The Use of Linguistic and Relational Ontology in Contemporary Lutheranism
Citation: Cooper J and Lioy D 2019. The use of linguistic and relational ontology in contemporary Lutheranism. Conspectus 27, p. 1-24.This essay is a study of the impact of linguistic and relational ontology in contemporary Lutheranism. In particular, the influence of John Austin’s speech-act theory is explained in relation to its adaptation by Oswald Bayer and others associated with Radical Lutheranism. It is argued that though there can be some benefit in the use of the categories of linguistic philosophy, it is inadequate as an ontological system. The goal of this article is to demonstrate both the impact and flaws of linguistic and relational ontology on Radical Lutheran authors, and to validate essentialist ontology as a necessary backdrop for both linguistics and relation as discussed in Lutheran theology.
Creation Order Theodicy: The Argument for the Coexistence of Gratuitous Evil and the Sovereignty of God
Keywords: Theodicy, Creation Order theodicy, greater good theodicy, Bruce Little, Gratuitous Evil, Sovereignty of God
Citation: Johnson C and Falconer R 2019. Creation order theodicy: the argument for the coexistence of gratuitous evil and sovereignty of God. Conspectus 27, p. 50-70.The argument for the coexistence of gratuitous evil and the doctrine of the sovereignty of God is ardent amongst scholars. This article seeks to examine Bruce Little’s Creation Order theodicy and its claim that gratuitous evil exists concurrently with the sovereignty of God. Upon exploring prominent greater good theodicies and enumerating both their strengths and weaknesses, Little’s justification for his Creation Order theodicy is posited, followed by the content of the theodicy. The Creation Order theodicy is then evaluated against prominent greater good theodicies and contemporary theodical viewpoints. Lastly, the Creation Order theodicy is evaluated as a valid explanation for the concurrence of gratuitous evil and the sovereignty of God. This article contends that Little’s Creation Order theodicy does offer a valid argument for the existence of gratuitous evil concurrent with the doctrine of the sovereignty of God. Further, the Creation Order theodicy addresses many of the questions which plague theodicy and it does so in a manner which is biblically consistent. The Creation Order theodicy, with its associated gratuitous evil, offers a compelling answer to those who are experiencing evil or ministering to those experiencing evil.
The meaning of hebel in Ecclesiastes
Keywords: Ecclesiastes, Hebrew language, Hebel, הבל , lexical study, prototype theory
Citation: Huovila K and Lioy D 2019. The meaning of Hebel in Ecclesiastes. Conspectus 27, p. 35-49.The interpretation of hebel in Ecclesiastes has a great influence on one’s understanding of the message of the book. This article discusses six different proposals for the meaning of hebel using the criteria of usage outside of Ecclesiastes, of natural prototype extensions from the attested meanings, of contextual fit, and of authorial cues to the reader. Using these criteria, it is argued that in Ecclesiastes the word means ’futile’ without implying worthlessness. Ecclesiastes makes a case to value joy over pursuing the impossible task of achieving permanent profit in life and losing joy in the process.
Desperation in an Attempt to Curb Modern-Day Prophets: Pentecostalisation and the Church in South Africa and Zimbabwe
Keywords: Pentacostalisation, Pentecostalism, Modern-day Prophets, Religious Regulation
Citation: Dube EEN 2019. Desperation in an attempt to curb modern-day prophets: pentecostalisation and the church in South Africa and Zimbabwe. Conspectus 27, p. 25-34.Pentecostalism continues to spread in Africa like a veld fire. This paper will pay attention to the phenomenon’s pervasive presence in South Africa and Zimbabwe. The new forms of pentecostalisation, characterised by modern-day flamboyant ‘Prophets’ who initiate and run Pentecostal ministries have become the order of the day. Apart from enriching themselves, these ‘Prophets’ propagate a kind of gospel that is a complete departure from basic Christian teachings. They also use unorthodox means in delivering people from illnesses and in conducting their business in general. This new manifestation of pentecostalism has drawn criticism from both the public and the Church, but it would seem that no one clearly knows how to curb these ‘shrewd business people masquerading as Christian Prophets’. While the public has attempted to stage protests against this new form of pentecostalism, the governments in both South Africa and Zimbabwe have also been considering ways of regulating practice in religious organizations.
Re-thinking Mission, Missions and Money: A Focus on the Baptist Church in Central Africa
Keywords: Mission, Missions, Money, Church
Citation: Kighoma E, Ngaruiya D and Malherbe J 2019. Re-thinking mission, missions and money: a focus on the Baptist Church in Central Africa. Conspectus 27, p. 71-93.The African church has the highest increase in numbers compared to the west, and yet it is the least contributor to world missions. This paper analyses the issue of disparity in funding mission practices between the African church and its mother church, the western church. It then explores reasons behind the African church’s struggles to support missions, and identifies opportunities for world missions to which the eastern Congolese church is exposed. A critical analysis of different arguments and reports from different authors was used to draw the main conclusions and therefore identify the central reason for the disparity and provide recommendations to the two churches. The paper suggests how scholars and the church should re-think mission, missions and money in eastern Congo.
