Friday 28 April 2023

Brad East (and Trevin Wax) on Church and Culture

Brad East has an article on Mere Orthodoxy – ‘Once More, Church and Culture’ – which, for those interested in the area, is well worth checking out.

It’s a longish piece, though Trevin Wax has a helpful summary here.

Writing from a US perspective, East starts with the reality that ‘Christendom is no more’.

He goes on to offer a helpful sample of some of the typologies on offer in the ‘church and culture’ debate, highlighting what he sees as some of their limitations, before proposing an alternative.

His brief survey limits itself to H. Richard Niebuhr and James Davison Hunter.

His criticisms of Hunter’s ‘faithful presence’ view is that it is ‘deeply American… deeply modern and Western’, that ‘it is a proposal by and for the upper-middle class’, and that it ‘suffers from an overly sanguine view of the professions and institutions in which Christians are called to be present’.

His own alternative is presented ‘not in rejection, but as an appreciative modification and extension of their proposals’.

‘As I see it, there is no one “correct” type, posture, or model. Instead, the church has four primary modes of faithful engagement with culture. They are inevitably overlapping and essentially non-competitive with one another. Which mode is called for depends entirely on context and content.’

Here are the four modes:


‘The church is always and everywhere called to resist injustice and idolatry wherever they are found’.


‘The church is always and everywhere called to repent of its sins, crimes, and failures’.


‘The church is always and everywhere called to receive from the world the many blessings bestowed upon it by God’.


‘The church is always and everywhere called to preach the gospel, which is the word of God’s saving grace in Jesus Christ’.

The several benefits of this fourfold model, according to East, are that ‘it does not privilege any one mode’; that ‘it does not prioritize work as the primary sphere in which the church encounters a culture or makes its presence known’; that ‘it does not focus on any one class of persons within the church’; that ‘little here is measurable in terms of external or tangible impact’; that ‘there is no specific social arrangement or political regime either presupposed or generated by this proposal’; that it ‘understands that the faithful presence of the church is a differentiated presence’ (sometimes settling down, sometimes moving out, where ‘the fidelity of the church’s witness is measured not only by its presence to the world but also by its difference from the world’).

I read East’s article and summarised it here before reading Trevin Wax’s post, which also offers a helpful parsing of the issues.

Wednesday 26 April 2023

Themelios 48, 1 (April 2023)

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


Brian J. Tabb

Comments on New Testament Commentaries

Strange Times

Daniel Strange

Going Deeper

Jonathan M. Cheek

The Individual and Collective Offspring of the Woman: The Canonical Outworking of Genesis 3:15

Studies on Genesis 3:15 often debate whether the seed of the woman refers to an individual or a collective group. The key words and concepts from Genesis 3:15 recur in numerous instances in the OT and the NT, which support the idea that the offspring of the woman should be understood as both an individual and as a collective group. This article will survey the key arguments for the individual view and for the collective view and will then present four arguments in support of the idea that the intent of Genesis 3:15 is to speak of both a collective offspring of the woman in addition to an individual offspring.

Paul A. Himes

Failure to Atone: Rethinking David’s Census in Light of Exodus 30

Various interpretations have been offered on how David sinned in taking the census of 2 Samuel 24, but too few have seriously grappled with the implications of Exodus 30:11–16 or the structure of 2 Samuel 21–24. Taking Exodus 30:11–16 as the starting point, this article argues that David was supposed to take the census, and that, as with the situation with the Gibeonites in 2 Samuel 21, David’s role was meant to be that of one who atones for the nation’s sins, turning away God’s wrath. The final section answers potential objections such as the role of Joab.

Greg Palys

Christ’s Surpassing Glory: An Argument for the “Inappropriateness” of OT Christophanies From Exodus 33–34 and 2 Corinthians 3:7–4:6

Did the Pre-incarnate Christ reveal himself in the Old Testament? Many believe that visible manifestations of God in the Old Testament must be manifestations of the Son. Surely if this is true, then we would be able to identify Christ most clearly in the Old Testament’s grandest manifestations of God’s glory. However, Paul’s reflection on the Sinai theophany identifies that which was revealed to Moses as a lesser glory, one that we cannot equate with Christ’s surpassing glory. If Christ’s greater glory was inappropriate for the Sinai theophany, then it follows that all other lesser “Christophanies” would be equally inappropriate.

Ken B. Montgomery

“You are the Salt of the Earth” (Matthew 5:13): Influence or Invitation?

Jesus identifies the disciples as “the salt of the earth” (Matt 5:13), which many commentators understand as a call for believers to be a part of preserving and influencing human society for the good. This article argues that “salt of the earth” is to be read as the church’s calling to participate in the flavor of the redemptive kingdom of heaven, and by extension to invite those outside to share in the feast of the new creation reality. This reading interprets the metonymic “salt” saying in light of the new temple theme in the Sermon on the Mount.

