Friday, 30 September 2022

Evangelical Alliance on Work


The Evangelical Alliance – in conjunction with the Lawyers’ Christian Fellowship – has produced a new suite of resources on ‘Living for Jesus at Work’.


More information can be found here, and several resources are available, including a research report, a collection of advice, wisdom and guidance, a practical pocketbook, with reminders and reflections for each day of the week, and a Bible study guide.

Monday, 26 September 2022

Lausanne Global Analysis 11, 5 (September 2022)


The latest issue of Lausanne Global Analysis, from The Lausanne Movement, is available online from here, including pdfs of individual articles as below.


The summaries are taken from the Issue Overview by Loun Ling Lee.


Rupen Das

God’s Work of Transformation in the World: Defining ‘Transformation’ in the Invitational Mission of God

‘Nowhere in Scripture are we called to transform the world,’ he [Das] argues. However, he concludes that ‘while God does not call us to transform society, he calls us to be witnesses to the reality of the kingdom of God and the king… in the midst of a culture that robs people of life, by demonstrating compassion, being advocates for justice, and proclaiming a Redeemer in a sinful and broken world.


Héber Negrão

The Arts Are Not a Universal Language: Ethnodoxology and Integrating Local Arts in Worship

Héber Negrão highly recommends the usage of local arts in ‘culturally appropriate worship practices in missionary work.’ The development of ethnodoxology has championed the arts as ‘effective means of communication and, if correctly approached, they can powerfully convey the message of the gospel to the intended culture.’ However, the author notes that ‘there are aspects in every culture that can be used to glorify God, but also cultural expressions that were tainted when humankind sinned.’


Byron L. Spradlin

The Critical Role of Christian Artists and Musicians in Missions: The Need for Indigenous Christian Community Formation

Spradlin advocates for the formation of ‘indigenous Christian community’ where ‘culturally relevant expressions of faith and worship’ are respected. He writes, ‘Artistic communicators and artistic expression specialists stand central to developing indigenous Christian community formation, though often they are not being valued.’ The author’s passion to support and equip them led to ‘the launching of Artists in Christian Testimony International (A.C.T. Intl), a mission agency comprised of musicians and artists, and other creative ministry-initiators of all kinds, each of whom is committed to indigenous worship and Christian community formation.’ Many more mission agencies and churches with sufficient ‘ministry-facilitating structures’, and more ‘in-depth training, equipping those artists who feel God’s call to ministry’, are needed.


Michael Hart

Proclaiming an Offensive Gospel in Cultures of Peace: Building Plausibility Structures

With a special focus on cultures that value peace and tolerance, Michael Hart… argues that ‘proactive proclamation and deep relationships are integral to effectively sharing the good news.’ He proposes, first of all, that we work to understand such cultures, then bridge the gap with the people by ‘building plausibility structures – contexts, systems, or frameworks in which someone’s beliefs are credible’, and finally ‘provide the materials and blueprint’ to build these new structures. However, ‘it is important we recognize the building blocks of tolerance, respect, and affirmation in peace-loving cultures’ if we wish to proclaim the gospel effectively ‘by word and deed.’

Friday, 16 September 2022

Christian History Magazine on Christian History in Images


The latest issue of Christian History Magazine is a special 40th anniversary edition devoted to the topic of ‘Christian History in Images’.


Here’s the issue blurb:


‘We serve a God who became incarnate in history. Founder Ken Curtis wrote in our very first issue: “An awareness of Christian History is one of the most neglected but necessary ingredients in the spiritual diet of Christians today.”


‘With this special 40th anniversary edition of Christian History, we seek to instill in you what Ken wanted for all of us – pride, as well as humility and repentance, in our shared story. Join us on a 100-page visual tour through two millennia of church history. This issue covers the main eras of the Church around the world with captivating images, concise summaries, and a removable fold-out timeline.’


The whole magazine is available as a 48.8 MB pdf here.

