On October 31, 1517, Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the wooden door of the Wittenberg Castle church. In this initial challenge to the pope Luther launched what would become known as the Protestant Reformation. Every kind of Protestant church today, evangelical or liberal, Arminian or Calvinist, Baptist or Methodist, Church of God or Church of the Latter Day Saints, Nazarene or Evangelical Free, Pentecostal or Anglican, traces its roots to this date, whether they acknowledge this or not. This, of course, includes the churches today rooted in the ideals promoted by Thomas and Alexander Campbell and Barton W. Stone, whether Disciples of Christ, Churches of Christ, or Christian churches (independent).
This issue of SCJ celebrates the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation by featuring three articles presented at the 2017 SCJ conference at Johnson University Tennessee that deal with the relationship of the Stone-Campbell Movement to various aspects of the reformation. Two of these were featured in the History and Theology of the Stone-Campbell Movement Study Group. In one of these, John Mark Hicks evaluates Alexander’s zealous hope to bring about unity from the divisiveness of the Protestants he was witnessing in his day. In the other, Keith Stanglin evaluates Alexander Campbell’s views of Arminianism. Then, John David Ford traces Thomas Campbell’s indebtedness to the Westminster Confession in writing his Declaration and Address, one of the founding documents of the movement.
As a sophomore at Lincoln Christian College, I visited the key reformation locations, including Wittenberg, on a Reformation Tour with John Warwick Montgomery, one of the outstanding Luther scholars of a generation ago who then taught at Trinity Evangelical (Deerfield, IL). This trip opened my eyes to a world of Christendom wider and deeper than what I had experienced so far. When I look back I guess it was my first step that eventually found me feeling very comfortable to complete two master’s degrees at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, elbow to elbow in courses with all kinds of evangelicals and Protestants. Being a thorough-going product of the Stone-Campbell Movement did not make me averse to where I was and who I was with. Rather, it made me feel like a valued and valuable participant in the expanse of Protestantism. So, I am excited to be able to celebrate Martin Luther and 500 years of Reformation in this issue of SCJ.
This issue also includes an article adapted from the presentation of one of our keynote speakers at the 2018 SCJ at Emmanuel Christian Seminary at Milligan with our theme: theology of others: Judaism, Islam, and the “Nones.” This is Richard Knopp’s article featuring his fascinating research into the beliefs of this fastest growing population group today.
One other article rounds out this issue. Kory Eastvold presents his paper winning paper of the 2018 graduate student contest which won him a $2500 scholarship to one of 10 participating SCM related graduate schools. His paper provides an in-dept examination of the concept “the image of God” in the Old Testament.
In our final article Richard Knopp writes a fitting tribute to Bob Kurka, former Professor of Theology and Contemporary Culture at Lincoln Christian Seminary, who went to be with the Lord on March 31, 2018.This tribute marks the occasion of Bob receiving our second Life-time Achievement Award.
Finally, plan on joining us for our 18th annual SCJ conference that heads back to Johnson University, Knoxville, TN, on April 5-6 (Friday, 8:00 AM-8:00 PM; Sat, 8:00 AM-1:00 PM).
The theme is Acts and Paul: Another Look. Featured speakers include: Craig Keener, F. M. Ada Thompson Professor of Biblical Studies, Asbury Theological Seminary, who will present "Interpreting Acts: The Value of Cultural Background," and Interpreting Romans: The Mind of the Spirit;” Jerry Sumney, Professor or Biblical Studies, Lexington Theological Seminary, who will present "Interpreting First Corinthians: The Value of Tradition;" and David Fiensy, Emeritus Professor of Biblical Studies, Kentucky Christian University, who will present "Interpreting Acts: The Value of Archaeology."
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 Jeff Painter, Conference Parallel Paper Coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org absolutely no later than January 20, 2019. The first 35 paper topics submitted are guaranteed a slot. After that will depend on rooms available and cancelled papers.
Fifteen study groups welcome inquiries, no later than January 3, 2019:
Inquiries regarding study groups may be directed to the dean of the study groups: Dawn Gentry (email@example.com)
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 (firstname.lastname@example.org) immediately to indicate your interest and to obtain the competition rules (also available on the SCJ website) for the undergrad and grad competition, and also receive information on the $2500 scholarship available to both undergrad and grad winners. For the Isaac Errett competition, contact Newell Williams (email@example.com). The winner receives a cash award. Submissions are due January 3, 2019.
William R. Baker, Editor
Alexander Campbell identified three forms of Protestantism: (1) political, (2) ecclesiastical, and (3) evangelical. He defended the first, denied the second, and affirmed the third. Protestant ecclesiasticism added creeds to the evangelical narrative and thereby undermined any hope of the visible unity of the church. Campbell believed Protestants could find unity in their evangelical beliefs that could become visible through the restoration of the ancient order. However, Campbell viewed restoration as communal sanctification rather than a condition of evangelical unity.
Although Thomas Campbell’s roots in the Reformed tradition are widely acknowledged by Stone-Campbell historians, the influence of the Westminster Confession of Faith on Campbell’s Declaration & Address is rarely discussed. This essay seeks to address that oversight by surveying the SCM historiography, revisiting Campbell’s background to consider ties to the Reformed faith, and examining the language used in both documents in a comparative analysis.
