Unsettled Christianity

Gloria Dei homo vivens – St Irenaeus
October 29th, 2015

Book Notes, @ivpacademic’s “Spirit of God: Christian Renewal in the Community of Faith “

While at times dense and jargon-laced, these essays are perhaps what the cautious rationalist needs to start toe-dipping into the fires of the Spirit. There are swatches of useful concepts – see especially Amos Young’s “pneumato-personalistic theology of creation”. Estrelda Alexanders renders a gorgeous explanation of why so many attempt to distance themselves from perceived pagan influences and Barbeau perhaps gives the most concise descriptions of the “Aldersgate” incident and the surrounding psychobiographies and clips from journals I’ve seen. If you’re currently mired in the academia and thinking of taking the Holy Spirit out for a test drive and wanting to kick the tires, this is for you. If you’re already dancing in the sanctuary and wonder why everyone else is in “sit, stand, sit-mode” – these  informational essays will explain everything. The collection is highly engaging and the variety of authorship and perspective makes this one to have on the shelf for your upcoming essay or to prep for long conversations with those who are wondering where the spark went, why – and how we might get it back, carefully. 

Thanks to Joshua Kent, author of The Witch at Sparrow Creek, for this Note.

October 21st, 2015

Book Review, @ivpacademic’s “Rediscovering Jesus: An Introduction to Biblical, Religious and Cultural Perspectives on Christ”

I am left to wonder, because of the proposed premise of this book, if we aren’t left with a more hidden Jesus than before. The second half of the book makes the book worthwhile. It examines the Jesuses of different religions, including the Gnostic, Muslim and American (yes, I did call “American” a religion). In this, the authors (while presenting an evangelical outlook) tackle what Christianity would be if, say, the Mormon Jesus of Joseph Smith, was the dominant Jesus. This “Jesus Outside the Bible” should be expanded more, giving special attention to various other Jesus projects (including the Quest for the Historical Jesus and this book) and how such a Jesus may actually differ from the biblical accounts. In the end, however, this second half of the book is where the premise fulfills itself. If Rediscovering Jesus was only this second half, this book would merit five stars.

But it isn’t.

Latter-day Saints believe in the resurrected J...

Latter-day Saints believe in the resurrected Jesus Christ, as depicted in the Christus Statue in the North Visitors’ Center on Temple Square in Salt Lake City (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Rather, the first half of the book leaves me troubled given their often over-Southern Baptist and too-simplistic outlook. The authors, David B. Capes, Rodney Reeves, and E. Randolph Richards, make it clear that they understand the New Testament presents a Jesus of many layers and that “others reinterpret Jesus”  but they fail to see how they do so. For instance, they seem to think that had we only the Pauline Jesus (74-88) we would be missing Christian ethics and so on. I am left to wonder what sort of Marconite sheol this is, given that St. Paul (and Jesus before him) pulled directly from the Old Testament to form Christian ethics. Yes, the point must be made that the Jesus of Christian Tradition is in fact one built by the entire canon of the New Testament (and the Old), but it seems they have gone far — removing the role Tradition has played in not only laying the cake that is Jesus, but in providing the icing.

The book is well written, suitable for small group study, with plenty of asides to further the conversation. However, it lacks fulfilling its ultimate premise. What biblical introduction is this? Scripture was never meant to be one book, which is why we have Mark spawning Matthew, and so on. The claim that Apostolic Succession would have been lost without Mark is a sad one, given that Apostolic Succession is one of the tools shaping the Canon. But Mark drew from Paul and required that the readers knew of Paul’s writings. Is this really biblical, given that examination of a New Testament book is examined not with a critical eye, but a confessing (and an evangelical one at that?) eye? Is it really religious, when the only other comparative religious examination is between the Baptist seminary’s view of the Christian Jesus and Gnosticism, Mormon, and Islamic? Why not the historical critical scholar’s view of Jesus, the Catholic’s view of Jesus, and the Unitarian?

This book isn’t a complete failure, but my initial excitement quickly faded. I hope that readers do not take the Jesus presented in the first half and suppose that this Jesus is the only layered Jesus for Christians.

