Saturday 30 April 2011

Missional Manifesto

This Missional Manifesto has been framed by Ed Stetzer, Alan Hirsch, Tim Keller, Dan Kimball, Eric Mason, J.D. Greear, Craig Ott, Linda Bergquist, Philip Nation, and Brad Andrews.

Its preamble begins as follows:

‘God is a sending God, a missionary God, who has called His people, the church, to be missionary agents of His love and glory. The concept missional epitomizes this idea. This manifesto seeks to serve the church by clarifying its calling and helping it theologically understand and practically live out God’s mission in the world today.’

It then has ten affirmations under the following headings:



• Kingdom

• Mission

• Church

• Christocentric

• Disciple-making

• Duality

• Universality

• Application

And here is its closing statement:

Because we believe these things, we are compelled to action. We urge God’s people to align around the lordship of Jesus, the missional nature of His church, and the reality of His kingdom. We invite the body of Christ everywhere to see people and the world through the lens of God’s kingdom, to live holy lives as Jesus’ disciples, and to intentionally represent Him together as the church. We affirm that Jesus was sent to fulfill God’s purposes in the world through His perfect life, substitutionary death, and physical resurrection so that redemption could be made available to us. With Christ as our focal point, His kingdom as our destiny, and His Spirit as our empowerment, we accept the privilege and joy of His mission.

Knut Holter and Louis C. Jonker et al. on Global Hermeneutics

Knut Holter and Louis C. Jonker (eds.), Global Hermeneutics? Reflections and Consequences, International Voices in Biblical Studies 1 (Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2010), ix + 93pp, ISBN 9781589834774.

This is the first volume in a new series – International Voices in Biblical Studies – from the Society of Biblical Literature. The general editors of the series are Louis C. Jonker and Monica J. Melanchthon.

Interestingly, this is billed as an online, open-access series ‘aimed at facilitating the distribution and impact of works written in numerous regions of the world well beyond their respective spheres’. The series is ‘peer-reviewed and publishes monographs, anthologies, conference proceedings, and even individual articles’, with submissions being ‘particularly encouraged from seven regions: Africa, Central and Eastern Europe, Latin America, Middle East–South Asia, Northeast Asia, Pacific, and Southeast Asia’.

So, this particular volume is available in its entirety as a pdf here.

The blurb:

‘Jewish and Christian communities all over the world engage in biblical interpretation. Why, then, is it so difficult for biblical scholars from different parts of the globe to understand one another? Within the global enterprise of biblical studies and interpretation there are different centers and margins. This essay volume explores the global context within which our interpretations and studies take place. Three case studies from completely different parts of the world illustrate how interpretation takes place in their respective contexts. Before the volume ends with an afterword in which the knots of the book’s arguments are tied, two scholars reflect on the consequences of global hermeneutics on biblical interpretation and translation respectively. This book – the first in a new online series started by the International Cooperation Initiative of the Society of Biblical Literature (SBL) – hopes to stimulate and facilitate a global hermeneutic in which centers and margins fade.’

Two reviews of the collection of essays can be found here (by Susanne Scholz) and here (by Gerrie Snyman).

Friday 29 April 2011

Ben Witherington III on John Chrysostom on Hermeneutics

Over at ‘The Bible and Culture’, Ben Witherington has a nice post (originally from 2007, but reposted ‘by popular demand’) on John Chrysostom’s hermeneutics, his understanding of the relationship between the Old Testament and the New Testament in particular.

After citing Chrysostom’s analogy of the difference between a sketch and a full-colour portrait, Witherington says:

‘Chrysostom is putting his finger on some important Christian guidelines for properly reading the OT, namely that it must be seen in the light of its sequel, but it must not be confused with that sequel. The OT is not the NT in advance and the conditions, terms of discussion, theological rubrics and ethical categories are all preparatory, sketchy so to speak, not final, full, or completely revealing. The ‘shadows’ or ‘sketches’ are true as far as they go, but they must not be confused with the full bodied portraits of Christ, the Christian life, the nature of reality, the ultimate and full character of what God demands of those saved by grace and so on.’

As Witherington goes on to say, ‘what is so interesting about this whole hermeneutical approach is that it believes that one must do justice to the history if one is to do theology and ethics right’.

