The Stronger the Coffee, the Better the Theology

A recent LifeWay Research Center study found an “undeniable” connection between the strength of a church’s foyer coffee and the soundness of its theology, a report by the organization revealed Monday.

“Those churches that had coffee rated as ‘weak’ or ‘very weak’ suffered from much more watered-down, biblically feeble sermons than those that had bold coffee available in the foyer,” the report read in part. “Churches with strong, full-bodied coffee were found to boast much more solid, well-rounded theology from the pulpit.”

According to the report, the strong correlation between the two variables suggests some kind of causation. Further, the study suggested that churches that served tea or hot cocoa in place of fresh coffee suffered from more aberrant theology than even the congregations being given watered-down cups of joe.

Churches that didn’t serve coffee at all were not included in the study, as they were assumed to be either apostate, or entirely non-Christian in the first place, according to LifeWay.

Ever since Stetzer left, Lifeway has been doing really important work.  Doing, really, stuff that actually matters (unlike when he was there and it was all Stetzer and Platt promotion).

David Platt is ‘Writing’ Another ‘Book’

As a follow-up to his hit 2010 book Radical, missionary, pastor, and author David Platt announced Monday a new book targeting modern suburban American Christians, entitled Kinda Radical.

The book will focus on being sort-of radical for Jesus, on lukewarm fire for him in some of our daily activities and interactions with others.

“Learn how to be kinda extreme in your faith for Jesus, some of the time,” the press release from publisher Waterbrook-Multnomah said. “If you’ve ever struggled with how to minimize the weighty demands of the gospel call on our lives, this book is for you!”

The book will reportedly feature a section on how to compartmentalize your faith. Those who struggle with their Christian beliefs occasionally seeping over into their work and home lives will learn how to relegate the gospel to Sunday morning church attendance. The implications of the gospel on how we spend our time and money will also be addressed, as Platt assures his readers that as long as they pay lip service to Christ, they can do whatever they want Monday through Saturday.

“Work, school, home, finances, church attendance—Platt will help you rationalize your lack of passion for Jesus so you won’t feel so guilty!” the press release continued.

Pre-orders of the first print run almost immediately sold out, according to a rep from Waterbrook-Multnomah.

A Plea to Academics

Biblical and archaeological scholarship isn’t aided, furthered, or legitimized by exaggerated speculative claims without actual, real, substantive evidence.   Can we all just stop doing hyperbole in our academic work, please.  Speculation may sell rag mags but it doesn’t help the cause.

Thank you.

The British New Testament Society 2018 Meeting Call for Papers

Dear colleagues,

The Call for Papers for this year’s British New Testament Conference is now open. The conference will be taking place at St Mary’s University, Twickenham (London), Thursday 6 to Saturday 8 September 2018.

The Call for Papers for each session is below. Proposals of not more than 300 words should be sent directly to the Seminar Chairs by Friday 20 April 2018. Please direct any enquiries about the call directly to the relevant seminar chairs and not to me.

Proposals for the Simultaneous Short Papers should be sent to me on steve.walton@cantab.net, and not to this address.

We very much look forward to seeing you in Twickenham in September.

Best wishes,

Steve

Professor Steve Walton
Secretary, British New Testament Society

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CALL FOR PAPERS: BRITISH NEW TESTAMENT CONFERENCE 2018
St Mary’s University, Twickenham (London), 6-8 September 2018

Proposals for papers are invited for the British New Testament Conference 2018 to be held in Twickenham, London from Thursday 6 to Saturday 8 September. Paper proposals with a title and an abstract of not more than 300 words should be sent directly to the relevant Seminar chairs by Friday 20 April 2018. Proposals for the Simultaneous Short Paper session should be sent to the Secretary, Professor Steve Walton (steve.walton@cantab.net). Specific seminar contact details and calls for papers are below.