Sunday, 4 September 2022

Mission Frontiers 44, 5 (September–October 2022)


The September–October 2022 issue of Mission Frontiers, published by the U.S. Center for World Mission, contains a number of articles devoted to ‘Healers and Preachers: Coming Together to Foster Movements in All Peoples’.


Here is the issue blurb, which sets the scene:


‘One thing is very clear from the ministry of Jesus. He not only cared for the spiritual needs of people but also their physical needs. Wherever He went, He healed the sick, cast out demons and proclaimed the gospel of the kingdom. If Jesus is our model for the ongoing mission of the Church, then we have no excuse for not seeking to heal the sick as well. Not only did Jesus model a ministry of caring for physical needs, He told His disciples to go and do likewise. As movements to Jesus spread to all the unreached peoples, so also should a reproducible and scalable system of indigenous health care, hygiene and nutritional training. This issue is all about overlapping healers and preachers. If we can finally strike the right balance and employ a holistic approach to fostering movements that involves ministry to the whole person, mind, body and spirit; it could be exactly what we need to fuel movements to Jesus in every tribe, tongue, people and nation.’


The issue is available here, from where individual articles can be downloaded, and the entire issue can be downloaded as a pdf here.

Thursday, 1 September 2022

Christopher Ash on the Psalms


Every month, The Good Book Company make available digital versions of one of their books at no charge. This month (September 2022) it’s Psalms For You by Christopher Ash, which is available in exchange for an email address here.

Thursday, 25 August 2022

Themelios 47, 2 (August 2022)


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


Editorial

Brian J. Tabb

The Pastor as Biblical Theologian


Strange Times

Daniel Strange

Dr Strange in the Multiperspectival Paradox


Peter Orr

Mark as the Backstory to the Gospel: Mark 1:1 as a Key to Mark’s Gospel

This article argues that the first 3 words of the Gospel of Mark… [“the beginning of the Gospel”] are best understood as the title of the book. Mark identifies his work as a description of the origin or backstory of the preached gospel that his readers were familiar with. The article examines what this implies for the relationship of Mark to Peter and Paul. It then explores the implications of this understanding for reading Mark.


William B. Bowes

Revisiting “the Time of Abiathar the High Priest”: Interpretation, Methodology and Ways Forward for Understanding Mark 2:26

Mark 2:26 has presented itself as a difficult textual and historical problem for interpreters. Mark narrates Jesus describing an action of David which is said to happen during the priesthood of Abiathar, but in the Old Testament source this detail appears inaccurate and is absent from the Matthean and Lukan versions. This article will first examine three types of problems that arise in interpreting this text and will then evaluate two types of solutions that have been proposed. The aim of this article is to highlight the limitations of previous approaches and to argue for a third type of solution as best option for understanding the text, which is based in a narrative reading of Mark’s Christology.


Scott D. MacDonald

Rejecting Syncretism: Paul and the Python

Syncretism – the blending of two or more religious paradigms – threatens Christian witness around the world. And the church in Africa continues to struggle with the popularity of local religious practices. In many locales, the ng’anga (an African religious diviner) prominently features in the lives of many church-going people. In response, Paul’s mission to Philippi, recounted in Acts 16:16–18, provides needed clarity concerning Christianity’s relationship to other religious powers and to syncretism. This article outlines the religious backdrop of Philippi, Paul’s missionary method in the Greek religious context, and the consequences that arise from Paul’s exorcism of the πύθων. In sum, Paul’s reaction to the divining spirit of Philippi leaves no room for syncretistic behavior among Christians today. Accommodation and any reliance upon other religious powers compromises the quality of the gospel and the reputation of the savior.


Allan Chapple

The Fantasy of the Frantic Apostle: Paul and the Parousia

There is a widespread belief that Paul understood his Gentile mission as the brief final chapter of salvation-history, preceding – or even triggering – the imminent return of Jesus. The first half of this essay discusses four major problems that make this view implausible: Paul’s understanding of the extent of the world, of God’s saving purpose, and of his specific task, and what his plans and activities reveal. The second half provides an alternative account of what the evidence discloses about the connections between Paul’s missionary convictions and activities and his beliefs about the end. The conclusion indicates where this discussion takes us.


