Saturday 26 December 2020

9Marks Journal (December 2020) on Heaven

The latest issue of the 9Marks Journal, available from here in various formats, looks at ‘Heaven: Rejoicing in Future Glory’.

In the Editorial Note, Jonathan Leeman writes:

‘There’s been a lot of talk about politics and pandemics lately. These are important things to talk about. Disciples of Jesus should care about justice in this world and about physical well-being […]

‘Still, unless the saints continually focus the eyes of their hearts on the eternal, we will wrongly prioritize the temporal over the eternal, what we can see over what we cannot see – our present cities over the city whose architect and builder is God (Heb. 11:10).

‘Therefore, as we come to the close of 2020, with all its important talk about politics and pandemics, 9Marks wants to help all of us once again cast our eyes toward the eternal – toward heaven. After a tough year like this one, we need to recalibrate. We need reminding of what’s of first importance, lest we lose our way […]

‘The world yanks our eyes to focus only on right now. But we must always fight to look toward eternity. Only then will politics and pandemics, work and play, the world or life or death or the present or the future, assume their right places (see 1 Cor. 3:22).’

Friday 25 December 2020

Hark! The Herald Angels Sing

The carol we know and sing is based on an earlier version written by Charles Wesley (1707-88), with some adaptation by others along the way, including George Whitefield (1714-70). The version below has variations on fourth and fifth verses, now hardly ever sung, but which are theologically rich. This remains one of my favourite carols.

Hark! The herald angels sing,

‘Glory to the newborn King;

Peace on earth, and mercy mild,

God and sinners reconciled!’

Joyful, all ye nations rise,

Join the triumph of the skies;

With the angelic host proclaim,

‘Christ is born in Bethlehem!’

Hark! the herald angels sing,

‘Glory to the newborn King!’

Christ, by highest Heaven adored;

Christ the everlasting Lord;

Late in time, behold Him come,

Offspring of a virgin’s womb.

Veiled in flesh the Godhead see;

Hail the incarnate Deity,

Pleased with us in flesh to dwell,

Jesus our Emmanuel.

Hark! the herald angels sing,

‘Glory to the newborn King!’

Hail the heav’nly Prince of Peace!

Hail the Sun of Righteousness!

Light and life to all He brings,

Risen with healing in His wings.

Mild He lays His glory by,

Born that man no more may die.

Born to raise the sons of earth,

Born to give them second birth.

Hark! the herald angels sing,

’Glory to the newborn King!’

Come, Desire of nations, come,

Fix in us Thy humble home;

Rise, the woman’s conqu’ring Seed,

Bruise in us the serpent’s head.

Now display Thy saving power,

Ruined nature now restore;

Now in mystic union join

Thine to ours, and ours to Thine.

Hark! the herald angels sing,

‘Glory to the newborn King!’

Adam’s likeness, Lord, efface,

Stamp Thine image in its place:

Second Adam from above,

Reinstate us in Thy love.

Let us Thee, though lost, regain,

Thee, the Life, the inner man:

O, to all Thyself impart,

Formed in each believing heart.

Hark! the herald angels sing,

’Glory to the newborn King!’

Thursday 24 December 2020

Word & World 40, 4 (Fall 2020) on Holiness and Discipleship

The latest issue of Word & World, a quarterly journal of theology published by the faculty of Luther Seminary, contains a set of essays on ‘Holiness and Discipleship’.

The contents and downloadable articles are available here.

Wednesday 23 December 2020

The Master’s Seminary Journal 31, 2 (2020)

The latest Master’s Seminary Journal has been posted online, with some interesting-looking essays. Individual articles are available from here, from where a pdf of the issue can be downloaded.


Richard C. Barcellos

An Analysis of Geerhardus Vos’ Nature and Method of Biblical Theology

When Geerhardus Vos stood to give his inaugural address for the “new chair” of biblical theology at the College of New Jersey in 1894 (now Princeton University), the field of study had been dominated by “the liberal/critical biblical-theological enterprise” for over one-hundred years. He was a Reformed-orthodox theologian entering a field of “perverse influences.” This paper traces the thought of Vos historically, beginning with his inaugural address (1894) and concluding with his last published work (1948). The focus of this paper is the nature and method of biblical theology as presented by Vos. This historical study discovers a harmony of thought – a hermeneutic grounded not only in how Scripture is formed, but in what it says and how it says it. He views revelation as pre-redemptive, redemptive, historical, organic, progressive, Christocentric, epochal-covenantal, and multiform. Vos would one day be considered “an all-time master in the field of Biblical Theology.” Whether or not readers agree with his methodology and/or doctrinal formulations, his work merits our attention, respect, and appreciation.

Nathan LeMaster

A Methodology of Janus Parallelism

The Greek god of beginnings and endings had two faces, one looking to the future and the other to the past. This god was known by the name Janus. Thus, the masterful Hebrew literary device used to intentionally exploit a single word with two meanings– one meaning pointing to what has come before, and the other meaning to what has come after – was deemed Janus Parallelism. The conclusions one draws about Janus Parallelism impact a proper understanding of authorial intention and the semantic connections which existed in the mind of the Hebrew writer. The purpose of this article is to establish an initial methodology for identifying Janus Parallelism, as well as to expound the implications of Janus Parallelism for biblical studies. The pertinent question for this study is, how can one affirm that the biblical author purposefully exploited both meanings? While recent scholarship has been insightful on this issue, the danger of presuming upon the intention of the biblical author remains. This article argues that the first step in identifying Janus Parallelism is to prove a case of polysemy or homonymy (not ambiguity) within the Janus word. The second step is to demonstrate previously established semantic connections between both meanings of the Janus word and the immediate context. This initial methodology for determining Janus Parallelism will help to prove the intention of the biblical author, rather than allowing imagination of possible meanings to overshadow sound exegesis.

