Despite editing this journal for thirteen years, which has exposed me to fascinating insights about Alexander Campbell, and reading about him in a number of the standard histories of the Stone-Campbell Restoration Movement, I felt like my knowledge and understanding was an incoherent patchwork. So during the past year, I committed myself to reading the 1200-page biography of him, Memoirs of Alexander Campbell, published shortly after his death in 1868 by his son-in-law, Robert Richardson. It had struck me that the vast majority of the information about him that ends up in other history books originates with this exhaustive publication.
Although many aspects of his life intrigued me as I read, now months later after completing the book, I notice that two things stand out to me more than others. First is the extensive amount of traveling he did. For over forty years he traveled to almost every conceivable place in the United States, teaching and preaching his Bible-based new reformation to anyone who would listen. By steamer, stagecoach, and horseback, he went to New Orleans, Chicago, and New York, and everywhere in-between. He traveled to London and Scotland too. I suspect very few people, even politicians, saw as much of America and the world as he did. Of course he was driven by his convictions about the gospel, but it strikes me that he must have enjoyed seeing all these places and people despite the weariness that must have come from the traveling as well. Today thousands of people associated with this movement, from all streams, continue to travel anywhere and everywhere here and around the world bringing the gospel in increasingly diverse ways to increasingly diverse people. This is a good thing. I expect too they are enjoying the view along the way.
The second thing that stands out to me about Campbell is how he embraced the opportunities he had to enter into widening rings of Christianity. The debates demonstrate this. While he was happy to represent Baptists on the matter of immersion against Reformed representatives like John Walker and William Maccalla, he also welcomed the opportunity to represent Protestants against Catholic bishop John Purcell as well as all Christians against skeptic Robert Owen. Today we need to take our cue from Campbell to enter into whatever circles of people will welcome us and stand with them at our levels of agreement while still maintaining our distinctives and having meaningful dialog whenever the opportunity arrives.
SCJ will again partner with Cincinnati Bible Seminary and Cincinnati Christian University to offer the tenth annual SCJ Conference April 9-10, 2011. The theme is Extraordinary: The Body, Demons, and Miracles. Luke Timothy Johnson (Emory University) will present "The Body and Resurrections in Corinthians: The Ontological Body and the Social Body." Loren Stuckenbruck (Princeton Theological Seminary) will present "Demonology in the Synoptic Gospels." Barry Blackburn (Atlanta Christian College) will present "The Miracles of Jesus Viewed from Above." Related papers or papers on other biblical, theological, or historical topics are sought for parallel sessions, from experienced scholars as well as from student scholars. Send your paper title (no abstract to needed) to William Baker, SCJ Editor, at email@example.com. Six study groups welcome submissions, the Christian Education group (firstname.lastname@example.org), Biblical Teaching on Women group (email@example.com), Theological and Missiological Perspectives on World and New Religions (firstname.lastname@example.org), Old Testament Prophetic Tradition and Application (email@example.com), Mark's Gospel in Mediterranean Context (firstname.lastname@example.org), and Reexamining Scholarship in the Stone-Campbell Restoration Movement (Jasonfikes@gmail.com). A formal student-paper competition is also being organized for three categories: junior/senior, M.A./M.Div., restoration history (email@example.com). Make all contacts before December 1, 2010.
The articles in this issue of SCJ offer a wide range of interesting topics. SCJ editor John Mark Hicks provides a survey and critique of Lord's Supper practices among those in Churches of Christ (a cappella) as a window into the other streams of the Stone-Campbell Restoration Movement. Austin and Melynne Jones use the hymnals of the movement to gauge the changes that have occurred over the centuries. Ben Wiebe lines up the thoughts of Campbell, Stone, and Scott with contemporary thinking about the atonement. Fred Norris provides a deep religious critique of the very popular historical fictional writing of Barbara Kingsolver portraying the life of a missionary family to the Congo. Scot McKnight's article, adapted from his 2010 SCJ Conference Lecture, gives a thought-provoking analysis of the incoherence of spirituality in a postmodern environment. Finally, Scott Caulley (SCJ Consulting Editor) looks at what is going on currently with NT textual criticism.
William R. Baker, Editor
Though Alexander Campbell objected that the house of God had been turned into a "house of sorrow" through a "morose piety" surrounding the Lords Supper, the theology and practice of Stone-Campbell congregations have generally failed to heed his warning. Using early 20th-century Churches of Christ as a case study, the practice of the Supper is identified as cerebral, silent, and individualistic obedience to a positive command. In contrast, LukeActs portrays the Lord's Table as a joyous embrace and communion with the risen Christ as an eschatological event. This eschatological horizon reminds us that the root metaphor of the Eucharist is neither tomb nor altar, but table.
The original intention of the Stone-Campbell Movement was to unite all the sects of the Christian faith through the plea of a restoration of the original, primitive form of Christianity described in the Bible. Unfortunately, this movement with a unique plea for universal Christian unity eventually fragmented into several subdivided groups. Upon careful examination and contemplation, we suggest that a look at the Movement's hymnody is a perfect tool for studying, classifying, and illustrating the stages and components of the Stone-Campbell Movement and its divisions. Through a cursory overview of important hymnals and Stone-Campbell musical anecdotes, the following manuscript briefly pursues this fundamental concept.
