Monday, 2 October 2023

Keith R. Fox on Integrity in Scientific Research

Cambridge Papers are published once a quarter and address a wide range of topics, offering ‘Christian reflection on contemporary issues’.

The latest paper is available online here (from where a pdf can be downloaded here):

Keith R. Fox, ‘Integrity in Scientific Research: A Christian Perspective’, Cambridge Papers 32, 3 (September 2023).

Here is the summary:

‘Misconduct and a lack of personal integrity is increasingly detected within scientific research, as it is in many other areas of public life. Examples include fraud, data manipulation, bias, conflicts of interest and plagiarism. This can lead to public mistrust of science, as well as being a waste of resources. This paper considers some of the causes of the problem and describes how scientists should follow principles of honesty, humility and truth-seeking, values that are integral to Christian ethics. These principles apply not just to scientific research but to all aspects of human endeavour and our approach to research should be the same as the principles that govern every aspect of Christian behaviour.’

Friday, 29 September 2023

The Good Childhood Report

The Children’s Society recently published ‘The Good Childhood Report’ for 2023.

Their key findings are as follows:

• Almost a third of the children aged 10 to 17 who completed our annual survey this year were unhappy with at least one of the ten specific areas of their lives that we ask about.

• The majority (74%) of children who completed our annual survey felt positive about their own futures, but less than four in ten felt positive about the future of the country and the world.

• More children (aged 10 to 17) who completed our annual survey were unhappy with school (14.5%), a larger proportion than for the other nine aspects of life included in the Good Childhood Index.

• Children aged 10 to 17 who completed our annual survey who worried about how much money their family had were more likely to be unhappy than those without financial worries with all the different aspects of life that they were asked about, and particularly with their home, money and things they own, and the amount of choice they have.

• When asked about a list of seven issues relevant for the future, having enough money was the item that more children and young people worried about, followed by finding a job and getting good grades at school.

• When asked about a set of nine societal issues, rising prices was the top worry among children completing the survey this year, followed by the environment.

More information is available here, the full report is available as a pdf here, a summary with recommendations is available as a pdf here, and a youth summary is available as a pdf here.

Thursday, 28 September 2023

Lausanne Global Analysis 12, 5 (September 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.

Steve Moon

Innovative Integration and Collaboration on the Mission Field: A Holistic Intercultural Approach

Steve Moon reflects on the approaches and processes to evaluate what ‘new and creative ways, expressed through new cultural and technological tools’, would be appropriate, realistic, and faithful to the Word of God. Such evaluation requires much practical wisdom gained through contextualization, integration, and ‘collaboration with diverse people across disciplines, sectors, generations, and backgrounds’. This spirit of innovative integration applies also to mission financing. He recommends ‘integrating faith missions approaches and missional business approaches’ as ‘a realistic solution in many contexts’.

First Rievan

Beyond Self-Support Fundraising for Missions: Thinking, Structures, and Practices for Majority World Missionaries

Kirst Rievan addresses the question, ‘Are there ways to make international missions more sustainable and less dependent on the West?’ Although ‘the financial systems of most mission organisations are now more diverse than at their foundation’, their basic principle is still that ‘individual workers are responsible for raising their own support’. This poses great challenges especially for mission workers from the Majority World. The author revisits ‘the general models for financing international mission workers: 1) self support, 2) organisational support, and 3) a hybrid. Each has variations, strengths, and weaknesses’. He recommends changes in ‘thinking, structures, and practices’ and concludes that ‘multiple models’ are the way forward for financial sustainability for international mission organisations.

John Cheong

Islamic Economics for Christian Ministry and Mission: What We Can Learn from Zakat, Waqf, and Islamic Banking

John Cheong illustrates how we can ‘integrate the sociocultural and religious dimensions of economics into missiology’, particularly in Muslim contexts, by ‘examining three aspects of the Islamic economy: zakat (almsgiving/tithing), waqf (endowments/trusts), and Islamic banking (interest-free financing)’ and comparing them with Christian ‘life and witness in relation to the socioeconomic dimensions of life’. He hopes by doing so, we will ‘recover a more holistic gospel that is truly good news to the poor’.

