Tuesday 30 April 2013

Themelios 38, 1 (April 2013)

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

D.A. Carson
Editorial: As If Not

Michael J. Ovey
Off the Record: Colonial Atheism: A Very British Vice

Eric Ortlund
The Pastoral Implications of Wise and Foolish Speech in the Book of Proverbs

David A. Shaw
Telling the Story from the Bible (Part 2): Reviewing The Big Picture Story Bible and The Jesus Storybook Bible

Book Reviews

William Barrick on Biblical Hebrew

Thanks to Patrick Schreiner (of Ad Fontes) for drawing attention to freely available video lectures of a two-part module on Biblical Hebrew. The module is taught by Dr. William Barrick of The Master’s Seminary. Part I is available here (including downloadable grammar and workbook) and Part II is available here.

Alister McGrath on ‘What Would Make You Lose Your Faith?’

One of my colleagues at LICC, Jay Butcher, forwarded to us this 1:47 video of Alister McGrath on losing his faith in atheism and finding a faith in God.

Friday 12 April 2013

God’s Love Compels Us: Notes from the Gospel Coalition’s 2013 World Missions Preconference

A pdf eBook has been produced, available here, of notes from the Gospel Coalition’s 2013 World Missions Preconference, ‘God’s Love Compels Us’, held 6-7 April 2013, in Orlando, Florida.

It contains notes from talks by the following speakers:

• Don Carson, The Biblical Basis for Mission (2 Corinthians 4:1-12)
• Andy Davis, Are People Without Christ Really Lost?
• David Platt, Why the Great Commission is Great (2 Corinthians 4:13-18)
• John Piper, The Heart of God in the Call to Proclaim (2 Corinthians 5:1-10)
• Michael Oh, ‘The Individual’s Suffering and the Salvation of the World’ (Psalm 22:1-11)
• Stephen Um, ‘Jesus and Justice’
• Mack Stiles, ‘The Ministry of Reconciliation’ (2 Corinthians 5:11-21)

Further information about the conference is available here, and media will be available here in the not-too distant future.

The Church of England on Men and Women in Marriage

Earlier this week, the Faith and Order Commission of the Church of England published a short report – Men and Women in Marriage – setting out the church’s view of ‘the long-established meaning of marriage’.

The report begins with a reminder that in 2005, the Bishops stated the Church of England’s position in these words:

‘Marriage is a creation ordinance, a gift of God in creation and a means of his grace. Marriage, defined as a faithful, committed, permanent and legally sanctioned relationship between a man and a woman, is central to the stability and health of human society. It continues to provide the best context for the raising of children.’

What follows in the report ‘is intended to enlarge on that summary, drawing on what has been said by the Church of England historically and more recently, and especially on how the sexual differentiation of men and women is a gift of God’.

The full report is available as a pdf here.

Tuesday 9 April 2013

Scripture Bulletin 43, 1 (January 2013)

The January 2013 issue of Scripture Bulletin is available online, with the below articles. The summaries are taken from Ian Boxall’s editorial. He notes there that the fiftieth anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council marked the beginning of the Year of Faith, which will run until November 2013, and that the articles in this edition of Scripture Bulletin are related to this initiative of Pope Benedict.

Ian Boxall

Henry Wansbrough OSB
The Bible in the Church since Vatican II
Henry Wansbrough OSB charts the progress of Catholic biblical scholarship in the fifty years since the Council began, describing the massive sea-change in the exposure to Scripture on the part of ordinary Catholics (not least with the introduction of the new Lectionary in 1967), and the emergence of a confident and influential body of Catholic biblical scholars. He identifies three strands which he regards as of particular significance: redaction-critical study of the Gospels, a renewed appreciation of the Jewishness of Jesus and his cultural world, and a greater openness to what Wansbrough calls ‘Alexandrine-style’ theological interpretation of Scripture. The latter approach, interwoven with the historical-critical method, is well-exemplified in the biblical hermeneutic of Pope Benedict himself.

