Volume 4 - Issue 1

Review of theological journals, 1977

This year’s review is a co-operative effort by the editors (with the welcome assistance of Dr Norman P. Geisler, Chairman of the Philosophy of Religion Department at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Deerfield, Illinois). Each of us was allowed 500 words to introduce articles in our subject areas which we felt to be of special interest or value to evangelical students.

The following abbreviations are used for journals cited more than once:

AJPs           American Journal of Psychoanalysis

AmPs         American Psychologist

BJRL           Bulletin of the John Rylands Library

BLT            Brethren Life and Thought

CBQ           Catholic Biblical Quarterly

CT              Christianity Today

JR               Journal of Religion

JTS             Journal of Theological Studies

NTS            New Testament Studies

RinL           Religion in Life

RJ               Reformed Journal

RS              Religious Studies

RSoc          Religion and Society

SJT             Scottish Journal of Theology

TynB          Tyndale Bulletin

The year of publication is 1977 unless otherwise stated.

  1. Old Testament

John Goldingay

We welcome the Journal for the Study of the OT, edited in Sheffield by David Clines, David Gunn and Philip Davies. Among the early issues, no. 3 is of particular interest in providing a symposium of views, responses and reviews (by Rendtorff, Whybray, van Seters, Wagner, Coats, Schmid, Clements and G. J. Wenham)concerning the sudden widespread questioning of accepted theories on the origin of the Pentateuch. See also R. Abba’s articles on ‘Priests and Levites’ in Vetus Testamentum 27/3 and 28/1 (1978), reasserting the view that the distinction between these two offices belongs to the pre-exilic period.

In an article by David Clines on ‘Theme in Genesis 1–11’ in CBQ 38/4 (1976) various insights on Genesis 1–11 emerge, and the work exemplifies current interest in literary approaches to the text in its final form. There is a complementary larger-scale study by B. T. Dahlberg, ‘On Recognizing the Unity of Genesis’, in Theology Digest 24/4 (1976), suggesting that the primeval history and the Joseph narrative are an inclusio for the book as a whole—Adam and Joseph are type and antitype; and valuable literary-critical studies of other OT narratives in Semeia 8, and of Job in Semeia 7.

The structuralist anthropological work of Mary Douglas has opened up a new and positive approach to the dietary laws in Leviticus. Douglas Davies takes this approach further in ‘An Interpretation of Sacrifice in Leviticus’, Zeitschrift für die alttestamentliche Wissenschaft 89/3, at the same time attempting to correct her neglect of the covenantal and moral concern of Leviticus.

CBQ 39 includes several valuable articles on the Megillot. G. T. Sheppard’s ‘The Epilogue to Qoheleth as Theological Commentary’ (39/2) illustrates a Childs-type canonical interpretation of an OT book. B. W. Jones’s‘Two Misconceptions about the Book of Esther’ (39/2) defends Esther from male chauvinism and vicious nationalism by underlining its use of humour. R. E. Murphy’s ‘Towards a Commentary on the Song of Songs’ (39/4) reviews approaches to the Song’s unity and interpretation.

The best OT light reading of the year was provided by B. C. Crisler’s article on ‘The Acoustics and Crowd Capacity of Natural Theaters in Palestine’, Biblical Archaeologist 39/4 (1976). Crisler took acoustic equipment to Palestinian sites to show how the people at Shechem could have been addressed from Mounts Gerizim and Ebal, how Adonijah at En-Rogel could have heard the shofar at Solomon’s enthronement ceremony at Gihon spring, and Jesus could have told parables to 5–7,000 people in a natural amphitheatre near Capernaum.

The belief that events involving Daniel could have happened as described is defended by A. R. Millard in ‘Daniel 1–6 and History’, Evangelical Quarterly 49/2.

Am I allowed to mention my own ‘The Man of War and the Suffering Servant: The OT and the Theology of Liberation’, TynB 27 (1976)? On the same theme see F. Deist, ‘The Liberation Motif in the OT and the Theology of Liberation’, Missionalia 5/2. Both are concerned to listen to what liberation theology has rediscovered in the OT but to go on to make sure that the OT’s witness on this subject is heard in its fullness.