In the last two or three decades, new and challenging questions have arisen about the cross and the meaning of atonement. At the same time, for many the cross has become either an offense or an obvious matter of theological tradition represented in the theories of atonement. Beyond providing some reference points, what do they disclose about Jesus and the relationship of his mission to his destiny? Many of the key issues surfaced in the prolonged controversy between Alexander Campbell and Barton W. Stone, and also Walter Scott (which reflects the controversy in wider Christian theology). The aim here is to consider the differences between the three leaders and discern the deeper coherence in the meaning of the atonement.
Kingsolver's intriguing tale attempts to depict a "genuine" Congo. She has fol lowed the political circumstances carefully and provides a bibliography that indicates her investigation of significant books. Indeed her novel is enhanced by her grasp of those historical conditions. United States' foreign policy of Anti Communism destroyed chances for negotiations with indigenous movements. It got in the way of African development including noncommunist efforts. The novel itself is a gem, written by a master who has captivated readers before but never quite as well. The fractured missionary family is based on a dysfunction al marriage that reflects the psychological difficulties of the husband and to a lesser extent the wife. Sadly some of his dangerous traits grate on his wife until she has had enough. The story deftly depicts how religion, in this case a type of fundamentalist Christianity, can make everything worse. The children have open eyes for Africa;, the mother sees much. The father looks on Africa with jaundiced eyes. The narrative has a series of flaws that indicate how her research into the Congo was superficial in terms of religion. The bibliography in that area is sparse. Her treatment of Christian or native beliefs and practices lack the sharpness of the novel's political insights. That brings its own tragedy. Kingsolver has strong religious views learned within the regions where she lived and found deeply within her own family and her education. She tells a few haunting stories of the witch doctor and the people who accept his leadership, yet there is little, either of Christianity or of indigenous religion.
Postmodernity is not so much a choice or a theory but a condition, and the post modern condition pervades contemporary culture and the church. In particular, it influences "spirituality" in ways that are both common and, to some, alarming. The postmodern condition in spirituality manifests itself in a wide ranging and common "bricolage" spirituality that emerges less from a theological coherence than from a spirituality coherence.
In contrast to an overly optimistic view of the state of the NT text, scholars have raised new challenges and begun to explore new horizons in textual criticism. These emphases call into question common assumptions about the goals of textual criticism. This article examines six areas of emphasis, noting where they are problematic as well as where they show promise for understanding not only the discipline but also the nature and function of the NT.
Charles SIMPSON, Inside the Churches of Christ: The Reflection of a Former Pharisee on What Every Christian Should Know about the Nondenomination Denomination
James W. SIRE & Carl PERAINO, Deepest Differences: A Christian-Atheist Dialogue
John W. LOFTUS, Why I Became an Atheist: A Former Preacher Rejects Christianity
Justo L. GONZÁLEZ and Catherine Gunsalus GONZÁLEZ, Heretics for Armchair Theologians
James R. PETERS, The Logic of the Heart: Augustine, Pascal, and the Rationality of Faith
Heidi A. CAMPBELL, and Heather LOOY, eds, A Science and Religion Primer
John MILBANK, The Future of Love: Essays in Political Theology
Harold SHANK, Listening to His Heartbeat: What the Bible Says about the Heart of God
Rufus BURROW, Jr, Martin Luther King Jr. for Armchair Theologians
Anthony N.S. LANE, A Reader's Guide to Calvin's Institutes
David W. HALL and Peter A. LILLBACK, eds, Theological Guide to Calvin's Institutes: Essays and Analysis
Brian STANLEY, The World Missionary Conference, Edinburgh 1910
Herman J. SELDERHUIS, John Calvin: A Pilgrim's Life
Raouf GHATTAS and Carol B. GHATTAS, A Christian Guide to the Qur'an: Building Bridges in Muslim Evangelism
Audrey BORSCHEL, Preaching Prophetically When the News Disturbs: Interpreting the Media
Fred Brenning CRADDOCK, Reflections on My Call to Preach: Connecting the Dots
Mark R. MCMINN, Sin and Grace in Christian Counseling: An Integrative Paradigm
Mark A. YARHOUSE and James N. SELLS, Family Therapies: A Comprehensive Christian Appraisal
Andrew R. WHEELER, Together in Prayer: Coming to God in Community
Todd D. HUNTER, Christianity beyond Belief: Following Jesus for the Sake of Others
Craig VAN GELDER, ed, The Missional Church & Denominations: Helping Congregations Develop a Missional Identity
Bonnie THURSTON, For God Alone: A Primer on Prayer
Frank VIOLA and George BARNA, Pagan Christianity: Exploring the Roots of Our Church Practices
Vincent D. ROUGEAU, Christians in the American Empire: Faith and Citizenship in the New World Order
James K.A. SMITH, Desiring the Kingdom: Worship, Worldview, and Cultural Formation. Cultural Liturgies: 1
Mark A. NOLL, God and Race in American Politics: A Short History
John N. OSWALT, The Bible among the Myths
Lee M. FIELDS, Hebrew for the Rest of Us: Using Hebrew Tools without Mastering Biblical Hebrew
Bill T. ARNOLD, Genesis. New Cambridge Bible Commentary
