Monday 29 April 2024

Themelios 49, 1 (April 2024)

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


Brian J. Tabb and Benjamin L. Gladd

Announcing the Carson Center for Theological Renewal

Strange Times

Daniel Strange

Baggy Trousers: Approaching Theological Study

Dave Brunn

Gender in Bible Translation: A Crucial Issue Still Mired in Misunderstanding

This article argues that much of the controversy surrounding gender in Bible translation is unnecessary. One reason is that many of the discussions about this issue have focused almost exclusively on the way nonliteral versions translate gender, giving insufficient attention to the way gender is handled in versions that identify as literal. A careful, objective examination of both kinds of versions together will show that the two sides of this discussion are not as far apart as some have supposed. While there are differences between the various versions, this article will demonstrate that the most significant distinction between the way literal and nonliteral versions handle gender in translation lies in the frequency rather than the nature of the adjustments.

Melvin L. Otey

The Ancient Pedigree of Homosexuality as the Sin of Sodom

Scholars disagree about the precise nature of the sin that provokes God’s wrath in Genesis 19. In fact, multiple transgressions are involved, including fornication, rape, and inhospitality. Christian exegetes traditionally emphasize the apparently homoerotic aspects of the Sodomites’ demand to “know” the angels inside Lot’s home. However, some modern scholars isolate the aggressors’ inhospitality to the exclusion of any potential sexual deviance and allege that the emphasis on fornication, especially homosexual intercourse, is a historically recent phenomenon. This article critiques this assertion by demonstrating that a tradition within Second Temple Judaism and the primitive church attributes sexual sins, including homosexuality, to Sodom and its neighbors.

Dan Martin

Pedagogy and Biblical Theology: Tracing the Intertextuality of the Book of Proverbs

This paper articulates a provisional thesis, namely, that we need a pedagogical category within our biblical theological frameworks, on the basis that such a category was in the New Testament authors’ minds. I begin by outlining the challenges of integrating the book of Proverbs into biblical theology to date, before highlighting the value of intertextuality as the primary inductive method for constructing biblical theology. I then demonstrate through a ‘worked example’ the mutually interpretive canonical relationship of a Proverbs text with the New Testament, providing a tentative basis for a pedagogical biblical theological category. I conclude by outlining how this thesis can be tested and developed through further research.

Adam Friend

Filial Revelation and Filial Responsibility: (Dis)obedient Sonship and The Religious Leaders in Matthew 11–16

Sonship appears in every section, at every turning point, and on the lips of every character in Matthew’s Gospel. In determining the motif’s function, the religious leaders have largely been neglected. This study analyzes Matthew’s development of the motif of sonship in Matthew 11:1–16:11, arguing that the religious leaders clarify the positive concept of sonship from their provision of its negative example. For Matthew, sonship must be actualized in obedience.

Garrett S. Craig

The Divine Identity in 1 Peter: The Father, Christ, and the Spirit in Relation

Traditionally the discipline of New Testament studies has not been welcoming to a Trinitarian understanding of God. In recent years, however, some scholars working in the discipline have argued for the positive exegetical benefits for what they have called a “Trinitarian hermeneutic.” While working within the historical-grammatical paradigm, a Trinitarian hermeneutic seeks to understand the text’s God-talk by attending to the relations between the Father, Christ, and the Spirit. By using this method, the article argues that the divine identity found in the letter of 1 Peter puts pressure on its readers to articulate an understanding of God that agrees with later Trinitarian confessions.

Christopher Osterbrock

The Spiritual Utility of Calvin’s Correspondence during the Strasbourg Years

Calvin’s letters are no mere collection of personal correspondence but served him in his lifelong spiritual formation. Of note are those letters collected during his time in Strasbourg (1538–1541). This study argues for and assesses the unique spiritual utility of Calvin’s correspondence during the Strasbourg years. The reformer is observed in these letters examining himself, seeking counsel and companionship, and recording the evolution of his philosophy of ministry, all this while shepherding his French refugee church under Martin Bucer’s mentorship. Calvin’s letters evidence a desire for theological implication through reciprocated dialogue, which pastors and laypersons alike ought to consider.

