Archive - March, 2007

Jim Hamilton in Twin Cities – April 4

Dr. Jim Hamilton, Assistant Professor of Biblical Studies at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, will be speaking twice at Northwestern College in St. Paul, MN on Wednesday, April 4. His visit is being sponsored by the Fidelis Foundation and the student complementarian group of Northwestern College. He will be speaking in the chapel service (10:30 – 11:00 AM) in Maranatha Hall and then from 7-9 PM in Riley Hall, Rm 2300. His talks will deal with how Christians think about gender, a subject on which he has previously published in the Journal of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood.
Dr. Hamilton hosts a blog, and is the author of God’s Indwelling Presence: The Holy Spirit in the Old And New Testaments (Nac Studies in Bible & Theology), which I previously introduced.

God’s Indwelling Presence – by Jim Hamilton

God’s Indwelling Presence: The Holy Spirit in the Old And New Testaments (Nac Studies in Bible & Theology) answers one of the most theologically provocative questions: Were individual believers under the old covenant continually indwelt by the Holy Spirit?
Jim Hamilton, the author, is an Assistant Professor of Biblical Studies at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. This book is the fruit of his Ph.D. dissertation done at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary under the direction of Dr. Tom Schreiner.
I was introduced to God’s Indwelling Presence by a recent interview aired by Reclaiming the Mind Ministries in which Dr. Hamilton addresses specific questions such as: How did the Holy Spirit relate to believers before the glorification of Christ? How does he relate to believers now? Were Old Testament believers born again (that is, did they experience regeneration)? And if so, does that mean they were indwelt by the Holy Spirit? Are there new ways in which the Holy Spirit works today in the lives of Christians?
I found Dr. Hamilton’s answers clear and compelling. Briefly, Hamilton argues that Old Testament saints were born again, but that regeneration is not to be equated with the covenant presence of God with His people (i.e., indwelling). The Holy Spirit, today, enables us to believe and persevere (regeneration), but also mediates God’s presence to us in covenant blessing (indwelling). So after the glorification of Christ, regeneration and continual indwelling occur simultaneously (or concurrently) for believers. But that was not the experience of regenerate Israelites in Old Testament days.
In light of the above, I believe God’s Indwelling Presence offers a provocative thesis for those with either a dispensational or a covenantal background. I gladly commend it to you.
The blurbs:

“A question thoughtful Christians, along with biblical scholars and theologians, have long asked is whether believers under the old covenant had the indwelling presence of the Spirit as those in the new covenant are promised. Hamilton’s work provides the most extensive treatment of this question currently available and makes a compelling case for the radical newness of the Spirit’s indwelling. Here believers are led to understand more fully the powerful resources Christ has given His followers in sending to them the promised Holy Spirit.”

–Bruce A. Ware
Senior Associate Dean, School of Theology
The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

“Through careful scholarship, Dr. Hamilton provides an innovative interpretation of the biblical evidence. His study contributes helpfully not only to the ongoing discussion regarding how the two Testaments are interconnected, but sheds new light on the important topic of the Holy Spirit’s role in enabling believers from both Testaments to be reconciled to God. Students of Scripture will find much here that is both enlightening and information.”

–T. Desmond Alexander
Union Theological College, Belfast

“Jim Hamilton engages the controversial topic of the Spirit’s indwelling with a lively and vibrant style. He has done an outstanding job in assessing the evidence and argues well for his own proposal. Even those who do not agree with all of his conclusions will profit from this careful study of the biblical text.”

–Thomas R. Schreiner
James Buchanan Harrison Professor of New Testament
The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

Richard Hays in Twin Cities – April 12

George Washington Ivey Professor of New Testament, Dr. Richard B. Hays, internationally recognized for his work on the letters of Paul and on New Testament ethics, will be coming to Minneapolis, MN on April 12 to give a lecture entitled Turning the World Upside Down: Israel’s Scripture in Luke-Acts. It will be held on the campus of the University of Minnesota, Fraser Hall, at 7:00 PM, and is both free and open to the public.
Some of you will know that Dr. Hays is the author of many distinguished works, including The Faith of Jesus Christ: The Narrative Substructure of Galatians 3:1-4:11 (The Biblical Resource Series), which argues for a subjective genitive in the “faith of Christ” language. Denny Burk provides a brief review of this important book. [Note: I have not read The Faith of Jesus Christ, and — for the sake of full disclosure — find the objective genitive arguments more convincing.]
Update: I should have mentioned that this lecture is being sponsored by the MacLaurin Institute.

