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On Male Headship and Female Submission

Sam Storms’ remarkable taxonomic heterogeneity (Amillennial, Calvinistic, charismatic, credo-baptistic, complementarian) may be taken as evidence of a confused mind, but his writings is a model of depth in simplicity which indicates a mind of firm and clear conviction. Given below are some excerpts taken from his four recent posts related to “10-things on male headship and female submission.”

On Male Headship
Among the many misconceptions about male headship in Scripture I mention these. First, husbands are never commanded to rule their wives, but to love them. The Bible never says, “Husbands, take steps to insure that your wives submit to you.” Nor does it say, “Husbands, exercise headship and authority over your wives.” Rather, the principle of male headship is either asserted or assumed and men are commanded to love their wives as Christ loves the church…Headship is never portrayed in Scripture as a means for self-satisfaction or self-exaltation. Headship is always other-oriented. I can’t think of a more horrendous sin than exploiting the God-given responsibility to lovingly lead by perverting it into justification for using one’s wife and family to satisfy one’s lusts and thirst for power.

Headship is not the power of a superior over an inferior. Continue reading ‘On Male Headship and Female Submission’ »

Thomas Schreiner’s Critique of N.T. Wright’s View of Justification – Debating Justification with N.T. Wright and NPP. Part 7

NPP Reading No. 4
Excerpts taken from: Thomas Schreiner, Faith Alone: The Doctrine of Justification: What the Reformers Taught…and Why it Still Matters (Zondervan, 2015)

Problems with Wright’s View of Justification
[244] I see three false polarities in Wright’s thought. First, he wrongly says that justification is primarily about ecclesiology instead of soteriology. Second, he often introduces a false polarity when referring to the mission of Israel by saying that Israel’s fundamental problem was its failure to bless the world whereas Paul focuses on Israel’s inherent sinfulness. Third, he insists that justification is a declaration of God’s righteousness but does not include the imputation of God’s righteousness.

Ecclesiology or Soteriology?
[244] Let’s begin with the first point of discussion, which fits with the idea that justification is more about the church than the individual. Wright mistakenly claims that justification is fundamentally about ecclesiology instead of soteriology. Let’s hear it in his own words, “Justification is not how someone becomes a Christian. It is the declaration that they have become a Christian.” And, “What Paul means by justification, in this context, should therefore be clear. It is not ‘how you become a Christian,’ as much as ‘how you can tell who is a member of the covenant family.’”

[245] Justification has to do with whether one is right before God, whether one is acquitted or condemned, whether one is pardoned or found guilty, and that is a soteriological matter. Continue reading ‘Thomas Schreiner’s Critique of N.T. Wright’s View of Justification – Debating Justification with N.T. Wright and NPP. Part 7’ »

NPP – Regensburg (1541) Redux? Reformation Forensic Justification vs Transformative Justification: Debating Justification with N.T. Wright and NPP. Part 6

In 1541, the Emperor Charles V convened a theological conference at Regensburg (also known as Ratisbon) bringing together the top Catholic theologians Johann Eck and Albertus Pighius to meet with some of the greatest theologians of the Reformation at that time, Philip Melanchthon and Martin Bucer (John Calvin was there merely to keep a watching brief). The Emperor hoped that resolving the doctrinal conflict between the Roman Catholics and the Reformers would bring unity to the empire.

The theologians quickly reached agreement on the issue of original sin and Pelagianism. The Roman Catholics made unexpected large concessions in their debate on the doctrine of justification. The conference eventually issued a statement on the subject of justification by faith which even acknowledged that it is by faith we “are justified (i.e. accepted and reconciled to God) inasmuch as it appropriates the mercy and righteousness which is imputed to us on account of Christ and his merit, not on account of the worthiness or perfection of the righteousness imparted [communicatae] to us in Christ… Although the one who is justified receives righteousness and through Christ also has inherent [righteousness]…nevertheless, the faithful soul depends not on this, but only on the righteousness of Christ given to us as a gift, without which there is and can be no righteousness at all. And so by faith in Christ we are justified or reckoned to be righteous, that is we are accepted through his merits and not on account of our own worthiness or works.” [Anthony Lane, “Appendix I: The Regensburg Agreement (1541), Article 5” in Justification by Faith in Catholic-Protestant Dialogue: An Evangelical Assessment (T&T Clark, 2002), p. 235.]