The Book of Acts
Sean Adams (sean.adams@glasgow.ac.uk)
Matthew Sleeman (matthews@oakhill.ac.uk) We welcome seminar papers approaching Acts from a variety of angles and using a variety of methods: historical, literary, textual-critical, theological, archaeological, the social world, possible links/parallels with other biblical and ancient writings, and so on. We also include topics for discussion which relate Acts to the wider contexts of Luke-Acts and the Pauline corpus, where they are relevant and helpful to the study of Acts. Offers of papers are welcome both from research students (this is a great opportunity to ‘try out’ your ideas) and from more established scholars.

The Acts and Synoptic Gospels seminar groups are happy to announce that they will be having a joint session as one of our three sessions scheduled for the 2018 Conference. In light of this collaboration, we are particularly interested in receiving paper proposals that engage with the theme of rhetoric in Luke-Acts. If you are interested in offering a paper for this joint session, please email either the co-chairs of the Synoptic Gospels or Acts groups. Papers may require a full seminar session for discussion (90 minutes) or take half a session (45 minutes).
We make papers available on the British New Testament Society web site a few weeks before the conference so that seminar members can read them in advance. At the seminar, the paper’s author presents a 10-15 minute summary before discussion, in order to maximise discussion time in the seminar.

Hebrews
David Moffitt (dm206@st-andrews.ac.uk)
Loveday Alexander ‎(l.c.alexander@sheffield.ac.uk)
Whilst papers on any topic relating to Hebrews will be considered, the Hebrews Group particularly invites proposals relating to the topic of the interpretation of the tabernacle (heavenly and/or earthly) in Hebrews.

Jesus
Helen Bond (h.bond@ed.ac.uk)
Justin Meggitt (jjm1000@cam.ac.uk)

Johannine Literature
Cornelis Bennema (cbennema@ust.ac.uk)
Andy Byers (a.j.byers@durham.ac.uk)
The Johannine Literature seminar invites papers on the Gospel of John and/or the Johannine Epistles. Offers of papers are welcome both from established scholars and from research students and the seminar provides an excellent opportunity for feedback from experts in the field.

Usually, one full session is dedicated to the discussion of a major paper by invitation. In the remaining two sessions, there is scope for four to five papers. Papers are normally 30 minutes, allowing time for questions and discussion, but shorter papers of 20 minutes are also welcome.

The Book of Revelation
Michelle Fletcher (michelle.fletcher@kcl.ac.uk)
Garrick Allen (garrick.allen@dcu.ie)

New Testament and Early Christianity
Dominika Kurek-Chomycz ‎(kurekcd@hope.ac.uk)
Francis Watson (francis.watson@dur.ac.uk)
The New Testament texts exist within the much broader phenomenon of early Christianity as a whole, and this seminar is concerned especially with aspects of the total phenomenon that go beyond the New Testament. These include non-canonical texts (e.g. the so-called Apostolic Fathers, New Testament Apocrypha, Old Testament Pseudepigrapha in Christian usage, Nag Hammadi and associated literature, early patristic texts); and wider historical themes (e.g. orthodoxy and heresy, canon formation, gender, ritual, identity, martyrdom, social setting, material culture).

In 2018, we plan to hold: (1) an open session; (2) a thematic session on martyrdom; (3) an invited paper session on Jesus’ resurrection in the Epistula Apostolorum. For sessions (1) and (2) we invite paper proposals along the lines of the goals of the seminar. For all panels, the abstract should state the paper’s thesis and outline the approach that will be taken.

New Testament and Second Temple Judaism
Susan Docherty (S.E.Docherty@newman.ac.uk)
Matthew Novenson (matthew.novenson@ed.ac.uk)
For the 2018 meeting, we will have a session on current research on 1 Enoch (presenters including Sofanit Abebe and Elena Dugan), a review panel, held jointly with the Paul Seminar, on Jamie Davies’s Paul among the Apocalypses? (Bloomsbury T. & T. Clark, 2016) (reviewers including Elizabeth Shively and Crispin Fletcher-Louis), and one open-call session. For the open-call session, we invite paper proposals on any topic pertinent to the study of the New Testament and Second Temple Judaism.

