Monday 29 June 2020

The Journal of Inductive Biblical Studies 7, 1 (2020)

The latest issue of the Journal of Inductive Biblical Studies is now available online, with the below articles and their abstracts (where available). Individual essays are available from here, and the journal is available in its entirety as a pdf here.

David R. Bauer

From the Editors

David Schreiner

“Now Rehoboam, Son of Solomon, Reigned in Judah”: Considering the Structural Divisions of Kings and the Significance of 1 Kgs 14:21

This essay discusses the main divisional breakdown of the Book of Kings. After detailing a disconnect in scholarly discourse over the main units of Kings, I argue that the first major literary unit spans from 1 Kgs 1:1–14:20. Moreover, I argue that any chiastic arrangement of the material within the first literary unit is eventually found wanting. As an alternative, I argue that the sub-divisions within the first unit are best determined by grammatical and comparative considerations. With this established, this essay concludes with commentary on the three major literary units that organize the presentation of Kings.

Lindy D. Backues

Construing Culture as Composition—Part 3: Traina’s Methodology Culturally Applied

We come now, in Part 3 of the series, to employ Traina’s inductive Bible study method, as discussed in the earlier articles in the series, to the sociological issue of slums. If, then, we are to discuss slums, we need to remind ourselves, at the outset, that we are not talking about overcrowding, lack of amenity, poverty or want as such; but about the relationship of such conditions to a context of meaning that changes with your point of view. Unless we remember this constantly, any proposal in terms of slums becomes unconscious ideological imposition.

Wilbert Webster White

The Resurrection Body “According to the Scriptures”—First Installment: Foreword and Chapters One and Two

William J. Abraham

Robert A. Traina: Teacher, Scholar, Saint

Thursday 25 June 2020

Scottish Episcopal Institute Journal 4, 2 (2020)

The most-recent issue of the Scottish Episcopal Institute Journal is now online, this one devoted to ‘Church, Ministry and Coronavirus’.

According to the editorial board:

‘The impact on our lives is unprecedented, and significant theological concerns have come to the fore in the worldwide crises of the COVID-19 pandemic. This issue of the Journal reflects not only on the life of the Church, but on society, community and the value of human life [...]

‘“Church, Ministry and Coronavirus” draws together contributions from a variety of disciplines to resource the people of God in their exploration of the issues and discernment of the theological truths to be applied now and in the coming years. The present crises demand our theologically informed vigilance. In the bedrock of our Christian faith is the belief that each and every human being is created in the image of God and that the glory of God is each one of us fully alive and flourishing in a community of persons. In a time when a cacophony of voices shout for our attention, the prophetic voice of the Church is urgently needed.’

The entire issue of the journal can be downloaded as a pdf here.

Wednesday 24 June 2020

On Being in the Wilderness

The below is an excerpt from an email written for the congregation where I am one of the pastors.

Like me, you’re probably listening to updates from the government, wondering what we can do this week that we weren’t allowed to do last week. Indeed, there has been some lifting of restrictions in recent days, and we’ll continue to monitor their implications for us as a church, especially in terms of when and how we might be able to gather again. For the most part, though, a return to ‘normal’ (remember that?) still seems a fair way off. In our more honest moments most of us sense that to be the case.

As a result, it’s easy to feel betwixt and between at this time – neither one thing nor another, neither where we were when the year started or where we hope we might be when the year ends.

As unsettled as we might feel during this season, we are not the first to walk this path. And we might be encouraged to know that God has worked through such circumstances in the past.

In the book of Exodus, after their deliverance from Egypt and their escape through the sea, God’s people enter the wilderness. It’ll be another two months before they arrive at Mount Sinai where God will make a covenant with them. Meanwhile, the wilderness is an ‘in-between’ place, a transitional moment where the people stand on the boundary of something new, the next chapter in the story of God’s dealings with them and the world they will be called to serve.

But the wilderness is not a place to mark time or to circle the runway. Nor is it a moment for them to grit their teeth and get by. It’s a place of formation. It’s during this period that they are to trust that the God who rescued them is the God who will provide for their daily needs (literally their ‘daily bread’ in the form of manna). It’s in the wilderness that these former slaves learn the rhythm of work and rest, set in place at creation. Their service to Pharaoh has been replaced by their service to God, and growing into their identity as God’s people will require living a different way. In addition, while they were largely passive in the destruction of the Egyptian army, it’s in the wilderness that they have to fight new enemies, showing that they’ll need to take a more active role in events going forwards.

In short, it’s in the wilderness that the God who delivers his people also trains them, forming them into a ‘holy nation’ (Exodus 19:6) who will obey him and represent him to a watching world.

Perhaps for us, too, this is a time to grow our trust in the Lord’s care and provision, a time to reflect on how he is training us to live differently, a time to grow in loving our neighbour as ourself.

