Saturday 29 December 2018

Foundations 75 (Autumn 2018)

Issue 75 of Foundations: An International Journal of Evangelical Theology, published by Affinity, is now available (here in its entirety as a pdf), with the following contributions:

Martin Salter

Jim Murkett
The Ecclesiological Implications of the Perspicuity of Scripture
It is important for us to consider the interconnections between our doctrine of Scripture and our ecclesiology because the ontology of Scripture is always to be related to Scripture’s teleology. Recognising this allows us to rightly locate our doctrine of Scripture dogmatically within the economy of God’s activity rather than inadvertently reducing Scripture to being solely a matter of theological prolegomena. This paper will attempt to examine the ecclesiological implications of the perspicuity of Scripture. To achieve this, the statement concerning the clarity of Scripture in the Westminster Confession of Faith is, firstly, examined in some detail from three complementary angles – that of the content of Scripture (recognising that not all things in Scripture are equally clear), the readers of Scripture (recognising that there are things inherent within the reader of Scripture that will advance or hinder its inherent clarity) and the reading of Scripture (recognising that the approach to reading and the context in which that reading occurs are crucial factors that impact its clarity). These complementary perspectives usefully illuminate the teaching of the Confession on the clarity of Scripture and provide the basis for an exploration of their implications on ecclesiology. These implications are, secondly, set out through adopting the classical four-fold attributes of the church as one, holy, catholic and apostolic. A clear Scripture leads us to expect a certain kind of one-ness in the church, sheds significant light on the nature and the progressive sanctification of the church, helps us think rightly about our catholicity in the church, and is foundational in enabling the church to be apostolic throughout her history. Seeing these implications ensures we think rightly about Scripture and the church and the organic and inseparable connection between them.

James Midwinter
Who Led the Israelites Out of Egypt? An Examination of Jude 5
Prior to the publication of the English Standard Version, the majority of English Bibles translated Jude 5 in a manner similar to the New American Standard Bible: “Now I desire to remind you, though you know all things once for all, that the Lord, after saving a people out of the land of Egypt, subsequently destroyed those who did not believe.” The ESV has translated Jude 5 to specify that Jesus himself led the people out of Egypt. This paper will work through the context of Jude and examine some of the manuscript evidence and ancient writings that will help us understand the issues involved with this textual variant. We will seek to explain how the variant between the manuscripts can best be explained, and that there are reasonable grounds for accepting the ESV’s translation that ascribes the Old Testament Exodus to Jesus Himself. Not only does this remind us that the early church viewed Jesus as the divine Second Person of the Trinity; it is also hugely encouraging to us personally. If our reading of Jude 5 is correct, the Exodus was not merely a typological foreshadowing of Christ’s future redemption. In addition to that, it was a physical deliverance personally accomplished by the pre-incarnate Christ, whose ministry in pioneering redemption and rescuing sinners from their bondage spans human history.

David R. Kirk
World Without End: Covenant and Creation in the Book of Consolation and the New Testament
This article presents a limited exercise in biblical theology, examining the question of the place of the created world in the eschatological purposes of God. The text in initial focus is the Book of Consolation in Jeremiah. Its covenantal contours are briefly examined: Abrahamic, David, Mosaic, and most importantly Noahic. A consideration of the Noahic tradition is then part of an exploration of the content of the well-known “new covenant” passage in Jeremiah 31. The hymn found here, and its associated oath, express Yahweh’s dual commitments to creation and to humanity, commitments that are theologically rooted in the covenant with Noah and every living creature. Echoes of this covenant tradition are traced in other Old Testament texts expressing Yahweh’s perpetual commitment to the world (Pss 93, 96). Seeming “counter- testimony” – which appears to express a transient or annihilated world – is also considered (Ps 102). The intertwined commitments of Yahweh to the world and to humanity are traced to their root in Genesis 1 and 2. This same intertwining of commitments is then explored in two well-known New Testament texts: John 3:16 and Romans 8:20-23. The eschatological perspective of a redeemed humanity as part of a redeemed cosmos is revealed in both of these texts, in continuity with the traditions explored in the Old Testament. The article concludes that these texts convey the idea of the perpetuity of creation. There are also concluding suggestions regarding two major implications of the doctrine of the perpetuity of the cosmos. First, implications for the doctrine of human resurrection; and, second, implications for the life of the church in discipleship and mission.

Heather J Major
Context is Key: A Conversation Between Biblical Studies, Practical Theology and Missiology
“Context” is one of the keys to understanding meaning in all aspects of life. As human beings we live in particular times and places, adapting to our situations and circumstances on a daily basis. Context is also important in understanding and communicating our faith as Christians. This article draws threads of conversation together from biblical studies, ethnography, practical theology and missiology to illustrate the importance of context in ministry and mission. It is shaped by my personal journey as a theologian, academic and Christian, incorporating personal reflections with summaries of significant developments in contextual theology. By sharing some of my story, highlighting the importance of context across theological disciplines and life experiences, I argue that it is important to be intentionally contextual in thinking about theology and engaging in ministry and mission. This includes reflecting on the ways we perceive and interpret experiences and biblical texts. However, it goes beyond reflection and into action, inviting participation from local people. This is particularly important in local church ministry and mission. The opportunities for contextual theology are as diverse and exciting as the situations and circumstances of human life. This is one of many conversations about the possibilities.

Stephen Kneale
Assumptions Without Reflection: Assessing Cultural Values in Light of Biblical Values
It is commonplace for majority culture values to pass into local church culture without much biblical or critical assessment. The equation of cultural values with biblical norms can have the knock-on effect of limiting minority culture representation, both at leadership level and within the church at large. With a particular focus on the question of class, this paper will explore some indicative examples, provide biblical analysis of these cultural value judgments and offer some suggestions as to how we might overcome our cultural biases to increase representation of minority cultures within the church. Basing the cultural values on a summary of Ruby Payne’s characteristics of generational poverty by Tim Chester, this paper will consider the issues of speech, time, dress and social interaction from working- and middle-class perspectives. It will consider how these things play out in the local church context and how they can affect the way in which the majority culture views minorities, particularly in respect to their suitability for leadership roles.

Ian F. Shaw
‘This Way of Living’: George Müller and the Ashley Down Orphanage
I seek to bring to light the inner workings and principles of George Müller’s provision of residential care for children in nineteenth century Bristol, and to make clear ways in which Müller’s life and work may prove relevant for twenty-first century Christians. Müller (1805- 1898) was born in what then was Prussia. After his conversion he moved to England and, following a period as a missionary and pastor, moved to Bristol and initiated with Henry Craik, first the Scriptural Knowledge Society and soon after what became his lifelong work among orphaned children. I make extensive use of archival records held by Müllers which have not been drawn on in any of the published accounts of his life. Influenced by the life of August Franke, Müller’s work was marked by his refusal to adopt the norms underlying financial arrangements in the mainstream welfare provision of his day. I describe the daily round of life in the orphan houses, including periods of spiritual blessing; the detailed registers of who was accepted into the homes and why; the information we gain regarding leaving the homes; how Müller recorded and regarded sickness and death on the homes; and the basis underlying how the homes dealt with issues of behaviour and discipline. I conclude by exploring how he understood living in faith and consider in what ways his life and work may be an exemplar for today.

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