Posts from June 2012

Jesus & Politics: Ramping Up For November 2012

By Joe Hellerman Jun. 30, 2012 11:00 a.m. Church Life, Culture, Ethics

I am receiving an increasing number of e-mails from persons in my church championing this or that conservative political cause. I recently responded in some detail to a dear brother who sent me a note encouraging his church leaders to become aware of a particular political agenda.

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A Powerful Prayer from Clement of Rome: Apostolic Fathers #3

By Kenneth Berding Jun. 25, 2012 2:03 p.m. Church Life, Spiritual Formation, Historical Theology

I have recently been convicted about the content of my praying.  This has come about especially through meditating on the prayers of the Apostle Paul.  What were the subjects that he thought worthwhile to focus on when he prayed?  How do his prayer burdens compare to my own (sometimes insipid and paltry) prayers?  I just got another challenge in this area today reading once again through 1 Clement in preparation for the Apostolic Fathers class I’m teaching right now.  1 Clement is a lengthy letter written by the church in Rome to the church in Corinth (probably by the hand of either a secretary or a church leader named “Clement”) at the end of the first century.  Included at the tail end of this letter is a deep, passionate, and wide-ranging prayer (including prayer for governmental leaders during a period of persecution).  If you have ever benefitted from praying in concert with devout Christians of earlier centuries (and you won’t find any document earlier than 1 Clement outside of the Bible), you may find some real spiritual benefit in praying this prayer. 

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Where Should Theology “Begin”?

By Uche Anizor Jun. 18, 2012 9:41 p.m. Theology, Historical Theology

As one who is kind of obsessed with questions of method in theology, I found some summary comments by T. F. Torrance on the relation of history and tradition to theological formulation helpful. He writes:

No scientist ever begins his work de novo; while he works with the methodological questioning of what he has already known he builds on knowledge already achieved and engages in a movement of advance. But it is one of the worst characteristics of theological study, whether in biblical interpretation or in dogmatic formulation, that every scholar nowadays thinks he must start all over again, and too many give the impression that no one ever understood this or that until they came along.

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Priceless Quotes from Ignatius of Antioch: Apostolic Fathers #2

By Kenneth Berding Jun. 18, 2012 12:38 p.m. Ministry and Leadership, Historical Theology

Ignatius of Antioch was the passionate leader of the church in Antioch just after the apostolic period.  He wrote five letters to churches in Asia Minor, one to the church in Rome, and one to Polycarp of Smyrna during a forced marched by ten soldiers (“leopards” he calls them) in the direction of Rome to be thrown to wild beasts because of his faith in Jesus Christ.

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How Much Should We Value the Apostolic Fathers? Apostolic Fathers #1

By Kenneth Berding Jun. 14, 2012 5:05 p.m. New Testament, Historical Theology

Right now I’m teaching a summer readings course on the Apostolic Fathers.  Ten students are reading with me such documents as 1 Clement, the Letters of Ignatius, Polycarp’s Letter to the Philippians, the Didache, the (so-called) Epistle of Barnabas, the Shepherd of Hermas, To Diognetus, the Martyrdom of Polycarp, 2 Clement, and the fragments of Papias.  These are the earliest Christian documents written just after the apostolic age and span the years from around A.D. 95 up until about A.D. 165.  Though they are referred to as the “apostolic fathers,” they are really our earliest “post-apostolic fathers.”  But how should we assess their value?  Here are three options:

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The Benefits of Disciplines of Abstinence

By Michelle Lee-Barnewall Jun. 14, 2012 3:22 p.m. Spiritual Formation

In The Spirit of the Disciplines, Dallas Willard identifies what he calls “disciplines of engagement” and “disciplines of abstinence.”  Examples of disciplines of abstinence including fasting, solitude, silence and frugality, while disciplines of engagement include study, worship, service, prayer, and fellowship.

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Adapting to Culture . . . Appropriately!

By Gary McIntosh Jun. 12, 2012 7:55 p.m. Church Life, Evangelism, Ministry and Leadership

Churches tend to approach culture from one of three perspectives: Isolation, Domination, or Incarnation. Isolation takes place when a church is so far removed from culture that it can no longer communicate the Good News in effective ways. If isolation takes place in a complete way, it usually leads to a church that totally dies out. However, most cases of isolation simply result in a church that has limited impact on people and society.

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