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Leading up to the Seattle Seahawks 2014 playoff run, Pastor Mark Driscoll sat down with a few of the players and one of the coaches to talk about their faith in Jesus Christ and how it intersects with life on and off the football field.

In this video starting quarterback Russell Wilson tells his story and shares some of the ways that Jesus influences his life.

Matt Emerson is compiling a list of resources for Theological Interpretation of Scripture. If you know of more sources let him know.

Here is what he has so far.

TIS Texts

Adam, A. K. M., Stephen Fowl, Kevin  Vanhoozer, and Francis Watson. Reading Scripture with the church: toward a hermeneutic for theological interpretation. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Academic, 2006.

Bartholomew, Craig G., Colin J. D. Greene, and Karl Möller. Renewing biblical interpretation. Carlisle, Cumbria, UK: Paternoster Press ;, 2000.

Billings, J. Todd. The Word of God for the people of God: an entryway to the theological interpretation of Scripture. Grand Rapids, Mich.: W.B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 2010.

Bockmuehl, Markus N. A.. Seeing the Word: refocusing New Testament study. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Academic, 2006.

Bockmuehl, Markus N. A., and Alan J. Torrance. Scripture’s doctrine and theology’s Bible: how the New Testament shapes Christian dogmatics. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Academic, 2008.

Farkasfalvy, Denis M.. Inspiration & interpretation: a theological introduction to Sacred Scripture. Washington, D.C.: Catholic University of America Press, 2010.

Fowl, Stephen E.. The theological interpretation of Scripture: classic and contemporary readings. Malden, Mass.: Blackwell, 1997.

Fowl, Stephen E.. Engaging scripture: a model for theological interpretation. Malden, Mass.: Blackwell Publishers, 1998.

Fowl, Stephen E.. Theological interpretation of scripture. Eugene, Or.: Cascade Books, 2009.

Green, Joel B.. Practicing theological interpretation: engaging biblical texts for faith and formation. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Academic, 2011.

Levering, Matthew. Participatory Biblical exegesis: a theology of Biblical interpretation. Notre Dame, Ind.: University of Notre Dame Press, 2008.

Treier, Daniel J.. Introducing theological interpretation of Scripture: recovering a Christian practice. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Academic, 2008.

Vanhoozer, Kevin J., Craig G. Bartholomew, Daniel J. Treier, and N. T. Wright. Dictionary for theological interpretation of the Bible. London: SPCK ;, 2005.

Vanhoozer, Kevin J., Daniel J. Treier, and N. T. Wright. Theological interpretation of the New Testament: a book-by-book survey. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Academic, 2008.

Vanhoozer, Kevin J.. Theological interpretation of the Old Testament: a book-by-book survey. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Academic, 2008.

Watson, Francis. Text, church, and world: biblical interpretation in theological perspective. Grand Rapids, Mich.: W.B. Eerdmans, 1994.

 

Hermeneutics Texts

Leithart, Peter J.. Deep exegesis: the mystery of reading Scripture. Waco, Tex.: Baylor University Press, 2009.

Smith, James K. A.. The fall of interpretation: philosophical foundations for a creational hermeneutic. Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 2000.

Vanhoozer, Kevin J.. Is there a meaning in this text?: the Bible, the reader, and the morality of literary knowledge. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 1998.

Vanhoozer, Kevin J.. The drama of doctrine: a canonical-linguistic approach to Christian theology. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2005.

 

Biblical Theology Texts

Bartholomew, Craig G., and Elaine Botha. Out of Egypt: biblical theology and biblical interpretation. Bletchley, Milton Keynes, UK: Paternoster Press ;, 2004.

Bartholomew, Craig G., Joel B. Green, and Anthony C. Thiselton. Reading Luke: interpretation, reflection, formation. Milton Keynes, UK: Paternoster Press ;, 2005.

Bartholomew, Craig G.. Canon and biblical interpretation. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 2006.

Watson, Francis. Text and truth: redefining biblical theology. Grand Rapids, Mich.: W.B. Eerdmans Pub., 1997.

 

Dogmatics Texts

Swain, Scott R.. Trinity, revelation, and reading: a theological introduction to the Bible and its interpretation. London: T&T Clark, 2011.

Webster, J. B.. Word and church: essays in Christian dogmatics. Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 2001.

Webster, John. Holy Scripture: a dogmatic sketch. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2003.

