA

Evert Van de Poll

Towards a Recognition of the ‘Jewish Church’: the Messianic Jewish Movement and Christianity in Dialogue

The Messianic Jewish movement presents unique theological and diplomatic challenges not just to the Jews whom they hope will come to honour Jesus Christ but to other Christian groups as well. This summary of a July 2022 conference clarifies the issues in a dispassionate, definitive way.

James R. Edwards

The Significance of the Reformation for the Global Church Today

We are all indebted to the 16th-century Reformation for its recovery of the biblical norms of faith and church. However, this message (delivered at a global conference last October) argues that today’s church must fully recover the biblical norms of mission and evangelism to complete the Reformation vision of the church.

Andrew Messmer

A History of Biblical Textual Criticism

Textual criticism of the Bible is not a new science. It has been used by Jews and Christians for over 2,000 years, as a natural outworking of their belief in divine inspiration: if God has inspired a text to teach us about salvation, then we should preserve it as carefully as possible and restore it whenever necessary. This article surveys the history of biblical textual criticism, primarily in the Patristic and Modern periods. The Patristic period contains instructive examples of early textual criticism in practice, whereas modern textual criticism has relied heavily on published editions of both Testaments.

Alan J. Pihringer

C.S. Lewis’ Use of Myth to Convey a Christian Worldview

This article insightfully analyses the apologetic strategy inherent in Lewis’ fiction, including his intent to appeal to the imagination as well as to rational argument and his method of embedding opposing worldviews in his stories so that he could critique them. Lewis’ approach carries lasting value for our efforts to communicate the gospel to our postmodern and entertainment-oriented culture.

Richard L. Smith

The Gospel in Three Dimensions

This study of 1 Thessalonians 1:9–10 reveals that the passage presents the Christian life in simple three-point fashion, in terms of repentance, service to God and others, and our ultimate eschatological hope. These three points can be linked to God’s work on three levels—personal, corporate (within the body of Christ), and cosmic, respectively.

Prabo Mihindukulasuriya

Towards a Theology of Race and Ethnicity

Contemporary confrontations on ethnic identity, racial justice, and the challenges of life in multicultural societies make it imperative for Christians to examine how Scripture teaches us to view race and ethnicity. This article identifies fundamental theological orientations that can help us live faithfully as disciples of Christ amidst the conflicting winds of polarization, ethno-religious nationalism, systemic racism, and hyper-sensitive political correctness.

Book Reviews

Wednesday, 22 February 2023

Theos Report on the Nones

I didn’t post on this when it first came out and am just catching up with it now, which is that Theos recently published this report:

Hannah Waite, The Nones: Who are they and what do they believe? (London: Theos, 2022).

Some blurb:

‘Around half of Britons now categorise themselves as having “No Religion”; these are colloquially known as “Nones”. But having no religion does not mean having no beliefs. It doesn’t even mean having no religious beliefs.

‘This report explores the demography, beliefs and practices of Nones and then presents a cluster analysis of this group. It shows that Nones comprise a complex and sometimes counter-intuitive group with, for example, only 51% of them stating they “don’t believe in God,” and 42% believing in some form of the supernatural.

This report demonstrates that there are three distinctive types or clusters of Nones.

‘Each cluster displays varying degrees of belief about religion, knowledge, God and spirituality. In essence, “Campaigning Nones” are self-consciously atheistic and hostile to religion; “Tolerant Nones” are broadly atheistic but accepting of (sometimes warm towards) religion; and “Spiritual Nones”, who are characterised by a range of spiritual beliefs and practices, as much as many people who tick the “Religion” box.

More information can be found here, and a pdf of the full report is available here.