Thursday 30 August 2018

J.I. Packer

Monergism has a page here, with a brief biography of J.I. Packer, a list of some of his books (with links to, a long list of articles available online, and links to some of his lectures (especially on the Puritans) available as mp3s.

Southern Baptist Journal of Theology 22, 1 (2018) on Vocation

The current issue of the Southern Baptist Journal of Theology is devoted to the topic of vocation, with the below contributions.

Individual essays are available from here, and the whole issue can be downloaded as a pdf here.

Stephen J. Wellum
Editorial: Thinking Theologically about Vocation and Work

Robert L. Plummer
A New Testament Professor’s Rediscovery of the Doctrine of Vocation

Megan DeVore
“The Labors of our Occupation”: Can Augustine Offer Any Insight on Vocation?

Leland Ryken
“Some Kind of Life to Which We Are Called of God”: The Puritan Doctrine of Vocation

Michael A. G. Haykin
English Calvinistic Baptists and Vocation in the Long Eighteenth Century, with Particular Reference to Anne Dutton’s Calling as an Author

David Kotter
Milkmaids No More: Revisiting Luther’s Doctrine of Vocation from the Perspective of a “Gig” Economy

Elizabeth Mehlman
The Work and Faith of Theological Scholars: Converging Lessons from James 2 and Luther’s Doctrine of Vocation

Andrew David Naselli
Do Not Love the World: Breaking the Evil Enchantment of Worldliness (A Sermon on 1 John 2:15-17)

Book Reviews

Tuesday 28 August 2018

Mission Frontiers 40, 5 (September-October 2018)

The September-October 2018 issue of Mission Frontiers, published by the U.S. Center for World Mission, contains a number of articles devoted to the work of Wycliffe Bible Translators.

The editor, Rick Wood, Writes:

‘The latest edition of MF delves into the remarkable advances being made by Wycliffe Bible Translators around the world today. It highlights Wycliffe’s rich and long-standing history and updates current inroads being made in Bible translation. Modern-day technology has enabled translators to not only speed up the translation process but to also improve the quality of the end product by including a wide range of people in the translation process. This issue includes articles about the use of apps, the development of new fonts and even a visual Bible being used for the Deaf that are all making God’s Word easily accessible in new ways. Enjoy personal stories of the ways God has moved in the hearts of individuals through their involvement with Wycliffe. Be inspired by the ways that Wycliffe is breaking down language barriers through effective translation and as a result how the Good News of Jesus is moving rapidly into the hearts of many across the globe.’

Individual articles can be accessed from here, and the whole issue can be downloaded as a pdf here.

Friday 24 August 2018

Matthew Walker on Why We Sleep

I wrote the following mini review for July 2018’s edition of Highlights, produced by the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity.

Matthew Walker, Why We Sleep: The New Science of Sleep and Dreams (London: Penguin Books, 2017).

It’s easy to see why this book has enjoyed consistently high sales since it was first published: it’s a fascinating foray into the universal phenomenon of sleep – why we need it, the benefits it brings, and the damage its lack causes. Michael Walker, Professor of Neuroscience and Psychology at Berkeley, explores the needs of the brain for sleep, the impacts of sleep deprivation, how and why we dream, sleep disorders, and dealing with sleep disturbances – all the while reminding us how our sleep patterns are under assault on multiple fronts. It makes sense: for Christians, the rhythm of day and night is part of God’s good design for human beings, involving an expression of our dependence on him. Since God really is concerned with the whole of our lives, that includes the third of our lives we spend – or should spend – sleeping.

Monday 20 August 2018

Perichoresis 16, 3 (July 2018) on Teaching Leaders, Leading Teachers

Perichoresis is the ‘Theological Journal of Emanuel University’, an open access journal published twice a year.

The latest issue is devoted to the theme of ‘Teaching Leaders, Leading Teachers: Biblical and Historical Perspectives on Education and Leadership’, with the below essays available in pdf format from here.