 

History of Interpretation Texts

Hall, Christopher A.. Reading scripture with the church Fathers. Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 1998.

Keefe, John J., and Russell R. Reno. Sanctified vision: an introduction to early Christian interpretation of the Bible. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2005.

Lubac, Henri de. Medieval exegesis: the four senses of Scripture. Grand Rapids, Mich.: W.B. Eerdmans Pub. Co. ;, 1998.

Common Grace and Art

January 30, 2014 — 5 Comments

9781433535970In Jerram Barrs’s “Echoes of Eden” he has a section about enjoying the artistic ability of non-Christians.

He points to 1 Kings 5 where we read about how God is pleased that Solomon is hiring the finest craftsman of the day, unbelievers sent by Hiram, king of Tyre.

John Calvin writes about the folly and blasphemy of denying that God has given gifts liberally to unbelievers.

Therefore, in reading profane authors, the admirable light of truth displayed in them should remind us, that the human mind, however much fallen and perverted from its original integrity, is still adorned and invested with admirable gifts from its Creator. If we reflect that the Spirit of God is the only fountain of truth, we will be careful, as we would avoid offering insult to him, not to reject or condemn truth wherever it appears. In despising the gifts, we insult the Giver.

And again:

The sum of the whole is this: From a general survey of the human race, it appears that one of the essential properties of our nature is reason, which distinguishes us from the lower animals, just as these by means of sense are distinguished from inanimate objects. For although some individuals are born without reason, that defect does not impair the general kindness of God, but rather serves to remind us, that whatever we retain ought justly to be ascribed to the Divine indulgence. Had God not so spared us, our revolt would have carried along with it the entire destruction of nature. In that some excel in acuteness, and some in judgment, while others have greater readiness in learning some peculiar art, God, by this variety commends his favour toward us, lest any one should presume to arrogate to himself that which flows from His mere liberality. For whence is it that one is more excellent than another, but that in a common nature the grace of God is specially displayed in passing by many and thus proclaiming that it is under obligation to none. We may add, that each individual is brought under particular influences according to his calling.

Calvin is quite happy to acknowledge that in many areas of human activity unbelievers may be more gifted and have more wisdom than believers.

The table of contents for the book is below.

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Christians and Movies

January 29, 2014 — 4 Comments

J. R. Eyerman - 3-D Movie Viewers during Opening Night of Bwana DevilTrevin Wax and Alissa Wilkinson have been having a friendly back and forth on the nature of movies, movie reviews and how evangelicals develop and maintain standards when it comes to movie-watching.

The discussion has been thoughtful and respectful and therefore worth your time.

It started with Christianity Today’s review of The Wolf of Wall Street by Alissa (the chief film critic). She gave the movie three and a half out of four stars despite the abundance of sexual content and graphic nudity.

Let’s be clear: The Wolf of Wall Street is a great and possibly terrific movie, as movies go, one of the best Scorsese has made in a long while. It makes no sense for a three-hour movie in which you basically know what will happen to be this engrossing. In that regard, it’s actually better than Boogie Nights, which loses steam in its final hour. Wolf is also very funny, with a screenplay by Terence Winter, Boardwalk Empire‘s creator/writer/executive producer (Scorsese was heavily involved with the creation of that show; he directed the pilot and remains an executive producer).

And for once, DiCaprio is not playing anyone who is insane or carefully wooing a pretty girl or keeping a few cards up his sleeve. He’s flinging his cards around, a whirling dervish of a broker with the magnetism and reckless abandon of Tom Cruise’s evil genius/motivational speaker in Magnolia. Someone finally let him just go for it, and by gum, he sure is. (It’s not just him—the movie’s populated by great performances all around, from Jonah Hill to Rob Reiner to the weirdest Matthew McConaughey ever and dozens more.)

In the “Caveat spectator” which summarizes the things that may be offensive Alissa emphasized again and again on twitter that this movie received the longest one they had done in years, maybe ever.

Nudity of all sorts, male and female. Profanities and obscenities from start to finish. Rampant drug use of many varieties, including cocaine, alcohol, crack, and a bunch of pills you supposedly can’t get anymore. Prostitution, crossed with drugs and other things, occurs. Several people get beat up badly, sometimes drawing blood. People vomit and spit and spew. People get very high. People mimic the sexual act frequently and perform it quite a bit, too. There’s a long scene discussing what I guess can only be described as “midget throwing” in fairly offensive terms.

