ACADEMIA

Reviews on Resources for Biblical and Theological Studies

Smith. Evangelical, Sacremental, and Pentecostal, 2017

Written By: Paulson Pulikottil - Oct• 04•17

Smith, Gordon T. 2017. Evangelical, Sacramental, and Pentecostal: Why the Church Should Be All Three. InterVarsity Press. Pages: 135, ISBN: 978-0-8308-5160-7.

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9780830851607The general trends show that the contemporary church is mostly post-denominational. This means that for most people denominations and traditions do not matter much. Moreover, the charismatic movement has brought the churches closer to each other since there is the ‘unity of the spirit’ felt across denominational barriers. Many free and independent traditions are getting much more disciplined and organized in their worship, thus slowly warming up towards the liturgical traditions. It is in this context that the book by Gordon Smith becomes very relevant. The title exposes the main argument: ‘Evangelical, Sacramental and Pentecostal. Why the Church Should Be all Three.’

Smith presents his arguments in six chapters. In the first chapter, he exposits John 15:4: Jesus’ command to abide in him. Then he explores how the evangelical tradition, the sacramental tradition and the pentecostal tradition understand this principle of ‘abiding in Christ.’ While the evangelical tradition experiences the abiding through the teaching and preaching of the Word of God, the sacramental tradition does the same through the sacramental actions of baptism and the Lord’s supper. The Pentecostals understand it as the presence of the Holy Spirit in the church and the indwelling of the Spirit in the life of the individual. Smith goes on to conclude that, ‘all three in tandem are the divinely appointed means by which God’s people live in union with Christ.’

In the second chapter, he establishes that all three, the Word, the Sacraments and the experience of the Spirit, are equally important for the Church to be truly Church. This leads the reader to the third chapter where he explains the three distinct understandings of the ‘grace of God.’ The three traditions have different understandings of the concept of the grace of God and the appropriation of it. However, he suggests, ‘that whether one comes to this question from a sacramental, evangelical, or pentecostal heritage and perspective, the bottom line remains: ‘… the biblical witness and the historic witness of the church consistently call the church to be a fully orbed embracing of the vital means by which the grace of the risen and ascended Christ is made present in the life of the church.’

In the next three chapters, he goes on to explain what is characteristic of each tradition. Then in the last chapter, he concludes with some observations and suggestions. First of all, he observes that ‘the Spirit, the Word and the sacramental life of the church’ are housed within the Christian community. Secondly, he suggests that the three festivals of the church namely, Advent-Christmas-Epiphany offers us three distinctive perspectives of grace. He suggests that these festivals must be used to give ‘focussed attention to the three expressions of grace of the ascended Christ in the life of the church.’ Thirdly, he critiques the modern trend of downplaying the importance of the worship space. This happens by replacing the pulpit with a lectern or a barstool, communion being very casual, etc. He suggests that ‘the visual dimensions of worship complement the words spoken and the prayers offered.’

His last observation and suggestion have to do with Christian initiation. In his opinion, Christian initiation has three aspects. First, a focus on the preaching and study of the Word. Secondly, the invitation to baptism. Thirdly, chrismation, the anointing with oil which represents the ‘intentional appropriation of the gift of the Spirit.’ He suggests that a baptism service should have all these three elements.

He concludes as his title suggests that, ‘… the Christian would be evangelical, sacramental, and pentecostal. And the evidence of such would be that they live with a deep and resilient joy, the fruit of a life lived in dynamic union with the ascended Christ.’

Smith’s analysis of the three traditions is quite innovative. He does convince the reader that though these emphases are distinct they are not disuniting, but have tremendous potential for unity. I think this work is a great contribution towards ecumenical discussions in our generation.

Nelson, JUDGES, 2017

Written By: Paulson Pulikottil - Jul• 18•17

Nelson, Richard D. Judges: A Critical & Rhetorical Commentary. London: Bloomsbury T&T Clark, 2017. Pages: 376. ISBN: 9780567673091.

Nelson JudgesThis is part of the series, ‘Critical and Rhetorical Commentary’ published by Bloomsbury. As the name suggests, these commentaries present us a critical study of the text and a rhetorical analysis.

The Judges commentary offers a fresh translation of the MT unit by unit. This is then followed by detailed notes that explains the translation. Then the structure and rhetoric of the unit follows. Finally, the genre and the composition of the unit is discussed. This pattern is followed throughout the 21 chapters of the book.