The semantic field of the Hebrew word נֶֶ֫פֶשׁ in the OT
Keywords: שׁ , ψυχή, soul, anthropology, dichotomy
Citation: Yu HE and Malherbe J 2019. The semantic field of the Hebrew word נֶֶ֫פֶשׁ in the OT. Conspectus 27, p. 113-141.The Hebrew anthropological term נֶֶ֫פֶשׁ occurs 754 times in the Old Testament. It was rendered stereotypically as ψυχή in the LXX and later into English as ‘soul’. The later was viewed as a poor translation since it motivated Christians to develop a dichotomous conception of the human constitution. This has led to centuries-old controversy concerning the Hebraic conception of the person. Although the word נֶֶ֫פֶשׁ is as hard to define as it is to translate, this article aims to determine its semantic field through a brief literature review of נֶֶ֫פֶשׁ and its Greek equivalent ψυχή. The result indicates that the meanings of נֶֶ֫פֶשׁ in the OT are more related to the physical aspects of human beings and that its translation as ‘soul’ calls for re-examination.
Epistemic, Historical and Theological Backtrackings of Orthodox Church Tradition as authority in relation to the Ukrainian-Russian Heritage and Modernity
Keywords: Eastern Orthodoxy, Authority of Tradition, Epistemology, Continuity and Discontinuity, Search for Consensus
Citation: Lykhosherstov O and Domeris B 2019. Epistemic, historical and theological backtrackings of Orthodox Church tradition as authority in relation to the Ukrainian-Russian heritage and modernity. Conspectus 27, p. 94-112.The life and ministry of every Christian are profoundly shaped by a particular ecclesial tradition. Different interpretations of the extra-canonical teaching of the church tradition have remained a debated topic since Reformation, raising a question of the relative spiritual authority for believers. Adopting the fundamental affirmation of the authority of the universal Christian tradition as that which had been believed ‘everywhere, always, by all’ [ubique, semper, ab omnibus], the research investigates a threefold paradigm of ‘universality-antiquity-consensus’ (Pelikan 1971:333) of the Orthodox Church tradition as authority in relation to the Ukrainian-Russian heritage and modernity. Embracing the perspective of Evangelical theology, the study goes beyond a mere phenomenological analysis, identifying theoretical premises, praxeological incongruences and authoritative formulations of the Eastern Orthodox tradition on the epistemological, historical and theological levels.
A Wesleyan Theology of Politics for the Ghanaian Context
Keywords: Creation, God, Ghanaian, Governance, Grace, Humanity, Image of God, Political Image, Theology of Politics
Citation: Mpere-Gyekye WA and Brodie RW 2019. A Wesleyan theology of politics for the Ghanaian context. Conspectus 27, p. 142-159.This journal article offers a Wesleyan theological framework based on a renewed Wesleyan notion of the political image of God in humanity for political engagement in the Ghanaian context. First, the essay considers the meaning of the notion and its biblical and theological basis. Second, the essay offers two reasons for recovery, that is, the effects of sin, and the non-integration of the notion into Wesley’s evangelical theology. Third, the process of recovery is stated and implemented— drawing politics into Wesley’s order or way of salvation. Fourth the contours of a Wesleyan theology of politics, based on the renewed and restored political image in humanity is formulated and applied to the Ghanaian context.
The Interface Between the Doctrines of Divine Foreknowledge and Human Free Will: Judas Iscariot as a Test Case
Keywords: Human Free Will, Divine Foreknowledge, Betray, Compatibilism, Incompatibilism
Citation: Toga JP and Asumang A 2019. The interface between the doctrines of divine foreknowledge and human free will: Judas Iscariot as a test case. Conspectus 27, p. 160-172.The New Testament indicates that Judas Iscariot’s betrayal of Jesus was foreknown by God and by Jesus, and that it was in fulfilment of Scripture, and yet at the same time it judges him culpable for his actions. In that case, to what extent is divine foreknowledge compatible with human free will? Through exegetical, philosophical and theological analyses of the relevant passages, the study arrives at a number of conclusions about the nature and pastoral function of compatibilism in the specific test case of Judas Iscariot. It is observed for example, that all the New Testament passages in relation to Judas Iscariot underline the interplay between divine foreknowledge and human free will in a non-contrastive transcendent manner, even though they place different emphases on the degree of this compatibility, while others underline a complicated role for even Satan. Some of the differences in emphases between the Gospels with regard to Judas Iscariot are also shown to reflect respective socio-pastoral contexts of their first readers. The article concludes that God held Judas Iscariot culpable for his action, though God foreknew it and that it fulfilled scripture
The Axiology of Qohelet and Life ‘Under the Sun’: What is Good for Us to Do?
