Today, we’re happy to welcome Alexis Grant in her first post for Scholar’s Compass, our devotional for academics. For more of Scholar’s Compass, explore our archives here. To read more of Alexis Grant’s work, visit her personal blog, Wonders of His Word.Â [Read more…] about Scholar’s Compass: Starting with the Kingdom in Mind
Kingdom of God
Michael Huerter finishesÂ his series responding toÂ The Image of God in an Image Driven Age: Explorations in Theological Anthropology, edited by Beth Felker Jones and Jeffrey W. Barbeau (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2016). See Part 1 of Michaelâ€™s explorations here, Part 2 here, Part 3 here, and Part 4 here. [Read more…] about Imago Dei: Witness and Work (Part 5 of 5)
As part of his Doctor of Ministry (DMin) inÂ Ministry to Emerging GenerationsÂ (Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary), Tom’s written a number of book responses and given several short presentations (personal and group). In this series he not only “shares the wealth,” but also looks forward to your feedback as he refines his project: An argument for vocational discernment for graduate studies in the context of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship (Stay tuned to learn more!). Earlier posts on the program: Ministry to Emerging Generations and The Big Picture of Ministry to Emerging Generations.
To Change the World: The Irony, Tragedy, and Possibility of Christianity in the Late Modern World
Over the past several years James Davison Hunterâ€™s To Change the World: The Irony, Tragedy, and Possibility of Christianity in the Late Modern World (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2010), in particular his application of Jeremiah 29:4-7 to engaging the world (276-279), has been of significant influence in InterVarsityâ€™s Faculty Ministry. To Change the World has been hailed as â€œa seminal book on cultural formation and change, particularly insightful on how Christians (primarily evangelical) have understood and misunderstood culture change over the past 40 years or soâ€ (Micheal Hickerson. Changing the World with James Davison Hunter. Emerging Scholars Network Blog, 8/2/2010). I concur with Hunter:
This is the second of a four part series of posts in whichÂ David Williams shares some historical and theological observations on the Bible passages studied at the Urbana Student Missions Conference 2015. The passages under consideration areÂ Matthew 8:1-17, Matthew 20:1-16, Matthew 25:31-26, Matthew 27:57-28:15. In follow-up he will post an application piece. We’d also love to hear how would apply in your particular campus context.
If you’re at Urbana15, please swing by and hangout atÂ the Emerging Scholars Network/Graduate & Faculty
- booth (626/628)
- and/or lounge.
Thank-you to David for contributing to the ESN blogÂ at Urbana15Â 🙂 ~ Thomas B. Grosh IV, Associate Director, Emerging Scholars Network [Read more…] about The Economy of the Kingdom (Matthew 20:1-16)
In our current toxic political climate one might ask the question, â€œcan anything good come of politics?â€ James W. Skillen would answer that affirmatively. InÂ The Good of PoliticsÂ (Baker, 2014), Skillen’s main contention is that to be created in the image of God means, among other things, that we are political creatures and that political life, along with things like work and family, is part of Godâ€™s creation intention for us. It is not a consequence of the fall. Like other aspects of the human condition, political life certainly has been distorted by the fall but part of our call as the redeemed is to bring a redemptive influence into political life.
After laying out the biblical basis for this position in Part One, Skillen goes on in Part Two to survey how the church through history has addressed itself to this question. He covers Augustineâ€™s two cities, the ascendancy of the church over civil government, and the splintering of authority and the two kingdom approach of the Reformers, particularly Luther. Finally he moves to the contemporary scene and the influences of Hobbes and Locke on the American Experiment.
Along the way, he engages the Anabaptist alternative of Hauerwas and Yoder and others that advocates for the kingdom of God as its own political entity and that the church, which is called to peace, should abstain from political engagement which inevitably requires the use of force in restraining evil, including lethal force. He argues that while this may allow the church to maintain its purity, it raises questions about the character of a God who ordains government to restrain evil through the power of the sword. My difficulty with this contention is that these questions are unavoidable no matter whether you are Anabaptist or not and go back to the question of why God permits evil at all. However, like those who would ascribe to some form of just war theory and who take this seriously, he argues that many instances of warfare do not meet this test and should be opposed by Christians.
This last is covered significantly in the third part of the book where Skillen engages the questions of how Christians engage in politics. He explores hot button issues like marriage, family, economics, and the environment. Because this book is an â€œintroductionâ€ he covers a lot of ground. His most interesting sections to me were his discussions of citizenship and the responsibilities all of us have in a republic, and his thoughts on politics in a globalized settingâ€“avoiding nationalism and one world government options while allowing for various regional and other international regimes to deal with the international issues that are inevitable. In this discussion he argues that our situation is not one of a clash of civilizations between country blocks but rather competing claims within many of our countries: secularism, Christianity, capitalism, Islam to name a few.
The one thing I found most impractical was his proposal for â€œproportional representationâ€ in the House of Representatives of national parties based on voting percentages for each party in elections. What he is trying to do is create a context where parties address national concerns rather than simply being split into electoral base politics. What seems to have a better (though still a long shot to me) chance is redistricting reform that requires districts to make geographic sense and to be demographically representative of a stateâ€™s population as far as that is geographically possible. The current gerrymandering of political districts means that one only need cater to oneâ€™s base to get elected rather than representing all the people. At least both Skillen and I agree on the problem that makes the House so dysfunctional.
On balance, this is a helpful proposal for how Christians might think about political life and exercise redemptive influence in politics. The most important part of this book is his argument for politics as a result, not of the fall, but the creation. His survey of historical positions is also helpful. His exploration of contemporary issues seemed somewhat cursory, even though he is thoughtful and nuanced. Yet he shows some of the directions Christians might go in pursuing these issues in greater depth.
Editor’s Note: In the midst of political debates and a season forÂ prayerfully consideringÂ Jeremiah 29, thank-you to Bob Trube for sharing the above reviewÂ (recently re-postedÂ at Bob on Books). As always, if you have a book recommendation and/or desire to write a review, please contact ESN :)Â ~ Thomas B. Grosh IV, Associate Director,Â Emerging Scholars Network