Archives for February 2014

The Weekly Hit List: February 28, 2014

Learning for the Love of God by Donald Opitz and Derek Melleby was reviewed and recommended by Byron Borger of Hearts & Minds Books

Learning for the Love of God fleshes out the vision, explains the challenge and offers essential guidance to all that we mean by ‘developing the Christian mind’ in just the right way and a cheerful, intermediate level. It is easy to read and yet challenging, thoughtful but not arcane.

Learning for the Love of God is ideal for students, offering insight about the nature of learning, the ways to think faithfully in college, and how to discern God’s fingerprints (and the smear of idolatry and ideology) all over the subjects they are studying.”

Read the rest of the review here.

 

 

Quick Hits:

A Life Observed by Devin Brown was reviewed by Kristen Hannum.

iGods by Craig Detweiler was reviewed by Stephen Hiemstra.

Living into Focus by Arthur Boers was quoted by Ben Ditzel.

 

Ebook Specials:

Why You Should Care about the Person Who Made Your Cell Phone by Jim Wallis is FREE until March 5.

Free Ebook Short of Why You Should Care about the Person Who Made Your Cell Phone

We are pleased to announce a new ebook short from Jim Wallis: Why You Should Care about the Person Who Made Your Cell Phone.

A selection from the well-received On God’s Side, this new ebook short shows how when we realize all of God’s children are our neighbors, it might cause us to change how we do business.

 

Until March 5, Why You Should Care about the Person Who Made Your Cell Phone is FREE from the following participating retailers:

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

CBD

 

How Supply Chains Can Become Value Chains

The headlines are almost unfathomable: More than one thousand Bangladesh garment-industry workers killed when their building collapsed. Over one hundred workers killed in a poultry-factory fire in China. Harsh conditions and a rash of suicides at a Taiwanese company producing cell phones. These tragedies highlight the hazardous working conditions for much of the world’s population. Are inexpensive clothes and the latest iPhone worth it?

When we think of the individuals who make our lives work as our neighbors—crossing cultural, racial, religious, regional, and tribal boundaries—it might cause us to change how we do business. All of God’s children are our neighbors, says Jim Wallis, a radical concept that is essential to the common good in our increasingly globalized culture. He suggests making “Ten Personal Decisions for the Common Good” to help improve things from your corner of the world.

Lectionary Reflection for the Last Sunday after the Epiphany

This excerpt comes from Matthew (BTCB) by Stanley Hauerwas, commenting on Matthew 5:21-37:

The Son of Man has come. We see his glory in the transfiguration. Six days after the dramatic exchanges at Caesarea Philippi, Jesus takes Peter, James, and John up a high mountain. There he is transfigured, his face shining like the sun and his clothes dazzling white. Moses and Elijah appear with him and engage him in conversation.

Peter, overwhelmed, suggests that they build three dwellings for Jesus, Moses, and Elijah, but while Peter is still speaking a cloud overshadows them and from the cloud a voice speaks, “This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased; listen to him!”

An extraordinary event! Jesus has just told his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem to be defeated by the elders and chief priests and be killed. But here on this mountain we are privileged to witness his glorification. This is the glory of the Father who submits the Son to death. This is the one who commands the wind and the waves, who drives out demons, who cures the blind, mute, and lame; this is the one who justly judges, but this is also the one who becomes subject to death on our behalf.

“Six days later” harkens to creation itself. Jesus’s transfiguration is the seventh day, the day God rested, bringing to completion the work of the previous six days. That day of rest is the day of perfect activity in which we are invited to enjoy God in perfect concord. Is it any wonder that the Sabbath is a day of brightness in which Jesus shines with the brightness of the sun?

That same brightness, moreover, anticipates the new heaven and new earth seen by John in the book of Revelation. The end anticipates the beginning, consummating the glory present in creation. Jesus is transfigured, and we begin to see the glory of the God whose home is among mortals, who will dwell in us, and make us his people, wiping away every tear; and death will be no more (Rev. 21:1–4).

 

©2006 by Stanley Hauerwas. Published by Brazos Press. Unauthorized use of this material without express written permission is strictly prohibited.

From Education to Legislation by Daniel Carroll

 

Immigration is one of the most pressing issues on the national agenda. In this accessible book, an internationally recognized immigration expert helps readers think biblically about this divisive issue, offering accessible, nuanced, and sympathetic guidance for the church. As both a Guatemalan and an American, the author is able to empathize with both sides of the struggle and argues that each side has much to learn.

This updated and revised edition reflects changes from the past five years, responds to criticisms of the first edition, and expands sections that have raised questions for readers. It includes a foreword by Samuel Rodríguez and an afterword by Ronald Sider. This timely, clear, and compassionate resource will benefit all Christians who are thinking through the immigration issue.