Although Alexander Campbell rejected the well-known tenets of Calvinist soteriology, he was surprisingly negative in his assessment of Arminianism. Since there is no thorough study of Campbell’s reception of Arminianism, this article seeks to take the initial steps in filling the gap. The article explores, first of all, Campbell’s criticisms of Arminian theology. It then comments on Campbell’s sources of information regarding Arminianism and analyzes what he means by the term. Finally, it compares aspects of Campbell’s thought with historic Arminianism and suggests some areas of fruitful conversation.
Growing up as a Protestant preacher’s kid, I never thought much about the “nuns.” But now I find myself writing about a group whose name sounds exactly the same: the “Nones.” Of course, these homophones have vastly different meanings. The “nuns” are viewed as inseparable from religion, while the “Nones” do not identify with any religion or religious group. The Nones do not consider themselves Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Christian, or anything with a religious label. Ironically, they are classified as a kind of “religious” group because of their response of “none” or “nothing in particular” on religious affiliation surveys. The term “Nones” has been used in academic circles at least since the 1960s.2 However, it has achieved much greater visibility and significance in the last decade, primarily because the Nones currently constitute the second largest and the fastest growing religious group in America!
Though rarely mentioned in the Hebrew Bible, the imago Dei has long been a key—if highly debated—theological concept for both the western and eastern church. An examination of the Hebrew text, especially Gen 1:26 and Ps 8:1,5, along with the historical, literary, and cultural contexts offers insight into the meaning of this important concept, which opens the Torah and sets the tone for the canon.
The 2018 SCJ Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Dr. Robert C. Kurka at his home on March 24, 2018, one week before the Lord said, “Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of your Master.” Standing by his bedside, William Baker, editor of the SCJ, commended Dr. Kurka for his many achievements, thanked him for his fervent and faithful support, and affirmed: “This award is exactly for people like you.” Before Bill finished his presentation, Bob said, “I’m not worthy” in a tone that was indicative of his characteristic humility.
Chosen by Kory Eastvold
Lincoln Christian Seminary
SCJ 21.2 Quotables
"Campbell's project for the restoration of the ancient order as well as the ancient gospel is an agenda within "Evangelical Protestantism" rather than in opposition to it. Campbell never intended his ancient order to become a particular version of Protestantism around which a sect would emerge."
John Mark Hicks, "The Unfinished Business of the Protestant Reformation: Alexander Campbell's Relationship to Protestantism" (SCJ 21.2:175)
"…restorationism is neither the Faith nor its unity, but only a means toward that end…When his [Campbell's] theological heirs made restorationism the centerpiece of the movement, they exalted his ‘ecclesiastical' reforms to the level of the evangelical core."
John Mark Hicks, "The Unfinished Business of the Protestant Reformation: Alexander Campbell's Relationship to Protestantism" (SCJ 21.2:177)
"It would not be pressing the point to state that Campbell's doctrine of Scripture—the foundation of his unity plea in the D&A—is thoroughly Reformed."
David John Ford, "Thomas Campbell and the Westminster Confession of Faith" (SCJ 21.2:196)
"Without a doubt, the Declaration and Address addresses agonizing issues from his years as a Presbyterian. And at the same time, those years of strife, division, ecumenism, and failed attempts at forging accord shaped Campbell into a man who could write such an eloquent plea for Christian unity."
David John Ford, "Thomas Campbell and the Westminster Confession of Faith" (SCJ 21.2:199)
"…the Arminianism from which Campbell would like to distance himself is at once divisive, overly speculative, relies on the Spirit apart from the word, and undermines human free choice inasmuch as the Spirit's internal operation of grace is selective."
Keith D. Stanglin, "'A Theory Full of Sophistry': Alexander Campbell on Arminianism" (SCJ 21.2:209)
"Campbell…apparently came by his understanding of Arminius and Arminianism the way most American residents did—via Wesleyans who had no genealogical connection to anything properly Arminian. One must recognize, however…that the Arminianism that he rejected is, at best, a caricature of the views of Arminius."
Keith D. Stanglin, "'A Theory Full of Sophistry': Alexander Campbell on Arminianism" (SCJ 21.2:212)
"Importantly, philosophical atheism is not driving the current shift to an America with more Nones; it is functional atheism. Functional atheists do not necessarily reject the existence of some God; they are "apatheists." They simply don't care about a divine metaphysical reality or the formalities of institutional religion."
Richard A. Knopp, "Understanding and Engaging the 'Nones'" (SCJ 21.2:219)
"…as you exercise your skills in biblical criticism and deconstruct the text, I implore you to give a concerted and balanced effort to re-construct the Scripture for your students…to convey to them that, in spite of the complexities and the qualifications, the message of Scripture is worth their life's complete commitment."
Richard A. Knopp, "Understanding and Engaging the 'Nones'" (SCJ 21.2:231)
"…all of humanity's purpose in this world is both royal and cultic—royal in the sense that all creation is to be brought under the just and wise rule of God through the work of humans (procreation, domestication, and agriculture) and cultic in the sense that this co-creational vocation will bring disordered people, animals, and land into an orderly relationship with the Creator."
Kory Eastvold, "The Image of God in Old Testament Theology" (SCJ 21.2:251)
"Far from being mutually exclusive, humanity's filial identity and royal purpose are two sides of the same coin. Divine kinship entails delegated rule."
Kory Eastvold, "The Image of God in Old Testament Theology" (SCJ 21.2:251)