Monday, June 29, 2009

Send Up of Youth Ministry

Thanks to my good friend Denny Burk, I have discoverd a hillarious clip on You.Tube about Youth Ministers. It is called "Ignatius the Ultimate Youth Pastor".

A Theology of the Apostolos?

We are very accustomed to reading theologies of Paul and sometimes even theologies of the "Gospels". But I don't recollect ever seeing a serious theology of the Catholic Epistles as a unified corpus. What is more, the Catholic Epistles and Acts comprised a literary unit in the Ancient Church called the "Apostolos" and you can find manuscripts that contains these writings and lectionary readings based around them. Part of the problem is, as David Horrell states, a perception that the contents of the Apostolos, "do not constitute a collection of texts with a distinctive and closely shared theological perspective". But is this really the case? Is the theological complexity (read "diversity" if ya like) of the Apostolos no different from the complexity within the canonical Gospels, within the Pauline corpus, or within the Book of the 12 Minor Prophets. The Book of the 12 is probably a good example. If it constituted the one literary "corpus" then it was probably meant to be read synchronically. Should we read the Apostolos (or even just the Catholic Letters if ya want to leave Acts with Luke) the same way as a distinct literary unit that comprises a mutually interpetive collection of texts? Some unity of the collection might well be inherent like elements of christology and praxis, but some elements of unity would be constructed when these writings are read as a literary whole. I think this is a good Ph.D thesis in the wings waiting to be done by some brave soul. A canonical reading of the Apostolos as a single corpus with its own theological texture!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Tagged - Five Influences

Michael Barber has tagged me on five books or scholars that have influenced me the most. I don't usually play these "tag" games, but I'll indulge my good friend Michael and play this one. To begin with, I have to protest, this question is kinda like, "Who are your five favourite relatives?" It's so hard to pick, so I'll go for categories:

1. Ancient Author: My favourite ancient author is a hard one. I love the Epistle of Diognetus whoever its author may be. I'm partial to Irenaeus and Justin Martyr too. But I would have to say that John Chrysostom is my favourite ancient author as I find his homilies theologically captivating and spiritually nourishing.

2. Reformed Author: I really love Richard Baxter's The Reformed Pastor, but obviously you cannot go past John Calvin as the greatest theologian of the Reformation. His Institutes of the Christian Religion continues to amaze me as to its biblical rigor and theological brilliance. In more recent times, I've also benefitted immensely from his commentaries on Romans, Galatians, and Colossians.

3. Modern Authors: Several modern authors have contributed to my intellectual and theological development and represent role models of evangelical biblical scholarship that I've tried to emulate. They include Scot McKnight, Craig Keener, and Stan Porter and I include them because they write well, they write often, and they actually teach me stuff. I'm also very privileged to say that I consider all three guys to be my friends too. Further mention in despatches for I. Howard Marshall, James Dunn, and Richard Bauckham as top British scholars that I learn much from too! Now as for the authors who have influenced me the most, there are two in particular that I have to mention. At the risk of sounding schizophrenic, I'm gonna say that the two modern authors who have influenced me the most are N.T. Wright and D.A. Carson. Both inspired me, in different ways, to become a New Testament lecturer.

On Wright, I first remember seeing a few references to Jesus and the Victory of God (JVG) in the footnotes of journal articles in the late 1990s. I finally saw a copy of JVG in a bookshop in Griffin just outside of Atlanta in December 1999 and I thought it looked pretty cool. I then read it in February of 2000 and was blown away. In the early pages Wright speaks of how for most Christians as long as Jesus had a sinless birth and a sin bearing death, the actual content of his life matters very little. Protestant theology has focused on the work of Christ rather than on the teachings Christ. That comment struck at the very jugular of the way that I read the Gospels, formerly believing that (1) they were just there to introduce Jesus as the glorious subject of Paul's soteriology; and (2) Jesus taught mostly about how to get to heaven and how to be a good Christian. Reading JVG constituted the moment when I swallowed the red pill and left the "matrix" of "hyer-individualized vertical piety" and entered the real world of the New Testament. JVG enabled me to put aside the pious platitudes of the Sunday School Jesus and meet a Jesus who fitted into the first-century context, who shaped his followers to lead the church, and stood as part of the storyline of Israel's Scriptures. Wright's various works on Resurrection, Paul, and Discipleship continued to capture my imagination, even if I have not been convinced by all of his conclusions (e.g. still-in-exile, works of law, justification, etc.). As far as New Testament Theologians go, my belief is that Wright is for evangelicals what Bultmann was for the liberals.

On Carson, his commentary on the Gospel of John (PNTC) is one of the best biblical commentaries I've ever read. Carson elegantly combines exegetical acumen, theological reflection, and pastoral application in the one package. He's also uniquely gifted in the sense of being just as good in person and he is in print. I remember attending his lectures on Justification and the NPP at the Sydney Presbyterian Theological Centre in 2001 which was a good counter-point to my recent readings of Wright. In fact, those lectures innoculated me from ever getting into the NPP in a complete way (though apparently some vociferous critics of mine would disagree on that point!). Carson's devotional work For the Love of God also continues to feed my mind and soul in the mornings when I get to my office and I also really like the songs he's co-written on his two CDs. Carson can be fairly harsh in his criticisms at time, but for the most part I've found him fairly nuanced and irenic. Whereas I've been known to defend N.T. Wright on various points, I like to point out that I also defended Carson's much-criticized conclusion to JVG I in footnote of SROG. Carson remains for me one of the foremost examples of scholarship that is both academic, evangelical, and pastoral.

4. Wild Card Author: If there was one author that I would like to be stranded on a desert island with for a week or so, it would have to be Markus Barth. AI don't know whether I would say that Markus Barth has influenced me that much, but I find him to be such an interesting author. Although he died in 1999, I continue to discover just how much his work was way ahead of its time. By that I mean that Markus Barth was into several things that at the time were considered marginal in scholarship, but now have gained widespread currency. He was into the "faithfulness of Christ" long before Richard Hays revived it. He linked resurrection and justification long before Richard Gaffin (or Michael Bird) ever did. Forget Krister Stendahl as the precursor to the NPP, Markus Barth was highlighting the social dimensions of justification long ago. He wrote an excellent little book on the Lord's Supper which purportedly influenced his Father Karl Barth. And a continental scholar who believes that Paul actually wrote Colossians and Ephesians is about as rare as a reggae band at a Klu Klux Klan convention. Some of his stuff on Jews and Judaism doesn't work for me (since it is too post-holocaust reactive), but I look forward to meeting Markus Barth in the heavenly kingdom and discussing with him the link between justification and glorification with the subject of our study readily before us!

