Monday 27 February 2023

Evangelical Review of Theology 47, 1 (February 2023)

The latest Evangelical Review of Theology, published by The World Evangelical Alliance, is now online and available in its entirety as a pdf here.

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More Great Reading from the WEA

Evert Van de Poll

Towards a Recognition of the ‘Jewish Church’: the Messianic Jewish Movement and Christianity in Dialogue

The Messianic Jewish movement presents unique theological and diplomatic challenges not just to the Jews whom they hope will come to honour Jesus Christ but to other Christian groups as well. This summary of a July 2022 conference clarifies the issues in a dispassionate, definitive way.

James R. Edwards

The Significance of the Reformation for the Global Church Today

We are all indebted to the 16th-century Reformation for its recovery of the biblical norms of faith and church. However, this message (delivered at a global conference last October) argues that today’s church must fully recover the biblical norms of mission and evangelism to complete the Reformation vision of the church.

Andrew Messmer

A History of Biblical Textual Criticism

Textual criticism of the Bible is not a new science. It has been used by Jews and Christians for over 2,000 years, as a natural outworking of their belief in divine inspiration: if God has inspired a text to teach us about salvation, then we should preserve it as carefully as possible and restore it whenever necessary. This article surveys the history of biblical textual criticism, primarily in the Patristic and Modern periods. The Patristic period contains instructive examples of early textual criticism in practice, whereas modern textual criticism has relied heavily on published editions of both Testaments.

Alan J. Pihringer

C.S. Lewis’ Use of Myth to Convey a Christian Worldview

This article insightfully analyses the apologetic strategy inherent in Lewis’ fiction, including his intent to appeal to the imagination as well as to rational argument and his method of embedding opposing worldviews in his stories so that he could critique them. Lewis’ approach carries lasting value for our efforts to communicate the gospel to our postmodern and entertainment-oriented culture.

Richard L. Smith

The Gospel in Three Dimensions

This study of 1 Thessalonians 1:9–10 reveals that the passage presents the Christian life in simple three-point fashion, in terms of repentance, service to God and others, and our ultimate eschatological hope. These three points can be linked to God’s work on three levels—personal, corporate (within the body of Christ), and cosmic, respectively.

Prabo Mihindukulasuriya

Towards a Theology of Race and Ethnicity

Contemporary confrontations on ethnic identity, racial justice, and the challenges of life in multicultural societies make it imperative for Christians to examine how Scripture teaches us to view race and ethnicity. This article identifies fundamental theological orientations that can help us live faithfully as disciples of Christ amidst the conflicting winds of polarization, ethno-religious nationalism, systemic racism, and hyper-sensitive political correctness.

Book Reviews

Wednesday 22 February 2023

Theos Report on the Nones

I didn’t post on this when it first came out and am just catching up with it now, which is that Theos recently published this report:

Hannah Waite, The Nones: Who are they and what do they believe? (London: Theos, 2022).

Some blurb:

‘Around half of Britons now categorise themselves as having “No Religion”; these are colloquially known as “Nones”. But having no religion does not mean having no beliefs. It doesn’t even mean having no religious beliefs.

‘This report explores the demography, beliefs and practices of Nones and then presents a cluster analysis of this group. It shows that Nones comprise a complex and sometimes counter-intuitive group with, for example, only 51% of them stating they “don’t believe in God,” and 42% believing in some form of the supernatural.

This report demonstrates that there are three distinctive types or clusters of Nones.

‘Each cluster displays varying degrees of belief about religion, knowledge, God and spirituality. In essence, “Campaigning Nones” are self-consciously atheistic and hostile to religion; “Tolerant Nones” are broadly atheistic but accepting of (sometimes warm towards) religion; and “Spiritual Nones”, who are characterised by a range of spiritual beliefs and practices, as much as many people who tick the “Religion” box.

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

Wednesday 15 February 2023

Lausanne Global Analysis 12, 1 (January 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.

Philip Lutterodt, Joabe G Cavalcanti, and Loun Ling Lee

Perspectives from Global South Christianity: China, Brazil, East Asia, and the Global Church

In the Global South, Christianity is ‘growing both qualitatively and quantitatively at a phenomenal pace in comparison to Global North Christianity’… In this age of world Christianity, these changes bring diversity as well as tensions within global missions. For Christian witness to be credible, there must be a stronger interconnectedness across regions, cultures, and generations through deeper engagement with and learning from each other. ‘This article examines some essential characteristics and practices of Christianity in Ghana, Brazil, and East Asia,’ and recommends a way forward into the future of missions, with the hope of initiating a meaningful dialogue between leaders of Global North and South.

C.J. Davison, Paul Lewis, and Dave Benson

Governments and the Great Commission: Should We Obey?

The global church has to manage not only tensions within due to differences in geography and culture, but also the tensions between the state – ‘the governing authority’ – and the church – ‘the authority of Christ.’ How should Christians respond when caught under circumstances of conflict?… CJ Davison, Paul Lewis, and Dave Benson propose a framework derived from Scripture, traditions, and contemporary experiences. It consists of four basic responses – to declare truth, to disobey, to desert, and to obey passively. Guided by the Holy Spirit, we decide on a course of action, bearing in mind that ‘our primary purpose is to shine like Christ’.

Simon Jooste

Apartheid of Church and State: Pilgrim Politics for Dual Citizens

From another part of the world, we learn lessons on the relationship between church and state where ‘the church has at times transformed or conformed to the policies of civil government.’ Simon Jooste reflects on this relationship from the context of post-apartheid South Africa, as well as the current growing political liberalism in South Africa…. [Jooste] challenges Christians to ‘re-evaluate the public role of the church.’ Affirming ‘Christ’s rule over all of life casts Christians as dual citizens: at once governed by the cruciform polity of Christ’s church while making common culture with unbelievers under the proportionate justice rule of civil government’. The calling of the church is to ‘safeguard the gospel and the church’s Great Commission, while freeing Christians to make a provisional difference in society as a realisation of the Great Commandment to love.’

Victor Lee

Engaging Younger Generations on Church Ministry: Disconnects and Approaches for Passing the Baton

A disconnect between the older and younger generations has led to problems in leadership transition in many churches. Victor Lee imputes this to ‘a lack of engagement with young people in church ministry’… [H]e writes, ‘There is an urgent need to evangelise and disciple young people as well as to involve younger generations in leadership conversations.’ Based on data from a global survey conducted by the Barna Group and World Vision, and his own observations in his local context, he analyses three disconnects between the generations due to differences in expectations, differences in value system, and differences in language. For a possible solution to each issue, he proposes an approach similar to overcoming intercultural differences. We also learn from a powerful model of a pastor who ‘has established a ministry that is known for its engagement with younger ministers.’