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Volume 23 Issue 1

As I sit here today in our small town of Loveland outside of Cincinnati, Ohio, everything but Walgreens, Kroger, and the Dairy Whip are closed. I just received a call from my physical therapy office. Appointments for postsurgical appointments for my ankle are cancelled for the next two weeks. They are closing down until this period of social distancing and stay-at-home orders subsides. The coronavirus pandemic has come to middle America and is being treated with well-deserved respect.

The call from leaders to "just stay home" comes across as a hardship for busy Americans, something tough to cope with, especially with no live sports on TV since that is all cancelled too. Tips are already appearing for what to do with all this time at home: movie lists, book lists, home fixit lists, board game lists, and much more. Innovations to create social connection online, including church, are everywhere.

Isolation is not something most people are comfortable with. After all, it's the extreme punishment in prison for people already isolated from society at large to begin with! Yet, for most of us who are academics isolation is what we seek and value most—time to read, research, write. We crave like candy a long weekend with spouse and kids away or the gold standard of an actual sabbatical. So, isolation is no hardship for us. Bring it on! We are the unusual few who know exactly what we will do with isolation opportunity. Send me that article you are going to crank out—seriously!

But isolation has its value not only for scholars like us, it has value for everyone. Jesus desperately sought time away, alone, to be near God the Father—and pray. And certainly this period of coronavirus concerns should find us during this time of isolation in deep prayer for our family, friends, neighbors, congregations, and the world that God would have mercy on us.

Hopefully, by the time you read this preface, my neighborhood—and yours—will have reopened. Maybe the whole world will have moved back closer to normal. However, the effects of this virus on spring and summer events has been massive in terms of cancellation of pretty much everything. And this included the 19th Annual Stone-Campbell Journal Conference that was set for March 20-21 at Johnson University. Fortunately, we were able to get the word out about a week beforehand and begin discussions with Johnson and with our plenary speakers about rescheduling for fall.

The good news is that a reschedule date was found and has already been publicly disseminated. However, in case you missed it, through the graciousness of Johnson University and our plenary speakers the 2020 SCJ Conference is now set for September 11-12. So, less than two months before the presidential election, conference attendees will be provided seasoned thoughts on Politics and the Stone-Campbell Movement from Shaun Casey, Jess Hale, and Rick Cherok. The setup will be the same, all-day on Friday and half-day on Saturday. The costs will be exactly the same. Thankfully donors have sought to help defray extra costs both SCJ and Johnson will incur to make this conference hap-pen.

I am expecting that most of those on the program will still come to this very relevant conference, and most who have registered will make new arrangements to attend. Of course, others who could not come previously are invited to come now. Also, new parallel papers are welcome and will be accepted in place of those in the original program who cannot come in September on first come, first served basis as slots are vacated. Those who wish to offer new papers, please contact by June 15. All are invited to go to for more information on how to reconfirm their registration or to register for the first time. Those originally scheduled for parallel papers will have been contacted by to confirm or unconfirm their previously accepted parallel paper. Those involved as presenters in study groups will have been contacted by their study group leaders regarding their ability to commit to this rescheduled date.

In this issue a couple of the articles have interesting connections. First, this issue features separate articles by a married couple. Heather Gorman ably surveys the treatment of the Ethiopian eunuch's baptism in Acts 8 by a swath of commentaries from people connected to the three streams of the Stone-Campbell Movement—Disciples of Christ, Churches of Christ (a cappella), and Christian churches (independent). Her husband, James (Assistant Editor of SCJ), provides the fascinating interchange between panelists and author Richard Hughes in the History and Theology of the Stone-Campbell Movement Study Group at the 2019 SCJ Conference on his book published in 2018 entitled Myths America Lives By: White Supremacy and the Stories That Give Us Meaning. Second, James's article leads into another important article about race in which Jason Bembry (SCJ Consulting Editor) takes a close look at interpretations of Genesis 9 regarding Ham and Canaan that were used to justify slavery for centuries. His article was also presented as one of the plenary lectures at the 2017 SCJ Conference.

This issue also features another plenary address. From the 2019 SCJ Conference Jerry Sumney (SCJ Consulting Editor) demonstrates that Paul is more dependent on Christian tradition that developed before his appearance on the scene than is sometimes realized.

Finally, two articles come from students. Andrew Nichols won the 2019 Student Paper Contest (Graduate division) with his thoughtful paper that delves into fifth-century desert father Cassian's somewhat unique position on trial and suffering. Ethan Laster won the 2018 Isaac Errett Award with his paper on David Lipscomb's articulation of his trinitarian understanding of God in the Bible without using the precise term "trinity."

