Saturday 30 December 2023

Vista 44 (November 2023) on Polycentric Mission

The latest issue of Vista looks at the topic of ‘Polycentric Mission for Europe’.

A brief excerpt from the opening article by Jim Memory sets the scene:

‘[A] new word has emerged in recent missiological studies to describe one of the features of the spread of Christianity in today’s world: polycentric. Whilst not as ubiquitous as the word “missional”… the terms polycentric mission and polycentric leadership have been popularised by a number of authors… and have featured as the theme of conferences…

‘This article, and by extension the whole of this issue of Vista, seeks to explore the meaning and use of the word polycentric in Christian mission studies today and, more specifically, consider its implications for mission in Europe.’

The entire issue can be downloaded as a pdf here.

Wednesday 27 December 2023

The Big Picture Magazine 8 (2023) on Craft

The eighth issue of The Big Picture, a magazine produced by the Kirby Laing Centre, has recently been made available.

According to the blurb:

‘This latest edition explores the theme of Craft, and in it you will find, among others, articles on why art matters today; the ethics of craft; the beauty and power of photography; how paying attention and being handy can be transformative; on doing well whatever your hand finds to do; on the importance of resisting the global consumer machine and making things by hand; on traditional Japanese boat building; on books as sacred sites; on the biblical foundations of journalism; on crafting human hearts; on the craft of translation; on pursuing obscurity; and much more.’

More information is available here, and the issue can be downloaded as a pdf here.

Online versions of the previous issues of the magazine are available from here.

Monday 25 December 2023

Hark! The Herald Angels Sing

The carol we know and sing is based on an earlier version written by Charles Wesley (1707-88), with some adaptation by others along the way, including George Whitefield (1714-70). The version below has variations on fourth and fifth verses, now hardly ever sung, but which are theologically rich. This remains one of my favourite carols.

Hark! The herald angels sing,

‘Glory to the newborn King;

Peace on earth, and mercy mild,

God and sinners reconciled!’

Joyful, all ye nations rise,

Join the triumph of the skies;

With the angelic host proclaim,

‘Christ is born in Bethlehem!’

Hark! the herald angels sing,

‘Glory to the newborn King!’

Christ, by highest Heaven adored;

Christ the everlasting Lord;

Late in time, behold Him come,

Offspring of a virgin’s womb.

Veiled in flesh the Godhead see;

Hail the incarnate Deity,

Pleased with us in flesh to dwell,

Jesus our Emmanuel.

Hark! the herald angels sing,

‘Glory to the newborn King!’

Hail the heav’nly Prince of Peace!

Hail the Sun of Righteousness!

Light and life to all He brings,

Risen with healing in His wings.

Mild He lays His glory by,

Born that man no more may die.

Born to raise the sons of earth,

Born to give them second birth.

Hark! the herald angels sing,

’Glory to the newborn King!’

Come, Desire of nations, come,

Fix in us Thy humble home;

Rise, the woman’s conqu’ring Seed,

Bruise in us the serpent’s head.

Now display Thy saving power,

Ruined nature now restore;

Now in mystic union join

Thine to ours, and ours to Thine.

Hark! the herald angels sing,

‘Glory to the newborn King!’

Adam’s likeness, Lord, efface,

Stamp Thine image in its place:

Second Adam from above,

Reinstate us in Thy love.

Let us Thee, though lost, regain,

Thee, the Life, the inner man:

O, to all Thyself impart,

Formed in each believing heart.

Hark! the herald angels sing,

‘Glory to the newborn King!’

Friday 22 December 2023

Themelios 48, 3 (December 2023)

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


Brian J. Tabb

Dealing with Criticism: Lessons from Nehemiah

Strange Times

Daniel Strange

Skin in the Game?

Andreas J. Köstenberger

Geerhardus Vos: His Biblical-Theological Method and a Biblical Theology of Gender

This article seeks to construct a biblical theology of gender based on Geerhardus Vos’s magisterial Biblical Theology. The essay first sets forth five hallmarks of Vos’s method: (1) putting God first; (2) focus on the text; (3) viewing Scripture as progressive divine revelation; (4) displaying a historical orientation; and (5) a belief in the practical utility of biblical theology. The remainder of the essay develops a biblical theology of gender as Vos might have developed it in keeping with the four major scriptural movements of creation, fall, redemption, and consummation.