This thus serves the purpose of a critical commentary as it analyses the text, the grammar and usages of the Hebrew text. The critical analysis goes beyond the analysis of the language of the text to the text’s formation and transmission as well. According to the author chapters 2:6-10 and 3:7-16:31 is the oldest portion of the book while Judges 2:11-3:6 is later.

Then rhetorical anaylsis which follows careful analysis of the structures within the text offers us insight into what the text tries to do to the readers.

According to the author, the Book of Judges is divided into three parts as 1:1-2:5 (incomplete conquest), 2:6-16:31 (stories of the deliverers in a cyclical pattern) and finally 17:1-21:25 which is an account of the non-monarchic anarchy.

On the whole this serves the purpose of critical commentary for any student of the Hebrew Bible. In addition, it introduces the students to the praxis of rhetorical criticism. On every count, this is a valuable resource.

Doody. Augustine and the Environment. 2016

Written By: Paulson Pulikottil - Feb• 02•17

Doody, John, Kim Paffenroth, and Mark Smillie. Augustine and the Environment. Lexington Books, 2016. pages. 217. ISBN: 9781498541909.

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9781498541909Lynn White Jr. (‘The Historical Roots of our Ecological Crisis’) and many others have argued that Christian world-view is responsible for the present environmental crisis. Certainly, Augustine of Hippo has played a crucial role in shaping the Christian worldview and theology. So, it is important to hear what Augustine has to say about the care for our environment. That is what this book achieves—exploring what we can learn from the theology of Augustine about the care for nature. It is true that Augustine lived in a world were environmental crisis was not the main concern. Does that mean Augustine’s thinking has no relevance for discussions on the environmental and ecological issues that we face now? This collection of essays is divided into three parts as (1) Introductory and General Discussions, (2) Humans in the Environment, and (3) The Nonhuman Universe.
Part I (Introductory and General Discussions) has two essays. Chapter 1: ‘“But enough about Me” What Does Augustine’s Confessions Have To Do with Facebook’ (Sallie McFague.) deals with personal narratives in Facebook and other genre. She looks at the overall purpose of spiritual autobiographies, especially like that of ‘Augustinian.’ In chapter 2: ‘Augustine and ecology. St. Augustine’s Reflections on Genesis and Human Care for Nature’, Rosemary Radford Ruether summarises five books by Augustine. She concludes that his writings do not show any ecological critique or concern for the care of nature. However, the author’s who follow her doesn’t seem to give up on Augustine! The third article (first in part II. Humans in the Environment) by Marie I. George compares ‘The Moral Teachings of St. Augustine and the Roman Catholic Church Regarding Environment.’ She particularly focusses on the theme of creation in the Roman Catholic teachings and that of Augustine. Her conclusion is that ‘Augustine and the Catholic Church explicitly agree on many aspects of environmental morality….’
In a similar vein, the fourth article by Joseph Kelley (‘Anthropocene and Empire. An Augustinian Anthropology for “Keeping the Wild.”’), draws a brighter picture of the relevance of Augustine for ecological discussions. It is true that there is no explicit critique of environmental concern in Augustine’s writings. However, some main themes of his writings—critique of the empire, humility conversion and confession—have relevance for discussions on environmental concerns.
The article by Cyrus P. Olsen III (‘Interdependent and Vulnerable. Sustainability and Augustinian Theological Anthropology’) tries to establish the place of anthropological interdependence and vulnerability in our call to the holistic care of our environment. He draws from the writings of Patriarch Bartholomew and Pope John II as well many modern scholars in his presentation.
Part III titled ‘The non-human Universe. Animals, Nature and God’ has six articles. The first of these by David Vincent Meconi is titled ‘Saint Augustine on “Saving Both Men and Beasts.”’ After guiding us through Augustinian protology and theology, the author concludes that all non-human beings have a place in God’s plan and even God’s plan of salvation.
‘Toward an Augustinian Eco-theology’ by John J. O’Keefe is an examination of the relevance of the concept of the ‘Worldly Augustinianism’ as proposed by Charles Mathews for our environmental commitments.
James R. Peters has titled his article ‘Saint Augustine. Patron Saint of the Environment?’ His argument in his own words is that ‘Augustine deserves to be recognised as one of the history’s most noteworthy and culturally relevant patron saints of the environment.’
‘Augustine’s Trinitarian Sacramental Sensibilities, Influence, and Significance for Our Imperiled Planet’ by James Schaefer is the first essay in the third part that deals with the non-human universe. First of all, he redefines the concept of sacraments as experiencing the presence of God in the visible universe. Augustine used his five senses to experience the Trinity in the sensible world. In the second part of the essay, he tells us how Augustine’s understanding of the sacramentality of God’s creation influenced the medieval theologians who followed him.
Daniel R. Smith in his article (‘Saint Augustine and the Goodness of Creation’) explores Augustinian anthropology, his understanding of sin and corruption. He finds that Augustine believed in the integrity of creation, and considers the created order as good and worthy of human care and compassion.
Mark Wiebe concludes the volume with his essay titled, ‘A Green Augustine. What Augustinian Theology Can Contribute to Eco-Theology.’ He helps us to understand the distinction that Augustine makes between two important concepts called ‘uti’ (use) and ‘fruti’ (enjoyment). This concluding essay is also a thorough investigation of the modern critics of Augustine. He concludes the collection saying, ‘Augustine’s theology actually offers a helpful way of avoiding what would be a truly instrumentalist attitude by which one’s own tastes, desires, even needs dictate both the value of the other and one’s engagement with it.’ This not only serves as a conclusion to Wiebe’s article but can also be taken as the conclusion of the entire collection.
Augustine’s world did not see ecological challenges of the proportion that we see. The generation that Augustine addressed was not so much concerned about their environment to the degree that we are. However, going through his writings and getting into his thought world, we tend to gather what Augustine would do if he lived in our times. This is a WWAD (What Would Agustine Do) book. This is indeed a book of great value and has it has a due place in any classroom where environmental concerns are discussed. It presents the relevance of an ancient voice for modern Christians.

