more new books: USPS edition

joy once again filled my heart as I commenced upon my mailbox at the post office and the package I was wating for had arrived – the package from IVP that is!  what were it’s contents you ask?  two books! 

John Walton’s The Lost World of Genesis One: Ancient Cosmology and the Origens Debate (IVP Academic, 2009)!  

Genesis OneHere is the publisher blurb – (you can see some excerpts from the book at the IVP website):

In this astute mix of cultural critique and biblical studies, John H. Walton presents and defends twenty propositions supporting a literary and theological understanding of Genesis 1 within the context of the ancient Near Eastern world and unpacks its implications for our modern scientific understanding of origins.

Ideal for students, professors, pastors and lay readers with an interest in the intelligent design controversy and creation-evolution debates, Walton’s thoughtful analysis unpacks seldom appreciated aspects of the biblical text and sets Bible-believing scientists free to investigate the question of origins.

This will most likely be reviewed sooner rather than later! 

Ivan Satyavrata’s The Holy Spirit: Lord and Life Giver (IVP Academic, 2009)!   Dr. Satyavrata is presently the J. Philip Hogan professor of World Mission at the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary, which is a one year appointment (2009-2010) that involves teaching and overseeing the doctoral programs in missions.  Part of the appointment too is to write a monograph on some aspect of missions.  

Here is a publisher’s blurb (you can see excerpts from the book at the IVP Website):

The Holy SpiritThe past two centuries have seen a slow but definite turning away from enlightenment dismissal of the spiritual realm, and a new openness to spiritual realities, including the work of God the Holy Spirit, has emerged.

Theologian Ivan Satyavrata believes that while there is much to celebrate in this focus on the Spirit and his workings after several centuries of relative neglect, there is a pressing need to relate our present experience of the Spirit to the teaching of God’s Word.  In a context of growing cultural and religious plurality, how can we recognize where and how the Holy Spirit is present and at work today?  This is a task to which this book is devoted.

As a theologian and leader of the church in India, Ivan Satyavrata brings a unique perspective to our understanding of the work of the Holy Spirit throughout the world.  His voice makes a strong contribution to the Christian Doctrine in Global Perspective series, which is edited by David Smith with consulting editor John Stott and provides intercultural exposition of key tenets of Christian belief by leading international evangelical thinkers.

This too will probably be read and reviewed sooner rather than later! 

John Calvin’s 500th Birthday

is today, July 10th, 2009. 

CS009556Well now, how many other people do you know who are still influencing much of the church and whose books are still being printed and read and discussed SOME 500 YEARS later?!  Right, not too many.  Very few in fact.   Whether I agree with him or not, or in some aspects and not others, in many ways he was and probably still is one of the single greatest Christian exegetes and systematic theologians of all time.  Period.  Who else comes close? 

Now, mind you, I am not of the Reformed way of thinking (read: not a Calvinist) but that don’t mean we can’t respect another’s genius.  

Especially as a Pentecostal I can respect that he had a profound theology of the Holy Spirit and the Spirit’s sanctifying work in the life of the believer.  Honestly, that’s saying a lot more than many in present day Reformed circles who claim to follow Calvin yet hardly mention, let alone give much place, to the person and work of the Holy Spirit (I know there are some Reformed Charismatics but they are small comparatively speaking).  

Ben Witherington notes in his tribute to Calvin today about “a rather interesting historical curio” he read once that could have suggested Calvin may have spoke in tongues(that he woke up one day speaking “lingua barbaria”)!  Wouldn’t that have been something?  Well, we can’t take that too far but still it would have been astonishing nonetheless! 

Abram Kuyper (1837-1920) credited Calvin as being one of the greatest commentators on the Holy Spirit.   In his book, The Work of the Holy Spirit, Kuyper wrote:

The doctrine of the work of the Holy Spirit is a gift from John Calvin to the Church of Christ.  He did not, of course, invent it. The whole of it lay spread out on the pages of Scripture with a clearness and fullness of utterance which one would think would secure that even he who ran should read it; and doubtless he who ran did read it, and it has fed the soul of the true believer in all ages.

Kuyper added.

Luther rose to proclaim justification by faith, and Calvin to set forth with his marvelous balance the whole doctrine of the work of the Spirit in applying salvation to the soul. (source)

With that, here are some of Calvin’s thoughts on the person and work of the Holy Spirit from his Institutes:

What, then, is our Savior’s meaning in commanding baptism to be administered in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, if it be not that we are to believe with one faith in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit?

If, then, we would consult most effectually for our consciences, and save them from being driven about in a whirl of uncertainty, from wavering, and even stumbling at the smallest obstacle, our conviction of the truth of Scripture must be derived from a higher source than human conjectures, Judgments, or reasons; namely, the secret testimony of the Spirit.

For as God alone can properly bear witness to his own words, so these words will not obtain full credit in the hearts of men, until they are sealed by the inward testimony of the Spirit. The same Spirit, therefore, who spoke by the mouth of the prophets, must penetrate our hearts, in order to convince us that they faithfully delivered the message with which they were divinely entrusted.

Hence it is easy to understand that we must give diligent heed both to the reading and hearing of Scripture, if we would obtain any benefit from the Spirit of God … and, on the contrary, that any spirit which passes by the wisdom of God’s Word, and suggests any other doctrine, is deservedly suspected of vanity and falsehood. Since Satan transforms himself into an angel of light, what authority can the Spirit have with us if he be not ascertained by an infallible mark?

When Paul says to the Thessalonians, “Quench not the Spirit,” he does not carry them aloft to empty speculation apart from the word; he immediately adds, “Despise not prophesying.” By this, doubtless, he intimates that the light of the Spirit is quenched the moment prophesying fall into contempt. How is this answered by those swelling enthusiasts, in whose idea the only true illumination consists, in carelessly laying aside, and bidding adieu to the Word of God, while, with no less confidence than folly, they fasten upon any dreaming notion which may have casually sprung up in their minds? Surely a very different sobriety becomes the children of God.

Here are a couple on the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit:

For where the Spirit of God rules not, the lusts sometimes so burst forth, as to threaten to drown the soul subjected to them in forgetfulness and contempt of God; and so they would, did not God interpose with this remedy.

To Christians the Spirit of the Lord is not a turbulent phantom, which they themselves have produced by dreaming, or received ready-made by others; but they religiously seek the knowledge of him from Scripture, where two things are taught concerning him; first, that he is given to us for sanctification, that he may purge us from all iniquity and defilement, and bring us to the obedience of divine righteousness, an obedience which cannot exist unless the lusts to which these men would give loose reins are tamed and subdued; secondly, that though purged by his sanctification, we are still beset by many vices and much weakness, so long as we are enclosed in the prison of the body. Thus it is, that placed at a great distance from perfection, we must always be endeavoring to make some progress, and daily struggling with the evil by which we are entangled. Hence, too, it follows, that, shaking off sloth and security, we must be intently vigilant, so as not to be taken unawares in the snares of our flesh …

Go here to see some more quotes from Calvin on the Holy Spirit. 

So, good for Calvin!  I pray those who follow him would take up a more sure and steadfast emphasis on the Holy Spirit and his work in the life of the believer and the church.

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?

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.