Saturday 25 December 2021

All praise to Thee, Eternal Lord

I have fond memories of singing this in a makeshift choir which got together annually to sing some of the lesser-known carols, of which this was one my favourites.

All praise to Thee, Eternal Lord,

Clothed in a garb of flesh and blood;

Choosing a manger for Thy throne,

While worlds on worlds are Thine alone.

Once did the skies before Thee bow;

A virgin’s arms contain Thee now,

While angels, who in Thee rejoice,

Now listen for Thine infant voice.

A little Child, Thou art our Guest,

That weary ones in Thee may rest;

Forlorn and lowly is Thy birth;

That we may rise to Heaven from earth.

Thou comest in the darksome night

To make us children of the light;

To make us, in the realms divine,

Like Thine own angels round Thee shine.

All this for us Thy love hath done;

By this to Thee our love is won;

For this we tune our cheerful lays,

And sing our thanks in ceaseless praise.

Words are ascribed to Martin Luther, translated into English by an unknown author.

Friday 24 December 2021

Centre for Public Christianity (December 2021)

Among other items, the Centre for Public Christianity has this month posted a ‘Life and Faith’ podcast (here) with the team talking about Christmas – ‘the food, the gifts, the traditions, the family time – and what any of it has to do with the original story’.

Also posted (here) is an interview with theologian Sarah Coakley on ‘the problem of desire’, or ‘our relationship to sex, food, money, the body, and God’.

Lausanne Global Analysis 10, 6 (November 2021)

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

Manfred Waldemar Kohl

A Global Standard for Ministry Training

Steve Moon

Reaching the World’s Rising Nonreligious

Mark Durie

What is Islam’s Relationship to Christianity?

Eiko Takamizawa

A Korean ‘Love Sonata’ for Japan

Saturday 18 December 2021

Ink 10 (Winter 2021)

The tenth issue of ink is now available, this one including pieces on how Christmas traditions have distracted us from the story told in the Bible, on Jesus as storyteller, on cognitive linguistics and Mark’s gospel, and on reading Exodus in the light of what we know about ancient Egypt.

UK residents can sign up here to receive a bumper summer issue through the post or subscribe for the digital version of the magazine, but the publication is also available to read from here.

Friday 10 December 2021

The Unexpected Guest

I wrote this week’s ‘Connecting with Culture’, a weekly email service from the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity.

When does Christmas start in your household? At what point is it socially acceptable to put up your tree and start playing Mariah Carey’s ‘All I Want for Christmas is You’ at full pelt?

With the regularity of a liturgical calendar, the Christmas adverts on TV arguably mark the beginning of the festive period for many of us. Nowadays, the Christmas ad is as much a part of the season as Boxing Day sales, broken toys, and left-over turkey.

Although it’s perhaps lost something of its lustre over the years, the John Lewis ad is still something of a benchmark. This year’s – ‘Unexpected Guest’ – sees our young hero befriending an alien who has crash-landed their ship in his local woods.

Overcoming his initial hesitancy, he introduces the visitor to the delights of the season: wearing novelty jumpers, eating mince pies, throwing snowballs, watching schmaltzy films. And all to a stripped-back cover of the 1984 classic, ‘Together in Electric Dreams’, the tale of friendship reaching a climax with the lyric ‘love never ends’.

The ad’s tagline – ‘For a Christmas as magical as your first’ – interprets their story for us, inviting us to reach back to something more basic, more lasting, more secure.

Where might that be found?

In part, it’s found in that which the ad itself captures – in befriending strangers and sharing traditions. Treating people as unexpected guests rather than unwelcome intrusions makes sense for those who are themselves part of the story in which God loves, Jesus serves, and the Spirit ministers – in self-giving tenderness towards us. Sentiment aside, how might we demonstrate over the festive season, and beyond, a generosity of heart and home?

But in a storyline which raises the possibility of an ‘unexpected guest’ coming to earth, and with a tagline which invites us to rediscover the magic of our ‘first’ Christmas, we might be encouraged to think of the very first Christmas of all.

Whatever we make of Christmas TV ads, the longings they reflect about relationship, togetherness, and harmony come together in the one who is truly able to offer them. It’s not that the sentiments are wrong. It’s that the solution to our sense of lack is located in the wrong place. The ads lay out a need we have that can be met only in the one who came that first Christmas to set in motion a divine rescue plan – Immanuel, God with us.

Monday 6 December 2021

Journal of Biblical and Theological Studies 6.2 (2021) on Herman Bavinck

The most-recent issue of the Journal of Biblical and Theological Studies is devoted to ‘Herman Bavinck (1854-1921): A Centenary Celebration’.

The summaries of the essays below are taken from the Introduction by N. Gray Sutanto and Justin McLendon, in which they ‘suggest three particular exemplary traits in Bavinck’s life and work that are particularly noteworthy for emulation:

1. Bavinck models the importance of theological priorities.

2. Bavinck models Christian charity with every interlocutor.

3. Bavinck models an expansive vision of the Christian faith.’

The full issue is available as a pdf here.

N. Gray Sutanto and Justin McLendon

Introduction to Herman Bavinck

George Harinck

Herman Bavinck on Antirevolutionary Politics

George Harinck explores Bavinck’s views on political developments and issues within the Antirevolutionary Party, of which he was a member. Harinck presents Bavinck as a “reflective theologian,” and one whose doctrinal commitments informed his awareness and appreciation of the state’s roles in society.

