2017 Volume 44

Issue 01 -- Spring 2017

 

Editorial Introduction: Trinity and Participation: Engaging and Celebrating Paul Fiddes: pp. 3–5

Roger Ward
Georgetown College
Georgetown KY 40324

Trinity and Participation: A Brief Introduction to the Theology of Paul S. Fiddes: pp. 7–18

Brian Haymes
Retired Scholar
Manchester, England WA15 6NA

This article is a personal introduction to the theology of Paul Fiddes. Its focus is on his understanding of the doctrine of the Trinity with his emphasis on relating and participating. Although Fiddes draws careful distinctions between the language of God and creation, aseity, the fundamental relationships are recognized. Trinity speaks of the essential movement of love in God in which humankind is called to participate. Reference is made to the influence of Barth and Whitehead. The consequent implications of relating and participating for pastoral theology are drawn out with reference to his understanding of prayer.

 

Trinitarian Koinōnia and Ecclesial Oikoumenē: Paul Fiddes as Ecumenical Theologian: pp. 19–37

Steven R. Harmon
Gardner-Webb University
Boiling Springs NC 28017

Paul Fiddes’s participatory account of Trinitarian koinonia is central to his systematic program and the core of his distinctive contributions to the Faith and Order. This essay examines and extends his theological contribution to ecumenism in three contexts; his ecumenically-oriented articulations of Baptist ecclesiology; published reports of bilateral ecumenical dialogues with Baptist participation for which Fiddes served as an influential member of the Baptist delegations, as co-chair of the joint commissions, and as editor of the jointly-produced agreed reports from the dialogues; and third, Fiddes’s embrace of the emerging ecumenical paradigm of receptive ecumenism.

 

Sacrifice, Service, and Radical Inclusion: Participating in the Divine Critique according to the Gospel of Mark: pp. 39–52

Stephanie Peek
Baylor University
Waco TX 76798

Paul Fiddes in his discussions of Trinitarian theology argues that the Trinity is best understood as a dance in which humanity is invited into the movements of life and love so as to participate in the divine life. This article examines the ways in which the Gospel of Mark invites humanity to take part in the divine life through the divine critique of unjust power structures. Mark’s Jesus offers a new understanding of power in which to participate in the divine life is to call into question the reign of oppressive structures of power through suffering, loving service, and radical inclusion of the other.

 

All Are Alive to God: Paul Fiddes and the Ministry of the Departed Saints: pp. 53–68

Christopher L. Schelin
International Baptist Theological Study Centre
Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam, the Netherlands

Paul Fiddes has offered a revisionary retrieval of the intercession of the saints, proposing that the prayers of the dead retain their efficacy via the memory of God. But this essay argues that the traditional belief in the persisting subjectivity and agency of the departed is more faithful to the biblical witness, is implicated by the widespread phenomenon of spontaneous sensory experiences of the deceased, and coheres more fully with Fiddes’s rich vision of human participation in the Trinity. Like Fiddes, the author invites Baptists to consider praying with the saints who, though absent from the body, are at home with the Lord.

 

Participation in God; Oned by Love: Paul Fiddes in Dialogue with Julian of Norwich: pp. 69–82

Kate Hanch
Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary
Evanston IL 60201

In Participating in God, Paul Fiddes outlines a doctrine of the Trinity reflecting on pastoral realities. We know God’s character through participating in the relationships—movements—of the Trinitarian life. Julian of Norwich employs the word “one-ing” to demonstrate how we partake in the Trinity. Following Brant Pelphrey, I identify this notion of “one-ing” as theosis, or deification. By comparing Julian with Fiddes, I demonstrate how Julian’s mysticism, style, and theological claims can be illuminated and elaborated by Fiddes’s pastoral Trinity.

 

“Partakers of the Promise”: Participation between Covenant and Ontology: pp. 83–101

Adam Glover
Winthrop University
Rock Hill SC 29733

This essay examines how the Pauline idea of “covenantal participation” might be related to the more philosophically inflected conception of μετοχή that Christianity inherited from Greek metaphysics. I argue that far from constituting what Harnack called “a work of the Greek spirit on the soil of the gospel,” metaphysical participation in fact frames Paul’s account of covenantal participation in the Abrahamic promise, and hence that the New Testament vision of salvation as covenantal incorporation can be rendered consistent with a broader, ontological conception of participation in the reality of divine Being.

