Friday 26 February 2021

The Kirby Laing Centre (February 2021)

The Kirby Laing Institute for Christian Ethics (KLICE) has become an independent charity now called The Kirby Laing Centre for Public Theology in Cambridge (KLC).

According to their website, ‘KLC is committed to foster and nurture public theology and Christian scholarship, rooted in spirituality, practiced in community, oriented toward the question how then shall we live?

In the latest article in their Nuances in Public Theology series, KLC’s Director, Craig Bartholomew, reflects on the tools we need to integrate our scholarship and our Christian faith. The article (‘The Bible and Other Texts: The Character of Scripture and its Role in our Scholarship’) is available as a pdf here.

In addition, Ethics in Conversation (formerly Ethics in Brief) ‘offers succinct, insightful Christian perspectives on a range of contemporary ethical issues’. In the February 2021 edition, Matthew Wiley engages with Vernon White’s book, Purpose and Providence: Taking Soundings in Western Thought, Literature, and Theology. The review is available as a pdf here.

Wednesday 24 February 2021

The Stott Legacy Podcast

2021 marks the centenary of John Stott’s birth. There’s a website here, looking at his life and impact, with links to some of his sermons, and an accompanying blog here.

As part of this, my friend Mark Meynell has just announced the launch of The Stott Legacy podcast, with the first two episodes already available.

Mark notes that during the next 12 months, he will be ‘chatting with individuals from around the world, from all kinds of backgrounds and cultures, about how their lives have been impacted by John Stott’.

The podcast is available via the usual channels, as well as via an associated website here.

Monday 22 February 2021

Christian History Magazine on How the Bible Has Shaped the USA

The latest issue of Christian History Magazine is devoted to the topic of ‘America’s Book: How the Bible Helped Shape a Nation’.

Here’s a paragraph from the Editorial:

‘In American history the Bible has looked large [in many ways]. So many, in fact, that we’re going to publish two issues on it. This, the first, explores the way the Bible has formed much of our civic life – animating governmental ideals, shaping national identity, prompting reform, causing political union and political division, and supplying novelists and artists and songwriters with fertile creative material. We’ll follow this up next year with the story of how the Bible has been used in the American church – from Sunday schools and Bible quizzing to preaching, hymn-writing, liturgy-shaping, and the founding of specifically American denominations.’

The whole magazine is available as a 7.5 MB pdf here.

Saturday 20 February 2021

Currents in Biblical Research 19, 2 (February 2021)

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

Brad E. Kelle

Moral Injury and Biblical Studies: An Early Sampling of Research and Emerging Trends

Moral injury emerged within clinical psychology and related fields to refer to a non-physical wound (psychological and emotional pain and its effects) that results from the violation (by oneself or others) of a person’s deepest moral beliefs (about oneself, others, or the world). Originally conceived in the context of warfare, the notion has now expanded to include the morally damaging impact of various non-war-related experiences and circumstances. Since its inception, moral injury has been an intersectional and cross-disciplinary term and significant work has appeared in psychology, philosophy, medicine, spiritual/pastoral care, chaplaincy, and theology. Since 2015, biblical scholarship has engaged moral injury along two primary trajectories: 1) creative re-readings of biblical stories and characters informed by insights from moral injury; and 2) explorations of the postwar rituals and symbolic practices found in biblical texts and how they might connect to the felt needs of morally injured persons. These trajectories suggest that the engagement between the Bible and moral injury generates a two-way conversation in which moral injury can serve as a heuristic that brings new meanings out of biblical texts, and the critical study of biblical texts can contribute to the attempts to understand, identify, and heal moral injury.