James Eglinton

Planting Tulips in the Rainforest: Herman and Johan Bavinck on Christianity in East and West

James Eglinton explores an unresolved tension in the thought of the “mature Bavinck” (distinguished from the “young Bavinck”); namely, the tension between Bavinck’s views on the global export of culture and religion and his affirmation of the catholicity of the Christian faith. In his analysis, Eglinton suggests Bavinck’s nephew, the missiologist Johan Herman Bavinck (1895- 1964), sought to resolve this tension with Augustinian remedies.

Gregory Parker Jr.

Encyclopedia Bavinck: The Case of the History of the Theological Encyclopedia

Gregory Parker, Jr. provides a survey of Bavinck’s narrative regarding the historical origin and development of the theological encyclopedia. Parker believes a Reformed catholic thread exists throughout Bavinck’s encyclopedia, and he explains how Bavinck appropriated modern grammar to answer his most pressing concerns.

Jessica Joustra

Jesus the Law Restorer: Law and the Imitation of Christ in Herman Bavinck’s Reformed Ethics

Jessica Joustra explores Bavinck’s understanding of the imitation of Christ within the Christian life. Joustra describes Bavinck’s commitment to couple imitation with a traditional Reformed emphasis upon the law. In the end, Joustra believes Bavinck’s view of the imitation of Christ to bring functionally new understandings of the law.

Gayle Doornbos

Bavinck’s Doctrine of God: Absolute, Divine Personality

Gayle Doornbos engages Bavinck’s utilization of “absoluteness” and “personality” in his doctrine of God proper. Doornbos suggests this aspect of Bavinck’s thought represents a creative appropriation of modern philosophical concepts from within his classical, Reformed tradition.

Cameron Clausing

Dogmatics: A Progressive Science?

Cameron Clausing explores Bavinck’s view that Dogmatics is a progressive science. Clausing argues that Bavinck’s view was an innovative move uniquely connected to his nineteenth century milieu and theological method.

Cory Brock

Revisiting Bavinck and the Beatific Vision

Cory Brock revisits Bavinck’s view of the Beatific Vision. In doing so, Brock challenges recent critiques of Bavinck (especially from Hans Boersma) that has questioned Bavinck’s analysis of this theme. Ultimately, Brock asserts that a careful reading of Bavinck’s overall corpus demonstrates a careful eschatological unity.

Matthew Kaemingk

Christology and Economic Ethics: Herman Bavinck’s Prophet, Priest, and King in the Marketplace

Matthew Kaemingk argues that Bavinck’s Christology offers relevant instruction for the economic marketplace questions of the day. Relying on Bavinck’s munus triplex formation, Kaemingk suggests Christians employ a prophetic, priestly, and royal model of economic engagement.

Friday 3 December 2021

Theos Report on Economic Inequality

A new report from Theos has been published, this one on economic inequality.

Hannah Rich, Beyond Left and Right: Finding Consensus on Economic Inequality (London: Theos, 2021).

Here are some paragraphs from the Theos website:

‘Economic inequality is one of the defining issues of our time, both within countries and across the globe, and has gained political salience and public attention in recent years. However, measures to address it are often made difficult by the divisive and partisan nature of the problem, which hinders any consensus on how we ought to go about reducing inequality.

‘In this report, we contend that theology offers a different way of exploring excessive economic inequality, and can open up new avenues of consensus between political and social positions that have typically been at odds.’

A pdf of the full report is available here, and a launch blog post here.

Wednesday 1 December 2021

Foundations 81 (Autumn 2021)

Issue 81 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 which were first presented as papers at Affinity’s 2021 theological study conference on biblical eschatology. The summaries are take from Donald John MacLean’s editorial.

Donald John MacLean


Rupert Bentley-Taylor

The Hopes and Fears of all the Years: The Future of the Church in this Present Age

The first paper, from Rupert Bentley-Taylor, seeks to equip believers to live in the “last days” from the perspective of “optimistic amillennialism”. We are reminded that as we await Christ’s return that victory is assured, that the preaching of the gospel to all nations is the great activity of the last days, that Satan is active seeking to deceive and persecute, that the antichrist will emerge, that we are to be watchful and that there is glory ahead of us.

Paul Yeulett

“With Me in Paradise” – Questions About the So-Called “Intermediate State”

In the second paper Paul Yeulett seeks to cover the topic, “Questions About the So-Called ‘Intermediate State’: Is it Biblical and it is Pastorally Helpful?” Paul argues that for believers the “intermediate state is such that the souls of believers, immediately after death, go to be ‘forever with the Lord’, with the risen and exalted Christ himself, which Paul declared to be ‘far better’ (Phil 1:23)”. After an interesting historical overview, Paul argues persuasively from scripture for his position.

Michael Horton

The End is Not the Beginning... In Fact, Not Even the End

Michael Horton of Westminster Seminary California provides the third paper which gives us an “investigation into what the Early Church Fathers, especially Irenaeus and Origen, understood about the human body, soul and spirit, especially in the light of Christ’s ascension and the eternal state.” Aside from the historical theology, and answers to questions like “So, will there be hairdressers in heaven?” we are treated to a rich biblical theological study of Psalm 68 in the light of its citation in Ephesians 4.

