Gordon Fee on “the center” of Pauline theology

Though Gordon Fee wrote his massive work on Paul’s theology of the Holy Spirit way back in 1994 titled God’s Empowering Presence: The Holy Spirit in the Letters of Paul (Hendrickson, 1994), he discusses why he thinks “the center” of Paul’s theology remains elusive.  If I understand correctly, this center is still under debate and still as elusive today as it always has been.  He writes on page 12:

It is my conviction that the reason the center is so “elusive” is that Paul’s theology covers too much ground for one to simplify it into a single phrase.  It would seem far better for us to isolate the essential elements of his theology that lie at the very heart of matters for Paul and around which all other concerns cluster.  In such a view, at least four items must be included:

  • The church as an eschatological community, which compirses the new covenant people of God;
  • The eschatological framework of God’s people’s existence and thinking;
  • Their being constituted by God’s eschatological salvation effected through the death and resurrection of Christ;
  • Their focus on Jesus as Messiah, Lord, and Son of God.

To put it another way:

  • The foundation: A gracious and merciful God, who is full of love toward all.
  • The framework: Eschatological exzistence as already but not yet.
  • The focus: Jesus, the Son of God, who as God’s suffering servant Messiah effected eschatological salvation for humanity through his death and resurrection, and is now the exalted Lord and coming King.
  • The fruit: The church as an eschatological community, who, consistituted byt Christ’s death and the gift of the Spirit, and this restored into God’s likeness, form God’s new coveant people.

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Note: unless I missed it, I didn’t see “justification by faith” anywhere on the list….  not that it isn’t important but is it possible we over play that card?

Psalm of the Day: 16:11

 WTT Psalm 16:11

 תּֽוֹדִיעֵנִי֘ אֹ֤רַח חַ֫יִּ֥ים שֹׂ֣בַע שְׂ֭מָחוֹת אֶת־פָּנֶ֑יךָ נְעִמ֖וֹת בִּימִינְךָ֣ נֶֽצַח׃

 

Psalm 16:11 (NAS-U)

You will make known to me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; In Your right hand there are pleasures forever.

 

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This verse has been on my mind lately.  In part it says “In your presence there is fullness of joy!” Do we have fullness of joy in God’s presence?  I’ll admit I do not always have fullness of joy – but it is good when I do.  When I do, like the Psalmist, it is because I make the effort to trust in God alone and not other gods or other means of living – it only comes when we rely on the Lord- joy comes too when we choose to walk in his guidance and direction for our lives – its when I choose to go a different way that I lose the joy of living.   When I know the Lord is always with me, I can have that sense of joy despite whatever my circumstances may be.  It is then he shows me the path of life and it is then, that in his presence, there is fullness of joy!  I pray you will also experience joy in God’s presence.. 

Video Review: TNIV Reference Bible

Okay so here goes – I finally got the video up that I said I would do uploaded – warts and all!

Feel free to comment (please no rude or disrespectful or sarcastic comments (I could give you plenty of my own!) – they will be deleted). Please know also I am hearing imparied so that will explain the hearing aide and my speech. Also, I think some of the features I tried point out really aren’t that big a deal as lots of Bibles do that (you’ll know when you see it).

T. F. Torrance on the task of Christology

Beginning in chapter one of his book Incarnation: The Person and Life of Christ (pages 1-2) it reads:

christ31Our task in christology is to yield the obedience of our mind to what is given, which is God’s self revelation in its objective reality, Jesus Christ.  A primary and basic fact which we discover here is this: that the object of our knowledge gives itself to us to be apprehended.  It does that within our mundane exisitence, within our worldly history and all its contingency, but it does that also beyond the limits of previous expereince and ordinary thought, beyond the range of what is regarded by human standards as empirically possible.  Thus, when we encounter God in Jesus Christ, the truth comes to us in its own authority and self sufficiency.  It comes into our experience and into the midst of our knowlege as a novum, a new reality which we cannot incorporate into the series of other objects, or simply assimilate to what we already know….

And yet Jesus Christ gives himself to be known as the object of our experience and knowledge, within our history and within our human existence – but when we know him there, we know him in terms of himself.  We know him out of pure grace as one who gives himself to us and freely discloses himself to us.  We cannot earn knowledge of Christ, we cannot achieve it, or build up to it.  We have no capacity or power in ourselves giving us the ability to have mastery over this fact.  In the very act of our knowing Christ he is the master, we are the mastered.  He manifests himself and gives himself to us by his own power and agency, by his Holy Spirit, and in the very act of knowing him we ascribe all the possiblity of our knowing him to Christ alone, and none of it to ourselves.