Hallur Mortensen

Seeing Is Not Believing: Apocalyptic Epistemology and Faith in the Son of God in Mark’s Gospel

Following recent discussions on the nature of apocalyptic, this article argues that apocalyptic primarily has to do with revelation of hidden things. This means that at the core of apocalyptic is epistemology, and it is thus argued that the Gospel of Mark is apocalyptic essentially in its epistemology rather than eschatology. Mark’s parable theory, and hence the responses to Jesus, is examined in this light. The question as to why some respond in faith in Jesus as the Son of God, while others respond with fear, hardness of heart, and unbelief is answered by Mark’s apocalyptic epistemology: Jesus’s divine sonship must be revealed in order to be believed.

David Shaw

The Eagle Has Landed: 3 John and Its Theological Vision for Pastoral Ministry

This article argues that when 3 John is read in light of John’s Gospel, it can be seen to have rich theological foundations and to offer a vision for ministry which is the natural and fitting trajectory of the Gospel. These are especially evident in 3 John’s depiction of the ministry of individuals, the conflict their ministry provokes, their practice of hospitality, rejection of self-love, and the pattern of imitation in the life of the church.

Jared August

What Shall We Remember? The Eternality of Memory in Revelation

This essay considers the concept of the eternality of human memory and what the Christian may expect to remember after death. Although numerous resources address the topic of the resurrected life, few consider the Bible’s teaching on the permanence of memory. By considering key passages from the book of Revelation, this study attempts a brief overview on the topic. It is proposed that Revelation depicts the believer’s eternal memory as consisting of details, corresponding to objective reality, experienced by community, and comforted by God.

Randall K. Johnson

Christological Arguments for Compatibilism in Reformed Theology

 Christian compatibilists believe that human freedom and moral responsibility are compatible with theological determinism, i.e., a robust account of divine sovereignty. Whereas most arguments for compatibilism stem from considerations about divine providence, human nature, or sin, we ought not to neglect christological arguments. In this paper, I present the christological arguments for compatibilism from three prominent theologians in the Reformed tradition: John Calvin, Francis Turretin, and Jonathan Edwards. I conclude with some reflections on the power of christological arguments for compatibilism.

Stephen Estes

Christ For Us: An Analysis of Bonhoeffer’s Christology and Its Implications for His Ethic

This article analyzes the Christology of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the famous German theologian who stood against evil in a day when his contemporaries failed. It traces the outline of Christology, including its dual emphasis on the transcendence and the immanence of God in Christ. Along the way, it also contrasts his theology with popular theologies of his day, including those who used the “Orders of Creation” as a theological defense of Nazism, and those within the Confessing Church who resisted but nonetheless did not recognize the importance of standing with the Jews in their persecution. This article concludes that Bonhoeffer’s exceptional ethic was the natural outworking of his robust Christology.

Nathan D. Shannon

Genealogy and Doctrine: Reformed and Confucian Sociologies of Knowledge

This article presents comparative textual analyses toward a basic grammar for understanding the interface between Reformed and Confucian sociologies of knowledge. I first propose a three-part Reformed theology of theological tradition in terms of historically successive communities. I then present relevant material from the Analects of Confucius, focusing on Confucius’s own sociology of learning and instruction. Striking similarities between these two models come to light, as well as significant differences in the areas of unity and truth, ontology and office, and sin and grace.

Kevin DeYoung

The Case for Christian Nationalism: A Review Article

For all the fine retrieval work Stephen Wolfe does in parts of The Case for Christian Nationalism, the overall project must be rejected. I offer a substantive critique of this book under four headings: nations and ethnicity, the nature of the church, Protestant political thought, and the way forward. While it is right to pray for a great renewal, we must remember that the most needed renewal in our world and in our land is the restoration of true doctrine, the reformation of our lives, and the revival of that divine and supernatural light shining in our hearts to show us God’s glory in the face of Christ (2 Cor 4:6).

Book Reviews

Tuesday 25 April 2023

Jennifer George and Rachel Siow Robertson on Joy and Digital Technology

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):

Jennifer George and Rachel Siow Robertson, ‘Designed for joy? Reflections on the Creation and Use of Digital Technology’, Cambridge Papers 32, 1 (March 2023).

Here is the summary:

‘As digital technologies become embedded into our places of work, education, and leisure, many people have voiced concerns about their adverse effects. Daily technology seems often to either drain our pleasure or promote pleasures which are detrimental. This reveals a need to distinguish between pleasures which support or diminish wellbeing when it comes to the design and use of technology. We argue that a theological and psychology-informed notion of joy can help do this, informing goals for the design and use of digital technology.’