Al Tizon

The Legacy of Ronald J. Sider: Five Elements Shaping Transformational Mission Today

According to Tizon, Sider’s one great impact on global mission is in catalyzing social transformation. His motivation for that ‘came not from humanist altruism, but ultimately from authentic, Christian discipleship – a deep desire to follow Jesus faithfully and radically in the world’. Since its first edition in 1977 to its sixth edition today, Sider’s book Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger has challenged ‘the church to repent and to begin living out the economics of the kingdom’, including practising an ‘economically conscious mission’. His unwavering commitment to ‘a simple lifestyle’ and nonviolence as well as his urging of Christians ‘to enter the public square with the politics of Jesus’ have significantly influenced the ‘contour of mission’ and helped ‘build the kind of society that reflects God’s peace, justice, and righteousness’.

Thursday, 21 September 2023

Theos Report on Volunteering After the Pandemic

A new report from Theos has been published:

Hannah Rich and George Lapshynov, Volunteering After the Pandemic: Lessons from the Homelessness Sector (London: Theos, 2023).

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

Tuesday, 19 September 2023

Mission Frontiers 45, 5 (September–October 2023)

The September–October 2023 issue of Mission Frontiers, published by Frontier Ventures, contains a number of articles devoted to the theme of ‘Arts, Worship, and Mission in Today’s Church’.

Here is the issue blurb, which sets the scene:

‘Western hymns and worship songs are not the only valid forms of worship. Not only does worship not have to be Western, it doesn't have to be in song! Jesus is worthy of worship expressed in every style and every form. The ethnodoxology movement seeks to enable Christ followers in every nation, tribe, and language (and culture!) to worship God through multiple culturally relevant art forms. Ethnodoxology encourages worship that helps connect the worshiper's heart to God, resulting in forms that seem natural rather than foreign and that catalyze Disciple Making Movements.’

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

Thursday, 7 September 2023

Kathleen Nielson on Proverbs

Every month, The Good Book Company make available digital versions of one of their books at no charge. This month (September 2023), it’s Proverbs for You by Kathleen Nielson, which is available in exchange for an email address here.

Friday, 1 September 2023

Francois P. Viljoen and Albert J. Coetsee et al. on Prayer in the New Testament

Thanks to Alistair Wilson for the heads up on this open access volume, to which he has contributed a chapter:

Francois P. Viljoen and Albert J. Coetsee (eds.), Biblical Theology of Prayer in the New Testament, Reformed Theology in Africa Series Volume 13 (Cape Town: AOSIS Publishing, 2023).

Here’s the synopsis:

‘This publication deals with a biblical theology of prayer based on the New Testament. It forms the second of a two-volume publication on a biblical theology of prayer, dealing with the concept of prayer in the Old and New Testament, respectively. This New Testament volume begins with an introduction on prayer and worship in early Jewish tradition, followed by eleven chapters dealing with New Testament corpora. It concludes with a final chapter synthesising the findings of the respective investigations of the Old and New Testament corpora to provide a summative theological perspective of the development of the concept of prayer through scripture.

‘Prayer forms a major and continuous theme throughout the biblical text. Prayer was an integral part of the religious existence of God’s people in both the Old and New Testament. It underwent its greatest developments during, after and as a result of the Exile and was deepened and transformed in the New Testament. In both the Old and the New Testament, God is the sole “addressee” of his people’s prayer. This conviction continued into the New Testament, but was broadened with Trinitarian elements of worship, adoration and intercession.

A biblical theological investigation is chosen as methodology. Since all the biblical books form part of one canonical text, the assumption is that the various theologies about prayer being displayed in these books can be synthesised into a developing meta-theology about prayer. As the Old and New Testament form part of the canonical text, the results about prayer in the Old Testament can be brought into play with the results about prayer in the New Testament. This eventually leads toward an overarching biblical theology of prayer.’

Further information is available here, from where the book can be downloaded as a pdf.

The Old Testament volume referred to in the synopsis is available from here.

Tuesday, 29 August 2023

Christian History Magazine on Lilias Trotter

The latest issue of Christian History Magazine is devoted to Lilias Trotter.

From the blurb:

‘Lilias Trotter left behind the world of Victorian art and fame to serve God in Algiers. You may not know her name, but she left her mark on both the 19th century art world and North African missions.’

The whole magazine is available as a 10.1 MB pdf here.

Thursday, 24 August 2023

Mission Catalyst 1 (2023) on Apologetics

The current issue of Mission Catalyst, published by BMS World Mission, is now available. This issue is devoted to ‘Transforming Apologetics’.

