Thursday 27 August 2020

Credo 10, 2 (2020) on the Church Fathers

The current issue of Credo is available, this one devoted to the topic of ‘The Great Tradition: Patristic Edition’.

Here’s the blurb:

‘Few Christians today have ever heard about the Church Fathers. Those that have heard about the fathers have been warned that they are Roman Catholic or untrustworthy exegetes, or both! However, there is a retrieval underfoot that is not so easily overcome by ignorance or lax acceptance of sloppy caricatures. Christians are now rediscovering the Fathers for the first time. They are also noticing that many of the doctrinal missteps today could have been avoided if we had only paid attention to the insights the Fathers offer. This issue of Credo Magazine is an entryway to the fathers, encouraging you to go deeper and read the fathers for yourself. But it’s more: this issue is a call to be humble and sit at the feet of the fathers as they admonish us for the sake of renewal in the church today.’

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

Wednesday 19 August 2020

Asbury Journal 75, 1 (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

Winfield Bevins

Victorian Church Planting: A Contemporary Inquiry into a Nineteenth Century Movement

When people think of Victorian England, church planting isn’t the first thing that comes to mind However, there was a significant movement that swept across the country in the mid to late 19th century that resulted in the planting of thousands of new churches that was well documented. The purpose of this article is to demonstrate that there was a church planting movement in England that helped transform the nation in the 19th century. It will examine the causes, characteristics, and trajectory of this movement, while offering a contemporary application of lessons for church planting today.

Philip F. Hardt

Methodist Political Involvement in the School Bible Issue: the Council, The Christian Advocate and Journal, the Mayor, and the Superintendent of Schools

During the early 1840s in New York City, prominent members of the Methodist Episcopal Church, both lay and clergy, used four political avenues to oppose Roman Catholic efforts to both secure public funds for their own parish schools and also eliminate the daily reading of the King James Bible. These avenues included participation before the Common Council, “political” editorials in the Christian Advocate and Journal, the election of a strongly pro-Bible Methodist mayor, and appointment of a similarly-minded Methodist superintendent of schools. The questions of what caused the Methodists to take such a strong stand and why some compromise could not be achieved are also addressed.

Samuel J. Rogal

John and Molly: A Methodist Mismarriage

While not much is known about Mary (Molly) Goldhawk Vazeille, the wife of John Wesley, her story has been interpreted in many ways, and often incorrectly over time. This article explores the historical evidence of her life as a wealthy widow with children who married the founder of Methodism later in life. This contentious relationship is often little understood because of the lack of solid documentation and the multiple interpretations often overlaying the story, which were added by writers with other agendas. It does seem clear that John’s brother Charles was especially unhappy with this marriage in the beginning, and the subsequent events in the relationship led to divisions between the couple that have been open to numerous interpretations.

Kim Okesson

Dorothy Sayers, Communication and Theology: A Lifetime of Influence in British Society

This paper examines the writings of Dorothy Sayers through the lens of transportation theory and feminist communication theory. Dorothy Sayers’s early childhood and educational years are considered in light of their impact on her work as an adult. Her role as a writer and a lay theologian is discussed. The role of women in the first part of the twentieth century is considered. Attention is given to Sayers’s writings across multiple literature genres and the strength this brings to her communication of theological truth.

Robert A. Danielson

“When We are Going to Preach the Word, Jesus will Meet Us:” Ernest and Phebe Ward and Pandita Ramabai

In the 19th century, holiness missions spread to various parts of the world, including India. Ernest and Phebe Ward were part of that movement. They went as faith missionaries, but were also recognized as the first missionaries of the Free Methodist Church. In the course of their mission work in Central India, their traditional radical form of holiness mission was transformed into orphanage work by a severe famine. Through their holiness connections and orphanage work, they became associated with the Pentecost Bands and with Albert Norton, a close partner with Pandita Ramabai. This paper raises the potential importance of these connections in terms of the influence of holiness connections on Ramabai and the Mukti Revival of 1905, which led to the growth of Pentecostalism in India.