September 9th, 2015

In the Mail from @IVPAcademic: Business Ethics in Biblical Perspective: A Comprehensive Introduction

t is legal for CEOs to make 300 times the amount of the average worker. But is this fair and just? Is it ethical for a customer to purchase a digital camera for the sole purpose of using it on a ski trip and then return the item to the store afterwards? Should companies who purchase advertising space on websites that offer pirated videos for download be held accountable for breaking intellectual property laws? The world of business is fraught with ethical challenges. Some of these are relatively straightforward, but others are complicated and require careful reflection. While there are numerous theories to help people navigate these dilemmas, the goal of this book is to provide a comprehensive biblical perspective on contemporary issues in areas such as consumer behavior, management, accounting and marketing. In Business Ethics in Biblical Perspective, Michael E. Cafferky explores the biblical resources for moral guidance and ethical consideration. He identifies twelve key themes in the narrative of Scripture: cosmic conflict, creation, holiness, covenant relationships, shalom, sabbath, justice, righteousness, truth, wisdom, loving kindness and redemption. By looking at ethical approaches and issues through this multifaceted biblical perspective, Cafferky helps readers appreciate the complex nature of ethical decision making, particularly in the context of business and finance. Designed from the start with the classroom in mind, each chapter of Business Ethics in Biblical Perspective provides example scenarios, questions for intrapersonal and interpersonal ethical reflection, review questions, ethical vignettes for discussion and an exploration of the chapter material in light of the biblical themes. Additional IVP Instructor Resources are also available.

July 22nd, 2015

Book Reminder: @ivpacademic’s “Mapping Your Academic Career: Charting the Course of a Professor’s Life”

Thanks to IVP-Academic for sending this review copy along.

You’re finishing your first year of teaching. It’s been exciting and gratifying, but there’ve been some wobbly episodes too. How will you carve out a space to flourish? You’re feeling secure in mid-career, with some accomplishments to be proud of. But what should success really look like? You’re nearing the end of your career, and sometimes apprehensive about the blank slate of retirement. What might it look like to finish well? In Mapping Your Academic Career Gary Burge speaks from decades of teaching, writing and mentoring. Along the way he has experienced and observed the challenges and tensions, the successes and failures of the academic pilgrimage. Now, with discerning wisdom and apt examples, he hosts the conversation he wishes he’d had when he started out as a college professor, identifying three cohorts or stages in the academic career and exploring the challenges, pitfalls and triumphs of each. Wherever you are in your teaching life, this is a book that will reward reading, reflection and discussion.

March 25th, 2015

In the (e)mail from @AccordanceBible, @ivpacademic’s “Ancient Christian Doctrine (5 Volumes)”

NA28 on AccordanceThanks to H at Accordance for this!

From the Accordance Website:

This exciting five-volume series follows up on the acclaimed Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture to provide patristic commentary on the Nicene Creed. The series renders primary Greek, Latin, Coptic and Syriac source material from the church fathers in lucid English translation (some here for the first time) and gives readers unparalleled insight into the history and substance of what the early church believed.

Including biographical sketches, a timeline of ancient Christian sources, indexes, bibliographies and keys to original language sources as well as the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed in Greek, Latin and English (ICET version), this series illuminates key theological essentials in the light of classic and consensual Christian faith and makes an excellent resource for preaching and teaching.

This module includes the following five volumes:

  • Volume 1 – We Believe in One God (Edited by Gerald L. Bray)
  • Volume 2 – We Believe in One Lord Jesus Christ (Edited by John Anthony Mcguckin)
  • Volume 3 – We Believe in the Crucified and Risen Lord (Edited by Mark J. Edwards)
  • Volume 4 – We Believe in the Holy Spirit (Edited by Joel C. Elowsky)
  • Volume 5 – We Believe in One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church (Edited by Angelo DiBerardino)

You may also be interested in the 29-volume Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture (ACCS Complete) and the 3-volume Ancient Christian Devotional (Ancient Devotional).

BTW, as of today, there is a 20% discount storewide.

This is what it looks like on my Mac:

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This is what it looks like on my iPad with 2.0 Accordance App:

  

  

I mean… how awesome is that!

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