Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Crucible 8, 1 (June 2017)


The latest issue of Crucible, published by the Australian Evangelical Alliance and largely produced by the faculty of the Australian College of Ministries, is now available online here, with the below articles (abstracts included, where available).

The Cauldron: peer reviewed articles

Bron Williams
Taking Stock, Taking Heart, Taking Action: Australia, refugees and the ethics of Isaiah
“Taking Stock, Taking Heart, Taking Action” applies the ethics of Isaiah to Australia’s treatment of asylum seekers and refugees. Since Federation, Australia’s responses to asylum seekers and refugees has ranged from positive encouragement and welcome (post-WWII) to punitive discouragement and detention (current ‘illegal maritime arrivals’). Representative passages and themes across the book of Isaiah are explored and examined to support a consistent ethical emphasis on the compassionate and just treatment of the marginalised and needy. When evaluating and challenging Australian policy in the light of Isaiah’s ethics, the sovereignty of God over world issues is emphasized, particularly in times of political turbulence. Isaiah 1–39 calls for a taking stock of the use (or misuse) of language and power, with righteousness and justice used as yardsticks against which God judges the attitudes and actions of people. After judgement, Isaiah 40–55 encourages a taking heart, as the voices of the marginalised and the suffering servant (in this case asylum seekers and refugees) point to a future beyond what has previously been experienced or hoped for. Finally, in Isaiah 56–66 the true fast of God addresses the need for action, both for others and for ourselves.

Jeff Pugh
The Transforming Power of Preaching With Imagination
This article explores the connection between the imagination of a gifted preacher and the illuminating work of the Spirit. There is a commonly held assumption that the stimulation of a congregation’s imagination by a sermon is critical if it is to have any transformative effect on the hearers. Robert Dykstra first explored this connection by drawing upon Donald Winnicott’s version of Object Relations Theory as it relates to infant play and development. He also asserted that boring preaching was in a congregation’s interest and a product of collaboration between both parties. While Dykstra’s proposal is compelling this leaves the tension unresolved that this would imply that the transcendent purposes of the Spirit depend upon the talents of the preacher evoking human God imaging processes. Winnicott’s theory also implies that the images provoked by imaginative preaching are just projections from the psyche of the hearers and nothing more. A more compelling paradigm for the connection between God’s revelation and human imagination can be found by applying Moshe Spero’s recent version of O.R. theory as it allows space for a divine revelatory role in the playful/transformative preaching-hearing encounter. Parallels between the work of the imaginative preacher and therapist show how imagination actually respects the redemptive initiative of the Spirit in several key ways. Practical implications for those preparing compelling sermons follow automatically from this theological insight.

The Test-tube: ministry resources

Wilma Gallet
Practical Theology and Contemporary Social Issues

Ian Hussey
A Sermon: Migration and the Mission of God

The Filter: book reviews

Centre for Public Christianity (August 2017)


The Centre for Public Christianity has posted a helpful 5-minute video interview with Amy Orr-Ewing (Director of the Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics) on ‘The world we know: why trust (and read) the Bible?’.

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Currents in Biblical Research 15, 3 (June 2017)


The latest Currents in Biblical Research recently arrived, with titles and abstracts of the main articles as below.

Thomas B. Dozeman
The Book of Joshua in Recent Research
Research on the book of Joshua is developing significantly in a variety of different areas. The review summarizes current scholarship in six distinct methodological approaches: (1) textual criticism; (2) composition and literary context; (3) history, archaeology and geography; (4) violence, genocide and conquest; (5) literary and ideological studies; and (6) reception history. The article will conclude with a brief summary of recent collected studies and commentaries on Joshua. The focus of interpretation will be the last ten years supplementing Greenspoon (2005).

David Tabb Stewart 
LGBT/Queer Hermeneutics and the Hebrew Bible
LGBT and queer interpretive approaches have moved beyond the identitarian and apologetic stances of the 1970s–90s, when the first order of business was to respond to anti-gay voices and understand social location as an interpretive standpoint. The HIV/AIDS health crisis helped move some LGBT interpreters away from homosexuality as an object of study to placing themselves inside the text as subjects, lamenting with the Psalms or putting God in the dock like Job. Queer interpretation, anti-essentialist in spirit, moved away from identitarian concerns placing queer interpreters outside the text as interrogators. Queer biblical criticism resists heteronormativity as the default interpretive stance, but embraces the study of the body, gender performance, midrash-making and playfulness with biblical texts. The queer interpretive approach has begun to mature as it seeks intersections with minoritized criticisms, disability studies and the rising consciousness of intersex people, while criticizing itself as well.

Nicholas A. Elder
New Testament Media Criticism
This article introduces and overviews New Testament media criticism. Media criticism is an emerging biblical methodology that encompasses four related fields: orality studies, social memory theory, performance criticism, and the Bible in modern media. The article addresses the methodological foundations of these fields and reviews recent contributions in each of them.