Gert T.M. Prinsloo

Reading the Masoretic Psalter as a Book: Editorial Trends and Redactional Trajectories

The publication of Gerald H. Wilson’s The Editing of the Hebrew Psalter in 1985 marked a distinct shift in approaches to Psalms research. This article reviews this shift from psalm to Psalter exegesis. North American scholarship tends to follow a synchronic approach and to describe the shape of the Psalter. German scholarship tends to use a diachronic perspective and trace the shaping of the Psalter to explain how it attained its final form. There are growing signs of dialogue and convergence between these two main approaches to the editing of the Hebrew Psalter, which overshadow form-critical and liturgical approaches to the editing of the Psalter. Adherents of the shape and the shaping approach tend to propose a specific theme, organizational principle, or redactional intent to explain the Psalter’s final form. The multi-faceted nature of the Psalter and its long and complex history imply that, in spite of a multitude of publications, the last word on editorial trends and redactional trajectories has not been spoken.

Timothy A. Gabrielson

Parting Ways or Rival Siblings? A Review and Analysis of Metaphors for the Separation of Jews and Christians in Antiquity

Since the early 1990s, ‘the parting of the ways’ has become academic shorthand, especially in anglophone scholarship, for the separation of Jews and Christians in antiquity. Often it is associated with a onetime, global break that occurred by the end of the second century, particularly over one or more theological issues. This model has been challenged as being too tidy. Other images have been offered, most notably that of ‘rival siblings’, but the ‘parting’ model remains supreme. Consensus has shifted in other ways, however. The ‘parting’, or better, ‘partings’, is now understood to be a localized, protracted, and multifaceted process that likely began in the second century and continued into or past the fourth century. It is also suggested here that the current debate covers five distinguishable topics: (1) mutual religious recognition, (2) the continued existence of ‘Jewish Christians’, (3) religious interaction, (4) social concourse, and (5) outsider classification.

Wednesday 17 February 2021

Didache 20, 2 (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


Benjamin Espinoza

Humanizing Anthropos, Resisting Humanitas: Conceptualizing the Academic Labor of Latinx Faculty in Theological Education

Espinoza draws from Nishinti Osamu’s conceptualization of Anthropos and Humanitas as one explanatory system to understand how White European humans (Humanitas) created a colonial world order which tended to discard or colonize others (Anthropos). Dr. Espinoza then documents how Latinx theological educators resist this vision of Humanitas as they work to legitimize their own labor while creating a space for their own survival and thriving by humanizing Anthropos. 

Jeren Rowell

Support of the Ministry as a Means of Grace

Rowell’s address acknowledges the myriad economic challenges facing ministry, but also draws upon the writing of John Wesley to demonstrate a call to pastors, but also to the congregations called to support ministers.

Paul Harding

A Place to Belong: Finding Meaningful Community Principles in Online Streaming

Harding offers an intriguing treatise on how three online streaming communities… offer insights on the nature of community that might inform the church in the future. Originally written with the COVID pandemic in mind… Harding’s work really offers more substantive thinking around the interplay of technology and community for the future.

Rebekah Corner

An Eco-Theological and Social Justice Response to Climate Change

Corner fashions a Biblical response to this issue [climate change], a hermeneutic that encompasses both ecology and social justice.

Patrick Taylor

On a Mission from God: A Missional Reading of Søren Kierkegaard and the Attack Upon Christendom

Taylor invites participants in the missional theology movement… into conversation with one of the great Danish theologians of the previous two centuries, Søren Kierkegaard. Taylor acknowledges that many readers might not think of Kierkegaard and mission in the same sentence. However, Taylor endeavors to show that Kierkegaard, far from being unrelated to mission, offers a missional praxis of witness for the church today and especially for the Church in culturally-Christian contexts.

Karla Sanchez-Renfro

Missional Theology: Becoming a More Faithful Witness by Creating More Inclusion and Equality

Karla Sanchez-Renfro closes the edition by returning to the theme of diversity and particularly inclusion. Her writing, also as a student of Nazarene Theological Seminary, challenges the same missional theology movement by asserting those participating must create more inclusion and equality at all levels of participation. Ms. Sanchez-Renfro believes this inclusion proves vital if the movement wants to faithfully embody the gospel and encourage all to ‘fully participate in God's mission.’

