Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Review of the Reformation Commentary on Scripture: Romans 1-8

Image result for romans 1-8 reformation

Reformation Commentary on Scripture: Romans 1-8
New Testament Volume VII
ed. by Gwenfair Walters Adams
IVP Academic
Reviewed by Clint Walker

One of my favorite things that IVP has done with commentaries is when they bring together anthologies of original sources from certain eras to show how people interpreted different sections of Scripture. Intervarsity Press started with the Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture and has continued with the Reformation Commentary on Scripture from which this volume comes.

I am glad this commentary came out this year, because it completes the Reformation Commentary on Romans, and this seems to a big year for some studies on Romans. This particular commentary will help with historical context with some of those more innovative readings of the classic book in Scripture.

Romans is a watershed book in many ways for the Reformation, along with Galatians. In Romans, there is a particular emphasis on the primacy of faith, and the importance of salvation by grace through faith. This, as the Reformers rediscovered the text in its original language, brought up many questions about Catholic practices of penance, indulgences, and the like that then catapulted Europe into the Reformation.

This resource uses many of the more well known Reformers as they addressed Romans such as Luther and Zwingli, Calvin and Melanchthon. It also seeks to add diversity to the text with lesser known theologians that not only come from Reformed and Lutheran traditions, but also Puritan, Anabaptist, and Catholic perspectives as well.

This will be a treasured resource for me, and will sit in an easily accessible place in my library. I recommend not only using this as a resource, but also reading the introduction. It is both helpful for the common reader, and insightful for those who are well versed in the history of Biblical interpretation.

Tuesday, July 09, 2019

Day 1--Part 3--Moving from Christendom to PostChristendom---Examining and Evaluating Practices

Organizing the church for ministry is PostChristendom requires to do some different things. Dr. Fitch shared this slide which was helpful in understanding these changes.

The church needs to be described in what purpose it serves in the world.

Describe churches in terms of community and witness.

Fitch then asked us to decide on an essential practice of the church, one that we felt passionate about and could write our paper on.

(This was my first major panic attack in the class. Already? I am just getting started? What if I don't choose the right thing? Oh no! Oh no! I am not ready for this)

Here were the examples of essential practices from different ministry practicioners throughout history.

Here they were:

What are the Non-Negotiables for your Church?

Biblical Appellations of the Church
Pick one (that best describes your sense of your church)
o   People of God Acts 15:14 1 Pet 2:9
o   Body of Christ 1 Cor 12:13
o   Ekklesia (the called out gathering) 1 Cor 1:2
o   None of the above

Creedal Marks of the Church
Pick One (that drives the values of your church)
o   One
o   Holy
o   Apostolic
o   Catholic
o   None of the above

The Marks (Lutheran/Anapbaptist)
Which one do your start with and why?

Luther’s 7 ‘notes’ On the Councils and Churches 1539
o   the preaching of the true Word
o   The proper administration of baptism
o   The correct form of the Lord's supper
o   The power of the keys  Matt 18 .. binding and loosing … discipline …
o   The lawful vocation and ordination of ministers
o   Prayer and the singing of psalms in the vernavular
o   Persecutions …   sufferings …

Menno Simons .. added the following marks to preaching of the word/sacrament
o   Holy living  - moral non conformity is indispensible to their witness…
o   Brotherly love - moves locus from administration of eucharist meaning of it ..
o   Unreserved testimony -  witness …
o   Suffering    - cross… discipleship

o   Community/fellowship/brotherly love
o   Worship gathering
o   Discipleship
o   Leadership
o   Evangelism (mission?)
o   The ministry to the poor (justice)
o   Catechesis

Dever’s Marks

o   Expositional preaching
o   Biblical theology
o   Biblical understanding of the Gospel
o   Biblical understanding of conversion
o   Biblical understanding of evangelism
o   Biblical understanding of membership
o   Biblical church discipline
o   Promotion of Christian discipleship and growth

o   Biblical understanding of church leadership

Defensive v. Accomodative:
Two ways people engage culture in unhelpful ways

Defensive approach to culture results:

Accomodating approach to culture results:

A missional ecclesiology avoids both of these extremes.

Tuesday, July 02, 2019

Church is An Action Word

Church is an Action Word

          Last month I spent a week in the suburbs of Chicago taking a class called “Missional Ecclesiology”. That term is a mouthful. So, let me explain the term a little bit. “Ecclesiology” is a combination of two words. “Ekklesia” is one of the words for the church in the New Testament. “Theology” is the study of God. Ecclesiology is the part of theology that studies what the Bible says the church is.

          The word before “ecclesiology” is “missional”. This term has been used so often and in so many ways, people often lose track of its meaning. Most simply, however, it talks about the church being a “sent” people. When people talk about a church being “missional”, we talk about going out in the world around us, led by the Spirit, to live, act out, and share the gospel among our neighbors and friends in their culture and their language and their customs. The opposite of “missional” is “attractional”, which is where the church expects people to come into the church instead of the church going out into the world.

          The church is, as David Fitch says, “defined by practices that embody beliefs”. In other words, church is not a building or an institution. It is a community of practice, or practices. We don’t go to church. We do church.

The practices that embody our beliefs are practices that connect us to God’s faithful presence, that help us care for one another, that help us move out into our homes and neighborhoods, and into the public sphere living our faith in ancient and yet uniquely contemporary way. A church is a group of people who live a certain way in fidelity to their commitment to the Lord, who has transformed and is transforming their lives as apprentices of Jesus. The practices that are most foundational are the practices we have discussed in worship for the last few months, practices that are put in different nomenclature in our mission and vision.

          As I mentioned in worship last Sunday, this idea of a church as a community of practices is not new. Whether is it the Greek word “Ekklesia” that describes the habit of gathering, or the language of calling God’s people the “Way”, Christian people have been known by their lived belief since the beginning.

          So, as we think and dream of ways to move forward as a congregation, and as we consider God’s unique calling on our lives together, let us remember to LIVE JESUS. Living as the body of Christ, exercising our faith passionately and cooperatively will make all the difference.

Book Review of You Welcomed Me by Kent Annan

You Welcomed Me

You Welcomed Me: Loving Refugees and Immigrants Because God First Loved Us
by Kent Annan
ISBN 978-0-8308-4553-8
IVP Books
Reviewed by Clint Walker

Kent Annan has written a thoughtful, grace-filled book on an issue that is difficult for many American believers to come to terms with, namely the issue of how do we deal with immigrants and refugees. He communicates winsomely about the plight of refugees by not only sharing bible verses and statistics, but by sharing stories of his personal experience and the experience of refugees. Throughout the book it becomes apparent that Annan wants us to move from seeing the immigration and refugee crises we face as issues or crisis to opportunities for real ministry with real people that need our support and love. He also wants us to encounter Christ through the practice of welcoming strangers.

From the start, Annan wants to ground his readers with empathy for other human beings, realizing that if for the grace of God, "that could be me" (p.5). He cautions us against letting fear blind us to real human connection. Early on, he asks readers to measure their lives by the "Dehumanizing Your Neighbor Scale" ( pp. 19-20) and the "Good Samaratin Scale (p. 20).

You Welcomed Me attempts to not just move us to awareness and agreement, but offers practices of welcome that will move us toward action in the Biblical command of welcoming the stranger. These practices are at the end of each chapter. Also, there are chapters dedicated to practical action, and an appendix with further resources and organizations that help refugees and immigrants.

I think this is a great book for a congregation to read about an important challenge the church faces. I hope small groups, Sunday School classes, and book clubs get a hold of it and take it to heart.


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