R.B. Jamieson
When and Where Did Jesus Offer Himself? A Taxonomy of Recent Scholarship on Hebrews
This article surveys how recent scholarship answers the question, ‘According to Hebrews, when and where did Jesus offer himself?’ Much interest has been paid to this topic in the wake of David Moffitt’s 2011 monograph, but the debate is often framed in potentially reductionistic binary terms: either Hebrews depicts a sacrificial sequence beginning on the cross and culminating in heaven, or else Jesus’ ‘heavenly offering’ is a metaphor for the cross. By contrast, this article asks how scholars correlate three variables: Jesus’ death, offering, and entrance to heaven. It registers five answers that have been offered, explores the textual basis taken to support each, and articulates the issues which divide each view from the others. Further, the article surveys recent answers to two material questions that arise in the wake of this formal one. First, is Hebrews’ sacrificial theology coherent? Second, in Hebrews, is Jesus’ death atoning?

Dov Weiss
The Rabbinic God and Mediaeval Judaism
From the earliest stages of Wissenschaft des Judentums, scholars of Judaism typically read statements about God in the classical sources of Judaism with a mediaeval philosophical lens. By doing so, they sought to demonstrate the essential unity and continuity between rabbinic Judaism, later mediaeval Jewish philosophy and modern Judaism. In the late 1980s, the Maimonidean hold on rabbinic scholarship began to crack when the ‘revisionist school’ sought to drive a wedge between rabbinic Judaism, on the one hand, and Maimonidean Judaism, on the other hand, by highlighting the deep continuities and links between rabbinic Judaism and mediaeval Jewish mysticism (Kabbalah). The revisionist scholars regarded rabbinic Judaism as a pre-cursor to mediaeval Kabbalah rather than mediaeval Jewish philosophy. This article provides the history of scholarship on these two methods of reading rabbinic texts and then proposes that scholars adopt a third method. That is, building on the work of recent scholarship, we should confront theological rabbinic texts on their own terms, without the guiding hand of either mediaeval Jewish framework.

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Credo Magazine 7, 2 (2017) on the English Reformation


The current issue of Credo is available, this one devoted to ‘The English Reformation’.

According to the blurb:

‘The word “Reformation” immediately brings to mind a young Martin Luther, his 95 theses, and his memorable stand at the Diet of Worms. But did Luther’s writings have any influence in England? And what led certain English reformers to similar, sometimes identical, convictions about justification and biblical authority? In this issue of Credo Magazine we are introduced to some of the key English reformers, men like William Tyndale, Thomas Cranmer, and many others. Outstanding pastors and scholars tell us how the Reformation took root in England under very different political circumstances than Germany and why many of these reformers were willing to be martyred for their faith.’

Individual articles in the magazine are available to read from here.

Saturday, 29 July 2017

Chris Wright on John Stott’s Legacy


On a long car journey recently, I thoroughly enjoyed listening to a lecture by Chris Wright on John Stott – ‘John Stott’s Legacy and the Mission of the Global Church’ – which was The Alfred Stanway Lecture in Global Mission for 2016, given at Ridley College, Melbourne.

The audio for the lecture is available here or here, and Chris’ handout is available here.

He covered the below points, with most of the time spent on the first section, the five components of John Stott’s legacy and their impact on global mission. This section in particular is fascinating not only on Stott, but on evangelicalism more generally in the latter part of the 20th century.

A. Five components of John Stott’s legacy and their impact on global mission

1. Two organizations he founded

• Langham Partnership
• London Institute for Contemporary Christianity

2.Two movements he fostered

• IFES
•The Lausanne Movement

3. The books he wrote

• Evangelistic
• Teaching
• Mission
• Society and culture

4. The church he shaped – All Souls, Langham Place

5. The people he loved

B. The ‘Five Marks of Mission’ 

1. Evangelism

2. Teaching and Discipling

3. Compassion

4. Justice

5. Creation-care

C. Four biblical and missional models reflected by John Stott 

1. Abraham 

• Blessing the nations
• ‘The obedience of faith’

2. Moses 

• Leadership
• Humility

3. Paul 

• Evangelist and theologian of mission
• Teacher of the churches
• ‘Remember the poor’

4. Jesus 

• Prayer
• Simplicity

Thursday, 27 July 2017

The Asbury Journal 72, 1 (2017)


The latest issue of Asbury Journal, containing the below main articles, with the one on Lesslie Newbigin particularly catching my eye.

Nathan Crawford
Improvising with the Quadrilateral: An Augustinian Approach to Recovering the Use of the Wesleyan Quadrilateral in the Theology of Preaching
This article explores the improvisational nature of preaching through a closer examination of Augustine’s view of the theology of preaching in De Doctrina Christiana, and an exploration of the Wesleyan framework, known as the Wesleyan Quadrilateral as an additional, but key supplement to developing a theology of preaching which maintains the centrality of scripture, but permits the important addition of improvisation to meet the needs of changing times and congregations.

