2014 Volume 41

Issue 01 -- Spring 2014

Hearing the Apocalypse in Pergamum: pp. 3-12
Mitchell G. Reddish
Stetson University
DeLand FL 32723

This essay explores the question, "How might the Apocalypse of John have been received and understood by John's audiences in the first century?" The article examines three aspects of the book-its setting (with special focus on Pergamum), its author (who was a Christian prophet in western Asia Minor), and the mode of reception of the work (an oral performance in the context of worship where it was recited/performed, possibly by another prophet). Through oral performance, the presenter made Jesus present among the audience, creating a setting in which the message of the Apocalypse could not be easily ignored.

Women in Early Baptist Sermons: A Late Medieval Perspective: pp. 13-29
Beth Allison Barr
Baylor University
Waco TX 76798

This article sheds light on the complex attitudes that early English Baptists displayed towards women. First, it examines how spiritual equality of female souls and female rhetorical agency manifest within early Baptist sermons. Second, it compares these manifestations in early Baptist sermons with late medieval English sermons. This medieval perspective shows a stark gendered contrast between the more limited inclusion and presentation of women in early Baptist sermons and a broader inclusion and presentation of women in late medieval English sermons-suggesting that early Baptists were less progressive than their medieval predecessors when it came to women in sermons.

The Nature of Religious Truth: pp. 31-48
Robert Boyd
Fresno City College
Fresno CA 93741

Since entering the theology of religions discussion, evangelicals have written much attacking pluralism, and these attacks reveal their understanding of the nature of religious truth. The purpose of this paper is to argue that while evangelicals refer to their understanding of religious truth as an exclusivist position, evangelical theology requires a form of inclusivism. After considering why it is important to clearly understand one's perception of religious truth, we will present the theological and philosophical objections evangelicals have raised to pluralism. Finally, we will evaluate the evangelical position and argue that evangelicals are inclusivists regarding the nature of religious truth.

Gift, Grace, and Ecclesial Time in the Theology of Kathryn Tanner: pp. 49-64
Brandon Lee Morgan
Baylor University
Waco TX 76798

This essay critically dialogues with theologian Kathryn Tanner's account of grace, specifically arguing that her appropriation of the philosophical concept of giftedness, understood both in Christological and Trinitarian terms, overshadows the receptive and temporal element in her theological anthropology, which in turn hinders her ability to sufficiently locate an ecclesiology within her dogmatic construal. I attempt to alleviate this lacuna with the help of Rowan Williams, by allowing the church practice of Eucharist and scriptural reading to center an account of temporal difference, thus preserving ecclesial time as the means of the human receptivity of grace.

Divine Image, Human Dignity, and Human Potentiality: pp. 65-77
Michael Robinson
University of Mary Hardin-Baylor
Belton TX 76513

In this essay, I defend the claim that human dignity and the possession of certain core rights result not from the actual possession of certain key person-making characteristics, but from the potential possession of such properties. I agree with what might be called a developmental perspective that personhood per se is something that develops or diminishes over time. Nevertheless, I insist that it is not the actual possession of these properties that establishes human dignity or grants core human rights; rather, it is the potential for possessing them that grounds dignity and core rights.

Issue 02 -- Summer 2014

Kindled by the Ardor of the Wild Spirit of God: An Introduction to the Life and Work of Molly Truman Marshall: pp. 107–119
Mark S. Medley
Baptist Seminary of Kentucky
Georgetown KY 40324

In a private conversation several years ago, Molly Marshall said to me, “I want faculty who love God, love the church, and love students.” In many respects, these three loves define her life and ministry. And all three loves are kindled by the ardor of the wild Spirit of God. Weaving together biography and theological reflection on Marshall’s scholarship, profession as a seminary educator and administrator, and ministerial and ecclesial witness, this essay attempts to choreograph an (unauthorized) interpretative dance, which presents the dynamic, mutual indwelling of Marshall’s life story and her three loves.

Molly Truman Marshall: Living Icon for Beholding the Spirit’s Renewal of the Church: pp. 121–136
Eileen R. Campbell-Reed
Luther Seminary
St. Paul MN 55108

Pivotal stories in Molly Marshall’s life illuminate changes to the church in the last four decades and capture Marshall’s hope for a renewed vision of ministry and theological education. In significant "firsts" as a student, pastor, organizer, professor, and seminary president, Marshall’s life provides an opportunity to behold an era when Baptists struggled at the end of the twentieth century over the meaning of human being, reclaiming the full humanity of women, and longing for encounter with the living God. Through her biography, sermons, and academic writing, Marshall’s life collaborates with the work of the Spirit and becomes a living icon for seeing the Spirit’s renewal of the church.

Diagnosing Vice and Prescribing Virtue: Sloth and the Lord’s Supper: pp. 137–150
Elizabeth Newman
Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond
Richmond VA 23228

While the common understanding of sloth assumes that its corresponding virtue is increased industry, this essay argues that both idleness and busyness are equally indicative of the vice. A more accurate diagnosis of sloth situates its source in a kind of restlessness. Although a prescription of rest seems counterintuitive, I claim that in learning to receive one’s whole being as gift in and through Christ, we are able to enter true rest. Worship, specifically the practice of the Lord’s Supper, provides medicine for sloth by revealing and making present the beauty of new creation, including one’s own.

