2009 Volume 36

Issue 01 -- Spring 2009

Jacob, Laban, and a Divine Trickster? The Covenantal Framework of God’s Deception in the Theology of the Jacob Cycle: pg 3-23
John E. Anderson
Baylor University
Waco, TX 76798
In this study I argue that God's involvement in Jacob's deception of Laban (Genesis 30-31) reveals something quite revelatory about God's character: at times he is just as much the trickster as is Jacob. Indeed, God is actually portrayed as complicit in or behind Jacob's trickery. When read within the wider context of the book of Genesis, however, God's complicity in Jacob's deception sheds much of its problematic tenor. God's role in relation to the deceptions—Genesis 30-31 specifically here—is seen as an expression of divine faithfulness to the ancestral promise (Gen 12:1-3), insuring its perpetuation. In short, the divine trickster is not above deception as a means of covenantal perpetuation or defense.

The Gospel of Matthew and Resisting Imperial Theology: pg 25-48
D. Michael Cox
University of Dayton
Dayton, OH 45469
In light of recent work in biblical studies in the areas of postcolonialism and empire studies, this paper articulates a reading of the Gospel of Matthew as a counter-narrative to that of Roman imperial theology. The paper concludes, after noting several suggestive analogies between the claims of Roman imperial theology and the American doctrine of “manifest destiny,” that the work of William Stringfellow constitutes a valuable contemporary articulation of the Gospel’s counter-imperial insights and that, together with the Gospel, Stringfellow’s work challenges the church toward greater spiritual discernment and resistance to the idolatries of empire.

Women in Philosophy and the Agon Motif of 1 Corinthians 9: pg 49-60
Nathan J. Barnes
Brite Divinity School
Fort Worth, TX 76129
The continual involvement of women in philosophy indicates that leading women in the Corinthian community would have been well-positioned to interact with Paul’s notion of self-control in 1 Cor 9:24-7. The literary evidence shows a long heritage of women participating in philosophy, particularly among the privileged.  The patronesses who supported the early churches were therefore perfectly positioned to engage with several elements of Paul’s rhetoric, particularly the application of his notion of self-control in 1 Cor 9:24-7. 

A Spiritual House of Royal Priests, Chosen and Honored: The Presence and Function of Cultic Imagery in 1 Peter: pg 61-76
Nijay K. Gupta
Durham University
Durham, DH1 3HP United Kingdom
When considering the New Testament’s metaphorization of temple, priest, and sacrificial language, focus has often been on soteriology and the so-called “priesthood of all believers.”  However, socio-historical and literary analyses of key cultic texts can demonstrate that such language is especially central to the author’s message concerning his readers’ contextual crises and offers answers to the kinds of questions that were probably raised by early Christian communities that needed to understand their position in an often opprobrious and, at the same time, lost world.

Centered Hearts, Circled Hands: Biographical Explorations of Baptist Spirituality: pg 77-100
Brian C. Graves
Wake Forest University Divinity School
Winston-Salem, NC 27109
In our consumer culture, spiritual seekers would do well to explore first their own roots before shopping for other, presumably more agreeable, traditions.  Baptists interested in exploring their own spiritual roots and resources, however, face certain challenges—among them narrow understandings of grace, an over-emphasis on Baptist “distinctives,” and the great diversity of Baptist “ways.” A biographical approach to the task of exploring Baptist resources offers one solution.  By providing contextualized models of particular Baptists’ spiritualities, biographical explorations promise to respect Baptist diversity, illuminate Baptist connections with other Christian traditions, and map the wider contours of spirituality with Baptist roots. After briefly addressing the challenges identified above, the essay then surveys the lives and ideas of three writers: Harry Emerson Fosdick, Rosalee Mills Appleby, and Howard Thurman. All had Baptist backgrounds, and all wrote extensively about spiritual concerns in ways that reflect their roots—even as they also integrated numerous other influences and concerns.  While not comprehensive, these case studies do demonstrate the possibilities of this biographical approach to exploring Baptist spirituality.

A Contemporary Dialogue on Race: Ernest Gaines and the Writer as Poet-Prophet: pg 101-113
Frederick L. Downing
Valdosta State University
Valdosta, GA 31698
How does one understand the contemporary dialogue on race? This essay begins with the proposition that American literature can create a sort of public square where matters that once seemed private can now be explored as expressions of community life. The thesis is that the literary work of Ernest Gaines serves as a heuristic point of entry into the contemporary dialogue. Like Martin Luther King, Jr., Gaines introduces young blacks and whites to one another as human beings. In so doing, Gaines demonstrates himself to be a poet-prophet—his writing helps a people discern a new situation and how to choose between life and death.

