Archive for the ‘theology’ Category
Today’s most exciting news is the launch of this new journal of British Reformed theology.
Ecclesia Reformanda is an exciting new journal for pastors, theological students, and scholars, that seeks to serve the Church in its ongoing reformation according to God’s Word. The journal is distinctively Reformed, with a contemporary cutting edge. It presents some of the best in British Reformed thinking and writing to serve the Church, her teachers, and her Lord.
The journal covers all of the theological subdisciplines, and early issues will include articles on intertextuality in Romans 2, poetry in James, the place of children in the new covenant according to Jeremiah 32, Jim Jordan’s hermeneutics, Herman Bavinck’s theological method, and John Owen’s doctrine of justification. Future editions will contain articles on ethics, public theology, and pastoral counselling.
From the Editorial of the first edition:
Reformed theology should be reforming theology, for the Church – finite, sinful, not yet fully glorified – always stands in need of God’s reformation, by his Spirit, through his Word taught, trusted, and obeyed. And so, Ecclesia Reformanda exists to assist the Church in the ongoing task of listening to Scripture in all its depth and richness. It will seek to be truly theological, distinctively Reformed, and prayerfully reforming.
Read the rest on the website, along with abstracts of the first articles.
Mugshots of the Editorial Board are here, including yours truly as Book Review Editor.
Please subscribe here for the bargain price of only £15 per annum.
One of the things that I was most shocked by during my time in the US was the prevalence of a certain kind of confessionalism (among some, but certainly not all or most of the people I met) which I had not previously encountered in the UK (which is not to say that it doesn’t exist here, just that I hadn’t come across it).
This blog post excellently illustrates the kind of thing I mean. Note especially this from the final paragraph:
If we really believe that it is a summary of biblical teaching, then it has no racial or cultural boundaries, anymore than the Gospel itself does. For if we confess that the Westminster Standards contain THE system of doctrine taught in Holy Scripture (and not just A system), then we must equate our understanding of the Gospel with the Standards. The Standards are intended to be our confession of what the Gospel is.
The Gospel = the Westminster Standards.
Now, I happen to be in general agreement with the Westminster Standards. I happily and willingly signed up to the Confession when I was teaching at WTS. I am not arguing for any particular overhaul of the Standards.
I am, however, suggesting that the Standards are not the Gospel. They are not necessary for saving faith. Indeed, full understanding of the Standards will by no means save anyone.
I am also suggesting that the Standards are not above question. This seems to me to be the huge problem with confessionalism as it exists at the moment. Arguments are settled in some circles, not by recourse to what the bible has to say on a matter, but by recourse to what the Confession has to say. This is even more problematic since the Confession, like any text, needs to be interpreted and it is not always immediately obvious what the Westminster Divines, writing over 300 years ago in a wholly different ecclesiastical and social context may have intended. Further, even if their intention could be established, this is no guarantee that they were right. On a number of relatively minor issues, in fact, it is clear that they were wrong. For strict confessionalists, this is hugely problematic.
And thirdly, I am suggesting that the Standards are historically, geographically, socially, politically and ecclesiastically conditioned. Even if we were to agree that they contain within them the best possible expression of Christian doctrine for the needs of the church in England in the late seventeenth century, this would not mean that they become the best possible expression of Christian doctrine for the needs of the church everywhere at all times. Just as with the ancient creeds, the Standards were formulated against the pressing needs of the day. They do not say everything that there is to be said about every doctrine. They say what needed to be said to guard against the errors of that time.
So, unlike several of the original commenters on that post, I shall not be directing my energies to providing translations of the Westminster Standards to be sent out to churches around the world. I’d rather give my money to Wycliffe Bible Translators.
You know sometimes you read something and you can’t quite believe it says what you thought it says so you have to read it twice? This is from an article by a very youthful John Piper (originally written in 1976 for JETS, but now available on the Desiring God site) explaining why the grammatical-historical method of exegesis is the only theologically acceptable method:
Hearing the Word of God in the oral or written proclamation of the Scriptures is absolutely dependent on hearing the Scriptures in an understandable language. Hearing the Word of God is thus dependent on a faithful translation of the Greek and Hebrew. But translation is only possible and successful when the specific meanings of the ancient documents are understood. Most of those meanings can be determined only by an analysis of the grammatical and historical context that displays the author’s intention. Therefore, it is wrong to say that theology and devotion do not depend on the recovery of the historically-verified intention of the Biblical writer/redactor.
He illustrates this with an example:
Suppose a translator comes upon the word zelos in the New Testament. Should he translate it “jealousy” with a negative connotation or “zeal” with a positive connotation? There is only one way to decide, and that is by determining from the context how the author intended it to be taken. If the translator chooses wrongly, the twentieth-century reader will be inhibited from hearing the Word of God.
So, let’s get this right. The intended meaning of the first-century author writing in Greek must fit precisely into the categories of twentieth-century English. And also, one presumes, seventeenth-century English, and eleventh-century French, and mediaeval Latin and… well, you get the picture. And, of course, there is no possibility that the NT author deliberately used a word with a certain ambiguity. Or that the word might have a precise meaning in one place but still carry with it an allusion to a place where it’s used in a different way.
I wonder if John Piper has read this article recently and if he still thinks the same thing.