New Testament: Use and Influence
Alison Jack (a.jack@ed.ac.uk)
John Lyons (w.j.lyons@bristol.ac.uk)
This year, the seminar will offer one ‘open call’ session, for which we would welcome proposals on any topic regarding the use and influence of the NT. The second session will involve an open invitation to BNTC attendees to participate in an organised project session (details of theme to follow). The third session will feature a round-table open discussion on the future/British NT Society future of reception history of the NT.

Paul
Peter Oakes (peter.oakes@manchester.ac.uk)
Dorothee Bertschmann (d.h.bertschmann@durham.ac.uk)
Papers are invited on any aspect of Pauline literature for the two open call sessions. We shall spend one session on a review panel held jointly with the NT and Second Temple Judaism seminar, on Jamie Davies’s Paul among the Apocalypses? (Bloomsbury T. & T. Clark, 2016).

Synoptic Gospels
Andy Angel (vicar@standrewsbh.org.uk)
Elizabeth Shively (ees3@st-andrews.ac.uk)
This year we focus on the intersection of the study of rhetoric and the Synoptic Gospels. First, we plan a joint session with the Book of Acts Seminar for which we invite proposals dealing with various aspects of the study of rhetoric in Luke-Acts. Second, we invite proposals dealing with various aspects of the study of rhetoric in the Synoptic Gospels. Third, we invite proposals on any topic on the Synoptic Gospels for an open session. Paper proposals for the joint session on rhetoric and Luke-Acts and should be sent to Elizabeth Shively. Paper proposals for the Synoptic Gospels sessions should be sent to Andy Angel or Elizabeth Shively, co-chairs of the Synoptic Gospels Seminar.

Simultaneous Short Papers
Steve Walton (steve.walton@cantab.net)
Proposals for 20-25 minute papers are invited for the simultaneous short papers session. Preference will be given to papers that do not easily fit into one of the established seminar groups. Proposing the same paper for this section and one of the seminar groups is not permitted.

«Gottes kräftiger Anspruch» : Die Barmer Theologische Erklärung als reformierter Schlüsseltext

Die sechs Thesen der Barmer Theologischen Erklärung von 1934 gehören zum protestantischen Traditionsgut. Aber wie vital sind sie eigentlich? Die Autorinnen und Autoren dieses Bandes konzentrieren sich auf das reformierte Profil der Barmer Thesen. Was heisst es heute, dass Jesus Christus das eine Wort Gottes ist? Was, ihn als «Gottes kräftigen Anspruch» auf unser ganzes Leben zu bekennen? Warum fehlen die Juden in diesem Text und mit welchen Folgen? Welchen Beitrag leisten die Thesen zur politischen Ethik? Die weltweite Rezeption der Barmer Theologischen Erklärung kommt ebenso zur Sprache wie die brisante Frage, ob und mit welchem Anspruch heute noch bestimmte Glaubenspositionen verworfen werden können. Alle Aspekte kreisen um die zentrale Frage: Warum sollen wir heute «Barmen» noch lesen, diskutieren, bekennen?

TVZ sent a review copy.

The central question which occupies the present volume is a simple one: is the Barmen Declaration still useful?

In an attempt to answer this question, the contributors first describe and discuss the six theses of which the Declaration is comprised (Part 1).  Then a consideration of the Declaration’s biblical and historical contexts is proffered (Part 2).  And then finally the ‘reception history’ (for lack of a better umbrella term) is examined (Part 3).

The volume concludes with an index of biblical texts and a brief bio of the collection’s authors.

The essays here collected were originally papers delivered in Bern at a series of lectures commemorating the 80th anniversary of the Declaration.  Fourteen essays by as many authors cover the topics described above and some of the contributors are ‘super-stars’ in the historical theology field.  These include Gottfried Wilhelm Locher, Peter Opitz, and Peter Winzeler.

