Archives For Scripture


Paul, Perspectives,
and Christian Witness

A Review of 

The Apostle Paul and the Christian Life: Ethical and Missional Implications of the New Perspective
Scot McKnight and Joseph B. Modica, Eds.

Paperback: Baker Academic, 2016
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Reviewed by Danny Yencich
The worlds of biblical scholarship, Christian colleges and seminaries, and evangelical theology and preaching have played hosts to a tempest in a teapot these last few decades. While the rest of the world continued on doing what the rest of the world does, the aforementioned invested readers of Paul have been engaged in a usually quite interesting and sometimes very heated debate about the broad contours and implications of the theology of the apostle to the gentiles. Like a river system, the debates have splintered off into various tributaries, feeders, and side streams, but the central points of dispute have been, and remain to this day, Paul’s attitudes toward salvation, gentiles, and the Judaism of his day. This nexus of issues, read through the lens used by the great reformer Martin Luther, gave rise to what has been called (often pejoratively) “the Old Perspective on Paul” (hereafter “OP”). Enter its adversary from stage right: the New Perspective on Paul (“NP”). Grossly oversimplified, the OP/NP debates have largely centered on first century Torah observance (“works of the law”), justification, and the question of “faith in/of Jesus Christ.” It may be instructive here to take one verse, Galatians 2:16, and run it through the interpretive apparatuses of the OP and NP to briefly and oversimply sketch the broad contours of the debate.

…yet we know that a person is justified not by the works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ. And we have come to believe in Christ Jesus, so that we might be justified by faith in Christ, and not by doing the works of the law, because no one will be justified by the works of the law (Gal 2:16, NRSV).

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Get into the Game

A Review of 

Reviving Old Scratch:
Demons and the Devil for Doubters and the Disenchanted

Richard Beck

Paperback: Fortress Press, 2016
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Reviewed by Josh Morgan.
Christians view and interpret Christ rather diversely. However, there seem to be even wider discrepancies between understandings of Satan. Is he real or a metaphoric personification? Is he a fallen angel or playing a designated role in God’s court? Does he have real power or not? Do Christians need to worry about Satan, or should we have no fear because we live in Christ? Many modern Christians in developed countries seem to avoid the issue, perhaps reading C.S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters, but not having much more conscious experience with the Devil beyond that.

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Faith Working Through Love
A Feature Review of 

God Unbound:
Wisdom from Galatians for the Anxious Church

Elaine Heath

Paperback: Upper Room Books, 2016
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Reviewed by Daniel Ogle.
The church is anxious.

A large part of that, of course, is that the church is in the world, and the world in which we live is anxious – anxious about power and who will have it, anxious about identity and how we deal with difference, and anxious about how exactly we are going to live into a future that we can’t predict.

One of the most important parts of God Unbound, Elaine Heath’s new book, is that she doesn’t hide from that anxiety.  It is right there in the title, and one of the book’s gifts is naming the anxiety and then setting out to help us think through how we can faithfully live in the midst of it.

The particularity of the church’s anxiety often centers on institutional survival. A generation ago we built buildings and created organizations and made assumptions out of strength and confidence.  But the world has changed – and those assumptions and those buildings and those structures that once seemed to serve us so well now look more like obstacles than pathways to faithfulness.
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What if the problem is not out there, but in our own hearts?

A Feature Review of

Fear of the Other: No Fear in Love
William Willimon

Paperback: Abingdon Press, 2016
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Reviewed by James Honig


The long months of the presidential campaign have given people of faith plenty of self-righteous high horses from which to rail at those who would stir up the juices of our all too common human fear of the other.

Reminds me of that delicious story in Luke’s gospel of a Pharisee named Simon who throws a dinner party and invites Jesus (Luke 7). When a woman with a reputation crashes the party, Simon takes the occasion for some self-righteous harrumphing about Jesus’ rusty skills as a prophet. Jesus doesn’t even know who it is who is wetting his’ feet with her tears and wiping them dry with her hair, Simon says to himself. In a brief and masterfully told parable, Jesus turns the tables on that highly religious man, exposing Simon’s self-righteousness and need for forgiveness.

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One of this week’s best new book releases
is Paul Pastor’s excellent book:

The Face of the Deep:
Exploring the Mysterious Person of the Holy Spirit

Buy now: [ Amazon ]  [  Kindle ]

Here are two helpful videos that Paul made to introduce the book:


Video #1:  Do We Forget the Holy Spirit?

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At the Heart of Biblical Faith?