Dwight S.M. Mutonono

The Leadership Implications of Kneeling in Zimbabwean Culture

This paper considers the implications of public officials and church members kneeling to their leaders as a cultural expression of honor. Zimbabweans, like many Africans, kneel or crouch when interacting with people in authority. In traditional culture children are socialized to kneel to elders, and this becomes a deeply ingrained part of their way of life. While the practice of kneeling, even in private, is not as prevalent as it used to be, recently high-level Zimbabwean public officials have been recorded kneeling before authority figures. They justify their behavior based on culture. Church members do the same to their leaders and similarly justify their conduct as cultural behavior. This paper analyses and critiques this conduct, considering cultural changes to assess the leadership implications of continuing this practice in modern day Zimbabwe. While the continued private practice of the culture is the prerogative of individual Zimbabweans and cannot be legislated against, the public expression of kneeling is now counter-productive. It is not achieving the original intentions of honoring the behavior’s recipient. Because of abuse and possible interpretive misunderstandings, it should be stopped. Recommended ways of transforming the culture are given.

Yohan Hong

Powerlessness and A Social Imaginary in the Philippines: A Case Study on Bahala na

This paper calls attention to the sense of powerlessness of everyday people in the Philippines, and to the missional agency of US-based Filipino Protestants for the transformation of the Philippines. This research has been a journey to discover what kind of power is in play, how the fallen powers can be named and made visible, and then ultimately the ways through which power should be restored. In this process, I referred to the voices, perceptions, stories, and insights of US-based Filipino Protestants in Texas, in order to explore the causes of powerlessness. This paper focuses on how Bahala na as a Filipino cultural value, functions at some mythic level in relation to a social imaginary in such a way to cause and perpetuate a sense of powerlessness. Furthermore, the missional agency of Filipino American Protestants has been seldom investigated in the academia of Diaspora Missiology and Intercultural Studies. This paper concludes that Filipino American Protestants have re-interpreted Bahala na in transforming ways through the power of their spiritual discipline and Protestant faith so that this paper shines light on the potentiality for them to be change agents who can help bring about the transformation in the Philippines.


From the Archives: John Haywood Paul and Iva Durham Vennard- Holiness in Education

Book Reviews

Tuesday 18 August 2020

Currents in Biblical Research 18, 3 (June 2020)

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

Preston L. Atwood

The Peshiṭta of Isaiah in Past and Present Scholarship

In this study I outline the scholarship pertaining to the Peshiṭta of Isaiah (S-Isa) and expound on specific topics in need of further research. I begin by recounting the process of S-Isa’s manuscript collation and its culmination in Leiden’s editio minor. Relatedly, I explain the role of citations in the patristic literature for reconstructing the original text of S-Isa. Then, I address how scholars approach the question of S-Isa’s relation to the Old Greek (G-Isa) and Targum (T-Isa) of Isaiah. I move on to summarize the studies on the translation technique of S-Isa and explain how they have aided in determining the degree to which S-Isa may have been influenced by G- and T-Isa. I continue by adumbrating the debate on the authorship and theology of S-Isa and problematizing certain assumptions brought to the discussion. I conclude by offering a few reflections on the future of S-Isa scholarship.

Mitchel Modine

Case Studies in Recent Research on the Book of Numbers (With Attention to Non-Western Scholarship)

Scholarship on the book of Numbers continues apace, even if there is not a famous commentary that everyone must always cite. Numbers figures especially prominently in recent work on Pentateuchal source criticism. This survey will examine several recent offerings that contribute in various ways to the ongoing discussion. In addition, particular texts within Numbers continue to excite attention, both from historical-critical and postmodern perspectives. Therefore, this article will devote attention to three texts that have drawn particular attention in the past 15 years: the sotah ritual in Numbers 5, Phinehas’s killing of an Israelite man and a Moabite woman in Numbers 25, and the inheritance request of the daughters of Zelophehad in Numbers 27 and 36. In all of these areas, recent offerings from non-Western scholars will receive particular attention.