 

Distinctly Harmonious: Creaturely Participation in the Trinity (in the Key of Fiddes): pp. 103–17

David M. Wilmington
Baylor University
Waco TX 76798

Christian claims of divine transcendence present absolute transcendence to the extent that God is not only removed entirely from His creation but defined over against it. Paul Fiddes offers Christian thinkers constructive resources for reimagining faithful accounts of transcendence because he takes seriously the relational consequences of God’s ongoing fellowship with creation and of Trinitarian thought for any talk of God’s transcendence. Fiddes sees perichoresis, or interpenetrating relationality, as the ontological reality of the Trinity, reflected in all that God does—including creating but also in ongoing fellowship with that creation, especially human creatures.

 

Covenant and Participation: A Personal Review of the Essays: pp. 119–37

Paul S. Fiddes
Regent’s Park College, University of Oxford
Oxford, England

In this article, Fiddes responds to the preceding essays and suggests that both they and his own research can be viewed from the perspective of the question: “what happens when the Baptist idea of covenant is brought together with the wider theological idea of participation in the triune God?” He offers eight answers in reply, and his aim is not only to provide a retrospective on his own work but to open up new pathways of thought. Of particular importance for Baptist theologians at this time is the proposal that the idea of covenant is extended and universalized by the idea of participation.

 

Issue 02 -- Summer 2017

Introductory Words: pp. 153–58

Nancy L. deClaissé-Walford
McAfee School of Theology
Atlanta GA 30341

Waiting for God: The Psalms and Old Testament Theology: pp. 159–71

J. Clinton McCann Jr.
Eden Theological Seminary
St. Louis MO 63119

In his essay, “The Psalms as a Place to Begin for Old Testament Theology,” Bill Bellinger suggests that the Psalms offer “some guidance for our theological search through the canon.”  Beginning with Pss 27:14 and 31:24, this essay identifies waiting for God as a significant theological perspective in the Psalms by way of a brief exploration of the occurrences of the Hebrew roots קוה (qwh) and  יחל(yhl) in the Psalter. It then relates this theme to other portions of the canon, especially the Torah and the Prophets, concluding that waiting for God is the perennial posture of the faithful in the Psalms and elsewhere throughout Scripture. The essay concludes with a consideration of the significance of waiting for God in contemporary life.

 

Lessons Learned: Applying a Hermeneutic of Curiosity to Psalm 78: pp. 173–83

Christine Brown Jones
Carson-Newman University
Johnson City TN 37760

In honor of William H. Bellinger’s work, A Hermeneutic of Curiosity and Readings of Psalm 61, this work applies the “Hermeneutic of Curiosity” to Ps 78. This hermeneutical model recognizes the important contributions of diachronic and synchronic approaches to the interpretation of biblical texts. The work considers various aspects of author/origin, text, and reader in order to expand our understanding of Ps 78.

 

Remembering the Ancestors: Pss 105 and 106 as Conclusion to Book IV of the Psalter: pp. 185–96

John E. Anderson
Presentation College
Aberdeen SD 57401

This study focuses on the twin historical Pss 105 and 106 and their function in concluding Book IV of the Psalter. I argue that the figures of the ancestors and the ancestral covenant frame these psalms and evince a movement, reflecting on the failure of the Israelite monarchy, whereby ancient Israel returns to the memories of earlier, pre-monarchic ideals and traditions as a means of carving out a new future after the identity crisis of exile. This future rests upon the confidence of God’s covenantal relationship, first established with the ancestors in Genesis.

 

Idolatry and Agency: pp. 197–211

Walter Brueggemann
Columbia Theological Seminary
Decatur GA 30030

In Pss 115 and 135 YHWH is contrasted with the idols. The primary point of contrast is that idols have no agency, whereas YHWH has spectacular, transformative capacity as agent. In this essay, the accent falls on the affirmation of Pss 115:8 and 135:18 that the worshipers of idols become like the idols, incapable of agency. The result is that the worshipers of idols are, like the idols, commodified and eventually monetized. Examples of that commoditization and monetization are cited from Aaron’s Golden Calf, Esther as trophy wife, and Ezekiel’s assault on the practices of the city kingdom of Tyre. To the contrary, those who worship YHWH have the prospect of becoming agents in their own lives, an agency expressed in dialogical faith and life.

