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Volume 22 Issue 1

Some of us are scholars. Some of us are teachers. Some of us are preachers. Few of us excel at all three forms of communication. Bob Kurka was one of those few. Because of this and his enduring passion to communicate the vibrant truths of Scripture, he was beloved by multitudes of peers, students, and congregations. Bob’s life did not go as long as most these days. He died at just age 64, on March 24, 2018, at his home in Lincoln, Illinois. However, his impact was vast because bursting through his communication skills was an addictive energy and enthusiasm that was a pleasure just to be around. Bob never saw a dark cloud in which he could not find a silver lining. Some might call that naïve, but for Bob his positive approach to life was bound up with rock-solid belief in the amazing blessings of God in our lives. See the complete tribute to Bob Kurka by Richard Knopp in SCJ 21.2 (Fall, 2019) 252-255, to see a full account of his achievements and a firsthand perspective on his approach to death.

I knew Bob as colleague and friend. We were bound together first as faculty, teaching at Saint Louis Christian College for four years. While I would remain many years after he left to teach at Lincoln Christian University, we would continue to connect and bond over our involvement both in the annual, national Evangelical Theological Society meetings and at the Midwest Regional ETS. At the national ETS, he was among the initial group of us who created the Stone-Campbell Adherents Study Group (which paralleled the Baptist study group, the only other study group at ETS), which ran from 1996–2005, and culminated in two published volumes titled Evangelicalism & the Stone-Campbell Movement (in 2002 with InterVarsity and 2006 with ACU press). At the Midwest Regional ETS we became intertwined with the leadership of the region, for which I served twice as President and Bob once. However, he completely endeared himself to everyone by serving in the thankless job of Secretary Treasurer from 2006–2014.

Like me, Bob believed that our movement is part of the burgeoning evangelicalism in the U.S. and believed we should serve as leaders as the opportunities presented themselves. We also believed that our involvement with those at ETS, both nationally and regionally, would help evangelicals understand where the Stone- Campbell Movement fit in the evangelical spectrum. As we have looked back, we are confident we have.

I was fortunate to be able to see Bob on the Saturday before his death (on the following Saturday), and on the next day he sent what would be his last communication to me: "I don't know if this paper has any value but it is clearly the last thing I will write." Attached was a paper he had prepared to deliver at the 2017 National ETS meeting that was celebrating the 500th anniversary of the Reformation and was unable to do so due to a health crisis the week before the conference. He was still planning to deliver it at the 2018 Midwest Regional ETS up to the moment he received notice that he would need to enter hospice. He titled this paper: "Ad - vancing the Legacy of the Reformation: Key Resources from the Stone-Campbell Movement."

This essay appears now in this issue of SCJ. Some of the ideas he expresses regarding the Stone-Campbell Movement may seem old hat to many SCJ readers, but keep in mind his audience. He is trying to represent our movement as offering some unique biblical perspectives that evangelicals would do well to consider, given his long and knowledgeable history with both. It is Bob’s apologetic to evangelicals for our movement. We publish it here as an important legacy of Bob Kurka that both we and those who follow us will benefit to learn from. But we also believe that some from the evangelical audience Bob was aiming at originally will read this and resonate with the ideas from our movement that Bob so graciously highlights.

Other thought-provoking articles fill this Spring issue of SCJ. First in the issue is from Scott Seay, who provides an insightful analysis of how the representative missions from the Christian churches (independent) and the Disciples of Christ were prepared to handle the swift turn of events that led to the independence of the Belgian Congo. This includes an account of the martyrdom of Phyllis Rine, then a recent graduate of Cincinnati Bible College at just 25 years old, who had been in the field just 18 months teaching primary school with African Christian Mission.

Our second article focuses on Churches of Christ (a cappella) but applies to all streams of the Stone-Campbell Movement. Here, Greg McKinzie puts forth a remedy for the well-established, current identity crisis of Churches of Christ in the form of a challenge to embody the justice of God. Following the Kurka article, Evertt Huffard offers his well-received 2018 SCJ Conference presentation which provides his unique perspective regarding the similarities and differences between the Muslim and Christian views of God. Next, David Smith offers a challenge to those who would suggest that somehow Paul and the churches he founded remained isolated from the Jerusalem church until Paul and their representatives brought their gift.