  1. New Testament

Dick France

The Synoptic Problem will not go away. Those who are puzzled by the current resurgence of the Griesbach hypothesis will find a lucid account in W. R. Farmer, ‘Modern developments of Griesbach’s hypothesis’, NTS23, pp. 275–295, together with answers to some of the standard objections. One-sided, inevitably!.

‘Son of man’ will not go away either. J. W. Bowker, ‘The Son of Man’, JTS 28, pp. 19–48, gives a survey of the state of play, and introduces a (relatively) new angle: ‘son of man’ means, especially in Targums, ‘man subject to death’; Jesus’ combination of this with the Danielic vindication theme accounts for all categories of ‘Son of man’ sayings, which are all therefore potentially authentic.

C. J. Hemer, ‘Luke the Historian’, BJRL 60, pp. 28–51, unfashionably dares to treat Luke seriously as a respectable example of ancient historiography (following Ramsay). Irreverent to modern critical dogmas and full of common sense. Debunks the tradition of ‘Thucydidean speeches’ in Acts. Acts and Gospel dated pre-70.

I. H. Marshall, ‘The Significance of Pentecost’, SJT 30, pp. 347–369, defends the historicity of Acts 2 and the importance of the Pentecost experience as equipment for mission. (NB p. 355: ‘Our western logical concept that something which is full cannot be filled any further is misleading if applied to the Spirit.’)

J. W. Drane, ‘Theological Diversity in the Letters of St. Paul’, TynB 27 (1976, pub. 1977), pp. 3–26, recognizes diversity, and explains it by differences in the views Paul was opposing. Paul’s ‘development’ was not so much a change of theology as a polemically necessitated adaptation; he was more a pragmatist than a theologian (p. 25)! Argues for a very early date for Galatians.

R. J. Sider, ‘St Paul’s Understanding of the Nature and Significance of the Resurrection in 1 Corinthians 15:1–19’, Novum Testamentum 19, pp. 124–141, argues that Paul’s opponents really did doubt the factuality of Jesus’ resurrection (pace Barth); Paul is therefore concerned to establish a historical, bodily resurrection, assuming an empty tomb and citing witnesses of genuinely ocular appearances.

W. D. Davies, ‘Paul and the People of Israel’, NTS 24, pp. 4–39, concentrates on Romans 11:25–27, clearing Paul of ‘anti-Semitism’. There is a real Jewish priority, though it is a matter of history, not of ethnic superiority.

F. F. Bruce, ‘Christ and Spirit in Paul’, BJRL 59, pp. 259–285, typically organizes a mass of rich exegetical material into a coherent theological statement of the Pauline doctrine of the Spirit, seen in the context of the exalted Christ.

A new angle on the continuing argument about Christian prophets and the sayings of Jesus: R. J. Bauckham, ‘Synoptic Parousia Parables and the Apocalypse’, NTS 23, pp. 162–176, finds ‘sayings of Jesus’ in the Apocalypse which actually derived from authentic parables of Jesus, subsequently ‘deparabolized’; another blow to the presumed innovative role of the prophets.

S. J. Kistemaker, ‘The Canon of the NT’, Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 20, pp. 3–14, takes up a crucial subject until recently neglected but increasingly returning to centre stage. A brief overview of data and issues, which does not answer all the questions, but will put you in the picture for further discussion.

  1. Systematic theology

Clark Pinnock

For bibliographical updating on the major themes of theology by established scholars, consult the series ‘Recent Thinking on Christian Beliefs’ in Expository Times 88/2–9 (Nov. 1976–June 1977).

On the use of Scripture, evangelicals will be interested in Paul Schrotenboer, ‘The Bible in the WCC’, Calvin Theological Journal 12, pp. 144–163, as well as H.-J. Kraus, ‘Calvin’s Exegetical Principles’, Interpretation 31, pp. 8–18, and James T. Clemons, ‘John Wesley—Biblical Literalist?’, RinL 46, pp. 332–342. Further on Scripture, an important pair of articles side by side in Interpretation 30 (1976), pp. 227–261 one (John H. Leith) defending the classical Christian conviction on the final authority of the Bible, the other (Schubert M. Ogden) maintaining the impossibility of that position. On the place of biblical criticism in theology about fifteen teachers and Christian leaders express their opinions in response to an earlier article by Paul S. Minear in Theology Today 33, pp. 354–367. In response to David Kelsey’s important book. The Uses of Scripture in Recent Theology there are illuminating reviews by Gordon Kaufman in Interpretation 30 (1976), pp. 299–303, by John Frame in Westminster Theological Journal 29, pp. 328–353, and by Eugene TeSelle in JR 57, pp. 81–85.