David V. Christensen

The Lamblike Servant: The Function of John’s Use of the OT for Understanding Jesus’s Death

In this article, I argue that John provides a window into the mechanics of how Jesus’s death saves, and this window is his use of the OT. When interpreters look through this window and ask how John understands Jesus’ death, our eyes are caused – by the passages John chose – to see substitutionary atonement as essential to the inner mechanism of how Jesus’s death saves.

G.K. Beale

The Greco-Roman Background to “Fighting the Good Fight” in the Pastoral Epistles and the Spiritual Life of the Christian

What does Paul mean by the expression “fight the fight” in 1 Timothy 1:18 (NASB)? The Greek verb στρατεύω with the noun στρατεία can be also rendered “battle the battle,” or more generally “perform military service” or “serve in a military campaign.” This expression occurs often in Greco-Roman literature as a patriotic warfare idiom for good character revealed by persevering through warfare or military campaigns. It also occurs in legal contexts to affirm someone’s innocence and good reputation before the court. This idiom is applied to Timothy to demonstrate his good Christian character and reputation over against the false teachers’ bad character. Paul similarly exhorts Timothy to “struggle the struggle”… in 1 Tim 6:12, which most commentators recognize to be synonymous with “fight the good fight” in 1:18 (cf. 2 Tim 4:7).

Jeremy Sexton

Postmillennialism: A Biblical Critique

Postmillennialism had been pronounced dead when R.J. Rushdoony and his fellow Reconstructionists resuscitated it in 1977 with stimulating though non-exegetical publications. In the following decades, many in Rushdoony’s train added innovative biblical arguments whose interpretive methods do not withstand scrutiny. This article examines the hermeneutical idiosyncrasies and exegetical fallacies displayed in defenses of postmillennialism by Greg Bahnsen, Kenneth Gentry, David Chilton, Keith Mathison, Douglas Wilson, and others. Postmillennialists routinely keep textual details out of focus or interpret them tendentiously, in service of the belief that the prophecies of worldwide righteousness and shalom will reach fulfillment on earth before rather than at the second coming.

Jason G. Duesing

Beacons from the Spire: Evangelical Theology and History in Oxford’s University Church

Thought to be the most visited church in England, the University Church of St. Mary the Virgin in Oxford has hosted, from its pulpit, figures of note of English church history. This essay applies the metaphor of a signal beacon to trace the development of evangelical history and theology through the examination of significant sermons preached in St. Mary’s by Thomas Cranmer in the 16th century, John Owen in the 17th century, John Wesley in the 18th century, the evangelical response to the Anglo- Catholics in the 19th century, and C.S. Lewis in the 20th Century.

N. Gray Sutanto

Cultural Mandate and the Image of God: Human Vocation under Creation, Fall, and Redemption

While the term “cultural mandate” is well-recognized as a way of understanding the relationship between Christianity, culture, and human vocation, its origins from within the Dutch neo-Calvinist tradition are less known. Drawing from this tradition, then, this essay sketches the logic of a neo-Calvinistic account of the cultural mandate through the states of creation, fall, and redemption.

John Jefferson Davis

Is the One God of the Old Testament and Judaism Exactly the Same God as the Trinitarian God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – of the New Testament and Christian Creeds?

This article argues that the One God of the Old Testament and Judaism is exactly the same God as the Trinitarian God of the New Testament and Christian creeds. The standpoint presupposed is that of the orthodox biblical teachings on the Trinity expressed in the Nicene and Athanasian creeds. The paper presents new arguments supporting the unity and coherence of Old and New Testament revelation, employing (1) new analogies from modern physics, and (2) new philosophical insights concerning the properties of objects nested in a larger whole, and how those objects are to be properly counted in relation to the larger whole.

Gary J. Cundill

Do Companies Have Social Responsibilities?

Business and Christianity do not always enjoy the most comfortable of relationships. One approach Christians have taken when considering business’s place in the world is to describe it in terms of corporate responsibility, i.e., that business has a responsibility not merely to deliver financial returns but to offer broader societal benefits. This article surveys the biblical evidence for such a view and finds it unconvincing. Rather, it is evident that Christians, not businesses, have social responsibilities and can and should discharge these in the world of business. Practical suggestions are offered in conclusion.

