Friday 29 April 2022

Themelios 47, 1 (April 2022)

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


Brian J. Tabb

Wisdom and Hope in Difficult Days: Reading Revelation in 2022

Strange Times

Daniel Strange

Caring Because You Don’t

Caleb Miller

Helpful Distinction or Quarrel over Words? The Conquest as “Genocide” in Evangelical Apologetics

The language of “genocide” as applied to the conquest of Canaan puts pastors, scholars, and apologists in a bind. Employing the term leads to exaggerated claims, but disputing it often leads to equally unhelpful semantic exercises. After surveying four approaches (sober acknowledgement, unqualified affirmation, active resistance, and careful avoidance), I advocate for careful avoidance of the term, starting with considering the specific hermeneutical, historiographical, theological, or ethical concern of a questioner or critic, rather than starting with questions of accuracy or precision.

Gary L. Shultz Jr.

The Spirit in Elisha’s Life: A Preview of Jesus Christ and the New Covenant

In the book of Kings, Elisha is the Spirit-empowered man of God who walks with God, represents God, and shows the way to covenant faithfulness through word and deed. Elisha therefore serves as a preview of knowing God in the new covenant through the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. We will see this as we examine the Spirit’s role in Elisha’s life from Kings, particularly in the narrative of Elisha succeeding Elijah (2 Kings 2:1–18), and how Elisha’s Spirit-empowered ministry points forward to the Spirit-empowered ministry of Jesus Christ, the inauguration of the new covenant, and what it means for Jesus’s followers to live in the power and presence of the Holy Spirit.

Michael B. Shepherd

Targums As Guides to Hebrew Syntax

The Targums were not translations for the Aramaic-speaking masses who were ignorant of Hebrew. Rather, they were translations/commentaries for bilingual (Hebrew-Aramaic) audiences. The Targums preserved an older understanding of the Hebrew text and guarded against innovations now attested in sources such as the Samaritan Pentateuch and the Dead Sea Scrolls. In their written form, the Targums provided a guide to the reading of the Hebrew Bible in the period between the making of its purely consonantal text and the later written systems of vocalization and accentuation in the Masoretic Text. The present article offers demonstrable examples of such guidance.

Scott D. MacDonald

Does Acts 4:23–31 Support the Practice of Simultaneous Prayer?

Simultaneous prayer – the corporate practice of praying different prayers at the same time – is a worldwide phenomenon. One text frequently raised in support of the practice is Acts 4:23–31. This article explores that passage, reflecting on the Jewish liturgical backdrop and evaluating exactly how the early church prayed “together.” Acts 4 does provide a model for prayer, but it does not explicitly support simultaneous prayer, since Luke only records a single prayer and the spontaneity of the prayer is married to the liturgical recitation of Psalm 2:1–2. While simultaneous prayer could possibly find support elsewhere in Scripture, Christian communities should aspire to reflect the apostolic example in Acts 4.

Peter Orr 

Two Types of Work: Work for the Lord and Work for the Kingdom of God

This article explores Colossians, a letter in which Paul says a considerable amount about work. It suggests that Paul speaks about two different types of work – “work for the Lord” (3:23–24) and “work for the kingdom” (4:11) – and that this distinction provides a paradigm for thinking about the difference between “ministry” and “non-ministry” work. While Paul affirms the theological and eschatological value of all work that Christians do, he nevertheless can make a distinction between different types of work in their relationship to the kingdom of God.

Geoffrey Butler

John Calvin’s Eucharistic Theology: A Pentecostal Analysis

Within the Reformed tradition John Calvin has previously earned the label “Theologian of the Holy Spirit,” with the Lord’s Supper standing out as one aspect of his theology which places a particularly heavy emphasis on the Spirit’s activity. Despite his robust pneumatology, however, Pentecostal engagement with Calvin remains quite limited on this matter, despite the young movement’s insistent desire to highlight the Holy Spirit’s work. This paper, therefore, addresses this question by discussing the historical context in which Calvin lived and outlining his doctrine of the Lord’s Supper. It discusses what makes Calvin’s position unique, and how his robustly pneumatological position may help Pentecostals recover the sacramental roots of their own movement and contribute to the development of a truly Spirit-filled theology of the Eucharist.

Paul Kjoss Helseth

Samuel Miller on the “Sanctified Judgment” of the Enlarged, Elevated, and Strengthened Mind: Piety, Learning, and the Right Kind of Bias

This essay explores Samuel Miller’s understanding of the epistemological capacity of the mind that has been regenerated by God’s Spirit and sanctified by God’s Word. In response to those who would argue that Miller – as an early advocate of the Princeton Theology – accommodated an epistemological paradigm that was compromised by the naïve realism of the Scottish Enlightenment, this essay analyzes the works of Miller that are stored in the archives of Princeton Seminary and establishes that despite what the consensus of critical opinion would have us believe, he in fact stood squarely in the epistemological mainstream of the Reformed wing of the Augustinian tradition. In so doing this essay offers a fresh perspective not just on Miller’s understanding of the relationship between piety and learning, but also on the understanding of enlightened education that likely animated the founding of Princeton Theological Seminary in 1812.

