Saturday 21 February 2015

Robert L. Plummer on John 13:1 and 19:30

There’s another helpful weekend video here from Robert L. Plummer, looking at the literary bracket between τέλος (telos) in John 13:1 (‘he loved them to the end’) and τετέλεσται (tetelestai) in 19:40 (‘It is finished’).

Thursday 19 February 2015

Evangelical Alliance on Politics

The latest report in the 21st Century Evangelicals Series from the Evangelical Alliance UK highlights research about politics.

The full report – Faith in Politics? – is available as a (8.7 MB) pdf here.

This is what the EA says:

‘Our latest research explores the political views of UK evangelicals and how engaged they and their churches are in politics. Our survey of more than 2,000 evangelicals found that many are disillusioned with UK politics, with less than one in 10 (six per cent) believing that politicians can be trusted to keep their manifesto promises. But evangelicals are also much more likely to be interested and engaged in politics and to prioritise the common good of society above personal gain.

‘The issues that concern evangelicals are quite different from those that concern the general public. Evangelicals care far more about poverty and inequality than immigration – ranking this the single most important issue facing the UK today. And the key issues that will affect their vote are religious liberty and freedom of expression, poverty alleviation, human trafficking, same-sex marriage and euthanasia.’

PowerPoint presentation and discussion questions for churches are linked to from this page.

The Jubilee Centre on Thinking Biblically About Everything

The Jubilee Centre is producing a helpful series of short pamphlets on ‘Thinking Biblically About…’ particular topics.

The latest to be released sets itself the modest goal of thinking biblically about... everything.

According to the website, this one ‘introduces the Bible’s relational worldview, and shows how it provides the key for us to translate the biblical social vision into the 21st century – where despite the passage of time, history and geography, human relationships are essentially the same as they were when the Bible was written’.

The pamphlet is available to buy or download here.

More from KLICE on the General Election 2015

The Kirby Laing Institute for Christian Ethics has posted a further two pieces in a special series of eight extended Ethics in Brief essays on the main British political parties:

As a form of political reasoning and practice, conservatism has much to commend it. Its characteristic focus on the what, why and how questions of conservation provides a helpful guide for thinking about politics. Attentive to these questions and inspired by Christian political thought, this vision of conservatism emphasises trust, both divine and creaturely; the interrelation of civil society with government; responsible enterprise; and sober internationalism.

Many commentators are predicting that the SNP could play a key role in the outcome of the 2015 General Election. They have surged in the polls following a tumultuous 2014 in which they led Scotland to a historic referendum on independence, which was rejected by a significant but not large margin. Few commentators outside Scotland know much of the history and background to the party. Many Christians also remain uneasy about explicit avowals of nationalism. This article explores the background to the rise of the SNP and suggests a theological route to evaluating nationalism and nationalist parties.

Wednesday 18 February 2015

The Bible Project on Exodus 19-40

The Bible Project – which is putting together a series of short videos introducing the structure and themes of biblical books and tracing some major themes through the entire Bible – have made available the next video, this one on Exodus 19-40. Check them out from here (click on ‘Videos’ or scroll down to the ‘Videos & Study Guides’ section).

Tuesday 17 February 2015

The NIV Zondervan Study Bible

I’m not entirely comfortable with the proliferation of different types of study Bibles – particularly when so many people still lack any of the Christian Scriptures in their own language – but I was still interested to see the notice by Andy Naselli of the forthcoming NIV Zondervan Study Bible, which promises fresh content from new contributors.

D.A. Carson is the general editor, with T. Desmond Alexander, Richard S. Hess, and Douglas J. Moo serving as associate editors, and Naselli himself as the assistant editor (meaning he will have done much of the work in bringing it together).

There is a 50-page pdf sample here which contains an article by Douglas Moo on the letters and Revelation, along with the text and notes on Romans.

Monday 16 February 2015

Brian Russell on the Psalms as a Prayerbook for God’s Missional People

Brian Russell has four posts – here, here, here, and here (though the second and third are nearly identical) on ‘Reading the Psalms as a Prayerbook for God’s Missional People’.

‘The book of Psalms is the prayerbook for God’s missional people. A missional reading of the Psalms focuses on the meaning of the prayers and hymns of the psalter for shaping the identity and ethos of God’s people.’

He has some other recent posts related to the Bible and mission, also worth checking out:

Sunday 15 February 2015

The Asbury Journal 69, 2 (2014)

The latest issue of The Asbury Journal has been posted online. This fascicle contains four papers on the formational role of theological education, along with various other essays as below.