Nathan Sherman

A Change in Kind, Not Degree: Labels, Identity, and an Evaluation of “Baptistic Congregationalists”

How do we decide what to label people of centuries past when they had no clear labels for themselves? Should we describe seventeenth century Baptists as “Baptists” if that was not what they called themselves? Matthew Bingham has recently argued that instead of using the label “Particular Baptists” for the English Calvinistic Baptists of the 1640s and 50s, historians would more clearly describe their subjects as “baptistic congregationalists.” Is Bingham justified in his use of this neologism? While this article might be considered a book review – which several others have already contributed – it also contributes to the debates about wider religious labels of Early Modern England.

Obbie Tyler Todd

What Republicanism Is This? An Introduction to Christian Republicanism (1776–1865)

While the term “Christian republicanism” is known to most historians of the early republic, very few have attempted to explicate its unique theology or to identify its various religious, moral, and even racial permutations in the church. Christian republicanism was much more than just a set of political or social commitments. It was also a loose theological system. This article provides an introduction to Christian republicanism, tracing its beliefs, defining its boundaries, and chronicling its lifespan in the early United States when it flourished in the American mind.

Roger W. Fay

John Wesley and Faith at Aldersgate

The importance of justification by faith to the thinking of John Wesley (1703–1791) both during and after his Aldersgate Street experience in May 1738 has long been doubted by some Wesley scholars. This article demonstrates that the historical data surrounding Aldersgate is compelling and points to the validity of Wesley’s own interpretation of that occasion. A reprise of the historical data, coupled with an examination of some alternative interpretations by distinguished modern Wesley scholars, demonstrates the weak historical basis for interpretations that downplay justification by faith. John Wesley remains an important and instructive figure in the history of evangelical revivals.

Ryan Reed

The House Divided: An Assessment of the American Neo-Evangelicals’ Doctrine of Scripture

Carl F. H. Henry, Harold Lindsell, and Bernard Ramm represent three of the most formative voices within the neo-evangelical movement in America. Nevertheless, these three figures held to three different tones and methodologies on the doctrine of Scripture. Lindsell represents the evangelicals that saw inerrancy as a test for evangelical authenticity, as seen in his works, The Battle for the Bible and The Bible in the Balance. Though closer to the Lindsellian view, Henry saw inerrancy as a test for evangelical consistency rather than authenticity. Ramm represents evangelicals that affirmed a broad concept of inerrancy but did not see it as either the test of authenticity or consistency. This particular issue would cause early cracks in the unity of the new evangelical movement. By examining these three figures’ understanding of the doctrine of Scripture, this paper will show how the early neo-evangelical leaders struggled to decide how clearly they would identify with their fundamentalist roots.

Robert Golding

Swimming in a Sanctimonious Sea of Subjectivity: A Proposal for Christian Authenticity in a Made-Up World

There is a curious tendency in modern culture to simultaneously reject objective truth (e.g., “live your truth”) and to live as if it were real (e.g., “you must fight for the truth”). Objectivity has worked its way back into the subjectivity of postmodernism. This is not pure postmodernism, nor a return to the modernism that preceded it. This is a new phase, which I call metamodernism (a term coined elsewhere). This paper first explains metamodernism (sections 1–2). Then, it offers some suggestions for Christians to rebut metamodernism (section 3). Finally, it concludes with an anecdote to better explain the recommendation of the third section (section 4).

Luke Johnson

“Salvation Without Spin”: How the Gospel of Christ Subversively Fulfills the Prayer Wheels of Tibetan Buddhism

With present calls for inter-religious dialogue, Christianity must relate to major world religions in specific ways to distinguish its uniqueness in belief and practice. This article uses one of the five “magnetic points” of J. H. Bavinck, “I and salvation,” to demonstrate how Christianity carries out Hendrik Kraemer’s notion of “subversive fulfillment,” specifically with the prayer wheels of Tibetan Buddhism. The article first shows how Christianity confronts a trust in religious objects for salvation. Second, Christianity challenges a belief in mere mantras for spiritual help. Third, Christianity teaches that humans cannot gain merit through religious works. Instead, Christianity offers true deliverance through faith in the person and work of Jesus Christ.

Book Reviews

Tuesday 23 April 2024

Journal of the Evangelical Missiological Society 4, 1 (2024)

The Journal of the Evangelical Missiological Society is a peer reviewed publication of the Evangelical Missiological Society, a professional network committed to facilitating scholarly support of the Great Commission.