Obbie Tyler Todd

Southern Yankees: Southern Baptist Clergy in the Antebellum North (1812–1861)

Baptists provide an excellent window into the American identity during the antebellum period. For this reason, no group illustrates the unity and disunity of the infant nation more than the Baptist ministers who left their homes in the South to fill pulpits in the North. The experiences of these “Southern Yankees” represent a denomination in turmoil and a nation on the verge of political, social, and theological crisis. This article will examine the variety of ways in which Southern Baptists transcended sectional divides in the antebellum period as well as the reasons that these pastorates either failed or were fraught with controversy due to slavery.

Jean Gomes

Reassessing Nicholas Wolterstorff’s Objections to Divine Simplicity

This article offers a reading of Nicholas Wolterstorff’s objections to the doctrine of divine simplicity, which has seen a kind of rebirth amongst both Catholic and Protestant theologians in recent decades. For some, Wolterstorff denies divine simplicity because it might rule out all distinctions in God and thereby be inconsistent with the variety of divine attributes. Others locate Wolterstorff’s position as part of the modern philosophical movement that rejects divine simplicity because of a conflict between essentialist and actualist ontologies. Although the above criticisms are fair, there is more to Wolterstorff that prevents him from accepting divine simplicity. From a liturgical point of view, he argues that divine simplicity entails confusions for people attending worship, such as the notion that divine interaction with human beings would be merely metaphorical language. Although this last argument by Wolterstorff should be appreciated given its pastoral appeal, this article proposes to demonstrate that none of Wolterstorff’s arguments compels us to deny divine simplicity, not even his most significant liturgical critique.

Richard B. Gaffin Jr. and David B. Garner

The Divine and Adopted Son of God: A Response to Joshua Maurer and Ty Kieser

This article responds to the recent article by Joshua Maurer and Ty Kieser, “Jesus, ‘Adopted Son of God?’ Romans 1:4, Orthodox Christology, and Concerns about a Contemporary Conclusion.” While we commend these authors’ desire to promote orthodox Christology, we correct their misreading of our own positions, particularly our view regarding the adoption of the divine Son according to his human nature, an adoption essential for the perfecting of the Son in accomplishing the salvation applied to believers. We conclude with an important pastoral observation concerning the adoption of the Son for the adoption of believers.

Book Reviews

Wednesday 27 April 2022

Theos Report on Science and Religion

A new report from Theos has been published:

Nick Spencer and Hannah Waite, ‘Science and Religion’: Moving Away from the Shallow End (London: Theos, 2022).

Here are some paragraphs from the Theos website:

‘This report is the culmination of a three–year project researching public and elite attitudes to science and religion in the UK today (2022) […]

‘For too long, the conversation has fixed on a limited number of (scientific) topics – evolution, Big Bang, neuroscience – and often on the loudest voices there. The result has frequently turned conversation into debate, and debate into argument. One of the consequences of this is that when you ask people about the relationship between ‘science and religion’, opinions are largely negative.

‘However, when you ask the same people about specific sciences and religion, or about science and specific religions, their views are more complicated. And when you look at expert scientific and philosophical opinion on the matter – even among the non–religious people and atheists – views are not only more nuanced but also more positive.’

More information can be found here, the Executive Summary is here, and a pdf of the full report is available here.

Monday 25 April 2022

Tyndale Bulletin

Tyndale House recently announced the relaunch of the Tyndale Bulletin as an open access journal, available from here.

Articles will be released online on a rolling basis, with an annual print volume also being produced, including all articles from the previous year.

Friday 15 April 2022

Jesus, the Crucified, Pleads for Me

For Good Friday:

Jesus, the Crucified, pleads for me,

While he is nailed to the shameful tree.

Scorned and forsaken, derided and cursed,

See how his enemies do their worst!

Yet, in the midst of the torture and shame,
Jesus, the Crucified, breathes my name:

Wonder of wonders, oh, how can it be?

Jesus, the Crucified, pleads for me!

Lord, I have left thee, I have denied,

Followed the world in my selfish pride;

Lord, I have joined in the hateful cry,

Slay him, away with him, crucify!

Lord, I have done it, oh! ask me not how;

Woven the thorns for thy tortured brow;

Yet in his pity, so boundless and free,

Jesus, the Crucified, pleads for me!

‘Though thou hast left me and wandered away,

Chosen the darkness instead of the day;

Though thou art covered with many a stain,

Though thou hast wounded me oft and again;

Though thou hast followed thy wayward will;

Yet, in my pity, I love thee still.’

Wonder of wonders it ever must be!
Jesus, the Crucified, pleads for me!

Jesus is dying, in agony sore,
Jesus is suffering more and more,
Jesus is bowed with the weight of his woe,
Jesus is faint with each bitter throe.
Jesus is bearing it all in my stead,

Pity incarnate for me has bled;

Wonder of wonders it ever must be!

Jesus, the Crucified, pleads for me!

William John Sparrow-Simpson (1860–1952)

Tuesday 5 April 2022

Lausanne Global Analysis 11, 2 (March 2022)

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

Kirst Rievan

The Projectisation of Missions: Enlightenment Thinking or Biblical Model?

Victor John and Dave Coles

Multiplying Disciples in the ‘Graveyard of Missions’: The Bhojpuri Pattern for Church Planting Among the Unreached

Nestor Abdon

Becoming ‘Christ’s Cell’ for Migrants: A Model for Diaspora Hospitality Ministry from The Peoples Church of Toronto

I’Ching Thomas

The Dilemma of Personal Salvation in Collective Cultures: Engaging Filial Piety from a Missional Standpoint