Peter Sammons

The Eternal God of a Vanishing Creation: Recovering the Doctrine of Divine Timelessness

The doctrine of the timelessness of God has long baffled laymen and theologians alike. This article will address the current debate over the timelessness of God, providing a definition of time and uncovering the Scriptural foundations for this doctrine in the process. This article will also trace the development of this critical doctrine throughout church history. God’s timelessness is of no small consequence, because to tamper with this single doctrine is to send an eroding ripple effect through all the other attributes of God. The church must remember, regain, and rejoice over this forgotten doctrine in order to preserve the integrity of Christian theology.

Alan Quiñones

Toward the Worship of God as Actus Purus

God is Actus Purus, which is to say that He is eternally all that He can be. Potentiality is a trait of creatures, not God. The concept of Actus Purus was first articulated by Aristotle in his argument for the unmoved mover, and through its history, the church has considered this notion a valid articulation of the absolute perfection and preeminence of God over all things. This paper, then, explores the exegetical footing of Actus Purus. It also will seek to understand its implications for systematic theology. Careful exegesis will demonstrate that the doctrine of pure actuality is deducible from Scripture by good and necessary consequence. It is an instrument that helps to sound the unbounded perfection of God and arrive at a more settled understanding of His meticulous sovereignty. In short, pure actuality conveys that life cannot but belong to God, because He decrees, wills, knows, and does everything entirely from Himself.

Kevin D. Zuber

Martin Lloyd-Jones on “Unity”

This article is the second in a two-part series that surveys several messages from Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones in an attempt to better understand his perspective on “unity.” In this second article, particular attention is paid to the message delivered at the meeting of the National Assembly of Evangelicals in October 1966 – a message that marked a turning point in twentieth-century British evangelicalism. Two other messages on unity after 1966 are also examined. This examination will demonstrate that Lloyd-Jones’ message on unity in 1966 was consistent with his stance on unity before and after 1966. The article concludes with suggestions as to how Lloyd-Jones’ teaching on unity has application for twenty-first century evangelicalism.

Peter J. Goeman

Recent Scholarship and the Quest to Understand Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13

This article analyzes Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13. One of the most debated parts of these prohibitions is the phrase “as one lies with a female”… Although many modern scholars have attempted to explain this phrase as a technical phrase referring to incest or specific homosexual behavior, this phrase should be understood as a general reference to sexual activity. Thus, Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13 should be read as general prohibitions against sex between homosexual partners.

Gregg L. Frazer

The Hermeneutics of the American Revolution

The American Revolution was a time not just of conflict between nations, but also between preachers. The differences of opinion between the Loyalists and the Patriots concerning rebellion resulted in differences in their interpretations of Scripture. This article compares two sermons – one by a Patriot, and one by a Loyalist. Patriot preachers largely began with a natural understanding of the biblical text, but then filtered that meaning through the lens of rebellion. The result was a creative, emotion-filled interpretation intended to bolster the cause of revolution. The Loyalists, on the other hand, interpreted and applied Scripture with a strict grammatical-historical hermeneutic. Through a comparative analysis of these two early-American sermons, modern readers have an opportunity to understand the importance of hermeneutics to practical living.

F. David Farnell

Postmodernism and the Gospels: Dancing on the Edge of Disaster

A saying that is so true for today’s liberal and evangelical critical scholars’ investigation in Gospel studies is found in the words of a nineteenth-century German philosopher, “Against that positivism which stops before phenomena, saying ‘there are only facts,’ I should say: no, it is precisely facts that do not exist, only interpretations.” The state of Gospel studies among liberals is always expected to be pathetically conflicting and arbitrary. Unfortunately, now evangelical-critical scholars evidence no substantive qualitative difference in Gospel studies from their more liberal counterparts. Increasingly as the twenty-first century develops, such distinctions between these two groups blur at an alarming rate, making both groups increasingly unified in presuppositions as well as conclusions in Gospel studies. This article will consider recent developments in the field of Gospel studies with the goal of illuminating shortfalls and providing productive alternatives in scholarly methods.


Saturday 19 December 2020

Midwestern Journal of Theology 19, 2 (2020)

The latest issue of the Midwestern Journal of Theology is available online (pdf here). Here is the blurb:

‘The fall edition addresses theological topics ranging from the use of the Psalms in devotional practice, the Bible’s description of ethnic harmony, Charles Spurgeon’s view of the role of the church in the stand for orthodoxy, and the significance of authorial answers for the interpretation and meaning of Deuteronomy.’

Wednesday 16 December 2020

Theos Report on Growing Good

A new report from Theos has recently been published:

Hannah Rich, Growing Good: Growth, Social Action and Discipleship in the Church of England (London: Theos, 2020).

Here are some paragraphs from the Theos website:

‘Over the past decade, the contribution that the Church of England makes to society through its social action has increased, reflecting an increase in the demand and expectation for it. At the same time, church attendance in the country has continued to decline; by most key metrics, attendance at Church of England services fell by between 15% and 20% from 2009–2019. This is the paradox facing the Church of England in 2020: the national church of a nation that is increasingly reliant on its social action and yet less and less spiritually connected to it.

‘This research, done in partnership with the Church Urban Fund… explores the relationship between social action, church growth and discipleship in the Church of England. It finds that social action can be a route to church growth in both numerical and spiritual terms. Further, social action is one of the key ways in which congregations can build wider networks of relationships resulting in people initiating a faith journey and joining the church.

‘Crucially, social action leads to church growth when it enables congregations to develop meaningful relationships with those they would not otherwise have done, or who might not otherwise have come into sustained contact with the church.

‘The report identifies key characteristics of churches that are growing in number and discipleship through their engagement with social action…’

A pdf of the full report is available here.