David R. Bauer and Robert A. Traina on Inductive Bible Study

David R. Bauer and Robert A. Traina, Inductive Bible Study: A Comprehensive Guide to the Practice of Hermeneutics (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2011), 464pp., ISBN 9780801027673.

An excerpt of this book carries the Foreword by Eugene Peterson, the Preface from David Bauer, and the Introduction.

This volume is an expansion by David Bauer (and Ada Thompson) of Robert Traina’s Methodical Bible Study, first published in 1952. After the Introduction, it unfolds in five parts:

Part 1. Theoretical Foundations

Part 2. Observing and Asking

Part 3. Answering or Interpreting

Part 4. Evaluating and Appropriating

Part 5. Correlation

It aims to offer ‘a specific, orderly process that readers can apply directly as they work with particular biblical texts’ (xiii). Even so, as Bauer is concerned to point out (and as Eugene Peterson also emphasises in his Foreword), ‘although inductive Bible study involves certain steps that are performed, it is not solely a matter of techniques. It involves, above all, a commitment to an inductive posture, which means radical openness to the meaning of the text, wherever a study characterized by radical openness might lead’ (xiv).

The Bible in Transmission (Spring 2011) on Humour

The latest issue of The Bible in Transmission from Bible Society carries a collection of articles on humour:

Matthew van Duyvenbode


John Macauley

Understanding Humour: Some Thoughts for Preachers

Humour is notoriously difficult to define. This article seeks to offer a framework for understanding humour and how it is expressed, including some discussion of the benefits and pitfalls of using humour in preaching.

James and Kate Williams

Humour, Scripture and Christian Discourse

Godliness and humour have tussled in Christian history, even though Scripture justifies the use of humour. This article explores the shape of creation–fall-redemption to see the perversions of humour and its redeemed uses in social critique, effective communication and in strengthening community within the family of God.

Cheryl Taylor

Divine Humour

Humour is an attribute of the divine character. In the Bible God laughs at our folly, but he also laughs with us, in spite of our failings and disappointments. Recognising this characteristic deepens our understanding of the nature of God. Humour is thus a legitimate subject for theological consideration.

Paul Kerensa

Getting to Grips with Comedy – as a Christian

In this piece, Paul Kerensa considers who determines the acceptable limits of comedy and whether there is an expectation that you have to be edgy to be funny and successful. There will always be a market for this darker side of comedy, but there is also a growing demand for clean, family friendly acts.

Olive Fleming Drane

The Holy Fool: Clowning in Christian Ministry

Throughout history, clowning has played a significant role in the life of the Church and continues to be an effective witness. Within a context of biblical and historical models, humour can be a powerful means of ministry and an expression of relevant spirituality.

Peter Morden

Spurgeon and Humour

As one of the most significant evangelists of the nineteenth century, Spurgeon is sometimes portrayed as a rather dour figure. He was earnest about his faith and mission, but Spurgeon also loved laughter. Humour was an integral part of his life and ministry.

James Catford

News from Bible Society

Kenneth J. Stewart on Ten Myths about Calvinism

Kenneth J. Stewart, Ten Myths about Calvinism: Recovering the Breadth of the Reformed Tradition (Nottingham: Apollos, 2011), 256pp., ISBN: 9781844745135.

I just got a copy of this title. The ten myths, should you want to know, are split into two sections:

Part 1: Four Myths Calvinists Should Not Be Circulating (But Are)

1. One Man (Calvin) and One City (Geneva) Is Determinative

2. Calvin’s View of Predestination Must Be Ours

3. TULIP is the Yard Stick of the Truly Reformed

4. Calvinists Take a Dim View of Revival and Awakening

Part 2: Six Myths Non-Calvinists Should Not Be Circulating (But Are)

5. Calvinism Is Largely Anti-missionary

6. Calvinism Promotes Antinomianism

7. Calvinism Leads to Theocracy

8. Calvinism Undermines the Creative Arts

9. Calvinism Resists Gender Equality

10. Calvinism Has Fostered Racial Inequality

I suspect the heart of Stewart’s burden is captured in the subtitle – recovering the breadth of the Reformed tradition.

Thursday 28 April 2011

Christianity Explored

Christianity Explored has a new website, worth checking out.