Tuesday 16 February 2021

Centre for Public Christianity (February 2021)

The Centre for Public Christianity has posted two ‘Life and Faith’ podcasts, one (here) which discusses the latest Pixar movie, Soul, hearing from some teenagers – and theologian J. Richard Middleton – about whether they think the soul is a real thing, and one (here) with comedian and broadcaster Dominic Knight about his book The 2020 Dictionary.

Monday 15 February 2021

Word & World 41, 1 (Winter 2021) on the Johannine Epistles

The latest issue of Word & World, a quarterly journal of theology published by the faculty of Luther Seminary, contains a set of essays on the Johannine epistles.

The contents and downloadable articles are available here.

Thursday 4 February 2021

Theos Report on the Church and Social Cohesion

A new report from Theos has recently been published:

Madeleine Pennington, The Church and Social Cohesion: Connecting Communities and Serving People (London: Theos, 2020).

Here are some paragraphs from the Theos website:

The Church and Social Cohesion: Connecting Communities and Serving People is the concluding report of an 18–month project which seeks to understand the impact of churches on the cohesiveness of our communities across England. It was commissioned by the Free Churches Group, and authored by Dr Madeleine Pennington, Theos’ Head of Research […]

‘The report begins with a brief overview of recent cohesion policy, particularly noting how it has often been directed in response to crisis rather than a sustainable consideration of community assets. It then notes that Christians have distinctive theological motivations for engaging with their communities, before considering churches’ community assets in turn. It notes six assets as particularly common features of effective church-based community engagement: buildings, networks, leadership, convening power, volunteers and vision. Finally, it assesses how effectively churches work with a range of other community stakeholders in pursuit of cohesion aims, through a more targeted consideration of churches’ working relationships with other faith groups, other churches, and local authorities.’

A pdf of the full report is available here.

Tuesday 2 February 2021

The Master’s Seminary Journal 32, 1 (2021)

The latest Master’s Seminary Journal has been posted online. The essays are centred around the topic of justification by faith, and especially imputation, as John MacArthur makes clear in the editorial: ‘Just as justification by faith is the centerpiece of soteriology and the very marrow of the gospel, the principle of imputed righteousness is the necessary center and soul of the doctrine of justification’.

A pdf of the issue can be downloaded here.

John MacArthur


J.V. Fesko

Imputed Righteousness: The Apostle Paul and Isaiah

The Heidelberg Catechism asks the question: “How can man be righteous before God?” To answer this question, most would refer to New Testament passages, likely in Romans or other Pauline epistles. But the New Testament writers developed their understanding of justification by reading their sacred texts – what is now referred to as the Old Testament. While the doctrine of imputation can be found throughout the Hebrew Scriptures, there are few texts as clear and rich as Isaiah 53 – the song of a coming Servant, “the righteous one” who would “make many to be accounted righteous” (53:11). This article contends that when Paul was writing critical New Testament passages on the doctrine of imputation, he was likely doing so while pouring over Isaiah 53.

Tom J. Nettles

Imputation and Its Images in the Preaching of Charles Haddon Spurgeon

The cross was ever at the center of the preaching of Charles Spurgeon. He was fixated upon the reality that “as the Lord looked upon Christ as though he had been a sinner, though he was no sinner, and dealt with him as such, so now the Lord looks upon the believing sinner as though he were righteous, though indeed he has no righteousness of his own.” And as a result of that dark day upon the cross, God sees the one in whose place Christ stood and “he loves him, and delights in his perfect comeliness, regarding him as covered with the mantle of his Redeemer’s righteousness, and as having neither spot nor wrinkle nor any such thing.” This is the beauty of the doctrine of imputation. And it pervades the thinking and preaching of Charles Spurgeon, as will be demonstrated in this article.