A book of this sort will interest many, and since the table of contents is the open window on the volume’s intention, I include a couple of photos of the full TOC (since they aren’t online):

IMG_4033

IMG_4034

As can be seen, the essays all cohere around the theme of the work.  They are uniformly well written and very helpful indeed- not only in assessing the ongoing relevance of the Declaration but in setting the text in its historical setting.

I feel quite comfortable in recommending this volume and it isn’t saying too much if I suggest that readers will thoroughly enjoy it.  I did.  It begins with the right tone and carries that tone to the conclusion.  The font is lovely and the several photographs of the Declaration which open the work are very interesting indeed given their marginalia.

And, just on the off chance that readers of this review are not sure of the content of the Barmen Theological Declaration- here it is:

In view of the errors of the “German Christians” and of the present Reich Church Administration, which are ravaging the Church and at the same time also shattering the unity of the German Evangelical Church, we confess the following evangelical truths:

1. “I am the Way and the Truth and the Life; no one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6

“Very truly, I tell you, anyone who does not enter the sheepfold through the gate but climbs in by another way is a thief and a bandit. I am the gate. Whoever enters by me will be saved.” John 10:1,9

Jesus Christ, as he is attested to us in Holy Scripture, is the one Word of God whom we have to hear, and whom we have to trust and obey in life and in death.

We reject the false doctrine that the Church could and should recognize as a source of its proclamation, beyond and besides this one Word of God, yet other events, powers, historic figures and truths as God’s revelation.

2. “Jesus Christ has been made wisdom and righteousness and sanctification and redemption for us by God.” 1 Cor. 1:30

As Jesus Christ is God’s comforting pronouncement of the forgiveness of all our sins, so, with equal seriousness, he is also God’s vigorous announcement of his claim upon our whole life. Through him there comes to us joyful liberation from the godless ties of this world for free, grateful service to his creatures.

We reject the false doctrine that there could be areas of our life in which we would not belong to Jesus Christ but to other lords, areas in which we would not need justification and sanctification through him.

3. “Let us, however, speak the truth in love, and in every respect grow into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body is joined together.” Eph. 4:15-16

The Christian Church is the community of brethren in which, in Word and Sacrament, through the Holy Spirit, Jesus Christ acts in the present as Lord. With both its faith and its obedience, with both its message and its order, it has to testify in the midst of the sinful world, as the Church of pardoned sinners, that it belongs to him alone and lives and may live by his comfort and under his direction alone, in expectation of his appearing.

We reject the false doctrine that the Church could have permission to hand over the form of its message and of its order to whatever it itself might wish or to the vicissitudes of the prevailing ideological and political convictions of the day.

4. “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. It will not be so among you; but whoever wishes to have authority over you must be your servant.” Matt. 20:25-26

The various offices in the Church do not provide a basis for some to exercise authority over others but for the ministry [lit., “service”] with which the whole community has been entrusted and charged to be carried out.

We reject the false doctrine that, apart from this ministry, the Church could, and could have permission to, give itself or allow itself to be given special leaders [Führer] vested with ruling authority.

5. “Fear God. Honor the Emperor.” 1 Pet. 2:17

Scripture tells us that by divine appointment the State, in this still unredeemed world in which also the Church is situated, has the task of maintaining justice and peace, so far as human discernment and human ability make this possible, by means of the threat and use of force. The Church acknowledges with gratitude and reverence toward God the benefit of this, his appointment. It draws attention to God’s Dominion [Reich], God’s commandment and justice, and with these the responsibility of those who rule and those who are ruled. It trusts and obeys the power of the Word, by which God upholds all things.

We reject the false doctrine that beyond its special commission the State should and could become the sole and total order of human life and so fulfil the vocation of the Church as well.

We reject the false doctrine that beyond its special commission the Church should and could take on the nature, tasks and dignity which belong to the State and thus become itself an organ of the State.