But let us note: it is only when we actually know Christ, know him as our personal saviour and Lord, that we know that we have not chosen him but that he has chosen us; that it is not in virtue of our own capacity to give ourselves the power to know him; that it is not in virtue of our own power or our own capacity that he gives us to know him, but in virtue of his power to reveal himself to us and to enable us to know him; that is, faith itself is the gift of God.  Or let me put that in another way; when we know God in Christ, we do not congratulate ourselves on our own powers of intuition or discovery, and pat ourselves on the back because we have been able to see that there is more in Jesus than meets the eye, that God is there himself.  No, we do the exact opposite: we acknowledge that in knowing God in Christ, we do so not by our own power, but by the power of God.

one more book: Pentecostal Theology

pentecostal-theology2Okay, so I said in my last post I was not going to get anymore books since I now have so much reading to do I don’t know how I am going to get it done.  Well… I forgot (briefly) I had attempted to request Keith Warrington’s recent book Pentecostal Theology: A Theology of Experience (Paperback)(T&T Clark, 2008) from the folks at Continuum.   It was in the mail today! It looks to be a pretty interesting read.  I requested to get it because I wanted to have some more reading in Pentecostal Theology since the significant majority of my books and reading is primarily in Evangelical works – I wanted a balance.   Also, you can learn more about the author at his website.

Here is the description from the continuum website:

Pentecostals (traditionally) do not think theologically so much as do it practically. This book will present Pentecostal theology as well as the particular style of Pentecostal thinking and praxis that makes it different. Pentecostalism is not just distinctive because of its belief base but also because of the worldview it owns. The latter is based on a certainty that a religion that does not work is not worth much. Consequently, they look for expressions of life and vitality in their faith. These dominate, rather than an expression of the cerebral, though this is changing. Nevertheless, the sense of the immediate, the God of the now not the distant past, underlie how they do theology.

Pentecostal theology tends to be seen through the eyes of people, not theologians; through the community, not traditions (though they have them); through their faith and worship, not ancient creeds. It is a theology of the dynamic, seen through the lens of experience. It is a functional theology that exists to operate; to incorporate an experiential dimension. Pentecostal theology does not operate as other theologies which often only detail a list of beliefs; it does this but also and (more) importantly, it explores them in the context of praxis. Thus, this volume incorporates praxis as part of the enquiry relating to theology.

Table of Contents:

1. History Beginnings Global Perspectives Growth Areas Creeds
2. Theology/Praxis – The nature and Attributes of God Similarity with Evangelical Theology Creation Trinity Angels/Demons Providence/Sovereignty Miracles Good/Evil
3. The Person and Ministry of Christ Similarity with Evangelical Theology Nature of Christ Relationship with the Spirit
4. The Person and Ministry of the Spirit Roles of the Spirit Ministry of the Spirit Baptism in the Spirit Gifts of the Spirit Healing
5. Exorcism Prophecy Tongues and Interpretation
6. The Bible Authority/Infallibility/Inerrancy Hermeneutics Preaching
7. Redemption and its Application Death of Christ Justification Law and Spirit
8. The Church Models of Church Leadership Sacraments Baptism in Water Lord’s Supper
9. Footwashing Worship Corporate Aspects
10. Prayer
11. Praise Song

Now, tell me this doesn’t sound interesting.  It does indeed.  Look forward to a review forthcoming.   NOW, I can say, no more books till get all this reading done!

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You can preview the book here.

couple more new books – Crossway edition

I got a newsletter from Crossway Publishers the other day and at the end of it it said if you want to review a copy to just ask – so I did and Saturday I got two more new books:

Here is the publisher’s blurb:

In his third book of daily meditations, Sam Storms urges readers to not just enter into God’s Word but to take the next step toward knowing him and his Word better. And the book of Psalms, Storms believes, is a great place to start, because Psalms is so popular and so very relevant to our experiences today.

In More Precious Than Gold, Storms combines years of life experience and his biblical and theological training to bring readers 50 brief, daily meditations that are both stylistically accessible and theologically substantive. Each meditation includes a historical or theological reflection on the psalm in context, a story that brings it alive, and creative tools to support the key idea. Storms also interweaves the words of such luminaries as Charles Spurgeon, Jonathan Edwards, and John Piper to help readers better understand the concepts that are featured throughout Psalms: worship, prayer, joy, forgiveness, steadfast love, mercy, sin’s consequences, the law of the Lord, and our relationship with our enemies.

Like the Psalter, Storms doesn’t shy away from the tough issues. Instead, he encourages readers to experience through these daily meditations what he and generations of Christians have found to be true: that the whole of the Christian faith is about lifting God higher and magnifying his name—even during difficult times.

Here’s the publisher’s blurb:

Uses Jesus’ words and actions found in the New Testament to systematically evaluate his rhetorical stylings, drawing real lessons from his teachings that today’s readers can employ.

Jesus of Nazareth never wrote a book, held political office, or wielded a sword. He never gained sway with the mighty or influential. He never took up arms against the governing powers in Rome. He was a lower-class worker who died an excruciating death at the age of thirty-three. Yet, in spite of all odds—obscurity, powerlessness, and execution—his words revolutionized human history.

How to Argue Like Jesus examines the life and words of Jesus and describes the various ways in which he sought—through the spoken word, his life, and his disciples—to reach others with his message. The authors then pull some very simple rhetorical lessons from Jesus’ life that readers can use today.

