Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Book Review’ Category

The Death of Jesus in the Gospel of Mark

The purpose of my last few months of research has been to explore, within the narrative of the gospel of Mark, the link between Jesus’ death and the Temple.  This link is clearly to be seen at the surface level of the passion narratives where the  Temple and the  cross are fused together in the closing stages of the Markan narrative. For instance, Jesus at his trial, which leads directly to his execution, is  falsely accused of saying that he would destroy the Temple sanctuary ( ναὸν) and replace it with another (14:58). This accusation is repeated during the crucifixion  in the form of mockery  (15:29) and at the point of death the link between Jesus’ death and the Temple is made explicit, ‘for a single instant…. we [the reader] are transplanted from Golgotha to the Temple area, and then back to Golgotha’ when the veil of the Temple was torn (ἐσχίσθη)  in two (15:38).

The attached paper (click on title above)  seeks to explore these themes.

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Today I had the pleasure of sharing a few insights on mission and worldview to the members of the ‘College Green’ pastoral group at Trinity College.. This group has pioneered and developed a chaplaincy which seeks to serve and bear witness to the young people who gather outside of Bristol Cathedral. Further information can be found here. The session today was intended to provide a theoretical/theological/philosophical basis for using worldviews in evangelism. On a practical level we will be using a modified version of the UCCF worldview questionnaire to engage in discussion.

If any church or group would like me to come and lead an interactive workshop on  ‘Worldview and Mission’ then I would be more than happy to assist. There would be no charge for any group in the Bristol area and for anyone else, within reason,  I would only ask that traveling expenses be covered. If interested then just leave a comment on this post. I can get references for those who want to know that I am kosher and can communicate effectively. I have previously discussed this material at West Yorkshire School of Christian Studies, local churches and a ‘Exploring Vocations’ retreat.

The following is primarily aimed as a resource bank for the pastoral group.

My presentation can be found using the following link.

I mentioned 2 books in my presentation.

Walsh and Middleton, Transforming Vision which introduces the reader to a Christian worldview. This book, if i remember rightly, takes a look at the worldview questions.

Where are you? Who are you? What is the problem? What is the solution? Where are we going? It will be worth checking out my  mate, Mark Roques’ website who has a great page on the worldview questions and sketches out a number of answers from different worldviews.  Also check out his podcasts.

I also recommended N.T Wright’s ‘New Testament and the People of God’ which provided the story, symbols, q+a, praxis part of my presentation. This book is great and will greatly assist you in hermeneutics and study of the New Testament. It is meaty and is not directly related to mission or evangelism. If this is your first year of theological training it may be best to leave on hold for a while. I think that it would be great to try and sit down and sketch out the worldviews of some of the young people you have met. What is their praxis? symbol? story? answers to worldview questions.

If you are interested in the Christian metanarrative and a holistic understanding of mission then check out some of the audio lectures by Micheal Goheen.

Read Full Post »

Jake Belder, via his blog, introduced me to the book ‘Who gets to narrate the world?’ by Robert E. Webber. My copy arrived today and I have ploughed through the first few chapters.  So far, so good. Webber encourages us to look at the comprehensive biblical narrative which is desperately needed as Christians face real problems, both internal and external, in the 21st century.

However, I was surprised, given this book calls us to move away from a reductionistic understanding of God’s story and mission to find the following,

The overriding theme of this book is to respond to these challenges by understanding and practising the fullness of God’s narrative. Whether you are a pastor, a youth worker, a worship leader, an evangelist, a teacher or active layperson in the church, the effect of restoring God’s narrative is manifold. (page 19)

Why, please tell me, does a book which is against reductionism, have as its target audience people who work in a church? Surely the call of the gospel is to people working in all spheres of life. I have taken the liberty of re-writing the above paragraph and would be happy for Robert to use it in in any future editions of the book.

The overriding theme of this book is to respond to these challenges by understanding and practising the fullness of God’s narrative. Whether you are a pastor, baker, butcher, scientist, artist, teacher, economist, lawyer, candlestick maker,  the effect of restoring God’s narrative is manifold.