Interpretation 65, 2 (April 2011) on Usury

The latest issue of Interpretation is devoted to the topic of usury, with the following main articles:

Mark E. Biddle

The Biblical Prohibition Against Usury

A full consideration of social and economic justice would involve economics, sociology, political science, and legal theory, in addition to questions related to biblical hermeneutics and biblical ethics. This article addresses what must be the fundamental question for any Christian approach: what does the Bible say?

M. Douglas Meeks

The Peril of Usury in the Christian Tradition

Through the sixteenth century, the Christian tradition upheld the biblical denunciation of usury as the oppression of the poor and the neighbor. The church should critically retrieve this understanding as a contribution to the public discourse about the oppressive use of interest and debt in the current worldwide fiscal crises.

Mark Valeri

The Christianization of Usury in Early Modern Europe

The beginnings of Europe’s commercial revolution forced reconsiderations of the use of credit in long-distance trade. Protestant moralists in the early seventeenth century developed rationalizations for usury as a concerted effort to protect the Protestant regimes’ interest in the context of imperial warfare and colonial settlement. By the end of the seventeenth century, these moralists had made modern, market-oriented conceptions of usury commonplace in the Christian West.

Rebecca Todd Peters

Examining the Economic Crisis as a Crisis of Values

This article focuses on the ways in which the problem of predatory lending, or usury, allows us to examine our most basic Christian values and principles and think about how they might serve as a moral foundation for reshaping our economic structures and transactions.

David Brat

God and Advanced Mammon

This article looks at the economic and theological intersections of definitions of usury in the economic system of capitalism. It challenges seminarians and the church to examine their roles in addressing the problem of usury.

Simon Baron-Cohen on Empathy, Evil, and Justice

Simon Baron-Cohen, Zero Degrees of Empathy: A New Theory of Human Cruelty (London: Allen Lane, 2011), 208pp., ISBN 9780713997910.

Yesterday, a friend alerted me to this book, and today I saw a piece in The Guardian by Carol Jahme on Baron-Cohen’s recent RI Lecture on the same topic.

As Jahme summarises, Baron-Cohen ‘wants to raise awareness of the human empathic system and the devastating consequences when it malfunctions’, and ‘wants society to progress from condemning people as evil and instead understand why they acted without due concern for the pain they would cause’.

As Jahme goes on to say, his thesis has implications for those who work in the health care system and for the criminal justice system.

Monday 25 April 2011

Tim Keller on a Biblical Model for Leadership

Timothy Keller, ‘The Steward Leader: A Biblical Model for Leadership’ (2011).

This paper (available here via a sign-in process) was given during a 2007 leadership training session at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City.

Keller says at the start:

‘I believe the main biblical model for leadership is the “steward leader.” The “steward” was both a ruler and a slave, and this model provides us with a unique way to think out what it means to lead others.’

He traces this model from the creation of Adam and Eve to ‘have dominion’ over living creatures into some examples from the New Testament, with the ultimate example of Christ himself.

This leads into a more extended reflection on the metaphor of the leader as a ‘slave of Christ’, drawing especially on the work of Murray J. Harris:

‘In the “steward leader” model of Christian leadership, a leader is a slave who is in a position of humble accountability, and a ruler who is the cultivator of resources.’

His treatment takes in the crucial differences between slavery in the Greco-Roman world of the first century and the more recent race-based African slave trade.

In applying the metaphor today, he notes that ‘we contemporary Western Christians, who tend to negotiate our relationships, are offended by the idea of being “slaves of Christ,” but we may need the metaphor even more than people have in the past!’

This is because of the difference between covenantal and contractual relationships, and the fact that ‘in Western culture all relationships are increasingly being conducted on a highly conditional consumer-vendor basis’.

‘When Western people become Christians, they often do so (usually unconsciously) very conditionally. They expect that God will meet their needs, fulfill them spiritually, and protect them from troubles and difficulties. If this doesn’t happen on their terms, they often cool off very quickly or abandon their profession of faith altogether. The same thing happens in their relationships with Christians. Believers often switch churches and change Christian communities the moment they find themselves uncomfortable or unhappy – or even just bored and uninspired – in any of their relationships. The call to be slaves of Christ and of one another confronts our Western mindset in the most powerful way.’