Trevin Wax raised concerns in his post “Evangelicals and Hollywood Muck.”

Take, for example, Christianity Today’s recent review of The Wolf of Wall Street. Alyssa Wilkinson devotes nearly half of her review to the graphic depictions of immorality, yet still gives the film 3.5 stars out of 4. Another review counts 22 sex scenes, but can’t be sure since it’s hard to tell when one ends and another begins.

My question is this: at what point do we consider a film irredeemable, or at least unwatchable? At what point do we say it is wrong to participate in certain forms of entertainment?

At what point does our cultural engagement become just a sophisticated way of being worldly?

I find it hard to imagine the ancient Israelites admiring the artwork on the Asherah poles they were called to tear down. I find it hard to picture the early church fathers attending the games at the Roman coliseum, praising the artistic merits of the arena even as they provide caveats against violence.

Yet now in the 21st century, we are expected to find redeemable qualities in what would only be described by people throughout church history as “filth.”

Alissa Wilkinson interacted with Trevin’s post in her lengthy article “Why We Review R-Rated Films.”

As Wax also notes, the film garnered a 3.5/4 rating. For some readers, that 3.5 stars signaled that we were suggesting that Christianity Today readers ought to see The Wolf of Wall Street, a film that generated a great deal of controversy in the mainstream press (though not for most of the same reasons) and that broke the records for the number of f-bombs dropped throughout the movie.

Let me explain what we think star ratings are for. A rating should do two things: assess the worldview of the film, and assess the artistic merit of the film.

When I’m working on a review, I think about it this way: did this movie lie to me about the world? Does it teach the viewer (however subtly) to love something they shouldn’t? Does it say that sinful (or just stupid) behavior is required to live the good life?

So where does The Wolf of Wall Street land on this spectrum? As I mentioned in my content advisory, and in the review itself, Wolf (fairly clearly) condemns the action of its main character. It does it brilliantly—Belfort indicts himself through his narration, something the real Belfort does in his memoir, presumably unwittingly—and there’s an FBI agent in the film whose very presence seems to be a biting critique.

At the same time, Scorsese doesn’t take the viewer’s hand and say, look there: this guy’s bad. He’s expecting the audience to come to that conclusion themselves—and those who don’t want to, won’t. That’s something I addressed in the final paragraphs of my content advisory. But this is a film with a clear (and perhaps surprising) moral sense of the universe: Belfort’s a despicable character who takes advantage of those who are less privileged than he is, even as he continues to live the high life—both in the movie and in real life.

Trevin has a summative post and another short response in his post “Christians and Movies: Are We Contextualizing or Compromising.”

He asks whether most viewers will catch the subtle condemnation.

How many filmgoers got the subtle “condemnation” of sexual excess that Scorsese was communicating? Like The Hunger Games, I suspect most people walked out of the film remembering the way the story was told, not the underlying critique.

He also asks if we will ever draw lines anywhere.

At this point, I feel like we are heading down a rocky terrain without any brake system working on our vehicle. Without any brake system in place, there is, in principle, no film we could not or would not see.

My goal is not to create an artificial line, a legalistic rule that we cling to as a mark of purity. Instead, it’s a question of discernment, and that’s why I am left wondering: Is there anything to which we would simply say, “No matter how much artistry may be involved in this film, it uses copious amounts of sewage to get across its point. Stay away, for your own health.”

Is our bigger problem a lack of contextualization? Or is it that we’ve compromised ourselves without knowing it?

That’s the issue here. And I suppose I worry more that we are failing our neighbor because of our compromise than because we’ve failed to contextualize.

Alissa is right that film watching is a matter of wisdom, not fear. But my great fear is that we are being unwise.

 

#ChristianHealing

January 28, 2014 — 5 Comments

healing-the-blind-man-by-edy-legrandAugustine in his On Christian Teaching compares the healing of Christ to the healing of a doctor.

Christian healing is one of contrariety and similarity. A doctor treating a physical wound applies some medications that are contrary—a cold one to a hot wound, a dry one to a wet wound, and so on—and also some that similar, such as a round bandage to round a round wound and a rectangular bandage to a rectangular wound, and he does not apply the same dressings to all wounds, but matches like with like.

So for the treatment of human beings in God’s wisdom—in itself both doctor and medicine—offered himself in a similar way.