William R. Baker, Editor

Johnson University


Analysis of interpretations of Acts 8:26-40 (the Ethiopian eunuch’s conversion) from the three primary streams of the Stone-Campbell Movement (SCM) and comparison of those interpretations with non-SCM interpretations reveals fewer differences between each of the three SCM streams than there are between SCM scholars and non-SCM scholars. The SCM’s specific battleground issues, its history of patternism, and the social location of many SCM interpreters have illuminat- ed certain aspects of the text while obscuring other important aspects of it.

St. Louis University


David Lipscomb articulated a doctrine of God that was Trinitarian in shape; he viewed Scripture as depicting a God who is three-in-one and equal in per- sons. This article teases out the Trinitarian assumptions of his theology and its potential sources. Parts I and II examine Lipscomb’s Trinitarian vernacular and its exegetical dimensions. Part III offers a synthesis of Lipscomb’s Trinitarian doctrine, particularly its ontological and soteriological aspects. Finally, the article considers Lipscomb’s Trinitarianism in the context of the Stone-Campbell Movement.

Lincoln Christian Seminary


In The Conferences, fifth-century desert father John Cassian explains suffer- ing as a grace afforded the Christian by a patient God working to help the per- son become all God intended. Rather than seeing adversity as inherently bad, Christians are called to use trials for their benefit, trusting God to bring about the ends he purposes. By distinguishing between permission and will and focus- ing on God’s patience, Cassian offers a little-explored view of suffering that may illumine current debates concerning theodicy and the relationship between God’s omnipotence and goodness.

Johnson University


On April 5, 2019, four scholars brought their diverse expertise (psychology, literature, ministerial formation, and history) to bear on the second edition of Richard T. Hughes’s Myths America Lives By: White Supremacy and the Stories that Give Us Meaning1 (2018) at the Stone-Campbell Journal Conference at Johnson University in Knoxville, Tennessee. Richard Hughes, Scholar-in Residence at Lipscomb University, then offered an extemporaneous response to the four reviewers. This article brings the four reviews together and includes a written response from Hughes.

Emmanuel Christian Seminary at Milligan College


The use of Gen 9:20-27 to justify slavery and racism extends back millennia and continues to be felt in the notion of white supremacy and the problem of white privilege. This article examines the passage in an effort to demonstrate that just as the biblical writers shaped the story to justify the enslavement of Canaanites, so later generations interpreted it to justify the enslavement of African peoples. It then traces the racist impulse in the interpretive tradition to equip those who encounter it today and to provide an opening for communities to discuss racism, its causes, and potential cures.

Lexington Theological Seminary


Interpreters often find the portrait of Paul’s good relationship with the church in Acts incompatible with his claims of independence. This essay draws on Paul’s use of traditional material in 1 Corinthians to show that he was dependent upon the teaching of the church that was developed before he was influential and outside his sphere of influence. This suggests that his claims to independence need to be situated in a more nuanced understanding of Paul’s relationship with the Jerusalem church.

Download book reviews for this issue.

Eyal Regev, The Temple in Early Christianity: Experiencing the Sacred
(Steven Hunter, Glendale Road Church of Christ)

Christopher A. Hall, Living Wisely with the Church Fathers
(Gerald P. Dyson, Kentucky Christian University)

Denis R. Janz, Martin Luther's The Church Held Captive in Babylon: Latin-English Edition with a New Translation and Introduction
(Keith D. Stanglin, Austin Graduate School of Theology)

James L. Gorman, Jeff Childers, Mark W. Hamilton, eds., Slavery's Long Shadow: Race and Reconciliation in American Christianity
(C. J. Dull, Moberly, Missouri)

Timothy Larsen, George MacDonald in The Age of Miracles: Incarnation, Doubt, and Reenchantment
(Brett A. Seybold, Cincinnati Christian University)

Miroslav Volf and Matthew Croasman, For the Life of the World: Theology That Makes a Difference
(Jess O. Hale, Jr., Hendersonville, Tennessee)

Peter C. Orr, Exalted above the Heavens: The Risen and Ascended Christ
(Frank E. Dicken, Lincoln Christian University)

Veli-Matti Kärkkäinen, Christian Theology in the Pluralistic World: A Global Introduction
(Matthew B. Hale, Catholic University of America)

Zach Hunt, Unraptured: How End Times Theology Gets It Wrong
(David W. Hester, Faulkner University)

James Simpson, Permanent Revolution: The Reformation and the Illiberal Roots of Liberalism
(Shawn C. Smith, Lincoln Christian University)