‘We are not to enter into relationships like a consumer, remaining in them only as long as they profit us and meet our needs. We are to ask ourselves (especially about our Christian brothers and sisters) not “Are these cool people? Nice people? People whom I want to be around?” but “How can I serve? How can I help them grow? How can I help make them into better people?” Our model, of course, is Jesus.’

In summary:

‘The most fundamental definition of a steward leader is one who has power and authority to cultivate and develop resources entrusted by God. But the essence of Christian leadership is to humbly develop those resources for God’s glory, not for our own.’

Sunday 24 April 2011

Regent’s Reviews 2.2 (April 2011)

The latest edition of Regent’s Reviews is now available here.

Essays for D.A. Carson

Andreas J. Köstenberger and Robert W. Yarbrough (eds.), Understanding the Times: New Testament Studies in the 21st Century: Essays in Honor of D.A. Carson on the Occasion of his 65th Birthday (Wheaton: Crossway, 2011), 400pp., ISBN 9781433507199.

D.A. Carson’s 65th birthday is being honoured with this publication of essays, which includes a section on ‘New Testament Studies Around the World’.

Andreas J. Köstenberger’s essay (‘Lifting Up the Son of Man and God’s Love for the World: John 3:16 in Its Historical, Literary, and Theological Contexts) is excerpted here, and Douglas J. Moo’s contribution (‘Justification in Galatians’) is available here.

Jesus Lives!

Jesus lives! thy terrors now

can no longer, death, appall us;

Jesus lives! by this we know

thou, O grave, canst not enthrall us.


Jesus lives! henceforth is death

but the gate of life immortal;

this shall calm our trembling breath

when we pass its gloomy portal.


Jesus lives! for us he died;

then, alone to Jesus living,

pure in heart may we abide,

glory to our Saviour giving.


Jesus lives! our hearts know well

nought from us his love shall sever;

life, nor death, nor powers of hell

tear us from his keeping ever.


Jesus lives! to him the throne

over all the world is given:

may we go where he has gone,

rest and reign with him in heaven.


Words: Christian Friedrich Gellert (1715-1769), 1757; trans. Frances E. Cox (1812-1897), 1841.

Friday 22 April 2011

Gregg R. Allison on Historical Theology

Gregg R. Allison, Historical Theology: An Introduction to Christian Doctrine: A Companion to Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2011), 784pp., ISBN 9780310230137.

Zondervan make available online an excerpt of this full volume on historical theology. The first chapter comprises the Introduction, and addresses three questions:

(1) What is historical theology?

(2) What benefits does it provide?

(3) How should we study it?

What is historical theology?

‘Historical theology is the study of the interpretation of Scripture and the formulation of doctrine by the church of the past’ (23).

What benefits does it provide?

• ‘One benefit that historical theology offers the church today is helping it distinguish orthodoxy from heresy’ (24).

• ‘A second benefit of historical theology is that it provides sound biblical interpretations and theological formulations’ (24).

• ‘A third benefit of historical theology is that it presents stellar examples of faith, love, courage, hope, obedience, and mercy’ (25).

• ‘A fourth benefit that historical theology renders the church is to protect against the individualism that is rampant today among Christians’ (26).

• ‘A fifth benefit of historical theology is that it not only helps the church understand the historical development of its beliefs, but enables it to express those beliefs in contemporary form’ (27).

• ‘A sixth benefit of historical theology is that it encourages the church to focus on the essentials, that is, to major on those areas that have been emphasized repeatedly throughout the history of the church’ (28).

• ‘A seventh benefit of historical theology is that it gives the church hope by providing assurance that Jesus is fulfilling his promise to his people’ (28).

• ‘Finally, as beneficiaries of the heritage of doctrinal development sovereignly overseen by Jesus Christ, the church of today is privileged to enjoy a sense of belonging to the church of the past’ (29).

How should we study it?

There are two basic approaches to studying historical theology: (1) the synchronic approach ‘engages in the study of the theology of a certain time period, a particular theologian, a specific theological school or tradition, and the like’, and (2) the diachronic approachengages in the study of the development of thought on a given doctrine throughout the periods of the church’s history’ (29).