From the Editor

Joy Ames
Teaching as Formation: The Vision of Ephesians 4:11-16 and Pedagogical Implications for Routine Teaching Tasks
This paper seeks to incorporate the vision of teaching in Ephesians 4:11-16 into an understanding of theological education that involves the holistic formation of students. First, a brief exegetical study of Ephesians 4:11-16 is presented in order to accentuate its vision for teaching as formation. Secondly, the task of grading is viewed as a major opportunity for student formation. Thirdly, an emphasis is placed on hearing the voice of the text for today in the task of teaching the text-based exegetical course.

Jordan Guy
Eden University—Nurturing Life for the Real World
Teachers are responsible for equipping students with wisdom for survival in the “real world.” One method for fulfilling this task is to transport three essential elements from the Garden of Eden into the classroom environment. This means: 1) exposing students to every “tree” in the garden, 2) inviting “the serpent” into the classroom in order to make every decision tempting, and 3) reflecting together on the benefits/consequences of every decision. Students and teachers who explore, wrestle with, and reflect on real world problems first in a nurturing community are better equipped to survive and even thrive in the “real world.”

Jeremy B. Griffin
Teaching Through Guided Reflection on Short-Term Missions
This paper was presented at Asbury Theological Seminary on March 14, 2014, at the Interdisciplinary Colloquium. This work examines the three sections of a short-term missions trip: pre-trip, during the trip, and post-trip. These sections have unique opportunities for teaching, and each must be navigated with different types of teaching and guided reflection.

Susan Murithi
Contextual Theological Education in Africa as a Model for Missional Formation
This paper argues that teaching of contextual theological education in Africa can aid in missional formation of students, teachers, and their communities. Further, common African struggles are explored as a way of discovering how theological education can be used to address Africa’s unique situation. The paper further asserts that the only kind of education with the power to form humanity is the one that relates to them and addresses their unique situations, and answers their questions. To form missional Christians in Africa, we need contextual education in our training institutions.

Bill T. Arnold
Lessons of the Jerusalem Council for the Church’s Debate over Sexuality
In the contemporary issue of same-sex marriage within the United Methodist Church, the Jerusalem Council’s decision-making process to include Gentiles in Acts 15 has been appealed to as a model for the church to redefine and reshape its current interpretation of scripture. This article demonstrates how the hermeneutical approach of the Jerusalem Council, which made use of Old Testament understandings of Torah-authority, especially using Leviticus 17-18, did not aim to redefine or change the meaning of the Torah, but to use it for guidance and direction. Applying such a method to the current issue of same-sex marriage would be incompatible with this hermeneutical decision-making process of the early Church.

Christopher T. Bounds
New Testament Considerations on Unity and “Amicable Separation” in the United Methodist Church
This paper explores the proposal of “Amicable Separation” in The United Methodist Church through the lens of New Testament teaching on Church unity and schism. First, the concept of ecclesial oneness is examined closely in the Gospel of John, Ephesians, and other related passages. Second, every instance of schism or threat of schism is studied in Acts, I Corinthians, Galatians, Colossians, I Timothy, and I and II John to see how separation is understood and addressed. After a summary of the study is given, application is made finally to the “Amicable Separation” proposal.

Jody Fleming
The Faith and Praxis of Women in Missions in the Early Pentecostal and Holiness Movement
Women in the early years of the Pentecostal and Holiness movement played a very important part in the advancement of local and world mission. This paper examines not only the contributions women made during this time period, but also the balance they had between their faith and the practice of that faith. This study includes a select group of women chosen for their comprehension of Christian faith and how it impacted their understanding for reaching out to the world around them. Some are better known than others, but each of their stories represents the impact of women on Christian missionary work of their day.

Christopher P. Momany
Faculty Psychology in the Holiness Theology of Asa Mahan
As America awakened to a greater antislavery consciousness, Asa Mahan, president of the Oberlin Collegiate Institute, presented his seminal reflection on Christian Perfection. Mahan offered an unusually precise definition of perfection or holiness. The Oberlin president borrowed from Scottish Common Sense Realism to suggest an understanding of Christian Perfection that was both personally rigorous and socially prophetic. This conception of holiness was also rooted in a commitment to objective truth.

Moshe Reiss
Esau, Son of Isaac and Grandson of Abraham: The Model of a Faithful Son
The story of Esau and Jacob, the two powerful sons of Isaac and Rebekah is one of the several conflicting families noted in the book of Genesis. Jacob, whose other name is Israel, is the father of the twelve tribes and thus the founder of the Jewish people. Rebekah may be the most powerful of the matriarchs; the one God talks to directly about her role in the covenant. The reconciliation of the brothers is one of the more powerful descriptions in the Bible.