Book Review – America Alone – by Mark Steyn

My wife Marni provides this guest review of America Alone (2006, Regnery Publishing) by Mark Steyn:
It’s spicy, definitely not politically correct, often laugh-out-loud humorous, and hits you between the eyes with a 2×4. Like some of my other favorite books (which Steyn gleefully pokes fun at) – Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed and Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies, New Edition by Jared Diamond, and The World Is Flat [Updated and Expanded]: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Centuryby Thomas Friedman – America Alone: The End of the World as We Know It attempts to explain big picture trends we see in our world and what causes them. Steyn’s tone is perhaps less scholarly than these other works, but his extensive use of quotes, historical data, and demographic statistics enhance his credibility. A lengthy, helpful index substantiates the scholarship behind his claims. While it is tempting to dismiss his somewhat doom-and-gloom claims as conspiracy theory drivel, I simply couldn’t. His arguments are too compelling, too well-supported by data, and simply explain too well what we see in the world today. I kept seeing and thinking of more recent items in the news that support his thesis, and that, no doubt, he would have included if he were writing this book today.
Steyn makes the case that the Western world is vulnerable to Islam in several ways. He begins with a compelling discussion of demographics. Europe, Canada, New Zealand, Japan, and Australia are all not having enough babies to replace their current population. Of the Western democracies, only the U.S. is maintaining its population level (and, might I add, Alex and I are expecting our 2nd child in September. Just doing our part.). Meanwhile, the Muslim community is reproducing quite rapidly through both childbirth and conversion. It is the fastest growing religion on the planet.
We are also vulnerable in terms of culture. Followers of Islam share a strong, comprehensive ideology to which most Muslims are proudly committed. Some would like to see the whole world live under Islamic (Sharia) law — and this “some” are generally more vocal, and gain substantial followings. Conversely, a large percentage of Westerners feel guilty about their own culture and religion — a guilt compounded by a sense that all cultures in the world are equally praiseworthy. A western, pluralistic bias to accept others (a good thing) can lead to an unhealthy sort of “tolerance” for even misogynistic and violent tendencies in Islam. When a bombing occurs, we wonder what we did wrong. Should we be giving more benefits and entitlements? Is our culture too intolerant? Should we change “The 3 Little Pigs” to “The 3 Little Puppies?”
In other words, we non-Muslim Westerners — in contrast to many Muslims — tend not to see the value of our own culture. Instead, we feel guilty about past and present oppression, racism, environmental damage, etc. (but oddly not about same-sex domestic partnerships or pornography). So we are willing to make accommodation after accommodation for our Muslim neighbors, thinking that if we don’t publish cartoons of Mohammad, surely they won’t bomb us. But Steyn (rightly) argues that Muslims aren’t looking for more concessions. In fact, many are looking to destroy our culture and impose Sharia law. Meanwhile, we don’t even realize our culture is worth saving. Our culture, which (though highly imperfect) values freedom, truth, rights, and pluralism, and has spawned some of the greatest improvements in education, health care, standards of living, and religious freedom.
Steyn shows that it’s not Britney Spears, Coke, and Big Macs which need to be exported to the world (our success herein notwithstanding), it’s our culture and our values (i.e., celebration of tolerance within moral boundaries, individual liberty, personal responsibility, and the accountability of government officials to the governed). When Saddam was deposed in Iraq, we should have been focusing on spreading the values of liberty, entrepreneurship (capitalism) and pluralism in the schools — to both children and adults! We needed to tell them what was so great about liberty. I laughed reading this, since we don’t even confidently teach the benefits of our own culture in U.S. schools.
But wouldn’t it be cultural imperialism to teach our culture to the people of Iraq? Steyn answers that question with the example of suttee in colonial India. Suttee was the practice of burning a widow alive with her husband. The English colonial government abolished the practice. As General Napier said:

You say that it is your custom to burn widows. Very well. We also have a custom: when men burn a woman alive, we tie a rope around their necks and we hang them. Build your funeral pyre; beside it, my carpenters will build a gallows. You may follow your custom. And then we will follow ours.

I cannot discern if Steyn is an evangelical Christian from reading this book, but many of his arguments are naturally appealing for those of us with a passion for seeing unreached Muslim peoples in the 10-40 window won for Christ (and learn to read, develop their economy, enjoy better health care, etc.). What was surprising is that it may be “easier” to share the gospel and establish churches in some of the more moderate portions of the 10-40 window than it may be now or soon in Europe or the U.S., where Muslim children are being trained in the more extreme sect of Wahhabism through schools funded by the money we pay to the Saudis for oil.
While I care deeply that we are good stewards of creation, I do not buy into much of the environmentalist movement’s claims today of global warming, etc. However, Steyn makes some excellent points about our needing to be careful in considering where oil dollars are going, and what they are funding. It is lamentable that many oil-rich countries are using their revenue not to diversify their economy, but rather to spread extreme, violent versions (Wahhabism or Salafi) of Islam throughout the world.

(Reading this book I did have some moments of real fear that my 1-year-old daughter, Karis, will someday be required to wear a burqa to go outside of her home in the U.S. But then I remembered I’ve been praying for her all along to be the kind of person willing to wear a burqa voluntarily, sacrificing many of her “rights”, to share with others that Christ died to set them free.)

In conclusion, America Alone makes a strong case that (in a sense) we have been far too “humble” about the blessings of American Culture. We should have been courageously teaching the Iraqis since 2003. How else could they know about the blessings of our culture? Britain, Europe, and even Americans are often so ashamed of our past, and our values, that we don’t even teach them to kids here. So Western children grow up feeling guilty for destroying the environment, killing the Indians, etc. Therefore, we try to accommodate all other cultures (ironically, except ours?). Westerners (especially in Europe) may be moving toward Islamic laws (by default) due to a multicultural, politically correct ethic which is loathe to make any value judgements. Instead, we must present an alternative and confidently prove the benefits of a free press. We need to export American culture (liberty, freedom, pluralism, capitalism, etc.) and not just pop music and french fries.