Monday 24 April 2023

The Journal of Inductive Biblical Studies 8, 2 (2022)

The latest issue of the Journal of Inductive Biblical Studies is available online, with the below articles and their abstracts (where available). Individual essays are available from here, and the journal is available in its entirety as a pdf here.

Fredrick J. Long

From the Editors

Daniel Harris

The Slaughtered Lamb Shepherds with a Rod of Iron: The Use of Psalm 2:9 in Revelation

With Revelation as the book of the New Testament that refers most frequently to Ps 2, and with Ps 2 as the Psalm to which Revelation alludes most often, John repeatedly invites hearers and readers to give attention to his usage of the second Psalm as a tool for conveying his apocalyptic understanding of the role and identity of the Messiah. Recognition of John’s recurrent utilization of the verb from the LXX of Ps 2:9 (“to shepherd”) rather than the Hebrew (“to break”) forms a verbal thread through which John subverts militaristic expectations of a messiah who conquers through violence by the shocking identification of the victorious Messiah as the slaughtered lamb. This essay explores this verbal thread in detail, including considerations of its implications for understanding the nature of God’s wrath and the importance of clarity on Revelation’s portrayal of Christ’s messianic character for the ongoing spiritual formation of Christians.

W. Creighton Marlowe

Ten Commandments or Prohibitions? Numbering the Ten Words

Exodus 34:28 established, ostensibly, that Moses recorded “Ten Words” (known as the Ten Commandments) revealed by Yahweh. What is in question is not how to number but how to name these Ten. Since Origen, different sets of ten commands have been proposed. Opposing Jewish, Catholic, and Protestant traditions exist. Logical, theological, and linguistic arguments have been offered as justifications for how to best divide the texts (Exod 20:3–17 and Deut 5:7–21) into two distinct commands and eight prohibitions. Most variations center on how to combine or split the several directives contained at the beginning and end, which respectively focus on idolatry and coveting. No consensus has been reached, although one list has become popular. Jewish exegesis includes a proposal for only nine. Some interpreters have proposed more than ten commands (12-14). Is a new approach possible? This article suggests there are ten clear prohibitions that leave aside the positive commands to keep Sabbath and honor parents. The proposal is made that these two could be seen as adjunctive to the prohibitions that precede, so do not function technically as two of the Ten negations intended.

Shishou Chen

Paul’s Eschatological Joy in Philippians in Its Jewish Background

Jewish literature regarding eschatology is one of the backgrounds for Paul’s eschatological joy in Philippians. While the OT emphasizes the future joy of a national eschatology, and the Pseudepigrapha develops the moral element, Paul presents a unique triangular concept of eschatological joy between him, the Philippians, and God, emphasizing the communal aspect within believers. His focus shifts from national and moral joy in the Jewish literature to Christ/mission-centered joy. In his already-not-yet eschatological framework, Paul smoothly connects the present joy with the future joy, which is a sharp distinction in the OT, stressing that joy is possible and obligatory for the present, even during suffering.

G. Richard Boyd

A Journey with Inductive Bible Study: From Ignorance to Practitioner

Alan J. Meenan

A Tribute to WILLIAM J. ABRAHAM (1947-2021)

Jason E. Vickers

A Good Steward: William J. “Billy” Abraham (1947-2021)—A Tribute delivered at Asbury Theological Seminary, October 15, 2021

Thursday 20 April 2023

The Big Picture Magazine 6 (2023) on the Nurture of Nature

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

Among other items, this issue devotes several articles to the theme of ‘the nurture of nature’.

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.

Tuesday 18 April 2023

Journal of Biblical Theology and Worldview 3, 2 (2023)

The latest issue of the Journal of Biblical Theology and Worldview, published by BJU Seminary, has recently been made available online.

Contents as below are available from here, with the whole issue available for download as a pdf here.

Esdras O. Borges

Joy to Naomi, Obed Is Born: A Literary and Theological Analysis of Naomi’s Story

Ken Casillas

Evaluating Progressive Covenantalism’s Approach to the Application of the Mosaic Law

Brian C. Collins

The Covenant of Grace: A Critique of the Concept in Stephen Myers’s God to Us: Covenant Theology in Scripture

Mark Sidwell

George Whitefield and the Rise of American Evangelism

Book Reviews

Monday 17 April 2023

Wednesday 5 April 2023

Rebecca McLaughlin on Easter

Every month, The Good Book Company make available digital versions of one of their books at no charge. This month (April 2023) it’s Is Easter Unbelievable? Four Questions Everyone Should Ask about the Resurrection Story by Rebecca McLaughlin, a short but excellent exploration of the reality and significance of Jesus’ death and resurrection, which is available in exchange for an email address here.