Wednesday, February 25, 2009

A few odds and ends

I just realized that it's been almost two weeks since I put a post up here. A busy few weeks but I certainly didn't mean to go that long. To make up for it here is a post with a few things from the web that are interesting and worth checking out. I'll try and put another post up dealing with apologetics later today if I can or tomorrow morning if I get swamped again.

First a few things on biblical theology and interpretation. Here is an article from the 2006 Tyndale Bulletin written by James Hamilton, professor of Old Testament at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Dr. Hamilton is arguing that the revelation of God's glory in salvation and judgment forms the center of the Biblical story through both testaments. I think that he makes a pretty good case and that this is a helpful article worth reading. That said, you should be aware that there are a number of cases made for the "center" of biblical theology from kingship and/or kingdom, covenant, revelation, and others. Dr. Hamilton acknowledges and address this in his article.

In my last post, on the canonical order of the Old Testament, I mentioned that one of the ways we need to practice reading the Old Testament is by reading it in a Christotelic manner. I intentionally used this language instead of Christological or Christocentric. It's not because I oppose the latter terms as a matter of principle. It is instead because those terms have often been abused to see something about Christ in every minute detail of an Old Testament object, person, or prophecy to the point of twisting the passage. In this blog post from a PCA pastor in South Dakota he uses the example of those who say that in the narrative of the bronze serpent in Num. 21:6-9 bronze was used because it was a lower metal and pointed to Christ's humiliation. We should ask if these kinds of superficial connections are really intended by the text. Instead I use the term Christotelic to remind us that the Old Testament as a whole and in its parts is designed to point to and reveal Christ. So all of the themes that run through the Old Testament, including the theme discussed by Dr. Hamilton in the paper above, point us to Christ and reveal something about him. The theme of kingship/kingdom reveals that Christ is the King of God's chosen people and that his territory is the entire cosmos. The theme of covenant reveals Christ to us as the covenant goal, head, and mediator. The post linked to in this paragraph describes a work by the Scottish Presbyterian Patrick Fairbairn on the right use of typology. Very helpful stuff!

Next, it seems to me that in the American church we tend to have a great preoccupation with dramatic conversion experiences and testimonies. There is not anything wrong with these kinds of conversions. The history of the church is full of examples of people who were abruptly and suddenly ushered into faith in Jesus Christ, even the Apostle Paul could be mentioned here. Yet one thing that becomes apparent after a long time spent in churches is that most testimonies lack this dramatic turn, though sometimes it seems as if people search for something to place here in their testimony because they feel as if it should be. Instead, the long history of the church and what many missionaries can confirm is that most conversions are slow and gradual. There are probably more Christians in churches who grew up in a Christian home and never truly left than there are former chain-smoking, drug addict, homosexuals who were were suddenly arrested by the gospel. Herman Bavinck argues that we ought to be thankful that in his providence God provides his church with members who have all sorts of conversion stories. Shane Lems posts on Herman Bavinck and conversion stories.

Next, in some seminary news, Greg Beale will be serving as a visiting professor of New Testament at Westminster Theological Seminary from 2009-2012. Dr. Beale is the author of a number of important books and articles and is well-known as a first class New Testament scholar. A number of his articles are linked to from the WTS announcement page.

Finally, Desiring God ministries has made John Piper's new book, Finally Alive: What Happens When We Are Born Again available online. I have not read this book but Iain Campbell, Tim Challies, and D.A. Carson have all recommended it. If you would like to purchase a copy then it is available at 40% off from WTS books.

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