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Volume 15 Issue 2

In January 2012, shortly after Steve Jobs died on October 5, 2011, my wife and I were visiting the Edison-Ford estates in Fort Myers, Florida. Thomas Edison spent his summers here in a modest home on the water, and later Henry Ford built an adjacent residence. I commented at the time, as many pundits were saying, "You know, someday people will be visiting the home of Steve Jobs with similar awe for what he has done to revolutionize people's lives." Since then, I have completed the authorized biography of Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson (Simon & Shuster, New York, 2011), where, at the end of his detailed, analytic chronicle of Jobs's life, Isaacson draws the same conclusion in evaluating Jobs's legacy: "History will place him in the pantheon right next to Edison and Ford" (566). The temptation to do this is because of how all three created products—and built great companies to make and distribute them— that people did not know they needed till they had them in their hands, and they made their products for the masses, not an elite, or wealthy few.

However, what Isaacson points out time and again, and could hardly find enough vocabulary to keep articulating, is just how horrible a person Jobs was. He treated nearly everybody with enormous disdain, humiliating "friends," family, and foes alike. He lied, manipulated, bullied, sulked, and dedicated paltry little of his millions for philanthropy. The contradiction is that despite his disregard for the people around him, yet he cared deeply about this mass of people he had in his head who would want the near perfectly designed and smartly functioning products over which he presided.

Throughout his life, he was a practical atheist, ingrained with Buddhist practices of well-being. Toward the very end of his life, he shared with Isaacson, "I really want to believe that something survives, that maybe your consciousness endures. . . . But on the other hand, perhaps it's like an on-off switch, Click! Andy you're gone. . . . Maybe that's why I never liked to put on-off switches on Apple devices" (571).

As I was reading this book, I kept pondering, how can such a mixed up person impact so greatly the lives of millions all over the world—improve the quality of all our lives—through iMacs, iTunes, iPhones, iPads, Toy Story (Pixar), and more. Sometimes I wonder the same about biblical scholars, whose pomposity is on display at every SBL, who claim no personal convictions about Christianity in any form, yet who produce amazing books and articles that impact masses of scholars for decades and trickle into classes of evangelical and Stone-Campbell Movement connected colleges, universities, and seminaries. I am amazed at myself for having to tell novice biblical students that one of the first rules of interpretation is that they cannot allow the author's disregard for faith in Jesus or authority of the Bible to put them off from valuing their other comments and research results.

Yet, the situation is much like that for Steve Jobs. Do we decide not to appreciate the incredibly positive values and just delightful entertainment of Toy Story because Steve Jobs was CEO of Pixar at the time and had his own hands in saving the positive tilt of the story from where it was headed under Disney's involvement? Do we not use an iPad because its mastermind was Steve Jobs? Similarly, I think we must work with the valuable research of scholars who prove their credibility through the quality of their published work regardless of their personal convictions. I believe that God works though all types of sinners to do good things that enrich the lives of people, whom he loves and desires to have quality lives. This includes not just guys like Steve Jobs, Thomas Edison, and Henry Ford, but also people involved in science, medicine, the arts, religion, and more.

Among the sinners that God works through are scholars like us, we who are associated with SCJ and the Stone-Campbell Restoration Movement, even students who are still buried in their doctoral work that they pray will reach the light of day eventually and contribute a valuable piece of research in their field. My prayer is that we model ourselves after humble, faithful scholars whose work is impeccable and impactful. This may not be so easy at times when we have to work with faithless or arrogant folks, perhaps on our Ph.D. committee, or who are part of a shared book project, an SBL or ETS study group, or are on our faculty, whether a school associated with the Stone-Campbell Movement, one that is evangelical, or one that is a state university or prestigious, private university. May we be ever faithful to Jesus Christ and our lives stand in witness to the power of his Spirit to create not only people who bring truth and quality into the lives of others but who are also beautiful people who love others in his name.