Gareth Burke

All Israel will be Saved: The Future of “Israel” with particular reference to Romans 11:26a

The fourth paper covers the much-debated question of the Pauline references to the future of Israel in Romans 11… After providing an outline of Paul’s teaching in Romans through to the end of chapter 11 we are given an exegesis of Rom 11:25-27, and in particular v26a, “And in this way all Israel will be saved.” The paper supports the exegetical position of John Murray that this verse (indeed Romans 11 more generally) teaches a future conversion of national Israel.

Paul Mallard 

The Business of Heaven

The fifth, and final, paper from Paul Mallard provides us with biblical and pastoral reflections on the nature and character of the world to come. In this paper we are treated to discussion of the location of the heavenly life, the nature and the activities of the heavenly life, what the Bible sees as the primary business of heaven (the enjoyment of God) and the practical and pastoral implications of these topics.

Book Reviews

Monday 29 November 2021

Evangelical Review of Theology 45, 4 (November 2021)

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

Introduction: Articles with a Long Shelf Life

Thomas Schirrmacher

Paul Was a Religious Extremist Too

Andrew Messmer

The Inspiration, Authority and Inerrancy of Scripture in the History of Christian Thought

This article traces attitudes towards the Bible amongst leading Christian thinkers from the early church to the present, showing that (with some change in how the concepts have been understood) the church has generally affirmed the Bible’s inspiration, authority and inerrancy ever since the formation of the New Testament canon. Organized into four major time periods, the article should be a valuable resource for all who wish to uphold the Bible’s credibility.

Glenn N. Davies

The Relation between Biblical Law and Christian Faith

This article masterfully, through parallel sections with ample scriptural support, depicts the continuity of God’s dealing with humanity across both Old Testament and New Testament times with regard to law, grace and obedience.

Dennis P. Petri

Christians in Cuba: Dealing with Subtle Forms of Repression

The restrictions on religious freedom imposed by the Cuban state – a direct consequence of the authoritarian nature of the regime and its atheist and anti- religious ideology – are well-known. Much less understood is the subtle nature of the vulnerability of Christians, especially after the changes that have occurred since the 1990s. This article examines their situation in depth.

Peirong Lin

Building the Kingdom of God in Europe: Reflecting Theologically on One’s Self-Understanding

In this short essay, the WEA’s Deputy Secretary General, a Singapore native now working in Europe, reflects on her experience as a foreign woman in a male- dominated, sometimes unfriendly context and develops an understanding of how she – and, by extension, all of us – can build the kingdom of God each day, wherever we are.

Ebenezer Yaw Blasu and Joshua D. Settles

The ‘Surprise’ in Mission History: Prospects for African Cross-Cultural Mission to the West

The Christian mission enterprise has grown greatly in multi-cultural understanding since the famed Edinburgh World Missionary Conference of 1910, but in some ways, Western Christianity still strains to open itself to the empowering influences of the burgeoning church in Africa. This article reviews historical developments, through a fascinating comparison between 1910 and 2010, and offers concrete suggestions from an African perspective.

James Reiher

The Letter to Philemon: Its Background and Enduring Significance

Philemon is a short letter with a compelling – but implicit – story line. This article carefully investigates the main theories as to what lay behind the fascinating interaction of Paul, Philemon and Onesimus and identifies the contemporary applications we can make regardless of which theory is true.

D. Apostle

Locust Attacks in India and in the Book of Joel: Are They the Same?

COVID-19 and other natural threats have intensified speculation amongst various Christian groups as to whether ‘the end is near’. This article responds to one recent set of speculations, following the severe locust attacks of 2020 in India and parts of Africa, and suggests a more reasoned response to the question of whether they fulfil Joel’s prophecies.

Book Reviews

Monday 22 November 2021

Didache 21, 1 (2021)

The latest issue of Didache (sponsored by the International Board of Education of the Church of the Nazarene) is now online. The summaries are taken from Dean Blevins’ Introduction. It, and the individual essays, are available from here.

Dean G. Blevins


Douglas S. Hardy

The Journal of Christian Spiritual Formation

The edition opens with Dr. Douglas Hardy’s working platform for spiritual formation with ministry students in mind. His journey model, anchored in the concept of persons-in-relation and dedicated to the love of God and neighbor, follows the writing of Lancelot Andrewes to provide guidelines for spiritual formation.

G. Michael Leffel

Embodied Virtue: A Model of Virtuous Caring for Practical Theology and Christian Formation

Mike Leffel then offers a comprehensive guide to moral formation in love, particularly a love that cares for others. Leffel draws from his extensive background in moral psychology to develop a powerful dialog with Randy Maddox’s exploration of John Wesley’s moral affectional psychology. The dialog results in a new strategy for shaping the moral virtues of congregants and clergy alike in the future. Leffel’s work undergirds a new initiative by Point Loma Nazarene University’s Center for Pastoral Leadership, and Nazarene Theological Seminary, to offer a new curriculum that guides people into a caring love for others reminiscent of the parable of the Good Samaritan, a much-needed approach to our current divisive culture.

Ernesto Lozano Fernández

Christian Faith Formation and the Process of Transformation in the Wesleyan Spirit

Ernesto Lozano Fernández surveys the language of transformative education to provide a renewed vision of faith formation in a Wesleyan tradition to serve his current context of Peru and South America in general.