That's my spiel. I now tag Daniel Kirk and Joel Willitts.

More on Gospel from John Davies

Over at the PTC blog, John Davies has some follow-up thoughts (from the last post) on defining the gospel.

Friday, June 26, 2009

OCA Metropolitan Bishop at ACNA

According to Virtueonline, Metropolitan Jonah, Head of the Orthodox Church of America, called for full intercommunion with the Anglican Church in North America. He stated his desire to resume Orthodox/Anglican dialogue with ACNA rather than with TEC (which is a big slap in the face for TEC any way ya look at it). Of course, before anyone gets too excited about Anglicans and Orthodox shacking up together in an ecumenical big tent, Jonah said the basis of intercommunion would have to be: Full affirmation of the orthodox Faith of the Apostles and Church Fathers, the seven Ecumenical Councils, the Nicene Creed in its original form (without the filioque clause inserted at the Council of Toledo, 589 A.D.), all seven Sacraments and a rejection of the heresies of the Reformation. To that he added several "isms" that would have to go including: Calvinism, anti-sacramentalism, iconoclasm, and Gnosticism. Also, the ordination of women to the Presbyterate and their consecration as Bishops would have to end if full intercommunion was to occur. Good to see Orthodox and Anglicans talking together again, but don't hold ya breath waiting for intercommunion!

In Defence of John Piper and N.T. Wright

R. Scott Clark offers some criticisms of John Piper relating to his status as "Reformed" and his apparent softness on the New Perspective on Paul (NPP) and Federal Vision (FV). Clark makes every effort to be gracious in his criticisms, but I felt that many of his points seemed somewhat unfair or grounded on dubious assumptions. In defence of John Piper then:

1. On "Reformed", Clark objects to this description being applied to those outside the Presbyterian and Confessional churches. This is why Clark writes: "Are there as many definitions of 'Reformed' as there are definers or is there is fixed, stable, public, ecclesiastical definition of the adjective? I say the latter is the case." Now every time Clark writes the word "Reformed" I feel like quoting the movie the Princess Bride - "You keep using that word, but I do not think it means what you think it means!" Now far be it for me to lecture a historical theologian on adjectives of the Reformation, but surely, just from usage alone, we can observe that "Reformed" is a polysemous term. From my fallible experience and limited readings, I think that "Reformed" has three primary usages: (1) it can be used historically to signify those Christian groups that emerged during or from the Reformation (Lutheran, Anabaptist, Presbyterian, Anglican, etc.), (2) it can be used theologically to describe those who hold to a Calvinistic and Covenantal theology (though we could ask which part of Calvin is essential and whose covenant theology - e.g. Kline or Murray - is pristine?); and (3) it can be used ecclesiologically to describe those churches that stand in the Continental/Scottish Presbyterian tradition. To say that Piper is "Reformed" it is to mean it in the sense of (2) not (3). I suspect that many do not like applying the term "Reformed" to Calvinistic and Confessional Baptists because it lowers the currency of the term "Reformed," which they feel should be reserved exclusively for themselves (I have to confess that this entire discussion reminds me of Paul's debate in Romans 2 about who is a true "Jew" and Philippians 3 about who is the true "circumcision"). I can resonate against making the term nebulous, but I doubt that Clark's own idea of "Reformed" matches the historical and public reality of how the adjective is used.

On an adjacent point, and maybe Baptist historians can help me with this one, traditionally Calvinistic and Confessional Baptists have been called (or called themselves) "Particular Baptists" and I do wonder when and why the label "Reformed Baptists" can into widespread currency. I don't hear about Particular Baptists anymore. Has the title "Reformed Baptist" come into common usage in order to differentiate themselves from "General Baptists" (i.e. Arminians) and to demonstrate a close affinity with Presbyterian/Anglican/Lutheran churches who they feel that they have more in common with? Interesting question, and I don't know the answer.

People might also be interested to know that the World Reformed Fellowship includes Presbyterians, Anglicans, and Reformed Baptists! Look at the doctrinal basis of the WRF:

- We affirm the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to be the God-breathed Word of God, without error in all that it affirms.
- We stand in the mainstream of the historic Christian Faith in affirming the following catholic creeds of the Early Church: The Apostles Creed, the Nicene Creed, and the Chalcedonian Definition.
- More specifically, every voting member of the WRF affirms one of the following historic expressions of the Reformed Faith: The Gallican Confession, The Belgic Confession, The Heidelberg Catechism, The Thirty-Nine Articles, The Second Helvetic Confession, The Canons of Dort, The Westminster Confession of Faith, the London Confession of 1689, or the Savoy Declaration.

It is with great pleasure that I point out that in the WRF, Baptist and Anglican confession are right there beside the WCF and Heidelberg Catechism! Isn't that just wonderful. Evidently Clark does not represent the views of Presbyterians across the world, but only one narrow portion of it.

2. Clark takes exception to John Piper refusing to call N.T. Wright's and Douglas Wilson's gospel the "another gospel" indicted in Galatians 1. Clark writes: "I was troubled by the question and the implication of his answer that we all know what 'another gospel' is and it isn’t that which is taught by N. T. Wright or by Doug Wilson." However, we do know what the other gospel was, it was teaching the Galatians that they had to be circumcised, and to become Jews, in order to become children of Abraham. N.T. Wright and Doug Wilson, as far as I'm aware, do not teach this. Wright's definition of gospel works well in Rom. 1.3-4, 2 Tim. 2.8 (and I have a juicy Luther quote which sounds just like Wright), but I side with Piper in that I don't think it works in 1 Cor. 15.3-8. The gospel has to include both the person and work of Jesus Christ. Sadly, Reformed preachers tend to focus on the work of Christ (i.e. atonement theology) and Wright has rightly brought the person (Messiah, Lord, plus the underlying narrative) back into the picture, which is great, but he still needs to integrate it more closely to the cross and resurrection in his definition of gospel.