Here’s the blurb:

‘In this issue: How to make interfaith friends and not alienate people. Kang-San Tan and Benno van den Toren share how we remedy the Western world’s hold on apologetics, Rev Ruth Conlon talks us through how we can act out radical inclusion, Amro Hussein shares a time he changed his mind, and you’ll hear from regular columnist Natalia-Nana Lester-Bush on how mission is racist.’

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

Saturday, 19 August 2023

Hannes Wiher on Holistic Mission

The World Evangelical Alliance’s Theological Commission has published the 25th volume in its ‘World of Theology Series’ on the topic of holistic mission:

Hannes Wiher, Holistic Mission: An Historical and Theological Study of Its Development, 1966–2011, World of Theology Series 25 (Bonn: Verlag für Kultur und Wissenschaft Culture and Science Publ., 2022).

Here’s some blurb:

‘For the last 50 years, one of the most important discussions in global evangelicalism has concerned the idea of holistic mission, which proposes the integration of verbal evangelism and social engagement within Christian mission. This book examines how key terms such as “evangelism” and “mission” have been understood in contemporary evangelical declarations from 1966 to 2011, in the Bible, and in the missiological debate.

‘It adopts an in-depth approach to the historical, biblical and theological analysis. The main thesis is that the different conceptions of evangelism and mission in general, and that of holistic mission in particular, have their root in the worldview of the various theologians and Christian leaders preparing these statements. The book evaluates the missiological conceptions of evangelism and mission proposed in the various declarations in the light of the Bible, so as to derive a biblical understanding of evangelism and mission.’

Further information is here, and the book is available for free download as a pdf here.

Thursday, 17 August 2023

Themelios 48, 2 (August 2023)

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


Brian J. Tabb

On Disagreements in Ministry

Strange Times

Daniel Strange

It’s Not Rocket Science… Even If It Is

Ian J. Vaillancourt

Reading Psalm Superscriptions through the Centuries

This article seeks to retrieve from the past in order to gain perspective for the present. It begins by surveying the manuscripts of the MT Psalter, the LXX Psalter, and 11QPsa from the DSS, reporting on the unique aspects of the psalm superscriptions in each of these text traditions. The heart of the article then surveys the way five key questions about superscriptions have been answered by prominent interpreters in the patristic, medieval, reformation, higher critical, and more recent periods. It concludes with some lessons drawn from its survey of history as a vehicle for suggesting a way forward for the present day.

T.F. Leong

Ecclesiastes in Context: Reclaiming Qoheleth’s Canonical Authority

The book of Ecclesiastes is essentially a speech. Its profound message is needed today more than ever. Yet much recent Evangelical scholarship has accepted and assumed critical views of Qoheleth the speaker and his speech. This renders almost the entire book practically useless to Bible teachers and preachers. This article presents the teaching of Ecclesiastes on the meaning of life in the contexts of its ancient and the modern world. Its uncanny superiority over its ancient and modern counterparts corroborates the book’s own claim that Qoheleth’s speech is inspired by God and thus canonically authoritative for teaching and preaching.

Charles Cleworth

The Characterization of Peter and the Message of Acts

The growing trend of utilizing narrative criticism to interpret the New Testament, including the tools of character studies, has led to an increased focus upon the on the way Luke develops Peter’s character in the book of Acts. Less attention, however, has been given to understanding how different accounts of the characterization of Peter in Acts impinge upon and contribute to the overall message of the book. This more recent focus on Peter’s development has led to a skewed analysis of his presentation in Acts, and, as a corollary, has obscured the way in which Peter’s characterization contributes to the message of Acts, which is ultimately about the movement of the gospel to the ends of the earth.

William B. Bowes

Uprisings and Mob Violence in Acts and in the First Century

Acts of the Apostles reports several uprisings and instances of mob violence that occur across Asia Minor, caused by or related to the evangelistic and missionary endeavors of Paul and his companions in the middle of the first century. While the historicity of the events recorded in Acts is an issue of perennial dispute, the disturbances associated with the expansion of the Christian message are presented by the author as historical events. Consequently, a closer and more detailed examination of the major uprisings throughout the text is in order. This article begins with an analysis of extrabiblical records of mob violence and uprisings in the first-century Roman Empire, and then moves to an analysis of five episodes of mob violence recorded in Acts for the purpose of comparing the way that uprisings during the early Imperial period were recorded. The discussion concludes by arguing that Acts reports these events in a manner consistent with the way that other uprisings during this time were reported, and the details in Acts match the social and cultural context of the areas described. As a result, readers should consider the accounts in Acts to have a higher degree of historical reliability.