This issue of SCJ contains articles from scholars who are like this, as I trust has been true of every article in SCJ. Newell Williams leads off with his presentation at the 2012 SCJ Conference in April with his extremely insightful analysis of Christian churches (independent) and Churches of Christ (a cappella), which one conference attendee pronounced as the most helpful presentation on the topic he had ever heard. Rick Cherok and Jim Estep team up for a unique article surveying Alexander Campbell's Christian development of adults. Caleb Clanton looks into the complex theological quandary of God's hiddenness and Alexander Campbell's thinking on this matter. Ryan Hemmer plums the issue of how we understand ourselves as technology continues to advance and engulf our lives. Les Harding provides a glimpse into the spirituality of Jesus drawn from his 2009 book published by Kregel. He recently presented the topic as the featured SCJ lecturer July 12, 2012, at the North American Christian Convention in Orlando, with 140 people attending. Finally, Tyler Stewart, investing in the example of 2 Thess 2:1-17, challenges the current NT trend to read Paul's rhetoric as "anti-imperialist," or as unconditionally opposed to the tyranny of Rome.

After a successful foray on the road for the first time at Lincoln Christian University in 2012, the 12th annual SCJ Conference will be hosted by Lipscomb University, Nashville, Tennessee, on April 5-6, 2013. The theme is: Closer to God: Spirituality from the Old Testament. John Goldingay (Fuller Theological Seminary) will present: "Was There Something Missing in Israel's Relationship with God?" and "Memory, Ethics, and Spirituality in the Old Testament." Paul Kissling (Lincoln Christian University) will present: "The So-Called ‘Post-Exilic' Return: Already-But-Not-Yet in Ezra-Nehemiah." Dale Manor (Harding University) will present "The Philistines versus Israel at Beth-Shemesh: Archaeological Findings." 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 needed) to William Baker, SCJ Editor, at SCJeditor@aol.com by December 1, 2012.

Ten study groups welcome inquiries: Christian Education (jestep@lincoln.edu); Biblical Teaching on Women (jdmiller@milligan.edu); Theological and Missiological Perspectives on World and New Religions (brian.smith@fcc.edu); Ecclesiology and Social Ethics (jnugent@glbc.edu); Old Testament Prophetic Tradition and Application (bembryj@esr.edu); Mark's Gospel in Mediterranean Context (michael. halcomb@asburyseminary.edu); Reexamining Scholarship in the Stone-Campbell Restoration Movement (jasonfikes@gmail.com), History and Practice of Christian Worship (cwells@lincolnchristian.edu); Patristics (Rheine@mwcu); Online Learning and Technology (acrumpton@johnsonU.edu). Student paper competitions will occur in three categories: Junior/Senior; M.A./M.Div., and Restoration (Isaac Errett Award from the Disciples Historical Society). Contact Les Hardin (les.hardin@ fcc.edu) immediately to indicate your interest and to obtain the competition rules (also available on the SCJ website). For the Errett competition, contact Rick Cherok (rick.cherok@ccuniversity.edu).

William R. Baker, Editor

165
Brite Divinity School

Abstract

Churches of Christ (a cappella) and Christian Churches/Churches of Christ (independent) both contain multiple streams. In the early twentieth century there were three streams in the Churches of Christ. Today there are two. There are currently three streams in the Christian Churches/Churches of Christ. Similarities linking streams across these two groups and with the leadership of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) are rooted in similar views of the norm of the restoration of apostolic Christianity.

177
Cincinnati Christian University & Lincoln Christian University

Abstract

Campbell is regarded not only as a reformer of the church but also as an educational innovator. He is frequently recognized as an educator in the advancement of higher education and public education, but what about his ideas regarding Christian education and spiritual development? This article explores Campbell's approach to educating the Christian by not only identifying his educational agenda but also speculating as to his rationale for his educational expectations. The viability of his approach to Christian education is then assessed in regard to our contemporary setting.

191
Lipscomb University

Abstract

Some contemporary philosophers argue that the apparent hiddenness of God relative to humans provides a case for thinking God does not exist. This essay is a critical examination of Alexander Campbell's twofold response to the atheological argument from divine hiddenness. Because his twofold strategy may appear to involve a problematic combination of responses, this essay explains how Campbell's interpreters might address such a concern.