Honest to God Radio Interview

It was an honor to chat with Josh Weidmann of Honest to God Radio last Fall. The show airs in 3-minute installments twice a week on WMBI, 90.1 FM, the radio ministry of Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, IL. Broadcast archives are available at no charge (scroll down to Episodes 66 & 67 for my interview with Josh).

Preaching the Whole Bible as Christian Scripture – Goldsworthy

The apprentices in the preaching class led by Pastor John Piper at The Bethlehem Institute were recently asked to write a book review of Preaching the Whole Bible As Christian Scripture: The Application of Biblical Theology to Expository Preaching by Graeme Goldsworthy. I thought it was an outstanding introducation to biblical theology with just a few minor weaknesses.
Published in 2000 by Eerdmans, this work preceded Goldswothy Trilogy: (Gospel and Kingdom, Gospel and Wisdom, Gospel and Revelation), published by Paternoster in 2001. The next installment was According to Plan: The Unfolding Revelation of God in the Bible (InterVarsity Press, 2002). And Gospel-Centered Hermeneutics: Foundations and Principles of Evangelical Biblical Interpretation is hot off the press from InterVarsity (March 2007).
Getting back to my book review for Preaching the Whole Bible as Christian Scripture, here is my executive summary:

Graeme Goldsworthy presents a convincing case that the entire Bible is about Jesus Christ and that, consequentially, preachers must move from an Old Testament text, to Christ crucified and resurrected, and then to the twenty-first century hearer. He traces an accessible outline of redemptive history, moving from Abraham to David to Christ. He offers a compelling explanation of typology, showing how the theme of the kingdom of God reaches a climax in David, but then declines through Israel and Judah’s apostasy, indicating that the true King, David’s greater Son, was yet to arrive. Goldsworthy also offers a cogent synopsis on the role of law, which revealed man’s sin and was fulfilled in the perfect life and death of the God-man, Jesus Christ. His insight into how the Old Testament is fulfilled in Christ is helpful and relevant for today’s preachers and lay Bible readers.

And here is my eight-page book review (in PDF format, 42.6 kB).

Gentle Words from Curtis Allen

Our brother Curtis Allen offers some wise and gracious words about his dealing with criticism that resulted from his rapping at Bethlehem Baptist Church last fall. I was blessed to have met Curtis at a small breakfast gathering when he was here, and to have attended his concert with my wife. He struck me as a humble and godly man who sincerely seeks God’s face on matters related to music, ministry, family, and much more. I would add that his lyrics are rich with theological truth. I hope the Lord continues to grow his influence, particularly among youth who are inclined to the hip-hop genre of music.

(HT: Between Two Worlds)

Albert Mohler on Homosexuality

Dr. Mohler responds to the firestorm in the media over his recent article on homosexuality.
In my opinion, Dr. Mohler is one of the foremost Christian thinkers in our day on the theological and pastoral implications of homosexuality. He compassionately and biblically addresses both practicing homosexuals and sincere Christians who struggle (for whatever reason) with same-sex attraction patterns. I commend his articles to all who are seeking to wrestle with this issue. For pastors seeking to counsel such individuals, Mohler’s insights are a must-read.
(HT: Between Two Worlds)

Os Guinness – coming to the Twin Cities

When: April 27, 2007 at 7:00 PM
Occasion: 25th Anniversary of the MacLaurin Institute
Topic: Can Freedom Last Forever? The Cost of Forgetting the Framers’ Foundational Conviction
Location: Bethlehem Baptist Church—Mounds View Campus (5151 Program Avenue, Mounds View, MN 55112)
Also: Dr. Guinness will deliver a noon lecture the same day on A World Safe for Diversity: Living with Our Deepest Differences in an Age of Pluralism, in Room 275, Nicholson Hall (on the campus of the University of Minnesota).
Both talks are free and open to the public.

Involved Fathers Make a Difference

Dr. Albert Mohler reports about Robert Garcia, a quality engineer for Emulex Corp.,who is also the President of a group called DADS — Dedicated, Assuring, Devoted Special — a Jurupa-area group that promotes greater involvement by fathers in their children’s lives. He works in Costa Mesa, California and lives in Glen Avon.
Garcia notes the (predictably) positive impact of involved, caring fathers in the lives of their children:

“Garcia and DADS members say the premise of the group is simple: fatherly involvement engenders personal fulfillment and pays big dividends for society as well.
‘My research shows that if fathers get involved with their kids, they (the children) score higher on tests and stay out of trouble,’ he said.”

The original story from the Inland News (out of Riverside, CA) is here. Noted sociologist Bradford Wilcox from the University of Virginia and author of Soft Patriarchs, New Men: How Christianity Shapes Fathers and Husbands (Morality and Society Series) (which I’ve heard is outstanding) is also quoted.

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