Scott MacDonald

Modern Healing Cloths and Acts 19:11–12

Christian groups and leaders around the world commission cloths to heal the sick, often claiming Acts 19:11–12 as a foundational text for the practice. After an overview of some examples, this paper analyzes the unusual events of Ephesus in Acts and reflects on the identity of the cloths. This investigation reveals the stark contrast between Paul’s ministry in Ephesus and the modern practice of healing cloths. Instead of inaugurating a normal healing device for Christianity, God uses the miracles and Paul’s public ministry to lead the Ephesians away from magical practices. While God can do as he sees fit, Christian groups and leaders should avoid seeking to manipulate and control the power of God like the sons of Sceva (Acts 19:13–20).

Andreas-Christian Heidel

The Agonistic Imagery of the New Testament and the Paradox of the Cross

Early Christians had to develop and negotiate their (new) identity within a society, to which their beliefs and ethical convictions were largely alien. These beliefs were rooted in the Christ event, especially in the understanding of Jesus’s death on the cross as an event of salvation, both individually and collectively. However, the cross contradicted the values of their Greco-Roman environment, and New Testament authors used various imageries to express this tension. This contribution traces this relationship by looking at the usage of agonistic imagery in New Testament writings: Sports metaphors are used by taking up their triumphalist character but at the same time transforming it with a contradicting ethos of defeat that expresses a new kind of paradox identity, both individually and collectively.

Jared Compton

The Function of Divine Christology in Hebrews: Critical Reflections on a Recent Proposal

The recent “theological turn” in biblical studies sparked fresh, creative interest in Hebrews’ Christology. The latest entry in the field, Nick Brennan’s carefully argued Divine Christology in the Epistle to the Hebrews, advances the conversation and, at the same time, illustrates a danger attending the larger project of theological retrieval. This essay explores Brennan’s thesis, commending his theological instincts, while cautioning against his specific conclusions. Readers must account for Hebrews’ theology but never at the expense of the letter’s explicit argument.

David Haines

Thomas Aquinas on Total Depravity and the Noetic Effects of Sin

One of the most common critiques of Thomas Aquinas to be found in contemporary Protestant theology and apologetics is that Aquinas either outright denies the noetic effects of sin, or, at very least, minimizes the noetic effects of sin. Examples can be found in the writings of Dooyeweerd, Schaeffer, and Oliphint. This article provides a much-needed corrective to these all-too-common and perpetually promoted misinterpretations of Aquinas by showing that Aquinas thinks that human nature in its entirety (both intellect and will) is affected by sin. Protestant theologians can adopt his approach without sacrificing Protestant particulars.

Ed Wright

Live and Let Spy? Thomas Aquinas and the Basis for Christian Engagement in Intelligence Work

This article presents a framework for Christian engagement in government intelligence work, evaluating how the theology of Thomas Aquinas can inform such involvement. The article explores how to retrieve medieval theological resources for a distinctively modern issue. Four central pillars of Aquinas’s thought build a basis for Christian engagement in this field, and Aquinas’s understanding of both just war and deception are examined because of their importance to the complexities of intelligence operations. The article concludes by adumbrating a seven-point model for use by pastors and churches where its members may be employed by government intelligence agencies.

Melvin L. Otey

What Christians Need to Know About “Legalized” Marijuana

As states continue to decriminalize marijuana and usage escalates in American culture, Christians must increasingly navigate their associations with the drug. The various implications of marijuana use are much discussed, but the true legal landscape is often misunderstood. Despite recent changes in individual state laws, it is still a federal crime to possess, use, or sell the drug anywhere in the United States. This article argues that—aside from unrelated social, medical, ethical, and spiritual considerations—Christians must abstain from either medical or recreational marijuana use because they are obliged as a matter of faith to obey federal authorities.

Josh Rothschild

Technology and Its Fruits: Digital Technology’s Imago Dei Deformation and Sabbath as Re-Formation Josh Rothschild

The serpent promised that the fruit in the garden would make Adam and Eve more like God. While the fruit reduced the capability gap between God and humanity, it widened the character gap. This article aims to demonstrate that digital technology parallels the fruit in both its promise to grant us God-like abilities while also deforming God’s character in us. I use current psychological and sociological research to demonstrate that high digital technology use steadily deforms God’s character in humanity. I conclude by suggesting that weekly Sabbath practice counters this deforming technological pressure and creates space for God to re-form his image in us.