I notice that the papers from the EA Symposium on the atonement from summer 2005 have finally been published. I haven’t read it but I have just skimmed through the contents list (see the sample pages here and I’m struck by both the omissions and the inclusions. Here are the chapters (one of the more irritating, though less significant, omissions is the use of the Shift key to provide suitable capitalisations):
1. atonement, evangelicalism and the evangelical
alliance: the present debate in context . . . . . . . david hilborn
2. the redemption of the cross . . . . . . . . . . . . . .steve chalke
3. the theology of the atonement . . . . . . . . . . . . i. howard marshall
4. atonement in the old testament . . . . . . . . . . . .christopher j. h. wright
5. the atonement in the new testament . . . . . . . . geoffrey grogan
6. why did christ die? an exegesis of isaiah 52:13 – 53:12 . . . . . . . . . . . .sue groom
7. penal substitutionary atonement in paul:an exegetical study of romans 3:25 – 26 . .rohintan k. mody
8. the atonement in hebrews . . . . . . . . . . . . . . steve motyer
9. must we imagine the atonement in penal substitutionary terms? questions, caveats and a plea . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . joel b. green
10. penal substitution: a response to recent criticisms . . garry williams
11. atonement, creation and trinity . . . . . . . . . . . graham mcfarlane
12. the logic of penal substitution revisited . . . . . . oliver d. crisp
13. towards a unified theory of the atonement . . . . . david t. williams
14. bernard of clairvaux: theologian of the cross . . . . tony lane
15. ransomed, healed, restored, forgiven:evangelical accounts of the atonement . . .stephen r. holmes
16. “live much under the shadow of the cross”:atonement and evangelical spirituality . . . . . . . . ian randall
17. the message of the cross is foolishness:atonement in womanist theology; towards a black british perspective . . . . . . . . . lynette j. mullings
18. atonement in contemporary culture: christ, symbolic exchange and death . . . . anna m. robbins
19. penal substitution: a pastoral apologetic . . . . . . derek tidball
I’m sure the inclusion of some of these extra papers that weren’t given at the conference will be worth reading – Oliver Crisp and Tony Lane’s look particularly interesting. But, um, where’s Mike Ovey’s paper on Christus Victor? And why on earth was the womanist nonsense included (I went to the seminar, so I know what I’m talking about)? It’ll be interesting to see whether Sue Groom has changed anything in her paper in light of some of the devastating comments she got from the floor.
Here’s a post I’ve been meaning to write for a while. I’m 34 and I’m single. And I’m happy. I have a lot of single friends who are not happy to be single. Some of them are very unhappy to be single. So here are my top tips for contentment in singleness. This is not particularly a theological discussion of singleness, though if anyone’s interested I can give you that too. These are practical things that have helped me to be content, and even happy, in my single state.
- Don’t wallow. Being single is not the most important thing about you. So don’t waste your life worrying about being single. Don’t read bridal magazines or browse the windows of jewellery shops eyeing up the rings. Clearly there will be times where you can’t help but feel single – when friends get engaged or married, for instance. But you still get to choose how to respond to those times. Focus on the other person, be happy for your friends. Don’t make it about you.
- Don’t wallow with your other single friends. When you hang out with other single girls, don’t let the conversation always turn to how miserable it is to be single. You have a whole life going on now, you must be able to find something else to talk about between you.
- Don’t feed yourself a diet of happy ever afters. Romcoms and chicklit sell you a line. And if that’s all you watch and all you read, that’s what you’ll start to believe. Real life is not about the happy ever after. There are a whole lot of films and books out there that are about much more interesting things than just the romantic dream. Listen to Radio 4, read Russian tragedies, go to the opera.
- This is really my top, top tip so I don’t know why I’ve buried it here at number 4. Oh well. I’ll just have to put it in pink. Hang out with married friends a lot. This will help with numbers 1, 2 and 3. It’s genius. You don’t get to wallow in your own singleness and you certainly don’t get someone else commiserating with you in your misery. And you get to see that the happy ever after isn’t always quite so happy. And, brilliantly, it also leads to number 5.
- Hang out with friends and their children. Don’t use this as an opportunity to get broody and start wallowing. Just enjoy building up relationships with these children. You get to be the mad auntie and the fun friend. This is a thing I’ve really loved over the last 5 or 10 years. There are children I’ve bathed and put to bed, children I’ve read stories to, children who’ve crawled over me, children who’ve read their Santa letters to me. And, wonderfully, I don’t have to be the one who deals with their nappies, their tantrums, or their teenage angst.
- And actually, what all of this boils down to is, start living your life now. Don’t fall into the trap of feeling like you’re waiting for life to start. Work out what sort of person you are and enjoy the life that you have.
And, I know I said this wasn’t my theological post, but I do think it helps to remember that this is an issue of godliness. Learning to be content is an important part of Christian life whether you’re single or married.
It’s all happening this week!
Here in Dingwall, the Scottish Northern Convention kicked off last night with its Youth Rally. I didn’t go, but I plan to go this evening to hear Liam Goligher. Liam is doing the evening sessions and Martin Allen is giving daily Bible Readings in the mornings. The convention ends on Thursday evening, but by then I shall be back in England ready for my next convention!
I’m taking a long weekend to catch up with some friends and go to the London Women’s Convention where Carrie Sandom is this year’s main speaker. Last time I went to the Convention, Carrie’s talk was the real highlight of the day so I’m looking forward to this. There are a number of good seminar choices. I think I’m going to go to Helen Roseveare’s session, and maybe see what Caroline West has to say about the Old Testament.