3. Clark writes: "Paul identifies one quality of their message as 'craftiness' (πανουργια) that corrupts the mind. Arguably both the FV and NPP are 'crafty' and 'corrupting'." Now I simply don't know enough about the FV so I won't comment there. But to call Wright "crafty" and "corrupting" seems a bit on the unfair side. There have been several good criticisms of N.T. Wright (as opposed to vitriolic ones), I think esp. of Doug Moo and Tom Schreiner, but nowhere do these acidic phrases come up. Wright claims he's getting back to Scripture and not relying on tradition - something most exegetes like to think of themselves as doing - so Wright is hardly unique in claiming to be going back to the sources. Did not Calvin and Luther think of themselves in a similar fashion? The other problem is that Clark simply regards NPP, FV, and Norman Shepherd has some kind of homogenous entity or simply variations on a theme, which strikes me as entirely inaccurate and careless. What is more, is everything in the NPP or FV wrong or equally as bad? Augustine saw Romans as being dominated by the Jew-Gentile question and Calvin was relatively aware of the ethnic dimension to Paul's debates in his Galatians commentary. So Augustine and Calvin would affirm constituent concerns of the NPP, even if not everything! I can't help but think that the old addage of baby and bathwater should cause Clark to seriously qualify his statements about NPP and FV.

On top of that, Clark states that the FVs "advocacy of paedocommunion is certainly corrupting of the Reformed faith as confessed by the churches," yet I would point out that it is possible to advocate Paedocommunion without buying into any of the FV arguments. For case in point, Bishop Glen Davies (Anglican Bishop of North Sydney) has written some excellent pieces on that back in the early 1990s in Reformed Theological Review. Clark also states, "It is beyond question that the NPP is an all-out assault upon and rejection of Paul’s doctrine of justification sola fide," yet consider Jimmy Dunn's remarks (and don't take this as an endorsement of everything Jimmy says): "I have no particular problem in affirming that the doctrine of justification (in its fully orbed expression) is articulus stantis et cadentis ecclesiae; I am astonished by and repudiate entirely the charge that the ‘new perspective on Paul’ constitutes an attack on and denial of that Lutheran fundamental … The point I am trying to make is simply that there is another dimension (or other dimensions) of the biblical doctrine of God’s justice and of Paul’s teaching on justification which have been overlooked and neglected, and that it is important to recover these aspects and to think them through afresh in the changing circumstances of today’s world. In a word, I seek not to diminish let alone repudiate the doctrine of justification (mē genoito), but to bring more fully to light its still greater riches." I'd hardly call that a siege tower against Geneva or Wittenberg.

In sum, I think Clark is unfair to Piper because he thinks that Piper does not put the goal posts of orthodoxy in the right place and so allows too many people onto the playing field. Whereas I think that Piper has a good grasp of what the disqualifying issues are and renders judgment appropriately. I think Clark is unfair to Wright because his criticisms are anchored in harsh rhetoric and vague generalisations. To be fair to Clark, this was a blog post and not monograph, but in whatever format criticisms need to be objective and accurate. I hope I have been objective and accurate in my criticism of Clark and I'm sure he'll correct me where I'm not!

Update: Whereas I've criticized Wright's definition of gospel as too reliant on Rom. 1.3-4 and not taking into account 1 Cor. 15.3-5, in the comments section Trevin Wax alludes to a CT interview with N.T. Wright where Wright defines the gospel as: "The gospel is the royal announcement that the crucified and risen Jesus, who died for our sins and rose again according to the Scriptures, has been enthroned as the true Lord of the world. When the gospel is preached, God calls people to salvation, out of sheer grace, leading them to repentance and faith in Jesus Christ as the risen Lord." Incidentally, Piper's definition is as follows: "The heart of the gospel is the good news that Christ died for our sins and was raised from the dead. What makes this good news is that Christ’s death accomplished a perfect righteousness before God and suffered a perfect condemnation from God, both of which are counted as ours through faith alone, so that we have eternal life with God in the new heavens and the new earth."

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

New Bird Book

My newest book Are You the One Who is To Come? The Historical Jesus and the Messianic Question (Baker Academic) arrived in the post yesterday and it looks nice and schmicko. I love the smell of newly printed books! For bibliophiles, I think it'll be ready for shipping by September if not earlier. I should give due thanks to David deSilva, Craig Evans, and James Crossley for their generous endorsements and to Stan Porter who wrote a very nice foreword. And I can't forget to mention the good folks at Baker for bringing it through. But now comes the hard bit, praying that my new baby doesn't get bullied in the book reviews!

For those interested, other "Bird" books that should hopefully be out in time for SBL in Nawleans are:
  • Colossians and Philemon: A New Covenant Commentary (Wipf & Stock)
  • (ed. with Preston Sprinkle) The Faith of Jesus Christ: Exegetical, Biblical, and Theological Studies (Paternoster/Hendrickson)
  • Crossing Over Sea and Land: Jewish Proselytizing Activity in the Second Temple Period (Hendrickson)
  • (ed. with Michael Pahl) The Sacred Text: Artefact, Interpretation, and Doctrinal Formulation (Gorgias Press)
The only problem is that these are the books that I'll be editing, proofing, or indexing over the summer (to be fair, my wife is the one indexing Col/Philm at the moment and enjoying it like root canal). But then again, it beats getting a summer job.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Christian Classics Etheral Library

Have you discovered the Christian Classics Ethereal Library yet? I recently have and it is an amazing source for early Christian texts. This website sponsored by Calvin College allows free access to all of the most important early Christian texts in a searchable format. For example it contains all the volumes in the Early Church Fathers series: Ante-Nicene Fathers and both series of Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers. What is really great about this site is that the browsing capabilities. In addition, when you are browsing by author (ancient and mordern) there are links that provide a concise summary of each person to give you the essential biographical details of the author.

Burkhas and Religious Freedom

CNN reports that the French Parliament is debating a ban on Burkas. I'm ambivalent about this one. The main argument appears to be that Burkas function to demean women and restrict their freedom. On the one hand, if a woman is forced to wear a Burka and barred from all contact with the outside world, that is obviously not good for women. My (admittedly limited) understanding is that Burkas are not in fact a prescribed piece of religious apparel, but are a cultural expression of a woman's modesty in Arab culture that was origianlly inherited from Byzantine culture! So there should be no offence to Muslims if Burkas are banned. Even so, should the state be allowed to prescribe dress and clothing for people? If a woman consents to wear a Burka, for cultural or religious reasons, who has the right to stop her? Isn't this a matter of religious and personal freedom? Moreover, what about those churches that mandate that women must wear hats in public worship (Closed Brethren, Free Presbyterian, Free Church Continuing, and some Free Church) as a symbol of their submission to their family head? Could they end up being banned too?

