The new August 2020 issue of Themelios has 255 pages of editorials, articles, and book reviews. It is freely available in three formats: (1) PDF, (2) web version, and (3) Logos Bible Software.
- Brian J. Tabb | Editorial: Pursuing Scholarship in a Pandemic: Reflections on Lewis’s “Learning in War-Time” Brian Tabb argues that an 80-year-old sermon by C. S. Lewis offers timely perspective for these abnormal times. Lewis reminds us that “life has never been normal.” He explains why and how we should pursue serious learning for the glory of God—whether in war or peace-time—and highlights three acute challenges that distract or discourage such scholarship.
- Daniel Strange | Strange Times: Praise and Polemic in our Global Pandemic Dan Strange calls Psalm 92 an oasis in our COVID-19 desert, a one-stop-shop, not merely for our survival, but for our thrival needs. This psalm of praise also offers an important polemic against our cultural idols. If we believe that Christ has the right to be Lord of all, then Christians have a duty to challenge areas where this rule is not respected, and accounts of anything in creation that do not relate that something to Christ and the Christian worldview are necessarily incomplete, and to that extent misleading.
- Jason S. DeRouchie | The Use of Leviticus 18:5 in Galatians 3:12: A Redemptive-Historical Reassessment Jason S. DeRouchie Jason DeRouchie examines Paul’s appeal to Scripture to support that “no one is justified before God by the law” (Gal. 3:11). Leviticus 18:5 portrays the principle of “doing” in order to attain life that characterized the Mosaic law-covenant, and when this principle met human inability, the law became an enslaving guardian until Christ (3:21–26) and identified how “all who rely on works of the law are under a curse” (3:10). To say “the law is not of faith” (3:12) means that the era of the law-covenant was not characterized by faith leading to life but by rebellion leading to death.
- James S. Spiegel | Celebration and Betrayal: Martin Luther King’s Case for Racial Justice and Our Current Dilemma James Spiegel writes that Martin Luther King’s Christian theological ethics provides the crucial philosophical foundation for racial justice secular alternatives such as that utilitarianism, Kantian ethics, virtue ethics, and social contractarianism fail to achieve. He argues that either we must readmit theological considerations into the public square or surrender hope for the achievement of lasting racial justice in the United States.
- Lydia Jaeger | Christ and the Concept of Person The concept of personhood is crucial for our understanding of what it is to be human. Lydia Jaeger considers the ways that Christological debates in the early Church contributed to the emergence of the concept of person and modern definitions of person are unsatisfactory because they neglect these theological roots. She then draws some ethical implications from the Christological insight that the person is a fundamental ontological category.
- Martin Foord | The “Epistle of Straw”: Reflections on Luther and the Epistle of James Many believe that because Martin Luther called James an “epistle of straw” he wished to remove it from Scripture. Martin Foord seeks to show that Luther wished to keep James in the New Testament and his decision was not based on personal whim. Luther was able to call James an “epistle of straw” and retain its canonicity because he held to a two-level view of the New Testament: James was excluded from the top tier and consigned to the lower tier of New Testament books. However, Foord also examines Luther’s two-level understanding of the New Testament and his conclusions about James, finding them ultimately unconvincing because they are not faithful to Scripture itself.
- Mario M. C. Melendez | Interpreting Faith in the Reformation: Catholic and Protestant Interpretations of Habakkuk 2:4b and Its New Testament Quotations The 16th-century Reformation debate about justification primarily centered upon the interpretation of Scripture. Mario Melendez provides a historical survey of Habakkuk 2:4b’s use in the Reformation and shows that Luther and Calvin pointed to Christ’s faithfulness as the object of the Habakkuk 2:4b faith. For the Catholics, Erasmus began with an almost paralleled belief to the Protestants, but the Council of Trent concluded with a conviction that both the works of Christ and sacraments are necessary for salvation.
- Michael N. Jacobs | The Resurgence of Two Kingdoms Doctrine: A Survey of the Literature Two Kingdoms doctrine distinguishes between the common kingdom—the created order common to all life that will one day come to an end—and the redemptive kingdom—the church and those called to consummation into the world to come at the end of the current age. Michael Jacobs surveys the recent resurgence of scholarship on Two Kingdoms doctrine, reviews neo-Calvinist criticisms of the doctrine, and suggests potential paths forward for future Two Kingdoms scholarship.
- Gavin Ortlund | Why Not Grandchildren? An Argument against Reformed Paedobaptism Reformed paedobaptism generally argues from continuity with the Abrahamic covenant, situating infant baptism as a continuation of infant circumcision. Credobaptist objections have typically challenged this premise, stressing points of discontinuity across the biblical covenants. Gavin Ortlund suggests a different (though not incompatible) response, arguing that even if the paedobaptist vision of continuity between circumcision and baptism is accepted, current paedobaptist practice is not in line with it anyway, since circumcision was never at any time administered to “those who believe and their children.” Ortlund surveys Reformed baptismal practices from John Calvin through the mid-17th century that, by the same appeal to continuity with circumcision, affirmed intergenerational baptism.
- Ronald L. Giese, Jr. | Is “Online Church” Really Church? The Church as God’s Temple Many churches switched to streaming or recording their services during the COVID-19 crisis. This brought a question to the forefront: Can church be done online, not just in part but fully? Ron Giese proposes that, though we should use technology in many ministry areas, “online church” is an expression that should not be used. First, one of Paul’s main metaphors for the church is the temple of God. And, in keeping with the literal temple of the Old Testament, and the eschatological temple of the future, this is a place, in the usual meaning of the word. That place now is the local church, gathered physically. Second, God did not create humans as disembodied souls. The soul and body are both critical in Christian anthropology, redemption, and ministry.
- Timothy E. Miller | Pastoral Pensées: Text-Criticism and the Pulpit: Should One Preach about the Woman Caught in Adultery? Timothy Miller considers whether “The Woman Caught in Adultery” (John 7:53–8:11) should be preached. After indicating why the issue is significant, Miller details eleven approaches to the question. He analyzes each position on the basis of textual evidence and an evangelical definition of canon and then suggests practical ways of handling the text as it comes up in an expositional series.
Includes these book reviews and dozens more:
- Brandon D. Crowe, The Hope of Israel: The Resurrection of Christ in the Acts of the Apostles. Reviewed by Brian J. Tabb
- Carmen Joy Imes, Bearing God’s Name: Why Sinai Still Matters. Reviewed by John F. Klem.
- Thomas S. Kidd, American History. Reviewed by Brent J. Aucoin.
- Te-Li Lau, Defending Shame: Its Formative Power in Paul’s Letters. Reviewed by Jackson Wu.
- Gavin Ortlund, Theological Retrieval for Evangelicals: Why We Need Our Past to Have a Future. Reviewed by Joseph T. Cochran.
- Trevin K. Wax, Eschatological Discipleship: Leading Christians to Understand Their Historical and Cultural Context. Reviewed by Tony Payne.
- Stephen Witmer, A Big Gospel in Small Places: Why Ministry in Forgotten Communities Matters. Reviewed by Nicholas J. Stone.
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