2002 Volume 29

Issue 01 -- Spring 2002

Romancing the Parables of Jesus: pg. 11-38
Ronald F. Hock
University of Southern California
Los Angeles, California 90089
The parables of Jesus continue to be a focus of scholarly attention, but one illuminating, if little used, source for their interpretation is a group of lengthy, detailed, and coherent stories of life in the Greco-Roman world called the Greek romances. They allow us to detect and describe the conventions of thought and behavior on which the parables depend, as shown by analyses of three parables: the conventions of getting back one thought lost for interpreting the prodigal son, of reciprocity for the unmerciful servant, and of the moral authority of goodness for the laborers in the vineyard.

Dreams, the Ancient Novels, and the Gospel of Matthew: An Intertextual Study: pg. 39-52
Derek S. Dodson
Baylor University
Waco, TX 76798
This article compares the form and function of dreams in the Gospel of Matthew and the Greek novels. The Greek novels are particularly illuminating for the study of dreams in the Gospel of Matthew, for they contain numerous dream reports that are representative of this literary convention in Greco-Roman literature. A comparison of Matthew with the novels puts into bold relief the formal features of the Matthean dreams of their Greco-Roman literary character. This literary character is also accentuated by the correspondence between Matthew's use of dreams and the function of dreams in the novels. It concludes that in terms of form and function an ancient audience would find that the dreams in Matthew are analogous and comparable to the dreams in the Greek novels.

The Ancient Custom of Hospitality, The Greek Novels, and Acts 10:1-11:18: pg. 53-72
Andrew E. Arterbury
Baylor University
Waco, Texas 76798
This article begins by providing an overarching definition of the custom of hospitality in the Mediterranean world. Next, the author highlights examples of this social convention in the Greek romances, which provide depictions of Greco-Roman life that are roughly contemporary with the book of Acts. Finally, the author turns to Acts 10:1-11:18. Here, he attempts to understand the conversion of Cornelius and his household as Luke's  audience would have. He concludes that the custom of hospitality provides the primary backdrop for an informed reading of this radical event in the life of the early church.

Paul’s Defense: A Comparison of the Forensic Speeches in Acts, Callirhoe, and Leucippe and Clitophon: pg. 73-88
Derek Hogan
Campbell Divinity School
Buies Creek, North Carolina 27506
This essay examines the defense speeches of Paul before Roman officials in Acts 24:1-21 and 26:1-29 in light of other writings roughly contemporary with the writing of Acts. It is argued that these speeches, like those in the ancient Greek novel Callirhoe, manifest reliance on the rhetorical tradition shown in Quintilian's Institutio Oratoria. The portrayal of Paul as capable of making such speeches contributes to the image of the apostle as a well-educated man of social importance. The repetition of the speeches serves to convince the auditor that Paul is innocent.

Controlled Burn: The Romantic Note in 1 Corinthians 7: pg. 89-98
J. Edward Ellis
Baylor University
Waco, Texas 76798
Paul's statements regarding marriage and sex in 1 Corinthians 7 are best understood in light of the ancient Greek romantic novels. In the thought world of the novels, sexual passion is a powerful and dangerous force, an ailment or inner burning that can drive one to madness. The remedy for this madness is marriage. All of this, say the novels, is wonderful. Paul’s statement that “it is better to marry than to burn”(7:9) is consistent with the novel’s thought world; therefore his readers would not necessarily have seen in his statements a negative view of sex or marriage.

What’s Next for Christian Higher Education? New Ideas and Old Problems: A Review Essay: pg. 99-106
Roger Ward
Georgetown College
Georgetown, Kentucky 40324

Issue 02 -- Summer 2002

Pastoral/Lay Ministry Concerns in Ordination: pg. 137-54
Howard K. Batson
First Baptist Church Amarillo
Amarillo, Texas 79101
This article seeks to address key pastoral and lay ministry concerns related to ordination including: why ordain at all, understanding ordination as a community event, determining who participates in the laying on of hands, understanding ordination alongside the historic Baptist principle of the priesthood of believers, discovering whether gifts are bestowed or simply recognized via ordination, understanding the place of ordination in the modern church with multiple staff members, and exploring both the make up of the ordination council and the elements of the ordination worship service. Among Batson's conclusions one finds an argument for understanding ordination as a community-driven event rather than a stamp of approval upon self-appointed ministers or deacons.