Monday, June 22, 2009

Alban offer to Euangelion Followers

The generous folks at Alban Books have an excellent offer available exclusive to "followers" and readers of Euangelion. Alban Books is giving a 20% discount to all Euangelion followers/readers who purchase items from them before 31 August 2009. But wait, there's more. Order immediately and you'll also get free postage. Sadly, this offer applies only to UK and European customers. To my American friends I say, get the books you want sent to a friend in the UK and have them to send it to you in the US (I don't know if it's legal, but it's practical). Alban Books distributes volumes for Abingdon, Augsburg Fortress, Ave Maria, Baylor Uni Press, Templeton Press, Westminster John Knox, Eerdmans, Hendrickson, and Orbis. I think I'll even order Leader Keck on Romans myself! To order, print out this form and send it to Alban Books.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Peter Oakes on F.F. Bruce and Evangelical Scholarship

For those who don't know, 2010 is F.F. Bruce's centenary and a few things are tenatively being planned to celebrate it. Otherwise, thanks to Peter Oakes for sending me his article, "F.F. Bruce and the Development of Evangelical Biblical Scholarship," BJRL 86.3 (2004): 99-123. This is an excellent piece that puts FFB in the context of post-war British evangelicalism and shows FFB as a churchman who could engage academic questions and maintain true to his faith. In the conclusion, two paragraphs really do sum up FFB:

"F.F. Bruce was, it seems to me, set up in the 1940s as something of a historian knight-in-shinning-armour, called in to do battle with the sceptical dragons. He did this job pretty well. He assumed that relatively dispassionate historical study would provide a reasonable defence, in the scholarly arena, of traditional Christian readings of key aspects of the Bible. He was proved substantially right. His work, and that of those who followed him, made a very important contribution to the change in temper of, in particular, New Testament scholarship between the beginning and end of Bruce's career. Today, a far higher proportion of scholarship is conducisve to traditional Christian beliefs than was the case in the middle of the twentieth century. The most obvious expression of this is the large number of evangelical scholars who are part of the mainstream of international biblical scholarship. Evangelical voices are a regular element of scholarly discourse.
But Bruce was never merely the knight. He saw clearly that, if evangelical biblical scholarship was to develop, evangelicalism needed to change some of its assumptions. From the very beginning, when he was maybe at his most confident about slaying dragons, he realized that open historical study of the Bible was likely to challenge evangeical views on many critical issues. His greatness is that he tackled this head on. He did not do this in order to win a place for evangelicals at the academic table - although he realized that it was a pre-condition of doing so. He did it because he was convinced that a truly evangelical faith must embrace history, not shun it. He was convinced that history would not let evangelicalism down He was convinced of this because he was convinced that Christianity was historically true."

Solum Evangelium - Interview with Gerald Bray

At Solum Evangelium (my on-line audio programme) I have an interview with Gerald Bray about his two new IVP books: (1) Ancient Christian Doctrine: We Believe in One God from a series on the Nicene Creed, and (2) Ancient Christian Texts: Commentaries on Romans and 1-2 Corinthians by Ambrosiaster from a series translating major patristic commentaries. It is wonderful stuff on why we need to know and learn the Nicene Creed and why we should be interested in reading ancient Christian commentaries on Scripture. To listen to the interview click on SE 2 - Bray, it goes for about 20 minutes. So crack open a bottle of Pinot Noir and some nice German salami and listen to some erudite theology.

Update: If you're having problems, try this link.

Ambrosiaster on Rom. 1.17

This week Gerald Bray has been visiting HTC and he kindly donated to our library a copy of his Ancient Christian Texts: Commenataries on Romans and 1-2 Corinthians by Ambrosiaster which he translated. (I have a forthcoming Solum Evangelium podcast with Gerald about this book and his other new book in the new Ancient Christian Doctrine series on God in the Nicene Creed.) Anyways, Ambrosiaster says some amazing stuff on Rom. 1.17:

"Paul says this because the righteousness of God is revealed in the person who believes whether Jew or Greek. He calls it the righteousness of God because God freely justifies the ungodly by faith, without the works of the law, just as he says elsewhere: That I may be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own, based on law, but that which is through faith in Chrsit, the righteousness from God that depeneds on faith [Phil. 3.9]. He says that this same righteousness is revealed in the gospel, when God grants faith to man, through which he may be justified ... Through faith for faith. What does this mean, except that the faith of God is in him because he promised, and the faith of man is in him because he believes the one who promises, so that through the faith of the God who promises the righteousness of God might be revealed in the faith of the man who believes? To the believer God appears to be just, but to the unbeliever he appears to be unjust. Anyone who does not believe that God has given what he promised denies that God is truthful. This is said against the Jews, who deny that Christ is the one whom God has promised"

This to note:
- When I first read Ambrosiaster connecting Rom. 1.17 with Phil. 3.9, I thought, "Doh! Maybe Tom Scrheiner is right after all [in taking the ROG as an objective genitive, as a thing given to others]". But nah, I'm stil not persuaded by the objective genitive, and the subjective has more going for it.
- Interestingly enough, Ambrosiaster seems to support both an objective genitive and a subjective genitive. He includes a cross reference to Phil. 3.9, but he also refers to the "truth of God" and the "faith of God". Thus, seeing the ROG as God's own faithfulness is not the unique formulation of J.D.G. Dunn and N.T. Wright but has an ancient pedigree.
- Important also is (a) that Ambrosiaster focuses on the faith (not the righteousness) that God grants to man. (b) Ambrosiaster, as he typically does, is great at elludicating the Jewish context of Romans, but he also sees/uses it as a Jewish polemical tract. (c) There is also a promise-fulfilment motif that emerges, even more so in his comments on Rom. 3.21-26: "Therefore, the righteousness of God appears to be mercy, because it has its origin in the promise, and when God's promise is fulfilled, it is called the righteousness of God. For it is righteousness when what is promised has been delivered". (d) Note also, in Rom. 3.22, Ambrosiaster is definitely an objective genitive proponent. He also has no problem with human faith being the instrument that reveals God's righteousness.
- On Rom. 2.13-16, he seems to see this as a reference to Christian Gentiles not as a hypothetical statement about the possibility of being justified by works if one really did keep the law. "Paul says this because those who hear the law are not justified unless they believe in Christ. This is what it means to keep the law."

Thursday, June 18, 2009

First Issue of Ecclesia Reformanda

The first issue of Ecclesia Reformanda: British Reformed Theology 1.1 (2009) is available and includes the following articles:


The Maximalist Hermeneutics of James B. Jordan
R.S. Clarke

The Poetry of Wisdom: A Note on James 3:6
Sarah-Jane Austin

John Owen's Doctrine of Union with Christ in Relation to His Contributions to Seventeenth Century Debates Concerning Eternal Justification
Matthew W. Mason

Thinking Like a Christian: The Prolegomena of Herman Bavinck
Matthew P.W. Roberts

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Washington Times on New American Anglican Province

The WT has a good article on what the New American Anglican Province means for the American Episcopal Church.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Jerome on St. Luke

Thanks to Dave Miller, I came across this quote:

"The Acts of the Apostles seem, indeed, to express bare history and to narrate the infancy of the newborn church, but if we recognise that the author of Acts is Luke, a doctor, 'whose praise is in the Gospel' (2 Cor. 8.18) we perceive that all his words are equally medicines for the sick soul." - Jerome, Epist. 53.9 as quoted in C.K. Barrett, Acts 1.34.