Monday 14 December 2020

Themelios 45, 3 (December 2020)

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


D.A. Carson

I’m so Grateful That I’m among the Elect

Strange Times

Daniel Strange

J. I. Packer – Fingerprints, Footprints and Reprints

Eric Ortlund

The Wisdom of the Song of Songs: A Pastoral Guide for Preaching and Teaching

This article explores the way in which the Song of Songs instructs its readers in wisdom with regard to romance and marriage. Although neither a straightforward narrative or a simple set of instructions, the poetry of the Song does portray God’s ideal for human love. Special attention is given to the importance of waiting (2:7, 3:5, 8:4), the climactic place of marriage and the subordinate (though still good) role of physical sexuality, the role of the woman, and the non-ultimacy of marriage. The spiritual significance of human romance as a “flame of the Lord” (8:6) is finally discussed with special reference to the sweeping changes in Western sexuality morality in recent decades, and the way in which the Bible’s narrative about love and sexuality is simultaneously more realistic and more beautiful than recent humanly-constructed alternatives. Attention is given throughout to the particular way in which the Song communicates, by adorning and beautifying its subject through poetry, rather than through direct commands.

David M. Cook

The King’s Fear of the Lord as a Theme in the Books of Samuel

Evangelicals have long sought to understand the core difference between David and Saul. The answer exposes a theme touched on elsewhere in the Bible: the role of the fear of the Lord in leadership. As Samuel crowns Saul king, he points readers back to Deuteronomy 17:18–20. There readers will see the importance of a God-fearing king and find four qualities he will bear: obedience to the Lord, good treatment of others, a long rule, and a long dynasty. The writer of 1–2 Samuel then carefully documents Saul failing at all four and David fulfilling all four. Finally, David’s dying words reinforce the virtues of God-fearing leadership, leaving leaders with a profound appeal to learn the fear of the Lord.

Andreas J. Köstenberger

Reconceiving a Biblical Theology of Mission: Salvation to the Ends of the Earth Revisited

Scholarship on the biblical theme of mission has made significant strides in the couple decades since the original publication of my work Salvation to the Ends of the Earth: A Biblical Theology of Mission (co-authored with Peter T. O’Brien) in 2001. The present essay discusses changes made to Salvation to the Ends of the Earth in the second edition (published in 2020) in which T. Desmond Alexander wrote the chapter on mission in the Old Testament. The adjusted flow tracks the development of mission within the framework of the story of Israel, Jesus, and the early Christians, enhancing both the historical and the narrative dimensions of mission. The presentation integrates the Gospels with related New Testament writers – in particular, embedding the Pauline mission within Luke–Acts – resulting in greater cohesiveness and appreciation for the organic interconnections among New Testament voices and leaders of the early Christian mission. It also discusses Paul’s letters in chronological order of writing and considers the contribution of all of his letters to a biblical theology of mission rather than focusing on Paul individually and selecting one book (such as Romans) as the primary focus. Finally, material on mission in the Second Temple period remains in the background (in an appendix) rather than interrupting the biblical-theological flow and canonical connection between the Testaments. In all these ways, readers can gain a sharper vision and more accurate picture of the biblical theology of mission.

Daryn Graham

The Earthquakes of the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Jesus Christ

This article analyses the effects of the earthquakes of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ, including possible damage done to the temple, the darkness that accompanied the crucifixion, the splitting of rocks, the opening of tombs and the resurrection of saints, and the responses by the centurion and his accompanying guards. By far the most prevalent method used throughout is that of sociohistorical analysis. In order to draw conclusions about the factual nature of the Gospel of Matthew, this article does not present a discussion of biblical usage of earthquakes generally, but rather tests Matthew’s precise evidence for these two particular seismic events against their contemporaneous geological, archaeological, and historical contexts in an historical manner. By contextualizing the Matthew passage within its wider cultural and historical world in this way, this article finds that this Gospel’s factual basis is strongly supported by extra-biblical data.

Daniel M. Gurtner

Hermeneutics and Historicity in the Matthean Crucifixion Narrative: A Response to Daryn Graham

This short piece takes up some challenges to Daryn Graham’s article, “The Earthquakes of the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Jesus Christ.” While the present author agrees with Graham on the historicity of the events in question (Matt 27:51– 54), the author exposes some hermeneutical challenges in Graham’s treatment of the material. In his attempt to answer the question, “What happened?,” Graham risks misunderstanding distinctive hermeneutical nuances pertinent to the answer the question, “What does it mean?”

Obbie Tyler Todd

American Prophets: Federalist Clergy’s Response to the Hamilton–Burr Duel of 1804

More than any event in early American history, the duel between Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr in 1804 revealed Federalist clergy to be the moral guardians of American society and exposed the moral fault lines within the Federalist party itself. In the aftermath of Hamilton’s scandalous death, godly Federalists spoke prophetically to the American people, to politicians, and even to their own party. While other Federalists chose to present Hamilton as something of a political martyr, Federalist clergy broke with the party line in order to issue a nationwide clarion call against the practice of dueling, a clear violation of the sixth commandment. Their prophetic voice helped to end the menace of dueling in America.

Jenny-Lyn de Klerk

“Love One Another When I Am Deceased”: John Bunyan on Christian Behavior in the Family and Society

In the last two decades, Bunyan studies has seen an increase in scholarship that examines his life and thought from various angles, such as the psychological experiences and socio-political convictions found in his allegorical and autobiographical works. This scholarship has greatly enriched our understanding of Bunyan as a whole person living in a particular historical context. However, it has also led to some unwarranted critiques of Bunyan for being tyrannical, cold, and sexually immoral, appealing to his clearer didactic works like Christian Behaviour for proof. One way to balance these extreme views is to examine the context and content of Bunyan’s Christian Behaviour, as well as relevant aspects of his life. In the end, this will show that Bunyan was giving instructions on what he considered to be a primary aspect of the Christian life, that these instructions called for a gentle, warm love both within and outside of the family, and that he sought to follow these instructions himself.