Finally, Samuel Guy, who won the undergraduate student paper competition at the 2018 SCJ Conference, details a convincing argument that Paul employs the political term politeuma in order to remind suffering Greek Christians that their true politeuma, the commonwealth from which they derive their citizenship, is found in the heavens. This article is quite an achievement. This is the first time SCJ has ever even considered publishing a paper from an undergraduate, but I am sure you will agree with us that it rightfully earns its spot in our gallery of articles for this issue.

William R. Baker, Editor

Christian Theological Seminary


This essay explores the ways in which two Stone-Campbell missions navigated the coming of political independence in the Belgian Congo. Though neither mission was fully prepared for the transition to independence, both carried on faithful work among and with Congolese Christians amidst significant political and social unrest. The different ways in which they navigated the transition were shaped by their respective approaches to education, their theologies of mission, and even the geography of the Congo.

Fuller Theological Seminary


The self-diagnosis of “identity crisis” is long-standing among theologians in Churches of Christ. Yet the explanations of this condition’s causes and solutions are varied and seemingly unable to effect a resolution. This paper considers the historical symptoms of identity crisis, a more specific diagnosis with the aid of Paul Ricoeur’s philosophical work, and a hermeneutical prescription suitable for this diagnosis. In order to move beyond identity crisis, Churches of Christ must embrace a missional hermeneutic of the biblical text that entails the embodiment of God’s justice as an interpretive agenda. We must, in short, do justice to the text.

Lincoln Christian Seminary


Since its inception, the Stone Campbell Movement has emphasized biblical theology, ecclesiology, and the sacraments. These three theological priorities have shaped the tradition in both its strengths and weaknesses. This paper explores how these emphases have made SCM Restorationism especially suited to contribute as the Church replaces the polemics of the past 500 years with dialogue, moving ever closer to unity in the ongoing advance of the Reformation.

Harding School of Theology


Leaders of the Stone-Campbell movement minimized the theological relevance of the OT and its view of God hundreds of years before Christ. Globalization has brought Muslims into Western communities. This presents a challenge of an even greater magnitude—an understanding of God that emerged in Arabia 600 years after Christ. This article presents similarities and differences between the Muslim and Christian views of God, acknowledging the influence of completely different worldviews on the issue.

Johnson University Tennessee
Kentucky Christian University


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.

Download book reviews for this issue.

List of Books Reviewed

Katharine Gerbner, Christian Slavery: Conversion and Race in the Protestant Atlantic World
(James L. Gorman, Johnson University Tennessee)

Douglas Carl Abrams, Old-Time Religion Embracing Modernist Culture: American Fundamentalism between the Wars
(Matt McCook, Oklahoma Christian University)

Matthew S. Stanford, Grace for the Afflicted: A Clinical and Biblical Perspective on Mental Illness
(Laura McKillip Wood, Nebraska Christian College of Hope International University)

Anthony C. Thiselton, Doubt, Faith, and Certainty
(David H. Warren, Brevard, North Carolina)

Gerald Hiestand and Todd Wilson, eds., Beauty, Order, and Mystery: A Christian Vision of Human Sexuality
(Nathan Babcock, Buchanan, Michigan)

Michael J. Gorman, ed., Scripture and Its Interpretation: A Global, Ecumenical Introduction to the Bible
(Rob O’Lynn, Kentucky Christian University)

Richard Alan Fuhr, Jr., and Andreas J. Köstenberger, Inductive Bible Study: Observation, Interpretation, and Application through the Lenses of History, Literature, and Theology
(Sean C. Hadley, Faulkner University)

Stewart E. Kelly, with James K. Dew, Jr. Understanding Postmodernism: A Christian Perspective
(Joel Stephen Williams, Amridge University)

