2013 Volume 40

Issue 01 -- Spring 2013

Apocalypticism and Eschatology: A Study of Mark 13:3-37: pp. 7-18
Thomas B. Slater
McAfee School of Theology
Atlanta GA 30341

This article discusses the relationship between eschatology and apocalypticism, before turning to an examination of the passage in Mark that has frequently been referred to as the “Synoptic Apocalypse.” Various aspects of these verses are consistent with other Jewish and Christian apocalypses; on the other hand, certain elements of the text are in line with non-apocalyptic texts from the Hebrew Bible, as well as writings from the Jewish historian Josephus. The article concludes that Mark 13 does not meet the technical definition of an apocalypse. While it contains some apocalyptic features, it is better viewed as being similar to eschatological prophetic oracles in the Hebrew Bible. The article ends with a discussion of the significance for modern readers of the apocalypticism of Mark 13 in particular and the NT in general.

Apocalyptic Discourse as Constructive Theology: pp. 19-34
Greg Carey
Lancaster Theological Seminary
Lancaster PA 17603

Through a series of case studies, including 1 Thes 4:13-18, 1 Cor 15, Luke 21:4-38, and Revelation, this essay demonstrates the critical role of New Testament apocalyptic literature in shaping theological responses to emerging situations. We encounter apocalyptic discourse throughout the New Testament, in gospels, Acts, epistles, and the Apocalypse. Indeed, apocalyptic concepts such as resurrection, messianic hope, and a final judgment energize the core of early Christian proclamation. Addressing diverse situations, New Testament authors offered comfort and encouragement, corrected behavior and theology they found faulty, and provided the resources for new ways of understanding God and the world. With its distinctive capacity for building authority, apocalyptic argumentation also played a prominent role in early Christian controversy. While contemporary readers may experience discomfort with apocalyptic literature, particularly its association with authoritarianism, responsible engagement with the New Testament may not avoid this essential dimension.

“In Christ There Is a New Creation”: Apocalypticism in Paul: pp. 35-48
Jerry L. Sumney
Lexington Theological Seminary
Lexington KY 40508

This essay argues that a modified apocalyptic outlook serves a vital function in Paul’s thought and theology. He relies on it to interpret the death and resurrection of Jesus, the persecution of believers, and the dominance of evil in the world. It is also the matrix through which he understands the presence of God in the church and through which he provides instruction for proper behavior. Interpreted through this lens, the resurrection of Christ and the presence of the Spirit provide proof of the coming consummation that vindicates the faithful and the character of God. This apocalyptic outlook, then, is an essential element of Paul’s understanding of the Gospel.

John Is Not Daniel: The Ahistorical Apocalypticism of the Apocalypse: pp. 49-63
David L. Barr
Wright State University
Dayton OH 45435

Unlike Daniel, John’s Apocalypse does not seek to portray a series of chronological events; it represents a fundamentally different kind of apocalypticism, one oriented more to space (above and below) than to time (before and after). John witnesses what already exists in the realm above. Several factors contribute to John’s focus on the present. Unlike Daniel, John is not pseudonymous; he is not ensconced in the imperial court; and he exhibits a fully developed dualism. Unlike Daniel, John’s temporal sequences are distorted and his portrayal of events is repetitive. The coming of Jesus is not some future, climactic event; it occurs in the hearing of the apocalypse, the presence of the prophet, and the fellowship meal.

Followers of the Lamb: Role Models in the Book of Revelation: pp. 65-79
Mitchell G. Reddish
Stetson University
DeLand FL 32723

Concerned about heretical teaching, unacceptable behavior, involvement in the imperial cult, and cultural accommodation, the author of the book of Revelation used several methods to attempt to shape the beliefs and practices of the Christian communities of Asia Minor. Among his repertoire of techniques and strategies was the use of role models. Throughout the Apocalypse, John of Patmos pointed his readers/hearers to multiple exemplars of fidelity to God. This essay discusses John’s major role models of faithfulness, including Jesus “the faithful witness,” John of Patmos, Antipas, the conquerors, the Bride of the Lamb, and the martyrs who follow the Lamb wherever he goes.