205
Marquette University

Abstract

The exponential proliferation of technology (bio-, nano-, and more) compels those who live the examined life to reevaluate the fundamental meaning of being human. When divorced from protological origins (the image of God) and eschatological ends (the Beatific Vision), technology manifests the nihilistic drive to use force to conquer the real. Christian theology has the resources both to offer a prophetic critique of this nihilism and to redeem the technological project through the transformation of its meanings by the wisdom of God.

217
Florida Christian College

Abstract

The instrument of Jesus’ spirituality was not the miracles, exorcisms and healings he performed (which were a part of his unique role as Israel’s Messiah) but rather the routine practices of faith (“disciplines”) that permeated his daily life and gave rise to his “growth” (Luke 2:40,52; Heb 5:8) in the Spirit. This article examines the disciplines Jesus practiced and seeks to determine whether they fostered the power of the Spirit in his everyday, human existence.

229
Lincoln Christian University

Abstract

Despite a growing trend in NT scholarship toward "anti-imperial" interpretations, it is widely debated whether these interpretations are historically valid. An examination of 2 Thess 2:1-17, the most anti-imperial text in the Pauline corpus, demonstrates Paul's theology is anti-imperial only insofar as empire is used as a tool of Satan to oppose God's elect. Using apocalyptic metaphors, Paul invested the Thessalonian believers' suffering with cosmic significance and narrated God's judgment on their oppressors.

Download book reviews for this issue.

List of Books Reviewed in this Issue

Ruth A. Tucker, Parade of Faith: A Biographical History of the Christian Church

(David Russell Mosley, University of Nottingham)

James R. Payton Jr., Getting the Reformation Wrong: Correcting Some Misunderstandings

(Bob Ritchie, Florida Christian College)

Ellen T. Charry, God and the Art of Happiness

(Lee Blackburn, Milligan College)

Michael Horton, The Christian Faith: A Systematic Theology for Pilgrims on the Way

(Ron Highfield, Pepperdine University)

Steven R. Guthrie, Creator Spirit: The Holy Spirit and the Art of Becoming Human

(Kyle Baker, Soundcrawl)

John W. Loftus, ed., The Christian Delusion: Why Faith Fails

(Amos Briscoe, Cincinnati Christian University)

Walter H. Wagner, Opening the Qur'an: Introducing Islam’s Holy Book

(Wes Harrison, Ohio Valley University)

John Kaltner, Introducing the Qur‘an for Today’s Reader

(Wes Harrison, Ohio Valley University)

David Sehat, The Myth of American Religious Freedom

(Joshua Jeffrey, Warner Pacific College)

Luke Bell, Baptizing Harry Potter: A Christian Reading of J.K. Rowling.

(Carrie Birmingham, Pepperdine University)

Ken Jackson and Arthur F. Marotti, Shakespeare and Religion: Early Modern and Postmodern Perspectives.

(Steve Gourley, Cincinnati Christian University)

Gary L. Colledge, God and Charles Dickens: Discovering the Christian Voice of a Classic Author

(Steve Gourley, Cincinnati Christian University)

Jeff Van Duzer, Why Business Matters to God: And What Still Needs to Be Fixed

(Gavin Baker, Knoxville, TN)

Ben Witherington, Is There a Doctor in the House? An Insider’s Story and Advice on Becoming a Bible Scholar

(Heather Gorman, Baylor University)

William D. Henard, and Adam W. Greenway, eds., Evangelicals Engaging Emergent: A Discussion of the Emergent Church Movement

(Jason Fikes, A&M Church of Christ)

Israel Galindo and Marty C. Canaday, Planning for Christian Education Formation: A Community of Faith Approach

(James Riley Estep, Lincoln Christian University)

Walter Brueggemann, The Collected Sermons of Walter Brueggemann

(Rob O'Lynn, Kentucky Christian University)

Douglas S. Huffman, ed., Christian Contours: How a Biblical Worldview Shapes the Mind and Heart.