A Review of 

Sacred Sense: Discovering the Wonder of God’s Word and World
William P. Brown

Paperback: Eerdmans, 2015
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Reviewed by Debbie Philpott

Every man discriminates between the voluntary acts of his mind, and his involuntary perceptions, and knows that to his involuntary perceptions a perfect faith is due. He may err in the expression of them, but he knows that these things are so, like day and night, not to be disputed.
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson, Self-Reliance


When reading William P. Brown’s In Sacred Sense: Discovering the Wonder of God’s Word and World, I was reminded of an encounter with an Old Testament scholar and chaplain whose longing touches me still.

A few years ago, I engaged in a one-on-on conversation with the chaplain as part of the standard interview process for professorship at a traditional Christian university campus.  Ours was a phone interview due to the distance between us and the timing of the interview.  He asked many of the standard questions for which I had already prepared a response—questions regarding my testimony and my beliefs, and how my beliefs aligned with those of my potential future employer.  Nearer the end of our lighter conversation, he asked a final question that I found troubling, then and still.

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Bringing Coherence to
our Scattered Spiritual Lives.

A Review of 

Lectio Divina: From God’s Word to Our Lives
Enzo Bianchi

Paperback: Paraclete Press, 2015
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Reviewed by Andrew Stout


Theological interpretations of Scripture are very much in fashion. These methods emphasize the Church’s interpretive role through typology, creeds, and liturgical use. Plenty of good books are available that call for reappropriations of premodern and precritical interpretive methods (in addition to a host of individual authors, book series like the Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible, Intervarsity Press’ Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, and Baker Academic’s Foundations of Theological Exegesis and Christian Spirituality could be mentioned). However, as Rowan Williams notes in the Foreword to Lectio Divina, “We have plenty of good scholarship and plenty of good popular summaries of that scholarship – but very little on the actual theology of reading the Bible, very little on reading the Bible as a central form of our discipleship” (vii). Enzo Bianchi understands the scholarship, and he provides a helpful orientation for the layperson. More than this, however, Bianchi shows that proper interpretation requires the faithful entrance into an active dialogue with the Word.

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Life at the Table

A Feature Review of:

From Tablet to Table: Where Community is Found and Identity is Formed
Leonard Sweet

Hardback: NavPress, 2015
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Reviewed by Andrew Camp
I was raised at the table. Every morning and every evening, I, along with my three sisters, were required to be at the table to have breakfast and dinner together, even when one of us had to be at school at 7:00 am. I don’t remember much of what was shared or talked about each breakfast and dinner, but I do remember the table being a very safe place, a place where no matter what had transpired throughout the day, when we sat down together as a family, I was in a sanctuary.
The primacy to which my parents gave the table has greatly informed my understanding of life, God and Church. When I set out on my own, I wanted the table to be central to how I lived and practiced the same hospitality my parents so generously exhibited. As I enjoyed table fellowship with others, whether in my home or in their home, I became curious as to why we were more than content to linger around the dining room table, sometimes sitting in less than comfortable chairs, long after the meal was consumed, when the living room furniture was just a few steps away.

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Reexamining Paul’s Missiology in the 21st Century


A Feature Review of

Paul’s Missionary Methods: In His Time and Ours
Robert L. Plummer & John Mark Terry, editors

IVP Academic, 2012
Buy now:  [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]


Reviewed by Chris Schoon


There are two temptations when engaging works from a previous generation. The first is a persnickety tendency to elevate the perspectives of those with whom we resonate in a way that prevents us from seeing where their contributions leave room for further development. At the same time, we also face the temptation of a naïve ahistorical hubris that blindly critiques our predecessors for failing to fully conform to our common sensibilities. Such are the dual challenges faced by Plummer and Terry in Paul’s Missionary Methods, which celebrates, extends, and deepens conversations initiated by Roland Allen’s Missionary Methods 100 years ago.


For the past century, Allen’s Missionary Methods has served as one of the central introductory textbooks for exploring a biblical model of mission, catalyzing a wide range of New Testament studies and contextualized mission conversations in the process. Allen’s reflections have empowered several generations of New Testament scholars, missiologists, and practicing missionaries to take not only the words of the gospel seriously but also to carefully consider the manner in which the Apostle Paul carried out his calling. Drawing together a strong cohort of evangelical scholars and practitioners, Plummer and Terry’s editorial work reasserts Allen’s argument for seeing Paul as the “exemplary model not for us to blindly follow, but to appropriate and replicate intelligently.”(28)

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Happy Easter to all our readers!

Here’s a short video of N.T. Wright talking about the meaning of Easter…

This talk is similar to his book:

The Challenge of Easter
Paperback: IVP Books, 2009
Buy now: [ Amazon ]

[ READ AN EXCERPT of this book… ]


NT Wright’s The Kingdom New Testament: A Contemporary Translation is only $3.99 for Kindle right now!!!


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