Philip John Paul Gonzales, Reimagining the Analogia Entis: The Future of Erich Przywara's Christian Vision
(John R. Kern, Boston College)

Timothy Larsen and Keith L. Johnson, eds., Balm in Gilead: A Theological Dialogue with Marilynne Robinson
(Shaun C. Brown, Hope International University)

Nigel Brush, The Limitations of Theological Truth: Why Christians Have the Same Bible but Different Theologies
(David H. Warren, Brevard, North Carolina)

Walter Brueggemann, Tenacious Solidarity: Biblical Provocations on Race, Religion, Climate, and the Economy
(Paavo Tucker, Lipscomb University)

Luke Bretherton, Christ and the Common Life: Political Theology and the Case for Democracy
(Jess O. Hale, Jr., Hendersonville, Tennessee)

Ben Rhodes and Martin Westerholm, eds., Freedom under the Word: Karl Barth's Theological Exegesis
(Shaun C. Brown, Hope International University)

Jacob Shatzer, Transhumanism and the Image of God: Today's Technology and the Future of Christian Discipleship
(Alden Bass, Oklahoma Christian University)

Walter Brueggemann, Preaching from the Old Testament
(Rob O'Lynn, Kentucky Christian University)

Daniel T. Rodgers, As a City on a Hill: The Story of America's Most Famous Lay Sermon
(Scott D. Seay, Christian Theological Seminary)

Gary Selby, Pursuing an Earthy Spirituality: C. S. Lewis and Incarnational Faith
(Rob O'Lynn, Kentucky Christian University)

Robert K. Johnston, Craig Detweiler, and Kutter Callaway, Deep Focus: Film and Theology in Dialogue
(Nathan Babcock, Buchanan, Michigan)

R. W. L. Moberly, The Bible in a Disenchanted Age: The Enduring Possibility of Christian Faith
(Garrett Best, Asbury Seminary)

William M. Wright, IV, and Francis Martin, Encountering the Living God in Scripture: Theological and Philosophical Principles for Interpretation
(David Kiger, Emmanuel Christian Seminary at Milligan)

Douglas Mangum and Douglas Estes, eds., Literary Approaches to the Bible
(Aaron Parker, Harding School of Theology)

Daniel Castelo and Robert W. Wall, The Marks of Scripture: Rethinking the Nature of the Bible
(John C. Poirier, Germantown, Ohio)

Robbie F. Castleman, Interpreting the God-Breathed Word
(Frank E. Dicken, Lincoln Christian University)

Philip R. Davies, The Bible for the Curious: A Brief Encounter
(Don Sanders, St. Charles, Missouri)

Christopher Seitz, The Elder Testament: Canon, Theology, Trinity
(Paavo Tucker, Lipscomb University)

Lester L. Grabbe, Faith & Fossils: The Bible, Creation, and Evolution
(J. Blair Wilgus, Hope International University)

Kay Prag, Re-Excavating Jerusalem: Archival Archaeology
(Walt Harper, Central Christian College of the Bible)

Brandon R. Grafius, Reading Phinehas, Watching Slashers: Horror Theory and Numbers 25.
(Brian Wilgus, Hope International University)

David J. Shepherd and Christopher J. H. Wright, Ezra and Nehemiah
(Glen Pemberton, Abilene Christian University)

David R. Nienhuis, A Concise Guide to Reading the New Testament: A Canonical Introduction
(Jonah Steele, Lincoln Christian University)

Jodi Magness, Masada: From Jewish Revolt to Modern Myth
(Amy Smith Carman, Brite Divinity School)

Craig A. Evans and David Mishkin, eds., A Handbook on the Jewish Roots of the Christian Faith
(Steven Hunter, Glendale Road Church of Christ)

Ben Witherington, III, Priscilla: The Life of an Early Christian
(Carl Bridges, Johnson University)

William D. Mounce, Biblical Greek: A Compact Guide
(Jeff Miller, Milligan College)

Craig S. Keener, Christobiography: Memory, History, and the Reliability of the Gospels
(Carl Bridges, Johnson University)

Jennifer Knust and Tommy Wasserman, To Cast the First Stone: The Transmission of a Gospel Story
(David Warren, Brevard, North Carolina)

Gordon D. Fee, Jesus the LORD according to Paul the Apostle: A Concise Introduction.
(Chauncey A. Lattimer, Jr., Brook, Indiana)

David G. Horrell, The Making of Christian Morality: Reading Paul in Ancient and Modern Context
(Joel Stephen Williams, Amridge University)

Jackson W., Reading Romans with Eastern Eyes: Honor and Shame in Paul's Message and Mission
(Dennis R. Lindsay, Northwest Christian University)