So keep listening to those updates from the government. It’s right for us to want to come through this period, to get to the next chapter! Nevertheless, it’s good to remember that God is still at work meanwhile – in us and through us – conforming us to the image of his Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.

Tuesday 23 June 2020

Centre for Public Christianity (June 2020)

Among other items, the Centre for Public Christianity has two ‘Life and Faith’ podcasts, one with historian Tom Holland and one with fiction writer Christos Tsiolkas, both of whom ‘while not believers themselves, have been profoundly influenced by Christianity’.

Tom Holland explores the revolutionary and enduring influence of Christianity here, while Christos Tsiolkas talks about the personal experiences that led him to choose early Christianity and the Apostle Paul as the subject of his latest book Damascus here.

In a further post, they draw attention to a podcast on ‘Ode to Teachers’, here, in which five different teachers share their stories of the highs and lows of the job.

Friday 19 June 2020

Keith Ferdinando on Spiritual Warfare

Issue 10 of Primer (published twice a year by the Fellowship of Independent Evangelical Churches, and designed ‘to help those in church leadership stay theologically sharp and engaged’) is devoted to ‘the devil, demons, and spiritual warfare’.

The article by Keith Ferdinando, ‘The Battle Belongs to the Lord: A Biblical Theology of God’s Warfare’, is made available as a pdf here. This includes a final section on the spiritual warfare of God’s people which is not available in the printed version due to space constraints.

Tuesday 16 June 2020

Preaching with Amos

I recently wrote a short piece on Amos for a themed issue of Preach magazine on Justice. The magazine recently posted the article online, and it is available as a pdf here.

Monday 15 June 2020

Eikon 1.3 (2020)

I’ve only just clocked that what used to be called The Journal for Biblical Manhood & Womanhood is now called Eikon: A Journal for Biblical Anthropology.

According to the blurb on the website of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood website, it is ‘a semi-annual journal dedicated to facilitating a scholarly and thoughtful conversation aimed at academicians, pastors, and laymen alike on issues ranging from gender, sexuality, marriage, singleness, personhood, family, and the many intersections that exist between these topics and biblical studies, church history, and systematic and practical theology’.

The latest issue – 1.3 (2020) – is available as a pdf here.

I’m particularly interested in reading the article by Wayne Grudem on ‘Grounds for Divorce: Why I Now Believe There are More than Two’, the review by Andy Naselli of Aimee Byrd’s recently-published Recovering from Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, and the review by Sharon James of Andrew Bartlett’s Men and Women in Christ: Fresh Light from Biblical Texts (for which I wrote a commendation!)

Friday 12 June 2020

Evangelical Alliance on Changing Church: A Report on Churches Responding to the Coronavirus

The Evangelical Alliance UK has published a report – Changing Church – based on a survey of nearly 900 churches and Christian organisations. It looks at how ‘they have changed how they operate while maintaining their core mission and vision’, and showing that ‘throughout lockdown and the wider challenges, the church has shown great agility and creativity’.

A pdf of the report is here.

Thursday 11 June 2020

The Bible Project on Apocalyptic Literature

The team at the Bible Project has produced another helpful video, this one on ‘How to Read Apocalyptic Literature’, bringing their ‘How to Read the Bible’ series to a close.

Wednesday 10 June 2020

On Learning to Lament

The below is an excerpt from an email written for the congregation where I am one of the pastors.

How could God allow that to happen? If God is good, why is there so much suffering in the world? Why doesn’t he just fix everything?

Perhaps you’ve been asked questions like those. Perhaps you’ve asked them yourself, possibly even over the last few weeks.

How we respond depends, at least in part, on whether the questions are being asked from the perspective of an ‘armchair’ or a ‘wheelchair’. In some cases, the issue of suffering is little more than an intellectual challenge to the existence of God, and is asked from the relative comfort of a conversation between friends or in a radio phone-in discussion. In other cases, the questions are heartfelt cries from those who are themselves in agony, broken, and completely bewildered with the misery of pain, evil, and injustice in a messed-up world.

The contrast between philosophical and personal engagements with suffering can be seen in the writings of C.S. Lewis. As a university don, he wrote a book called The Problem of Pain, in which he argues from a theological and philosophical perspective that human pain, animal pain, and hell are not sufficient reasons to reject belief in a loving and all-powerful God. But, as a devoted husband, he wrote a book called A Grief Observed, reflecting on his experience of bereavement following the death of his wife from cancer. Which book is more helpful? Which is more truthful? Which is more authentic? Both, at different times of life? Each in its own way?