However, Article 5.4 requires a closer examination: Continue reading ‘NPP – Regensburg (1541) Redux? Reformation Forensic Justification vs Transformative Justification: Debating Justification with N.T. Wright and NPP. Part 6’ »

Justification and Union With Christ – A Via Media Between Abstract Forensic and Transformative Justification. Debating Justification with N.T. Wright and NPP. Part 5.

Justification and Union With Christ – A Via Media Between Abstract Forensic and Transformative Justification

It has been suggested that Reformed theologians defending forensic justification and imputation of Christ righteousness have misread, if not misrepresented the New Perspective on Paul (NPP) as a serious threat to the Reformation. This must surely be a wild exaggeration to suggest that Reformed theologians who have been debating the issue with the best of the Roman Catholic theologians for 500 years would feel insecure and threatened by NPP, the new kid on the block? In any event, Reformed scholars have often risen to the defence of “forensic justification and imputation of righteousness” not because it is ‘The Centre’ of Paul’s theology, but simply because this aspect of justification has been directly challenged by various theological movements throughout history which include Roman Catholicism, Socinianism and more recently, NPP.

Admittedly, it is possible for the heirs of the Reformation to over-react to these challenges. Thus some of the more extreme scholars of Lutheran scholasticism not only ascribe justification as the absolute central tenet of faith, but uphold justification to be above Christology. One wonders whether in the process, justification has become an abstract event detached from Christ. Continue reading ‘Justification and Union With Christ – A Via Media Between Abstract Forensic and Transformative Justification. Debating Justification with N.T. Wright and NPP. Part 5.’ »

Righteousness and Justification in the Book of Galatians: Debating Justification with N.T. Wright and NPP. Part 4

N.T. Wright asserted in his debate with Richard Gaffin at the Auburn Avenue Pastors Conference in 2005, and elsewhere in his numerous writings that the debate on justification in Gal 3:14 is not about the gift of righteousness as it is about determining the grounds for inclusion of the Gentiles into the covenant. As Wright writes,

“Justification” in the first century was not about how someone might establish a relationship with God. It was about God’s eschatological definition, both future and present, of who was, in fact, a member of his people. In Sanders’ terms, it was not so much about “getting in,” or indeed about “staying in,” as about “how you could tell who was in.” In standard Christian theological language, it wasn’t so much about soteriology as about ecclesiology; not so much about salvation as about the church. [What Saint Paul Really Said, p. 119]

Gaffin who seems to be a far better scholar than a debater failed to challenge Wright understanding of righteousness and justification with evidence based on biblical linguistic-theology or to question the coherence of Wright’s view from the logic of systematic theology.

Given below are excerpts taken from Douglas Moo’s excellent commentary on Galatians which offers a more plausible reading than Wright on the linguistic meaning of righteousness and justification in Gal. 3:14. Continue reading ‘Righteousness and Justification in the Book of Galatians: Debating Justification with N.T. Wright and NPP. Part 4’ »

What Wright Really Said About Forensic Justification and Imputation – Debating Justification with N.T. Wright and NPP. Part 3

What Wright Really Said About Forensic Justification and Imputation

Reading N.T. Wright is like eating the Indonesian snake fruit (Salak). Some people find it delicious because of its moist and crunchy sweetness, but others find its slight astringent aftertaste less than appealing. A similar divide is evident among readers of Wright. Wright writes with verve, wit and engaging rhetoric. His friends and critics would acknowledge that it is a pleasure to read him even when he is expounding some of the most difficult and profound issues of historical revelation of Christ and Pauline soteriology. Evangelicals and Reformed scholars welcome Wright’s affirmation of scriptural authority and traditional marriage. They value Wright’s book on the resurrection of Christ which many consider to be the most robust biblical defence on the subject in recent times. His call for kingdom building through social reconciliation and restoration of creation is a vital challenge to Christian mission to be holistic. Continue reading ‘What Wright Really Said About Forensic Justification and Imputation – Debating Justification with N.T. Wright and NPP. Part 3’ »