If this potential new edition contains the above paragraph I would only ask that a glossy picture of myself be included on the back cover. This would have the added advantage of increasing sales…..

Read Full Post »

A few years ago, as I was applying to do ordination training and a research degree at Trinity College,  I read Tom Wright’s response to ‘Pierced for our Transgressions’. In this critique, in which he described the book as sub-biblical, he lamented the fact that discussion of the atonement often bypasses the Gospels and heads straight to the Pauline texts. It was this lament which provided a springboard for my own research. On arriving at Trinity, and in discussion with my supervisor, I began to look at Jesus’ death in the gospels. My first paper was an analysis of Mark 10:45 which opened my eyes to how much material I would need to cover. As the years have moved on my focus has moved from the historical Jesus to the Gospel of Mark. with a particular focus on  the death of Jesus in relation to the tribulation, Temple, and exile.   The road is long with many a winding turn….. The following video which I came across by friend and fellow blogger ‘The Bishop’ reminded and encouraged me as to the relevance of my research to the contemporary atonement debate and to the church.

Read Full Post »

Deep-Church-200x300

Chapter 4 is entitled ‘Deep Truth’ and explores issues of epistemology.  He thinks that traditionalists have often misrepresented postmodernism and have failed to understand postmodernity as  emergent leaders understand it. Is postmodernity in all forms the enemy? Lstenign to the rhetoric of some evangelicals you would think so. However, he also criticises the emergent church for not recognizing that there are movements and thinkers in the evangelical world who also reject modernism.

‘Emerging voices tend to overstate the traditional church’s captivity to the rationalism and individualism of modernism by ignoring the last hundred years of evangelical criticism of Enlightenment rationalism by thinkers such as Abraham Kuyper, C.S. Lewis, Cornelius Van Til, Herman Dooyeweerd and Nicholas Wolterstorff [quite a few neocalvinists in this list]. Long before post-modern thinkers came on the scene, these Christian thinkers have been debunking the church’s captivity to science and rationalism. It concerns me that bright scholars like Stanley Grenz and John Franke, two influential thinkers for the emerging church, do nor bring this up. It seems the emerging church, for rhetorical purposes, uses sweeping generalizations about the traditional church that are unfair.’ 76

But the traditional church is just as guilty. By not taking the time to understand what the emergent church means by postmodernism, traditional thinkers jump to the conclusion that the emerging church is abandoning historic Christianity. This is certainly not true of the whole movement…Brian McClaren rejects ‘hard’ postmodernism. Few embrace radical relativism or deep constructivism that rejects all revelation or external authority.’ 76

I think Belcher’s analysis is spot on.  I will post more later

Read Full Post »

Part 1 can be found here.

Deep-Church-200x300

Here are my notes on Chapter 3.

The emerging and the traditional crowd ( I read emergent and conservative evangelical crowd) are poles apart and regularly seem to sling mud at each other. Belcher ask ‘ Is there a way forward? How do we get to the point where both sides can talk about their differences and learn from each other without being accused of heresy?’

Belcher proposes taht a way forward is possible by going in the way which Tom Oden describes as ‘new ecumenism’. We should not expects emergents to sign up to Piperesque calvinism, not should we expect Driscoll to renounce his reformed tendencies. No, the way forward is to commit to classical orthodoxy as the launching pad for discussion and interaction.  This classical orthodoxy is found in the Apostle’s creed, Nicene Creed and the Athanasius Creed.

We should adopt a two tier system,

Greer says, ‘ A two tiered system reflects the phenomenon of family resemblances within the Christian faith. The top tier establishes the overall family resemblance. The bottom tier makes room for different looks within the family. This sense of unity plus diversity offers the church an opportunity to love one another, as Christ prayed in his high priestly prayer, and thereby an effective witness to an unbelieving world.’

This makes sense. We don’t deny doctrinal distinctives but will embrace those who differ on the bottom tier but are commited to the orthodox essentials of the first.

I came across an interesting podcast of Belcher on the White Horse Inn.  I got the impression from listening to this that Belcher was being pushed to being anti-emerging.