C. Ryan Fields

A Generous Reading of John Locke: Reevaluating His Philosophical Legacy in Light of His Christian Confession

Locke is often presented as an eminent forerunner to the Enlightenment, a philosopher who hastened Europe’s departure from Christian orthodoxy and “turned the tide” toward a modern, secularist orientation. Yet there are reasons to think that such an understanding of Locke has not sufficiently taken into account his Christian faith as it relates to his philosophical project. A more generous reading of Locke requires further grappling with the works which emerged during the final period of his life (1695–1704), works which demonstrate distinctly religious interests and provide greater clarity regarding his proper philosophical legacy. Locke’s views on human nature serve as a case study.

Michael Berhow

Did the New Atheists Rationally Lack Belief?

For those who enjoy debates, there has never been a debate more routinely rehashed than the debate over God’s existence. If you have followed the various iterations of this debate over the past two decades, you might have come across a somewhat influential argument that is definitional in nature – what I call the Definitional Argument For Atheism (DAFA). In short, this argument claims that atheism is not a positive belief system, and therefore requires no justification to be considered rational. Such a claim implies that theists bear the full burden of proof when arguing about God’s existence. In this article, I provide an epistemological and a metaphysical critique of DAFA, and then attempt to show why theism is more reasonable than atheism.

Jonathan D. Worthington

Deep Motivation in Theological Education

“How can I motivate my students more?” In theological education, as in all education, students will gain the most from our classes and programs if they are deeply motivated and therefore engaged. So, the question of motivation is not minor. But the quantitative aspect of the question above – motivate them more – is actually not quite right. Rather, “Are we helping our students be motivated in the best way?” This article explores the basic difference between “intrinsic motivation” and “extrinsic motivation.” Most scholars of education think intrinsic motivation is the most potent for deep learning. It is potent, and important for theological education. But there are actually four types of extrinsic motivation, the final of which is just as deep and potent and essential for transformative theological education as anything. This article lays a theoretical foundation and a few practical ideas toward subsequent crucial practical experiments and suggestions for transformative theological education.

Book Reviews

Friday 11 December 2020

Mission Catalyst 1 (2021) on Love and Singleness

The current issue of Mission Catalyst, published by BMS World Mission, is now available. This issue is devoted to ‘Love and Singleness’.

‘This issue tackles romantic partnerships in Christian culture: What single people in church really think, how demographics are affecting attitudes to love and marriage, and several perspectives on romantic love, divorce and friendship. There’s also an interview with John Mark Comer.’

Mission Catalyst is available as a free subscription, or can be downloaded as a pdf here.

Wednesday 9 December 2020

The Regent World 32, 2 (2020) on J.I. Packer

The latest issue of The Regent World, published Regent College, Vancouver, is devoted to ‘Remembering J.I. Packer’. Here is the blurb:

‘Google “J. I. Packer tribute” and in less than a second, you are given 730,000 options. Such abundance makes it hard to understand why one more tribute is worth doing. Hasn’t everything been said? Wasn’t Jim the embodiment of concise word choice?

‘Yet this edition of the World is a tribute to Jim and it is different. Almost all the writers knew him well; they worked with him very closely as students, clergy, colleagues, friends. They shared meals with him, tapped their feet to Jelly Roll Morton with him, and knelt next to him in church.

‘May you be as encouraged in seeing new vistas of Jim Packer as they were in knowing him.’

Individual articles are available from here.

Tuesday 8 December 2020

Christian History Magazine on the Church and the Marketplace

The latest issue of Christian History Magazine is devoted to the topic of ‘When the Church Goes to Market.

Here is the blurb:

‘Whether they have a lot or a little, most believers shy away from discussing money. And for good reason! One can cherry-pick scripture to present money as the root of all evil, a reward for a life well-lived, or a tool to be used for good. But just like a busy street market, the real story is far more complex.

‘In this issue of Christian History we’ll examine the complexities Christians face in the marketplace. We’ll look at usury (is money-lending and borrowing ever permissible?), uncover a biblical view of philanthropy (is it only for the wealthy?), and see how believers have found a higher purpose in the market and influenced the institutions we take for granted. Discover the relationship of Christians to economics throughout the ages in the second issue of our “Faith and Flourishing series,” CH #137: When the church goes to market.’

The whole magazine is available as a 12.6 MB pdf here.

Monday 7 December 2020

Credo 10, 4 (2020) on Eternal Generation

The current issue of Credo is available, this one devoted to the topic of ‘Eternal Generation’.

Here’s the blurb:

‘The eternal generation of the Son has fallen on hard times. In the last century, evangelicals have dispensed with the doctrine in the spirit of a narrow biblicism – We just believe the Bible! Others have thrown out the doctrine because they cannot master the mystery of such a belief – It just doesn’t make sense! The consequences have been brutal: generation after generation has been cut off from Christian orthodoxy. Just as egregious, evangelicals have not learned how the warp and woof of redemptive history reveals the Son’s origin from the Father from all eternity. In this issue of Credo Magazine, the contributors abandon the critical spirit of our contemporary era and clothe themselves in a spirit of hermeneutical humility. As they sit at the feet of ancient interpreters, they labor to understand why eternal generation not only serves to distinguish the Son from the Father but safeguards the Son’s divine equality with the Father.’

Individual articles, along with interviews and book reviews, are available to read from here.

Saturday 5 December 2020

Ink 6 (Summer 2020)

I recently received issue 7 of ink, published by Tyndale House, Cambridge, and realised I’d forgotten to post on issue 6. So, for the sake of fulness, here goes…

The sixth issue of ink is now available, this one including a feature from Pete Williams on ‘What was happening between the Testaments?’ There’s also a profile of Old Testament scholar, Myrto Theocharous and her work on Deuteronomy, an artefact focus on the Cyrus Cylinder, and a piece by John D. Meade on ‘how Jesus would have experienced Scripture, and how similar his Bible was to ours’.