6. “See, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matt. 28:20 “God’s Word is not fettered.” 2 Tim. 2:9

The Church’s commission, which is the foundation of its freedom, consists in this: in Christ’s stead, and so in the service of his own Word and work, to deliver all people, through preaching and sacrament, the message of the free grace of God.

We reject the false doctrine that with human vainglory the Church could place the Word and work of the Lord in the service of self-chosen desires, purposes and plans.

The Confessing Synod of the German Evangelical Church declares that it sees in the acknowledgment of these truths and in the rejection of these errors the indispensable theological basis of the German Evangelical Church as a confederation of Confessing Churches. It calls upon all who can stand in solidarity with its Declaration to be mindful of these theological findings in all their decisions concerning Church and State. It appeals to all concerned to return to unity in faith, hope and love.

Verbum Dei manet in aeternum.
The Word of God will last for ever.

The declaration’s final word is true of Scripture, and it may also be true of this important document.  Our volume faithfully informs us of its abiding significance and if history, as they say, repeats itself, we can expect the Declaration to retain its importance for as long as human history continues.

‘A Good Guy With a Gun can stop a Bad Guy With a Gun’…

Except the police will shoot that guy because all they see is a gun

Police in Amarillo shot an innocent man who helped foil a possible church shooting.

The shooting happened shortly after 9 a.m. Feb. 14 at the Faith City Mission, a faith-based outreach organization. Police said Joshua Len Jones, 35, of Amarillo, barged into a church building at Faith City Mission, pulled out a gun and was holding about 100 congregants and church staff hostage.

In the time between when police were dispatched and when officers arrived, a handful of churchgoers wrestled Jones to the ground. One of the congregants was able to grab Jones’ gun.

Etc…….

Today With Luther: His view of Large Churches, and Singing in Them

luther_wartburgAfterward there was mention of large churches which are not suited to preaching. “Cologne has a cathedral [Martin Luther said] that is so large that it has four rows of columns, each row consisting of twenty columns. These are extraordinary buildings, but they aren’t suitable for listening to sermons. Good, modest churches with low arches are the best for preachers and for listeners, for the ultimate object of these buildings is not the bellowing and bawling of choristers but the Word of God and its proclamation. The cathedral of St. Peter in Rome and the cathedrals in Cologne and Ulm are very large but inappropriate.”

I love Luther’s “the ultimate object of these buildings is not the bellowing and bawling of choristers but the Word of God and its proclamation

Bellowing and bawling.  No phrase has ever captured the true nature of most of what passes for singing in churches better.

Calvin Planned the Wedding Before He Had a Bride

Calvin wanted a wife. He asked several of his friends to help him find one- but he especially depended on Farel to do it. So he wrote him

“Would that it were permitted me to pour out my feelings on your friendly bosom, and again to hear your advice, that we might be better prepared! You have the best opportunity for coming hither, if our hopes respecting the marriage be accomplished, for we expect the maiden immediately after Easter. But if you will really promise me to come, the ceremony shall be put off till your arrival, there being still time enough to let you know the day. First then, I ask it of you, as the greatest kindness, to come; next, that you write word definitively that you will come, for it is necessary, at all events, that some one come to bless the marriage. I would fain however have no one but you. Consider therefore whether I seem worth enough to you to undertake this journey.”

It almost sounds like he is engaged, doesn’t it? Except he isn’t. There isn’t even a prospective wife at this point.

In another letter to Farel, dated June 21, 1540 (MSS. Gen.), there is a strange piece of news respecting the approaching marriage. The time was fixed, Farel invited, but still no bride was there. “The bride is not yet found, and I doubt whether I shall continue to seek one. Claudius and my brother formed a contract for me with a young lady; but three days after they returned, something was told me which induced me to send my brother back, in order to loose me from the engagement.”*

Of course he did eventually marry. But, and this is fair to say, he was a strange dude.

___________
*Paul Henry and Henry Stebbing, The Life and Times of John Calvin, the Great Reformer, vol. 1 (New York: Robert Carter & Brothers, 1851), 260–261.