themelios

volume 40 issue 3

December 2015 / 194 pages

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Columns

Pastoral Pensées

The Duty of a Pastor: John Owen on Feeding the Flock by Diligent Preaching of the Word

Matthew Barrett

In the twenty-first century the pastor is expected to fulfill an incredible amount of ministry responsibilities. Too often, unfortunately, the proclamation of God’s Word becomes just another duty in an unending list of ministry assignments. In order to counter such a trend, this article looks to the Puritan, John Owen, who reminds pastors that their first priority is to “preach the Word” (2 Tim 4:2). After a brief exploration of Owen’s own pastoral ministry, we will examine a sermon Owen gave at an ordination service in 1682 in order to understand why, exactly, Owen believes everything hinges upon gospel-proclamation. In doing so, we will probe four pillars Owen affirms as indispensable to such a task, as well as identify the specific tools Owen says every pastor must possess and utilize. Whether one is a brand new pastor, a seasoned shepherd, or a professor training others for future ministry, Owen sheds invaluable light upon the most important undertaking in the church, namely, feeding the people of God the Word of God.

Articles

More than a Game: A Theology of Sport

Jeremy R. Treat

Sports have captured the minds and hearts of people across the globe but have largely evaded the attention of Christian theologians. What is the meaning of sports? There seem to be two polar responses: some dismiss sports as merely a game, while others worship sports as nearly a god. This essay argues that when viewed through the lens of Scripture, sports are more than a game, less than a god, and when transformed by the gospel can be received as a gift to be enjoyed forever.

The Amorality of Atheism

Robert S. Smith

This essay explores the question: Can there really be such a thing as objective morality in an atheistic universe? Most atheists (both old and new) are forced to admit that there can’t be. On atheism, objective morality is necessarily an illusion. Yet due to the reality of human moral experience, many atheistic philosophers feel compelled to provide a naturalistic account of “the universally experienced phenomenon of the ought.” Such an enterprise is self-defeating, as it can only be achieved by maintaining a position that is intellectually incoherent or by redefining ‘good’ and ‘evil’ in a decidedly non-moral way. The atheist thus faces a tough choice: maintain atheism and embrace amorality or maintain morality and embrace theism.

Beyond Christian Environmentalism: Ecotheology as an Over-Contextualized Theology

Andrew J. Spencer

When Christian theology fails to adapt to the cultural context in a healthy manner, it can lead to a loss of cultural relevance. Proper contextualization is essential. This essay argues that ecotheology, which is a form of liberation theology, is an example of a contextual theology that is more closely linked to the contemporary context than it is to traditional forms of Christian doctrine. To argue this thesis, the essay will first provide an overview of ecotheology, demonstrating its consistency with praxis theology using an ecocentric hermeneutics of suspicion. Then the essay will offer critiques of ecotheology to show where the movement presents a helpful corrective and where it becomes over-contextualized.

Rooted and Grounded? The Legitimacy of Abraham Kuyper’s Distinction between Church as Institute and Church as Organism, and Its Usefulness in Constructing an Evangelical Public Theology

Daniel Strange

The question of the precise nature and scope of the church’s mission has been both perennial and thorny. In recent years many evangelicals have made positive reference to Abraham Kuyper’s distinction between the church as ‘institute’, and the church as ‘organism’ noting this is a helpful and necessary way of distinguishing between the organised church with its own particular and specific roles and responsibilities, and the church understood as Christians in the world, living out their God-given vocations in all spheres of life. This article describes and critiques Kuyper’s distinction asking whether it is a help or a hindrance, and offering possible other ways of delineating and distinguishing the mission of the church.

“Not to Behold Faith, But the Object of Faith”: The Effect of William Perkins’s Doctrine of the Atonement on his Preaching of Assurance

Andrew Ballitch

The Elizabethan Puritan, William Perkins, is accused of exclusively pointing people inward to signs of repentance or to their sanctification for assurance of salvation. It is assumed that he was bound to this strategy because he affirmed particularism in the atonement. Both Perkins’s accusers and defenders have tended to amass evidence from Perkins’s writings explicitly on assurance and, as such, there is a need to look at his actual practice. While Perkins certainly did point individuals toward themselves in his preaching, this article will show that he also pointed doubters to Christ and gospel promises for assurance.

Book Reviews

Old Testament

New Testament

History and Historical Theology

Systematic Theology and Bioethics

Ethics and Pastoralia

Mission and Culture

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