Modern Graeco-Roman Apocryphon

Anyone who has served in the military (Army, Navy, or Airforce) will know of this famous quotation:

"We trained hard ... but it seemed that every time we were beginning to form into teams, we would be reorganized. I was to learn later in life that we tend to meet any new situation by reorganizing, and a wonderful method it can be for creating the illusion of progress while producing confusion, inefficiency, and demoralization." (Gaius Petronius Arbiter, 210 BC).

Unfortunately this famous quotation is apocryphal as it is unknown prior to the post-WWII era. In good form-critical fashion, I think it is certain that the Sitz im Leben behind this saying is that it emerged in the mid 1950s on the wall of the office of some disgruntled British sub-lieutenant with a degree in classics from Oxbridge, who was forcibly conscripted into the post-war Army and posted to Germany, there he was evidently cheesed off that for the third time his unit was changing its name from 6th Brigade to 7th Task Force, he couldn't remember which division his Brigade belonged to anymore because it had changed so many blinking times anyway, and even worse, all of his NCO's had been transferred to the newly formed 5th Independent Rifle Battalion which meant that the poor Lieutenant's platoon was undermanned to the point that he would now have to polish his own boots and make his own coffee.

Old Testament Job

An international centre for evangelical and Anglican Christian life and study in the University of Oxford, Wycliffe Hall. An exciting post with the opportunity to be at the heart of a biblical and spiritual training for gospel ministry.


· Main responsibility for teaching Old Testament in the Hall and University
· Mentoring and preparing students for ministry, college missions and preaching
· Lead tutor for Hebrew language teaching

Full details and application form are available from:
Helen Mitchell, Wycliffe Hall,
54 Banbury Road, Oxford OX2 6PW.

Closing date for applications:
12 noon on Thursday 25 June 2009

Monday, June 15, 2009

Run to Win the Prize - Schreiner

Tom Schreiner has a new book coming out with IVP called Run to Win the Prize: Perserverance in the New Testament. This book is a kinda shorter and simplified version of the fine volume he co-wrote with Ardel Caneday The Race Set Before Us. Over at the American IVP webpage, there is an excellent excerpt from the book which gives a couple of good examples of people who fall away and backslide. It show that every pastor and Christian needs to have a doctrine of perseverance worked out (in some form), so that they can make sense of how people fall away and backslide. I include them below:

Let me begin with two stories to illustrate the concerns of this book. Years ago, a young woman and her husband came to a Bible study I was leading. Two days after the Bible study they visited our house for dinner, and she expressed a keen desire to become a Christian. I was hesitant because she knew so little about the Christian faith. Nevertheless, I concluded that I might be resisting the Holy Spirit, and one thing led to another and she confessed Jesus as her Saviour that night in our living room. I assured her after her confession of faith that she was securely saved forever: that nothing she did could remove her from the eternal life that was hers. Her husband shortly thereafter followed her in the same faith. They both grew rapidly in the faith during the next year, and we were regularly involved in Bible studies with them. But a year after her confession of faith, she changed dramatically. She decided to divorce her husband, quit attending church, and ceased going to Bible studies. I pleaded with her to at least go into counselling, but to no avail. All of this happened many years ago, and I have since lost all contact with her, though I know there was no change of mind or repentance in the next fifteen years.

The other story also relates to a friend who prayed with me to become a believer. I saw the radiance and joy in her life. She began to grow in remarkable ways. And yet, in a year or two the early bloom of her faith began to fade. She began to get drunk on a fairly regular basis. She ended up living with a person who was an adherent of Buddhism. On one occasion I said to her, ‘By this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments’ (1 John 2:3). A number of years passed. She broke off the relationship with the first man and ended up getting married to another. Still no desire for the things of God and Jesus Christ manifested itself. And yet, after a few years of marriage, a change began to take place. Her desire to follow the Lord resurfaced, and she began to read Scripture, pray and take seriously her church involvement. Once again she began to talk to me about spiritual matters. She gave every indication that she belonged to Jesus Christ and that she loved him. A significant period of time had intervened between her first confession of faith and the return to her first love. Was her first experience a sham, so that she was truly saved the second time? Or did she lose her salvation and regain it later? Or was she a believer the entire time, with a temporary lapse in her faith and obedience?

Sounds like a good read that can help Christians how to biblically interpret and pastorally respond to very sensitive (and often sad) situations.

Trust and Obey - Hymns

Does anyone know of any decent (and by "decent" I mean musically and lyrically decent) hymns or choruses about obedience, faithfulness, and fidelity to God? The only one I can think of is "Trust and Obey" which gets sung over and over whenever there is an obedience/faithfulness message in the sermon. We need more songs about the obedient life. I think this is a real gap in modern Christian worship music; at least in the stuff I'm exposed to. I would try write such a song myself, but my last music writing venture went:

Jesus, I think you're terrific
For you I'd swim the pacific
Yeah, yeah, yeah!
(To be sung twelve times with two notes and three chords as per the Hillsong style guide).

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Book Notice: Heretics: For Armchair Theologians

Justo L. Gonzalez & Catherine Gonzalez
Illustrations by Ron Hill
Heretics: For Armchair Theologians
Louisville/London: Westminster John Knox, 2008
Available at Alban Books in the UK
Available at in the USA

This is a great little introduction to the "other side" of early Christianity, those who lost the doctrinal disputes, and became known as heretics. Gonzalez & Gonzalez give a good intro to the Ebionites, Gnostics, Marcion, Montanists, Donatists, and Pelagius. There is something that lay people and first year Church History students would find very readable and highly informative. You could easily base a Sunday school class around this book. The illustrations by Ron Hill are also very amusing. One great quote is worth reproducing: "This goes against the common stereotype of the church being narrow-minded in contrast with the open-minded attitude of heretics, when in fact the opposite is closer to the truth: at least in the early centuries of Christianity, it was the heretics who rejected all views but their own, and most often the church at large allowed for more latitutde than did the heretics" (p. 11).