Samuel K. Law
Waltzing with Wesley: Wesleyan Theology as a Renewing Framework for Chinese Christian Spirituality and Global Identity
This paper argues that Wesleyan theology, understanding that God’s prevenient grace is working toward the restoration of all Creation, serves as a means of grace for global Christians to incarnate Christianity with their indigenous cultural identity. Using the Chinese context, this paper explores how a Wesleyan perspective, being itself a pragmatic and integrative theology, provides a pathway for the Chinese church, suffering from a hobbled spirituality as consequence of an over-identification with Confucian philosophy, to achieve a synergistic spirituality that balances both biblical and Chinese cultural components. A brief review of Chinese spirituality is first provided.

David J. Fuller
The Theme of Creation in Old Testament Theology from the Twentieth Century Onwards: Assessing the State of Play
One particularly disputed topic within the field of Old Testament theology is the subject of creation, specifically the theological and ethical import of the creation materials. The present study conducts a survey of positions on the theme of creation in significant works of Old Testament Theology (excluding works that utilize a narrative or book-based approach) from the seminal volumes of Eichrodt and Von Rad to the present day. It is the intention of the present study to identify the various zones of general agreement and disagreement within the subcategories present in different discussions of creation in Old Testament Theology, in order to clearly isolate the areas that require further research.

Kelly J. Godoy de Danielson and Robert Danielson
Pentecostal Music in the Public Square: The Christian Songs and Music of Juan Luis Guerra
This article explores the issue of contextualization of music in Latin America, particularly through the lens of Pentecostal singer-songwriter Juan Luis Guerra and his story of healing and conversion. Instead of leaving the pop music scene that had made him famous, he chose instead to stay in pop music and introduce Pentecostal Christian songs into his secular albums and concerts. This is a continuation of a long history of creative contextualization by Pentecostal musicians in sharp contrast to mainline Protestants who still primarily rely on translations of English hymns and music in a world where music is an integral part of the culture.

Kelly J. Godoy de Danielson and Robert Danielson
Música Pentecostal en la Plaza Pública: Las Canciones Cristianas y la Música de Juan Luis Guerra

Samuel Lee
An Eschatological Framework for Assessing the Effectiveness of Business as Mission Companies
This paper attempts to address the following question: “What metric or indicator is most useful for assessing the effectiveness of BAM (Business as Mission) companies?” Several books have provided evaluative tools for assessing ministry viability and business effectiveness, but there are currently none that explicitly deal with a BAM measuring stick for holistic BAM effectiveness. This study thus will seek to offer several possible outlets for the emergence of a relational metric that can be used by BAM practitioners in a variety of different contexts. Specific avenues that will be explored include the business world, economic theory, the Christian canon, as well as church history.

Shawn P. Behan
A Hermeneutical Congregation: A New Reading of Lesslie Newbigin’s Missional Ecclesiology through the “Congregation as Hermeneutic of the Gospel” Principle
Within the Missional Church Movement, the work of Lesslie Newbigin in developing a missional ecclesiology has been foundational. Yet often his ideas are not fully followed, rather just his language or overarching principles. Thus, a new reading of Newbigin’s central idea for missional ecclesiology, the congregation as hermeneutic of the Gospel, is necessary. Looking at his initial work on this concept, expanded with the work of others, along with examples from churches, forms the content of this article. Ultimately, it provides a new way of reading Newbigin’s missional ecclesiology for application in local churches.

From the Archives: E. Stanley Jones and Nellie Logan

The entire issue is available as a pdf here.

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

‘You Are My Witnesses’


Peter Leithart has a great post here on the recurring refrain in Isaiah, of the Lord to his people, ‘You are my witnesses’ (Isaiah 43:1, 12; 44:8).

I was preaching on Sunday from Luke 24:36-53, in which Jesus says to his disciples, ‘You are witnesses of these things’ (Luke 24:48), language which is then picked up in Acts 1:8, ‘you will be my witnesses...’ On both occasions, their witness extends beyond to Jerusalem to ‘all nations’ (Luke 24:47), ‘to the ends of the earth’ (Acts 1:8).

I didn’t make much of it on Sunday, but I think there is a clear echo of Isaiah in Jesus’ commission to the disciples:

‘You are my witnesses,’ declares the LORD,
‘and my servant whom I have chosen...
And now the LORD says...
‘It is too small a thing for you to be my servant
to restore the tribes of Jacob
and bring back those of Israel I have kept.
I will also make you a light for the Gentiles,
that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.’ (Isaiah 43:10 and 49:5-6)

Mission to ‘all nations’ doesn’t start with Christ’s various commissions at the end of the gospels. It has always been God’s mission to bless all nations. We see it in his original design for creation, in his promises to Abraham, and his calling of Israel – later reiterated through the servant figure in Isaiah who is chosen, made to be a light to the nations.

This is what we see at the end of Luke and the beginning of Acts. In line with the Lord’s promise through Isaiah, the first disciples – and all disciples since – are God’s ‘witnesses’, the servant community who will bring the message of salvation not just to Israel but to the ‘ends of the earth’.