Tuesday 29 March 2016

Midwestern Journal of Theology on Preaching

Two recent volumes of the Midwestern Journal of Theology were devoted to ‘Preachers and Preaching’, available as pdfs here and here.

Friday 25 March 2016

Mercy Speaks by Jesus’ Blood

I had my formative Christian years in a tradition which sung hymns by William Gadsby (1773-1844), a hymn writer and pastor of a Strict Baptist Church in Manchester for 38 years.

One scholar has written that Gadsby ‘stands at the intersection of late-eighteenth-century Enlightenment thought and early-nineteenth-century romanticism, balancing between these two ways of thinking’.

‘Immortal honours rest on Jesus’ head’ is probably his most well-known hymn, and I never fail to be moved by its mixture of strong theology and deep personal piety.

But for this year’s Good Friday, I thought I’d share a lesser-known one...

Mercy speaks by Jesus’ blood;
Hear and sing, ye sons of God;
Justice satisfied indeed;
Christ has full atonement made.

Jesus’ blood speaks loud and sweet
Here all Deity can meet,
And, without a jarring voice,
Welcome Zion to rejoice.

Should the law against her roar,
Jesus’ blood still speaks with power,
‘All her debts were cast on me,
And she must and shall go free.’

Peace of conscience, peace with God,
We obtain through Jesus’ blood;
Jesus’ blood speaks solid rest;
We believe, and we are blest.

William Gadsby (1773-1844)

Thursday 24 March 2016

Centre for Public Christianity (March 2016)

The Centre for Public Christianity has posted an audio interview with John Smith and Collett Smart ‘about where true self-worth might be found’, and an audio interview with screenwriter Paul Aiello and producer Patrick Aiello on their latest movie, Risen, talking about ‘the writing process, casting Jesus, and why the resurrection is still an important story to tell’.

Also posted are some video interviews with Roland Chia ‘about why theology and the humanities generally are relevant to questions of biomedicine and biotechnology; why bioethics is an issue for everyone; why we should resist the commodification of the human body; and how people with very different worldviews can have a productive dialogue about these issues’.

Tell Me... Do You Bleed?

I contributed this week’s ‘Connecting with Culture’, a weekly email service provided by the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity.

Can it really be that one who is all powerful could also be all benevolent?

Today sees the cinema release of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Echoing the concerns of some fans at the end of the previous installment, Man of Steel, Bruce Wayne is fearful about Superman’s destructive abilities, and feels compelled to re-don his Batman suit to make sure such power is put down. It is, as one character puts it, ‘the greatest gladiator match in the history of the world – god versus man’. ‘Tell me’, says Batman in one of their confrontations – more as a threat than a question – ‘do you bleed?’ A god bleed? Surely not.

Like all such movies that could so easily be dismissed as a special effects extravaganza or for its clunky dialogue, it still sheds light on contemporary fears and aspirations. Even watching the official trailers, one is struck by the repeated use of the word ‘power’ on the lips of various characters. ‘That kind of power is very dangerous.’ ‘Human beings have a horrible record of following people with great power.’ ‘He has the power to wipe out the entire human race.’ ‘The oldest lie... that power can be innocent.’

It may be that Superman represents one sort of power and Batman another, but the trailers hint that they come together with common allies against common enemies, who are even darker, more ferocious, more destructive – the power of sheer ferocity, the power of egotistical manipulation.

We have seen evidence of a certain kind of power at work even this week in Brussels...

But this Friday, around the world, Christians will tell again the story of a different sort of power, seen in the death of Jesus. The cross subverts human expectations about the way power operates, about the way things get done. As the apostle Paul wrote, ‘the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God’ (1 Corinthians 1:18). Yet the cross also brings what we long for. According to Paul, that which is most desired by Greeks and Jews – wisdom and power – is delivered in that which is most despised, in ‘Christ crucified... the power of God and the wisdom of God’ (1 Corinthians 1:23-24).

All power and all benevolence in shed blood.