Wisdom and the Spirit: The Loss and Re-making of a Relationship: pp. 151–167
Paul S. Fiddes
Regent’s Park College
University of Oxford, Oxford UK

This paper traces the relationship between personified wisdom (“Lady Wisdom”) and the concept of divine Spirit, exploring texts from the Wisdom of Solomon, through Gnostic writings, the Church Fathers, and medieval mysticism, to modern theologians such as the Russian Sophiologists and Wolfhart Pannenberg. Constructively, it appeals for Wisdom not to be entirely absorbed into either “Logos” or “Spirit,” but for the profile of Wisdom to remain visible wherever Wisdom is fruitfully associated with Spirit. It argues that there are considerable gains for the theological idea of participation in allowing the images of Wisdom and Spirit to interpret and shape each other without absorption.

Unfinished Choreographies: Divinization as a Theme and a Challenge: pp. 169–181
Nancy Elizabeth Bedford
Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary
Evanston IL 60201

The essay develops ideas suggested by Molly Marshall’s work on pneumatology, focusing on divinization or theōsis as it appears in the Latin tradition and its inheritors. It posits that divinization is an activity of God with us in this world that moves to subvert all forces that would harm and destroy God’s beloved creation. This dance of divinization, in which human beings are invited to play an active part, can be imagined as an active process by which God’s Spirit helps us figure out the steps of our unfinished choreographies, because God does not want to dance without us.

From a “Unitive” to a “Plural” Paradigm of Pneumatology: An Interim Report of the State of
Spirit(s) in Christian Theology: pp. 183–196

Veli-Matti Kärkkäinen
Fuller Theological Seminary
Pasadena CA 91182

The purpose of this essay is twofold. First, it takes a wide critical survey of most current developments in pneumatology at the global and ecumenical level. Second, it suggests a constructive turn from a “unitive” paradigm, in which only one Spirit (of God) is considered while other spiritual realities are dismissed, to a “plural” paradigm. The latter accounts for the Spirit of God within a highly pluralistic cosmology with many other divine spirits, powers, and spiritual realities. Cultural and religious plurality, the rise of postmodern philosophies, and transformations in scientific paradigms are all factors contributing to this change of outlook.

The Work of Seminary Presidents: pp. 197–208
Daniel O. Aleshire
The Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada
Pittsburgh PA 15275

This essay examines seminary presidential leadership. It argues that leadership of a theological school requires both the general qualities of leadership that are needed in other higher education institutions and particular qualities that fit the unique realities of theological schools. The article draws heavily on two recently-completed studies. The first is a study of seminary presidents that identified five characteristics found to be most fundamental to successful seminary leadership. The second is a study of senior leaders of ATS schools who are women. It identifies the ways in which the leadership of women is similar to that of men as well as leadership issues that women encounter and to which they must respond that men do not encounter in the same way.

Issue 03 -- Fall 2014

Calling the Church Names: Learning about Christian Identity from Acts: pp. 223–241
Steve Walton
St. Mary’s University
Twickenham, London, UK

The ecclesiology of Acts has long been a matter of debate. This article studies the six main names used by the Jesus-believers for their community(ies): “the brothers and sisters,” “the disciples,” “assembly,” “the believers,” “the way,” and “the holy ones.” The picture which emerges is of a community which sees itself as strongly in continuity with Israel, but Israel restored in the manner envisaged by the prophets, not least as in Isaiah 40 and Daniel 7. The titles present the communities as founded on faith in Jesus, and following Jesus’ way—and all this as the restored and renewed Israel.

Pauline Ecclesiology: pp. 243–255
David J. Downs
Fuller Theological Seminary
Pasadena CA 91182

Given that the Pauline letters bear constant and impassioned witness to the apostle Paul’s establishment and continued formation of Christ-believing assemblies and (in the case of 1–2 Timothy, Titus, and perhaps Philemon) the leaders responsible for their care, it would not be much of an overstatement to call Paul the “father of ecclesiology.” This essay offers a broad overview of Pauline ecclesiology by examining ecclesiological language and imagery in Paul’s letters and the organization and practices of the Pauline churches.

Martin Luther and the Birth of the Protestant Ecclesial Vision: pp. 257–275
Kimlyn J. Bender
Truett Seminary, Baylor University
Waco TX 76798

At stake in the reforming movements of the sixteenth century were questions not only of soteriology but ecclesiology, though the focus has often been almost exclusively on the former. In this essay, I attempt to discern and articulate the nature and elements of the Protestant ecclesial vision as it came to expression in the work of Martin Luther and as echoed in others such as John Calvin. This ecclesial vision, though not systematically developed by the first Reformers, was nevertheless a consistent and coherent one that guided how they understood not only soteriology and ecclesiology but Christology itself. At its heart is a particular and normative, as well as critical and constructive, understanding of the relationship of Jesus Christ to the church, as well as of the Word of God as that by which Christ asserts his lordship within and over the church for its salvation and guidance.