Nicholas King SJ
The Year of Faith: Paul’s Strategy of Evangelisation
Nicholas King SJ sets out to explore Paul’s good news in and through Paul’s own words, examining how his preaching was ‘gospel’ to the three overlapping cultural worlds Paul inhabited. King manages to convey something of the passion of the apostle, in his urgent mission to spread the love of Christ, and love for Christ, to ‘all the nations’ of the Mediterranean world. More importantly, he considers the implications for contemporary preachers of the gospel: ‘Paul’s enthusiasm may in turn serve as a model and as a stimulus for our own evangelising efforts.’

Richard Ounsworth OP
Faith in the Epistle to the Hebrews
Richard Ounsworth OP takes us more deeply into the theme of this year through a careful examination of the concept of faith in the Letter to the Hebrews. Hebrews’ definition of the faith which God’s people are called to exemplify (Heb. 11:1) is one of the most memorable verses in the New Testament. This article makes a compelling case for the Epistle’s understanding of faith being profoundly Christological, most especially in its presentation of Jesus, in his role as alter Joshua, as the ‘pioneer and perfecter of our faith’ (Heb. 12:2).

Book Reviews

Gai Ferdon on the Political Use of the Bible in Early Modern Britain

The Jubilee Centre has published this 89-page report by Gai Ferdon on the political use of the Bible in early modern Britain.

For those who might wonder why 21st-century Christians should ‘take the time and effort to learn about how seventeenth-century Protestants thought about politics’, John Coffey offers three reasons in the foreword:

First, as ‘a means of resourcement... to enlarge our reference group and learn from the wisdom (and folly) of past generations’.

Second, it allow us to see ‘certain perennial issues and tendencies in Christian political thought’, and ‘understanding the past helps us to make sense of our present’.

Third, ‘this study gets us to wrestle with the problem of biblical hermeneutics... shows that there are no easy answers when it comes to reading the Bible politically, and it ought to make us more self-critical in our own hermeneutics’. And yet, ‘we also find evidence of deep and serious engagement with the Bible, and see how the reflecting on the Old and New Testaments was once an integral part of European political thinking’.

More information is available here, and the full report is available as a pdf here.

American Bible Society on the Bible in America, 2013

American Bible Society recently released the findings from its annual ‘State of the Bible’ survey, conducted by the Barna Group.

For those who like infographics, there is a diagram of the results here, and an analysis here.

In summary:

‘As in previous years, the survey found that the Bible remains a highly valued, influential force in America. But beliefs about the Bible and its role in society are becoming increasingly polarized – particularly when the data is examined by age group.

‘The research also uncovered a significant disconnect in belief versus behavior. While 66% of those surveyed agreed that the Bible contains everything a person needs to know to live a meaningful life, 58% say they don’t personally want wisdom and advice from the Bible and about the same amount (57%) read it fewer than five times per year.’

Key findings include:

• 1 in 6 people reported buying a copy of the Bible in the last year
• 80% of Americans identify the Bible as sacred
• Americans have plenty of copies at their fingertips – with an average of 4.4 Bibles per household
• 56% of adults believe the Bible should have a greater role in U.S. society
• But actual Bible reading and perceptions about the Bible have become increasingly polarized, with 6 million new Bible Antagonists in the last year alone
• More than half (57%) of those ages 18-28 report reading the Bible less than three times a year or never

Monday 8 April 2013

Second Nature

Second Nature – ‘an online journal for critical thinking about technology and new media in light of the Christian tradition’ – is still fairly new, but looks interesting and helpful.

Catalyst 39, 3 (March 2013)

The latest of Catalyst is now online, with the usual collection of short pieces:

[It looks like they have used the link from the previous issue for this article on their website; I have replaced it above with the correct one.]

Centre for Public Christianity (April 2013)

The latest newsletter from the Centre for Public Christianity contains a link to a two-part video interview with Dr Jennifer George, Associate Professoer of Decision Sciences at Melbourne Business School, talking about social responsibility in business, balancing profit with community needs, and what Christian faith has to say about business ethics.