Book Reviews

Tuesday, 15 August 2023

Liz Wann on Motherhood

Every month, The Good Book Company make available digital versions of one of their books at no charge. This month (August 2023), it’s The End of Me: Finding Resurrection Life in the Daily Sacrifices of Motherhood by Liz Wann, which is available in exchange for an email address here.

Monday, 14 August 2023

Foundations 84 (July 2023)

Issue 84 of Foundations: An International Journal of Evangelical Theology, published by Affinity, is now available (here in its entirety as a pdf), which includes the below essays.

Donald John MacLean


Peter Sanlon

Glories That Form and Deform Identity: The Roads Ahead

This paper seeks to analyse what has become the main presenting issue of the day for western culture, that of identity. This question penetrates a good deal deeper than the vexed matters of gender, sexuality and ethnicity; essentially it comes down to a clear and binary choice: whom do we love, worship and glorify – self or God? The quest for self-realisation and self-fulfilment may take many forms, from pornography to conspiracy theories to a culture of ‘victimhood’, but each of these are diverse expressions of the same fundamental motivation – to worship and serve the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever – Amen! (Rom 1:25). Against all this, the next generation is summoned to walk ‘The Road Less Travelled’, where we gather under the cross of Jesus Christ.

Robin Gray

Divine Light and Holy Love: Genuine Conversions in the Works of Jonathan Edwards

This paper opens up the key question of genuine conversion by delving deep into the mind of Jonathan Edwards (1703–58) on the subject, and in particular, his Religious Affections, which were the mature fruit of Edwards’ deep reflection, years after many striking and ‘surprising’ events in his own ministry. Few minds have thought as hard and as deeply as Edwards about the subject of conversion, but fewer by far have written about the subject as incisively as he did. Whilst many other scholars and pastors have very helpfully brought Edwards’ thinking to the attention of the contemporary church, this paper, as it succinctly summarises Edwards’ main observations, will undoubtedly prove to be a precious additional resource in the hands of twenty-first-century pastors, not only in evaluating professed conversions in their own churches but in keeping a close watch on their own souls (1 Tim 4:16).

Phil Heaps

Sanctification and Consistent Godly Living

This paper will lead us to the Sermon on the Mount and to the Beatitudes in particular (Matt 5:3-12) demonstrating that this ‘Jesus Seminar’ is unparalleled as ‘a discipleship course for the 2020s’. Here is material which is intensely practical and yet is addressed directly to the human heart; here is a masterclass for the formation of Christian character but one which is to be worked out in the corporate context of the church. The Lord Jesus Christ – and the Beatitudes are, supremely, a delineation of Christ’s own spiritual character – calls his people to a radical obedience which is motivated by humility, ‘poverty of spirit’ (Matt 5:3) but which is the only path to the growth for which God looks, growth in holiness.

Mark Thomas

Pastoring the Twenty-First Century Church

This paper begins with the tremendous, transcendental reality that God himself is the Pastor of his people (Ps 23:1, 80:1), and then fleshes out in detail how the pastoral office of the undershepherd is described in Scripture. Throughout, the calling of the pastor is described and illustrated with many examples in the Reformation and Puritan tradition – not least from the ‘three Bs’ of Bucer, Baxter and Bridges. The climactic feature of this paper is its recognition and analysis of contemporary culture and how it impinges on young people attached to churches. Whilst there are timeless issues and considerations that every pastor and church must face, there are some that are peculiar to today, and pastors are urged to face up to these – they include anxiety, exhaustion, ‘influences’ and, as in Paper 1, the whole question of ‘identity’.

Patrick Fung

Faithfulness Amidst Trials and Persecution

This paper begins with an in-depth treatment of the narrative of persecution in Luke-Acts, showing how it was first directed against Jesus and then against his disciples. The key consideration is not simply that persecution happened, but that the early church needed to know how to respond to it. The next section of the paper we describe in detail the Boxer Uprising in China in 1900 and in particular the response of the church, exemplified in the approach of Dixon Edward Hoste (1861–1946), Hudson Taylor’s successor as leader of the China Inland Mission. Hoste’s approach was humble, gracious, visionary and deeply instructive for the church today. We conclude with a survey of the state of anti-Christian persecution in the world today, both ‘east’ and ‘west’, and calls us to prayerful, patient, self-denying witness.

Sarah Allen

Review Article: Complementarianism

Book Review