Baptist Ecclesiology in Historical Perspective: The Mid- to Late-Nineteenth Century: pp. 277–295
C. Douglas Weaver
Baylor University
Waco TX 76798

During the mid- to late nineteenth century, amid a context of intense denominational competition, Baptists in America began to write prolifically about ecclesiology. This essay examines ecclesiologies from Southern Baptists, National Baptists and Northern Baptists. With their heritage of freedom and dissent, Baptists revealed some expected diversity, but what is striking is the frequency and strength of ecclesiological tenets that were articulated by the earliest Baptists, like Thomas Helwys. Most nineteenth-century Baptists did not quote Helwys, but said, as Helwys had said before them, that their views were simply biblical: authentic ecclesiology was practicing the simple church pattern and faith of New Testament Christianity.

Into Lands As Yet Unknown: The Church’s Vocation of Not Belonging: pp. 297–309
Barry Harvey
Baylor University
Waco TX 76798

Few would dispute that the world has undergone significant changes over the past few centuries, and as a result the church has embarked on “an expedition into lands as yet unknown” (Martin Buber). As we do so we must keep in mind the Christian vocation of “not belonging” (Rowan Williams) to the status quo. The distinctive challenge is to resist the inertia of Christendom past, and embrace the call, not to separate from the rest of the world into an imaginary realm of purity, but to cultivate a distinct presence and a difficult witness that the world lacks on its own.

Issue 04 -- Winter 2014

Josephus, Luke, and the Uses of History: pp. 335–348
Harold W. Attridge
Yale Divinity School
New Haven CT 06511

This essay examines the ways in which two nearly contemporary authors, Flavius Josephus and the author of Acts, relate to the ideals and practices of ancient Greek historiography. Josephus clearly is aware of the conventional aspirations of professional historians, but applies them rather flexibly in his two major works, the Jewish War and the Antiquities. In both cases his account serves apologetic aims, although his focus shifts between the two works. Acts gestures toward historiography, while incorporating other popular literary techniques. It also pursues clearly apologetic ends.

Peter, Paul, and the Progymnasmata: Traces of the Preliminary Exercises in the Mission Speeches of Acts: pp. 349–365
John M. Duncan
Baylor University
Waco TX 76798

The speeches of Peter in Acts 2:14–40 and Paul in Acts 13:16–41 contain evidence of Luke’s facility with rhetorical techniques inculcated by the progymnastic exercises of ethopoeia (speech-in-character), syncrisis (comparison), and paraphrasis (paraphrase). Both speeches use syncrisis and paraphrasis to appropriate Israel’s Scriptures (particularly traditions concerning David) in the service of the proclamation of Jesus’s resurrection. Some of the two speeches’ key similarities and differences suggest that they function as speeches-in-character whose distinctive features are largely determined by the relationship among speaker, audience, and the events of Jesus’s death and resurrection.

Jude 22, Apostolic Theology, and the Canonical Role of the Catholic Epistles: pp. 367–378
Carey C. Newman
Baylor University
Waco TX 76798

This article combines two observations—that the Catholic Epistles are a collection with a distinct canonical contribution and that the Catholic Epistles imply an interpretive grid that is a clue to their unique calling—to argue (i) that there was indeed something that may be fairly identified as “apostolic theology;” (ii) that this apostolic theology can be abducted from the Catholic Epistles; (iii) that this apostolic theology is an organized construal of fundamental claims shared across the Catholic Epistles and, even, the entire Canonical Edition of the New Testament; and (iv) that supplying this abducted construal uncovers a clue to the canonical function of the Catholic Epistles.

“To Set at Liberty Them That Are Bruised”: Contextualization and the Activist Missiology of Samuel G. Pinnock in Nigeria, 1889–1924: pp. 379–391
Melody Maxwell
Howard Payne University
Brownwood, TX 76801

This article analyzes the missiology of historical Southern Baptist missionary S. G. Pinnock, with consideration of varied approaches to contextualization. While colleagues focused on spiritual transformation, Pinnock involved himself in Nigerian social and political affairs. He advocated for justice for the mistreated and allowed polygamists to participate in the Lord’s Supper. As a result, Pinnock was dismissed from the mission. Was Pinnock’s identification with Nigerians a helpful corrective to other missionaries’ inaction? Or were his efforts rash and rebellious? Some of Pinnock’s actions warn Baptists today of the dangers of identifying too closely with our non-Christian culture. However, Pinnock’s attempts to bring about justice exemplify what it means to live Christianly amidst the compromises of the surrounding culture.

Ascent of the Mountain: The Spiritual Awakening of Clarence Leonard Jordan: pp. 393–407
Frederick L. Downing
Valdosta State University
Valdosta GA 31698

The thesis of this article is that the “awakening” of Clarence Jordan was a process that began for him at the University of Georgia in Athens and continued during his seminary days in Louisville. This spiritual transformation involved a series of factors: travel beyond his region, the continuing influence of his mother, creative writing projects at the university, his own Baptist journey involving the study of Scripture, and the continued study of the New Testament in Louisville in conjunction with his work in the Haymarket area of the city.