Jonathan D. Christman

A Biblical Framework for Deciding Workplace Moments of Conscience

A well-known Christian intellectual and cultural commentator, John Stonestreet, has often publicly spoken of the need for Christians to develop a theology of “getting fired.” This call is not one for mass exodus of Christians from the workplace. Rather, this call recognizes that more and more Christians are facing moments of conscience in their workplace, when the obligations of a job – one’s current calling or vocation – come into conflict with one’s beliefs or convictions. Grounding both calling and convictions in Scripture, this article proposes an overarching framework and practical guide for analyzing, assessing, navigating, and deciding those workplace moments of conscience. Doing so entails both individual and corporate dimensions that are grounded in wisdom, humility, the means of grace, and life-giving community in the body of Christ.

Robert P. Menzies

Pentecost: Not Really Our Story Afterall? A Reply to Ekaputra Tupamahu

Menzies responds to Tupamahu’s post-colonial critique of the Pentecostal reading of Acts and the missionary enterprise. According to Tupamahu, the disciples are marginalized Galileans who move from the periphery to the center of the Roman world. Thus, white American Pentecostals need to rethink their vision of the expansionist mission. Menzies argues Tupamahu’s racially colored, post-colonial reading of Acts distorts Luke’s intended meaning, reflects a diminished view of the gospel, and betrays the legacy of Pentecostal leaders like William Seymour. In Acts the disciples are commissioned by Jesus (Luke 24:46–49; Acts 1:4–8). Their mission centers on the Spirit-inspired proclamation of the gospel. Luke emphasizes that their mission is our mission (Luke 10:1–16; Acts 2:17–18). Thus, to reject our mission is to repudiate the significance of our message and to resist the leading of the Spirit.

Book Reviews

Thursday 21 December 2023

Mission Catalyst 2 (2023) on Reconciliation

The current issue of Mission Catalyst, published by BMS World Mission, is now available. This issue is devoted to ‘The Road to Reconciliation: Global Theologies of Healing’.

Here’s the blurb:

‘As the UK church across the denominations prepares for rifts, rips and worse over the issue of human sexuality, this issue looks to the Global church for theologies of healing, a subject brought yet more sharply into focus by the conflict between Israel and Hamas. Matty Fearon, René August, Martin Accad, Camille Hernandez, Katy Hayward and regular columnist Natalia-Nana Lester-Bush share their stories to help illuminate our pathways.’

Mission Catalyst is available as a free subscription, or this issue can be downloaded as a pdf here.

Monday 18 December 2023

Lausanne Global Analysis 12, 6 (November 2023)

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

The summaries are taken from the Issue Overview by Loun Ling Lee.

Thilini De Visser and Joseph W. Handley

From Generation to Generation: Modeling and Mentoring to Build the Kingdom

There is an urgency to develop younger leaders, particularly the Millennials and Generation Zers, to prepare them for leadership transition when the time comes, to keep them involved in the church, and to equip them for marketplace ministries… Thilini De Visser and Joseph W. Handley show us how this could be done through modeling and mentoring… drawing principles from Scripture and best practices. They conclude with some key attributes for developing  and sustaining a modeling and mentoring environment.

Phil Thomas

Raising Up Godly Leaders Among International Students Around the World

A significant group among younger leaders are international students. ‘Each year, thousands of Christian international students either return to their home countries or move to a third country. Many long to serve God in a biblical and culturally relevant way, not just copying Western models,’ writes Phil Thomas… Before proposing three biblical leadership principles for developing godly leaders around the world, the author gives a critique of the many Christian leadership books available in the market and lays down the foundations for biblical leadership principles.

Mary Ho

Growing Global Women Leaders from the Majority World

As ‘Christianity is currently growing the fastest in Africa, Latin America, and Asia,’ we see women from the Majority World, who ‘have always been grassroots leaders in the local context… ow taking their place as global leaders who can mobilize diverse followers to accomplish a global vision.’ Based on this premise, Mary Ho encourages ‘Growing Global Women Leaders from the Majority World’ by discovering the ‘intrinsic strengths of women in leadership. However, she also challenges them to proactively cultivate cognitive, affective, and social abilities. She recommends some practical ways to develop the above global leadership competencies.