Issue 02 -- Summer 2009

Learning from One Another: Proceedings from BICTE 2008: pg 127-28
Stephen B. Chapman and Curtis W. Freeman
Duke University Divinity School
Durham, NC 27708

Baptist Global Intersections and Theological Conversations: pg 129-132
David E. Crutchley
Carson-Newman College
Jefferson City, TN 37760

Tracing Baptist Theological Footprints: A European Perspective: pg 133-48
Ian M. Randall
International Baptist Theological Seminary
Prague, Czech Republic
This article traces the Baptist theological footprints over the last four hundred years with particular reference to the story and perspective of European Baptists. It proposes five theological convictions that marked early Anabaptist and Baptist communities: reading the Bible; living the life; nurturing the community; redeeming the powers; and telling the story.

Practicing the Faith in the Baptist Tradition: A Response to Ian Randall: pg 149-55
Curtis W. Freeman
Duke University Divinity School
Durham, NC 27708
This article examines Randall’s five convictions (or practices) and finds them to be a helpful scheme for reflecting on the determinative features of Baptist (and baptistic) communities. The author suggests that Randall’s account of practicing the faith is more akin to Alasdair MacIntyre’s notion of “tradition” than the strategies of “encyclopedia” or “genealogy,” which are more commonly deployed by Baptist (and baptistic) scholars.

Defining and Shaping an Adequate Theological Curriculum for Ministerial Training: pg 157-68
Brian Harris
Vose Seminary
Bentley, Western Australia 6102
This article explores different stages of ministerial formation and training, and suggests markers to indicate the success or otherwise of such training. Noting the diverse and sometimes contradictory expectations placed on theological educators, it suggests that some of the tension may be reduced by adopting a realistic view of what can be accomplished at different stages of training, and if seminary and church view themselves as partners in ministerial formation, both before, during and after formal seminary training. Markers of success in ministerial training relate to the internalization of responsible, transformative knowledge implemented in life and ministerial practice.

Promoting a Subversive Spirituality: New Wineskins and New Wine in Mission and Evangelism: pg 169-77
Michael J. Quicke
Northern Seminary
Lombard, IL 60148
This article is structured in two parts. First, three framing issues are discussed in the context of theological education: the suitability of the description “subversive”; Christ’s metaphor of new wineskins for new wine; and an appropriate understanding of “mission.” Second, three examples are offered from the author’s own seminary setting.

Who is Worship For? Dispatches from the War Zone: pg 179-85
Christopher J. Ellis
West Bridgford Baptist Church
Nottingham, UK NG2 7AY
This article examines the heated debate over worship practices in modern day congregations. The article begins with three observations that “worship wars”: 1) are not a cultural problem, but a spiritual one; 2) can result when congregants confuse aesthetics with theology; and 3) that believers must move beyond the concept of winners and losers by incorporating a variety of worship styles into their churches. From here the article moves on to offer five guidelines which offer readers theological foundations for constructing “blended” worship services.

The Sacredness of God’s Creation: pg 187-97
David P. Gushee
Mercer University
Atlanta, GA 30341-4115
This essay explores the possibility of attempting to extend the meaning of the Christian theological-ethical norm “sanctity of life” to include environmental responsibility. After establishing that every religious tradition seeks summary norms to encapsulate its moral teachings, the essay suggests that “sanctity of life” has become such a summary norm in conservative Catholic and Protestant circles. This norm has evocative power for deepening moral commitment to human well-being, but as traditionally understood may actually weaken concern for non-human creatures. The essay suggests ways in which a classic understanding of the sanctity of life can and should be extended to the non-human realm. Key terms: sanctity of life, creation care, imago Dei, dignity, human exceptionalism, dominion mandate.

Co-Redeemers: A Theological Basis for Creation Care: pg 199-216
John Weaver
South Wales Baptist College
Cardiff, Wales CF24 3UR
The evidence for the human impact on global climate change is unequivocal. It is expected that this will result in disastrous changes in weather patterns and agricultural production, which will have the most deleterious effects on the poorest nations. The situation in Nepal is outlined as an example. The Bible presents a clear challenge to recognise God’s activity in creation and redemption, and calls for a Christian response through repentance and active participation in the redemptive work of Christ. The words of the Apostle Paul in Romans 8:18-25, especially verse 19: The creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed, form a key theme throughout the paper.