Rick Phillips

Over at Ref21, Rick Phillips has a blog post on the Judgment of Believers in the Westminster Standards. He points out the potential incongruity between WCF 33:1 which says that "all persons that have lived upon the earth shall appear before the tribunal of Christ, to give an account of their thoughts, words, and deeds, and to receive according to what they have done in the body, whether good or evil," and his own view that the final judgment includes: "1) the biblical representations of believers on the last day involve no depictions of chastisement or shaming, but only reward and praise; and 2) believers will appear at the final judgment after they have entered into their glorified states via the final resurrection, which occurs prior to the final judgment, and the idea of judgment is incongruent with believers' glorified state." I call this the "rubies and sapphire" approach since the purpose of the final judgment is only to determine how many jewels you get in your crown. The biggest problem with this view is that it doesn't comport with passages like 1 Cor. 3.12-15:

(12) Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— (13) each one's work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. (14) If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. (15) If anyone's work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire. (ESV).

More satisfying, and what Phillips juxtaposes his own view to, is what R.C. Sproul says: "we will still undergo an evaluation. Christ will examine our lives and determine our degree of obedience and sanctification." I'd obviously like to fill that out a bit more in light of Rom. 14.10, 2 Cor. 5.10, and parts of Matthew and Revelation. But it seems clear to me that the final judgment of believers is not simply to determine how many Aussie opals you get in your crown, but whether your faith is indeed authentic (for many will cry out "Lord, Lord" and be turned away) and to determine if you built your ministry on the foundation of Jesus Christ.

Job Advertisement: Lecturer in Systematic Theology

BIBLE COLLEGE OF QUEENSLAND is seeking expressions of interest for a LECTURING POSITION in the following fields Systematic Theology and Apologetics.

* The applicant should possess a PhD in systematic theology or apologetics, have a publication record and appropriate ministry experience for lecturing students in our diploma, degree and
postgraduate programs.

* Duties will include lecturing, student pastoral responsibilities and administrative tasks.
* Applications will be received until 28 August 2009. It is envisaged that the appointment will commence on 18 January 2010. The College reserves the right not to make any appointment. The Bible College of Queensland is an independent, evangelical and interdenominational College
offering Diploma, Degree and Postgraduate theological studies.

Enquiries and applications should be addressed to:
The Principal
Bible College of Queensland
1 Cross Street
Toowong, Brisbane, Qld., 4066

Friday, June 12, 2009

Mark Goodacre and NTpod

The NT blogfather Mark Goodacre has a very good 5 minute podcast on Matthew's genealogy. I used to think that Matthew's genealogy was a rather boring and prosaic piece of literature included only to satisfy antiquarian interest in an important persons' biological stock, until one of my Ph.D students, Jason Hood, began writing his Ph.D thesis on the annotations of the genealogy. Jason's thesis has been eye opening in that he's seen Matthew's genealogy as an encapsulated history of Israel and looked at the signficance of the annotations. Goodacre focuses on the four women named in the Matthean genealogy and he contends that they are included either because of their gentile origins or because of their association with illicit sexual activity. While that maybe true, the mention of the women cannot be understood apart from the other annotations in the genealogy as well like "Judah and his brothers" (v. 2) "Jeconiah and his brothers at the time of exile" (v. 11). Makes for a very good discussion and Goodacre shows us the tip of the iceberg.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Guy Waters reviews N.T. Wright's "Justification"

Earlier this year, Guy Waters was on the Reformed Forum giving an oral review of N.T. Wright's Justification: God's Plan and Paul's Vision. Now at Reformation 21, he has a written review at hand. One quote from Waters merits attention:

"[S]ome of Wright's critics may indeed deny a final judgment according to works. His Reformed critics do not. They deny a final judgment on the basis of works, but they do not deny a final judgment according to works. In other words, the believer's conduct is not the basis upon which he will sustain God's final judgment. Instead, his conduct will publicly show the Christian to be who he already is: a person justified solely on the basis of the imputed righteousness of Christ, received through faith. If Wright understands the Reformational doctrine of justification by faith alone to necessitate much less to permit a denial of final judgment according to works, then he has been misinformed. Reformed readers' do not object to Wright's insistence that there shall be a final judgment of the believer at the Day of Judgment. They have objected to what he claims are the place or role of the believer's works in final justification".

I think this really is the problem with Wright's articulation. Judgment "according to works" is quite biblical, but a final judgment on the basis of works is not. I think it was Charles Cosgrove who many years ago examined the prepositions in relation to justification (ek, dia, kata etc.) noting that Paul always made faith the instrumental for justification (though my memory is a bit hazy on that one). What is the difference between "according to" and "on the basis of"? In my mind works, even Spirit enabled good works, do not constitute the basis of aquittal at the final judgment. What role for works then? Well, to quote St. Leon Morris (peace be upon him) good works demonstrate the integrity of the faith that we profess. Thus, with Calvin, we can say that we are not justified by works, but neither are we justified without them. In fact, Christ justifies our works when we are engrafted into him: "Therefore, as we ourselves, when we have been engrafted into Christ, are righteous in God's sight because our iniquities are covered by Christ's sinlessness, so our works are righteous and are this regarded because whatever fault is otherwise in them is buried in Christ's purity, and is not charged to our account. By faith alone not only we ourselves but our works as well are justified" (Institutes, 3.17.10).

Reading for a Romans Course

What five books would you put on a reading list for a course on Romans? Here's my pick:

1. Obviously a good commentary is first up and my go-to volume is Doug Moo (though I recommend Tom Schreiner as a less expensive volume since Moo is $100 AusD and Schreiner is $60 AusD). I think alot of Charles Talbert's Romans commentary too for its background info which I'd say should be # 2 on the commentary list. Robert Jewett is great just for its thoroughness and who can forget Ernst Kasemann, James Dunn, N.T. Wright, Joseph Fitzmyer, or Charles Cranfield as stimulating reads as well. I also would give a mention in despatches to Peter Stuhlmacher, A. Katherine Grieb, L.T. Johnson, Thomas Tobin, and Leander E. Keck too. Commentary decisions will be even harder to make once Richard Longenecker (NIGTC), Craig Keener (NCCS), and Beverly Gaventa's (NTL) volumes come out. Note, watch out for a Michael Bird on Romans commentary in the medium term, though this will be more about application and praxis.

2. On background, I'd have to also include Peter Lampe From Paul to Valentinus: Christians at Rome in the First Two Centuries, which puts first century Rome onto the map.