Lalbiakhlui Rokhum, Jasmine Kwong, and Dave Bookless

Climate Crisis and God’s Creation: Calling Global Christian Leaders to Act

The ecological crisis is ‘impacting every corner of the world.’ If ‘Christian love requires us to respond to those affected by disasters, including the growing climate crisis’ and ‘if creation care is a gospel issue under the Lordship of Christ,’ how must we respond as Christian leaders around the world? … Lalbiakhlui Rokhum, Jasmine Kwong, and Dave Bookless address 5 challenges faced by the global church and encourage all, especially church leaders, to seize the opportunities to respond positively. They also provide helpful Christian resources for further and deeper learning in caring for creation.

Thursday 14 December 2023

Evangelical Alliance UK on Friendship

Evangelical Alliance UK has produced a helpful set of resources to go with the book by Phil Knox, The Best of Friends: Choose Wisely, Care Well (London: IVP, 2023).

A five-part video series for use in church or small groups is available from here.

A study guide containing questions and activities for small groups is available here.

Friday 8 December 2023

Currents in Biblical Research 22, 1 (October 2023)

The latest Currents in Biblical Research arrived recently – a bit trimmer than usual – with titles and abstracts of the two main articles as below.

Travis B. Williams

The Amanuensis Hypothesis in New Testament Scholarship: Its Origin, Evidential Basis, and Application

For centuries, the authorship claims of certain New Testament epistles have been defended by postulating the use of a secretary. According to the amanuensis hypothesis, secretaries in the Greco-Roman world were afforded varying degrees of compositional freedom during the letter-writing process. Proponents of this view maintain that such a consideration invalidates the practice of making authenticity judgments based on the style or even content of a given letter. To better understand the merits and limitations of the amanuensis hypothesis, this article outlines its earliest formulations, traces the development of its evidential basis, and examines the various ways it has been applied within modern authorship debates.

Michael M.C. Reardon

Becoming God: Interpreting Pauline Soteriology as Deification

In the past five decades, the doctrine of deification has experienced a renaissance within the Protestant West. While biblical scholars have exhibited greater reticence to ascribe explicitly deiform intentions to Scripture than their theologian counterparts, this article traces the recent emergence of interest in interpreting Pauline soteriology as deification. Intriguingly, scholars within this burgeoning line of inquiry of scholarship represent a host of interpretative schools (e.g. apocalyptic, new perspective on Paul) and methodological approaches (exegetical, history-of-religion, reception history, theological interpretation), yet nevertheless affirm broadly similar portrayals of the deiform contours and content of Paul’s doctrine of salvation.

Thursday 7 December 2023

Centre for Public Christianity (November 2023)

Among other items, the Centre for Public Christianity has posted a ‘Life and Faith’ interview (here) with Denis Alexander on a new book which ‘tells the stories of people whose encounters with New Atheism set them on the path to Christianity’, an older episode (here) on C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity, and an interview (here) with clinical psychologist Leisa Aitken on the psychology of hope.

Tuesday 5 December 2023

Advent Devotionals

Every month, The Good Book Company make available digital versions of one of their books at no charge. This month (December 2023) it’s an Advent Devotional which is available in exchange for an email address and a short quiz here.

Monday 4 December 2023

9Marks Journal (December 2023) on Catholicity

The latest issue of the 9Marks Journal, available from here, looks at the topic of ‘Catholicity: Churches Partnering Together’.

In the Editor’s Note, Jonathan Leeman writes:

‘Say the word “catholic” or “catholicity,” and many pastors might give you a quizzical look..

‘The thing is, it’s not a word we often use in everyday evangelical church land…

‘Still, it’s a word that 9Marks has been trying to breathe a little life into for a number of years. Call it our reclamation project. When asked, I give it a three-word definition: churches partnering together. Conceptually, that’s me taking a few shortcuts. The doctrine needs a fuller definition than that. Yet churches partnering together is where the rubber meets the road for a pastor when it comes to catholicity. It’s what catholicity looks like…

‘First, the catholic impulse is biblically required. You should want to partner with churches around the world. Second, that impulse is the Great Commission impulse. It wants more churches everywhere, because Christ has people everywhere. Third, the impulse works against the turfiness and self-sufficiency that seems to follow the attractional church-growth and missions philosophies which have dominated evangelicalism for seventy years. 

‘Therefore, we offer this edition of Church Matters to help you and your fellow church leaders study this fairly neglected topic.’