Wednesday 23 March 2016

The Bible Project on the Image of God

The latest video from The Bible Project, at just over 5 minutes long, is an excellent overview of the ‘image of God’ theme tracked through Scripture as a whole.

It’s available to view on YouTube here.

Check out all the videos from here (click on ‘Videos’ or scroll down to the ‘Videos/Study Guides/Posters’ section) or see them all via YouTube here.

Thursday 10 March 2016

Southwestern Journal of Theology 58, 1 (2015) on Jude

The latest volume of the Southwestern Journal of Theology contains several essays devoted to the letter of Jude. They contributions flow out of a preaching workshop held in the Spring of 2015 which focused on that book.

Here’s an excerpt from the opening essay:

‘Though by no means the smallest book in the Bible, the Epistle of Jude is an oft-neglected jewel of the New Testament. Its diminutive size is disproportionate to its theological content and pastoral help. Central to its message is the call “to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered” ( Jude 4). Jude’s recipients were under attack because enemies of God slipped into their churches leading people astray. This reality of evil interlopers is still true for churches today, and the response to these attacks is the same today as it was for Jude’s readers: contend for the faith.’

The entire issue is available as a pdf here.

Tuesday 8 March 2016

D.A. Carson et al. on Scripture

D.A. Carson (ed.), The Enduring Authority of the Christian Scriptures (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2016), 1256pp., ISBN: 978-0-8028-6576-2.

My summer holiday reading is now sorted!

As one who benefited enormously from the two volumes edited by D.A. Carson and John D. Woodbridge in the 1980s (Scripture and Truth and Hermeneutics, Authority and Canon), I’ve been looking forward to this collection of essays since I first saw it announced a couple of years back.

It’s not yet out in the UK, but there is plenty to whet the appetite for those who might be interested...

Thursday 3 March 2016

The Bible Project on Joshua

The latest video from The Bible Project provides a nearly 9-minute introduction to and overview of the book of Joshua, which also includes a brief excursus on the issue of violence.

Check out all the videos from here (click on ‘Videos’ or scroll down to the ‘Videos/Study Guides/Posters’ section) or see them all via YouTube here.

Knowing and Doing (Spring 2016)

The Spring 2016 edition of Knowing & Doing – ‘A Teaching Quarterly for Discipleship of Heart and Mind’ – from the C.S. Lewis Institute is now available online (here as a pdf), and contains the following articles:

Sandy Smith
Surprised by Belfast: Significant Sites in the Land and Life of C.S. Lewis, Part 1, Little Lea
Sandy Smith begins a new series exploring how C.S. Lewis’s life was shaped by the land of his birth, Belfast, Northern Ireland. The series focuses on specific significant locations in Lewis’s life. The site examined in this first article is Little Lea, boyhood home of C.S. Lewis.

Randy Newman
Mere Evangelism: Using C.S. Lewis’s Classic Book to Win Outsiders for Christ
Have you ever talked with a non-Christian about the gospel and wanted to follow up the conversation with the gift of a book? In this article, Randy Newman shares why he likes to give non-Christians who are open to the gospel a small, nicely packaged hardback book titled What Christians Believe, a single section of C.S. Lewis’s classic book Mere Christianity.

Benjamin C. Shaw and Gary R. Habermas
The Resurrection of Jesus Christ as Christianity’s Centerpiece
In this article, Benjamin Shaw and Gary Habermas discuss the significance of Jesus's resurrection, the powerful historical foundation, and why Christians today can live a life that is encouraged and empowered by Jesus’s resurrection.

Thomas A. Tarrants III
Who Is God? Part 2
Tom Tarrants continues his article helping us to see Who God Is. In this second part, Tarrants discusses some of the attributes of God, God's Revelation of Himself in the New Testament, and the Trinity.

J. Edward Glancy and Joel S. Woodruff
Celebrating Forty Years of Heart and Mind Discipleship: A Brief History of the C.S. Lewis Institute
This article looks back on the history of the C.S. Lewis Institute as we celebrate forty years of heart and mind discipleship.