Nonspeculative Redaction Criticism

Form criticism applies the insights gained from the study of ancient folklore to identify and classify units of scripture which supposedly assumed distinctive forms during their period of oral, pre-literary transmission. Redaction criticism assumes the ‘results’ of form criticism but seeks to bring out how a writer could have edited (or redacted) the sources so that we are able to grasp his personal theological viewpoint. For example, we gain insights into the mind of an author X (e.g. Luke or the Matthean community) by observing how he uses [embellishes] a source document Y (Gospel of Mark), by making significant changes to the source document (e.g. additions or omissions in usage of source materials, changing words or phrases, supplying connecting ‘seams’, and reordering of sequence of events) to create a distinctive narrative framework of the life of Jesus with theological emphasis relevant to the needs of his intended readers.

Many critical scholars have concluded that the final form of the various units of the stories (pericopes/ pericopae) are strung together to form the four canonical gospels, the book of Genesis and the later chapters of the book of Isaiah are describing not so much the original historical reality of the stories, as providing insights into the social religious context of the author’s community (sitz im lebem). However, critics of form and redaction criticism contend that the ‘results’ of these criticism reflect more of the ingenuity of the critics than the actual historical processes in the formation of the biblical materials. Continue reading ‘Nonspeculative Redaction Criticism’ »

Why Recent Court Judgments Which Restrict Religious Freedom May be Questioned.

This article demonstrates how the current view that only the Syariah Court has the jurisdiction to rule on the status on those who had renounced Islam began with a misreading of a minority view in an earlier Supreme Court’s judgment in Dalip Kaur and treating it as setting a binding precedent. The non-binding minority view subsequently turned into ratio decidendi when the Federal Court in Soon Singh case approved the High Court’s judgment which ‘followed’ the minority view instead of the ratio of the majority judgment in Dalip Kaur.

Confusion between ratio decidendi (“the reason for the decision” which has legal binding effect) and orbiter dictum (“an incidental, by the way statement” which has only persuasive value) also arose in cases relating to religious freedom in Malaysia.

I refer readers to the careful analysis by Kuek Chee Ying & Tay Eng Siang in “When Orbiter Dictum and Minority View Become Ratio Decidendi” published in the Malayan Law Journal (2015) volume 3, pages lxxxii-xcvi Continue reading ‘Why Recent Court Judgments Which Restrict Religious Freedom May be Questioned.’ »

No Exegesis Without Theology; No Theology Without Exegesis

Students entering the seminary are often told that systematic theology should be rooted in biblical theology, and biblical theology in turn is grounded in biblical exegesis of Scripture. After all, Scripture is the source of Christian theology. It is suggested that the biblical interpretation and the theological enterprise follow three separate and distinct phases:

1) Exegesis: Linguistic analysis of the biblical texts, using Greek and Hebrew lexical tools to arrive at a reasonable and coherent meaning of a biblical passage in its original context.
2) Biblical theology: “Sets forth the message of the books of the Bible in their historical setting…expounding the theology found in the Bible in its own historical setting, and its own terms, categories, and thought forms. Biblical theology is primarily a descriptive discipline.” Donald Hagner in George E. Ladd, A Theology of the New Testament, revised ed. (Eerdmans, 1993), p. 20.
3) Systematic theology: Organizes and synthesizes key ideas of the bible in their logical relations in dialogue with philosophy and Christian theological tradition.

John Murray wrote that ‘Systematic theology will fail of its task to the extent to which it discards its rootage in biblical theology as properly conceived and developed.’ [Collected Writings, vol.4, (Banner of Truth, 1982), p. 19]. It may be concluded that the systematic theologian relies on the spadework done by biblical scholars in the exegetical vineyard. Continue reading ‘No Exegesis Without Theology; No Theology Without Exegesis’ »