It’s in the pain of bereavement that Lewis writes: ‘Meanwhile, where is God? ... Go to him when your need is desperate, when all other help is in vain, and what do you find? A door slammed in your face, and a sound of bolting and double bolting on the inside. After that, silence.’

Some of us might be able to relate to that. Certainly the psalmists could.

Would it surprise you to learn that laments are the largest category of prayers in the book of Psalms? Take a moment to reflect on that: what might it mean that the Holy Spirit has so overseen the writing of Scripture such that over a third of the Psalms bring a troubled situation to the Lord – not in a cold, detached way but from a place of deep agony? What does that say about our own expectations of the way things should go? How are such prayers to shape our own prayer life?

In every case, these psalms allow an honest response to God in prayer from the depths of the broken hearts of his hurting people, even to ask those challenging questions: Where are you, Lord? How long, Lord? They provide a way to pray through a period of crisis, grief, or despair. They give us the words to express our brokenness, our need, our longing for justice. Most importantly of all – and contrary to what we might think at first – they demonstrate trust in God, because they’re addressed to the only one who really does hold all things in his hands.

Saturday 6 June 2020

Global Transmission, Global Mission

Jason Mandryk and the team at Operation World have produced a short e-book which is being made available at no charge – Global Transmission, Global Mission: The Impact and Implications of the Covid-19 Pandemic.

According to the blurb, it seeks to offer ‘a sweeping overview of the implications of the coronavirus for the global Church, and specifically, its impact on global mission’.

Drawing from several global networks – International Prayer Connect, the Lausanne Movement, and the World Evangelical Alliance – the document reflects perspectives shared by many Christians ‘in every region of the world, getting input on how to pray for different nations afflicted by CoVid-19 as well as strategic considerations from a wide array of missiological contexts’.

The book can be download in several formats here.

In addition, check out the Operation World website dedicated to praying through the Covid-19 crisis, here.

Friday 5 June 2020

Lausanne Global Analysis 9, 3 (May 2020)

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

In the issue overview, editor Loun Ling Lee writes:

‘In this issue of Lausanne Global Analysis, we have authors from different parts of the global church addressing strategic issues relating to world mission. Melody J. Wachsmuth is a mission researcher living in Croatia. She is passionate to see Roma and non-Roma together engaging in healthy partnerships for mission, to ‘share our diverse gifts while manifesting the new humanity in Christ’...

‘In the same spirit of unity in the body of Christ, Dan Sered and Simon Stout, serving with Jews for Jesus, sharpen our awareness of the spiritual problem of antisemitism around the world...

‘The legacy of Lamin Sanneh, a distinguished historian, scholar of World Christianity, and advocate of interreligious dialogue, could not be more relevant in our complex world today. Wanjiru Gitau, senior research scholar at St. Thomas University, has highlighted his legacy, especially on the theme of translation of the message of Christ into the language and culture of the recipients...

‘In “The Uncertain Future of China’s Urban Churches’” Thomas Harvey’s analysis of the urban church and mission trends in modern China gives us a fresh insight into the thriving mission movement there despite the hostile environment.’

Monday 1 June 2020

Foundations 78 (Spring 2020)

Issue 78 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, mostly focused on the discipline of systematic theology. The summaries are take from Donald John MacLean’s editorial.

Donald John MacLean

Donald John MacLean
God is Our Refuge and Strength
This is a section of the sermon preached in the first ‘virtual’ service we held at Cambridge Presbyterian Church following government advice for churches to cease meeting physically.

Jonathan Bayes
Review Article: Robert Letham’s Systematic Theology
We begin with an excellent in-depth review article on Bob’s Systematic Theology by Dr Jonathan Bayes. The review is insightful, sympathetic, but also offers correctives from Dr Bayes’ Reformed Baptist position.

Martin Foord
The Need for Systematic Theology in Theological Education
Foord outlines the nature of theological education, the nature of systematic theology and makes a compelling case for the necessity of the latter in training for pastoral ministry. Foord does not shy away from highlighting the weakness of systematic theology done badly, but rightly argues that this should not be used to discredit its vital importance, when done well.

Daniel Schrock
John Murray, Biblical Theology and Systematic-Theological Method
Murray was a systematic theologian of the first order, but he was this because he was first an exceptional exegete and biblical theologian. Daniel Schrock’s article does a wonderful job in expounding and defending Murray’s theological method.

Benedict Bird
John Owen’s Taxonomy of the Covenants: Was He a Dichotomist or a Trichotomist?
Owen’s articulation of covenant theology has been a matter of scholarly dispute. Bird is a safe guide through these debates, and opens up Owen’s views simply to enable us to weigh them in the light of Scripture.

Thorsten Prill
The Use of English in Cross-Cultural Mission: Observations from Africa
Thorsten Prill presents the case that missionaries should learn local languages, even where English is spoken.

Book Reviews