'Kiss of Judas' by Giotto ca. 1304
Scot McKnight's The Warning Passages of Hebrews: A Formal Analysis and Theological Conclusion article in terms of Dogmas, Doctrines, Distinctives, and Details.*
Dogmas. McKnight himself asserts that “virtually all commentators and theologians can agree” that Hebrews promotes perseverance in light of eternal punishment (36). All Christians can affirm that “Perseverance is a necessity for those who are God's people” (32), since, whether or not one can lose their salvation, those who are truly saved persevere in faith. Those who don't persevere are either false believers (unregenerate) or in McKnight's view, “lose their faith” (58). Either way, the result is the same: Persevering faith is key to God's plan. Furthermore, McKnight affirms the orthodox Christian belief for the lack of perseverance, “that those who do not persevere until the end will suffer eternal punishment at the expense of the wrath of God” (36).
image courtesy of basileiachurch.com
The Meaning of the Term Kingdom (βασιλεία) in Matthew's Gospel
A Greek word study to identify the lexical range and usage to better understand what Matthew, and by extension Jesus, had in mind when he proclaims the "Kingdom of Heaven."
I. Howard Marshall's chapter on Ephesians in terms of Dogmas, Doctrines, Distinctives, and Details.*
Dogmas. Marshall sees support for the Holy Spirit as a “personal being rather than an impersonal power” since in Ephesians 4:30 the Holy Spirit is able to be grieved by human conduct (387). He also affirms the vital role of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer throughout Ephesians (395).
Doctrines. Marshall makes reference to the Moral Example theory of Atonement as unsupported by Ephesians 5 (which supports human forgiveness as requiring divine forgiveness) since “Christian teaching on behavior was continually buttressed by central theological statements” to the point that they were made “almost causally in an ethical instruction” (387).
Stewart unabashedly demands that preachers see themselves as more than a talking head for 30 or so minutes on Sunday morning. He wishes to overcome the cultural “inclination to regard the preacher as the purveyor of religious homilies and ethical uplift” and replace it with its original intent, “the herald of the mighty acts of God” (16). His opening chapters reveal that preaching is an eternal art in the dual sense that it has been carried on by men to the present day since Christ walked the Earth, and that its impacts are eternal in the future! For preaching should revolve around one theme and one theme only, the saving Gospel of Jesus Christ. Stewart claims that “the basic message thus remains constant and invariable,” but in the face of an ever changing world “our presentation of it must take account of, and largely conditioned by, the actual world on which our eyes look out today” (11). This sets the stage for the rest of the book, which covers the means by which the Gospel is to be proclaimed. His style and authority feel timeless, putting modern authors to shame, as he rightfully reestablishes the critical importance of preaching the message of Christ “in and out of season.”
August 2007 Cover
Simon Gathercole's What Did Paul Really Mean? article in terms of Dogmas, Doctrines, Distinctives, and Details.*
Dogmas. Since the New Perspective focuses narrowly on what Paul says about Justification, which strikes at the heart of Soteriology (the means by which God planned to save mankind), it must be taken seriously. The issue is when the New Perspective is applied to Paul as his dedication “to warning against exclusivist national righteousness” (25) to the destruction of Justification. Gathercole does well critiquing the new perspective while saying that Jews still need to hear the gospel. The crux of his argument is rightfully “Christian faith” not as an add on to life, but something that “requires a complete reorientation of our whole attitude” and “response to God's specific promises” (27). His conclusion describing “what kind of faith” the bible defines and “what is wrong with works of the law” deserves a hearty “amen!” as he stresses that Paul “stresses that God is the sole operator in salvation” (28). Ultimately, he hits the nail on the head by stating that “true unity comes not at the expense of doctrine, but precisely around the central truths of the gospel” (27).
I. Howard Marshall's chapter on Romans in terms of Dogmas, Doctrines, Distinctives, and Details.*
Dogmas. Marshall strongly affirms that Paul's main them in Romans in none other than the Gospel of Jesus Christ's ability to save and the subsequent answer to “Why?”. He thus affirms Paul's explanation that all people are sinners since “failure to acknowledge God leads to sinfulness” (308). This is the result of Original sin as revealed by the Law (since its role in salvation history is not a means of getting “right with God by observing the law” (309)). Salvation is portrayed as exclusively available through justification by grace through faith in Christ, whose blood was shed on the cross for sin since “to be justified is to be put into a right relationship with God, in which the sins that persons have committed are no longer counted against them and consequently they can enter into a relationship with God characterized by peace and not wrath” (310). Resurrection is indicated as “an integral part of the saving event and not just simply the restoration of Jesus to life...” after dying for sin (313).
Universalism (via postmortem persuasion, etc.) is dismissed as textually unsupported (339).
Purposes and goals of pastoral counseling. Before stating the purpose or goal of pastoral counseling it is important to define what pastoral counseling is. The easiest way to approach a definition is to narrow the field by identifying what pastoral counseling is not since many activities aid Soul Care, or spiritual growth toward Christian sanctification. At its broadest levels, Christian Friendship can be provided by friends and family to encourage deep growth and healing (Benner, 17). Pastoral ministry includes “anything that brings people into contact with God nurtures the growth of their spirits and heals their souls” (Benner, 18), but is often stunted to maintain all pastoral roles.
The Great Commission is impossible, but Jesus gave a phenomenal promise that the Church can succeed: "Behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age" (Matthew 28:20), Christ's perpetual presence.
There are three implications of Christ's perpetual presence that allow us to proceed with the Great Commission with confidence:
1. Commission Impossible – we need help
2. Divine Supervision – we are not abandoned
3. Mission Accomplished – there is an end
Stylistic question: some people love audience involvement (aka. "repeat after me" or "turn to your neighbor and say..." etc.) and some people hate audience involvement. Is there a right way to do it? Should it be done at all?
Escahtological Dualism - Already/Not Yet
Don Howell's "Pauline Eschatological Dualism and its Resulting Tensions" in terms of Dogmas, Doctrines, Distinctives, and Details.*
Dogmas. Many of the attributes, or defining characteristics, of this present age and new age (regardless of the understanding of their relationship to one another) are Dogma level issues including: sin as a dominating force of the present age as both “human solidarity with Adam” in original sin and sin “as individual acts of rebellion against God's will” which have the inevitable consequence of death physically or spiritually (13); new life as the replacement or removal of the reality of sin as the believer is incorporated into Christ (14).
Howell rightly rejects the idea that “Jesus had mistakenly expected or proclaimed the imminence of the Kingdom (5). For any position, such as A. Sweitzer's, that sees Jesus' proclamation as failure not only negates Christ's mission, but also his deity.
I. Howard Marshall's chapter on Galatians in terms of Dogmas, Doctrines, Distinctives, and Details.*
Dogmas. Paul's reason for writing the letter to the Galatians deals with the very heart of the Gospel and thus most of the concepts fall under Dogma. Marshall clearly articulates the Gospel presented in the letter as how “a person could be put right with God or enter into a right relationship with him or be counted as 'righteous' only through believing in Jesus Christ and not by observance of the Jewish law” (215). Furthermore, Marshall promotes that there was one solid understanding of the Gospel as shared by all the Apostles and dismisses theories by Baur that Paul and Peter were rivals with a different understanding of the Gospel (215). He also affirms Paul's separate divine calling that was approved by the Apostles and the church in Jerusalem as a historical event, therefore in acceptance of Christ's theology (214). Hence, it is right to see the purpose of the Law not as an alternative way of life or means of salvation, but “to lead people to Christ by making them realize that they were sinners” (218).