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.

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