Friday, December 28, 2012

Christian Books of the Year: A blog digest

There are many "Top 10 lists" appearing, since of course the year is coming to an end.  Many of these lists on the Christian blogosphere are "Top 10 Christian Books of the Year" lists.  I note a few here in annotated/digest form that may be helpful.

Jesus Creed (Scot McKnight) provides a varied list, including, science and faith, theology, reference, etc. 

Phil Long over on Reading Acts includes his "opinions" of the best biblical studies books of the year, including, OT, Second Temple, and a few divisions of the NT.  He says that these are also "books I have personally read and found useful" (I like that approach - its just too easy to suggest a book).

Unsettled Christianity: Joel Watts assembles an interesting list that will probably not reach as broad an audience as the other lists, but is worth a look.  Mostly NT oriented with a smattering of historical and some hermeneutical studies.

Christianity Today: Many books listed here from many categories; theology to fiction, mission to culture.  I was happy to see my former professor C. John "Jack" Collins was honored for his Did Adam and Eve Really Exist?: Who They Were and Why You Should Care (Crossway).  And J. Todd Billings was also honored for the much needed scholarship on union with Christ in his book Union with Christ: Reframing Theology and Ministry for the Church.

The Gospel Coalition:  TGC staff weighs in and picks up to three books of 2012 each.  One of note is J.P. Moreland's 15th anniversary edition of Love Your God With All of Your Mind.  This was a very impactful book in my journey, and I am glad to hear that it has been revisited by Moreland and that IVP republished this work for a new generation.   

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas!

Today is the day of the year that we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, and we reorient our worship towards the Son and realign our mission with the Father's mission through the son, to redeem all things to Himself (Col. 1).  Let that be our driving force today, and December 26th, 2012, and so on!

Blessings in our newly born King and Lord, Jesus!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Intellectual Humility

I have always profited from this quote from John Calvin:

“There is no worse screen to block out the Spirit than confidence in our own intelligence.” 

Over on the Jesus Creed blog, Scot McKnight quotes a portion of a larger article by W. Jay Wood, long-time professor of philosophy at Wheaton College, that asks"How Might Intellectual Humility Lead to Scientific Insight?"

This is a great reminder of the knowledge lost by hubris and stubbornness.  I am glad for reminders such as this from our leading scholars.

One thing I would add:  I have yet to read Wood's article beyond a skim, but I hear an imperative in McKnight's reference to Wood's article.  What might be the indicative that is empowering the imperative "be humble while seeking intellectual enrichment"?

Any thoughts?  Both come from an evangelical Christian worldview.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Godly Efficiency and Work Ethic

In this stage of my life, that is, with a growing family to minister to and love well, a pastoral internship to complete and maintain to the glory of God, and a dissertation to write with excellence, I am always interested in tips from godly men on efficiency in my work, and how to work hard without being a "workaholic".  Here, over on Andy Naselli's Thoughts on Theology blog, D.A. Carson, one who knows how to produce good work, also gives three insight on how to be efficient and godly in your work.  Enjoy!

I want an NA29! Wait a second....?

An interesting note is post by Ed Kaneen over on Dunelm Road on the (likely) soon to follow NA29.

I was surprised too!

They are coming out as quick as iPhones!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

A Review: The Power of Pentecost by Martin C. Salter

The Blurb:

...biblical scholars, especially those concerned for the welfare of Christ’s church, are in the business of reminding the people of God of what is true, and then what to do.  Salter does this well.  Not everyone will agree with where he lands, but he does land somewhere (which is a feat of sorts in this debate), and his foundation upon clear and thorough exegesis is strong. 


Martin C. Salter. The Power of Pentecost: An Examination of Acts 2:17-21. Resource Publications (OR), an imprint of Wipf and Stock, 2012.  115pp.  $18.
This slim book is an MTh thesis completed at Oak Hill College under the supervision of Acts scholar, Matthew Sleeman.  It is within this thesis that a pastor, Martin Salter, attempts to answer a current debate with an exegetical study of a pericope in Acts.
          One does not often run across a published MTh thesis, so the first question one must ask is what contribution does this monograph make to the current debate? First, what is the debate?  Salter engages the debate concerning the charismatic use of spiritual gifts, noting that “the book of Acts is often cited” in this debate, primarily according to Salter, Acts 2:17-21.  According to Salter, on one side of the debate stand the scholars that argue for the continuation of these gifts (notably, Michael Green and Craig Keener), and standing opposed are the “conservative scholars” that hold the stance that such gifts were revelatory in function “at a particular point in redemptive history and should not, therefore, be considered normative” (including: John MacArthur, John Stott, and O. Palmer Robertson).  Following, John MacArthur, Salter, understands the quotation of Joel 3:1-5 (LXX) in Acts 2:17-21 as the “crux interpretum.”  Of course, the designation of Acts 2:17-21 as the crux interpretum” is debatable.  It could be that in Acts this passage is the “crux interpretum,” but other passages such as 1 Corinthians 12-14 come to mind as other common passages from which “Pentecostals and charismatics develop their theology.”  But a couple things should be clarified, especially to the American reader first before we carry on assessing Salter's discussion.
               First, such terms as “conservative” require more defining, and unfortunately I do not believe I am the one to define them with much clarity.  It seems as Salter, a UK pastor, moves through his book terms such as “conservative” bear similar connotations as they do in America, but I would like to be surer.  While in the UK for my PhD research, I found that I was often speaking in foreign terms, though still in English, when I used the categories, “liberal,” “conservative,” or“evangelical.” 
            Second, this book is very timely for Salter’s setting in the UK.  Again, during my recent research visit to Bristol, UK, I observed as an “outsider” from “the other side of the pond” the resurgence of interest in charismatic gifts.  As I spoke with one professor and former vicar in the Church of England I found that at least for the Church of England, which is not Salter’s denomination, that there was a type of identity crisis occurring concerning charismatic gifts.  Thus the timeliness of a study such as this makes more sense to one in the UK than it may to one in the America, where the debate may appear somewhat stale and passé, as the dates of the works of Salter’s American conversation partners reveal.
               Now, to many Salter’s method of pursuing his study may seem like he has put the proverbial “cart before the horse” by exploring exegesis before the context and theology this pericope fits within in Luke-Acts.  But I think he is right in how he pursues his study, as I will discuss below.   