Jonathan D. Stuckert
Forgive our Presumption: A Difficult Reading of Matthew 23:1-3
In Matthew 23:1-3, Jesus commands His disciples and the crowd to listen to the scribes and Pharisees even while not imitating their actions. Many modern interpreters have lessened the force of Matthew 23:1-3 by an assumption of irony on the part of Jesus. We presume that God could never ordain this for His people. However, this easier reading may not be the best reading. A more straightforward interpretation, but one that is difficult to hear, suggests that at times we may need to sit under bad leadership as means of receiving God’s Word. Pre-critical and modern interpreters provide an understanding of the words of Jesus that is consistent with a theology of God’s providence in times of transition and bad leadership. In addition, there are instances of His direction in both the Old and New Testaments that reinforce this challenging path. It is through this more faithful stance that we grow and flourish in difficult times.

Amy L. Crider
Leaders on ladders: The Power of Story in John’s Gospel
In his Gospel, John reveals this key leadership principle: effective leaders harness the power of narrative to illuminate the metanarrative and connect people to it. John uses narrative techniques to make invisible spiritual realities visible and thus succeeds in connecting people to the metanarrative. John forges a link between people and the metanarrative by showing individuals how their own stories fit into the biblical metanarrative, fulfilling his purpose: ‘These are written that you may believe…’ (20:31). The church is transmitted through the ages by leaders who write. Because the metanarrative is a story and story is accessible to all audiences, the biblical metanarrative is not dependent on culture, time, or context; it transcends the ages, enabling John to lead and write from the present as well as for the future. Thus, John illuminates the metanarrative not only for the infant church but for all Christians to come. Christian leaders today also need to communicate so their people can see their place in the metanarrative of Scripture.

Jeffrey M. Horner
Leading Like a Fool: An Evaluation of Paul’s Foolishness in 2 Corinthians 11:16-12:13
The apostle Paul employed many techniques that demonstrated his leadership. One of the most understated instances of that is in his ‘Fool’s Speech’ in 2 Corinthians 11:16- 12:13. Paul flaunted his rhetorical skills in calling attention to his own shortcomings, in lampooning his opponents, and in revealing the source of his assurance for foolishness. This article evaluates Paul’s rhetorical masterpiece calling the Corinthians to humble submission to his apostleship by synthesizing the work of both Jennifer Glancy and Lawrence Welborn with Don Howell.

Justin L. Glenn
The Intellectual-Theological Leadership of John Amos Comenius
John Amos Comenius was a revolutionary leader in both the church and the academy in 17th century Europe. Born and raised in Moravia and firmly grounded in the doctrine of the United Church of the Brethren, Comenius rose from obscurity in what is now the Czech Republic to become recognized around Europe and beyond as an innovative and transformational leader. He contributed to efforts such as advocating for universal education, authoring classroom textbooks (most notably in Latin education), shepherding local churches and his entire denomination, and working for unity and peace among Christians across Europe. Though for many decades after his death he seemed to be lost to time, there has been a resurgence of scholarly interest in the ideas and methods of Comenius. His life and work can serve as a source of encouragement and inspiration to church and educational leaders today.

Timothy Paul Jones
Prophets, Priests, and Kings Today? Theological and Practical Problems with the Use of the Munus Triplex as a Leadership Typology
It has become widespread, not only among pastors and conference speakers but also among scholars such as Vern Poythress and John Frame, to utilize the threefold offices of Christ as a typology for church leadership. According to this application of the threefold office, different church leaders possess prophetic, priestly, and kingly capacities in differing degrees, and the most appropriate role for each leader depends on which of these capacities happens to be strongest. According to some proponents, the offices of prophet, priest, and king function as leadership personality types, with prophets identified as those leaders who are gifted as teachers, priests as those who care for people’s needs, and kings as planners and organizers. This article undertakes an exploration of these three leadership roles and contends that, though the munus triplex itself is a venerable and biblical structure, the appropriation of prophet, priest, and king as typological categories for church leadership is not. Through examination both of relevant Old Testament texts and of New Testament appropriations of these offices of leadership, it is demonstrated that the typological categorization of leaders as prophets, priests, or kings falls far short when it comes to biblical support. Particularly absent in Scripture is any clear identification of these offices with specific traits that different church leaders possess in differing degrees. Kingship and priesthood in particular are not individualized traits but a communal identity, shared by the whole people of God and grounded in union with Christ.