Hallelujah! What a Saviour!

For this year’s Good Friday...

Man of Sorrows! what a name

For the Son of God, who came

Ruined sinners to reclaim.

Hallelujah! What a Saviour!

Bearing shame and scoffing rude,

In my place condemned He stood;

Sealed my pardon with His blood.

Hallelujah! What a Saviour!

Guilty, vile, and helpless we;

Spotless Lamb of God was He;

‘Full atonement!’ can it be?

Hallelujah! What a Saviour!

Lifted up was He to die;

‘It is finished!’ was His cry;

Now in Heav’n exalted high.

Hallelujah! What a Saviour!

When He comes, our glorious King,

All His ransomed home to bring,

Then anew His song we’ll sing:

Hallelujah! What a Saviour!

Philip P. Bliss

Wednesday 13 April 2011

Spring Harvest Day 5

This year, Spring Harvest is exploring four key metaphors for Scripture. The first is Scripture as a sonnet; the second is Scripture as a symphony; the third is Scripture as a screenplay; the fourth is Scripture as a streetmap.

‘Finally, we will take the metaphor of a streetmap. Here we will discuss the clarity of the Bible and the vital importance of these writings for our own culture. We will ask how these texts make meaning of our lives and help us navigate the landscape we’re living in. Understood and used well, the Bible provides a collection of maps that show us where we’ve come from, where we are and where we’re going.’

The Bible readings this morning were based on Malachi 3:6-4:5, where we see that God’s promise of protection and the provision of a Messiah (4:5) offer both warning and hope to his apathetic people.

The Bible focus in the evening Big Top Celebration was devoted to Matthew 3:1-17, a God-breathed salvation, exploring the presence and work of the Holy Spirit in the ministry of Jesus.

Krish Kandiah on Navigating Life with the Bible

Krish Kandiah, Route 66: A Crash Course in Navigating Life with the Bible (Oxford: Monarch, 2011), 192pp., ISBN 9780857210180.

‘Route 66’ is the theme for this year’s Spring Harvest, and Krish Kandiah’s book of the same title is one of its main resources.

The book is mentioned in the latest Biblefresh newsletter, which also links to a pdf excerpt.

I was privileged to read a pre-publication manuscript of the book back in October last year and, if I’d got my act together in time, I would have been very happy to have written a blurb to join all the others recommending it. I’ll certainly be adding it to my future lists of recommended items on biblical genres and on introductory material on reading the Bible.

Krish has an enviable ability to use story and anecdote and self-deprecactory autobiographical snippets to excellent advantage in making points. And yet, he manages to cover the salient issues about each of the major biblical genres in a concise and engaging way, linking them with Bible studies and suggestions for small groups.

Tuesday 12 April 2011

Paul Bickley and Iona Mylek on the AV Referendum

Paul Bickley and Iona Mylek, Counting on Reform: Understanding the AV Referendum (London: Theos, 2011).

This booklet is available for download (here) from the Theos website. Here’s the blurb:

Counting on Reform, a new report published by Theos... aims to help Britons better understand the options on offer, placing them in the broader context of why we value what we value about democracy. The report contends that any decision we make will invariably draw on deeply held personal commitments and beliefs around key questions of principle. What do we understand to be the basis of political representation? How should we weigh the relative value of political strength vs. political compromise? How important do we believe is the merit of electoral simplicity?’

Spring Harvest Day 4

This year, Spring Harvest is exploring four key metaphors for Scripture. The first is Scripture as a sonnet; the second is Scripture as a symphony; the third is Scripture as a screenplay.

‘Turning to the concept of a screenplay we will explore the drama and community of the Bible. Scripture is the means by which the story of God is handed passed on to God’s people in each and every generation. We will see God’s story through the dramas in which his people find themselves. These are the driving force of Scripture. Through these episodes, events, characters and community God’s words are heard and come to life for all time. The Bible is the script that brings God’s story into our lives, and the invitation to us to play our part in his divine drama.’

The Bible readings this morning were based on Malachi 2:10-3:12, covering three areas in which God’s people have broken their covenant relationship with him.

The Bible focus in the evening Big Top Celebration was devoted to God-breathed Prayer, a different style of evening celebration, with an emphasis on participation and corporate prayer.