A Response to “Pastoral/Lay Ministry Concerns in Ordination” by Howard K. Batson: pg. 155-58
A. Duane Brooks
Tallowood Baptist Church
Houston, TX 77024
Dr. Batson offers a wonderfully thorough evaluation of several serious issues related to the issue of ordination. Dr. Batson addresses a number of the issues including: the purpose of ordination, the community nature of ordination, the selection of those who lay on hands, the recognition of lay-ministry, the bestowal of gifts through ordination, the scope of the ordination, candidacy for ordination, and the function of the ordination council. This paper raises several pertinent questions for our consideration and discussion. Dr. Batson’s work provides an excellent example of the dialogue between the study of church history and the current practices of the church. As pastor/scholar, he walks comfortably in both worlds and offers keen insight into the questions that pastors and academics are asking.

Old Testament Antecedents to Ordination: pg. 159-76
Thomas Brisco
Baylor University
Waco, Texas 76798
Baptists typically have looked to the New Testament for guidance on ordination. This reflects the fact that the Old Testament does not address directly the issue of ordination. The Old Testament, however, provides a wealth of ceremonies and rituals utilized to select religious leaders. These actions provide important background and insight useful in developing a theology of ordination. This essay focuses on several key rites used to set apart priests, Levites, prophets, and elders as a means to explore Old Testament antecedents to Christian ordination. Passages employing the laying on of hands receive attention first because of the rite’s use and importance in later Jewish and Christian practices, but other Old Testament passages are also addressed. An attempt has been made to understand the narrative context and theological significance of each ritual. A word about terminology seems appropriate. Though a number of scholars employ the term, “ordination,” to practices in the Old Testament, this article avoids using the term except in passages when translations employ the word. Other, perhaps more descriptive terms are used to avoid confusion with later Jewish and Christian developments.

A Response to “Old Testament Antecedents of Ordination” by Thomas Brisco: pg. 177-82
Susan M. Pigott
Hardin-Simmons University
Abilene, Texas 79698
Dr. Brisco has done an admirable job of outlining possible OT foundations for modern Baptist practices of ordination. Although Dr. Brisco’s work offers both breadth and depth, some additional topics could be considered. For instance, the Nazirite vow (Num 6) might yield some intriguing insights, particularly because it sets apart lay persons for consecrated service to God. Perhaps a stronger emphasis on the literary nature of parallels between NT practice and OT ceremony would also be fruitful. In my response, I will focus on Dr. Brisco’s assertion that the Baptist concept of the “priesthood of the believer” stands in opposition to the OT practice of setting apart a specific class of people as priests. I will suggest that, on a broader scale, the priesthood of the believer may have some quite important (though distant) roots in the OT. The implications of this are significant in a discussion of ordination, for the OT offers insight into the nature of corporate priesthood, the inherent responsibilities of a people entrusted with a holy task, and the importance of ceremony in setting apart persons for sacred service.

The Absence of an Ordained Ministry in the Churches of Paul: pg. 183-96
David E. Garland
George W. Truett Theological Seminary
Waco, Texas 76798
The New Testament says little about church order and less about ordination. Modern historical critics acknowledge that the topic of the organization of the churches “is no where treated specifically in the documents of the time, and the arrangements must have differed strikingly at various times from place to place.” Ecclesial biases, the influence of post-canonical developments, and an unhistorical reading of rabbinic literature compiled long after the destruction of the temple have been allowed to skew the reading of the NT texts when looking for guidance on the topic of ordination. This paper proposes to investigate the issue of ordination and the organization of church leadership by looking at developments in Judaism at the time of Jesus and later, the ministry of Jesus, and the evidence of leadership practices in Paul’s churches.

Historical Anachronism and Ministerial Ordination: A Response to David E. Garland:
pg. 197-204

Todd D. Still
Gardner-Webb University
Boiling Springs, North Carolina 28017
While expressing genuine appreciation for and large-scale agreement with David E. Garland’s well-crafted article, this piece ponders whether it is not more anachronistic than accurate to perceive leadership in the Pauline churches as egalitarian in ethos and orientation. This response paper also reflects upon how persons ascended into leadership roles within a given Pauline congregation. It is proposed that Paul and his traveling associates would not only have played a pivotal role in founding a fellowship but also in forming it by means of selecting and equipping local leaders to provide spiritual oversight and pastoral care in their absence.