Issue 02 -- Summer 2013

Biblical Realism in the Work of John Howard Yoder: pp. 109-121
Jonathan R. Wilson
Carey Theological Seminary
Vancouver BC V6T 1J6

Biblical realism is an important but relatively neglected element in the work of John Howard Yoder. Yoder draws biblical realism from a number of scholars and develops his own account, which is most closely related to Paul Minear. For Yoder, biblical realism is a “style” or “point of view” that teaches and represents a particular way of reading the Bible, grounded in its eventfulness, particularity, and witness. Others’ accounts of Yoder’s biblical realism are misleading or incomplete. Biblical realism may be expanded into a larger point of view for the work of theology as “gospel realism.”

When Jesus Said “Love Your Enemies” I Think He Probably Meant Don’t Kill Them: pp. 123-129
Nancey Murphy
Fuller Theological Seminary
Pasadena CA 91182

This essay asks whether contemporary science has any relevance for the church’s pursuit of peace. I argue for its relevance in a backwards sort of way: Contemporary neuroscience has called into question the dualist theories widely held by Christian laity. This is provoking Christian scholars to revisit the work done half a century ago, arguing that dualism is not biblical but a later Hellenistic development. What can we say of the role of body-soul dualism in the loss of pacifism in the church? I suggest that the concept of an immortal soul led to solidification of a doctrine of eternal Hell, which in turn was taken to justify ferocious punishments in this life in the hope of avoiding it. The elimination of dualism will not reverse the damage it has done, so I end with Glen Stassen’s practical initiatives to reclaim our pacifist heritage.

A Thick Hispanic Jesús: pp. 131-142
Miguel A. De La Torre
Iliff School of Theology
Denver CO 80210

Glen Stassen argues that Christian ethics needs a “thicker Jesus.” This essay agrees but argues that the Euroamerican version of a thick Jesus can save neither Euroamericans nor Hispanics. This is because Euroamericans (and many Latina/os) read the Bible, including the teachings of Jesus, from the perspective of privilege rather than from the margins where the powerless dwell, thus training them to support rather than oppose structural injustice. Both Euroamericans and Latino/as need a thick Hispanic Jesús who comes to earth as liberator of the oppressed. The essay reviews key moments in the life and ministry of Jesús to argue that his entire life was spent as and among los humildes of the earth, which is where those who claim to be his followers must also dwell and serve.

“A Blanket License to Commit Evil Acts”? A Fresh Examination of Bonhoeffer’s Christological Framing of Ethics: pp. 143-153
Mark Thiessen Nation
Eastern Mennonite Seminary
Harrisonburg VA 22802

This essay examines the contested text of Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s famous Ethics in an examination of the widely accepted claim that in chapter 4 of the Ethics Bonhoeffer offers a veiled justification for participation in a conspiracy to assassinate Adolf Hitler. The essay reviews the deeply Christological framing of Ethics, including Bonhoeffer’s reaffirmation of nonviolence and of the Sermon on the Mount, suggesting that this central theme in Bonhoeffer is immensely hard to square with a reading of chapter 4 as authorizing assassination as an expression of responsibility, vicarious representative action, taking on guilt, or free Christian action. The author concludes by arguing that the historical record does not in fact demonstrate that Bonhoeffer was involved in any such assassination conspiracy, and that his reflections in chapter 4 of Ethics are more likely to have been about Christian participation in wartime frontline killing.

A Thicker Jesus as a Contextual and Embodied Christian Ethics: pp. 155-166
Reggie L. Williams
McCormick Theological Seminary
Chicago IL 60615

Christian ethics that will make for a good, healthy community cannot be conceived of without attention to my neighbor’s and my own concrete needs for justice. Christian ethics must see the real world, in real time, with its authoritarian abuses of power and with God’s claim to Lordship over the entirety of our life. The pursuit of justice and human rights are Christian and are recognized as core to the way of Jesus when we interpret the way of Jesus from within his context to make connections to our own context. A Christological hermeneutic that takes faithfulness to Christ seriously must guard against turning Jesus’ life into thin principles or making him a fetish of a privatized religion. Daily obedience to the way of Jesus requires a contextual and embodied Christian ethics.