 

For more information about Christians at the Border, click here.

Between the Lines: A Conversation with Brad Harper and Paul Louis Metzger – Part 2

We recently had the chance to talk with Brad Harper and Paul Louis Metzger about their Brazos book, Exploring Ecclesiology: An Evangelical and Ecumenical Introduction.

Brad Harper (PhD, St. Louis University) is professor of theology at Multnomah University in Portland, Oregon. He is the college adviser for The Institute for Theology of Culture: New Wine, New Wineskins and the book review editor forCultural Encounters: A Journal for the Theology of Culture. He has also worked as a pastor and church planter.

Paul Louis Metzger (PhD, King’s College London) is professor of Christian theology and theology of culture at Multnomah Biblical Seminary and director of its Institute for the Theology of Culture: New Wine, New Wineskins. He is the editor of the journal Cultural Encounters and the author of Consuming Jesus: Beyond Race and Class Divisions in a Consumer Church.

Last week, Brad and Paul explained what ecclesiology is, why evangelicals should care about it, and how it affects how we experience the church.

In today’s post, Brad and Paul address what evangelicals can learn from other ecclesiologies and how ecclesiology can inform our worship and the role of women in our churches.

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What can evangelicals learn from other ecclesiologies?

Here again, we find a question with deep and broad implications. We often tell our students that if they want to do theology well they need to listen vertically (to two thousand years of church history) and horizontally (across the spectrum of traditions). From the Catholic and Orthodox traditions especially, evangelicals can learn that being a Christian is not just about inviting Jesus into our hearts as individuals.

It also entails being constituted and shaped by the saved community: in other words, the saved community is indispensable to our growth as believers. In the early church, if a person were asked what it means to be a Christian, his first response may not have been “I have accepted Jesus as Savior” but rather “I belong to them,” pointing to the church.

From the Pentecostal tradition, non-Pentecostal believers can be challenged to think about what it means that the church is the locus not just of the presence of the Holy Spirit but also of the Spirit’s unique activity.

Again, the list here could be long. If evangelicals wish to influence other ecclesiologies in the spheres of rigorous engagement of Scripture, personal spiritual formation, the priesthood of all believers, and evangelistic mission to the surrounding world, it would be good for us to learn from those in other traditions so as to communicate our values more effectively. Moreover, learning from the unique insights of other traditions helps us to become more well-rounded and so strengthen our particular strengths and remove our blind spots. Otherwise, unguarded strengths can often become glaring weaknesses.

 

 

How can ecclesiology inform our worship?

One of many ways that ecclesiology can inform our worship is in the area of worship styles and music, which have become a battleground for the evangelical church in the last several decades. The common practice of “traditional” and “contemporary” worship services often ends up separating the church along generational or consumerist lines. Instead, we need a strong understanding of the biblical principle that the church is meant to be a community that brings diverse persons together. What would it look like for the church to use music, worship, and liturgical styles that focused on bringing its generations together rather than allowing them to separate along preference lines?

Another area where ecclesiology can inform our worship is in the sphere of individual participation. All too often, praise choruses in evangelical circles emphasize the individual believer and fail to account for the community of faith. Individual believers are not the body and bride of Christ; only the community of believers constitutes the body and bride. While taking seriously the need for individual participation, we must also account for the fact that the whole is greater than the sum of individual parts.

Lastly, the study of ecclesiology will help us recognize the connection between the visible and invisible church. All too often evangelicals have emphasized the invisible church (those who are saved by faith) and have failed to account for the need to make visible our spiritual transformation. If evangelicals take seriously the connection between the visible and invisible church, it will help our movement come to terms with the pressing need to bring people from diverse ecclesial heritages and other backgrounds together in visible worship. Our oneness is intended to signify to the world God’s unity, God’s sending of his Son, and his love for the church in his Son (John 17:23). How else will we demonstrate to the world that we are one?

 

How can ecclesiology inform the role of women in our churches?

One way ecclesiology can cause us to rethink the role of women in the church is to recognize the biblical idea that the church and the family are not the same institutions and operate by different structures. Too often, evangelicals simply collapse these two institutions into each other so that the relationships between husbands, wives, and children in the family are inserted directly into the church when, in fact, the church is built on a different structure. While the church is to recognize and respect the structure of the family, leadership in the church is built on issues of calling, gifting, and communal affirmation, not just on whether someone is a father, wife, male, or female. Regarding communal affirmation, we need to move beyond production and consumption language so often present in the church and society today. In view of the triune God of holy, communal love who saves and shapes the church, we are called to view men and women together in communal terms (not reducing them to mere producers and consumers) where we share in life and ministry together for the sake of cultivating deeper communion in the body. Much more work needs to be done in this area. But these points alone could have a major impact on the role of women in the church.