Women and Children in Africa: A Theological-Ethical Analysis of a Path Beyond Exploitation: pg 217-31
Louise Kretzschmar
University of South Africa
Pretoria, South Africa 0003
This article defines the exploitation of women and children and provides several instances of its occurrence in Sub-Saharan Africa. It further investigates the extent to which the Church is an agent of healing or oppression. Seven practical strategies are suggested: a re-reading of theology and the Bible; the empowerment of women and children; participation in appropriate small groups; involvement in life-giving churches; the recognition and development of female leaders; and the Church’s active (but critical) participation in civil society and government.

Caring for Those in the Sex Trade: A Personal Response to Louise Kretzschmar: pg 233-37
Asha Sanchu
Nagaland Baptist Church Council
Nagaland, India 797112
This response to Louise Kretzschmar’s article describes the author’s work among sex workers in Nagaland, India. It takes Søren Kierkegaard’s image of incarnate love, which makes unequals equal, as its point of departure and unifying theme.

Anticipating the Kairos Moments of the Twenty-First Century: pg 239-46
Daniel Carro
The John Leland Center for Theological Studies
Arlington, VA 22201
With so many uncertainties at the beginning of the 21st Century, as an exercise in social and theological hermeneutics, this essay analyzes the many thresholds that the actual trends may bring, among them the economy, social unrest, renewable and non-renewable resources, human migrations, and the like. Considering these thresholds as opportune kairoi for humanity, and considering the inability of theologians to understand these trends better than the self-appointed futurists among us, this article analyzes four tasks that some possible futures might bring to the theologian of the 21st Century: (1) the task of a critical and constructive eschatology, (2) a readiness to address the particular social and moral problems brought by the new century, (3) the task of a renewed ecclesiology, and (4) the need to pay attention to new theological voices. The essay ends with a challenge to theologians of the 21st Century to work to make of our times the time of God.  While it is true no one of us knows what the future holds, theologians should make for themselves some decisions about the future: a decision for faith, hope, and love, a decision for reason, resourcefulness, and solidarity, a decision for resurrection and confidence in the designs and purposes of God, the holder of everyone’s future.

Issue 03 -- Fall 2009

Teaching Prophetic Books: pg 251-56
James D. Nogalski
Baylor University
Waco, TX 76798

Teaching Isaiah Today: pg 257-72
Mark E. Biddle
Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond
Richmond, VA 23227
In this article, Mark E. Biddle offers an overview of recent trends in Isaiah scholarship from the past three decades.  Biddle begins by noting the overall shift from predominantly diachronic approaches emphasizing the reconstruction of individual oracles to studies that focus on the book of Isaiah in its “final form” before moving to the body of his article which discusses current scholarship in four main categories: (1) concerns for identifying the features that give the book unity; (2) a related interest in characterizing the redactional procedures that created this unity; efforts to identify the unifying structure(s) of the book; and renewed awareness of the need to define the genre of prophetic literature.

Teaching Jeremiah: pg 273-88
Kathleen M. O’Connor
Columbia Theological Seminary
Decatur, GA 30030
This article explores recent changes Kathleen M. O’Connor made to her class on the book of Jeremiah based on her work with disaster and trauma studies, as well as with Walter Brueggeman’s work The Prophetic Imagination.  O’Connor begins by offering an overview of disaster and trauma studies before defining these terms by what she calls the “layers of harm” they cause to one’s memories, language, emotions, and faith.  Tracing these layers through the book of Jeremiah and then Jeremiah’s own life, O’Connor notes how this prophetic book communicates suffering and the hope for healing.

Should Ezekiel Go to Rehab? The Method to Ezekiel’s “Madness”: pg 289-302
Stephen S. Tuell
Pittsburg Theological Seminary
Pittsburg, PA 15206
Steven Tuell responds to the common charge of Ezekiel’s madness by arguing that instead of exposing the prophet’s psychological state, the book’s descriptions of Ezekiel’s maladies reflect a deliberate literary pattern.  Beginning with a survey of past scholarship on the psychology and personality of the prophet, Tuell concludes that such studies do not contribute to a greater understanding of the book of Ezekiel.  He then turns to a literary analysis of the book, examining Ezekiel’s inability to speak, his paralysis, and refusal to mourn his wife, arguing that these signs follow the movement from coming judgment to future restoration present in the prophetic book.