Craig S. Keener, The Mind of the Spirit: Paul's Approach to Transformed Thinking
(Rollin Ramsaran, Emmanuel Christian Seminary at Milligan)

Michael J. Gorman, Participating in Christ: Explorations in Paul's Theology and Spirituality
(Dain Alexander Smith, Asbury Theological Seminary)

James P. Ware, Paul's Theology in Context: Creation, Incarnation, Covenant, and Kingdom
(Dain Alexander Smith, Asbury Theological Seminary)

Chosen by Joel Childers
Abilene Christian University
SCJ 23.1 Quotables
View Quotables from Other Issues Here

Featured Quote:

"The idea that Ham himself was dark-skinned, innocuous in itself, proved… the single greatest justification for black slavery for more than a thousand years."

Jason Bembry, "Justifying Slavery via Genesis 9:20-27: The Vicious Legacy of Racist Interpretation of the Bible" (SCJ 23.1:73)

"Commentaries are not a simplistic solution, but they are a starting point, because they influence our pastors who influence our churches who influence our world."

Heather M. Gorman, "Stone-Campbell Interpretations of the Ethiopian Eunuch (Acts 8:26-40): Observations on the Last 50 Years" (SCJ 23.1:19)

"Two threads emerge from the distinctives in SCM scholarship on Acts 8:26-40: SCM battleground issues and the enduring influence of patternism."

Heather M. Gorman, "Stone-Campbell Interpretations of the Ethiopian Eunuch (Acts 8:26-40): Observations on the Last 50 Years" (SCJ 23.1:19)

"Lipscomb's Trinitarianism is a subtle assumption—he writes no extended, explicit discourse on the divine economy or the triune persons."

Ethan Laster, "The Doctrine of the Trinity in the Thought of David Lipscomb" (SCJ 23.1:23)

“Recognizing the Trinitarian dimensions of Lipscomb's theology provides a resource for a distinctive articulation of the doctrine of God from within the Stone-Campbell Movement—a resource that also resonates with the wider Christian tradition which is overwhelmingly Trinitarian."

Ethan Laster, "The Doctrine of the Trinity in the Thought of David Lipscomb" (SCJ 23.1:33-4)

"John Cassian, a desert father writing in the fifth century, became interested in the issue of suffering for the same reason many have; he heard of a great tragedy."

Andrew Nichols, "Divine Medicine: Trials According to John Cassian" (SCJ 23.1:36)

"God gives the struggle that takes place during a trial to individuals to cleanse them, to prove them, or to display his glory."

Andrew Nichols, "Divine Medicine: Trials According to John Cassian" (SCJ 23.1:45)

"…Hughes argues the primal American myth that informs the other five myths is the Myth of White Supremacy."

James L. Gorman, editor, "Myths America Lives By: White Supremacy and the Stories That Give Us Meaning—Reviews and Comments" (SCJ 23.1:48)

“Millions of white Christians… will resist and deny, even as their nineteenth-century counterparts resisted, often with violence, these disturbing truths and the messenger(s) who brought them."

James L. Gorman, editor, "Myths America Lives By: White Supremacy and the Stories That Give Us Meaning—Reviews and Comments" (SCJ 23.1:67)

“While biblical interpretive tradition in general and its depiction of the story of Ham's curse in particular are not the only engines that drove slavery and white supremacy in this country, they are clearly foundational."

Jason Bembry, "Justifying Slavery via Genesis 9:20-27: The Vicious Legacy of Racist Interpretation of the Bible" (SCJ 23.1:81)

"The idea that Ham himself was dark-skinned, innocuous in itself, proved crucial to the interpretation of Gen 9:20-27 as the single greatest justification for black slavery for more than a thousand years."

Jason Bembry, "Justifying Slavery via Genesis 9:20-27: The Vicious Legacy of Racist Interpretation of the Bible" (SCJ 23.1:73)

“So, what Paul here identifies as the very heart of the gospel comes to expression in a confession that was formulated before he was in the church."

Jerry L. Sumney, "Paul's Use of Tradition in First Corinthians: What it Shows About Paul's Relationship With the Wider Church" (SCJ 23.1:85))

“If Paul is so dependent on tradition, this should affect how we understand his assertion that his gospel came to him by ‘a revelation from Jesus Christ' (Gal 1:12)."

Jerry L. Sumney, "Paul's Use of Tradition in First Corinthians: What it Shows About Paul's Relationship With the Wider Church" (SCJ 23.1:92))

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Volume 26 Issue 1

Current Issue:
VOLUME 26, No. 1
Spring 2023



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