3. The purpose of Romans is of course a big topic so Karl Donfried's revised edition of The Romans Debate must be on the list as well. Second choice here is now A. Andrew Das' Solving the Romans Debate which seems like a sober volume opting for a Gentile readership.

4. Must include a history of interpretation of Romans and the best is by Mark Reasoner Romans in Full Circle. A close second here has to be the IVP Ancient Christian Commentary Series on Romans and watch out for the forthcoming series on the Reformers!

5. Gotta have something on intertextuality too, so much to chose from here, but I'll go for J. Ross Wagner Paul and Isaiah in Concert.

Next post will be what top five journal articles would you make students read?

Markus Barth on Paul and Scripture

Was Paul a proof-texter? Mark Barth says "no":

"It is questionable whether one should speak, as do many of his interpreters, of Pauline 'proofs from Scripture,' because this ambiguous concept suggests that Paul sought in the Bible no more than a verification of certain insights which he had gained, without benefit of the Scriptures, through personal experience and reflection. It is more probable that the Apostle, from one missionary, congregational, personal situation to the next, discovered step by step, learned, and presented to his hearers and readers what Scripture says about the Messiah, redemption, faith. He calls Scripture a 'witness' (Rom 3:21), because he is depenent on it in reaching his conclusions."

Markus Barth, "St. Paul - A Good Jew," 9.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Lesen Deutsche Artikel und Bücher

How long does it take you to work through a scholarly article or a chapter of a book written in German? This question, of course, is only for those whose first language is NOT German.

I have to admit that my German has gotten a bit rusty since my post-graduate days. I just have not had the time to devote to reading with a young family and the responsibilities of a teaching career in its early stages. When I do have time I find that it takes me a good half day to carefully work through a scholarly article.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Facts and Theories in New Testament Studies

Johannes Munck has wise words to those who study the New Testament as well as encouragement for those looking for a thesis topic when everything seems to have already been done.

As a young man, feeling my way towards the study of the New Testament, I wrote a book about Clement of Alexandria. There were many surprises in the change from patristics to the New Testament. In patristics--a map with many blank spaces--there was always a feeling of gratitude for the work already done by others, and pleasure when they had reached entirely different interpretation of the texts. In the New Testament there seemed to be less elbow-room. Everything appeared to have been settled already, in our grandfather's generation, or earlier still . . . Having criticized the traditions of the primitive Church concerning the New Testament writings and primitive Christianity, the professors had themselves come to represent tradition and authority, and there was no room for young scholars, for it was not permissible to doubt what all believed. Brilliant impartiality and ended in stolid conservatism . . .

Let us give the younger generation opportunity and encouragement to question the important, but perhaps not always [the] true or permanently valid views put forward by the generations before us. Let us go further, and urge them to question what we ourselves tell them.

With a subject like the New Testament, consisting of a certain number of facts, and a large number of theories, and assumed rather than substantiated suppositions, it is necessary to go through it from time to time, in order not to forget what is fact and what is theory.

Excerpted from "Jewish Christianity in Post-Apostolic Times" NTS 6 (1959-60), pp. 115-16

Monday, June 08, 2009

Translation of 1 Esdras

Whew! I've just finished my translation of 1 Esdras for the Common English Bible. I think the last two verses are quite memorable:

"Then they all went their way, to eat and drink and to rejoice, and to give portions to those who had none, and to make much merriment; because they were enthused by the words which they had been taught. And they came together" (9.54-55).

I wish every Sunday worship service was like that!

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Covenant Theology and Historic Pre-Millennialism

I've been reading through Craig L. Blomberg and Sung Wook Chung (eds.), A Case for Historic Premillennialism: An Alternative to the "Left Behind" Eschatology (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 200). The best article, I think, is the one by Sung Wook Chung on "Toward the Reformed and Covenantal Theology of Premillennialism". When I first saw the title I thought of an infamous sermon by John Macarthur that people who are Reformed must be dispensational premillennial. Sadly, that was about as convincing as saying that reggae music should be the official sound of the Klu Klux Klan. Since Reformed folks tend to be either amillennial or postmillennial, I was intrigued as to whether Chung could present a good case for a Reformed and covenantal premillennialism; in short, I think he does!

Chung affirms his covenantal approach in seeing a unity in the covenant of grace from Gen. 3.15 to Rev. 22.21, but points out a few problems with standard covenant theology. First, there is an overemphasis on the soteriological dimensions of the covenant of grace which has neglected the kingdom dimension of God's work in history. Second, Reformed theology tends to spiritualize key passages of the Bible which command a more literal interpretation, e.g. Rev. 20.1-6. Third, by overly focusing on the covenant of works in Gen. 2.15-17, Reformed theologians have not correctly understood the significance of Gen. 1.26-27 for the reality of God's rule. Generally, I think this is correct. The dichotomy between emphases on Redemption (in Reformed theology) and Kingdom (in Dispensational theology) could said to be a false one since covenant and kingdom are correlative concepts. That is not to say that Reformed and Dispensational theologies are remotely reconciliable, they are not, but covenant theology does not have to dispense with the theocentric aspects of God's rule in its understanding of the application of the redemptive story.

Chung offers an "alternative" covenantal reading of Genesis 1-2. For him, Gen. 1.26-27 stands as the archetype of the covenants of promise/blessing found in the later OT. Gen. 1.26-28 is no simple "cultural mandate," but shows that God intends to establish his rule on earth through his vice-regents. Gen. 2.16-17 shows the conditional nature of God's covenant with his people where Adam plays the role of priest who must demonstrate fidelity and loyalty to the King as representative of his progeny. Gen. 2.16-17 is the constitution for the kingdom in Eden. Thus, the character of the dominion of God in Eden was that God wanted Adam to have a priestly and kingly role. Adam was blessed and commissioned by God to rule over the whole creation as king and to worship God. In the Fall the execution of that task was lost and it would be recovered by the seed of Gen. 3.15 who will bring restoration to the dominion of God to a new edenic garden.

Chung sees here two covenants in the Garden of Eden, one unconditional and another conditional, but both are geared towards establishing the Adamic kingdom over the entire creation. It was God's original purpose and plan that humanity might exercise dominion over the entire creation, not just spiritually, but physically as well. As God's image, Jesus Christ represents God's authority, dominion, reign, and glory. He also represents humanity before God as well. Jesus fulfills the roles first given to Adam by exercising dominion over creation (Gen. 1.26-28) and by exercising love and obedience to God (Gen. 2.16-17). Jesus succeeds, then, in reestablishing the kingdom of God among humankind. On the Abrahamic covenant, this also had a physical orientation (land, descendents etc) and Chung contends that those who interpret the promises spiritually do so on account of their "unwitting gnostic tendencies" (oooh aaaah!).