 

“A Long Ways from Home”: Displacement, Lament, and Singing Protest in Psalm 137: pp. 213–23

Valerie Bridgeman
The Methodist Theological School in Ohio
Delaware OH 43015

Among African Americans the question, “how can I sing the Lord’s song in a strange land,” surfaces in sermons, public discourse, and the way in which they move in spaces of the dominating/colonializing culture. As lament, Ps 137 may be interpreted to reflect a sense of displacement from a “homeland,” as well as a longing for a place to call one’s own. In recent years, this sentiment seems nearly palpable in the irruption of justice movements such at Moral Mondays, Dream Defenders, and Black Lives Matters (or, more accurately, the Movement for Black Lives). This essay uses a womanist hermeneutic of resistance and longing, while setting the Psalm in its history of interpretation and the contemporary protests. Interpreting the psalm in this way uncovers it a protest song that from its opening verse resists Babylonian captivity.

 

“How Good it is to Sing Praises to our God” (Ps 147:1): The Final Hallel in Light of Utopian Literary Theory: pp. 225–37

W. Dennis Tucker Jr.
George W. Truett Theological Seminary, Baylor University
Waco TX 76706

In line with Bellinger’s methodological commitments to the study of the Psalter, this contribution will employ utopian literary theory as the operative heuristic device through which to examine the Final Hallel (Pss 146–150). As employed here, utopian theory informs the understanding of this collection’s content and rhetorical function within the Psalter. To that end, this study will provide a brief introduction to utopian literary theory, followed by examples of how biblical scholarship has employed this theory as a meaningful heuristic device in the analysis of other biblical texts. The final section will consider Pss 146–150 in light of utopian theory. While necessarily brief, this final section will, I hope, prove suggestive for further inquiry.

 

The Psalms as a Place to Begin for an Old Testament Introduction: pp. 239–48

Robert E. Wallace
Judson University
Elgin IL 60123

In recent years, the scholarship of education has suggested that students learn best when theory is contextualized and discovery based. Rather than learning abstract concepts in a vacuum, material which is contextualized leads to better understanding and, in the end, better learning. Old Testament Introductions can apply this method by using the book of Psalms as a dialogue partner through which to contextualize the rest of the Old Testament text. The book of Psalms has its own, unique contribution to the biblical story, but it also contains a sample of the themes found in the rest of the Hebrew Bible. Using Psalms, which is itself something of a miniature Old Testament survey, to contextualize the Old Testament provides unique opportunities for pedagogical understanding and interesting intertextual readings.

 

Is David, too, among the Prophets? A Study of 2 Samuel 23:1–7: pp. 249–59

Jan Jaynes Quesada
Texas Christian University
Fort Worth TX 76129

This essay considers the poem introduced as “the Last Words of David” in 2 Sam 23:1–7 in order to explore its allusive, persuasive, and prophetic features. Considered within its context near the end of Samuel, the poem—also known as David’s Farewell Oracle—will be shown to revisit and intensify the key elements of the David Narrative. By expressing the dependence of human flourishing on righteous governance, this brief oracle also functions as a prophetic expression of Deuteronomic Royal theology. In short, this essay concludes that David is, perhaps, among the prophets.

 

Habakkuk’s Dialogue with Faithful Yahweh: A Transforming Experience: pp. 261–74

David Moseman
Baylor University
Waco TX 76706

The book of Habakkuk presents readers with a disconcerting dialogue between Habakkuk and Yahweh that concludes with a profound profession of faith. In the midst of this interaction, one encounters a diverse array of elements ranging from lament and oracle to prayer and theophany. How is one to make sense of this material? This article interprets the book as a synchronic whole and looks at the transformation that the Habakkuk undergoes as a result of his dialogue with Yahweh. In doing so, this article looks anew, particularly in relationship to Habakkuk himself, at the meaning of (1) Hab 2:4, (2) the הוֹי (hwy) oracles, (3) the call to silence in 2:20, and (4) the function of the theophany in transforming the prophet who is still struggling at the beginning of chapter 3.

 

 

Issue 03 -- Fall 2017

New Intersections in Baptist Studies: pp. 281–89

Eileen R. Campbell-Reed
Central Baptist Theological Seminary
Nashville TN 37212    

This essay is adapted from remarks I made as president at the National Association of Baptist Professors of Religion (NABPR) in San Antonio, Texas, November 19, 2016. The opportunity allowed me to reflect on questions animating and motivating my study of Baptists. The questions are embedded in a brief narrative of my formation as a minister and scholar and largely focus on gender and meaning. Finally, I note some gaps in Baptist studies, especially the inattention to intersections of race, gender, class, and sexuality. I conclude with a short description of a collaborative project on Baptists and intersectionality.