Zachariah Ellis

A Brief History of Shared Leadership in the Church of the Nazarene

Zach Ellis explores the new, yet old, vision of shared leadership both in the Wesleyan tradition and particularly in the Church of the Nazarene. Ellis’ survey reminds readers of the power of shared leadership versus more hierarchical models of oversight and control that often dominate during times of fear and uncertainty.

Dean G. Blevins

Outcome or Ability? Recovering Excellence in Theological Education

Blevins’ article provides an accounting of the challenges of both classically minded theological training and contemporary outcomes-based education for clergy education, particularly in the USA/Canada Region of the Church of the Nazarene. While regionally based, hopefully, the accounting provides insights into the myriad influences to clergy education and offers one response by moving to a virtues-related approach that might preserve the integrity, and intensity, of ministry disciplines.

Dan Boone

The Role of the Christian University in the Church of the Nazarene

Dan Boone reprises an earlier article on the importance of Nazarene Higher Education. That article opens with a reflection upon the USA crisis of 9/11, and it seems appropriate to return and update this writing considering the twenty-year anniversary of that event if only to remind the church of the pressing need for higher education to provide both critical investigation and civil discourse in the face of new and continuing crises. The writing reflects both the continuing insights of Dr. Boone but also the reflective heart of the late Ed Robinson. In a season of confrontation and control, higher education provides a careful, deliberative, response.

Friday 19 November 2021

Christian History Magazine on Christian Civic Engagement

The latest issue of Christian History Magazine is devoted to the topic of ‘City of Man: Christian Civic Engagement through the Ages’.

Here’s the issue blurb:

‘How do Christians live as citizens of a fallen world? The question of civic engagement is one that the church has been asking since its earliest days, and this is how it has often answered: This world is not our ultimate home, but we must work for its good while we live in it. Meet the believers who sought to live faithfully in the world without being consumed by it; sometimes by working hand-in-hand with the state; sometimes enduring its persecution. Discover how they did all these things as a way to follow Jesus in this issue of CH.’

The whole magazine is available as a 11.4 MB pdf here.

Wednesday 17 November 2021

Mission Frontiers 43, 6 (November-December 2021)

The November-December 2021 issue of Mission Frontiers, published by the U.S. Center for World Mission, contains a number of articles exploring the question: ‘Think you have a biblical worldview?’

Here is the issue blurb, which sets the scene:

‘The mission of God is a battle for the hearts and minds of billions of people, both inside and outside the Church. All truth is God’s truth and we must conform our beliefs, values and thinking to His truth. How we think about God and ourselves affects everything else in the world since our thinking affects our actions. The battles we face in the physical world such as poverty, disease, war, human trafficking, and on and on, are at their roots a battle for the mind. This is why God calls us to renew our minds and take every thought captive to Christ. Bad thinking leads to bad outcomes both personally and globally. All the crises we face in the world are, in reality, a spiritual/worldview crisis.

‘This issue focuses on how our worldviews are shaped, and how we can review, refine and renew those worldviews to align with the perspective that God wants for us.’

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

Tuesday 16 November 2021

International Journal for Religious Freedom

I recently came across the International Journal for Religious Freedom, the journal of the International Institute for Religious Freedom.

The IJRF ‘aims to provide a platform for scholarly discourse on religious freedom and persecution. It is an interdisciplinary, international, peer reviewed journal, serving the dissemination of new research on religious freedom and contains research articles, documentation, book reviews, academic news and other relevant items’.

Individual articles or the full copy of the latest issue can be downloaded free of charge here.

Friday 12 November 2021

Credo 11, 3 (2021) on Confessions

The current issue of Credo is available, this one devoted to the topic of the ‘We Believe: Confessions Every Christian Should Read’.

Here’s the blurb:

‘If holy scripture is sufficient and authoritative, why do we need confessions? Retrieving the time-tested wisdom of the church’s confessions does not contradict but complements a high view of scripture. Confessions, at their best, serve to keep the church faithful, holding both the layman and pastor alike accountable to scriptural truth. In our biblically illiterate society, the historic confessions can help us regain and retain biblical orthodoxy, the faith once for all delivered to the saints. It is to our peril if we ignore the witness of the past, inviting the heresies of yesterday into the church of today. But when we declare these confessions together, we identify ourselves with our family history, a faithful lineage of believers who have fought hard to offer a mature articulation of the faith. In this issue of Credo Magazine, readers are introduced to some of the most important Protestant confessions and summoned to listen with humility for the sake of our present and future fidelity.’

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

Monday 1 November 2021

Mike McKinley on Luke 1–12

Every month, The Good Book Company make available digital versions of one of their books at no charge. This month (November 2021) it’s Luke 1–12 for You by Mike McKinley, which is available in exchange for an email address here.

Tuesday 19 October 2021

Centre for Public Christianity (September and October 2021)

In September, the Centre for Public Christianity posted a ‘Life and Faith’ podcast (here) with CPX’s own Justine Toh talking about her new book on achievement addiction – ‘what it’s like for all of us to live in a world that’s obsessed with success’ – and another one (here) with journalist Greg Sheridan, discussing his new book, Christians: The Urgent Case for Jesus in our World.