Because human beings fell through pride it used humility in healing them. We were deceived by the wisdom of the serpent; we are freed by the foolishness of God. But just as that was called wisdom yet was foolishness to those who despised God, so this so-called foolishness is wisdom to those who overcame the devil. We made bad use of immortality, and so we died; Christ made good use of morality, and so we live. The disease entered through a corrupted female mind; healing emerged from an intact female body.

After these paragraphs Augustine said.

Careful consideration of many other such things (which can be done by those who are not hard-pressed by the need to finish a book!) reveals that the basic principle of Christian healing is one of contrariety and similarity.

I enjoyed his meditation so thoroughly, that I thought it would be useful to ponder on these things further.

 

  • Disease marched on through the crimson fists of Cain, and halted at the bloody brow of the Savior.
  • We heaped pride upon reason; Christ humbly became the wisdom of God.
  • We stumbled through craving of the fruit; Christ shunned the sustenance in the desert.
  • The temple was transformed into a seat of swindlers; Christ stood as the benefactor to all.
  • Confusion burst through Babel; the Spirit made peace at Pentecost.
  • The blind groped in the darkness; the light from Galilee was uncovered.
  • The water in Noah’s day bore judgment; the dove carried the promise to Jesus’ shoulders.
  • The curse fell through Adam; the damning was lifted through the resurrection.
  • Disease spread through swift feet; healing came through the slow walk to Golgotha.

 

 

How to Speak of the Body

January 27, 2014 — 2 Comments

I just read an excellent article by Ola Sigurdson on the intersection between theology and phenomenology.

It is entitled “How to Speak of the Body? Embodiment Between Phenomenology and Theology” and published in Studia Theologica in 2008.

He claims that religion, specifically Christianity needs to recover a more thorough view of embodiment.

Religion should and could not be reduced to cognitive or emotive states of mind, a belief, when it also, as in most traditional religions, is ‘‘a corpus of practical knowledge.’’ Post-Enlightenment, Protestant theology has more often than not, as I have claimed already above, turned its eyes from the liturgies, the gestures and the pictorial symbolism that have characterized earlier Christian traditions and thus have been an integral part of their particular mode of being in the world, being embodied.

On the relationship between phenomenology and theology he says:

I do not wish to make the distinction between phenomenology and theology absolute, nor conflate the two. But still, one could perhaps sense something of a fruitful division of labour. If the task of phenomenology has been to lay bare the quasi-transcendental structures of embodiment, the task of theology could be to explore in greater detail how the body is involved in an existential drama of salvation where it is not so much ‘‘finite’’ as it is ‘‘fallen’’ and ‘‘redeemed’’. According to the philosopher Donn Welton, the body in the biblical texts is placed ‘‘at the intersection of good and evil, life and death,’’ which means that it is involved in all sorts of conflicts. The biblical texts are narratives of the redemption of the body rather than any sort of phenomenological accounts of the structures of embodiment. Embodiment is ‘‘dramatized’’ or ‘‘symbolized’’ rather than ‘‘explained’’or ‘‘described.’’

Phenomenology contributes to theology by providing a different perspective of the body.

What phenomenology could contribute to theological attempts at talking of the body seems quite clear: it offers a different perspective on the body. The body is not only or not primarily an entity that can be objectified and focused upon before, beside or independently of the particular manner of being-in-the world that could be exemplified by a particular version of Christianity (or any other religion). Rather, embodiment is focused upon as a particular mode of relationality towards both other human beings and God  and even towards the rest of creation and towards one’s own self.

 

Ola Sigurdson, “How to Speak of the Body? Embodiment Between Phenomenology and Theology,” Studia Theologica 62, no. 1 (January 1, 2008).

Portland-Campus-Contact-InformationI am excited to announce that I have accepted a New Testament teaching position at Western Seminary.

I would like to share five reasons why we are eager to hit the Oregon trail and head out to Western and the wild northwest.

History

Western Seminary is located on the east side of Portland, Oregon. In 1925 Walter B. Hinson organized the Portland Baptist Bible Institute. On October 4,1927 this institute was replaced by Western Seminary.

In 1944 the Board of Trustees acquired the present campus in Portland. Western has also established two campuses in San Jose and Sacramento California. More recently they have announced partnerships with Mars Hill in Seattle, Washington and Corban University in Salem, Oregon.

Western’s current president, Dr. Randal Roberts is committed to the legacy of the school and believes in its mission of “gospel-centered transformation.”