Nathan H. Gunter
The Shepherd-Leader Motif as a Pastoral Model for a Globalizing Church
The simultaneous globalization and demographic shift of the Church to the Global South has produced an unprecedented climate for theological work. Pastors and theologians are confronted with the task of developing theological systems that are faithful to the authoritative standard of Scripture, tailored to the increasingly complex needs of their local contexts, and sensitive to the ongoing dialogue of other leaders around the globe. In light of the increasing cross-cultural dialogue among scholars and pastors within a globalized church and a corresponding desire to encourage greater ‘diasporadic consciousness’ therein, this article presents the biblical-theological shepherd-leader motif as a primary metaphor for understanding the distinct nature and role of pastoral leadership. This article presents shepherd leadership as a robust metaphor of pastoral leadership by reviewing Scripture’s use of the metaphor and recent significant works on the subject. In the second section of the article, I propose a model profile of the biblical shepherd-leader based upon the insights of the biblical-theological review.

Matt Thomas
The Indispensable Mark of Christian Leadership: Implications from Christ’s Methods of Leadership Development in Mark’s Gospel
What is successful Christian leadership? How should leadership be developed within a Christian context? This article encourages Christian leaders to seek to identify with Jesus’ mission and paradigm in developing leaders by examining the Scriptural passage in Mark 3:13-19. Jesus’ example in leadership development was based on succession of leadership primarily accomplished through personally shaping his disciples in close, mentoring relationships. This article, in particularly examines Jesus’ practice of having his disciples near him in order that they might best accomplish the task he had purposed for them. Currently, this pattern of leadership development has been given diverse definitions from servant-based leadership to transformational leadership, but to Jesus, developing leaders was best accomplished through simple mentoring. Jesus’ desired goals for his disciples were realized through an intentional nearness to the lives of the twelve. For Christian leadership to be healthy, its success depends on close relationships being developed between the mentor and the mentee. The indispensable mark of Christian leadership is the combined effort of action and agenda while purposing to influence others.

Friday 17 August 2018

Dayton Hartman on Lies Pastors Believe

Dayton Hartman, Lies Pastors Believe: 7 Ways to Elevate Yourself, Subvert the Gospel, and Undermine the Church (Belingham: Lexham Press, 2017).

I found this a tad ‘preachy’ in places, but enjoyed it overall. It’s helpful and challenging, with some practical tips throughout. The subtitles of the chapters give the gist of the ‘lies’:

1. The Visionary – ‘Jesus has called me to lead a movement’

2. The Iron Chef – ‘No one has ever fed them like me’

3. The Achiever – ‘Jesus loves me, this I earn’

4. The Called – ‘I am called to be a pastor’

5. The Holy Man – ‘My perceived holiness is more important than my pursuit of holiness’

6. The Anti-Family Man – ‘I must sacrifice my home life for my ministry life’

7. The Castaway – ‘I’m the only one on this island’

An article by the author was recently posted on the 9Marks website, which captures the burden of chapter 4 – ‘The Church Needs Fewer Men Who Feel “Called” to Ministry’ – in which he says:

‘In his first letter to the young pastor Timothy, the apostle Paul explains how a church ought to identify future elders and pastors: “If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task” (1 Tim 3:1). Paul doesn’t say “if someone is called”; he says if they “aspire.” I fear we have taken Old Testament language about the calling of prophets and superimposed it on the office of elder. Instead, we must reclaim the biblical language of “aspiring.”’