The One and the Many: A Strategy for Teaching the Twelve Prophets: pg 303-20
Barry A. Jones
Campbell University
Buies Creek, NC 27506
The purpose of this essay is to review the results of recent research on the Book of the Twelve and to suggest a strategy for incorporating the Book of the Twelve into the classroom as a meaningful literary unit and a resource for enhancing teaching and learning.  Barry A. Jones begins his study by providing an overview of past research on the Book of the Twelve, starting with historical-critical studies and the recent shift toward appreciating the Book of the Twelve as a single, textual unit. Noting the potential pedagogical payoffs of this shift, Jones lays out a two-step approach for instructors that centers on Hosea and Joel as entry points into the larger narrative of this larger prophetic work.

The Community Behind the Book of Daniel: Challenges, Hopes, Values, and Its View of God: pg 321-40
Paul L. Redditt
Georgetown College, Georgetown KY 40324
Baptist Seminary of Kentucky, Lexington KY 40507
This study explores the community behind the book of Daniel, arguing that it was made up of scribes living in Israel after 198 BCE who opposed the actions of Antiochus IV and who sought to encourage other members of their group by retelling the narratives set during the Babylonian captivity. To defend this thesis, this study proceeds in four parts: (1) an overview of the genre and content of Daniel; (2) a discussion of the Danielic community and (3) the questions Daniel seeks to answer, before concluding with (4) the values Daniel endorses and its presentation of God.

Whither Reformed Theology? The Trajectory of a Protestant Tradition: A Review Essay: pg 341-56
Kimlyn J. Bender
University of Sioux Falls
Sioux Falls, SD 57105
This review essay examines four recently-published texts that take advantage of the familiar label and engage postmodernism with reference to several significant issues: Christianity and the arts; a genealogy of religion and the sublime; a conservative evangelical epistemological critique; and a creative and constructive postmodern reading of Jesus’ theopoetics of the Kingdom of God. The four volumes reviewed include: The Gift of Story: Narrating Hope in a Postmodern World (ed. Emily Griesinger and Mark Eaton, 2006); Postmodernity’s Transcending: Devaluing God (Laurence Paul Hemming, 2005); Above all Earthly Pow’rs: Christ in a Postmodern World (David F. Wells, 2005); and What Would Jesus Deconstruct? The Good News of Postmodernism for the Church (John D. Caputo, 2007).

Issue 04 -- Winter 2009

Editorial: pg 375-76
Kenneth B. E. Roxburgh
Samford University
Birmingham, AL 35229

Baptist Origins and Identity in 1609: The John Smyth/Richard Clifton Debate: pg 377-91
William L. Pitts, Jr.
Baylor University
Waco, TX 76798
Four hundred years ago Separatist John Smyth, self-exiled from England to Amsterdam, rejected infant baptism and constituted the first Baptist Church. Smyth was a prolific writer. His Character of the Beast challenged the practice of infant baptism, whereas Richard Clifton’s rejoinder, The Plea for Infants, defended traditional infant baptism. Their exchange takes the modern reader to the core issue of earliest Baptist identity. This paper analyzes key features of the debate, including each writer’s presuppositions, modes of debate, and central arguments. The paper concludes that although Baptists have adopted several characteristics since that time, the fundamental idea shaping the Baptist tradition has remained for four centuries Smyth’s core idea of believer’s baptism, shaped in argument with Richard Clifton.

A Fellowship of Believers: Covenant Relationships among British Baptists: pg 391-406
Karen E. Smith
South Wales Baptist College
Cardiff, Wales UK CF24 3UR
The purpose of this paper is to explore the understanding of covenant life among early British Baptists. Noting that among British Baptists in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, covenant relationship extended not only to local communities of faith, but to wider associations, some attention will be given to the reasons for the neglect of  this important aspect of Baptist life from the nineteenth century onwards. Finally, while acknowledging the resurgence of interest in the centrality of covenant relationship to Baptist ecclesiology, it will be argued that an emphasis on covenant among early Baptists was never viewed as a means of organization: covenant was not simply for cooperation. Rather, for early Baptists, it appears that covenant was to be an expression of a life of communion in and through Jesus Christ. 