This month sees an interview (here) with Jenny Brown on ‘the spectrum of mental health, maturity, and how we change in the context of the “family systems” we’re part of’.

Friday 15 October 2021

Jim Memory on Europe in 2021

The Lausanne Movement has just posted a piece by Jim Memory on ‘The Extraordinary Re-Evangelization of Europe’.

It’s an excerpt from a recent report he has written, which Chris Wright has called ‘essential reading for all those who, in any part of the world, are concerned about mission in, from, and to the continent of Europe’.

The report, which is well worth checking out and reading, is available via Vista, with more information available here.

‘The report identifies the crucial issues and trends which are shaping the context for Christian mission in Europe today. It provides an analysis of the key political, economic, social, environmental, and technological trends; of the most important spiritual challenges; and of the shifts in mission thinking that are impacting the practice of Christian mission today. And in every case, it considers how the Covid-19 has impacted these trends.

‘The report concludes with an exploration of the implications that each of these trends has for those of us who are involved in Christian mission in Europe today.’

The Report is available to download here, and an accompanying Discussion Guide can be downloaded here.

Wednesday 13 October 2021

The Kirby Laing Centre on Søren Kierkegaard and Spirituality

The inaugural volume of Nuances from the Kirby Laing Centre for Public Theology has just been made available, this one devoted to ‘Søren Kierkegaard and Spirituality: A Dialogue with C. Stephen Evans’.

It began as an event organised by the Centre, and all four presentations are available to watch from here, from where also a print copy of the journal can be ordered. Alternatively, a downloadable pdf of the collection of essays is available here.

Wednesday 6 October 2021

Amy Donovan on Creation Care

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

Amy Donovan, ‘Reducing disaster risk: Creation care and neighbour love’, Cambridge Papers 30, 3 (September 2021).

Here is the summary:

‘This paper uses current research in disaster studies to argue that for Christians, caring for the environment – whether in seeking to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, prevent pollution or preserve biodiversity – is a form of neighbour love. Environmental disasters are widely accepted in the scientific community as being the result not so much of natural processes as of human ills – the populations that suffer most in disasters tend to be the poorest people in the poorest parts of the world. Furthermore, environmental degradation and climate change are enhancing the intensity and impacts of disasters – particularly on livelihoods and access to water – and the suffering that results from this disproportionately affects the poorest and most marginal groups in society. Christians have a responsibility to help in practical ways to reduce suffering in the world, because the God of grace who saved us cares for this world.’

Monday 27 September 2021

Paul Windsor on Calvin Klein

There’s a helpful post here from Paul Windsor, clocking the ‘remarkable ability’ of the Calvin Klein machine ‘to capture the spirit of the age and to express it in a single word’ – most recently, ‘defy’.

He sees these as contemporary equivalents to the ‘altar with an inscription’ (Acts 17:23) and ‘some of your own poets’ (Acts 17:28) in Athens, noting that the apostle Paul ‘was flexible enough to commence his preaching from “texts” in his culture — and then he was creative enough to move from there to Jesus’.

Monday 20 September 2021

Lausanne Global Analysis 10, 5 (September 2021)

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

Peter Brierley

Christianity in the UK

Aaron Lewin

Reaching Israelis in Berlin

Phil Butler

Growing Churches in Hostile Contexts

Mary Ho

When Leaders Drink Tea Together

Wednesday 8 September 2021

Mission Frontiers 43, 5 (September-October 2021)

The September-October 2021 issue of Mission Frontiers, published by the U.S. Center for World Mission, contains a number of articles exploring the question: ‘Is the World Still a Waffle?’

Here is the issue blurb, which sets the scene:

‘The world is a very different place than it was nearly 50 years ago when the people group paradigm was birthed. Should the missions community still view the world as a waffle? Is traditional ethnolinguistic people group thinking still relevant? This issue will address how the waffle barriers are changing. Global trends are creating new social dynamics and changing both the barriers and boundaries by which groups are defined. New hybrid, trans-national and dynamic groupings must be considered for evangelistic purposes, Disciple Making and Church Planting Movements. Most of the material in this issue is important in shaping our thinking.’

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

Monday 6 September 2021

Christian History Magazine on C.S. Lewis

The latest issue of Christian History Magazine is devoted to the topic of ‘Jack at Home: C.S. Lewis and those who knew him best’.

Here’s the issue blurb:

‘Why are we still so fascinated with C.S. Lewis? The list of reasons is long: he is one of the most famous fantasy authors of the 20th century; he was an accomplished scholar, a prominent Christian, and a gifted apologist. His books remain bestsellers, and movies have been based on his life and works. For many, C.S. Lewis is larger than life. But sometimes his fame gets in the way of us seeing him as a person. In this new issue on Lewis, CH shows you the man behind the fame: not just as an apologist, fantasy author, and scholar, but as a son, brother, friend, mentor, student, teacher, husband, and stepfather. Meet his ancestors, family, and many of his friends – all of whom were as fascinating as he. Discover C.S. Lewis in a new light, or meet him for the first time in this latest issue of Christian History.”

The whole magazine is available as a 16.1 MB pdf here.

Wednesday 1 September 2021

Mark Meynell on Colossians and Philemon

Every month, The Good Book Company make available digital versions of one of their books at no charge. This month (September 2021) it’s Colossians & Philemon for You by Mark Meynell – which is excellent – and is available in exchange for an email address here.