C.H. Spurgeon on 2 Timothy 4:13

In a circular email received today, a friend – and fellow book-lover – quoted these lines from a sermon by C.H. Spurgeon on 2 Timothy 4:13 (‘When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, also the books...’):

‘He was inspired, and yet he wants books!
He had been preaching for thirty years, and yet he wants books!
He had seen the Lord, and yet he wants books!
He had a wider experience than most men do, and yet he wants books!
He had been caught up into the third heaven, and had heard things that it was not lawful for a man to utter, and yet he wants books!
He had written a major part of the New Testament, and yet he wants books!’

Wednesday 15 August 2018

Theos Report on Religion and Violence

The latest report from Theos has recently been published:

Here are some paragraphs from the Theos website:

‘Religion and violence seem inextricably linked in the public’s mind. But what does linked actually mean?

‘The public certainly isn’t clear. While 61% of people think that the teachings of religions are essentially peaceful, 70% think that most of the wars in world history have been caused by religions. Only 8% think religions are inherently violent, but 47% think that the world would be a more peaceful place if no one was religious.

‘If there is confusion, it’s probably because the relationship between religion and violence is confusing. In this essay, ethicist Robin Gill brings some balance to a debate that, particularly of late, has been marked more by caricature than clarity.

‘Recognising that there is a problem to be addressed (if not necessarily the pathological one alleged by New Atheists) Gill goes to the heart of the issue – the specific religious texts that are hijacked to legitimise violence – and argues that read rightly they can be “defused”.

‘Killing in the Name of God will not only deepen our understanding of religion and violence but, in doing so, will enable a richer and more measured debate about these major issues of our time.’

A pdf of the full report is available here.

Monday 13 August 2018

Gary S. Shogren on Romans

Gary Shogren, New Testament scholar, who blogs at ‘Open Our Eyes, Lord!’, has kindly made available a pdf (here) of his commentary on Romans, originally written for the Comentario Bíblico Contemporáneo, published by Editorial Kairós.

John G. Stackhouse Jr. on Why You’re Here

I wrote the following mini review for July 2018’s edition of Highlights, produced by the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity.

John G. Stackhouse Jr., Why You’re Here: Ethics for the Real World (Oxford: OUP, 2018).

In short, ‘why you’re here’ is about vocation, understood as applicable to ‘everyone, everything, everywhere, in every moment’. There is the call of God on every human being, what we were made for. And there is the distinctive call God gives to Christians. Our human calling is to make shalom, our Christian calling is to make disciples. And the sphere in which we work out those callings is, as Stackhouse so helpfully reminds us, the ‘real world’. Living in a time where wheat and weeds grow together until the final harvest, a ‘Christian realism’ trusts God that will work through the various means he has given us, bringing as much shalom as possible but without thinking it’s down to us to build the New Jerusalem. Compelling and accessible, this is essential reading for all those who want to respond in hopeful faithfulness to the call of God on their lives.

Friday 10 August 2018

Tom Simpson on Academic Freedom

The latest Cambridge Paper from the Jubilee Centre is available online (here, from where a pdf can be downloaded), this one by Tom Simpson:

Tom Simpson, ‘Academic Freedom’, Cambridge Papers 27, 2 (June 2018).

Here is the summary:

‘There is a widespread perception that academic freedom is under threat, including in the UK. Is this true, and if so, does it matter? This paper suggests some Christian principles for valuing academic freedom, before considering the evidence for whether it is under threat and what may be done about this. It argues that although academic freedom exists in name, it is being eroded in practice. While academic freedom is a relatively recent doctrine, it is of great value, and its loss matters for the public good. The paper concludes with some proposals.’

Tuesday 7 August 2018

Themelios 43, 2 (August 2018)

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

D.A. Carson
When Revival Comes

Strange Times
Daniel Strange
The Rolling Stones Will Stop

Thomas R. Schreiner
Paul and Gender: A Review Article
Cynthia Westfall has written a wide-ranging book on Paul and gender, examining key texts in their literary, cultural, and theological context. Her discussion is fresh and stimulating, and many of her insights are to be warmly welcomed. She recognizes that Paul’s view of gender must be distinguished from common conceptions in the Greco-Roman world. Nevertheless, the perspective advocated as a whole fails to convince, especially in the exegesis of key texts like 1 Corinthians 11:2–16 and 1 Timothy 2:8–15.

