Friday 7 December 2018

Crucible 9, 1 (November 2018)

The latest issue of Crucible, published by the Australian Evangelical Alliance, is now available online here, with the below articles (abstracts included, where available).

According to the editorial, the Cauldron section of this issue ‘contains a number of articles emerging from the “Ancient Wisdom Modern World” conference held at Vose Seminary, Perth, on 28-29 August 2018’.

The Cauldron: peer reviewed articles

James Cregan
Eden and Jesus as the Wisdom of God in the Gospel of John
The theology of Jesus as the Wisdom of God – God’s “extension of self” to human beings – which draws heavily on the imagery of the Garden of Eden, was clearly present in the early Christian Church. Indeed, it is argued that the recognition of Jesus as Wisdom, and hence the unsurpassed manifestation of Edenic blessing, provided the theological bridge between the Old and New Testaments. This association can be found in the synoptic gospels where, for example, Jesus, through Matthew, declares that “...wisdom is vindicated by her deeds” (Mt 11:19). Luke, significantly, changes the word “deeds” to “children” (Lk 7:35) so that Jesus becomes identified with Wisdom not just through his words and actions, but also through the presence of those whose transformed hearts bear witness to Christ. Such imagery, then, informs not only a nascent theology of the Incarnation, but understandings of the kingdom of God as well. Nevertheless, the identification of Jesus as Wisdom is only of partial concern in these texts – it is in John’s gospel where the perfect identification of Jesus with Wisdom is most fully developed. In particular, John’s story of Jesus’ encounter with the Samaritan woman at the well of Jacob (Jn 4:4-42) effectively demonstrates how images of Eden in Old Testament representations of Wisdom – used to analogise God’s loving predisposition towards the world, and the blessings of that bounteous love – were appropriated by New Testament authors to reveal Jesus as the source and perfect sign of the new Creation.

David Kummerow
Preaching Christ from the Prologue of Job
Even though the redemptive-historical method of Biblical Theology and Christ-centred preaching has become more common in recent years, the Wisdom Literature of the Old Testament is still difficult to preach. With this in mind, this paper takes a narrow focus to address the question of how we may appropriately preach Christ from the prologue of the Book of Job (1:1-2:10). First, the Big Idea (à la Haddon Robinson) of Job will be presented, and the contribution of the prologue towards this; second, two past examples of preaching Christ from the prologue of Job will be raised, which highlight the difficulty of preaching Christ from this text; and third, this is built upon as two further sermons are discussed, which are put forward as to what is needed to preach Christ from the prologue of Job.

David G. Lowe
‘Hardness of Heart’ and Divorce: A Warning from the Wilderness
When Pharisees test Jesus on divorce, he finally charges them with “hardness of heart” (Matt. 19:3-8). In Scripture, this rare characterisation describes something more than a general stubbornness; it is a terminal verdict that attracts certain – deadly – judgement. Jesus then specifies “sexual immorality” as grounds for divorce (Matt. 19:9), but this does not compromise his absolute teaching (Mark 10:11-12; Luke 16:18), for the gravity of this offence aligns with the “hardness of heart” just mentioned. Applying Deuteronomy 22:22 to Matthew 19:9 leads to a wholly lawful and awful conclusion. This best accounts for the disciples’ response (Matt. 19:10) and the early church’s strict opposition to divorce. It also challenges a common equation of “sexual immorality” with “a matter of indecency” in Deuteronomy 24:1, a view that confuses the Law’s capital and non-capital offences. This is not to champion capital punishment, but to argue that Jesus truly did not relax the Law (Matt. 5:17-19). Psalm 95 and Hebrews 3-4 similarly warn against hard-heartedness, referencing the same wilderness occasion, with the same deadly judgement. Yet Jesus teaches a better way: God desires mercy. Reading Matthew 19:1-12 in the light of Matthew 18:21-35 reveals that an unpayable debt to God, as accrued by committing adultery, can be forgiven. So any debt to a spouse, any “matter of indecency,” should also be forgiven. Soft-hearted people forgive from the heart; in simple obedience they do not separate what God has joined.