Tuesday 31 August 2021

Credo 11, 2 (2021) on Creeds

The current issue of Credo is available, this one devoted to the topic of the ‘We Believe: Creeds Every Christian Should Read’.

Here’s the blurb:

‘If evangelicals are anything, they are a Bible people; a people of the book who hold the Holy Scriptures as sufficient and authoritative. This is undoubtedly a good thing. But must this high view of Scripture lead to a depreciated view of the Church’s historic creeds? Too often, evangelicals are tempted to answer this question in the affirmative. This is a grave mistake, however, for while the Scriptures are authoritative and sufficient in their own right, they still must be interpreted. At their best, the creeds have functioned as faithful interpretations of the Scriptures; well-forged articulations of the faith once for all delivered to the saints. The creeds are the collected wisdom of Christ’s Church, and confessing them is a way for evangelicals today to take Christ at his word when he promised that he would build his Church, and that the gates of hell would not prevail against it. When we read and confess the ancient creeds, we are self-consciously identifying ourselves with our family history. In this issue of Credo Magazine, readers are invited to listen to the past and to be reminded of the best early creeds of the Christian faith.’

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

Thursday 26 August 2021

Themelios 46, 2 (August 2021)

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


D.A. Carson

A Biblical Theology of Education

Strange Times

Daniel Strange

No Longer Humans, but Angels (and Demons) 

Cory Barnes

Testimonies of Faith and Fear: Canaanite Responses to YHWH’s Work in Joshua

This article surveys five narrative passages in which Canaanites hear of the works YHWH has done on Israel’s behalf and act according to what they have heard (Josh 2:10–11; 9:1–2; 9:3, 9; 10:1–2; 11:1). Using some basic tools from narrative criticism, the article explores each passage by analyzing the characters who hear of YHWH’s work, the content of the message they receive, and their reaction to the message. The analysis of the narratives provides insight into the theology of the book of Joshua and informs theological method for contemporary readers of the OT. 

Justin Jackson

The Bows of the Mighty Are Broken: The “Fall” of the Proud and the Exaltation of the Humble in 1 Samuel

Modern scholarship has questioned the literary unity of Samuel’s Narrative (especially 1 Samuel), concluding that Samuel presents a fractured and, oftentimes, contradictory theological message. This article seeks to demonstrate 1 Samuel’s literary unity by highlighting the great reversal motif and the “fall” of the arrogant. The author explores four “falls” and the subsequent exaltations of the humble. The unified theological message of 1 Samuel is that God humbles the self-exalting and exalts the humble, thereby proving his sovereignty and his plan to raise up a humble prince to reign over God’s people.

Douglas S. Huffman

A Two-Dimensional Taxonomy of Forms for the NT Use of the OT

The field of the New Testament’s use of the Old Testament is encumbered with ambiguously defined terminology, especially with regard to such form labels as citation, quotation, paraphrase, allusion, echo, and the like. Refining the labels and their definitions, this article goes further in recommending a two-dimensional taxonomy that visually portrays the overlapping relationships of the various form classifications. The two-dimensional continuum charts the presence of introductory formulae on one axis and the level of verbal similarities on the other axis. This layout allows for some of the ambiguity that seems inherent in discussions of particular NT passages, but it can also help scholars see that their differences in classifying particular NT uses of the OT are not as far apart as previously imagined. Thus, the recommended two-dimensional taxonomy provides something of a playing field for scholarly discussions regarding the proper application of form labels for NT uses of the OT.

Joshua Maurer and Ty Kieser

Jesus, “Adopted Son of God”? Romans 1:4, Orthodox Christology, and Concerns about a Contemporary Conclusion

Rooted in readings of Romans 1:4, some recent evangelical theologians have advocated for the claim that Christ was “adopted” by God while still seeking to align their position with classical Christology. This article argues that these attempts to hold Jesus’s adoption and the christological affirmations of the ecumenical councils together are unsuccessful. Specifically, we suggest that this affirmation of Jesus’s adoption by God rests upon unwarranted soteriological premises, implies unwanted christological implications, and is exegetically unnecessary. Ultimately, the good news of our adoption is rooted in the immutable foundation of Christ’s eternal Sonship. 

Jeremy Kimble

Exclusion from the People of God: An Examination of Paul’s Use of the Old Testament in 1 Corinthians 5

1 Corinthians 5:1–13 serves as a key text when speaking about the topic of church discipline. Verse 13 provides a crucial example of how the NT uses the OT. However, to understand its full significance for one’s reading of 1 Corinthians 5, one must see how the quoted text is utilized within the book of Deuteronomy on numerous occasions. The aim of this article is to demonstrate that Paul’s exhortation to the church in Corinth is intensified in a distinctive manner when one understands how Paul is seeking to use the OT in his argument. Namely, this rebuke from the apostle reveals an eschatological trajectory for excommunication, which, as a present judgment by the church, serves as a declarative sign toward the future judgment of God. 

Florenc Mene

Diognetus and the Parting of the Ways

Is it possible to speak of a real separation between Jewish and Christian communities in the first two centuries of the Christian era? A major strand of scholarship denies the tenability of the traditional Parting of Ways position, which has argued for a separation between Christians and Jews at some point in the second century. The purpose of this article is to explore what the second-century Letter to Diognetus reveals about its author’s attitude regarding the Jew-Christian relationship at that time and from that community’s perspective. After exploring four of the document’s features, which reveal the author’s attitude regarding the Jew-Christian relations, this article concludes that Diognetus seems to reflect a historical situation where Jews and Christians were viewed as separate entities, at least for its locality.