N. H. G. Robinson asks ‘Is Providence Credible Today?’ in SJT 30, pp. 215–231, and concludes that it is. In a similar vein, David R. Mason asks ‘Can We Speculate on How God Acts?’ in JR 57, pp. 16–32, and works with Kaufman’s model of God as personal agent, using process categories to reach a positive conclusion. On the appropriateness of such categories (now being used on every hand) see E. R. Baltazar, ‘Process Approach to God’, and M. Curtin, ‘Process Theology and Metaphysics’ in Irish Theological Quarterly 44, pp. 30–38 and 232–242, the latter article being unfavourable to their use. John H. Wright too is uncomfortable with the choice between static theism and a temporal divinity, and reintroduces Thomas’ answer to structure the relation between ‘Divine Knowledge and Human Freedom’, Theological Studies 38, pp. 450–477.

Reflecting on Moltmann’s reckless phrase, D. G. Attfield asks ‘Can God be Crucified?’, SJT 30, pp. 47–57, and goes for a solution fully within a trinitarian theology: the incarnate Son was indeed subject to all the conditions of a truly human life, including the awareness of God-forsakenness on the cross.

Monika Hellwig offers a good survey of ‘Liberation Theology: An Emerging School’, SJT 30, pp. 137–151. It arises out of the shocking experience of what poverty is really like and insists on a theology that responds to this situation. No criticisms are offered. In ‘The Bondage of Liberation: a Pacifist Reflection’, Worldview 20, pp. 20–24, Gordon Zahn deplores the way these theologians give support to political violence in the revolutionary situation. Zahn, a lifelong pacifist, had earned the right to make this criticism, but it would not sound very appropriate from most of us whose traditions have sanctioned violence for fifteen hundred years.

Finally, Frederick Sontag’s sympathetic remarks on the Moon cult, based on an actual interview with the Rev. Moon himself and on considerable interaction with a number of Moonies, is challenging: ‘The New Moon Sophistry’, RinL 46, pp. 269–277.

  1. Apologetics

Norman Geisler

1977 was not a great year for articles on apologetics, pro or con. Henry Veatch’s ‘A Neglected Avenue in Contemporary Religious Apologetics’, RS 13, pp. 29–48, is one of the most significant of the year. Veatch argues that by reversing Karl Popper’s ‘line of demarcation’ which allegedly distinguishes between factualassertions of science and fanciful ones of theology, the apologist can show that only theological statements can make factual assertions about reality.

On the negative side, Robert Merrihew Adams, ‘Middle Knowledge and the Problem of Evil’, American Philosophical Quarterly 14/2, argues that ‘middle knowledge’ of God about what free creatures will do is not possible. Hence Suarez’ and Plantinga’s theodicies allegedly fail.

One of the better articles in defence of miracles appears in the same issue, ‘A New Look at Miracles’ by Douglas Erlandson, in which he makes an important distinction between science’s ability to investigate typesof events and the believer’s right to claim that a particular event is not subject to scientific explanation. That is, human births as a class or kind of event are naturally caused and yet the virgin birth as a specific event can be caused by God.

D. G. Attfield’s discussion and criticism of Moltmann’s Christology, ‘Can God be Crucified? A discussion of J. Moltmann’, SJT 30, pp. 47–57, is interesting in that he attempts to overcome the problems for Christ’s deity inherent in his crucifixion by a ‘double role’ Christology. He claims that God did not die, but the second Person of the Trinity died in his role as man.

Mention should be made in passing of the unsuccessful attempt by J. E. Tomberlin and F. McGuinness,‘God, Evil, and the Free-will Defence’, RS 13, pp. 455–475, to penetrate the logic of Plantinga’s free-will defence. As in other attempts, the authors confuse conceivability of a sinless world with achievability of such a world with free creatures in it.