Spring Harvest Day 3

This year, Spring Harvest is exploring four key metaphors for Scripture. The first is Scripture as a sonnet; the second is Scripture as a symphony.

‘Taking the metaphor of a symphony, we will look at the many different contexts and genres of biblical literature. This is not a single book written in a steady, unchanging tone but a collection of different styles and literary forms. The Bible is a roller-coaster ride through the highs and low of divine and human existence. As a symphony takes its audience on a journey through many emotions, scripture too has a rich symphonic quality addressing the enormous depths and heights of human experience.’

The Bible readings this morning were based on Malachi 1:6-2:9, where the abiding sin of Israel is presented as the sin of giving God second best.

The Bible focus in the evening Big Top Celebration was on Isaiah 63:7-14, a God-breathed history, with God using the judgment of exile to recall his chosen people to their destiny.

Monday 11 April 2011

Spring Harvest Day 2

This year, Spring Harvest is exploring four key metaphors for Scripture. The first is Scripture as a sonnet:

‘Using the image of a sonnet we will explore the authority and inspiration of the Bible. These are the texts through which God speaks and in them we hear him speaking love to us. The authority of the Bible is rooted in its authorship and the desire of the author to make himself known. The Bible is the creator’s love-song for his creatures. However, not only are we the object of God’s affections – we are also the reason for his hope. The Bible declares God’s confidence in Christ and his people; together they will make all things new.’

The Bible readings this morning were based on Malachi 1:1-5, highlighting God’s choice of Israel, and introducing the theme of God’s covenant relationship with Israel.

The Bible focus in the evening Big Top Celebration was on Genesis 1:1-3 and 2:1-7 – the Holy Spirit in creation, exploring the Holy Spirit’s role in the making of the world, and the claim that every human breathes ‘the breath of God’.

Sunday 10 April 2011

Spring Harvest Day 1

I’m at Spring Harvest this week, as part of the adult team, involved in morning learning zones and afternoon seminars.

The theme this year is ‘Route 66’, providing an opportunity to dig deeper into Scripture. Each of the morning zones (largely embracing different modes of learning – ‘think’, ‘watch’, ‘talk’, ‘do’, ‘create’, etc.) will explore key metaphors for understanding the nature of Scripture as well as appropriating its significance for today (more on this in further posts, if I’m able to keep up the discipline of writing them).

Bible readings each morning are from Malachi, which will hopefully provide an opportunity to demonstrate some of the principles covered in the learning zones, exploring a (probably) relatively unknown book in its entirety and setting it in the wider biblical story.

The Bible focus in the evening Big Top Celebrations will be on passages which highlight some aspects of the work of the Holy Spirit – this first evening on a ‘God-breathed text – 2 Timothy 3:10-17’.

I hope the Spring Harvest crowd – here at Minehead and ‘up north’ at Skegness – benefits from the combination of different types of input along with all the other opportunities the event brings.

[This was written yesterday – on Day 1 – but I have been unable to post it until today, Day 2...]

Friday 8 April 2011

Mark Galli on the Problem with Christus Victor

Mark Galli, ‘The Problem with Christus Victor: An increasingly popular view of the atonement forces the question: What are we saved from?’, Christianity Today (7 April 2011).

Here’s a helpful piece from Mark Galli which reflects on the ‘Christus victor’ view of the atonement being flavour of the moment.

Not that it’s not in Scripture, of course, or even that it’s not significant, but he’s ‘concerned at the rising popularity of Christus Victor when it comes at the expense of substitution’ (his italics).

Although Christus victor highlights the cosmic nature of atonement, its view of humanity ‘emphasizes not our guilt but our victimhood’.

‘I have noticed – and do tell me if you see otherwise – that in general those who publically champion Christus Victor don’t pepper their talks and prayers with personal guilt for sin or the need for divine forgiveness. By way of contrast, note the oldest advocates of Christus Victor, the Eastern Orthodox. Personal sin and guilt, and the consequent wrath of God, regularly weave themselves into their prayers... But for some reason, when the Christus Victor theory is extolled by Protestants today, personal sin and guilt take a back seat. Way back sometimes.’

He concludes:

‘In my view, more than ever in our day, we need Christus Vicarious.’