Walsh. Biblical Theology. Past, Present and Future 2016

Written By: Paulson Pulikottil - Dec• 27•16

Walsh, Carey, and Mark W. Elliott, eds. Biblical Theology: Past, Present, and Future. Cascade Books, 2016. Pages: 233. ISBN: 978-1-4982-3443-6

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9781498234436This book is a collection of sixteen papers presented at the SBL sessions held between 2012-2014 in the Biblical Theology sessions. All papers are reworked after the presentation taking into account the comments at the sessions.
The papers are divided into three sections. The first section titled ‘The Past: Historical Developments’ offers a critical overview of the development of Biblical Theology. There are five papers that look at this from different angles. The second section takes stock of the present state of Biblical theology, particularly the methodological issues. Six essays are including in this. The fix articles in the third and last part are about the future of Biblical Theology.
The contributors are significant scholars in the field. For example, John Goldingay, N.T. Wright, et. al. I also feel that all the pertinent issues are also dealt with. It is thus a comprehensive reader for any foundational course on Biblical Theology class.

Jones. ECCLESIA AND ETHICS. 2016

Written By: Paulson Pulikottil - Nov• 04•16

Jones, E. Allen, et.a. (eds.) Ecclesia and Ethics: Moral Formation and the Church. New York: Bloomsbury T&T Clark, 2016. ISBN: 9780567664006. Pages: 212.

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This volume is the outcome of a series of webinars organized by a group of Ph.D. students in University of Saint Andrews (Scotland) in 2012. Though fifty scholars presented papers, only 13 of the papers are selected for publication in this volume. They are divided into three sections as: Part I, ‘Biblical-Theological Foundations for Ecclesial Ethics’; Part II, ‘Virtue Ethics, Character Formation, and Ecclesial Ethics’ and Part III, ‘Exegesis and Application—Scripture and the Praxis of Ecclesial Et.hics.’ Unlike many other anthologies of this kind, most of the titles of the articles are explicit.

In the first article, Dennis P. Hollinger argues that creation is the starting point for any discussion on ecclesial ethic. So, goes on to explore five paradigms from the creation narrative that provides frameworks for ecclesial ethics. In the same section, Michael J. Gorman moves to the New Testament in his article titled ‘The Cross in Paul: Christophany, Theophany and Ecclesiophany.’ He ventures to establish that the Cross of Christ is not only the revelation of the identity of Christ, but also of God and of the Church.