“Ordination” in Acts and the Pastoral Epistles: pg. 205-18
Sharyn Dowd
Baylor University
Waco, Texas 76798
The question this study seeks to address is: In what ways is a Baptist understanding of ordination similar to and different from the practices described in Acts and referred to in the Pastoral Epistles. The first task is to specify the meaning of the practice in the present that is being compared with what can be seen in the ancient texts. The questions under investigation may be stated as follows: (1) To what extent do Acts and the Pastoral Epistles describe or refer to a ceremony involving the imposition of hands by which a person was set apart for a particular function by a Christian community? (2) Does this ceremony confer an “office” in the sense of a permanent and, to some extent, portable, status? (3) Is the ceremony necessary in order for a person to be eligible to perform the specific function of leadership or service. This paper will argue that, if there can be said to be any New Testament precedent with regard to the selection and designation of leadership for Christian communities in the third millennium, that precedent would appear to be an authorization to adapt the practice to the circumstances in such a way that the Gospel is spread, the truth is defended, and the guidance of the Holy Spirit is sought and obeyed.

A Response to “ ‘Ordination’ in Acts and the Pastoral Epistles” by Sharyn Dowd: pg. 219-21
R. Robert Creech
University Baptist Church
Clear Lake City, Texas 77059
This essay is a response to Professor Sharyn Dowd’s article on “Ordination in Acts and the Pastoral Epistles.” The response raises hermeneutical issues related to taking isolated biblical passages and assuming that a practice in a particular first century congregation was intended to provide a normative practice for the church through the ages. Agreeing with Dowd's conclusions that Baptist practices of ordination have only the slightest resemblance to the practices described in Acts and the Pastoral Epistles, the essay argues that church historians rather than biblical scholars are probably the ones best equipped to justify such practices.

Issue 03 -- Fall 2002

Ordination in the Larger Baptist Tradition: pg. 225-40
William H. Brackney
Baylor University
Waco, Texas 76798
This paper is an examination of the historical background to contemporary Baptist understanding and practice of ordination. Due to the particular focus of other authors in this volume, Iwill exclude Texas Baptist and Southern Baptist practice. I will also provide a modest survey of contemporary Baptist practice outside the American South. The questions that Baptists have raised about this topic include whether ordination is scriptural, why is it necessary and useful, what is the purpose of the laying on of hands and other ritual practices, and finally, what is the value of ordination to ministry? Across the Baptist family there is a wide variety of opinions and practices.

A Response to “Ordination in the Larger Baptist Tradition” by William H. Brackney: pg. 241-44
William M. Pinson, Jr.
Baptist General Convention of Texas
Dallas, Texas 75246
William Brackney’s paper excels in its scholarly breadth. Concerning matters touched on lightly in this paper, I would appreciate reading a more thorough discussion of the following: (a) When did the concept that ordination was “for life” come to be the practice, with installation replacing re-ordination? (b) Why are some Baptist groups more associational and others more local church oriented in their approach to ordination? (c) In some Baptist fellowships is there provision for revoking an ordination? If so, on what grounds? By what procedure? (d) What are the pros and cons as well as the history of extending ordination to church staff members in fields such as music, education, missions, and recreation? Why does this seem to be a current trend? (e) The paper states that “every one of the people had an interest in the election and ordination of their officers.” Did this include women? Children who had been baptized? This response concludes with an examination of Texas Baptist ordination practices in light of Brackney’s observations.

Texas Baptists and Ordination: pg. 245-58
Harry Leon McBeth
Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
Fort Worth, Texas 76122
This paper will examine ordination to ministry among Texas Baptists, mentioning both their variations and their continuities. It will not include the topic of the ordination of women, as that is covered in a separate paper in this issue.

Current Trends in Texas Baptist Ordination: pg. 259-68
Bill Pitts
Baylor University
Waco, Texas 76798
A brief survey of Baptist histories shows that the topic of ordination has been afforded very little attention in the larger narrative of Baptist life. Several points—both historical and contemporary—are worthy of discussion. I have tried to gather information on current practice in order to provide perspective on both past and current traditions of ordination in Texas Baptist life. The tension between change and continuity in Texas Baptist ordination continues. This brief study suggests that the council and the ordination service retain most of their components; yet changes documented here show increasing democratization: congregations and families are more directly involved in key stages of the service, and delay between examination and ordination provides more legitimacy to the entire process. It is important to consider the practice of ordination and its place in recruiting, training, and encouraging new ministers and in placing them in their fields of service through the churches.