 

Reading the Beginning of Mark from the Perspective of Greco-Roman Education: pp. 291–309

Ronald F. Hock
University of Southern California
Los Angeles California 90089

How would a well-educated Christian of the first century have read and assessed the beginning of the Gospel of Mark (1:1–15)? Answering this question reveals much that readers today would otherwise miss. An educated Christian at that time meant being rhetorically trained and so this reader would have used that training to read the gospel. He would have identified it as a narrative, indeed as a biographical narrative, as seen in the convention of naming the subject's father (1:1) and hometown (1:9). He would have looked to see if these verses displayed the qualities of a narrative, such as clarity, as seen in the use of the nominative case, unlabored diction, and starting at the beginning (1:1). He would have identified these verses as also a rhetorical introduction to the whole of Mark and hence would have read them to see if they fulfilled the functions of an introduction, such as gaining the reader's attention, as seen in its announcement of something momentous: the fulfillment of a long-awaited prophecy (1:2–3), the identification of Jesus as Son of God (1:11), and the imminence of the reign of God (1:15).

 

Is the Baptism of Jesus by John Historically Certain?: pp. 311–22

Charles W. Hedrick
Missouri State University
Springfield MO 65897

Many recent publications regard the baptism of Jesus by John as historically certain, or virtually so. This essay argues that unless one assumes the existence of an incipient oral form of the synoptic master-narrative that included Mark 1:9 in some form, there is no certain evidence until the latter half of the first century that John baptized Jesus.

 

Narrative Apocalyptic in Ephesians: pp. 323–37

Carey C. Newman
Baylor University Press
Waco TX 76798

Two, mutually exclusive ways to read Paul now dominate.  One school of thought construes Paul as a covenant theologian who is gripped by a singular narrative about the Israel and Jesus.  The other school of thought sees Paul as an apocalyptic theologian who focuses on God's dramatic intrusion into and disruption of  the cosmos in Jesus.  The former privileges continuity, while the latter emphasizes discontinuity.  This article uses Ephesians as a sounding board for how Paul was first received.  The article discovers the presence of both apocalyptic and narrative in Ephesians.  Both apocalyptic and narrative fund the theological, scriptural, symbolic, and rhetorical world of Ephesians.  But the article also retraces the ways that Ephesians consciously uses apocalyptic to interpret, reframe and restage covenant.  Ephesians does so, particularly, by employing non-Biblical cosmic myths about a primal, cosmic Anthropos.  Finally, the article explores how Ephesians can conjoin both narrative and apocalyptic in its theological enterprise.  Ephesians capitalizes on the implications inherent in the enchained symbols of cross and resurrection one narrative, one apocalyptic to describe God's purposes for Jesus, the Church, and the World.

 

Ecclesiology Under Pressure: The Importance of Theological Solidarity Language in 1 Thessalonians: pp. 339–52

Ross Harriman
Asbury Theological Seminary
Wilmore, KY 40390-1199

A neglected element in ecclesiological analysis of 1 Thessalonians studied in this paper is the crucial link between ecclesiology and its theological roots. Paul forges this link through “theological solidarity language.” Theological solidarity language is language that solidifies bonds within the group and with God by rooting the communal identity in common beliefs in and relationships with this God. Paul uses this language to reaffirm and reemphasize communal identity and solidarity against communal conflict and suffering. The particular shapes this language takes in 1 Thessalonians include insider language and theological and pneumatological incorporation into union with God.

 

‘We are all equal’ (Omnes sumus aequales): A Critical Assessment of Early Protestant Ministerial Thinking: pp. 353–76

Henk Bakker
Zoom 16 nr. 2
8225 KK Lelystad
The Netherlands

The frequently proposed truism that the Believers Church tradition represents a church type of its own is not uncontested at all. Protestants and Baptists alike owe their ecclesial existence int.al. to Luther’s maxim that all Christians are equal in the sight of God (“Omnes sumus aequales” [We are all equal]). Yet, if we study Protestant opinion about ecclesial office and concomitant awareness of equality, we come to the conclusion that conflicting insights, and consequentially the parting of the ways between reformed and radicals, were originally ignited by basic disagreement concerning the dispensability of the congregation in matters of spiritual discernment, and concerning Christocentric visibility of the church, as was clearly displayed in the city of Zurich in the middle of the first half of the 16th century. With reason Believers Church congregations label themselves as a third church type.