Both Christian and non-Christian leaders in just about any field can improve their ability to communicate effectively by studying the words and methods of history’s greatest communicator.

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This will be the end of my book acquisitions for some time as I have some pretty substantial reading and writing of reviews to do.   The one on the Psalms I will be using as I try to preach through some Psalms on Sunday nights.  The other one seemed interesting so I wanted to check it out.

New Book: Linguistics for Students of New Testament Greek.

linguistics2I now have an autographed copy of Dave Black’s book Lingusitics for Students of New Testament Greek: A Survey of Basic Concepts and Applications (Baker Academic, 1995) Courtesy of the author himself – in exchange for a review on the blog of course! And indeed – I’ll get it done quick as I can.  

You can find some more of Dave Black books here.  At least one that is missing from that page is a recent one he edited on the ending of Mark and also that his Greek Grammar has been updated and now has an accompaning workbook

As I already noted in a  previous post:  (consider this as an intital review).

I think this is an important topic and I appreciate that he integrates even basic aspects of linguistics into his Greek Grammar as well.  More than knowing how to read NT Greek, we need to know how a language works and having some understanding of linguistics principles is part of that process. 

In his introduction he asks, “what is it good for?” 

When we study linguistics we are learning how to put the Greek language in its rightful place as a part – perhaps the most technical part – in the text of the New Testament.  Through exposure and practice, we can acquire a broader, more confident command of New Testament Greek.  We can learn why the future of εχω has the rough breathing – an apparent “exception”; why the reduplication of τιθημι “breaks the rules” (it should be θιθημι); how the so-called irregular verbs such as Βαινω are based on consistent linguistic principles; why εργον and work are only superficially different in form.

But more importantly, the study of linguistics can contribute greatly to our understanding of the meaning of the New Testament.   It can help us become more aware of why we understand a text the way we do when we read it, and it can help us talk about the text more precisely, by providing us with a methodology through which we can show how interpretation is in part derived from grammatical considerations.  Linguistics may also solve problems of interpretation by showing us why one meaning is possible but not another.  Above all, however, linguistics can give us a point of view, a way of looking at the text that will help give us consistent analysis, and prompt us to ask questions about the language of the text that we might have otherwise overlooked (pg 3). 

If I had another initial impression of the book – seems to me it could use an reprinting with Dr. Black’s bio on the back updated since I don’t think he’s teaching at Fuller and GGBTS and Talbot, etc but I suppose something like that is both trivial and costly.   He’s at SEBTS now.  

Reading books like this one is one way a busy Pastor can attempt tp stay on top of his or her Greek (along with reading it often) and even help keep understanding of Greek moving forward. 

Thank you Dave Black!

aGts now has its own PhD program

From the AG Website:

agts_logoDr. Byron Klaus, president of the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary, announced that the seminary has recently been approved to offer the Ph.D. in Intercultural Studies, beginning with the start of the June 2009 semester.

The newly approved Ph.D. is the third doctoral degree to be offered by AGTS, following the Doctor of Ministry (D. Min.) and the Doctor of Missiology.  However, the Ph.D. in Intercultural Studies is the first independently offered Ph.D. by any AG educational institution.

“A Ph.D. is the standard of doctoral excellence,” Klaus states. “To have achieved that is a significant feat, and it demonstrates the commitment of AGTS to excellence in graduate theological education.”

Klaus explains that the degree’s focus will be on equipping missiologists for research, teaching and missional praxis (putting skills/ideas into action) in an increasingly complex multicultural world.  It will also give “credible voice” to scholar practitioners, missionaries and national leaders.

According to Klaus, AGTS has historically been connected to resourcing the missionary endeavors of AG World Missions, beginning back with the late AGWM Director Philip Hogan.  “And here, 35 years later,” Klaus notes, “the same kind of commitment is being displayed at the very highest possible level.”

Although the letter from the accrediting agency only arrived this past Tuesday, Klaus says that there is no shortage of interest.  AG missionaries, missionaries from other Pentecostal organizations as well as international students are greatly interested in this new degree.  “This Ph.D. is a respected degree throughout the world,” Klaus says, “and it will aid missionaries in obtaining visas to other countries.”

AGTS is located in Springfield, Missouri, and is accredited regionally by the Higher Learning Commission and is a member of the North Central Association (www.ncahlc.org).  Additionally, AGTS is accredited by the Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada (www.ats.edu) .

To learn more about the new Ph.D., contact Dr. Delonn Rance or Dr. Warren Newberry at 1-800-467-AGTS (2487) or send an e-mail to wnewberry@agts.edu.  For more information about AGTS, see its Web site.

As the article says, this is the first independent PhD program in any of the Assemblies of God Schools – and reflects the missionary heart of the Assemblies of God (as does having the Doctor of Missiology program), which is as it has been from the begining of its inception in 1914!  This is a great move for the Seminary and for the Assemblies of God.