1. Brian J. Tabb | Editorial: The Pastor as Biblical Theologian
General editor Brian Tabb reflects on the pastor’s vocation as a biblical theologian who edifies God’s people with careful, Christ-centered expositions of the whole counsel of God. As a biblical theologian, the pastor shares the apostles’ presuppositions about the nature and unity of the Scriptures, cultivates personal and corporate practices for whole-Bible intake, and embraces the glorious purpose of magnifying Christ in all areas of life.
2. Daniel Strange | Dr Strange in the Multiperspectival Paradox
Consulting editor Daniel Strange reflects on the contrasting but ultimately complementary contributions of Vern Poythress and Wayne Grudem to theological reflection and theological education. They teach us to apply Christ’s lordship to different perspectives of human learning while establishing clear boundaries.
This article argues that the first words of the Gospel of Mark—“the beginning of the Gospel”—are best understood as the title of the book. Mark identifies his work as a description of the origin or backstory of the preached gospel that his readers were familiar with. Orr examines what this implies for the relationship of Mark to Peter and Paul, then explores the implications of this understanding for reading Mark.
Mark 2:26 has presented itself as a difficult textual and historical problem for interpreters. Mark narrates Jesus describing an action of David which is said to happen during the priesthood of Abiathar, but in the Old Testament source this detail appears inaccurate and is absent from the Matthean and Lukan versions. Bowes highlights the limitations of two common interpretive approaches and argues for an alternative option based in a narrative reading of Mark’s Christology.
5. Scott D. MacDonald | Rejecting Syncretism: Paul and the Python
Syncretism threatens Christian witness around the world. And the church in Africa continues to struggle with the popularity of local religious practices. In many locales, a religious diviner prominently features in the lives of many churchgoing people. In response, Acts 16:16–18 provides needed clarity concerning Christianity’s relationship to other religious powers and to syncretism. MacDonald outlines the religious backdrop of Philippi, Paul’s missionary method in the Greek religious context, and the consequences that arise from Paul’s exorcism of the πύθων. Paul’s reaction to the divining spirit of Philippi leaves no room for syncretistic behavior among Christians today. Accommodation and any reliance upon other religious powers compromises the quality of the gospel and the reputation of the savior.
6. Allan Chapple | The Fantasy of the Frantic Apostle: Paul and the Parousia
There is a widespread belief that Paul understood his Gentile mission as the brief final chapter of salvation history, preceding—or even triggering—the imminent return of Jesus. First, Chapple discusses major problems that make this view implausible: Paul’s understanding of the extent of the world, of God’s saving purpose, and of his specific task, and what his plans and activities reveal. He then provides an alternative account of what the evidence discloses about the connections between Paul’s missionary convictions and activities and his beliefs about the end.
7. E. J. Davila | Love, Hope, Faith: Christopher Nolan and the Apostle Paul in Dialogue
This article examines Christopher Nolan’s three most recent films, Interstellar (2014), Dunkirk (2017), and Tenet (2020), through the lens of Christianity’s preeminent theological virtues: love, hope, and faith, respectively. In dialogue with the apostle Paul, Davila argues that Nolan takes Paul’s cruciform theology of virtue (consisting of vertical and horizontal relationships) and intentionally flattens it to the purely horizontal, resulting in a presentation of these virtues that, while emotive, ultimately strips them of their significance.
8. Robert D. Golding | Give Honor and Vote? A Reflection on the Christian’s Voting Conscience and Romans 13:1–7
Golding applies Paul’s instruction in Romans 13:1–7 to Christian voting behavior in the West. Since Paul tells the Romans to honor debauched pagans, Christians can vote for similarly debauched political candidates with clear consciences. There are clear distinctions between Paul’s teaching and the Western political context. However, the underlying continuities are clear and they are based in God’s sovereignty, not political structure. Furthermore, the ancient Roman practice of giving honor to rulers only regarded the office, not the office holder’s morality.
9. Leland Brown | The Standard-Bearer: Pastoral Suffering in the Theology of John Calvin
Brown examines John Calvin’s theology of pastoral suffering, an overlooked but relevant aspect of his theology for pastors struggling with the trials and difficulties of ministry. Calvin pictured the pastor as the chief agent of edification for God’s people and, therefore, the primary target for the assaults of Satan. Pastors will therefore suffer in the ways that all believers suffer but also suffer peculiarly as pastors—especially from opposition in their churches, criticism, slander, and possibly martyrdom. Calvin encouraged pastors to prepare themselves for sufferings, to set their eyes on Christ, and to patiently and gently deal with those causing their sufferings.
This article responds to Robert Golding’s recent essay, “Making Sense of Hell,” in which he contends for the logic of eternal punishment on the basis of a progressive and asymptotic conception of sin and sinners in hell. Dirks argues that this innovation is unnecessary and that both the Scriptures and the “infinite-obligation” proof by Anselm of Canterbury demonstrate that hell is just and necessary for even a single sin.
11. Edmund Fong | Gender Dysphoria and the Body-Soul Relationship
After presenting the phenomenon of gender dysphoria as a state of consciousness experienced by the individual, Fong explores how the two major anthropological frameworks of materialism and substance dualism account for the conscious state of gender dysphoria. In particular, the article addresses the extent to which materialism and substance dualism support what Fong terms a “created but misplaced being” scenario, where it is claimed that an individual could be created with an “inner” self gendered one way but placed in a body of a different biological sex. He concludes with three theological insights into gender dysphoria.
12. Luke Wesley | Church-State Relations: Lessons from China
This article delineates various biblical principles that circumscribe the church’s relationship to the state. In addition to more general principles, these include the recognition that the mission of the organized church is distinct from that of individual Christians, that political institutions tend to become anti-Christ and oppressive, and that our context will determine the extent to which the church can exercise its prophetic voice. In view of these principles and on the basis of his experience in China, the author highlights five theological truths that will inevitably be challenged by totalitarian governments. Our faithfulness or lack thereof will hinge on our response to these challenges.
Featured Book Reviews:
- Daniel I. Block, Covenant: The Framework of God’s Grand Plan of Redemption. Reviewed by David R. Jackson.
- Jarvis J. Williams, Redemptive Kingdom Diversity: A Biblical Theology of the People of God. Reviewed by David H. F. Ng.
- Bradley G. Green, Augustine of Hippo: His Life and Impact. Reviewed by Coleman M. Ford.
- Matthew Aaron Bennett, The Quran and the Christian: An In-Depth Look into the Book of Islam for Followers of Jesus. Reviewed by Fred Farrokh.
- Jonathan Leeman and Andy Naselli, How Can I Love Church Members with Different Politics? Reviewed by Daniel Anderson.
- Brian J. Tabb, After Emmaus: How the Church Fulfills the Mission of Christ. Reviewed by Scott A. Logsdon.
- Elliot Clark, Mission Affirmed: Recovering the Missionary Motivation of Paul. Reviewed by Richard Kronk.