Ephraim Radner, Time and the Word: Figural Reading of the Christian Scriptures
(Thomas J. Millay, Baylor University)

James K. A. Smith, Awaiting the King: Reforming Public Theology
(Jess Hale, Hendersonville, Tennessee)

Tawa J. Anderson, W. Michael Clark, and David K. Naugle, An Introduction to Christian Worldview: Pursuing God’s Perspective in a Pluralistic World
(Joel Stephen Williams, Amridge University)

William J. Abraham, Among the Ashes: On Death, Grief, and Hope
(David H. Warren, Brevard, North Carolina)

Mary Alice Mulligan, ed., The Living Pulpit: Sermons That Illustrate Preaching in the Stone–Campbell Movement 1968–2018
(J. Michael Shannon, Johnson University)

Jacob D. Myers, Preaching Must Die! Troubling Homiletical Theology
(Bryan A. Nash, Salem, Indiana)

Sondra Wheeler, The Minister as Moral Theologian: Ethical Dimensions of Pastoral Leadership
(Joel Stephen Williams, Amridge University)

Christopher R. J. Holmes, The Lord Is Good: Seeking the God of the Psalter
(Daryl Docterman, Cincinnati Christian University)

Mark W. Hamilton, A Theological Introduction to the Old Testament
(Glenn Pemberton, Abilene Christian University)

John H. Walton and J. Harvey Walton, The Lost World of the Israelite Conquest: Covenant, Retribution, and the Fate of the Canaanites
(Garrett Thompson, Faulkner University)

William G. Dever, Beyond the Texts: An Archaeological Portrait of Ancient Israel and Judah
(Dale W. Manor, Harding University)

Roy E. Gane, Old Testament Law for Christians: Original Context and Enduring Application
(Paavo Tucker, Lipscomb University)

Moshe Halbertal and Stephen Holmes, The Beginning of Politics: Power in the Biblical Book of Samuel
(John C. Nugent, Great Lakes Christian College)

Edward M. Curtis, Interpreting the Wisdom Books: An Exegetical Handbook
(Glenn Pemberton, Abilene Christian University)

Göran Eidevall, Amos
(J. Blair Wilgus, Hope International University)

Mignon R. Jacobs, The Books of Haggai and Malachi
(Glenn Pemberton, Abilene Christian University)

Dale B. Martin, Biblical Truths: The Meaning of Scripture in the Twenty-first Century
(John C. Poirier, Germantown, Ohio)

Hans Boersma. Scripture as Real Presence: Sacramental Exegesis in the Early Church
(John R. Kern, Boston College)

Christopher A. Hall, Living Wisely with the Church Fathers
(Steven Hunter, Murray, Kentucky)

John A. L. Lee, Basics of Greek Accents: Eight Lessons with Exercises
(David H. Warren, Brevard, North Carolina)

Loren T. Stuckenbruck, The Myth of Rebellious Angels: Studies in Second Temple Judaism and New Testament Texts
(John C. Poirier, Germantown, Ohio)

Graham Twelftree, ed., The Nature Miracles of Jesus: Problems, Perspectives, and Prospects
(Carl B. Bridges, Johnson University)

Oliver D. Crisp, The Word Enfleshed: Exploring the Person and Work of Christ
(Joshua Butcher, Trinitas Christian School)

Richard B. Hays, Echoes of Scripture in the Gospels
(Jordan Kellicut, Portage, Michigan)

Dorothy Jean Weaver, The Irony of Power: The Politics of God within Matthew’s Narrative
(Samuel Curkpatrick, Stirling Theological College, Melbourne, Australia)

Gabriele Boccaccini, Carlos A. Segovia, and Cameron J. Doody, eds., Paul the Jew: Rereading the Apostle as a Figure of Second Temple Judaism
(J. David Stark, Kearley Graduate School of Theology at Faulkner University)

Michael J. Gorman, Apostle of the Crucified Lord: A Theological Introduction to Paul and His Letters
(Jordan Kellicut, Portage, Michigan)

Emma Wasserman, Apocalypse as Holy War: Divine Politics and Polemics in the Letters of Paul
(Cambry Pardee, Pepperdine University)

George H. Guthrie, 2 Corinthians
(Carl S. Sweatman, Vienna, Virginia)

Colleen M. Conway, John and the Johannine Letters
(C. Michael Moss, Ohio Valley University)

C. Marvin Pate, Interpreting Revelation and Other Apocalyptic Literature: An Exegetical Handbook

22.1 Quotables

Chosen by Joel Childers
Abilene Christian University
SCJ 22.1 Quotables

Featured Quote:

"The very question of whether we worship the same God is one western Christians are asking, not Muslims."

