Monday 31 May 2021

Asbury Journal 76, 1 (2021)

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

David J. Zucker

In/Voluntary Surrogacy in Genesis

This article re-examines the issue of surrogacy in Genesis. It proposes some different factors, and questions some previous conclusions raised by other scholars, and especially examining feminist scholars approaches to the issue in the cases of Hagar/Abraham (and Sarah), and Bilhah-Zilpah/Jacob (and Rachel, Leah). The author examines these cases in the light of scriptural evidence and the original Hebrew to seek to understand the nature of the relationship of these complex characters. How much say did the surrogates have with regard to the relationship? What was their status within the situation of the text, and how should we reflect on their situation from our modern context?

W. Creighton Marlowe

Trump Was Trumped Long Ago: or, The Legacy of Leadership in the Book of Ecclesiastes

Around the globe at any moment in history we witness a world in which numerous nations simultaneously struggle with the person or party in power. Often, we hear senior citizens long for a return to “the good old days.” But biblical anthropology reminds us that everyone by nature is sinful (willingly disobedient to God’s laws); and Qoheleth corrects those who long for a past golden age, because such thinking is not realistic. There never has been a government under which people were not oppressed, even the Hebrew theocracy of the Old Testament. Over the centuries, whether in the East or West, Southern or Northern hemisphere, leaders of countries or companies often have been disappointing. Those over whose reign we currently fret, at their worst, have nothing on many past pretenders to bring prosperity. The Hebrew Bible testifies to this sad reality and to its reasons.

Greg S. Whyte

A Comparative Analysis of the Major Religions in Japan and Korea During the Colonial Period

To understand why the Christian gospel has success amid one culture, while seeming to fail in similar, neighboring cultures, one must look to additional factors than those often cited by missionary sources. Some of these factors would include the socio-political and religious context of each of those cultures in question, in addition to the prior encounters with Christianity and the reactions to the gospel by the receiving cultures. To illustrate this need, this paper analyzes the contexts of Japan and Korea during the period of Japanese expansion and wartime (1894 – 1945), and looks specifically at what was happening in the other major religions present at the time (Confucianism, Buddhism, and Shintoism), which would include their responses to the Christian missionary presence.

Robert A. Danielson

Women Church Planters in the Early Work of the Church of God in Christ: The Case of the Singing Twins, Reatha and Leatha Morris

While church planting is often seen as a recent topic, it has been in existence as long as the church itself. One interesting historical example of church planting is revealed in the methods practiced by the women of the Church of God in Christ (COGIC), the largest African-American Pentecostal denomination in the United States. In the early days of the denomination, Mother Lizzie Robinson was put in charge of the ministry done by women. While she did not approve of women preaching and leading churches, she did approve and commission women evangelists who would “dig out” churches and then turn them over to male leaders from the denominational headquarters. Reatha and Leatha Morris, twins from Oklahoma, are presented here as a historical case study of how this method worked. The church planting methodology is also examined in light of current church planting theory. As apostolic harvest church planters, Mothers Reatha Morris Herndon and Leatha Morris Chapman Tucker illustrate the power of church planters being freed from the work of pastoring and discipling (even if this was not their choice). Together they are credited with planting some 75 churches in many of the major metropolitan areas of the United States. The women church planters of COGIC are arguably the single most important reason for the size and success of this denomination today.

John Lomperis

The Seven Churches of United Methodism, Revisited

The United Methodist Church is on the verge of what is expected to be a primarily two-way schism. But the denomination is already rather divided between seven main sub-churches: the global regions of Africa, Europe, and the Philippines, and the four main ideological factions within the United States (American traditionalists, the genuine Methodist middle, institutionalist liberals, and liberationist progressives). Each of these sub-churches has important internal divisions, but also distinct characteristics setting them apart. Recognizing the particular features of each is crucial for understanding how the coming schism will impact and is being prepared for by different United Methodists.


From the Archives: The Poetry of Sterling M. Means – The Pentecostal Publishing Company Collection

Book Reviews

Tuesday 18 May 2021

Mission Frontiers 43, 3 (May-June 2021)

The May-June 2021 issue of Mission Frontiers, published by the U.S. Center for World Mission, contains a number of articles on the topic of ‘What Have You Brought For Us? Confronting the Hidden Dangers of Money in Missions’.