Keywords: Axiology, Ecclesiastes, Ethics, Good, Qohelet, Right, Value
Citation: Joubert C 2019. The axiology of Qohelet and life ‘under the sun’: what is good for us to do? Conspectus 27, p. 173-191.Many readers of the Book of Ecclesiastes have concluded that Qohelet (the ‘Preacher’) teaches that life ‘under the sun’ is meaningless or worthless. The aim of this paper is to show why that assessment is mistaken. In the first place, if life is as Qohelet describes it—as enigmatic and fleeting, most often frustrating, uncertain, incomprehensible, beyond human control, and subject to evil—then it makes sense to ask, as he did, what is to our advantage and good for us to do? To support this claim, Qohelet’s axiology―his view of the kinds of things that are good or valuable, what it is that makes them valuable, the kinds of value there are, and the relationship between ‘good’ and ‘right’―is clarified and described from a theological perspective. The analysis reveals that life ‘under the sun’ now requires prudence, and the most prudent thing to do is to fear God and obey his revealed moral will. This is not only the essence of wisdom; it is the only value that has implications for our present life and the afterlife. The paper also shows that Qohelet’s axiology is consistent with the teachings of Genesis 1−3, Deuteronomy 6, and the New Testament. It concludes that Qohelet deeply cares about our good, well-being, and happiness, and that the ultimate source of that care is ‘one Shepherd’, which makes it impossible to think that life is meaningless or worthless.
Lutheran and Reformed Theology in Conversation
Citation: Lioy D and Falconer R 2019. Lutheran and Reformed theology in conversation. Conspectus 27, p. 192-223.The 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation occurred in 2017. That is the same year that a collaborative effort between Robert Kolb and Carl R Trueman was published by Baker. The title of the authors’ work is Between Wittenberg and Geneva. The subtitle provides a clearer indication of the publication’s focus, namely, Lutheran and Reformed theology in Conversation. Kolb and Trueman are neither the first nor the last specialists to compare Lutheran and Reformed approaches to the classical theological loci. That said, their publication represents a fresh and irenic contribution to the ongoing dialogue between these two confessional traditions. Both theologians, in their respective ways, seek to ground their statements about hermeneutics, the law / gospel dialectic, and the Son’s person and work (among other topics) to the teachings found in the Word. Along the way, both authors, likewise, highlight salient pastoral convictions that arise from their deliberations. An examination of each chapter within the book surfaces the shared historical and theological legacy between the Lutheran and Reformed communions. Also, while being appropriately self-critical of their own faith traditions, both authors delineate what they regard as the key differences between the two confessional groups. Moreover, as the dialogue unfolds between Kolb and Trueman, readers discover areas of agreement and disagreement between the Lutheran and Reformed camps and Roman Catholicism (on the one hand) and nonconfessional Protestant groups (on the other hand). Doing so helps to elucidate the major areas of theological differentiation among all these ecclesial communions. What follows is a chapter-by-chapter distillation of the information appearing in the treatise. It is interspersed with supplementary observations of varying depth and detail made by both of us—Dan Lioy (who brings a Lutheran perspective) and Robert Falconer (who brings a Reformed perspective). Our intent in doing so is to promote further conversation within the SATS community about doctrinal issues of shared interest.
Review of Keener, Spirit Hermeneutics: Reading Scripture in Light of Pentecost
Keywords: Lutheranism, Reformed Theology, Scriptural Interpretation, Law and Gospel, Person and Work of Christ, Election, Sanctification, Justification, Sacrament, Worship
Citation: Asumang A 2019. Review of Keener, Spirit Hermeneutics: Reading Scripture in Light of Pentecost. Conspectus 27, p. 224-233.Craig Keener is one of the most influential Biblical Scholars in contemporary conservative Christianity currently serving as FM and Ada Thompson Professor of the New Testament at Asbury Theological Seminary. Keener is an extensively published author; at my last check, he has ‘authored 24 books, five of which have won book awards in Christianity Today’ (Keener 2018). The publications include major multivolume and sometimes voluminous academic commentaries on New Testament Backgrounds, the Gospels of Matthew, and of John, Acts of the Apostles, and the Epistles to the Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians and Galatians. In addition to numerous journal articles, Keener has also used his writings to address important contemporary issues such as divorce and remarriage, miracles, and knowing the ‘mind of the Spirit’.