“Signs of the Covenant”: The Development of Sacramental Thought in Baptist Circles: pg 407-20
Brian C. Brewer
George W. Truett Theological Seminary
Waco, TX 76798 
Using a mid-twentieth century sermon by Robert A. Baker as his starting point, Brian C. Brewer explores the historical roots of “Baptist sacramentalism.”  While Baker’s wholly negative judgment of sacramentalism is representative of twentieth-century Southern Baptists, Brewer maintains that one must trace the development of sacramentalism among Baptists to determine the accuracy of his perspective. Brewer sets about on this task by first noting the increased attention in Free Church or evangelical sacramentalism among modern British Baptists.  To discover if this trend is alien to Baptist thought, Brewer explores the development of sacramentalism in the larger church and among early Baptists before turning to its fall and resurgence among Baptists.

Searching for the Hidden Church: William Jones and the Common Roots of Landmarkist and Restorationist Ecclesiology: pg 421-32
Andrew Christopher Smith
Vanderbilt University
Nashville, TN 37240
While Landmarkism and Restorationism, the two most important controversies among 19th century Southern Baptists, are typically understood as opposed to each other, it is not widely known that they share a common historiographical basis in the work of William Jones, a nineteenth-century Scotch Baptist historian. Jones’ documentation of the continuous existence of early and medieval churches that rejected the practice of infant baptism influenced both J. R. Graves and Alexander Campbell, despite the dubious nature of Jones’ historical claims. That Landmarkism and Restorationism both found their historical rationale in the same monograph highlights common elements in their respective ecclesiologies.

“More Striking . . . Than the Loudest Preaching”: Baptist Women’s Testimony in the Early Evangelical South: pg 433-44
Monica Najar
Lehigh University
Bethlehem, PA 18015
In this essay I examine the public proselytizing of women Baptists in the late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century South. In this era, women seized the opportunity of public prayer and religious testimony to shape the theological belief in the equality of souls into practical and meaningful opportunities for claiming an identity as part of a community of God’s faithful. Baptist theology and practice in some ways authorized women’s exhortations, but the churches, and their non-Baptists neighbors, proved deeply ambivalent—and at times downright hostile—to such activity. Within that atmosphere, women nonetheless constructed textual spaces that suspended the contemporary import of gender; in other words, they made a Christian identity that deemphasized, and even denied, the primacy of other categories, such as gender.

E. Y. Mullins: Soul Competency and Social Ministry: pg 445-60
C. Douglas Weaver
Baylor University
Waco, TX 76798
Without question, E. Y. Mullins, the most influential Southern Baptist leader/theologian of the 20th century, was a champion of the role of the individual in religion.  It is common to contend that his focus on personal experience leads/led to a divorce from social action. While Mullins was not a social gospel prophet like Walter Rauschenbusch, Mullins’ focus on soul competency (for him, the essence of Baptist identity) did not stop him from affirming a moderate approach that included both the evangelical emphasis on personal salvation and social concern.  Mullins (d. 1928) was an example of Southern Progressivism.

“A Fence of Scholasticism around the Ministry”? Theological Education among English Baptists, 1900-1950s: pg 461-76
Ian M. Randall
Cambridge, UK
This study looks at the relationship between academic and ministerial training for pastors among English Baptists over the period 1900 to the 1950s. Prior to the First World War, English Baptists were highly motivated to take advantage of the new opportunities open to them in England in the field of advanced theological education. After the War, and then again after the Second World War, however, attention shifted to an emphasis on the acquisition of practical, ministerial skills. In the face of additional pressure from fundamentalism and its concerns about biblical criticism, this article concludes that no fence of scholasticism has been erected around Baptist ministry.

An Audacious Witness: Charting the Baptist Future One More Time: pg 477-89
Bill J. Leonard
Wake Forest Divinity School
Wake Forest, NC 27106
In this article, Bill J. Leonard surveys the non-conformist origins of the Baptist movement and the ensuing transitions of the twentieth century to discover the insight that Baptist heritage and vision offers. According to Leonard, the particular beliefs of Baptists led to a wide variety of approaches in the denomination.  Indeed, Leonard notes, many of their earliest divisions over issues such as baptism, salvation, and authority mirror many debates among twenty-first-century Baptists. Given current transitions and continuing differences, this article asks how might Baptist history inform Baptist identity in the present and, more importantly, toward the future?