Brian Rosner’s essay also has to do with Pauline thought—‘The Church as Temple and Moral Exhortation in 1 Corinthians.’ He zeroes down on the Temple imagery in the Corinthian correspondence to explore its significance for Paul’s moral exhortations.

The last article in the first section also has to do with Pauline moral theology: ‘Learning from Paul: Centred Ethics that Avoid Legalistic Judgementalism and Moral Relativism.’ Mark D. Baker begins with his own struggles as a Christian in deciding ethical boundaries. First of all, he surveys the situation in Galatia that Paul dealt with in the epistles. Then using inights from the work of missionary anthropologist Paul Hiebert, he seems to conclude that churches are not supposed to build fences around them but dig wells so that people can drink from the ‘well of Jesus.’ He actually calls not to think in terms of strict water-tight categories as ‘us’ and ‘them’, and the like.

The second part, ‘Vritue Ethics, Character Formation, and Ecclesial Ethics’ has two articles. The first is by Stanley Hauerwas—‘Habit Matters: The Bodily Character of Virtues.’ This describes how Thomas Aquinas developed Aristotle’s idea of habit. The second article comes from N.T. Wright titled, ‘Paul, Ethics and the Church.’ This in fact is based on Wright’s own book ‘Paul and the Faithfulness of God.’

The third part, ‘Exegesis and Application—Scripture and the Praxis of Ecclesial Ethics’ has seven articles. In the article titled ‘Did Saint Paul Take up the Great Commission?: Discipleship Transformed into a Pauline Key’ Nijay Gupta suggests that discipleship is not the only way to express Christian obedience. Writing as an insider S. Min Chun suggests that all is not well with the Korean church. The article, ‘An Ethical Reading of the Story of Gideon Abimelech for the Korean Church’ is about a number of scandals that the Korean churches faced in the recent years.

Mariam J. Kamell attempts to provide a picture of the community relationship in James 4:1-12 in her article, ‘Pride and Prejudice: Community Ethics in James 4:1-12.’ John Frederick’s article is quite interesting as he deals with the issue of Christian blogging in the light of Paul’s vision of morality. The title is explicit: ‘Discerning, Disarming and Redeeming the Digital Powers: Gospel Community, the Virtual Self and the HTML of Cruciform Love.’

Similarly, the title of the eleventh article is also self-explanatory: ‘De Manibus Gladius Corporalis Ablatus Est: Absolute Pacifism in the Early Church and Its Relevance in the Twenty-First Century.’ Another article based on Old Testament is the last but one by Michael Rhodes titled—‘Follow Us as We Follow Moses’: Learning Biblical Economics from the New Testament’s Appropriation of Old Testament Narratives, Practices and Liturgies.’ His main argument is that New Testaments appropriation of the Old Testament themes regarding wealth and prosperity is indicative of the relevance of Old Testament ethics for contemporary Church. The detailed title of the last article makes its intent explicit: ‘You will Fill Me with Joy in Your Countenance: Engaging the North American Ecclesial Context with a Narrative Ethical Reading of Acts 2:41-47 and 4:32-35.’ Hume makes the Moralistic Therapeutic Deism (MTD) the central focus of this article.

The wide spectrum of themes, approaches that this volume presents is what makes it valuable. Equaly important is that the volume presents a wide range of established scholars as well.

Olyan. RITUAL VIOLENCE, OUP, 2015

Written By: Paulson Pulikottil - Oct• 11•16

9780190249588Olyan, Saul M., ed. Ritual Violence in the Hebrew Bible: New Perspectives. New York: Oxford University Press, 2015. Pages: 190. ISBN: 978-0-19-0249588.

This volume, an anthology of eight essays (besides the introduction) is a timely contribution to the discussion about violence in the Bible. In the recent years, there has been a lot of attention on violence of all forms in the academia and the public media. A lot of discussion on the topic have focussed on the violence in the religious texts including the Hebrew Bible. However, most of the books on the subject circumvent one of the most important aspects of violence—the ritual aspect of it. This volume fills this lacuna by offering a detailed discussion of ritual violence in the Hebrew Bible.

Debra Soggins Ballentine (‘What Ends Might Ritual Violence Accomplish? The Case of Rechab and Baanah in 2 Samuel 4’) argues that ritual violence is a coded strategic version of normal acts of violence. The way David handled the violent act of Rechab and Baanah by burying Eshbaal’s head and mutilating the body of the villains had political goals as well.