EJ Davila

Love, Hope, Faith: Christopher Nolan and the Apostle Paul in Dialogue

This article examines Christopher Nolan’s three most recent films, Interstellar (2014), Dunkirk (2017), and Tenet (2020), through the lens of Christianity’s preeminent theological virtues: love, hope, and faith, respectively. In dialogue with the apostle Paul, I argue that Nolan takes Paul’s cruciform theology of virtue (consisting of vertical and horizontal relationships) and intentionally flattens it to the purely horizontal, resulting in a presentation of these virtues that, while emotive, ultimately strips them of their significance.


Robert D. Golding

Give Honor and Vote? A Reflection on the Christian’s Voting Conscience and Romans 13:1–7

Paul’s instruction in Romans 13:1–7 can be applied to Christian voting behavior in the West. Since Paul tells the Romans to honor debauched pagans, Christians can vote for similarly debauched political candidates with clear consciences. There are clear distinctions between Paul’s teaching and the Western political context. However, the underlying continuities are clear and they are based in God’s sovereignty, not political structure. Furthermore, the ancient Roman practice of giving honor to rulers only regarded the office, not the office holder’s morality.


Leland Brown

The Standard-Bearer: Pastoral Suffering in the Theology of John Calvin

This article examines John Calvin’s theology of pastoral suffering, an overlooked but relevant aspect of his theology for pastors struggling with the trials and difficulties of ministry. Calvin pictured the pastor as the chief agent of edification for God’s people, and therefore, the primary target for the assaults of Satan. Pastors will therefore suffer in the ways that all believers suffer but also suffer peculiarly as pastors – especially from opposition in their churches, criticism, slander, and possibly martyrdom. Calvin encouraged pastors to prepare themselves for sufferings, to set their eyes on Christ, and to patiently and gently deal with those causing their sufferings.


Paul Dirks

Hell for a Single Sin: A Response to Robert Golding’s Asymptotic Theory of Those in Hell

This article is a response to Robert Golding’s recent essay, “Making Sense of Hell,” in which he contends for the logic of eternal punishment on the basis of a progressive and asymptotic conception of sin and sinners in hell. I will argue that this innovation is unnecessary and that both the Scriptures and the “infinite-obligation” proof by Anselm of Canterbury demonstrate that hell is just and necessary for even a single sin.


Edmund Fong

Gender Dysphoria and the Body-Soul Relationship

After presenting the phenomenon of gender dysphoria as a state of consciousness experienced by the individual, I explore how the two major anthropological frameworks of materialism and substance dualism account for the conscious state of gender dysphoria. In particular, the article addresses the extent to which materialism and substance dualism support what I term a “created but misplaced being” scenario, where it is claimed that an individual could be created with an “inner” self gendered one way but placed in a body of a different biological sex. Three theological insights into gender dysphoria that follow from the findings of this exploration conclude the article.


Luke Wesley

Church-State Relations: Lessons from China

This article delineates various biblical principles that circumscribe the church’s relationship to the state. In addition to more general principles, these include the recognition that the mission of the organized church is distinct from that of individual Christians, that political institutions tend to become anti-Christ and oppressive, and that our context will determine the extent to which the church can exercise its prophetic voice. In view of these principles and on the basis of his experience in China, the author highlights five theological truths that will inevitably be challenged by totalitarian governments. Our faithfulness or lack thereof will hinge on our response to these challenges.


Book Reviews

Wednesday, 10 August 2022

Ethics in Conversation on Augustine, the Trinity, and the Church


The latest Ethics in Conversation from the Kirby Laing Centre is a review by Matthew Wiley of Adam Ployd, Augustine, the Trinity, and the Church: A Reading of the Anti-Donatist Sermons (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015). It’s available as a pdf here.