Recognition, Human Rights, and the Pursuit of Peace: pp. 167-179
D. M. Yeager
Georgetown University
Washington, D.C. 20057

This essay explores Paul Ricoeur’s analysis of recognition in search of points of intersection between the social-theoretical literature on recognition and Glen Stassen’s account of the practice of just peacemaking.

An Interpretation of the Christian Ethics of Glen Harold Stassen: Incarnational Discipleship for Apocalyptic Times: pp. 181-193
David P. Gushee
Mercer University
Atlanta GA 30341

This essay attempts an interpretation of the Christian ethics of Glen Harold Stassen. The essay outlines key influences in Stassen’s ethic, including his family background, humble Minnesota roots, apocalyptic historical context, notable intellectual progenitors, experiences in the Southern US, and churchmanship in the Baptist, ecumenical, evangelical, and global Christian worlds. These influences are linked to key contributions of Stassen, including just peacemaking, triadic interpretation of the Sermon on the Mount, transforming initiatives, and incarnational discipleship. The latter term is Stassen’s preferred label for his mature Christian ethic.

Issue 03 -- Fall 2013

Egypt as God’s People: Isaiah 19:19–25 and Its Allusions to the Exodus: pp. 207–218
Stephane A. Beaulieu
Andrews University
Berrien Springs MI 49104

Isaiah 19:19–25 provides an overview of God’s relationship with Egypt and, more particularly, portrays the Egyptians as God’s people. Allusions with certain key words are employed that lead the reader to see the associated story of Exodus. How do the allusions to Exod 3 in Isa 19:19–25 contribute to the meaning of the latter? Isaiah takes the Exodus concept of a covenant between God and Israel and turns it on its head for a bigger picture: a covenant with another nation. While God may still use Israel, God is not dependent on Israel to fulfill God’s covenant with other nations.

Baptist Ecclesiology from John Clarke to E. Y. Mullins: The Personal, the Communal, and the Eschatological: pp. 219–234
C. Douglas Weaver
Baylor University
Waco TX 76798

This essay explores the understudied relationship between Baptist ecclesiology and Baptist eschatology in American Baptist history. It suggests that a signal marker of Baptist identity has been the interplay of the concerns for both the emulation of the New Testament church and individual conscience. The creation of Baptist churches was rooted in the freedom of conscience. The Baptist focus on freedom of conscience was rooted, at least in part, in eschatological concerns. Baptists practiced an eschatologically-informed ecclesiology that honored congregational polity yet preserved the necessity of individual conscience because of their belief that at the Last Judgment, each person will meet Christ face to face and be accountable to him as Lord alone of the conscience.

Unsettling Conversations: Jon Sobrino’s Christo-Praxis as a Baptist Theological Method? pp. 235–250
Amy L. Chilton Thompson
Fuller Theological Seminary
Pasadena CA 91182

Jim McClendon claimed that contemporary Baptist theology faces the task of re-identifying itself by drawing on particularly Baptist sources and practices. Similarly, Steve Harmon directs Baptist theologians to the pressing task of re-locating themselves within the larger theological tradition, while simultaneously arguing that they lack the methodologies by which to do so. In response to this dual-identity crisis (internal and external), this essay engages Jon Sobrino’s christo-praxis as a theological method that may provide helpful tools for these Baptist theological tasks.

Has the “End of Faith” Come for 21st Century Ethics? H. Richard Niebuhr’s Challenge: pp. 251–266
Frederick Glennon
Le Moyne College
Syracuse NY 13214

Drawing upon the moral phenomenology of H. Richard Niebuhr, this essay challenges the contention of the “new atheists” that morality today must be based on reason, not religious faith. Beginning with Niebuhr’s conception of the self as social, the essay outlines the triadic structure that underlies Niebuhr’s conceptions of moral responsibility and of faith, demonstrating the interrelatedness of the dimensions of self, context, and faith in Niebuhr’s thought. The essay concludes with a discussion of the ways in which Niebuhr’s descriptions of the moral life and of the role that faith plays address and correct for the concerns of “new atheists.”