Here is the issue blurb, which sets the scene:

‘This issue of MF is your opportunity to learn from others the dangers of foreign funds in missions. In the West we often think that money can solve all problems, but in reality no amount of money can replace the hard work, ingenuity and innovation of people. Foreign money not only does not speed up the spread of the gospel, it actually hinders it as it discourages the people being reached from taking personal ownership of the process of making disciples and planting churches. A question for us as Jesus followers is, “How do you motivate and encourage people to make disciples and plant churches?” Some think money is the answer, but as you will read in this issue of MF, money is often a disincentive to what we want to see in ministry.’

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

Saturday 15 May 2021

Lausanne Global Analysis 10, 3 (May 2021)

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

Harvey Thiessen and Alena Popova

Passing the Baton to Evangelical Migrants

Jojie Wong

Why Mission Mobilizers Need Foundational Training

Joseph Handley

Polycentrism as the New Leadership Paradigm

Jennifer Javed Khan, Rebecca Yin Foo, Paul Lewis, Susan Ann Samuel

Racism and the Great Commission

Friday 14 May 2021

Journal of Biblical Theology and Worldview

This caught my eye recently – the Journal of Biblical Theology and Worldview, published by BJU Seminary.

Information about the content of the first two issues, as well as links to download the volumes, is available from here and here.

Wednesday 12 May 2021

Centre for Public Christianity (May 2021)

The Centre for Public Christianity has posted a ‘Life and Faith’ podcast (here) talking with CPX’s own Mark Stephens ‘about his brand-new book The End of Thinking? to figure out why we’re so bad at thinking, and why it matters’, and another (here) with ‘acclaimed artist Makoto Fujimura about the healing power of art, and how it resonates with his Christian faith’.

Tuesday 4 May 2021

David Helm on Daniel

Every month, The Good Book Company make available digital versions of one of their books at no charge. This month it’s Daniel for You, by David Helm, available in exchange for an email address here.

Monday 3 May 2021

Themelios 46, 1 (April 2021)

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


Brian J. Tabb

The Neglected Virtue of Contentment

Strange Times

Daniel Strange

Coming to Our Senses: The Case for a Civil Elenctics and an Elenctic Civility

Henri A.G. Blocher

Canonicity: A Theologian’s Observations

The topic of the biblical canon raises a specific, twofold difficulty for evangelical systematic theologians: the appeal to the Spirit’s testimony and a recognition of divine providence in history. It is crucial to recognize that “canon” entails both a principle – a body of teaching incorporating the word of God that binds the conscience of believers – and a list of books officially recognized as authoritative by the world-wide church. The principle of canon and specific canonical books are organically linked. While the validity of our confession of the canon of Scripture cannot be proven on any “neutral” ground, believers have sufficient clarity and confidence to confess the rule we need in radical dependence on God.

Matthew Bingham

Brains, Bodies, and the Task of Discipleship: Re-Aligning Anthropology and Ministry

Exploring the intersection of anthropology and ministry, this article offers an appreciative critique of recent authors who suggest that effective Christian discipleship requires holistic, bodily engagement. James K.A. Smith and others have helpfully drawn attention to ways in which contemporary evangelical approaches to Christian formation can risk over-emphasizing the transfer of information while neglecting things like desire, love, and imagination. Having thus diagnosed the problem, these authors suggest that the solution lies in a turn towards “embodied rituals” that they believe can more effectively form the whole person. Through a critical evaluation of this proposal, the present article seeks to distinguish between its attractive aspects and those which would unhelpfully undermine the Reformation emphasis on the primacy of Word ministry. The article concludes by suggesting ways in which evangelicals might advance a more holistic approach to discipleship that is congruent with longstanding Reformation priorities.

Daniel K. Eng

‘I Call You Friends’: Jesus as Patron in John 15

This article proposes that John 15:13–16 draws on the language of Roman patronage, which impacts the understanding of Jesus’s sayings regarding friends. We will suggest that φίλος conveys a regent obedient to a royal patron. Thus, the role of Jesus’s friend is one of subordination, not equality. After an introduction to patronage, this article makes the case that Jesus portrays himself as the greatest patron. First, John’s farewell discourse points to the disciples being subordinates. Second, Jesus makes a contrast between slaves and friends, which is consistent with many patronal relationships. Third, Jesus describes himself as a broker, mediating benefit from the Father. Fourth, inscriptions and provincial coinage contained terms like ΦΙΛΟΚΑΙΣΑΡ (friend of Caesar), referring to regents of the emperor. Patronage best explains the saying, “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends (15:13).” Jesus’s ultimate sacrifice for subordinates makes his patronage greater than Caesar’s.