Salter begins his study examining Acts 2:17-21 with very accurate and thorough exegesis.  I will not further comment on his exegesis in this review because I found it to be very well done and helpful for his specific concerns in this study.  Second, Salter looks at Acts 2:17-21 in the context that is laid before it in Acts 1-2, and third what lies after 2:17-21 in the rest of the Lucan narrative of Acts.  In part two one may ask, why does Salter not reach into the third gospel for more Lucan context for such a discussion?  I too asked this question in my first cursory glance overt Salter’s work, though of course this carries with it the whole debate of unity, which Salter seems to assume.  But I was pleased to find when I read Salter’s work that he often refers to the Lucan Gospel when discussing “conceptual and Scriptural allusions, and explicit references.” His brief comments on Luke 24:27 were especially helpful for his study of allusions and conceptual echoes, especially in the broader debat concerning context, namely “Luke himself encourages the search for fulfillment of OT themes in Luke 24:47.”  Fourth, Salter moves to the Lucan purpose of the Joel 3:1-5 (LXX) quotation within the overall purpose of the Acts narrative.  The theme that governs Acts, and thus his study, is the “restoration of Israel in her new Exodus.”  I think he is correct, and his exegesis thus far has made this a plausible theme.  He thus concludes in this section that Luke’s primary use of the quotation of Joel 3 in Peter’s Pentecost speech is to give his auditor/reader “certainty” (Lk. 1:4).  Fifth, and finally, Salter answers the overall question, “Is [Acts 2:17-21] a paradigm for contemporary ecclesiological or missional praxis, or [is it] a unique unrepeatable event in salvation history?”
            Salter’s study is very deductive in form, and I believe as I noted above that this is probably the best way of going about such a study.  I would call this study “eth-egetical,” meaning it is an ethics study, that is, how one should live based upon a solid exegetical foundation.  It would seem to be less ecclesiological since it is more concerned with specific application of 'what to do,' and not the marks of the church in the gifts of the Spirit.  Thus, I think Salter is correct to go about his study deductively, first looking at the evidence then begin to draw a conclusion of purpose and application to the church.  So, this is well done.  Unfortunately, in the end, I do not believe Salter’s conclusion, his “third-way,” will be well received or add something new to the debate.  It turns out to be a type of soft-cessationist view, akin to views held by such popular pastors as John Piper or Mark Driscoll.  This view sees the Spirit’s work as not completely ceased in the ways Acts witnessed to, but possible where the Lord seeks to move significant ways, or in cultures that more often give authority to magic or “see increased amount of demon-possession, or the miraculous.”  But this does not render this study invaluable.  I, first, think that Salter’s study is very sobering on the issue.  Studying such a live debate through Luke’s narrative as narrative, and forgoing simple proof texting, is valuable to reminding the church of what it can still learn from narratives in the bible.  And, second, biblical scholars, especially those concerned for the welfare of Christ’s church, are in the business of reminding the people of God of what is true, and then what to do.  Salter does this well.  Not everyone will agree with where he lands, but he does land somewhere (which is a feat of sorts in this debate), and his foundation upon clear and thorough exegesis is strong. 

Other Book Reviews on MosisMose:
The Later New Testament Writings and Scripture
NT Theology in Light of the Church's Mission: Essays in Honor of I. Howard Marshall
The Power of Pentecost

Another reviewer's thoughts on Power of Pentecost 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Power of Pentecost

Wipf and Stock just sent me The Power of Pentecost: An Examination of Acts 2:17-21 by Martin C. Salter (published by Resource Publications, 2012).  What initially attracted me to the title was the pericope it investigates, namely the Joel 3 quotation in Acts 2 (this quotation will be under examination in my dissertation), but I found that the book had deeper implications.  I will discuss soon in a review of the book that while I was in Bristol I observed a type of identity crisis in the Church of England concerning charismatic gifts in a church that is not typically known as a charismatic denomination of the universal church.  Salter, a pastor in the UK, investigates in what was originally his MTh thesis, what Luke's narrative of Acts as narrative has to say on this issue.

Stay tuned, and thank you Wipf and Stock!

See review here.

Its been a while...

It has been too long since I posted last.  You know when they say "life comes at you fast"... Its true.  Since I posted last, our family bought our first house, I attended ETS national conference, and then traveled to Bristol, UK to meet with my dissertation adviser, John Nolland.  So, yes, its been a busy two-months!

The good news is that while in Bristol, at Trinity College, I spoke with others who shared my enthusiasm of a blog that is shared by PhD candidates at Trinity College, Bristol.  This means I will hopefully within the near future obtain some assistance in keeping this blog afloat, and achieve our original purposes when I first started the blog in June of this year. 

I hope that you all have a very Merry Christmas!