John Olley
Wise Worship and Obedient Wisdom: Chronicles and an Integrated Life
“The fear of Yahweh is the beginning of wisdom” rings out in the wisdom books. The book of Psalms in its structure and content exemplifies the intertwining of wisdom and worship. Yet it is stories that are powerful in changing lives, so alongside Proverbs and Psalms belongs Chronicles. For a community that was probably somewhat dispirited, struggling to carry on “life as usual” in a small province within the all-pervasive Persian empire, Chronicles tells of ways to “prosper, succeed” (the verb so translated occurs 13 times in Chronicles, only 2 in Kings). Temple worship is central and closely associated are arrangements for teaching throughout the land. Wisdom is required in the exercise of worship and worship is central to a life lived with wisdom. Wisdom (seen in practical understanding, discernment and ability) is exercised by many people in diverse contexts (building with its varied crafts, music and singing, administering a nation, defence, and common life). The story can encourage a community, helping to sustain integrated living that brings success.

Erin Martine Sessions
“Do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires”: How Does the Song of Songs Speak to Australia’s Problem with Intimate Partner Violence?
The Song of Songs is ripe with fruitful metaphors and lush imagery. It is both an exploration of love and of the bodies making it. The Song is sublimely romantic and suggestively erotic poetry of the highest order. And it is difficult. There is the enigma of meaning: the density of poetic devices, ever so deftly deployed, requires careful consideration. And then there is the complexity of how it makes us, particularly Australians, feel: the Song is not a Christian Kama Sutra and yet it simultaneously elicits avoidance and awkwardness and arouses our interest. The Song of Songs is a sensuous celebration of intoxicating love, and there is much that Australians can learn from this rhapsody. Australia has a problem with love and with sex. Or, more accurately, we have a problem with intimate partner violence (IPV). One in six Australian women has experienced physical or sexual violence by an intimate partner and, on average, one woman a week is murdered by her current or former partner. This is not sex as it was intended. This is not love as it was intended. The Song of Songs – the God-given example of good love, sex, and relationship – demonstrates how love can and should be. This paper explores how the lover and the beloved model equality, consent, initiating and pursuing a respectful relationship, mutual desire, and love-in-community for all of us, especially Australians, to emulate.

Bruce G Allder
The Telos of Preaching
Dissatisfaction is expressed by some within the church through a growing restlessness for more meaningful engagement on the journey of faith. This article suggests that preaching can assist in addressing this need. Anecdotally the purpose or telos of preaching has been narrowed by a focus on the immediate. However, this smaller vision is insufficient to scratch where people are truly itching. When preaching taps into the telos of humankind and the ultimate purposes of God, there is an expansive vision expressed for preaching. The language of invitation to participate as image bearers of our Creator in his creation, and to speak of the heart affections of the listener, gives the sermon relevance in addressing, shaping and nurturing the hungering and thirsting of the dissatisfied. An appeal is made to resist the drift into lesser purposes for preaching to encourage our people on journey of faith that can be both restless and satisfying.

The Test-tube: ministry resources

Allan Varghese
Lamentations – A Language to Present Our Speechless Suffering

Mark Chapman
A Model to Guide the Process of Selecting Cross-Cultural leaders
Leading across cultures in the current mission environment is complex and challenging for those called to such a task. In today’s multi-cultural scene of mission being from anywhere to everywhere, mission organisations face the continual challenge of placing the right leaders in the right place and the right time. For OMF International, whose primary focus is East Asia, the appointing of effective international directors to lead across multiple cultures is not an easy terrain to navigate. This paper considers the pertinent cultural implications and biblical principles, while drawing from the wisdom of current international directors to help construct a robust model to guide the process of selecting leaders for these roles. The model seeks to be a holistic approach to leadership that aims to highlight the essential character, knowledge and skills needed for the role of an international director serving in the OMF context.

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