Evertt W. Huffard, "Allah is God: A Challenge for Christians and Muslims" (SCJ 22.1:74)

"During the Congo Crisis, the missionaries of ACM remained steadfastly focused on evangelistic, educational, and medical work, and seemed unconcerned about the coming of independence to the Belgian Congo."

Scott Seay, "Stone-Campbell Missions and the Coming of Congolese Independence" (SCJ 22.1:17)

"Whether their leaders realized it or not, both of these Stone-Campbell missions indirectly and unintentionally contributed to the coming of political independence in the Congo."

Scott Seay, "Stone-Campbell Missions and the Coming of Congolese Independence" (SCJ 22.1:20)

"It is past time for the identity crisis to end… one might as well put it frankly: it is time for adolescence to come to an end; it is time to grow up."

Greg McKinzie, "Doing Justice to the Text: A Missional Hermeneutic of Embodied Participation" (SCJ 22.1:22)

"…a missional hermeneutic that includes embodied participation as a constitutive element is precisely what the identity crisis of Churches of Christ calls for."

Greg McKinzie, "Doing Justice to the Text: A Missional Hermeneutic of Embodied Participation" (SCJ 22.1:38)

"Perhaps with biblical and systematic theology in conversation, competing Christian traditions may be more complementary than previously thought."

Robert C. Kurka, "'Advancing the Legacy of the Reformation: Key Resources from the Stone-Campbell Movement" (SCJ 22.1:48)

"Stone-Campbell adherents can bring helpful insights into the construction of a less-reactive Protestantism—through both its strengths and weaknesses."

Robert C. Kurka, "'Advancing the Legacy of the Reformation: Key Resources from the Stone-Campbell Movement" (SCJ 22.1:61)

"The political challenge becomes real when a declaration today that Allah is God could get a professor fired from a Christian university or a Christian in Malaysia expelled from the country."

Evertt W. Huffard, "Allah is God: A Challenge for Christians and Muslims" (SCJ 22.1:64)

"The very question of whether we worship the same God is one western Christians are asking, not Muslim."

Evertt W. Huffard, "Allah is God: A Challenge for Christians and Muslims" (SCJ 22.1:74)

"One wonders how Paul can be isolated from Jerusalem when one of their chosen representatives is with him, as is acknowledged by both Paul and Luke, the author of Acts."

David Smith, "Paul's 'Friends': Rethinking Paul in Light of His Social Network" (SCJ 22.1:81)

"On the basis of a social network analysis alone, the ‘independence of Paul’ from Jerusalem in his later missionary activity is doubtful."

David Smith, "Paul's 'Friends': Rethinking Paul in Light of His Social Network" (SCJ 22.1:86)

"…Greek Christians in Philippi likely envied those who held the title of citizen, including their Roman brothers in the church"

Samuel Guy, "A Politeuma Worth Pursuing: Philippians 3:20 in Light of Philippi's Sociological Composition" (SCJ 22.1:97)

"…when Paul alludes to Roman citizenship by referring to the heavenly politeuma …he does so primarily to console an audience full of non-Roman citizens with the knowledge that they are participants in a divine common-wealth that far surpasses the glories and benefits of its imperial counterpart."

Samuel Guy, "A Politeuma Worth Pursuing: Philippians 3:20 in Light of Philippi's Sociological Composition" (SCJ 22.1:100)

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Volume 26 Issue 1

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VOLUME 26, No. 1
Spring 2023



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