The Ordination of Women Among Texas Baptist: pg. 269-88
Ann Miller
Cook Children’s Medical Center
Fort Worth, Texas 76104
For Baptists who are trying to determine whether their congregation is ready to ordain women, the most frequent and relevant questions seem to be the following:
     1. Can a biblically sound, Christ-honoring church ordain women?
        a. Although Jesus was male and some people teach that God is male?
        b. Although Adam was created before Eve?
        c. Even though Eve was the first to sin in the Garden?
        d. Although Jesus chose twelve men for his closest followers?
        e. Although some teach that the Epistles restrict pastoral leadership to men?
        f. And remain faithful to Baptist practice?
        g. Even though Baptists have not yet reached consensus on this issue?
    2. What might Baptists risk in ordaining qualified women?
    3. What do Baptists gain in ordaining qualified women as well as men?
This paper will take up each of these issues in order.

A Response to “The Ordination of Women Among Texas Baptist” by Ann Miller: pg. 289-94
Rosalie Beck
Baylor University
Waco, Texas 76798
I will address three areas of concern raised by Dr. Miller’s paper. The first point made by Dr. Miller that I want to underscore is that honest disagreement can and does occur between godly, Bible-believing folks. Another point made by Dr. Miller was in response to the question, “Who do we turn to for a ‘true’ explanation of the text?” The last of Dr. Miller’s emphases that I will examine today is a critical one for Baptists. Patricia Martin wrote that between 1880 and 1920, Texas Baptist men and women came to an accommodation on the role of women in the church. As we work through the issue of ordination/ministry for women in our churches, we must decide what cost we are willing to pay for peace. Part of that decision is to discern whether the peace we seek is simply a lack of conflict or is truly God’s peace.

Toward A Baptist Theology of Ministerial Ordination: pg. 295-14
Vernon Davis
Hardin-Simmons University
Abilene, Texas 79698
This presentation attempts to suggest three topics that will become important in examining the practice of ordination in the Baptist denomination. While for Baptists it is neither considered a sacrament, nor an ordinance of the church, ordination remains an important ritual that is practiced with some regularity among Baptist congregations. The three a rear that call for further exploration in the ways suggested in this essay include (1) community as the aim of ordination, (2) vocation as the source of ordination, and (3) the physical and tactile nature of ordination as its mode.

A Response to “Toward a Baptist Theology of Ministerial Ordination” by Vernon Davis: pg. 315-22
A. J. Conyers
George W. Truett Theological Seminary
Waco, Texas 76798

Ordination in the Baptist Tradition: Final Reflections: pg. 323-25
C. W. Christian
Baylor University
Waco, Texas 76798
What can we conclude about a Baptist doctrine of ordination? I have often told my students that we have no theology of ordination. I must confess that I still have not heard one. What has been confirmed is that, as a fairly non-theological people, we Baptists have a tendency to describe our practice, to describe what we do, and call that theology. Much of what I have heard has been helpful and useful. More than one of our presenters has called us to move toward a theology of ordination and some have pointed in useful directions. Surely, a sound and consistent theology of ordination would enable us to deal more creatively with the many practical questions raised in this symposium. But if such a theology of ordination has been chronically lacking among us, why is this so? I would like to suggest two possible factors for your consideration. First, ordination needs to be understood within the context of a theology of worship. A second reason for the vacuity of our theology of ordination may be the negativity of spirit that has given it birth. During the past two days we have been reminded by more than one of our presenters of our Baptist antisacramentalism. These reminders should cause us to beware, because any theology that derives its identity mainly from protest, however essential the protest may be, is in danger of being partial or incomplete.

Issue 04 -- Winter 2002

Confessing Our Faith and Practice: pg. 331-34
Curtis W. Freeman
The Divinity School, Duke University
Durham, North Carolina 27708

Seventeenth-Century Baptist Confessions in Context: pg. 335-48
Philip E. Thompson
North American Baptist Seminary
Sioux Falls, South Dakota
This study proposes a contextual study of seventeenth century Baptist confessions utilizing Swidler’s theory of social organization and construction in settled and unsettled times. This approach sheds light on the Baptists’ convictions and the way in which Baptist positioned themselves within the political-religious landscape of England during the Revolution, Interregnum, and Restoration periods. This comes in part through comparison of Baptist confessions with those of other English churches. The study sheds light on Baptists’ detachment from the supersessionist theology that marked other Puritan groups. Baptists proceeded beyond the more typical Puritan philo-semitism that remained supersessionist to an actual pro-Judaeos theology.

