Not many voices are raised these days in support of individualism. The left will not help, of course, for rugged individualism is associated in their minds with nineteenth-century robber barons and other greedy swine. Goodness surely lies in communitarianism, not individualism. Those like Thomas Sowell who complain that this popular analysis of the nineteenth century does not stand up very well to sober facts are not paid much attention.
The present age tends to regard polemics, theological controversies, and all-round doctrinal fisticuffs as, at best, a necessary evil, at worst, one of the most revolting aspects of Christianity. After all, while the wider culture is still capable of vicious invective against racists and homophobes, it generally regards disputes among Christians as akin to debates over how many angels can dance on the head of a pin...
Since the mid-twentieth century biblical scholars have increasingly accepted that the texts of the Bible must be interpreted in terms of their literary genres. Many fine books, ranging from Fee and Stuart’s general primer, How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth, to Sternberg’s specialized tome, The Poetics of Biblical Narrative, have informed and assisted students and scholars of the Bible in reading according to generic distinctives.
In the prolegomena to his “approach to biblical theology,” Charles H. H. Scobie comments, “It is difficult to understand the obsession with finding one single theme or ‘center’ for OT or NT theology, and more so for an entire BT. It is widely held today that the quest for a single center has failed.”
Jürgen Moltmann observes that Christian theology and the Church face “a double crisis: the crisis of relevance and the crisis of identity.” When theology and the Church endeavor to be relevant to the surrounding pluralistic culture, they face a “crisis of their own Christian identity” because they are confronted with conflicting viewpoints.
Most of our readers are theological students and pastors. Most, therefore, have pursued or are pursuing tertiary education, some of it in distinctively Christian institutions, some not. We thought it might be helpful to include the following address by Phil Ryken at his inauguration as the eighth president of Wheaton College on September 17, 2010.