T.M. Lemos (‘Dispossesing Nations. Population Growth, Scarcity, and Genocide in Ancient Israel and Twentieth-Century Rwanda’) is multi-disciplinary in its approach. He uses the case studies of violence in Rwanda and also that is described in Mesha inscription to understand violence in the Bible. The author concludes that the main reason for ritualized forms of violence in the Hebrew Bible is material scarcity. Population explosions and scarcity of land lead to violence of genocidal proportions. He also buttresses his argument by archaeological evidence. However, he doesn’t seem to suggest that it was material scarcity alone that lead to genocide in the Bible, a confluence of material, social, psychological aspects also contribute.

The third essay by Mark Leuchter (‘Between Politics and Mythology. Josiah’s Assault on Bethel in 2 Kings 23:15-20’) concludes that this act of Josiah is a more mythological re-enactment than being purely historical. However, this ethno-mythology was politicized.

The fourth essay in this volume, Nathaniel B. Lectow (‘Cognitive Perspectives on Iconoclasm’), is also interdisciplinary in nature. Levtow uses insights from cognitive science particularly, the modal theory of Harvey Whitehouse. He concludes that ‘iconism and iconoclasm are natural, durable, and inseparable forms of human thought and action.’

Exchange of women has been a practice in war times. Susan Nidtich in her essay, “‘The Traffic in Women” The Exchange, Ritual Sacrifice, and War’ studies three sets of texts that deal with violence on women. She studies (1) texts that deal with rape (Genesis 34 and Judges 19), (2) texts that deal with stealing of women in Deuteronomy 21, Numbers 31 and Judges 11 and (3) the case of Jephthah’s daughter in Judges 11. She concludes that exchange of women is an integral component of social relationships between men.

The editor of the volume who has made considerable contribution in the area of ritual violence discusses ‘The Instrumental Dimensions of Ritual Violence against Corpses in Biblical Texts.’ Olyan’s focus is on the biblical narrative that talks about the mutilation of dead bodies (particularly severing the head) of foreign or domestic enemies or of offenders. Decapitation served as means of humiliation and also as a threat to the survivors who may plan a rebellion. Decapitation as in the case of Eshbaal by Baanah and Rechab may be a sign of changed loyalties.

Rudiger Schmitt (‘Establishing Communitas. Royal Rites of Military Loyalty and Their Socio-Religious Function’ deals with war-related ritual acts that involve violence. The main purpose of such violence is to avoid intragroup violence. Legitimization of the ruler and formation of a communitas was also the purpose of these acts.

The last essay is devoted to the destruction of cities as part of violence related to war. In Jacob L. Wright (‘Urbicide. The Ritualized Killing of Cities in the Ancient Near East’, the author surveys the ancient textual, epigraphic and iconic evidence from AWA and Egypt to study the concept of urbicide (killing/destruction of cities). He concludes that urbicide is punitive action but it is also genocide. The urbicide also had a larger purpose of killing people’s cultural memories. The aggressors not only wiped out the people but also any memory that they cherished by destroying symbols of their culture and religion.

Discussions on religious violence are usually limited to either justifying it or disowning it. However, works that elaborate on the nature, motivations and goals of ritual violence is rare. This volume is a significant contribution in this direction.

Birkholz. Feasting in a Famine of the Word (2016)

Written By: Paulson Pulikottil - Aug• 23•16

Birkholz, Mark W., Jacob Corzine, Jonathan Mumme, and Jonathan M. Fisk, eds. Feasting in a Famine of the Word: Lutheran Preaching in the Twenty-First Century. Eugene, Oregon: Pickwick Publications, 2016. Pages:xxiv+299; ISBN: 978-1-4982-0316-6