Scott MacDonald

Spirit-Anointing and New Testament Church Leadership: Are Our Church Leaders Uniquely “Anointed?”

Does the church need Spirit-anointed leadership? “Anointing” is an increasingly common topic in relation to Christian leaders. This article aims to clarify the role of Spirit-anointing in the Old and New Testaments, with special attention to texts that are explicitly relevant to the church’s experience (i.e., 2 Cor 1:21–22; 1 John 2:20, 26–27). The misuse of the term “anointing” arises from a recast of Old Testament pneumatology as post-Pentecost. This misapplication of Old Testament texts denigrates the Holy Spirit’s expanded role of inhabitation in the New Testament era. Furthermore, the obfuscation of Spirit-anointing has incurred significant harm to the practices and doctrines that relate to local church leadership.

Doosuk Kim

The Parting of the Way: A Survey of  the Relationship between Jews and Christians in the First and Second Centuries CE

People today clearly view Judaism and Christianity as different religions. Undisputedly, however, Jesus and his followers were Jews in the first century. When did the parting of the way between Jews and Christians take place? What are the decisive factors that made the two ended up so far from each other? This essay examines this relationship in its social, theological, historical, and political context. The evidence suggests that though the exact time and impetus for the parting remain elusive, the parting of the way began in the first century and gradually became clearer in the second century.

John Kegley

The Nature and Task of Theology in John Owen’s Forgotten Work

Theologoumena Pantodapa may be John Owen’s most comprehensive theological work and his greatest contribution to the Reformed tradition. However, this work was not translated into English until 1994. Since its translation, it has received a noticeable lack of scholarly attention. This essay seeks to fill a part of the void in scholarship by examining Theologoumena Pantodapa’s historical context, structure, and key themes. This examination is profitable and pertinent for pastors, students of theology, and all Christians as it includes an analysis of Owen’s hermeneutical method, understanding of the relationship between theology and practice, and comments on the character of the gospel theologian.

Jarred Jung

Trinity, Creation, and Re-creation: A Comparison of Karl Barth and Herman Bavinck’s Trinitarian Doctrines of Creation

Karl Barth’s doctrine of creation, while rooted in his doctrine of the Trinity, errs in the way that creation is conflated into re-creation, resulting in a diminished doctrine of creation at the expense of his christological Trinitarianism. By comparing Barth’s doctrine of creation with that of Dutch Reformed theologian Herman Bavinck, this article argues that Bavinck offers a doctrine of creation that is as equally grounded in the doctrine of the Trinity as Barth’s and yet avoids the shortcomings of Barth’s doctrine by appropriately distinguishing between creation and re-creation. As such, Bavinck serves as an appropriate example of doctrinal emphasis for theologians and pastors.

Geoffrey Butler

Appeasement of a Monster God? A Historical and Biblical Analysis of Penal Substitutionary Atonement

Long considered a key tenet of evangelical theology, the doctrine of penal substitutionary atonement has come under particularly intense scrutiny in recent years. Critics claim that it is a fairly recent innovation with little support prior to the Reformation, and that it depicts Yahweh as comparable with the pagan deities of the OT. This article makes the case that, on the contrary, the substance of penal substitutionary atonement has been taught from the church’s earliest days, arguing that the doctrine stems directly from a careful, thoughtful engagement with Scripture, which from beginning to end points toward the sacrificial death of Israel’s Messiah.

Robert D. Golding

Making Sense of Hell

Christian universalism (the view that all people are eventually saved) is largely predicated upon a negative reaction to the traditional doctrine of hell. It is therefore a “second option” to those who see hell as illogical, unnecessary, and/or cruel. In this article, I will argue that hell is not only logical and just but that it is also conceivably necessary. I will do this by way of a theological examination of those who occupy hell’s harrowing halls. This is essential because the loss of the traditional doctrine of hell can mean the loss of souls along with it. Doubting hell is playing with eternal fire.

Book Reviews