(Nathan Babcock, Bismarck First Church of Christ)

Richard Rohr, A Lever and a Place to Stand: The Contemplative Stance, the Active Prayer

(Shaun Brown, Central Holston Christian Church)

David Nantais, Rock-a My Soul: An Invitation to Rock Your Religion

(Kyle Baker, Soundcrawl)

Elizabeth A. McCabe, ed., Women in the Biblical World: A Survey of Old and New Testament Perspectives. Vol. 2

(Robert Hull, Emmanuel Christian Seminary)

David Lyle Jeffery, ed., The King James Bible and the World It Made

(Mark Krause, Nebraska Christian College)

Richard Bauckham, The Bible and Ecology: Rediscovering the Community of Creation

(Nathan Babcock, Bismarck First Church of Christ)

Paul Copan, Is God a Moral Monster? (Making Sense of the Old Testament God)

(Douglas Redford, Cincinnati Christian University)

Thomas R. Schreiner, 40 Questions about Christians and Biblical Law

(Joe Sprinkle, Crossroads College)

William Loader, The Pseudepigrapha on Sexuality: Attitudes towards Sexuality in Apocalypses, Testaments, Legends, Wisdom, and Related Literature

(J. Andrew Sowers, Harding School of Theology)

Tuomas Rasimus, Troels Enberg-Pederson, Ismo Dunderberg, eds., Stoicism in Early Christianity

(Stewart Penwell, Cincinnati, OH)

Anthony Le Donne, Historical Jesus: What Can We Know and How Can We Know It?

(Holly Carey, Point University)

Darrell L. Bock and Robert L. Webb, eds., Key Events in the Life of the Historical Jesus: A Collaborative Exploration of Context and Coherence

(Rafael Rodriguez, Johnson University)

Roy E. Ciampa and Brian S. Rosner, The First Letter to the Corinthians

(Greg Linton, Johnson University)

James W. Thompson, Moral Formation according to Paul: The Context and Coherence of Pauline Ethics

(Tyler Stewart, Lincoln Christian University)

Eckhard Schnabel, 40 Questions about the End Times

(Les Hardin, Florida Christian College)

Quotables from SCJ 15.2 Chosen by Lisa Barnett Brite Divinity School and Texas Christian University.

"Neither Churches of Christ (a capella) nor Christian Churches/Churches of Christ (independent) are monolithic. And, they never have been. The Stone-Campbell Restoration Movement has always had streams within these streams."

D. Newell Williams, "What I Learned about Churches of Christ and Christian Churches/Churches of Christ" (SCJ 15.2:165)

"At the heart of these contemporary similarities among groups across the three major streams of the North American Stone-Campbell Movement is the fresh appraisal of the norm of the restoration of apostolic Christianity that emerged more than a half century ago in all three of these streams."

D. Newell Williams, "What I Learned about Churches of Christ and Christian Churches/Churches of Christ" (SCJ 15.2:176)

"Along with the family, Campbell recognized the church as an institution of religious education. In an 1853 essay entitled "Church Edification," Campbell used the metaphor of a school to describe the church's mission and function as a congregation. The church itself, he affirmed, is a means of spiritual edification and education."

Rick J. Cherok and James Riley Estep, Jr., "Educating the Christian: Alexander Campbell's Pattern for Developing the Christian Character" (SCJ 15.2:182).

"He [Alexander Campbell] also had an agenda of Christian education and spiritual development for the individual believers who sought to gain a deeper and more mature Christian faith tied to his nineteenth-century setting; its principles and ideals still speak to the church of the twenty-first century."

Rick J. Cherok and James Riley Estep, Jr., "Educating the Christian: Alexander Campbell's Pattern for Developing the Christian Character" (SCJ 15.2:189).

"An important part of the process of recognizing and assessing the available evidence of God's existence falls squarely on the shoulders of the one looking at it. Thus, how a person's volition inclines one to be oriented to the evidence in front of him, affects what that person "sees" in an epistemic sense. We might call a person's orientation to the evidence for some target proposition a person's epistemic orientation."