UK residents can sign up here to receive issues through the post, but the publication is also available as a pdf here.

Tuesday 1 December 2020

Foundations 79 (Autumn 2020)

Issue 79 of Foundations: An International Journal of Evangelical Theology, published by Affinity, is now available (here in its entirety as a pdf), which includes the below essays.

Donald John MacLean

Lee Gatiss

Pleasing the Impassible God

The Bible says, “find out what pleases the Lord” (Ephesians 5:10). But is God not already perfectly happy, and therefore not susceptible to changeable emotional reactions as we so often are? This article unpacks issues of accommodation in divine speech, anthropopathism, and the doctrines of immutability and impassibility (the idea that God is “without passions” as some confessions put it), in order to understand better the scriptural metaphor of pleasing or displeasing God.

Sarah Allen

Complementarianism, Quo Vadis?

This article examines the current state of complementarian practice and attitudes within UK churches, seeking to understand how, where and why change might be occurring. The research is twofold: the first part is an overview of recent publications and online discussion of complementarianism and related matters. Here questions are raised about the causes for and possible consequences of dis-ease with some theological models and cultural expressions of sex-difference. The second part of the article is an examination, by way of interview and surveys, of practice in churches which could be described as complementarian. Here we consider the way the Church is responding to contemporary culture’s growing concern for equality of opportunity and representation, as well as the influence of different ecclesiologies and social settings on practice and change.

David Owen Filson

The Apologetics and Theology of Cornelius Van Til

This essay provides an appreciative analysis of two key, sometimes misrepresented apologetical contributions of Cornelius Van Til: the definition of presupposition, and paradox and the Trinity. Recent criticisms of Van Til tend to repeat the suggestions that he operated with a Kantian and Hegelian synthesis, accounting for inconsistencies in his theological and apologetical programme. Rather than directly addressing recent scholarship, a relatively unfamiliar debate between Van Til and J. Oliver Buswell will be examined in an effort to let Van Til speak for himself. In doing this it will become evident why he remains an important and needed figure for the Church in a post-postmodern, secular/pluralistic cultural moment, aptly described by Chares Taylor as a “...spiritual super-nova, a kind of galloping pluralism on the spiritual plane”.

Steve Bishop

Abraham Kuyper: Cultural Transformer

Abraham Kuyper was a theologian, statesman, journalist, church reformer, church historian, church pastor, founder of a Christian university and a Christian political party, and one-time prime minister of the Netherlands. He was a Reformed Christian whose writings have shaped a movement known as neo-Calvinism. Yet he is little known in the UK. In this article, I examine several key themes that shaped Kuyper’s approach to theology, culture and society. These include the sovereignty of God, the cultural mandate, the role of worldviews, common grace, the antithesis, and sphere sovereignty. These themes provided the theoretical framework for Kuyper’s neo-Calvinism. I look at how they shaped his approach to church, politics, education, art and mission.

Song-En Poon

Samuel Rutherford’s Doctrine of Sanctification and Seventeenth Century Antinomianism

This paper seeks to examine Samuel Rutherford’s particular emphasis on the doctrine of sanctification in his response to the Antinomian Controversy in seventeenth century England.

Book Reviews

Monday 30 November 2020

Currents in Biblical Research 19, 1 (October 2020)

The latest Currents in Biblical Research recently arrived, with titles and abstracts of the main articles as below.

Jennifer M. Matheny

Ruth in Recent Research

From the early treatments focused on historical-critical methods to the interdisciplinary approaches of the social sciences today, Ruth research continues to speak to the current developments within interpretive conversations. This article briefly surveys major commentaries on Ruth, and then discusses the shifts in research from 2001 to today, highlighting future trajectories and trends.

Phillip Sherman

The Hebrew Bible and the ‘Animal Turn’

Animal Studies refers to a set of questions which take seriously the reality of animal lives, past and present, and the ways in which human societies have conceived of those lives, related to them, and utilized them in the production of human cultures. Scholars of the Hebrew Bible are increasingly engaging animals in their interpretive work. Such engagement is often implicit or partial, but increasingly drawing directly on the more critical aspects of Animal Studies. This article proceeds as a tour through the menagerie of the biblical canon by exploring key texts in order to describe and analyze what Animal Studies has brought to the field of Biblical Studies. Biblical texts are grouped into the following categories: animals in the narrative accounts of the Torah, legal and ritual texts concerning animals, animal metaphors in the prophets, and wisdom literature and animal life. The emergence and application of zooarchaeological research and a number of studies focusing on specific animal species will be discussed. Sustained attention will be given to two recent works which have brought Animal Studies into the fractured fold of biblical scholarship more directly. Finally, I will suggest some future directions for the study of the Hebrew Bible in light of Animal Studies.

Jason F. Moraff

Recent Trends in the Study of Jews and Judaism in Luke-Acts

This article surveys and assesses recent developments in the study of the depiction of Jews and Judaism in Luke-Acts since 2010. Studies are grouped into three general, often overlapping approaches. First, identity construction proves to be a productive avenue of research for understanding Luke’s portrait of ‘the Jews’. Second, scholars have begun to investigate the place of Luke-Acts in the ‘parting(s) of the ways’. Third, others continue to evaluate the relationship between the Jewish people, the covenant, and Luke’s future hope for Israel. The final section outlines some common issues and potential areas for further study, highlighting how these studies have reinvigorated a stagnant debate.

Jonathan Lookadoo

The Date and Authenticity of the Ignatian Letters: An Outline of Recent Discussions

This article examines recent studies of the date and authenticity of the letters of Ignatius of Antioch. Although the debate has a long history, this article focuses on the most recent period of this debate – from roughly 1997 through 2018. While not wanting to diminish the differences between contributors to this debate, three general views can be adduced. This article begins by highlighting the major players and formative contributors to each view. Of particular note in this most recent phase of debate is the separation of the date of the letters from the question of their authenticity. The article next turns to consider the primary pieces of evidence that are utilized when considering Ignatius’s date: the historical value of the Eusebian evidence, the possibility of interpolations within Polycarp’s Philippians, and Ignatius’s interactions with Second Sophistic rhetoric. The conclusion inquires about whether there is other evidence that might be utilized to aid scholars in dating and evaluating the Ignatian letters more securely.