Dennis Greeson

Beginning at the End of All Things: Abraham Kuyper’s and Klaas Schilder’s Eschatological Visions of Culture

Abraham Kuyper’s theology of culture is gaining interest in the English- speaking world, especially among those outside the Dutch Reformed tradition. Historic debates in the Dutch Reformed tradition over Kuyper’s hallmark doctrine of common grace often seem parochial or irrelevant to contemporary engagement with his thought. Revisiting one figure in those debates, this essay argues that Klaas Schilder, one of Kuyper’s most vocal critics, offers an important counterbalance to problematic features of Kuyper’s theology. While the divide between Kuyper and Schilder has historically been severe, consideration of their similarities regarding their eschatological vision of Christian cultural creation offers a way to harmonize their differences.

Hans Madueme and Robert Erle Barham

Stories that Gleam like Lightning: The Outrageous Idea of Christian Fiction

We live our faith “in a condition of doubt and uncertainty,” writes Charles Taylor. Even, it seems, literary artists. In this article we argue that much contemporary fiction conforms to Taylor’s concept of secularity. We consider the relative absence of stories that dramatize spiritual realities consistent with Scripture, and we note a tendency to qualify robust Christian perspectives by means of historical context. We then propose an unapologetically Christian fiction, one that offers fictional worlds harmonious with a biblical picture of reality and that resists conformity to secularity’s spiritual ambivalence. Such Christian storytelling has the potential to transform the imagination and remind us that this world is a theater bursting with God’s glory.

Robert P. Menzies

A Tale of Two Stories: Amos Yong’s Mission after Pentecost and T’ien Ju-K’ang’s Peaks of Faith

This article contrasts two books on missiology: Amos Yong’s Mission after Pentecost and T’ien Ju-K’ang’s Peaks of Faith. The author argues that Yong’s approach, shaped by a post-colonial hermeneutic, dismisses the urgency of verbal witness, the significance of eschatological judgment, and the need for conversion. Thus, Yong falsely asserts the modern missions movement is dead. However, in Peaks of Faith T’ien Ju-K’ang offers a well-documented account of the powerful impact of the gospel in Southwest China from 1880 to 1985. The story of missions that T’ien tells is radically different from the caricature produced by Yong’s post-colonial critique. 

Kevin DeYoung

The Making of Biblical Womanhood: A Review

Beth Allison Barr’s influential book The Making of Biblical Womanhood sets out to demonstrate the historical roots of “biblical womanhood,” a system of Christian patriarchy that is not really Christian. This review article poses two key questions, both of which point to significant weaknesses in Barr’s argument. First, does Barr, as a historian, deal fairly and accurately with the proponents of “biblical womanhood”? Second, does Barr, as a historian, deal fairly and accurately with the historical evidence she cites in opposition to “biblical womanhood”? Specific examples of historical half- truths reveal a more comprehensive problem with Barr’s methodology, which reflects a “heads I win, tails you lose” approach to history. 

Book Reviews

Friday 20 August 2021

Evangelical Alliance UK on Following Jesus

What kind of follower?, produced by the Evangelical Alliance UK, is ‘a reflective, easy-to-follow study guide to inspire every believer to have the space for honest conversations about walking with Jesus and help navigate the main challenges we face as we try and live as followers of Jesus in this generation’.

The four-session study guide can be downloaded as a pdf here, and the four accompanying films can be viewed here.

Thursday 12 August 2021

Ethics in Conversation on Work and Worship

The latest Ethics in Conversation (formerly Ethics in Brief), from the Kirby Laing Centre is a review by Jon Hyde and David McIlroy of the significant work of Matthew Kaemingk and Cory B Wilson, Work and Worship: Reconnecting Our Labor and Liturgy (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2020). It’s available as a pdf here.

Wednesday 11 August 2021

The Journal of Inductive Biblical Studies 8, 1 (2021)

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

Suzanne Nicholson

The Two Spotlights of Inductive Bible Study and Narrative Criticism

Narrative criticism and inductive Bible study share many key features, such as intensive investigation of textual details, recognition of the importance of viewing a book as a whole, and specific techniques for analyzing passages. Biblical narratives do not simply describe the events in the lives of Israelite kings, prophets, or Jesus and the early church. Rather, these highly crafted narratives lead the reader to theological conclusions through creative plot structures, characterizations, point of view, and other tools. Theological truth springs from literary art. When IBS intentionally includes narrative criticism as part of its analysis of biblical narrative, a deeper understanding of the text will emerge. This paper will focus on examples from the Gospels and Acts, with a more detailed look at Acts 15.