Baptist Confessions of Faith and the Patristic Tradition: pg. 349-58
Steven R. Harmon
Campbell University Divinity School
Buies Creek, North Carolina 27506
Although Baptists have traditionally claimed to be non-creedal, the confessions they have produced during the past four centuries have exhibited points of contact with the patristic creeds. There are clear echoes of patristic Trinitarian and Christological formulations in early Baptist confessions, but these are largely the legacies of the communions from which the early Baptists came or by which they were influenced and were initially motivated by the need to demonstrate Baptist continuity with ancient Christian tradition to ecclesiastical bodies that valued such continuity. The article concludes with constructive proposals for more intentional interaction with the patristic tradition in future Baptist confessions.

Where, Then, Do We Stand? Baptists, History, and Authority: pg. 359-80
Barry Harvey
Baylor University
Waco, Texas 76798
An abiding uncertainty about the narratability of history has given rise to a crisis of authority that touches on every aspect of contemporary life. If Baptists are to cope intelligently with this crisis they must learn anew what it means to be part of a larger ecclesial tradition that has a center in Jesus Christ but ultimately no boundary. More specifically, they must learn what it means to be a dissenting voice within the common life and language of that body rather than fantasize that they can somehow skip over all of its messiness and start afresh at the beginning.

Preaching What We Practice: Churches Confessing the Whole Gospel: pg. 381-400
Mikael N. Broadway
Shaw University
Raleigh, North Carolina 27701
This essay examines confessions of faith in Baptist life from a number of points of view. It addresses the theological significance of confessions to the practices of the church. There is specific attention to confessions in the eras of John Smyth and John Leland. A broad analysis of nineteenth-century Baptists in the United States includes the Princeton Theology, the Holiness movement, the roots of fundamentalism, and the role of race in shaping ecclesiology. A final section examines the work of John Perkins and the Christian Community Development movement as a possible direction for Christian practice.

Reconciliation with Justice: pg. 401-10
J. Deotis Roberts
Silver Spring, Maryland 20910
In recent times, “reconciliation” has become a popular word. It is used frequently, as if it is readily obtainable. However, so often it appears to be a form of “cheap grace” or “sentimental love.” There is no depth in its meaning and little transformative power in its application. What we want to attempt here is to express a view of reconciliation which requires soul-searching, repentance, and serious commitment to embrace a form of costly grace. In theological language, it will entail cross bearing for victim and victimizer. Paul Lehmann, an associate of Dietrich Bonhöffer and a colleague of Reinhold Neibuhr, was incessant in linking the Christian ethic with what makes and keeps human life human. The quest for genuine reconciliation between estranged individuals and groups requires love, justice,and power. When we unpack the meaning of these concepts theologically, at the core of the Christian faith, we encounter what Bonhöffer described as “costly grace.”

Biblicism, Exclusivism, Triumphalism: The Travail of Baptist Identity: pg. 411-26
E. Frank Tupper
Wake Forest University Divinity School
Winston-Salem, North Carolina 27109
Over the last decade or so, Baptists have engaged in extensive conversation about Baptist identity. Common elements within Baptist identity include biblical authority, congregational priority, and church mission. However, the collapse of these confessional marks into biblicism, exclusivism, and triumphalism constitute problems that occasion travail in affirming and interpreting Baptist identity. This essay is an attempt to rethink Baptist identity in the context of these three interrelated problems.

Do We Need a New Confession of Faith: pg. 427-32
William L. Hendricks
Brite Divinity School
Fort Worth, Texas 76129
I would hope to approach the notion of a new confession in the interrogative. Each of us may well have preconceived ideas about the matter, but it seems to me there is a need to start from ground zero and be open-minded in our discussions. To this end the interrogative mood is better by far than the imperative: “We must have a new confession.” Oh, who says? Why so? The interrogative is better even than the indicative: “Do we need a new confession?” Maybe, maybe not. Nevertheless, in true Baptist fashion there are those who believe the question is worthy of discussion.  My modest answer from my discussion will be a tentative “yes.”