Lynne Moss Bahr

The ‘Temporal Turn’ in New Testament Studies

Reflecting a recent trend across academic disciplines, New Testament scholars are beginning to explore the concept of time and temporality, a concept not well-developed in the field. This article surveys this scholarship from the basis of three inter-related categories: social memory and historical narrative; queer and feminist theory; and apocalypticism and messianism. It addresses the question: How does the concept of time (generally, the idea of continual change) and temporality (concepts and orientations related to the experience of time) serve historical, literary, and theological aims in the New Testament? Further, the article proposes new areas of research that would expand on earlier work and also draw upon the burgeoning field of time and temporality in other disciplines.

Christopher W. Skinner

Ethics and the Gospel of John: Toward an Emerging New Consensus?

For decades the scholarly consensus held that the Fourth Gospel was either devoid of ethics or that its ethical material was narrow, exclusive, and sectarian. In recent years, that consensus has begun to show signs of wear. This article examines the more recent turn to ‘implied’ ethics by looking at four English-language books on the subject published in the past four years. This examination is undertaken with a view to tracing a newly emerging consensus, which holds that (1) the Gospel of John has ethical material, and (2) that material must be taken seriously by those reflecting on ancient ethical systems in general and New Testament ethics in particular. Further, the emerging consensus holds that the implied ethics of the Fourth Gospel, far from being strictly sectarian, are useful for reflecting on and/or constructing models of normative Christian behavior.

Friday 14 August 2020

Matt Williams on Money and Family Relationships

Matt N. Williams, Money Can’t Fix Everything: The Impact of Family Relationships on Poverty (Cambridge: Jubilee Centre, 2020).

The Jubilee Centre has published a new report, this one by Matt Williams, arguing that ‘family dysfunction is a key driver in poverty and, because of this, healthier families are a big part of the solution’.

Here are some paragraphs from the Jubilee Centre:

‘If you look at the manifestos of political parties on both the left and the right, you’ll see a pattern emerge; in many cases, tackling poverty is seen as a left-wing concern, whilst strengthening family is the sole province of the politically right. This separation of key social and economic issues along political lines is all too common. But what if, after taking a holistic look at the ugly wound of poverty, we find that it’s not just unhelpful, but impossible to talk about poverty without the family?

‘This booklet starts by painting three pictures of contemporary poverty, covering public consciousness of poverty in both Africa and the UK. In part II, it explores how we can recover the overlooked economic reality of family, arguing that the Scriptures give us a holistic perspective on family as part of a wider socio-economic vision. Finally, part III brings this biblical perspective to bear on today’s world. It suggests ways in which these ideas can be applied to face the contemporary challenge of poverty in three key areas: households, churches and government policy.’

The booklet is available as a pdf here, in exchange for an email address.

Thursday 13 August 2020

Centre for Public Christianity (July 2020)

I’m a bit late with this… However, among other items, the Centre for Public Christianity has two ‘Life and Faith’ podcasts: a discussion of introversion and extroversion (particularly in the light of this year’s lockdown), and ‘a candid conversation with former Prime Minister of Australia, Malcolm Turnbull, on career, politics, religion, and leadership’.

Wednesday 12 August 2020

Commentaries for Christian Formation

I’ve blogged on previous occasions (here, for example) about my affection for biblical commentaries.

So, I was excited to see that Eerdmans have announced a brand new commentary series – Commentaries for Christian Formation – the inaugural volume of which will be on Galatians, by N.T. Wright

Here is the series description:

‘The Commentaries for Christian Formation (CCF) series serves a central purpose of the Word of God for the people of God: faith formation. Some series focus on exegesis, some on preaching, some on teaching, and some on application. This new series integrates all these aims, serving the church by showing how sound theological exegesis can underwrite preaching and teaching, which in turn forms believers in the faith.

‘Uniting these volumes is a shared conviction that interpreting Scripture is not an end in itself. Faithful belief, prayer, and practice, deeper love of God and neighbor: these are ends of scriptural interpretation for Christians. The volumes in Commentaries for Christian Formation interpret Scripture in ways aimed at ordering readers’ lives and worship in imitation of Christ, informing their understanding of God, and animating their participation in the church’s global mission with a deepened sense of calling.’