The latest issue is devoted to ‘Reflections on Mission History, Theology, and Practice’, and contains the below essays:

Sherene Nicholas Khouri

The Practice of Da’wa to Promote Relationship Building

Jacob Andrews and Robert Andrews

Bringing “the True Meaning of the Lord of Heaven” to Unreached People

Phil Zarns

Self-Localizing: The Indigenous Church in Context

Alan Howell

Embodying the Seven Movements of Christ: Postures and Pathways for Participation in Mission

Katie Hoogerheide Frost

Internalization: New Frontiers in Learning Scripture

Book Reviews

According to the blurb:

‘In this edition, we explore a variety of topics in mission today. In an insightful article, Syrian apologist Sherene Khouri discusses the history and practice of Islamic da’wa (invitation to Islam), particularly among Muslim women. From this, she suggests how Christian women might engage Muslim women based on this understanding of da’wa. Jacob and Robert Andrews revisit the mission model of the sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Jesuit, Matteo Ricci with an eye toward what might be recovered from his approach to mission. Building on the three- and four-self philosophies of mission, Phil Zarns proposes self-localizing as a means for contextualized mission practice. Reflecting on mission in the context of Mozambique, Alan Howell aims to unpack the story, skills, and strategies needed for embodying the way of Jesus in the world. Finally, moving beyond simply memorizing Scripture, Katie Frost discusses the essential values and practices for internalizing Scripture for the ministries of Scripture engagement.’

Individual articles are available from here.

A printer friendly pdf is available here.

A full colour pdf is available here.

Archived issues of the journal are available from here.

Wednesday 17 April 2024

The Big Picture Magazine 9 (2024) on Craft

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

According to the blurb:

‘This issue of the magazine continues our exploration into the theme of Craft. It features a meditation on healthy and unhealthy craft in our editorial, The Glory of the Ordinary; interviews with practitioners of the craft of woodworking and music; discussions of reading, writing, drawing, and art-making; essays on aspects of the work of C.S. Lewis, J.R.R Tolkien, and the films of Terrence Malick; 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.

Friday 12 April 2024

David Sandifer on the Ethic of Innocence

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):

David Sandifer, ‘The Ethic of Innocence: Lessons From Early Nineteenth-Century Christian Moral Reformers’, Cambridge Papers 33, 1 (March 2024).

Here is the summary:

‘Apart from costume dramas, Victorianism has on the whole not aged well. In particular, its moral posture is often associated with rigidity and propriety, not to mention hypocrisy. This paper will seek to retrieve for closer examination one aspect of ‘Victorian values’ – the ‘ethic of innocence’ – which animated Christian reformers of the Wilberforce generation, and motivated many of their efforts. It will further attempt to draw some lessons from this mentality for Christians seeking to life faithful lives in the often bewildering cultural context of the twenty-first century.’

Thursday 11 April 2024

Tim Keller on Romans 1–7

Every month, The Good Book Company make available digital versions of one of their books at no charge. This month (April 2024) it’s Romans 1–7 For You by Tim Keller, which is available in exchange for an email address here.

Wednesday 3 April 2024


All 12 issues of Primer, published by the Fellowship of Independent Evangelical Churches, have been made available for free as pdfs.

From the website:

‘Primer was born out of a desire to help church leaders to stay theologically sharp. Sometimes, pastors train for ministry at a theological college but then find it hard to maintain further study after moving into ministry […]

‘[E]ach issue of Primer takes one topic of theology and expands on it six or seven long-form articles.

‘Each issue looks at what’s been said about the topic historically, and how the church is engaging with it today. There are often reviews of helpful books to encourage further reading as well as chapters focused on how the topic shapes pastoral ministry. There are even interviews now again with ministry leaders.’

The following volumes were published:

Issue 01: True to His Word – on the trustworthiness of Scripture

Issue 02: How Far We Fell – on the doctrine of sin

Issue 03: True to Form – a biblical approach to gender and sexuality

Issue 04: A Place to Stand – on justification by faith

Issue 05: Coming Soon – on the end times

Issue 06: Newness of Life – on sanctification

Issue 07: Show & Tell – on apologetics

Issue 08: How Great a Being – on the doctrine of God

Issue 09: All Being Equal – on the Trinity

Issue 10: This World with Devils Filled – on the devil, demons, and spiritual warfare

Issue 11: A Little Lower than the Angels – on the doctrine of humanity

Issue 12: In the Flesh – on the incarnation

See here for more information, and to download the issues.