Raising Hell about Razing Hell: Evangelical Debates on Universal Salvation: pp. 267–281
John Sanders
Hendrix College
Conway AR 72032

It is commonly thought that all North American evangelicals understand hell as entailing eternal conscious punishment. However, in 2011 evangelical pastor Rob Bell published Love Wins, which rejects the eternal torment view and makes a case for an open discussion of universal salvation. No fewer than six books by Calvinist evangelicals were rushed to press in order to counter Bell’s book. This most recent flare-up over the doctrine of eternal conscious punishment arises out of “the battle for hell” that occurred in evangelical theology in the 1990s. This article surveys the recent history of the debate about hell in evangelical theology via a typology of five views. The final section offers an assessment of the state of the contemporary dispute over universal salvation.

Issue 04 -- Winter 2013

Blue Pill or the Red Pill? Technology and Teaching Religion: pp. 311–319
Phyllis Rodgerson Pleasants Tessieri
Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond
Richmond VA 23227 (retired)

Teaching religion and ministerial training are not immune to academic upheavals involving technology. Regardless of the debates about what can be taught online and how technology enhances education, religion professors will be challenged to incorporate online technology in their teaching because the experience students already have with technology before they reach university or seminary will influence the courses they take, the majors they declare, and the schools they attend. Professors of religion will need to adapt to the connectivity that is forming people who arrive at institutions of higher learning with different experiences of community, leadership, and religion because of their experience with technology.

YHWH’s Subversive Order: Reconsidering the Structure and Thematic Development of the Eighth Psalm: pp. 321–335
Hubert James Keener
Wheaton College
Wheaton IL 60187

This article proposes a fresh approach to the thematic development of Psalm 8 by considering how the psalm presents its topics. The resulting thematic analysis addresses several difficulties that perplex interpreters. Through three parallel reversals, the psalm introduces the reader to a relatively inferior thing, and then leads the reader into a contemplation of the exalted position that the thing has in the created order. At the center stands the human, who is exalted over YHWH’s creation. The poem’s overarching message, then, is that the LORD makes His name excellent by exalting seemingly insignificant things to maintain the created order.

Silence as Rhetorical Technique in Luke 14:1–6: pp. 337–348
Michal Beth Dinkler
Loyola Marymount University
Los Angeles CA 90045

Though scholars across diverse disciplines have analyzed silence in terms of its contexts, sources, and functions, these insights have barely begun to make inroads in biblical studies. This paper suggests that the religious leaders’ silence in response to Jesus in Luke 14:1–6 does not indicate fear or acquiescence; it is, rather, a voluntary rhetorical technique, a powerfully loaded refusal to participate with Jesus in open dialogue. This silence, in turn, points toward a realignment of the religious leaders’ identity: they begin as strong opponents, verbally sparring with Jesus, but in the end, they must surrender to Jesus the territory of linguistic debate.

Robert Browne as an Unwanted Child: Explaining Separatism from the Nursery of Presbyterian Puritanism: pp. 349–365
Jan Martijn Abrahamse
Baptist Seminary, VU University Amsterdam
Amsterdam, The Netherlands

This paper aims to reconsider the radical image of Robert Browne, the father of English Separatism, by a comparative reading of his famous writing A treatise of reformation without tarying for anie (1582) with the Presbyterian pamphlet An admonition to parliament (1572). Coming from the same seedbed of Puritanism in Cambridge, Browne used existing Presbyterian argumentation to defend his separation from the Church of England. Initially sharing the same ideals—an emphasis on the local church, equality of ministers, the ministry as a preaching office, and church discipline—Browne’s shrewd application pushed the Presbyterians to take a more moderate stand.

The End of Baptist Dissent: pp. 367–387
Douglas V. Henry
Baylor University
Waco TX 76798

Is there an end to Baptist dissent? Two questions here appear as one: the first concerns telos and the second terminus. To address both questions, I examine the conditions upon which the purpose of Baptist dissent and thus its completion depend. I begin with Ralph McInerny’s Lack of the Irish, a murder mystery featuring Notre Dame’s Catholics and Baylor’s Baptists taking up the cudgels on Reformation Day itself. With McInerny’s revealing literary representation of principled Protestantism in view, I engage Gerald Schlabach’s Unlearning Protestantism, making sense of a Protestant Dilemma trenchantly faced by Baptists. Finally, I offer implications for Baptists committed to the priority of communion over dissent.