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9781498203166This collection of essays is written by a diverse group of contributors ‘to equip preachers.’ The spectrum of writers include pastors, homilitians, and theologians from all over the world. Though all essays are written from the Lutheran Perspective, it still is a good resource for anyone, Lutheran or not.
The first essay by John Bombaro (‘Is there a Text in the Sermon? A Lutheran Survey of Contemporary Preaching) deals with the issue of the place of scripture in preaching, while in the second one by Mark Birkholz (‘Certainty in the Sermon: Patterns of Preaching from Peter and Pentecost’) is an exegetical study of the sermons in Luke-Acts. Paul M.C. Elliott (‘The Israel of God in the Sermon: Connecting Old Testament Texts to a New Testament People’) deals with the relationship between the Old and New Testaments in contemporary preaching. The essay by Richard J. Serna Jr is historical in nature. Taking the case of Richard of Cusa, he inquires in the factors that gave preaching the prominence it had in reformation times.
Not only history but theology also is important in reformation preaching. Roy Axel’s essay (‘Systematic Theology and Preaching in the Thought of Johann Gerhard’) explores the place of theology in preaching. Preaching on difficult theological topics like ‘election’, ‘free will’, ‘original sin’, etc are the concern of Esko Murto (‘Gloomy Revelations or Comforting Doctrines’).
Jacob Corzine (‘Assuring the Faithful: On Faith and Doubt in Lutheran Preaching’) deals with the issue of preaching to those who already have faith in such a way that their faith can be sustained. Jonathan Mumme offers us a study of the model of Paul in 1 and 2 Corinthians on how the preacher deals with the issue of differentiating between the hearers and himself/herself.
Daniel Schmidt is critical of many methods of north-American preaching (‘Present Preaching’). He argues that the criterion for a good sermon is not its content or its delivery but its foundation that is living God. Another contribution that deals with the North American homiletical practices is Gottfried Martens’ article, ‘The Path from Text to Sermon.’
The contribution by Steven Paulson (‘Preaching as Foolishness’) is quite radical. He doesn’t consider preaching as persuasion nor instruction but it is creation—preaching is creative word.
Bishop Hans-Jörg Voigt explores the relationship between preaching and pastoral care in his essay ‘Paranesis in Preaching.’ The essay by Jeremiah Johnson ‘Learning to Lament: Preaching to Suffering in the Lament Psalms’ seems to tow similar lines. He suggests that preaching is applied pastoral care. Pastoral care comes again in the article by Jacob Appell, ‘Preaching as Physician for the Sick in Spirit.’
The place of preaching in Liturgy is the concern of three articles (1) John Pless (‘Liturgical Preaching’), John Kleinig (‘The Real Presence and Liturgical Preaching’) and that of David Petersen (The Preacher’s Tongue and the Hearer’s Ear: Compelled by the Spirit).
The very brief overview of the contents of this book is sufficient to convince that here we have a very useful compendium of essays that helps us to learn new things and reformulate our own convictions. It has indeed fulfilled the goal set for the project, ‘to equip preachers.’ This, in my opinion, should be in the reading list of every homiletics student.

Weinrich. John 1:1-7:1, Concordia Commentary, 2015

Written By: Paulson Pulikottil - Jun• 19•16

9780758603197Weinrich, William C. John 1:1-7:1. Concordia Commentary: A Theological Exposition of Sacred Scripture. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 2015. Pages:li+863. ISBN: 9780758603197.
This is another volume in the news series of commentaries in the series titled Concordia Commentary: A Theological Exposition of Sacred Scripture by the Concordia Publishing House. This volume deals with first six chapters of the Gospel of John.
All the commentaries in this series are detailed, in-depth treatment of the scripture. This volume also has a detailed introduction to the Gospel of John that deals with patristic testimonies on the origin of Gospel of John, its uniqueness, the purpose and major themes, the place of writing, etc. The author Weinrich is not only an NT scholar but an expert in patristics too.
The commentary is so detailed and analytical but even a non-specialist will find it very reader friendly. The six chapters are dealt with in 863 pages. Like all the volumes in the Concordia Commentary series each section is marked according to their relevance and themes using symbols. This makes it a useful reference tool for scholars and preachers.
See also Das, Andrew. Galatians
Visit the publisher’s site

Sunquist. GOSPEL AND PLURALISM TODAY, 2015

Written By: Paulson Pulikottil - May• 24•16

Sunquist, Scott W., and Amos Yong (eds.). The Gospel and Pluralism Today: Reassessing Lesslie Newbigin in the 21st Century. Missiological Engagements. Downers Grove, Illinois: IVP Academic, 2015. ISBN: 978-0-8308-5094-5. Pages: 238

9780830850945This volume is the outcome of the annual Missiology Lectures (November 13-15. 2015) held at the Fuller Theological Seminary. The book deals with three distinct aspects of Leslie Newbigin’s life and work. First, it deals with the impact of his book THE GOSPEL IN A PLURALISTIC SOCIETY (1989) on missiology and missional practices. Secondly, it deals with various aspects of pluralism in the West. Thirdly, discussions on how Newbigin’s work influenced missiology.