There is also a link to a discussion between Justine Toh and Simon Smart on how a culture of ‘total work’ makes it unsurprising that we look forward to the Easter long weekend as simply four days off work. Included here is an interview with Kara Martin, Associate Dean of the Marketplace Institute at Ridley College, about what Easter has to say about the theological dimensions of rest.

Saturday 6 April 2013

Credo Magazine 3, 2 (April 2013)

The current issue of Credo is now out, this one devoted to ‘The Trinity and the Christian Life: Why a Triune God Makes All the Difference’.

According to the editorial blurb:

‘One of the dangers every church faces is slipping, slowly and quietly and perhaps unknowingly, into a routine where sermons are preached, songs are sung, and the Lord’s Supper is consumed, but all is done without a deep sense and awareness of the Trinity. In other words, if we are not careful our churches, in practice, can look remarkably Unitarian. And such a danger is not limited to the pews of the church. As we leave on Sunday morning and go back into the world, does the gospel we share with our coworker look decisively and explicitly trinitarian in nature? Or when we pray in the privacy of our own home, do the three persons of the Trinity make any difference in how we petition God?

‘In this issue of Credo Magazine, we have brought together some of the sharpest thinkers in order to bring our minds back to the beauty, glory, and majesty of our triune God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. But we do not merely want to see him as triune, but recognize why and how the Trinity makes all the difference in the Christian life. Therefore, in this issue Fred Sanders, Robert Letham, Michael Reeves, Scott Swain, and many others come together in order to help us think deeper thoughts about how God is one essence and three persons, and what impact the Trinity has on who we are and what we do as believers.’

The magazine is available to read here, from where also a 29 MB pdf of the whole issue can be downloaded.

Wednesday 3 April 2013

Catalyst 5 (Spring 2013)

Catalyst is a twice-yearly magazine, published by CARE, highlighting ministries ‘making a Christian difference’ as well as giving the latest CARE news.

According to CARE, highlights in this issue ‘include a fascinating profile of Christians Against Poverty, with freelance writer Clive Price speaking to CAP founder John Kirkby, and an interview with Jessie Joe Jacobs, the dynamic CEO of A Way Out, an award-winning charity working with at-risk women and young people in Stockton-on-Tees.

‘Also... is an interview with Greg Downes, Principal of the Centre for Missional Leadership, on culture, leadership and mission. Catalyst also asked Clive Price to profile the distinctively Christian vision behind popular toy shop chain, The Entertainer, and pay a lively visit to their store in Horsham.’

The issue is available for browsing here, or downloadable as a pdf here.

The Great British Class Calculator

I can’t vouch for the accuracy of the research behind this, but the BBC today posted a fascinating piece saying that ‘people in the UK now fit into seven social classes’.

‘Class has traditionally been defined by occupation, wealth and education. But this research argues that this is too simplistic, suggesting that class has three dimensions – economic, social and cultural.’

This being the case, the new classes are defined as:

• Elite – the most privileged group in the UK, distinct from the other six classes through its wealth. This group has the highest levels of all three capitals.

• Established middle class – the second wealthiest, scoring highly on all three capitals. The largest and most gregarious group, scoring second highest for cultural capital.

• Technical middle class – a small, distinctive new class group which is prosperous but scores low for social and cultural capital. Distinguished by its social isolation and cultural apathy.

• New affluent workers – a young class group which is socially and culturally active, with middling levels of economic capital.

• Traditional working class – scores low on all forms of capital, but is not completely deprived. Its members have reasonably high house values, explained by this group having the oldest average age at 66.

• Emergent service workers – a new, young, urban group which is relatively poor but has high social and cultural capital.

• Precariat, or precarious proletariat – the poorest, most deprived class, scoring low for social and cultural capital.

A link to a ‘calculator’ allows readers to see where they might fit.