Samuel J. Youngs
Creatio Ex Amore Dei: Creation out of Nothing and God’s Relational Nature
The opinion of many feminist thinkers and process theologians has been that Christianity needs to shed its allegiance to a God conceived in terms of omnipotent sovereignty. As an alternative, many of them have envisioned God in more relational categories, focusing on the metaphysically “limited” nature of God, with the first step along this path often being a refutation of the traditional doctrine of creatio ex nihilo. This essay summarizes such critiques before proceeding to argue that a robust understanding of creatio ex nihilo, viewed through the lens of kenosis, can actually speak more effectively to God’s relational nature and sacrificial love.

From the Archives: Sunday School Cards – An Innovation in Christian Education

Books Reviews

Saturday 14 February 2015

Leaven 22, 1 (2014) on Christian Spiritual Formation

Leaven is published quarterly by the Religion Division at Pepperdine University. The issues are normally thematic, and often carry some interesting articles. The latest issue to be posted online is devoted to ‘Christian Spiritual Formation’, containing the following main essays:

David W. Wray
Sacred Rhythms: Harmonizing Work and Prayer

Earl Lavender
My Story, Our Story, God’s Story: the Function of a Livable Narrative in Spiritual Formation

Timothy H. Robinson
The Role of Nature in Spiritual Formation

Darryl Tippens
Spiritual Formation and the Dance of Embodiment: Lessons from James K.A. Smith and Augustine

Houston Heflin
A More Productive Harvest Through Adolescent Spiritual Formation

Chet Butterworth
Spiritual Formation as Seminary Curriculum: A Personal Perspective

Shirley D. Straker
What Has Happened to Me

Lisa Durr
Companionship for the Journey: The Gift of Spiritual Direction

S. Wesley Horn
Formed By Time: Living the Liturgical Year

Jackie L. Halstead
Silence and Solitude: Encounter with God

Jackie L. Halstead
Spiritual Formation: Annotated Bibliography

Robert Plummer on σπλάγχνα in Philemon

I’ve been following and enjoying Daily Dose of Greek videos since I posted about it here.

In today’s special weekend video, Robert L. Plummer looks at the three uses of σπλάγχνα (splanchna) in Philemon – which I’d not spotted before, and which is especially interesting as the word is fairly rare in the New Testament, being used on only 11 occasions.

Friday 6 February 2015

Greg Forster on Christian Joy and Cultural Influence

Greg Forster, Joy for the World: How Christianity Lost Its Cultural Influence and Can Begin Rebuilding It (Wheaton: Crossway, 2014).

Greg Forster covers similar ground to others on cultural engagement, but is distinctive in naming ‘joy’ as Christianity’s central contribution to society – where joy is ‘the state of flourishing in mind, heart, and life that Christians experience by the Holy Spirit’. Looking first at how we are formed through an integration of doctrine, devotion, and stewardship, he then explores three areas – sex and family, work and the economy, and citizenship and community – reflecting on how Christians can bring the gospel to bear on every dimension of life. As Forster says: ‘Seeking to have an influence in our civlization does not imply captivity to the culture. It just means we’re answering the call to be good disciples within our spheres of influence.’

Wednesday 4 February 2015

Centre for Public Christianity (February 2015)

Among other items, the Centre for Public Christianity has posted a video interview with Hugh Mackay on ‘The Art of Belonging’, discussing his new book about the appeal of ‘village’ living, and how to cultivate real community wherever we live.

Also posted is a video interview with Mark Bilton on ‘Monday Matters’, exploring the role of faith in the workplace.

Monday 2 February 2015

Mike Cosper on TV and Movies

One of the things I’d like to do more of this year is to post mini summaries and reviews of books I’ve read. I don’t know how this will turn out, but here’s one to be going on with...

Mike Cosper, The Stories We Tell: How TV and Movies Long For and Echo the Truth (Wheaton: Crossway, 2014).

TV and films are pervasive in their reach and powerful in their ability to reflect and shape our deepest desires. Mike Cosper helpfully explores the connection between the stories we tell ‘with the bigger story that God is telling, and... what these stories reveal about being human, being fallen, and longing for redemption’. Drawing on a variety of examples, from Avatar to The X-Files, he explores themes related to the loss of innocence, the search for love, the reality of frustration and fear, darkness and violence, the search for heroes, the yearning for a better world, and more. As Cosper shows, all these stories are echoed in the biblical story and find their deepest answer in the gospel.