It is not the purpose this review to offer synopses or critique of each essay in this volume. However, a listing of the contents may help the readers.

1. Introduction: The Legacy of Newbigin for Mission (Scott W. Sunquist).

2. Newbigin in His Time (Wilbert R. Shenk).

3. Newbigin’s Theology of Mission and Culture After Twenty-Five years: Attending to the “Subject” of Mission (William R. Burrows).

4. Community and Witness in Transition: Newbigin’s Missional Ecclesiology Between Modernity and Postmodernity (Veli-Matti Karkainen and Michael Karim).

5. Holistic Theological Method and Theological Epistemology: Performing Newbigin’s Plurality of Sources in the Pluralist Context (Steven B. Sherman).

6. Honoring True Otherness in a Still-Antipluralist Culture (Esther L. Meek).

7. Pluralism, Secularism and Pentecost: Newbigin-ings for Missio Trinitatis in a New Century (Amos Yong).

8. Evangelism in a Pluralistic Society: The Newbigin Vision (Carrie Boren Headington).

9. What Does It Mean for a Congregation to Be a Hermeneutic? (John G. Flett).

10. Asian Perspectives on Twenty-First-Century Pluralism (Allen Yeh).

In his introductory essay, Scott W. Sunquist presents us with a snapshot of Newbegin’s life and factors that influenced his life and thought before he sheds some light on how the book came into being.

A remarkable contribution is an essay by Wilbert R. Shenk who assess Newbigin against the background of his own time. This article is a very important contribution to the volume since it introduces the novice and the expert to the historical, political and theological currents that influenced his thought. However, Shenk has ignored how Indian nationalism, the various socio-political currents in India as well as the emergence of the new church movements influenced Newbegin. When Newbegin entered India where he spent almost all of his active life as a missionary and church leader, India was just five years away from freeing itself from British colonial rule. Independence was guaranteed by its actualization was delayed by World War II. Moreover, independent church movements (notably Pentecostal movement by Indian leaders) had their established their presence in South India for almost four decades. Not only Shenk but also other presenters as well fail to assess the influence of the realities of the host country on him.

However, this volume is a remarkable and useful contribution to missiology in the 21st century.
Link to publisher

Bauman. Pentecostals, Proselytization… OUP 2015

Written By: Paulson Pulikottil - Apr• 12•16

9780190202095Bauman, Chad. Pentecostals, Proselytization, and Anti-Christian Violence in Contemporary India. 1 edition. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2015. ISBN: 978-0-19-020210-1. Pages: ix+208

Bauman starts with the observation that the Pentecostals and Evangelical Pentecostals (or “Pentecostalized Evangelicals”) are disproportionately targeted by the Hindutva forces. Out of the 223 reported incidents of attacks on Indian Christians in 2007, the media mentioned the names of the denominations in 147 cases. Out of the 147 cases, Bauman found out that only 9% were attacks against Catholics, 4% against were other non-Catholic denominations. The Pentecostals and Pentecostal Evangelicals were the victims in the remaining cases (87%).
Bauman in his research tries to answer this question “Why?” Bauman presents his case in five chapters. In chapter 1 he takes up the question of who are India’s Pentecostals—their history and definitions. In chapter 2 he places Pentecostalism in India in the context of India’s politics and history. In chapter 3, he talks about the disproportionate attacks. In chapter 4 he turns to the debates about conversion in India. Chapter 5 is titled “Missions and Pentecostalization of Indian Christianity.”
He does agree with the most common observation that the particular beliefs, practices and the evangelistic zeal of the Pentecostals are the main reason for them being the targets of anti-Christian attacks. But he is not satisfied with this popular notion. His thorough study has led him to conclude that the anti-Pentecostal attitude of mainline Christians and also the caste dynamics are also part of the story. The marginalization of Pentecostals by mainstream Christian denominations make them more vulnerable to attacks than other Christian groups.
This is indeed a quite an authoritative study. Bauman has covered a considerable amount of literature written on the history of Indian Christianity, debates on conversion and the issue of caste. On the top of these, he has done remarkable in-depth field research that involved extensive travel in India.

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