 

The Weekly Hit List: February 21, 2014

God and Charles Dickens by Gary L. Colledge was reviewed by M. Daniel Carroll R. for Denver Journal.

“I recommend God and Charles Dickens to Dickens enthusiasts. That wonderful storyteller of another time can cultivate our moral awareness in his intricate and complex portraits of humanity that present people in all of their baseness and glory; he exposes us, too, to the harsh realities of personal and systemic sin in powerful ways.

“Now, what we might appreciate in a new way is that in his works Dickens also offers us wonderful models of charity through whom we might see the Savior and learn to live as more faithful disciples.”

Read the rest of the review here.

 

 

 

Quick Hits:

iGods by Craig Detweiler was reviewed on Sunshine Lenses.

Paul Louis Metzger, co-author of Exploring Ecclesiology, wrote “Life Together in the Land of Lewis and Clark: Reflections on Donald Miller and the Northwest Church.”

Miroslav Volf, author of A Public Faith, was interviewed on the life worth living by The Marginalia Review of Books.

M. Daniel Carroll R., author of Christians at the Border, wrote “Frustration with Congress and the Political Football of Immigration Reform” on his Denver Seminary blog.

 

Ebook Specials:

Postmodernism 101: A First Course for the Curious Christian by Heath White is only $1.99 (89% off) through February 27.

Ebook Special for Postmodernism 101

Now through February 27, the ebook of Postmodernism 101: A First Course for the Curious Christian by Heath White is only $1.99 (89% off) from the following participating retailers:

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

CBD

 

2006 Book of the Year Award, ForeWord Magazine

“While not among the first titles to present a Christian perspective on postmodern thought, this is among the best. White . . . offers an astute and highly readable analysis that demystifies without oversimplifying. As he escorts readers through characteristic postmodern perspectives on authority, the self, language, morality and history, White undertakes ‘to address these concerns with postmodernism in a faithful and loving way rather than a smug or defensive or panic-stricken one.’ The resulting discussion is well balanced between appreciation and criticism. . . . Instead of engaging postmodernism as an opponent, White invites readers to consider how postmodernism might present ‘an opportunity to rethink both the presentation and the content of the good news about Christ.’”
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Imagine a book about postmodernism that intelligently discusses its central ideas and relationship to Christianity–but never uses the words epistemology or hermeneutics. Heath White has provided exactly that in Postmodernism 101: A First Course for the Curious Christian.

In this brief and highly accessible introductory work, White paints the historical and philosophical background underlying postmodernism in understandable, but not oversimplified, language. He explores the differences between premodern, modern, and postmodern thought. He then describes what postmodernism means to our view of self, language, thought, the search for knowledge, and culture, ultimately encouraging Christians to face the postmodern world with hope and courage, not fear.

White’s down-to-earth approach invites Christians who otherwise might have avoided postmodern theorizing into this important dialogue, while also providing vital information for those already engaged in the conversation. His questions for further thought after each chapter and suggestions for further reading provide a journey for readers beyond the text.

 

Lectionary Reflection for the Seventh Sunday after the Epiphany

This excerpt comes from Leviticus (BTCB) by Ephraim Radner, commenting on Leviticus 19:1-2:

Leviticus 19 is generally viewed today as forming the theological center of the latter portion of the legal codes of Leviticus. And the substance of this center, as most readers of the text agree, is the call to holiness: “Say to all the congregation of the people of Israel, You shall be holy; for I the Lord your God am holy” (19:2).

Obviously, holiness is a crucial reality for Leviticus as a whole, but as the purposively directing theological principle for the entire book, or at least for that textual core known as the Holiness Code, it is only now in Lev. 19 that many commentators see its full force as being unveiled.

And that force has generally been evaluated in terms of the overwhelming power of moral purity. . . . Holiness is less a quality or character attributed to God—and reflected in creatures—than it is a description of how God in fact temporally wills to act with respect to his creation, by coming to it with his whole being.

Leviticus 19:2 takes what almost seemed a passing divine exhortation in 11:44—“be holy, for I am holy”—and turns it into the summary description of the entire ethical law of the book: “You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy.”

As commentators note, God asks Moses to speak these injunctions “to all the congregation of the people of Israel,” an audience traditionally seen here as gathered together in one large group, addressed directly and without mediation, requiring a miracle of vocal projection from the otherwise halting Moses. They are thus called as a people to the core of their vocation (compare Exod. 19:6 and 1 Pet. 2:9).

What could be more central, therefore, than this opening directive toward holiness?