Robert S. Smith
Songs of the Seer: The Purpose of Revelation’s Hymns
What are the purposes of the songs of the Apocalypse? What effect are they intended to produce? After a brief discussion of the question of sources, the function played by Revelation’s hymns is explored with particular attention being paid to their connection to the cosmic conflict theme, the way they model celebration in the face of tribulation, the comfort they offer believers and the warning they present to unbelievers. The article then turns to some of the key theological emphases the songs – in particular Christological and salvific themes. While Revelation’s hymns are transparently doxological, they are also richly pedagogical and pointedly pastoral. For this reason, they pose a much-needed challenge to many contemporary praise practices.

Jackson Wu
Have Theologians No Sense of Shame? How the Bible Reconciles Objective and Subjective Shame
Everyone agrees shame is a pervasive problem; yet, in book and articles, we find writers often talk past one another. Missionaries and anthropologists speak of “honor-shame” cultures. Psychologists describe shame as an individual, emotional experience. Strangely, theologians typically say little about the topic. Christian scholars tend to treat guilt as “objective” and shame merely a “subjective.” This misunderstanding undermines our ability to develop a practical theology of honor and shame. Therefore, this article demonstrates how the Bible helps us have an integrated understanding of shame in its theological, psychological, and social dimensions.

Michael McClymond
Apocalypse Now: The Neo-Bultmannian Universalism of David Congdon’s The God Who Saves
In The God Who Saves (2016), David Congdon seeks an elusive synthesis of Karl Barth’s dogmatics and Rudolf Bultmann’s hermeneutics: he integrates Bultmann’s insistence on the concrete historicity of individual human experience with Barth’s stress on the universal salvific significance of Christ. Despite his “demetaphysicizing” rejection of a substantive God and a Chalcedonian Christ, Congdon propounds universal salvation based on a universal “cocrucifixion” with Christ that may occur in nonreligious experience (e.g., in viewing artwork, watching a baby’s birth, etc.). His intricate argument shows little theological coherence and a lack of grounding in scriptural exegesis or empirical observation.

James D. Clark
The Kuyperian Impulse of the Benedict Option
Evangelicals have criticized Rod Dreher’s Benedict Option and the idea of strategic withdrawal, with some citing Abraham Kuyper as a model of how Christians should engage the world today. This article argues that the Benedict Option and the Kuyperian tradition harmonize with (rather than contradict) each other in significant ways, including their promotion of cultural engagement in general, their recognition of the need to withdraw from the world in some sense in order to enable the Christian formation that makes robust engagement with the world possible, and their openness to a cultural transformation that is distantly future rather than imminent.

Adriani Milli Rodrigues
The Rule of Faith and Biblical Interpretation in Evangelical Theological Interpretation of Scripture
One of the features of the Theological Interpretation of Scripture movement is the use of the rule of faith in biblical interpretation. However, a comparison of evangelical scholars in this movement shows that there are significant disagreements on the concept of the rule and its hermeneutical role. The present study attempts to clarify these disagreements and briefly analyze them. This article suggests that an engagement with Cullman’s notion of apostolic and post-apostolic traditions and with aspects of Irenaeus’s concept of rule of faith might be helpful for the understanding of the concept and role of the rule of faith.

Book Reviews

Friday 3 August 2018

Lausanne Global Analysis 7, 4 (July 2018)

The latest issue of Lausanne Global Analysis, from The Lausanne Movement, is available online from here, including pdf downloads.

In the issue overview, editor David Taylor writes:

‘In this issue we examine how faulty foundations bring nations to their knees, drawing on the Sierra Leone experience; we address the global abuse of women and how women flourishing in church reflects the Imago Dei and is a witness to unbelievers; we ask how and why Christians should be involved in providing quality aftercare for survivors of trafficking and trauma; and we revisit the issue of balancing grace and truth in our approach to Muslims and Islam.’