Wednesday 25 November 2020

The Bible Project on Genesis 1

The Bible Project team has released a new video, this one on Genesis 1. Here is the blurb:

‘How is our interpretation of the creation story in Genesis 1 deepened when we consider its ancient historical and cultural context? In this Bible commentary video, we look at how the literary design of Genesis 1 reveals God’s ideal vision for the whole cosmos.’

It manages to cram a lot into its 7:42 length, and is well worth checking out here.

Tuesday 24 November 2020

Centre for Public Christianity (November 2020)

The Centre for Public Christianity has posted two ‘Life and Faith’ podcasts, related to the current US elections: one (here) with Krish Kandiah on ‘the joys and challenges of caring for children in great need’, and one (here) in which ‘a poet, a philosopher, a jazz musician, and a couple in their fiftieth year of marriage explore the counterintuitive idea that freedom requires constraints’.

Saturday 21 November 2020

Asbury Journal 75, 2 (2020)

The latest issue of Asbury Journal is now available, containing the below articles. The entire issue is available as a pdf here.

From the Editor

Esther D. Jadhav

The Place of Theology in Diversity Efforts in Christian Higher Education: A Wesleyan Perspective

Theology is essential to diversity efforts in Christian Higher Education. In current culture there are at least two ways in which theology emerges in this work, as an afterthought and as foundational in some instances. In this article the author provides a discussion around the question: Does theology have a place in the work of diversity efforts in Christian higher education? This paper asserts that theology is a critical and significant contributor in diversity as it relates to these efforts taking place across Christian Higher Education in North America. A Wesleyan theological perspective is utilized to demonstrate how Wesleyan theology can speak into diversity efforts in Christian higher education.

Shawn P. Behan

Exegeting Scripture, Exegeting Culture: Combining Exegesis to Fulfill God’s Calling

Seminary has separated biblical exegesis from cultural exegesis, teaching them in different programs and seldom requiring them for those outside of those programs. Yet, to fulfill either of those exegetical processes we need both – they are mutually building and supporting entities that only make sense when combined with the other. As teachers, preachers, and leaders of God’s Church, it is essential that we learn how to combine these two exegetical processes in order to faithfully live out our calling in God’s kingdom. Thus, we must study both biblical and cultural exegesis and learn how to combine the two; for one without the other is knowledge, but combined they form knowledge with the wisdom of how to apply that knowledge. While this seems like a Herculean task, it has been accomplished by many in the history of the Church, often when they did not even know they were doing so. One such previous leader and teacher in the Church is Bishop J. E. Lesslie Newbigin, who’s [sic] exegetical life made him a renowned name in his own day and continues to challenge us to “do likewise” in our lives.

Abbie F. Mantor

Caring for the Sufferers Among Us: Job 3 Through the Lens of Classical Rhetorical Theory and Modern Psychological Trauma Studies

A lack of engagement with the theology of evil and suffering leads to immature responses when tragedy strikes our congregations and alienates the sufferers among us. I believe the best path forward is an interdisciplinary approach that is both intellectually honest and spiritually whole. In this article, I explore the first speech of Job through the lens of classical rhetorical studies and modern psychological trauma theories in order to demonstrate how Job’s deep lament offers the Church an example of how to give sufferers the space to work through their grief as they walk their path towards healing and hope.

Dain Alexander Smith

Prophetic Peace in the Epistle to the Romans: Intertextuality, Isaianic Discourse and Romans 14:17

Interpreters of Romans have not recognized the Isaianic character of Paul’s description of the kingdom in Rom 14:17. Therefore, in this paper I demonstrate that there is an intertextual relationship between multiple Isaianic texts and Rom 14:17. First, I identify key texts in Isaiah that depict kings or kingdoms and share terms found in Romans: righteousness, peace, joy, good, and spirit. Second, I conclude by rereading Romans 14:17 in dialogue with Isaianic kingdom texts. This reading reveals that Romans presents the kingdom of God – and the church community – as the fulfillment of Isaiah’s eschatological hope for peace.

Kelly J. Godoy de Danielson

Women on the Outside Looking In: Rahab and Ruth as Foreign Converts to the People of God

How does an outsider become an insider? This is a question that emerges from considering both the modern immigrant situation and the unique situation of non-Israelite women becoming part of the people of God in the Old Testament. The usual pattern in the Old Testament is to be born into the people of Israel, but for men there is the possibility to become part of the covenantal people through the physical act of circumcision. In this patriarchal society, women usually had no choice but to follow the decisions of their husbands. But what if there was no husband? The Bible tends to take a particularly harsh view on Israelite men marrying non-Israelite women, so even marriage does not seem to be an acceptable pathway for unmarried or widowed women. But two significant women in the Old Testament do successfully navigate the transition from outsider to insider, Rahab and Ruth. This article explores what this means for understanding conversion within the Old Testament context as well as its potential theological implication for the immigrant community in today’s world. Understanding the importance of a person’s allegiance to YHWH as well as following up this allegiance through actions of loving-kindness (hesed) are the key similarities which bind these two women together and help create a theological bridge for immigrants in our modern context.

Kelly J. Godoy de Danielson

Mujeres desde Afuera Mirando hacia Adentro: Rahab y Rut como Conversas Extranjeras al Pueblo de Dios


From the Archives: Ichthus Music Festival – The World of Christian Music Comes to Wilmore

Book Reviews

Friday 20 November 2020

Theos Report on Religious London

A new report from Theos has recently been published:

Paul Bickley and Nathan Mladin, Religious London: Faith in a Global City (London: Theos, 2020).