Monday 3 August 2020

Evangelical Review of Theology 44, 3 (2020)

The World Evangelical Alliance’s Evangelical Review of Theology is becoming a free online journal, starting with its August 2020 issue (contents below).

Details of how to subscribe (a single email to the editor), along with access to issues back to January 2018, are available here.

Welcome to the New ERT

Efraim Tendero

How to Advance the Kingdom of God without Travelling

John Langlois

A Candid History of the Evangelical Review of Theology

As it becomes an open-source journal, the Evangelical Review of Theology will be new to most readers, but it has been around for a long time. John Langlois, who was there at the beginning, meshes personal recollections, theology and magic mushrooms in this fascinating story of how the journal came into existence, as part of the amazing revival of evangelical scholarship over the last fifty years.

Thomas K. Johnson

A Case for Cooperation between Evangelical Christians and Humanitarian Islam

Humanity’s ability to live together in peace and harmony – and the very lives of both Christians and peaceful Muslims in many parts of the world – are threatened by radical Islamic elements. The World Evangelical Alliance and a major Muslim organization have agreed to work together to combat threats to their shared values and articulate a positive alternative. This article explains why such an effort is justified and how it hopes to make a global impact.

Janet Epp Buckingham

Where Are the Goalposts Now? Christian Theology on Sexuality in a Changing World

In the last 20 years, as LGBTQ rights have greatly advanced, claims to religious freedom that conflict with these rights have been eroded. This paper considers the case of Trinity Western University, which was denied the right to establish a law school by two provincial law associations and the Supreme Court of Canada, and the implications for Christian behaviour in cultures that have shifted away from traditional views of human sexuality.

Brian J. Grim

Bringing God to Work: The Benefits of Embracing Religious Diversity in the Workplace

It often seems that corporations welcome and encourage diversity in every dimension except religion. In this article, a global leader on religious freedom in the business sector analyses data on US Fortune 100 companies and makes a business case for welcoming expressions of faith.

Bambang Budijanto

The Correlation between Church Growth and Discipleship: Evidence from Indonesia

This article presents and analyses data from surveys conducted by the Bilangan Research Center, which were patterned after similar surveys by the Barna Research Group in the United States. The findings have important implications for improving congregational engagement in effective disciple making.

Gary G. Hoag

Demystifying Gender Issues in 1 Timothy 2:9–15, with Help from Artemis

1 Timothy 2:9–15 is a source of considerable debate over women’s role in the church. Many aspects of the passage have long mystified interpreters. This article shows how a little-noticed contemporary love story from Ephesus may enable us to unlock this influential and often troublesome text.

Elizabeth Olayiwola

The Theology and Culture of Marriage in Nigerian Evangelical Film

Nigerian evangelicals have embraced filmmaking as a way to share Christian truth, but their transnational films expose the significant worldview differences between Christian cultures in Nigeria and the West. This article probes the somewhat mixed messages that appear in videos by Nigeria’s best-known evangelical film producer, Mike Bamiloye.

Johannes Reimer and Chris Pullenayegem

World Diasporas: An Opportunity for World Mission

Many of us who cannot leave our home country on Christian mission have world mission coming to our doorstep – in the form of increasing numbers of international refugees and migrants. This article explains the cultural situation experienced by members of today’s world diasporas and how the body of Christ can reach out to them.

Simone Twibell

Interreligious Dialogue: Towards an Evangelical Approach

Engaging with people from other religious traditions, with respect and grace while also bearing witness to our faith, can be challenging for evangelical Christians but is also a crucial part of carrying out our mission. This article surveys various types and purposes of interreligious dialogue and offers practical guidance on how and why all of us should do it.

Andrew Messmer

Faith, Hope, Love and Jesus’ Lordship: A Simple Synthesis of Christianity

Capturing the essential nature of the Christian faith in a simple phrase or set of ideas is valuable for several reasons: to keep our Christian life balanced, to evaluate our behaviour, and to explain to inquirers or new Christians what we believe and how we live out Christian obedience. Drawing on a series of illustrations from Scripture and church history, Andrew Messmer suggests describing Christianity in terms of a familiar triad: faith, hope and love.