Evangelicals produced few significant articles on apologetics last year. John Whitcomb’s ‘Contemporary Apologetics and the Christian faith’, Bibliotheca Sacra 134, pp. 99–106, is no exception to this rule. It is a fideistic attack on legitimate efforts by others to give a ‘reason’ for their faith from a specific theological vantage-point.

  1. Church history

David Wright

In ‘5 Ezra and Matthaean Christianity in the Second Century’, JTS 28, pp. 67–83, Graham Stanton seeks to trace in a neglected document a trajectory of Matthaean Christianity into the mid-second century (see further J. Daniélou, The Origins of Latin Christianity [London, 1977], pp. 17–31). According to R. A. Hann in Journal of Ecumenical Studies 14, pp. 233–248, primitive Jewish Christianity (as he depicts it) would be unacceptable to both Judaism and Christianity and is not an ecumenical way forward.

‘Has Chalcedon a Future?’ asks R. Butterworth in The Month 238, pp. 111–117. He answers more positively than J. Forstman’s discussion, ‘The Nicene Mind in Historical Perspective and its Significance for Christian Unity’, Encounter 38, pp. 213–226. Another perennial issue is helpfully surveyed by R. B. Eno in ‘Holiness and Separation in the Early Centuries’, SJT 30, pp. 523–542.

‘Bede’s Ecclesiastical History’ is analysed in History 62, pp. 1–14, by J. N. Stephens, who stresses Bede’s appreciation of the divine as ‘the dynamic element of history’ and his aim to create a history—British, Roman, Catholic, Christian—for the English people.

Margaret Aston’s ‘Lollardy and Literacy’, ibid., pp. 347–371, is a most illuminating study of what ‘literacy’ might mean and of the Lollards’ ‘hinging of the revelations of reading to the phenomenon of dissent’.

In Mennonite Quarterly Review 51, pp. 171–195, J. A. Oosterbaan expounds ‘The Reformation of the Reformation: Fundamentals of Anabaptist Theology’, and in SJT 30, pp. 319–345, P. D. L. Avis reviews ‘ “The True Church” in Reformation Theology’, concluding with a commendation of the reformed catholicity of Hooker.

‘Famine, Revolt and Heresy at Meaux, 1521–1525’, Archiv für Reformationsgeschichte 68, pp. 133–157, by H. Heller is a close study of the links between Protestant teachings and economic changes in the most important early centre of the French Reformation, which remains little known in the English-speaking world.

‘Puritan Evangelism in the Reign of Elizabeth I’ by C. Haigh in English Historical Review 92, pp. 30–58, concentrates on Lancashire, ‘perhaps the most daunting of Elizabethan mission-fields’, where little progress was made in a generation.

P. J. Perry briefly portrays ‘Edward Girdlestone 1805–1884: A Forgotten Evangelical’ in Journal of Religious History 9, pp. 292–301. A vicar in Lancashire and the Bristol area, Girdlestone was conspicuous for social activism in various spheres, not only on behalf of farm workers. His evangelicalism broadened in later years.

In JTS 28, pp. 465–497, Owen Chadwick plots the background to Lord Acton’s considerable influence at Vatican I and claims that he succeeded in preventing it becoming the fierce attack on liberal European society that many wanted.

Six volumes by Edwin Orr on evangelical awakenings in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries are reviewed neither unappreciatively nor uncritically by Max Warren in Churchman 91, pp. 6–18, with many pointers for further research.

Mike Parsons’ study of ‘Warfield and Scripture’, ibid., pp. 198–220, claims, abrasively at times, that ‘the anti-deist stance, based on the Scottish common philosophy, led Princeton (theologians) to assert the complete primacy of reason, and set them off on a totally illegitimate quest for certainty’.

Finally, a timely comparison of American fundamentalism and British conservative evangelicalism in Church History 46, pp. 215–232, by George Marsden highlights the differences, normally to the advantage of the British developments.

  1. Social ethics

René Padilla

Of particular value is the ‘debate’ between Isaac C. Rottenberg and Nicholas P. Wolterstorff on the one hand, and Jim Wallis on the other. In ‘The Shape of the Church’s Social-Economic Witness’, RJ 27/5, pp. 16–21, Rottenberg reasserts the ‘Reformed’ position regarding the nature of Christian witness in the social-political and economic realms, and warns against ‘radical evangelicals’ associated with the magazine Sojourners who take their starting-point in the shape of the church as a ‘countersign’ to the world. ‘The gospel of the kingdom calls for more than a counter-culture movement; it also proclaims the possibility of social transformation’ (p. 18).