Chung does not avoid the white Elephant in the room - why does Jesus Christ have to reign with all believers alive at the parousia for a thousand years? Why is the millennium even necessary? For Chung, in the millennial kingdom, Jesus fulfils the priestly and regal dimensions of the first Adam's kingdom. Interestingly enough, Rev. 20.6 demonstrates that those who will reign in the millennial kingdom will be both kings and priests. The millennial kingdom on earth will be a restoration and fulfilment of the Edenic kingdom on earth. In this sense, the premillennial kingdom is the penultimate realization of the kingdom promise/blessing in the context of the current world, whereas the new Jerusalem in the new heavens and earth is the ultimate realization of the kingdom promise/blessing in the context of the eternally transformed cosmos.

I find Chung's thesis attractive (all the more so because the historical premillennial view seems to square with Rev. 20.1-6 and second century interpretations of Revelation by Papias, Justin, Irenaeus, and Tertullian were millennial). Still, I don't know whether historical premillennialism will displace amillenialism as the default position among reformed theologians. Some would obviously contest his interpretation of Genesis 1-2. Furthermore, Greg Beale's "inaugurated millennialism" in his Revelation commentary and Kim Riddlebar's A Case for Amillennialism, continue to make the amill view a very attractive option for many.

Friday, June 05, 2009

World Christianity: Ancient and Modern

One my doctoral padawans, Jason Hood, visited Dingwall and recommend to me Philip Jenkin's book The Lost History of Christianity (Lion). I picked up a copy in Australia last week and read it on the plane on the way home. One word for it: Brilliant! This is one of those "drop what you're reading and read this" moments. Too much of Church History has focused on the Latin Church and its Protestant offshoot. There is usually some footnote to the Greek church of the east, but virtually nothing about the Syriac church of the far-east. While Charlemagne was trying to unify Europe, bishop Timothy the catholicos of the east, was establishing dioceses from India to China. I was amazed to learn that newsworthy places like Basra, Mosul, Tikrit were once thriving Christian centres prior to the coming of Islam. Two quotes stand out for me:

First of all, the idea that orthodox groups with the political support of the Roman empire, supressed heterodox Christian groups is a myth because: "The problem with all this is that the Eastern churches had a long familiarity with the rival scriptures, but rejected them because they knew they were late and tendentious. Even as early as the second century, the Diatessaron assumes four, and only four, authentic Gospels. Throughout the Middle Ages, neither Nestorians nor Jacobites were under any coercion from the Roman/Byzantine Empie or church, and had they wished, they could have included in the canon any alternative Gospels or scriptures they wanted to. But instead of adding to the canon, they chose to prune. The Syriac Bible omits several books that are included in the West (2 Peter and 3 John, Jude, and the book of Revelation). Scholars like Isho'dad wanted to carry the purge further, and did not feel that any of the Catholic Epistles could seriously claim apostolic authorship. The only extraneous text that a few authorities wishes to include was the Diatessaron itself. The deep conservatism of these churches, so far removed for papal or imperial control, make nonsense of claims that church bureaucracy allied with empire to suppress unpleasant truths about Christian origins" (p. 88).

Second, Jenkins points out that the churches which survived persecution are those that successfully adapted to their changing environment. But this is double edged sword as he writes: "Although a comparable linguistic gulf does not separte modern Western churches from the secular world, Christians still face the dilemma of speaking the languages of power, of presenting their ideas in the conceptual framework of modern physics and biology, of social and behavioral science. To take one example, when churches view sin as dysfunction, an issue for therapy rather than prayer, Christians are indeed able to participate in national discourse, but they do not necessarily have anything to offer that is distinctive. Nor is there any obvious reason why believers should retain their attachment to a religious body that in its language and thought differs not at all from the secular mainstream. Too little adaptation means irrelevance; too much leads to assimilation and, oftne, disappearance" (p. 245).

What is most provocative about this book, is that it asks ask, Why do churches sometimes become extinct in certain places? There is no story of a triumphant advance of the church over all the territory that it meets. In reality, the history of the church includes advances, triumphs, set backs, dark times, and losses. The blood of the marytrs has often been the seed of the church, but at other times it has meant the end of the church when the last martyr falls. Jenkins urges us to create a theology of extinction so as to explain why the church (perhaps like the UK in 50 years) becomes extinct. He hints that being a persecuted minority is perhaps (as Anabaptists argue) the biblical norm. What is more, over time, God raises up the church in certain places as he sees fit. Did anyone think a hundred years ago that there would be more Anglicans in Nigeria than the UK or more Christians in China than people in the South Pacific?

A second book to consider is Mark Noll's The New Shape of World Christianity: How American Experience Reflects Global Faith (IVP) which shows the influence of America on Christianity around the world. For Noll, American Christianity is important because the world is coming to look more and more like America. American patterns provide insights for what is/can/will happen in the rest of the world. The book ends with a commentary on Rev. 21.22-24/Isa. 66.18-21: "The vision of divine fulfillment picks up Isaiah's theme about the kings of the earth even as it speaks graphically about the universal outreach of the gospel. The passage also hints at the sanctification of the world's diverse cultures. The kings - or, we might expand, the cultures of the world - with their glory will enter the heavenly city. For Americans who read this stirring account of the fulfillment to which the whole world points, it should be enough to imagine that one of those 'kings' will come from the White House, but only one" (p. 200).

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Latest JTI

The latest issue of Journal of Theological Interpretation 3.1 (2009) includes:

Daniel C. Timmer
"Character Formed in the Crucible: Job's Relationship with God"

William A. Tooman
"Edward's Ezekiel: The Interpretation of Ezekiel in the Blank Bible and Notes on Scripture"

Douglas S. Earle
"The Christian Significance of Deuteronomy 7"

Micahel D. White
"Charles Hodge, Hermeneutics, and the Struggle with Scripture"

Kent L. Yinger
"Reformation Redivivius: Synergism and the New Perspective"

Michael F. Bird
"What if Martin Luther Had Read the Dead Sea Scrolls?"

Matthew M. Bridges
"Reunderstanding How to 'Understand the Scripture'"

Hans Madueme
"Review Article: Theological Interpretation after Barth"

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Generalist and Specialists Follow-up

The recent SBL Forum article by myself and Craig Keener on generalists and specialists in biblical studies has prompted much discussion on the internet. Here's a summary:

kata ta biblia
Biblica Hebraica
NT Gateway
Ecce Homo
NT Geeks
Earliest Christian History