Here are some paragraphs from the Theos website:

‘London is often perceived to be different from the rest of the UK – more liberal and more secular. However, Londoners are not just more likely to belong to a particular religion, but to actively participate by, for instance, attending services on a regular basis. London’s religious micro-climate is paradoxical: a secular, liberal and cosmopolitan city in which religion is becoming more visible and significant.

‘The research found that London is more religious than the rest of Britain (62% identify as religious compared to 53% across the rest of Britain ex. London).

‘Londoners are more intensely practicing (more likely to pray and more likely to attend a religious service) than those outside the capital...

‘Londoners are more socially conservative than the rest of Britain on some key moral questions...

‘Religious Londoners are more civically-minded than non-religious Londoners...

‘There is a significant sense of religious discrimination and civic discomfort in the Capital.’

A pdf of the full report is available here.

Tuesday 17 November 2020

Currents in Theology and Mission 47, 4 (2020) on Mark’s Gospel

The most recent issue of Currents in Theology and Mission is available from here, this one containing essays on various aspects of Mark’s gospel.

Monday 16 November 2020

The Beautiful Story

Following on the heels of the Church of England’s ‘Living in Love and Faith’ (see here) is a 32-minute video from the Church of England Evangelical Council – ‘The Beautiful Story’.

According to the blurb:

‘Christians believe that the gospel is good news for all people and for all time. But since the narratives of our contemporary culture don’t always echo a biblical worldview, the church needs to be clear about how the gospel challenges and transforms human experience – including in our relationships and sexuality. The Beautiful Story is a 30 minute film that explains how a biblical vision for human sexuality is good for individuals, the church and society as a whole. It is intended to galvanise and support discussion in local churches around sexuality and relationships and to provide the case for what many call a traditional Christian viewpoint.’

Update: The CEEC has provided (here) some background on the video, along with a message to clergy and lay leaders about using it in parishes, with a promise of a shortened version of the film to come in the near future.

Saturday 14 November 2020

Lausanne Global Analysis 9, 6 (November 2020)

The latest issue of Lausanne Global Analysis, from The Lausanne Movement, is available online from here, including pdfs of individual articles as below.

Stephen Ko, Paul Hudson, and Jennifer Jao

Kingdom Opportunities for Bridging COVID-19 Disparities: A Multi-dimensional Approach

Medical professionals Stephen Ko, Paul Hudson, and Jennifer Jao show how the global church has the unique opportunity to creatively bridge disparities wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Hebert Palomino

Building a Moveable Pulpit for Mental Health: Connecting Our Stories to God’s Story

COVID-19 has exacerbated the global mental health crisis. Hebert Palomino, a mental health practitioner and professor of pastoral care, demonstrates how we can each build a moveable pulpit amidst the stress, loneliness, and despair.

Jacob Daniel

Kashmir on the Cusp of a New Dawn: A Call to Global Prayer

The global church is called to intercede on behalf of the turmoil taking place in Kashmir. International speaker and cultural analyst Jacob Daniel provides an insightful guide to pray for this turbulent region.

Charles Rijnhart

The World’s Least Reached Are On Our Streets: Global Gateway Cities and the Opportunity for Mission

What if going to the ends of the world meant going to the other end of the street? Writing from Nepal with Diaspora Missions Initiative, Charles Rijnhart demonstrates how local churches in global gateway cities are the key to reaching the world’s least reached.

D.J. Oden

Keys to Contextualized Church Planting in Thailand: Phetchabun and the Free in Jesus Christ Church Association

There's a growing movement for Christ in Central Thailand among Buddhists. D.J. Oden, a cross-cultural worker in southeast Asia with Pioneers, shows what successfully contextualized church planting can look like.

Friday 13 November 2020

Centre for Public Christianity (November 2020)

Among other items, the Centre for Public Christianity has posted an interview with John Stackhouse (here) ‘about his new book Can I Believe?, and why he thinks the weirdness of Christianity fits the weirdness of the world as it really is’.

Tuesday 10 November 2020

Christopher Watkin on a Biblical Theology of Culture

Christopher Watkin, author of the excellent Thinking through Creation: Genesis 1 and 2 as Tools of Cultural Critique (Phillipsburg: P&R Publishing, 2017), recently led two seminars at the 2020 FEUER Academic Speakers Network.

Taking his cue from John Stott’s call to ‘double listening’, he tackles the question of ‘how to read culture through the categories and patterns of the Bible, specifically through the creation-fall-redemption framework of biblical theology’.

The two videos are available here, and are well worth checking out by those interested in this area.

Monday 9 November 2020

Living in Love and Faith

Several years in the making – and not without controversy – the Church of England has today released a set of resources on Living in Love and Faith, billed as ‘Christian teaching and learning about identity, sexuality, relationships and marriage’.

The main website is here, which has more information about the project, and from where the Living in Love and Faith Learning Hub can be accessed (including access to the book, podcasts, a course with films and discussion questions, and other resources) in return for an email address.

Update: Andrew Goddard (a consultant on the Co-Ordinating Group of Living in Love and Faith) provides a very helpful introduction and overview here: ‘LLF for Dummies: 10 FAQs about the Church of England’s new teaching and learning resources on identity, sexuality, relationships and marriage.’

Further Update: A pdf of the full book can be downloaded here.

Credo 10, 3 (2020) on the Nicene Creed

The current issue of Credo is available, this one devoted to the topic of ‘The Nicene Creed’.

Here’s the blurb:

‘The doctrine of the Trinity is foundational to Christianity. Without it, we have no Christianity at all. For that reason, the church fathers of the fourth century labored to protect the church from those in their midst who undermined the equality of the Son and Spirit with the Father. With great scriptural care, they affirmed the Son’s eternal generation and the Spirit’s eternal spiration not only to distinguish the persons of the Trinity but to safeguard their consubstantiality and divine simplicity. Unfortunately, many have never read the Nicene Creed let alone considered its importance for the preservation of biblical orthodoxy today. This issue of Credo Magazine introduces readers to the Nicene Creed to ensure the next generation is equipped to confess the faith once for all delivered to the saints.’

