My systematic theology students are reading Kevin Vanhoozer’s recent work Faith Speaking Understanding: Performing the Drama of Doctrine (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2014). In the chapter they are reading in preparation for our next class, Vanhoozer speaks of the importance of doctrine for correctly identifying Christ and allowing Christians to grow in Christ’s image. To put it in the terms of Vanhoozer’s prevailing theatrical metaphor, the chapter is about how we learn and become our part in the great cosmic drama of salvation. At one point Vanhoozer introduces an evocative quote from the writings of C.S. Lewis: Continue reading Lewis and “Little Christs”
“Imagine someone holding forth on biology whose only knowledge of the subject is the Book of British Birds, and you have a rough idea of what it feels like to read Richard Dawkins on theology.” As far as opening lines of a book review go, this zinger by Terry Eagleton has to be among the best ever committed to paper. Sadly for Dawkins, it also appears to be true. Continue reading The Arrogance of Ignorance (Some Thoughts on the “New Atheists”)
Christopher R.J. Holmes, a graduate of Wycliffe College and senior lecturer in Systematic Theology at the University of Otago in New Zealand, has penned the first volume in Zondervan’s new series New Studies in Dogmatics. The goal of the series, inspired by G.C. Berkouwer’s series Studies in Dogmatics, is “to offer concise, focused treatments of major topics in dogmatic theology that fill the gap between introductory theology textbooks and advanced theological monographs” (15). Holmes contribution, The Holy Spirit (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2015), certainly fits the bill and will therefore be of interest to those with some theological education who are looking to delve deeper into the area of pneumatology. Continue reading The Holy Spirit and Tradition
A recurrent theme which came up in the discussions surrounding my previous postings on John Howard Yoder’s Theology of Mission was the integral connection in Yoder’s thought between the medium and the message. This connection is made explicit in a couple of chapters where Yoder explores under the heading “Message and Medium” what could be described as the fundamental stance or posture of the missionary community. Yoder’s thoughts at this point are not simply for “professional missionaries” in faraway places, but for the people of God who are always in mission wherever they find themselves. Continue reading Presence and Servanthood
In his posthumously published collection of lectures, Theology of Mission, John Howard Yoder introduces an interesting analogy to differentiate between communication that is truly evangelical, as opposed to that which is simply manipulative. The former, which he describes as proclamation, begins from a theological starting point. The latter, which he describes as persuasion, starts from an anthropological starting point. Yoder introduces the analogy of a train compared to a taxi in an attempt to introduce the difference between these two modes of speech. As someone raised on the music of Johnny Cash, I’m probably partial to the suggestion that “the kingdom is more like a train,” but I’ll leave it to you to draw your own conclusions. Here’s the quote: Continue reading Persuasion vs. Proclamation
“Paul generally does not urge his readers to proclaim the gospel to their neighbors, nor to go to the ends of the earth with the saving message of Christ. Rather, he urges them and commands them to live a life of holiness, to walk worthily of their calling, to demonstrate in loving and harmonious unity the new powers which have entered into the world in Christ, to demonstrate through victorious living the present victory of Christ over the powers of evil. It has been suggested that the reason why Paul does not urge his readers to a life of verbal witness is primarily because the early churches were not deficient in this respect. Though this is possible, it should be emphasized that what Paul is really doing in his letters is stressing the significance and importance of the believer’s life as mission.” – Edwin Roels, God’s Mission: The Epistle to the Ephesians in Mission Perspective (Franeker: T. Wever, 1962), 57, quoted in John Howard Yoder, Theology of Mission: A Believer’s Church Perspective, ed. Gayle Gerber Koontz and Andy Alexis-Baker (Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 2014), 103.