themelios

volume 3 issue 1

September 1977 / 25 pages

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Columns

Articles

Editorial

D. A. Carson

Other changes, though relatively minor, are more substantive. The new Themelios aims to serve both theological/religious studies students and pastors. There will be no print version. Our hope is to become increasingly international in representation: take a look at the list of Book Review Editors and their addresses on the previous page.

Why Should Thoughtful Evangelicals Read the Medieval Mystics?

Carl Trueman

In a recent class on the medieval church, I did my traditional two hours on medieval mystics, covering such personages as Bonaventure, Meister Eckhart, Hildegard of Bingen, and Julian of Norwich. I also included Thomas Aquinas to make the point that mysticism, at least in a medieval context, does not exclude solid theological discussion, biblical exegesis, and propositional truth.

Blondel Remembered: His Philosophical Analysis of the “Quest for the Historical Jesus”

Paul Hartog

Readers of the Expository Times were recently encouraged to pull up a chair and eavesdrop as James Dunn and Robert Morgan dialogued concerning faith and history and the "quest for the historical Jesus." Although the discussion centered upon James Dunn's Jesus Remembered, both contributors acknowledged those who had plowed the same field before them.

B. B. Warfield and the Biblical Doctrine of the Trinity

Scott R. Swain

B. B. Warfield’s 1915 ISBE article on the Trinity presents the Princeton theologian’s mature thinking on the biblical bases and meaning of the doctrine and offers a revisionist interpretation of the personal names of “Father,” “Son,” and “Spirit.” Instead of interpreting the personal names of the Trinity in terms of relations of origin, Warfield argues that the personal names only signify likeness between the persons. The present article locates Warfield’s revision within its immediate and broader historical contexts, critically engages Warfield’s proposed revision, and discusses the importance of a traditional interpretation of the personal names for Trinitarian theology.

Nonviolence in the Ancient Church and Christian Obedience

Kirk R. MacGregor

In the course of Christian history, nowhere has the tension between the teachings of Jesus and valid application of those teachings in postbiblical socio-cultural circumstances manifested itself more clearly than surrounding the issue of violence. Stemming from the sixteenth-century divide between pro-statist Magisterial and anti-statist Radical Reformers,1 most scholarship on this issue may straightforwardly be split between "hawks"and "doves,"with each side open to the charge of reading the sacred text through the respective lenses of either the Protestant appropriation of Augustinian just war theory or the Anabaptist denouncement of the post-Constantinian alliance between church and state.

Reversing the Gospel: Warfield on Race and Racism

Fred G. Zaspel

The giant of Old Princeton, B. B. Warfield, outspokenly condemned the racism and rigid segregation of American society of his day. His views were remarkably ahead of his time with regard to an understanding of the evil of racism and even somewhat prophetic with regard to the further evil that would result from it. His convictions were explicitly grounded in an understanding and faithful application of the unity of the human race in Adam and the unity and equal standing of believers in Christ. This brief essay surveys Warfield’s arguments within the context of his day.

Truthfulness in Usefulness: Stanley Fish and American Literary Pragmatism

Dane C. Ortlund

"For to freedom you yourselves were called, brothers; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another."—Gal 5:131 This paper explores the contemporary hermeneutical2 approach of literary pragmatism, analyzing both the benefits and the potential dangers therein, particularly with regard to interpreting the text of Scripture.

A Theological Sickness unto Death: Philip Rieff’s Prophetic Analysis of our Secular Age

Bruce Riley Ashford

Philip Rieff’s sociological analyses explore the implications of Western Civilization’s unprecedented attempt to maintain society and culture without reference to God. He argues that this attempt to desacralize the social order is deeply detrimental and encourages Westerners to resacralize the social order. For Western Christians who wish to help facilitate a “missionary encounter” between the gospel and our secular age, Rieff’s work will pay rich, albeit uneven dividends. His work is most helpful when diagnosing the ills of our secular age but is less illumining in its prognosis and prescription. Thus, a Christian framework of thought must be employed to evaluate Rieff’s work and leverage it for the Christian mission.

An Augustinian Mindset

Peter Sanlon

One of the most eminent spin doctors of the fourth century, Augustine bemoaned that he was merely a vendito verborum (a peddler of words). After he became a Christian he gave up what he perceived as arrogant rhetoric designed to impress, instead cultivating what he called sermo humilis (humble speech). The secular spin doctor became a Christian preacher.

Spurgeon’s Use of Luther against the Oxford Movement

Geoffrey Chang

Nearly three hundred fifty years after Martin Luther nailed the 95 Theses to the castle church door in Wittenburg, Charles Haddon Spurgeon confronted the growing influence of Roman Catholic teaching within the Church of England. Led by Edward Pusey and others, the Oxford Movement called the Church of England to return to her pre-Reformation traditions and teaching. Spurgeon considered this a betrayal of the gospel and, beginning in 1864, would take a Luther-like stand for the truth. This essay will argue that Spurgeon drew from Luther’s model of bold leadership and teaching on justification by faith in his battle against the Oxford Movement.

Mission: A Problem of Definition

Keith Ferdinando

It must by now be questionable whether the word "mission"retains any residual value for missiology. Humpty Dumpty's approach to language—"When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean, neither more nor less" —perhaps reflects his creator's diagnosis of a degenerative disease that afflicts some words, a sort of linguistic entropy or inflation. If so, this pathological condition seems to have caught up with "mission,"and perhaps with terminal effect.

Burning Scripture with Passion: A Review of The Psalms (The Passion Translation)

Andrew G. Shead

Brian Simmons has made a new translation of the Psalms (and now the whole New Testament) which aims to ‘re-introduce the passion and fire of the Bible to the English reader.’ He achieves this by abandoning all interest in textual accuracy, playing fast and loose with the original languages, and inserting so much new material into the text that it is at least 50% longer than the original. The result is a strongly sectarian translation that no longer counts as Scripture; by masquerading as a Bible it threatens to bind entire churches in thrall to a false god.

How a Mega-Church is Rediscovering the Gospel

Joe Coffey

Hudson Community Chapel is a suburban church in the Midwest that averages a little over three thousand people each weekend. We were ranked as one of the top one hundred fastest-growing churches in 2007. I think we have done some things well, and I don't think our growth was the result of preaching a prosperity gospel or appealing to the felt needs of people.

When (and How) English-speaking Evangelicals Embraced Q

Michael Strickland

This article considers the emergence of an evangelical endorsement of the Two-Source Hypothesis as a solution to the Synoptic Problem in the first half of the twentieth century. Conservative scholars such as B. B. Warfield, Geerhardus Vos, A. T. Robertson, and W. Graham Scroggie considered the hypothesis, and its concomitant Q document, to be amenable to evangelical sensibilities. Specifically, the article details how the scholars considered the Two-Source Hypothesis to be a scientific conclusion, and one that presented an early source for the life of Jesus with a high Christology.

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