Thomas B. DOZEMAN, Exodus. Eerdmans Critical Commentary
Telford WORK, Deuteronomy. Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible
Craig G. BARTHOLOMEW, Ecclesiastes. Baker Commentary on the Old Testament Wisdom and Psalms
Ruth A. CLEMENTS and Daniel R. SCHWARTZ, eds, Text, Thought, and Practice in Qumran and Early Christianity. Studies on the Texts of the Desert of Judah 84
G.K. BEALE and D.A. CARSON, eds, Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament
Gary M. BURGE, L. COHICK, and G. GREEN, eds, The New Testament in Antiquity: A Survey of the New Testament within Its Cultural Contexts
James D.G. DUNN, Beginning from Jerusalem. Vol. 2 of Christianity in the Making
Everett FERGUSON, Baptism in the Early Church: History, Theology and Liturgy in the First Five Centuries
John Howard YODER, Christian Attitudes to War, Peace, and Revolution
Dale C. ALLISON, Jr, The Historical Christ and the Theological Jesus
Marcus J. BORG and John Dominic CROSSAN, The First Paul: Reclaiming the Radical Visionary behind the Church's Conservative Icon
Magnus ZETTERHOLM, Approaches to Paul: A Student's Guide to Recent Scholarship
Gerald L. BRAY, ed, Commentaries on Romans and 1-2 Corinthians: Ambrosiaster. Ancient Christian Texts
T. Scott DANIELS, Seven Deadly Spirits: The Message of Revelation's Letters for Today's Church
Quotables for this issue were chosen by Nathan Babcock, Lincoln Christian University -- Seminary
Featured Quotation"People who can combine Jeremiah, Paine, Max, Harold and Kumar along with Dr. Seuss could be called postmoderns, whatever that means. What it means for spirituality, which is our topic, is this: one of the distinctive characteristics of postmodern spirituality is theological incoherence which finds its way into bricolage spirituality."
"The rational categories of Lockean epistemology hindered the full vigor of a Calvinian understanding of the spiritual dynamic of the Supper to fully enrich Campbell's understanding of the Supper just as it did in early American Presbyterianism."
"'Breaking bread,' then was not a solemn funerary ritual, but the new community's celebration of the presence of the risen Jesus through which God revealed the eschaton Joy is pervasive in Luke's meal stories and is particularly appropriate to the Eucharist It is one of the great discontinuities between the meals of Israel, Jesus' meals in Luke, and the contemporary church that joy is not a significant mode in which the contemporary Supper is experienced."
"With the importance of music in mind, it is easy to understand that the early leaders of the Stone-Campbell Movement required new hymns and hymnals in order to reinforce the "restored" theological disposition they were advocating. At the very beginning of the Movement, before time allowed for the creation of new hymnody, they adapted the contemporary hymns of their day by changing any doctrinally offensive words or phrases."
"After the death of Alexander Campbell, issues that previously started as seeds of tension between different groups within the Movement continued to grow and eventually led to splintering. Parallels in the music of the movement can also be identified."
"Paul specifies the relationship between God and Christ. This is not merely the sacrificial act of Jesus but also the act of God It is simultaneously Jesus' obedient faithfulness (Rom. 5:19) and the act of God Jesus does not die to persuade God to forgive sinners; on the contrary, in his death God himself acts in love to extend his mercy and grace."
"In the gospel, language that had been used to safeguard God in his otherness and distance from our limited and flawed humanity is turned inside out to proclaim that all the glory behind creation has come right down into human life in the vulnerable form of Jesus."
"The Poisonwood Bible, published in 1998, is a grand read with a great flaw [It] is indeed a page-turner, in most aspects worthy of its honors. Its serious failings, however, involve the author's conception and understanding of religion. She does not grasp its historical character and proportions in the Congo whether Christian or not."
"In spite of these large failings I happily concede the Kingsolver is not religiously tone deaf Her criticisms of contemporary Christianity are usually crisp and so on point that they make a Christian cringe a number of her critiques of the church may be used by Christian study groups to sharpen their faith and change their ways."
"What I want to say now is at the heart of the postmodern spirituality enterprise: it is diverse and each person appropriates what he or she likes In other words, they form a bricolage of the Christian faith and Christian practices that suit them. They have abandoned the insularity of traditionalist spirituality."
"Evangelicals who (rightly) reject the preservationist arguments for priority of the Majority Text are themselves subject to the same objections, at least in the case of an extreme form of "inerrancy of the original autographs." Specifically, preservationism is not a viable historical position, for it is not legitimate to "tell" God what he must have done it is dogma rewriting history. More to the point, elevating the hypothetical original autographs to such a level of importance misunderstands the nature of scriptural authority."
"Another promising emphasis of the "new" textual criticism is the stress on the NT manuscripts as artifacts of early Christianity. Hurtado calls attention to the rich data the MSS provide in addition to the text itself."
William R. Baker
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Joni Sullivan Baker
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