Wilbert Webster White

The Resurrection Body “According to the Scriptures,” Chapter Four

Wilbert Webster White

The Resurrection Body “According to the Scriptures,” Chapter Five

Dorothy Jean Weaver

On Serving and Sitting: A Curious, Upside-Down Story about Discipleship (Luke 10:38–42)

This sermon presents the biblical text of Luke 10:38–42 and offers a “traditional” interpretation of this text. This “traditional” interpretation hinges (1) on Jesus’ rebuke of Martha (10:41) and (2) on Jesus’ commendation of Mary (10:42). Such an interpretation, however, leaves the almost unavoidable impression that Jesus is ungrateful for Martha’s efforts in doing the “women’s work” and cooking a meal for a large crowd of people. The sermon then deconstructs this “traditional” interpretation as it re-examines the text of Luke 10:38–42, paying special attention to the broader Lukan usage of the key vocabulary here, namely “serve” (diakoneo): 10:40a/b) with regard to Martha and “listen/hear” (akouo: 10:39) with regard to Mary. This reexamination leads to the paired conclusions that (1) Mary the contemplative will be called to active response to her “listening/hearing” (cf. Luke 6:46–49; 8:19–21; 11:27–28), while (2) Martha the activist – whose “service” reflects nothing less than the “service” of Jesus himself (22:25–27; cf. 12:37) – is even now called to “listening/hearing” as the foundation for her life of activism (cf. Luke 10:42).

Thursday 5 August 2021

Theos Report on Work

A new report from Theos has been published, this one exploring ‘how we can rediscover patterns of rest for human beings and for ecosystems’.

Paul Bickley and Barbara Ridpath, Just Work: Humanising the Labour Market in a Changing World (London: Theos, 2021).

Here are some paragraphs from the Theos website:

‘Currently, the world of work is facing three great disruptions: the technological (AI, machine learning, and automation), the ecological (climate change, loss of biodiversity), and anthropological (human vulnerability – seen through the pandemic, migration and declining birth rates). Any of these would see many jobs eliminated, replaced, or changed. Together they create an unpredictable environment in which work could be dehumanised – or, we could seize these disruptions as an opportunity to humanise work and working conditions.

‘As the relationship between work, time and place changes, there is a need to rediscover patterns of rest for human beings and for ecosystems.

‘We have three key proposals:

1. Paid employment is the main – but not the only – form of work… Our collective aim should be a ‘full work’ rather than ‘full employment’ economy…

2. All stakeholders need to recognise the human priority in work…

3. Dissolving boundaries between employment and leisure – exacerbated during the pandemic – have negatively affected many workers.’

A pdf of the full report is available here, and a launch blog post here.

Tuesday 3 August 2021

Michael Jensen on Grace

Every month, The Good Book Company make available digital versions of one of their books at no charge. This month (August 2021) it’s Is forgiveness really free? And other questions about grace, the law and being saved by Michael Jensen, available in exchange for an email address here.

Friday 30 July 2021

Evangelical Review of Theology 45, 3 (August 2021)

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

Thomas Schirrmacher

John Stott: The Greatest Modern Model of Evangelical Theology

Aiah Dorkuh Foday-Khabenje

Byang Kato: Africa’s Foremost Twentieth-Century Evangelical Theological Leader

In the mid-twentieth century, Byang Kato swam against the tide of accommodating traditional African religious ideas within African Christianity. His energetic articulation and defence of historic Christian truth remain influential today. In this article, one of his successors describes Kato’s personal story, theological work and ongoing importance.

Daniel Eguiluz

‘Many Shepherds, One Flock’: An Evangelical Retrieval of Cyprian’s Model of Church Unity

Evangelicals express Christian unity through global and parachurch organizations, but evangelical denominations and congregations often remain isolated from each other. This article seeks a way out of that box by going back to a time 18 centuries ago when achieving unity was difficult but essential for Christians.

Thomas K. Johnson

Christian Proclamation and God’s Universal Grace

Tell a Muslim or Hindu that they need to accept the Trinity, and you probably won’t get very far. But if you start from shared assumptions about the blessings we receive from our creator and then explain how Christian theology helps to make sense of those blessings, you might be more successful. This article details, in Pauline fashion, ways to develop such themes.

Frank Hinkelmann

The Evangelical Alliance’s Commitment to Religious Liberty in Austria during the Second Half of the 19th Century

Even in the late 19th century, being an evangelical Protestant in some parts of western Europe was dangerous. Drawing extensively on original documents, this article describes global evangelicals’ determined efforts to secure religious freedom for their compatriots in Austria.

Thomas Schirrmacher

Catholics and Evangelicals and Their Future Relations

Today, Catholics and evangelicals have friendly relationships of mutual respect and cooperation in many parts of the world, but some criticize this friendliness on theological grounds. What forms should their relationship take, given the continuing differences between these two streams of Christianity? In this carefully considered message, the WEA’s leader gives his view.

Martina Kessler and Volker Kessler

How the Evangelical Alliance in Germany Is Addressing Abuse of Religious Power

In 2015, the Evangelical Alliance in Germany established a mediation centre to deal with power abuse in religious contexts. After a short background discussion of religious power abuse, the paper explains the history, procedures and guidelines of this mediation centre, along with its potential and limitations.

Fritz Gerald M. Melodi

Virgilio Enriquez and Dietrich Bonhoeffer in Dialogue: Discerning a Theology of Solidarity in Philippine Kapwa-Culture

Christians should be collectivist (in the sense of caring about their community) but not to the extent of abandoning Christian truth to peer pressure or popular opinion. How do we find a balance? This article approaches the question by comparing a Philippine psychologist to the ‘Christ-for-us’ theology of Dietrich Bonhoeffer.