Individual articles, along with interviews and book reviews, are available to read from here.

Friday 6 November 2020

Tony Watkins on Philip Pullman

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

Tony Watkins, ‘The Art of Darkness: Philip Pullman’s Christian Atheism’, Cambridge Papers 29, 3 (September 2020).

Here is the summary:

‘Philip Pullman, author of His Dark Materials, is well known for his antipathy towards religion. Yet although he insists that this world is all there is, he seems constantly drawn towards ideas of transcendence. He advocates many Christian values, though he refuses to accept their Judeo-Christian origins, and assumes them in his attack on the church. He sees himself as an enemy of religion, but his atheism has a distinctively Christian flavour.’

Wednesday 4 November 2020

Centre for Public Christianity (October 2020)

The Centre for Public Christianity has posted two ‘Life and Faith’ podcasts, related to the current US elections: one (here) which ‘speaks to Amy Black, Andy Crouch and Lisa Sharon Harper about how growing polarisation and the politicisation of faith are playing out in the 2020 presidential race’, and another (here) which ‘explores the role of faith, and particularly (white) evangelicals, in shaping the results’.

Monday 2 November 2020

Mission Frontiers 42, 6 (November-December 2020)

The November-December 2020 issue of Mission Frontiers, published by the U.S. Center for World Mission, contains a number of articles on the topic of ‘Human Trafficking’.

According to the blurb:

‘This issue of Mission Frontiers takes on the very challenging topic of human trafficking in the world around us. As followers of Jesus we must sometimes face the ugliness of our world head-on in order to do what is right in the sight of our Lord… [T]he sheer tragedy of 25+ million precious people being enslaved in our day demands that we as Jesus followers speak up in their defense. As representatives of God on earth, we must take action to set the captives free. In numerous places in this issue of MF we provide you with specific steps you can take to stop human trafficking and those industries that fuel it. We don’t just lament the problem but we provide specific solutions to defeat this global menace.’

The issue is available here, from where individual articles can be downloaded, and the entire issue can be downloaded as a pdf here.

Wednesday 28 October 2020

Evangelical Review of Theology 44, 4 (October 2020)

The latest Evangelical Review of Theology, published by The World Evangelical Alliance, is now online and available in its entirety as a pdf here.

Editor’s Introduction:

Is Our Quality Higher Than That of the US Presidential Campaign?

Efraim Tendero

Evangelicals and Elections

Thomas K. Johnson

The Protester, the Dissident and the Christian

When and why should Christians protest? How can we turn the hearts of other protesters towards the hope offered by the Christian gospel? This article, revised from a sermon originally preached during the Arab Spring uprisings, answers those timely questions as we experience another year of widespread protests.

Ebenezer Yaw Blasu

The Invisible Global War: An African ‘Theocological’ Assessment of Responses to COVID-19

How should the experience of COVID-19 shape future human behaviour? This article examines responses by both Christians and practitioners of primal (traditional) African religions, from a perspective that combines theology and ecology. Drawing on scientific and spiritual principles, it argues that COVID-19 may be calling us to avoid forms of resource exploitation that disturb the sensitive balance between human activity and nature.

Andrea L. Robinson

Reflecting the Image of God through Speech: Genesis 1–3 in James 3:1–12

This article shows how James 3:1–12 echoes the creation account, using imagery from Genesis 1–3 to correlate purity of speech with bearing the image of God. Accordingly, the untamed tongue is regarded as a central characteristic of fallenness and a distortion of God’s image – emphasizing that our failure to tame the tongue separates individuals from God, creates division in the community of faith, and has a severely destructive impact on the world. Applications and a sample sermon outline are provided.

C. Ryan Fields

Evangelical Engagement with Barth: A Modest Proposal

Karl Barth, one of the most influential theologians of the twentieth century, is too important for evangelicals to ignore but not easy to evaluate. Barth reacted against liberalizing tendencies with a strong emphasis on the centrality of Christ and the power of Scripture, but his theology also contained some innovations that deviate from evangelical tradition. This article surveys evaluations of Barth by English-speaking evangelicals and offers well-informed suggestions on how to appropriate Barth’s work.

Jana Holiday and Linda Cannell with James D. McLennan

The Puzzle of Institutional Inertia in Theological Education

Theological institutions must sustain their core values while not resisting necessary change. The authors draw on their extensive experience in theological education and board governance to address how four groups of stakeholders– administrators, faculty, students and boards – can resist institutional inertia.

Chris Gousmett

What Are the ‘Gates of Hades’ in Matthew 16:18?

Matthew 16:18 contains one of Jesus’ most obscure remarks, as he assures Peter (and us) that the ‘gates of Hades’ will not overcome the church. But gates are stationary objects that don’t normally overcome anything. What was Jesus promising? This article shows the weakness of prevailing interpretations and argues for an expansive metaphorical alternative.

Thomas Schirrmacher

Observations on Apologetics and Its Relation to Contemporary Christian Mission

Christians often think of apologetics as something that only academics do, but actually it has been an essential part of Christian mission ever since the book of Acts. This article offers penetrating reflections on the meaning of apologetics today and how all Christians should equip themselves to do it.

Elmer Thiessen

The Reconstruction of Evangelism by Liberal Protestants: An Evangelical Response

Many voices – both secular and religious – argue that it is inappropriate in a religiously pluralistic world for evangelicals to call all people to repentance and faith in Christ. This article, by a leading evangelical expert on the ethics of evangelism, uses a recently published book critical of traditional evangelism as a starting point to explore how evangelicals should respond to such objections.

Book Reviews