J. Caleb Clanton, "Alexander Campbell on the Problem of Divine Hiddenness" (SCJ 15.2:200)

"So how, in [Alexander] Campbell's view, does one avoid the beclouding of reason with respect to religious matters? Imagine, he says, that a person is speaking to us at a great distance. In that case, if we want to hear what is being said, we need to get within a certain audible distance before that can occur. Similarly, in order for people to attain the proper epistemic orientation to the evidence of God's existence and his revelation, they must put themselves within range of what he dubs the understanding distance. Yet doing this requires of a certain kind of moral effort—an effort of the will. Campbell seems to picture this understanding distance as a circle, at the center of which stands God. In order for people to cross over the circumference of this circle to enter into the understanding distance, they must cultivate and practice epistemic and moral humility."

J. Caleb Clanton, "Alexander Campbell on the Problem of Divine Hiddenness" (SCJ 15.2:202)

"A Christian response to the commoditization of being and bodies calls for more than simply rejecting the common assumption that technology is an unassailable good or that being human can be understood through merely immanent norms. Christianity offers a higher viewpoint; it out-narrates such accounts of the meaning of being human through a theology of bodies centered on the present-and-yet-displaced body of Christ, who is both the source and goal of human personhood."

Ryan T. Hemmer, "'After All, What Is a Man in Nature?': Technology, Nihilism, and the meaning of Man" (SCJ 15.2:212)

"This affirmation of the image of God and the body as signs of participation in God's own life is exactly the sort of protological orientation that offers the world new eyes to see and a very different view of the body from which it sees. The protological goodness of incarnate finitude as a participation in the life of God is the first emphasis that needs to be affirmed in a theological economy of the body."

Ryan T. Hemmer, "'After All, What Is a Man in Nature?': Technology, Nihilism, and the meaning of Man" (SCJ 15.2:214)

"The imitation of Christ—his life, his speech, his teachings, his faith, his willful submission to the Father—is the essence of Christian spirituality. It is the mimicry of his humanity, not his divinity nor his unique role as Israel's Messiah, that Christians seek."

Les Hardin, "The Quest for the Spiritual Jesus: Jesus and the Spiritual Disciplines" (SCJ 15.2:217)

"Jesus was a spiritual man. On that point very few would disagree. But the crux of his spirituality was not primarily found in the miraculous&#mdash;the exorcisms, the healings, the walking on water. Rather, he demonstrated a partnership with the Spirit that manifested itself in his everyday living, in routine activities (such as prayer, casting down temptation, and corporate worship). These disciplines created the conditions for the Spirit to work through him and provided opportunities for him to manifest the Spirit's presence and power. For those of us seeking to imitate Jesus-style spirituality, our quest is best served, not by lamenting the lack of the ecstatic in our own spirituality but by conforming our lives after the pattern of Jesus in practical, everyday partnership with the Spirit."

Les Hardin, "The Quest for the Spiritual Jesus: Jesus and the Spiritual Disciplines" (SCJ 15.2:227)

"The key to this text [2 Thessalonians 2:1-17] lies in recognizing it as a pastoral response to Christians suffering at the hands of pagan authorities. Paul emphasizes God's faithfulness and sovereignty to invest their suffering with significance and instill in them the hope of resurrection. In doing so, he sets the parousia of Jesus in direct conflict with the Man of Lawlessness by drawing from a host of OT texts describing the apocalyptic villain. Paul's description focuses on the character of the Man of Lawlessness as usurper of God's throne. The focus of the passage is not Rome per se, but any king/kingdom attempting to sit in God's seat. While the imperial undertones of other Pauline texts are debatable, here they are probable. Paul presents an eschatological king in competition with Jesus."

Tyler Stewart, "The Imperial Implications of Paul's Pastoral Apocalypse" (SCJ 15.2: 235)

"Is Paul's gospel anti-imperial? The answer is both yes and no. On the one hand, Paul has no interest in armed revolt against the Roman Empire and refutes those who do (Rom 13:1-7). More specifically, he does not consider Jesus a rival to Caesar's throne. On the other hand, Paul portrays the personification of evil in distinctly political terms. In Paul's mind, saturated with Jewish Scripture, it was Caesar who foolishly thought of himself as a rival to Jesus' throne."

Tyler Stewart, "The Imperial Implications of Paul's Pastoral Apocalypse" (SCJ 15.2: 244)

 
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