In ‘What does Washington have to say to Grand Rapids?’, Sojourners 6/7, pp. 3–4, Wallis, author of Agenda for Biblical People, replies that no-one examining the editorial coverage of Sojourners will find lack of concern over matters of public policy, but Sojourners fellowship and Grand Rapids have a different understanding of the meaning of biblical politics and a different analysis of the present historical problems and their solution. His Reformed critics have ‘an overly positive view of the state, one that is far too uncritical on both theological and historical grounds’ (p. 4). He concludes with a challenge to identify the real differences of Opinion.

The challenge is taken up by Wolterstorff in ‘How Does Grand Rapids Reply to Washington?’, RJ 27/10, pp. 10–14. He identifies possible areas of disagreement between the two approaches to social-political action in their views on (1) the place of the state in God’s order, (2) the church, (3) the role assigned to the doctrine of creation, (4) the extent to which Christians should confine their political action to prophetic witness, as opposed to engaging in considerations of strategic effectiveness, (5) their assessment of that particular state which is the American state. This article admirably illustrates how different theological emphases can lead equally committed Christians to different courses of action.

Rottenberg’s rejoinder, ‘Dimensions of the Kingdom: A Dialogue with Sojourners’, RJ 27/11, pp. 17–21, reaffirms the need to supplement the view of the church as a countersign—an alternative to the structures and values of society—with a more positive outlook on the existing structures and institutions. If the church’s prophetic witness is to move beyond protest and constant ‘over-against-ness’, we must not ‘ecclesiastize’ the kingdom. ‘In a real but hidden way, the power of the kingdom is also operative in the world. This happens partially but not exclusively through the ministry of the church. The Lord can use Cyrus or the Roman authorities to fulfil his purpose in history’ (p. 21).

But then the question to be posed to Rottenberg is, What is the difference between God’s action through Jesus Christ, the Suffering Servant, and his action through the governing authorities, ‘God’s servant for your good’ (Rom. 13:1ff.), or through Cyrus, or even through Judas? The answer to that question may well be the key to understanding the real difference between the ‘politics of God’ and the ‘politics of men’, as well as to clarifying the issues involved in the Reformed Journal/Sojourners debate.

  1. Practical theology

Paul Mickey

a. Evangelical trends. Richard Lovelace argues for the need to maintain compassionate concern while disapproving the active homosexual lifestyle in ‘The Active Homosexual Lifestyle and the Church’, Church and Society 67/5, pp. 24–39. In ‘Demythologizing Evangelicalism: A Review of Donald W. Dayton’s Recovering an Evangelical Heritage’, Christian Scholar’s Review 3/2 and 3, pp. 203–211, George Marsden levels a fourfold critique at Dayton: (1) overstates case, (2) minimizes conversion as central to nineteenth-century evangelicals, (3) confuses post-millennialism with ‘post-Americanism’, (4) lacks Christian realism. Dayton has a ‘Reply’. Ronald Nash, ‘Truth by Any Other Name’, CT 22/1, pp. 17–23, challenges neo-orthodoxy’s exclusive claim for ‘personal’ but not ‘cognitive’ encounter with God; propositional truth is part of human experience and within the capacity of God to communicate.

b. Pastoral concerns. The secular insight of Marian Z. Goldstein, ‘Fathering—A Neglected Activity’, AJPs37, pp. 325–336, is good advice for the pastor—too many tend the kingdom’s work but not themselves or family. Charles Strain, ‘Ideology and Alienation: Themes on the Interpretation and Evaluation of Theologies of Liberation’, Journal of American Academy of Religion 45, pp. 473–490, gives a helpful perspective on how the dynamics of personal and social alienation tend to ‘acclude self-critical reflection’; contemporary use of alienation and liberation are not ‘comprehensive’ models for faith and ideology. Variation on themes, emphasis on production consumerism in George W. Albee, ‘The Protestant Ethic, Sex, and Psychotherapy’, AmPs 32, pp. 150–161, provides a practical perspective for the pastor.