 

©2008 by Ephraim Radner. Published by Brazos Press. Unauthorized use of this material without express written permission is strictly prohibited.

A Unique Cultural Perspective on Immigration by Daniel Carroll

 

Immigration is one of the most pressing issues on the national agenda. In this accessible book, an internationally recognized immigration expert helps readers think biblically about this divisive issue, offering accessible, nuanced, and sympathetic guidance for the church. As both a Guatemalan and an American, the author is able to empathize with both sides of the struggle and argues that each side has much to learn.

This updated and revised edition reflects changes from the past five years, responds to criticisms of the first edition, and expands sections that have raised questions for readers. It includes a foreword by Samuel Rodríguez and an afterword by Ronald Sider. This timely, clear, and compassionate resource will benefit all Christians who are thinking through the immigration issue.

 

For more information about Christians at the Border, click here.

Between the Lines: A Conversation with Brad Harper and Paul Louis Metzger – Part 1

We recently had the chance to talk with Brad Harper and Paul Louis Metzger about their Brazos book, Exploring Ecclesiology: An Evangelical and Ecumenical Introduction.

Brad Harper (PhD, St. Louis University) is professor of theology at Multnomah University in Portland, Oregon. He is the college adviser for The Institute for Theology of Culture: New Wine, New Wineskins and the book review editor forCultural Encounters: A Journal for the Theology of Culture. He has also worked as a pastor and church planter.

Paul Louis Metzger (PhD, King’s College London) is professor of Christian theology and theology of culture at Multnomah Biblical Seminary and director of its Institute for the Theology of Culture: New Wine, New Wineskins. He is the editor of the journal Cultural Encounters and the author of Consuming Jesus: Beyond Race and Class Divisions in a Consumer Church.

In today’s post, Brad and Paul explain what ecclesiology is, why evangelicals should care about it, and how it affects how we experience the church.

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What is ecclesiology, and why should evangelicals care about it?

Ecclesiology is the study of the nature, mission, and life of the church. Evangelicals should care about it for several reasons.

1. The church alone is the bride and body of Christ—now and for eternity. The church is the kingdom community of the triune God. As such, it is very different from other social groupings such as national, regional, or local governments; NGOs; businesses; and nuclear families. As important as these other social groupings are, they should never displace the significance of the church for the individual believer.

2. We belong to the church as God’s people. As God’s people, we are not just a worldwide community of individual believers. We are a community unified under the lordship of Jesus Christ and by a biblical structure which includes, among other things, pastoral leadership, accountability and discipline, and the Word and Sacraments.

3. The Scriptures indicate that the church is a place of God’s unique presence and activity, a place where he engages us as he does nowhere else.

4. The church is not simply a localized and contextualized community for the present. It is also Christ’s community for all eternity. The church is the concrete embodiment of Christ’s eschatological kingdom. We should be participating now in the community that will be our eternal destiny.

 

 

 

How can the study of ecclesiology affect how we experience the church?

Answers to this question could take up many pages, so we will just suggest a few examples: All too often, the church in North America operates by way of pragmatic impulses rather than careful reflection that would benefit sustainable practices that cultivate healthy church growth for the long haul. Careful consideration of what the Scriptures and church leaders throughout the ages and across the globe have to say about the identity, mission, and life of the church can guard against short-term fixes that hurt long-term communal gains. Moreover, the study of the nature and role of church leadership can make a huge difference in how we experience church. For example, if the Bible invests pastors or elders with significant authority in the areas of doctrinal teaching and proper moral behavior, this will tend to cultivate unity of belief and behavior in the church. If, on the other hand, the authority of the Bible as understood by church members is valued over the authority of pastoral leadership, the church has more freedom to question pastoral teaching; having said that, such an emphasis may also give way to greater openness to doctrinal and ethical error.

The study of the Sacraments is also an area which can significantly affect the way we experience church. Something as simple as coming to the conviction that the Lord’s Supper should be celebrated weekly instead of monthly or quarterly makes a significant difference in believers’ ecclesial experience. Further, if the sacraments are understood to be significant moments of the reception of grace rather than merely a time to remember Christ, this will likely affect the attitude of the believer in partaking in them. Lastly, it is important that we take to heart the significance of the table for calling sinners who are saints and saints who are sinners together to serve one another and to receive and offer forgiveness to one another as equals at the foot of the cross. Thus, in addition to confessing our sins to God, we confess our sins to one another so that we might be healed (James 5:16). Here we see the vertical as well as the horizontal significance of the table.

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Next week, Brad and Paul will address what evangelicals can learn from other ecclesiologies and how ecclesiology can inform our worship and the role of women in our churches.