Peter Sammons

In My Place Obedient He Lived: Imputed Righteousness in Romans 5:18–19

The overwhelming majority of Christians would readily affirm the doctrine of the imputation of Christ’s righteousness. But when pressed as to the substance of this righteousness, many would point to the transmission or imputation of an attribute of God or merely the forgiveness of sins alone with no positive imputation. These are misguided responses which produce a truncated gospel. At the center of this question is the person of Christ, who claimed to have come to “fulfill all righteousness” (Matt 3:15). This article will contend that the righteousness that is imputed to believers is Christ’s human righteousness – which is His lived-out, practical law obedience. This reality is captured in the words of Isaac Watts when he wrote: “Come naked, and adorn your souls / In robes prepared by God, / Wrought by the labors of his Son, / And dyed in his own blood.”

James M. Renihan

God Freely Justifieth…  by Imputing Christ’s Active… and Passive Obedience

This article traces seventeenth century debates surrounding the doctrine of justification. The united testimony of Reformed writers, the common consent of the English Puritan confessions, and even the startling testimony of a most important Roman apologist together provide a powerful argument: justification comes solely from the work of Christ the mediator. These debates helped to produce the beautiful words of the Second London Confession: “Christ by his obedience, and death, did fully discharge the debt of all those that are justified; and did by the sacrifice of himself, in the blood of his cross, undergoing in their stead, the penalty due unto them: make a proper, real and full satisfaction to God’s justice in their behalf: yet inasmuch as he was given by the Father for them, and his Obedience and Satisfaction accepted in their stead, and both freely, not for anything in them; their Justification is only of Free Grace, that both the exact justice and rich Grace of God, might be

glorified in the Justification of sinners.”

Nathan Busenitz

The Substance of Sola Fide: Justification Defended from Scripture

in the Writings of the Reformers

The doctrine of justification by grace alone through faith alone (sola fide) stood at the center of theological controversy during the Protestant Reformation. Men such as Luther, Melanchthon, Calvin, and Chemnitz were willing to lose their lives over the doctrine of justification, for to misunderstand this doctrine was to misunderstand the very essence of the gospel. The Protestant church appreciates these men and their convictions, but many may wonder what sola fide actually means. This article seeks to express three core components to the doctrine of sola fide: (1) that justification is forensic, not formative; (2) that justification is distinct from sanctification; and (3) that the basis for justification is the imputed righteousness of Christ. These men were convinced that it was upon these articulations that the church stood or fell, and the church today would do well to remember the urgency of this doctrine.

Tom Hicks

Benjamin Keach’s Doctrine of Justification

Many Christians would recognize the name of the pastor and author Richard Baxter. Likely fewer would recognize the name of the seventeenth-century Baptist pastor Benjamin Keach. This article follows the thinking and articulation of Keach as he defends the orthodox, Reformed position of the doctrine of justification and imputed righteousness against the errant views of Richard Baxter. This article is a window into the necessity to defend this doctrine that rests at the center of the Christian faith.

Sam Waldron

Paul’s Use of Genesis 15:6 in Romans 4:3

This essay examines (1) the relevant uses of Genesis 15:6 and references to Abraham in a large group of ancient Jewish sources; (2) the immediate context of Romans 4:3; (3) the analysis of the Old Testament context of Genesis 15:6; and (4) the way in which Paul interprets and utilizes Genesis 15:6 in Romans 4:3. Paul’s use of the text is a reaffirmation of themes original to Genesis 15:6 in its OT context, and his careful use of the OT contrasts with contemporary Judaic tendencies to read the OT as supporting a soteriology of human achievement or “the works of the law.” This conclusion undermines the central premise of the New Perspective on Paul, while supporting the traditional doctrine of justification, sola fide.

E.D. Burns

Contending for Doctrinal Language in Missions: Why Imputation and Sola Fide Are Good News for Karma-Background Christians

The frontlines of missions are where theological error has a tendency to fester. New missional movements draw distinctions between the helpfulness of the Bible and theology, affirming the former and disregarding the latter. The mission field has become a place of embarrassment regarding many of the doctrines that the church fathers lived and died over. Specifically, the doctrine of imputation has been practically neglected amongst many of the frontline missional efforts. And the consequences are and will continue to be devastating. This article is a call for missionaries to reach the unreached with the beautiful and historic doctrines of the Christian faith.