c. Varieties of sexuality. Stephen F. Morin, ‘Heterosexual Bias in Psychological Research on Lesbian and Male Homosexuality’, AmPs 32, pp. 629–637, reveals a bias against heterosexuals; comprehensive bibliography. On woman and on balance, see the brief exegetical study of 1 Corinthians 11:1–16; Ephesians 5:21–23 by Cindy Weber-Han, ‘Sexual Equality According to Paul’, BLT 22, pp. 167–170.

d. Psychological motifs. On limits of behaviour modification and its omission of ‘cognitive mediation’ see Arnold Lazarus, ‘Has Behaviour Therapy Outlived its Usefulness?’ AmPs 32, pp. 550–554. A good overview and critique of variations of ‘humanistic psychology’ is Claude H. Miller, ‘Human-Potential Movement: Implications for Psychoanalysis’, AJPs 37, pp. 99–109.

e. Morality. Gordon Shull, ‘Watergate and the Water’s Edge: A Reflection on a Double Standard’, BLT 22, pp. 237–242, raises timely questions about the generalized immorality of the day; see also Michael Foley,‘Apocalypse, the Biblical Symbol for our Age’, Sojourners Nov. and Dec.

8. World religions

Bruce Nicholls with James Lewis, Yavatmal

Robert N. Minor’s ‘A Study Guide to Non-Christian Religions’, CT 21/19 (8 July), pp. 16–19, lists fifty-eight books (or sets of books) for those who seek understanding in the fields of religion in India, China, Japan, Islamics, post-biblical Judaism and comparative religion. His concern to point the reader to books which avoid the ‘blatantly inaccurate or deceptively superficial’ is important for Christians who want to be scrupulously fair to believers of other faiths.

According to Bishop Lesslie Newbigin’s ‘The Basis, Purpose and Manner of Inter-faith Dialogue’, SJT 30, pp. 253–270, the purpose is not to seek common truth, pronounce judgment, or discover the salvific in religion, but to witness to Jesus’ gospel which stands in judgment over all partners in dialogue, including the Christian and his multiform expressions of that gospel.

Barnard Harvey in ‘Ancestor Cult Today’, Missiology, July, pp. 339–365, says that if there is any such thing as ‘Chinese religion’ it is the ancestor cult. He gives valuable information about the geographical extent of ancestor worship, recent trends among the Chinese classical texts and explanatory theories from the disciplines of psychology and sociology.

Bibhuti S. Yadav, ‘A Protest against the Theology of Anonymous Christianity’, RSoc 24/4, pp. 69–81, provides a stinging refutation of Richard Drummond’s thesis that Christian beliefs and values are immanent and manifested in the early teachings of the Buddhist tradition (Gautama the Buddha: An Essay in Religious Understanding, Eerdmans, 1974). Yadav shows how Drummond’s normative understanding (all religions are Christian in one way or another) fatally distorts his description of beliefs of the Pali scriptures. Rejecting Drummond’s universalism, Yadav cites evidence from the Pali scriptures that it is totally untenable to maintain that Buddhist teaching accepts Christian belief in a transcendent God, a permanent self or soul, or the concept of an eternal logos which enters history to redeem the world.

Interest in Hindu ethics is a comparatively recent phenomenon. P. M. John in ‘Hindu Dharma as an Occasion for Comparative Ethics’, RSoc 24/4, pp. 38–51, argues for an East-West dialogue on the basis that dharma is the all-inclusive term representing the total value structure of Indian thought and culture, which in experience one hears (sruti) and recollects (smriti). This situational ethic, the author claims, has a message for the issues of everyday life, and offers a non-violent ethic compatible with the concerns of the West.

In ‘Past and Present Postures in Christian-Muslim Relations in Insular Southeast Asia’, SE Asia Journal of Theology 18/1, pp. 38–54, Peter G. Cowing identifies four basic postures—the ‘crusade’ era of the Portuguese, Spaniards and later Americans in the Philippines; the ‘rivalry’ of the Dutch era in Indonesia; the ‘apartheid’ era of the British in Malaysia; the ‘dialogue’ of the contemporary ecumenical era. He welcomes the latter as most compatible with the cultural values of the Malay people, and decries the evangelistic crusading of faith missions spurred on by Lausanne and the Church Growth movement. This raises for evangelicals the crucial question of the nature of the community we seek.