Five Reasons

TR0010301. Strategic Location | Western sits in the northwest, an increasingly post-Christian society. But for those who want to go into ministry, Western is the flagship school in the area that still holds to evangelical beliefs. The campus rests at the foothills of Mount Tabor on the east side of Portland. Portland has almost 3 million people living in the metropolitan area. It is known as Porlandia and has gorgeous scenery and is known for its local flair. Other personal perks to the location for me is that family lives out there. My brother moved to Portland to be a pastor a little over two years ago and we have many relatives living in the Portland area.

2. Solidarity | Western is confessional on all the primary issues, and ecumenical on secondary issues. They are progressive in the best sense of the term, understanding that as the cultural tides slowly turn against Christianity that intramural fights increasingly fragment Christians. Christians should be coming together as much as possible. The tribalism that once and sometimes still holds onto Christians will no longer be feasible as the middle of the country slowly becomes more like its coastal states. Therefore they hold onto the central truths of the Gospel tightly but avoid unnecessary fracturing. For a great example of this see how they describe what they believe.

3. Vision | The vision of Western is centered on the phrase “gospel-centered transformation.” They see that education should not simply be the dissemination of information, but the transformation of a person. As Wendell Barry puts it, “the goal of education should be a fully developed human being.” This transformation comes through meeting the man from Galilee at the cross. Their entire school and every decision is made filtered through this vision statement. As Marc Cortez, the previous academic dean said, “I can say without hesitation that Western Seminary is one of the best seminaries in the country, and it’s been a joy and a privilege to work here these last seven years. Not only does it have an amazing faculty, incredible students, and a beautiful location in the Northwest, but Western has done an outstanding job staying focused on Gospel-centered ministry training, pressing students to think carefully and theologically about ministry, and walking alongside them as they put that into practice in real-life ministry settings.”

4. Mentoring and Formation | Closely tied to the vision of Western Seminary is the role of the faculty. The faculty are expected and encouraged to be involved in their students lives. Their office doors are open and they limit the class sizes so that each instructor can get to know the students personally. These practical steps speak volumes to encouraging an educational culture of transformation. They have a strong faculty who are both relational, and experts in their field.

5. Partnerships | Finally, Western is beginning to partner with people in the northwest. They have recently paired up with Mars Hill Church and also Corban University. They are making good strides to establish themselves as the place to go in the northwest.

 

WS Logos

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9780199832262I am excited to see that the new Oxford Encyclopedia of Biblical Interpretation has hit the shelf, but boy it is pricey!

 

The two-volume Oxford Encyclopedia of Biblical Interpretation (OEBI) fills a crucial need in the field of biblical studies by providing detailed, comprehensive treatments of the latest approaches to and methods for interpretation of the Bible written by expert practitioners. It will provide a single source for authoritative reference overviews of scholarship on some of the most important topics of study in the field of biblical studies. As with all high quality reference works, it provides a solid foundation that students and scholars can use to orientate themselves before venturing into original research.

The Encyclopedia contains nearly 120 entries, ranging in length from 3,000 to 5,000 words. It is organized in an A-to-Z format. Each entry is signed, contains a bibliography for further reading, and is cross-referenced to other useful points of interest within the Encyclopedia. It also features a topical outline of contents and an extensive index.

Shawn Wilhite has posted a little teaser of what you get out of the articles. He gives the four concluding points from Paul Blowers article on “Patristic Interpretation.” Below are what Blowers calls axioms of patristic hermeneutical principles.

(1) First is the conviction of the internal unity and harmony of the Bible, discernible [sic] solely through careful attention to the letter and to hidden meanings, and through assiduous inter-scriptural interpretation.

(2) Second, the divine Word is semantically inexhaustible and polyvalent, with any text admitting of multiple legitimate meanings, allowing for the possibility of fresh insight, an ever ‘fuller sense’ (sensus plenior). Exegesis must accordingly adapt to the texts’ sophistication and pliability.

(3) Third, the church is the primary hermeneutical matrix, since interpretation functions foremost to shape Christian identity, doctrinal consistency, liturgical and sacramental practices, and ethics.

(4) Finally, scripture is sacramental communication, a medium of the presence of Christ the Logos, in which case interpretation itself demands the abiding presence and aid of the Holy Spirit.[1]


[1] Paul M. Blowers, “Patristic Interpretation,” in The Oxford Encyclopedia of Biblical Interpretation, ed. Steven L. McKenzie, vol. 2 (New York: Oxford University Press, 2013), 87–88.