Coming Soon – “Roman Catholic Theology and Practice”

Coming this Fall from Crossway is Roman Catholic Theology and Practice: An Evangelical Assessment by Gregory Allison.  Here’s the catalog description:

“Roman Catholics and Protestant Evangelicals often work together in a variety of social, political, and religious contexts. Nonetheless, there are significant theological differences that divide the two traditions—differences that call for a renewed commitment to deeper understanding through respectful conversation. In Roman Catholic Theology and Practice, Gregg Allison, an evangelical theologian and church historian, helps readers understand the nuances of Roman Catholic teaching. Walking readers through the official Catechism of the Catholic Church, Allison summarizes and assesses Catholic doctrine from the perspective of both Scripture and evangelical theology. Noting prominent similarities without glossing over important differences, this book will equip Christians on both sides of the ecclesiastical divide to fruitfully engage in honest dialogue with one another.”

Michael Horton says “If you are looking for a few bullet-points and caricatures, this book will disappoint. But if you are looking for a serious survey drawn from the Catholic Catechism and other primary sources, along with an evangelical assessment of each point, Professor Allison’s labors will pay rich dividends.”

Gregg R. Allison (PhD, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School) is professor of Christian theology at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is secretary of the Evangelical Theological Society, a book review editor for the Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, an elder at Sojourn Community Church, and a theological strategist for Sojourn Network. Allison has taught at several colleges and seminaries, including Western Seminary in Portland, Oregon, and Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois, and is the author of numerous books, including Historical Theology: An Introduction to Christian DoctrineSojourners and Strangers: The Doctrine of the Church, and Roman Catholic Theology and Practice: An Evangelical Assessment.

Watch for it this November. It will be a paperback with 464 pages and sell for $28.00

Roman Catholic Theology

Book Give Away

This week we’re offering The Church According the Paul by James W. Thompson. Here’s the catalog description:

“Amid conflicting ideas about what the church should be and do in a post-Christian climate, the missing voice is that of Paul. The New Testament’s most prolific church planter, Paul faced diverse challenges as he worked to form congregations. Leading biblical scholar James Thompson examines Paul’s ministry of planting and nurturing churches in the pre-Christian world to offer guidance for the contemporary church. The church today, as then, must define itself and its mission among people who have been shaped by other experiences of community. Thompson shows that Paul offers an unprecedented vision of the community that is being conformed to the image of Christ. He also addresses contemporary (mis)understandings of words like missional, megachurch, and formation.”

Leave your name in the comments section by NLT Friday, Sep. 5th 6:00 am EST. I’ll draw the winning name that Friday. If I don’t hear back from the winner within 7 days the book will go to another entry. International entries are welcome.

Church According to Paul

Are We “Standing Over” Scripture When We Interpret It?

In a recent article in Charisma magazine Mark Driscoll made the following comments:

“When Jesus taught the Bible in Luke 24, none of his disciples attempted to interject their own opinion. You don’t hear Thomas saying, ‘Actually, Lord, I believe Isaiah 53 is more figurative in nature.’ There are really only two views of God’s Word: You either stand arrogantly over it or kneel humbly beneath it.

If I stand above the Bible, then I decide what it says. I decide what to keep and what to toss. I decide which parts to follow and which parts to ignore. I can change it, explain it away or alter it to my liking. I am in authority over the Scriptures, and the Bible is just another book filled with opinions to consider and apply as I see fit as God’s editor. In this approach, I exist to change the Bible.

If the Bible is over me, then I submit to its authority. I listen to God’s Word instead of censoring it. I obey the Bible rather than discarding it. Knowing that my finite, 3-pound fallen brain does not compare to the vast wisdom of God, I want to submit to it, be formed by it and agree with it as God’s worshipper. In this approach, the Bible exists to change me.” (Charisma, Sept. 2014 p. 52)

Let me start by saying I realize that this is a magazine article. Driscoll could not possibly give all the nuances he may have liked. With that said, this appears to be a bit simplistic.

First, we don’t know what the conversation look liked in Luke 24. Luke gives us the bare bones of what was certainly a longer conversation than what is recorded in the Gospel. So the argument is one from silence and though there is a place for that kind of argument I don’t think it works here.

Second, doesn’t everyone at one time or another “decide” what to follow and what part to ignore? We don’t offer animal sacrifices. We don’t greet one another with a holy kiss. Many don’t wear head coverings. Some are continuationists (a la Driscoll) others are cessationists. Is one group more humble than the other? Is one group being more selective than the other? When Driscoll reads several commentaries and they argue about the meaning of a passage he will eventually “decide” who makes the better case. Is he then “standing above” the Bible because he has reached a decision on what the passage says? I don’t think so. The nature of interpretation is that we struggle through the issues and come to a decision. That process can be done in a manner that seeks to find the truth and then to kneel before it or to alter it to fit my preconceived ideas. But the process itself is not the problem.


Agape is the Offspring of Apatheia

Most of you probably know what “agape” is. It’s a Greek word for love. But what is apatheia? Glad you asked. I’m reading Dangerous Passions, Deadly Sins by Dennis Okholm and it is really good. Okholm explains that the early monastic theologians “described the health of the soul as apatheia. . .  This is not simply the leveling out of human emotions or the extirpation of the passions. Christian ascetics like Evagrius and Cassian took from the Stoics, Clement of Alexandria, and Egyptian sources such as Anthony, and put their own stamp on the concept. For them apatheia is an abiding sense of peace and joy that comes from the full harmony of the passions–an habitual state developed through discipline (ascesis), which is why we can refer to it in terms of virtue. Through various exercises a person trains herself to be in full possession of her affective faculties so that disordered desires are held in check and rightly ordered, and one can experience a state of deep calm–a ‘repose,’ as Cassian calls it.” (4-5)

He continues (and this part really made me think).

“Evagrius teaches that the offspring of apatheia is agapē. Maintaining the harmony of one’s passions enables the person fully to love others and God, because the acquisition of apatheia can stamp out anger, sulking, lust, resentment, envy, and all other impediments to self-giving love. It gets at that root of self-love. Without love for others and God apatheia alone is of little value. Evagrius reminds us that the absence of distracting thoughts itself is not true prayer: ‘It is quite possible for a man to have none but the purest thoughts and yet be so distracted mulling over them that he remains the while far removed from God.‘ (Emphasis mine. 5)

Cover Art

Around the Web

Just a few items of interest I’ve found while browsing the web.

Do Arminians Really Pray Like Calvinists?

Roger Olson on “‘God’s Will’ in Calvinism and Arminianism”

Sam Storms answers “What Does it Mean to say Jesus was ‘Made Perfect’?”

Nick Norelli asks “What Did I Ever Do to Amazon?” His complaint is legitimate.

We Need More than Liturgy (HT: Koinonia)

My friend Paul Adams told me about a website which is chuck full of good information and resources. It’s Bible Odyssey.

Fr. Barron has significantly updated his website Word on Fire.