Read Full Post »

The librarian at Trinity college, Bristol is excellent. I told her about the book ‘Deep Church’ by Jim Belcher which had recieved numerous good reviews. She ordered a copy  which I was able to pick up today.

Deep-Church-200x300The book explores a path, which he calls Deep Church,  which can be taken which avoids both  traditional evangelicalism and the emergent scene.  A friend pinted out to me that people in the UK may get a little confused as there is a ‘Deep Church’ movement/set of books/blogs in the UK.

There is a ‘Deep Church’ website and excerpts can be found here.

Why was I so keen to get my hands on this book?

Firstly, I appreciate the theological leanings of some of the main traditional evangelical preachers/teachers in the UK such as Don Carson, Wayne Grudem and John Piper. However, I do think that the emergent scene has rightly criticized, amongst other things, the impact of modernity in the formulation of rationalistic evangelical theology. This places me in a strange place. I spend half of my time defending a traditional evangelicalism but this, at times, leaves me feeling uncomfortable. Perhaps this book will help me be more comfortable with my posiition.  Secondly, a quick look at endorsements reveals that this book is spoken highly of by a wide ranger of scholars and practitioners. ie. Mark Driscoll, Tim Keller, Scot McKnight, Rob Bell, Dan Kimball. If these people from different theological and ecclesiological positions are in agreement that this is a great book then it should be read. Thirdly, I want to have an ecumenical spirit (I really do) which seeks to build bridges and find unity in the Christian Church. What has Athens to do with Jerusalem Emergent to with Conservative Evangelicalism?… well for starters both camps claim allegiance to Jesus Christ. This book, which seems to be balanced, will explore and critique both traditional and emergent.

Here are some of the endorsements.

“Jim Belcher shows that we don’t have to choose between orthodox evangelical doctrine on the one hand, and cultural engagement, creativity and commitment to social justice on the other. This is an important book.”
—Tim Keller, Redeemer Presbyterian Church, New York City

“Smart, passionate, thoughtful, hopeful and Jesus-centered–this is the Jim Belcher I used to hang out with in the early nineties (like it was so long ago!) at the Huntington–and this is the Jim Belcher in this book. Lots of people are going to find this book very helpful.”
—Rob Bell, pastor, Mars Hill Bible Church, Grand Rapids, Michigan, author, Velvet Elvis

“Rising above the usual shallow, facile critiques of the emergent church movement, Jim Belcher has written for us a book that, indeed, goes deep. Jim took the time to listen to emergent voices, and as a result, he appreciates the movement for what it is. And, further, his admonitions ring true. While Jim and I have theological differences, I can heartily recommend Deep Church as an invigorating study of and healthy corrective to both the emergent and traditional church.”
—Tony Jones, author of The New Christians: Dispatches from the Emergent Frontier (http://tonyj.net)

“Deep Church is a thoughtful, helpful and practical addition to the growing field of missional church thinking.”
—Mark Driscoll, pastor of Mars Hill Church, Seattle, president, Acts 29 Church Planting Network, president, Resurgence

I have just read the first few chapters and am not disappointed. Here are some of the highlights so far.

His goal is to provide  ‘well rounded picture of the emerging community’s conviction’. After surveying many books and blogs he sees the emerging church as being critical of several aspects of the traditional church. (For ordinands we must recognize that this book is from a US perspective and that traditional means ‘traditional evangelical’ as opposed to Anglican traditional which means liturgy and bells and smells).

1) Captivity to Enlightenment Rationalism (Yep! evangelicals do like their water tight theological systems)

2) A narrow view of salvation (Being a Tom Wright and Neo-Calvinist fan I agree with this)

3) Belief before belonging

4) Uncontextualized Worship

5) Ineffective teaching. I have tried to deal with some of this here.

6) Weak Ecclessiology

7) Tribalism

He goes on to mention the three fold division which Ed Stetzer employs to describe the emergent church.

1) Relevants- Driscoll

2) Reconstructionists

3) Revisionists- Emergent Village

In this book Belcher will mainly interact with those of the reconstructionists and revisionist camps.

I am going to enjoy reading this book and may well blog my way through it.



Read Full Post »

« Newer Posts - Older Posts »