Ok, Maybe a Bit More on Cedarville…

You’ll notice that the previous post on Cedarville ends with a link to the Course Schedule:

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“Class Limited to Women” … I know, ludicrous. Especially considering Joy Fagan’s previous track record of making the first class, Scriptural Interpretation of Gender Issues (or SIGI), a truly excellent course by all accounts from former students, male and female.

Equally ludicrous? The textbook choices! Are you ready for what CU students will be reading to form an even-handed perspective of what the Bible has to say on gender? Maybe some Miroslav Volf? “Junia is Not Alone” by Scot McKnight? NOPE.

Countering the Claims of Evangelical Feminism: Biblical Responses to the Key Questions, by Wayne Grudem

The Feminist Mistake: The Radical Impact of Feminism on Church and Culture, by Mary A. Kassian

Words fail.

Cedarville, get your act together. Prospective students, stay far away until the institution recovers it’s broad evangelical vision (the one carried forward by Bill Brown and Carl Ruby, for example). Unfortunately, it appears that vision has been thoroughly squashed in the conservative takeover.

Concerning Romans

Well, judging by my blog stats for the past 48 hours — as compared with the past few months — I’d get many more views on this post if it concerned the chaos at Cedarville University!

However, my schedule and blood pressure won’t allow me to devote any more time to my shameful alma mater at the moment. I’ve got a presentation at the 2014 Southeast Regional Meeting of ETS tomorrow (see my previous post, and come to my presentation at 5:00pm in room S009!), and even though Beeson Divinity School’s Spring Break is right around the corner, I’ve still got a fair share of reading to get done. 

Nevertheless, given the current discussion in my New Testament Theology — two classes on Romans — I thought I might re-post two of my previous works: 

  1. Romans. Revisited. (or “The Argument-Story of Romans”): my final write-up for Dr. Chris Miller’s course on Romans and Galatians at Cedarville University. We were due to have an oral exam on the last day of class, in which we talked-through the logic of the epistle. I wrote this summary the night before the exam, and was given the opportunity to present it to the class. I now present it to you! Feel free to give me some push-back! 
  2. Romans 13:1-7 — A Contextually-Appropriate Reading: a paper I wrote for the same course as mentioned above, in which I defend the following thesis: “Far from being a comprehensive condensation of the apostle’s beliefs regarding any and all governments past and present, [Romans 13:1-7] is a specific and historically-conditioned pastoral address to the Roman believers, discouraging them from political unrest, disobedience, and rebellion in order to protect their testimony and the effectiveness of the Roman church in the gospel mission.”

That’s all for now. Grace and Peace. 

~Josh

My Regional ETS Presentation: Reconciliation and the Lack Thereof

If you’re in the Birmingham area from March 21-22, 2014, and you’re interested in evangelical theology, please consider attending the Evangelical Theological Society’s Southeastern Regional Meeting at Beeson Divinity School! This year’s theme is “the theological interpretation of Scripture,” and the plenary speaker is Wheaton’s Daniel J. Treier (incidentally, Dr. Treier and I are both alumni of Cedarville…go figure). 

Furthermore, if you’re free from 5:00-5:30pm on Friday, March 21, consider swinging by room S009 to hear me present “Reconciliation and the Lack Thereof: Atonement, Ecclesiology, and the Unity of God.” The atonement and the unity of the Church are topics that I’m passionate about, and I’m extremely grateful for the opportunity to give my first ever conference paper. Here’s the abstract: 

This essay endeavors to demonstrate the theological and exegetical legitimacy of viewing the atonement as the act in which the one God fulfills his creative purposes by bringing his uniqueness and simplicity to bear on our sinful, divisive condition through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus the Messiah in order to save a people to robust unity with himself, each other, and the entire creation. Given Adam Johnson’s thesis regarding God’s triune being-in-act, the fullness of the divine perfections, and the unity and diversity of Christ’s saving work, I draw upon the theology of Karl Barth and pertinent biblical data to frame a theory of the atonement based on the unity of God. Although the lack of ecclesiological unity is the impetus for my study, I choose primarily to emphasize the synthesis of God’s unity and the doctrine of reconciliation. That is, I focus on the theological explanations within the atonement of why the church is to be unified. However, after framing a unity-based theory of the atonement, I conclude this study by casting a vision for the ecclesiological implications of such a theory.

If you can’t make it to my presentation, but you’re interested in the topic, check out my previous series of posts and the undergraduate thesis paper from which this conference paper is drawn. Also, consider buying the new paperback edition of Adam J. Johnson’s God’s Being in Reconciliation: The Theological Basis of the Unity and Diversity of the Atonement in the Theology of Karl Barth (T&T Clark Studies in Systematic Theology). It’s much cheaper than the previous hardcover edition, and without his fresh insights into the doctrine of the atonement and Barthian theology, my paper would not have been possible. 

Finally, please attend the entire conference at Beeson if possible! Here’s the full schedule.

Grace and Peace

~Josh

 

On Justice

The following quotes come from my reading tonight in Miroslav Volf’s Exclusion and Embrace: A Theological Exploration of Identity, Otherness, and Reconciliation, pp. 217-219. 

But first, a definition:

enlarged thinking” or “double vision” – “Moral judgment, [Hannah Arendt] insists, ‘cannot function in strict isolation or solitude; it needs the presence of others “in whose place” it must think, whose perspective it must take into consideration’ (Arendt 1968, 221)” (Volf, 212).

“…we enlarge our thinking by letting the voices and perspectives of others, especially those with whom we may be in conflict, resonate within ourselves, from their perspective, and if needed, readjust our perspectives as we take into account their perspectives” (Volf, 213).

Now, on to the good stuff (again, from Volf, 217-219; italics are original, bold is my added emphasis):

“Is not ‘enlarged thinking’ good for the suburbs, but dangerous in the inner cities and on the killing fields? Will it not draw laughter from tyrants and sighs of despair from their victims? As we stumble toward agreement, injustice runs rampant!

“…the human ability to agree on injustice will never catch up with the human propensity to do injustice. We must therefore not only make judgments before agreement is reached — something we in fact inescapably do (Nietzsche 1996, 32); we must also act in accordance with these judgments. The Scriptures uniformly call us not so much to reflect on justice as to do justice.”

“…To know God is to do justice (Gutiérrez 1988, 194ff.). Consequently, reflection about justice must serve doing justice. If ‘double vision’ has a legitimate place in Christian life, then it will not be something we do before engaging in the struggle against injustice, but as we engage in this struggle.”

“…the problem is no longer how we can afford to go on reversing perspectives, but how we can afford not to do so. The principle cannot be denied: the fiercer the struggle against the injustice you suffer, the blinder you will be to the injustice you inflict.”

“…Is neutrality the proper stance, however? For those who stand in the prophetic and apostolic traditions of the Scriptures, no neutrality is in fact admissible. These people hear the groans of the suffering, take a stance, and act. Then they reflect by engaging in ‘double vision,’ take a stance again, and act.

I can’t begin to describe how relevant the quotes above are to my experiences this past year at Cedarville University. Untold numbers of debates about justice sprouted everywhere from the cafeteria, to the dorm rooms, to the Facebook pages. Sadly, most of the cries for something resembling “double vision” came from those who refused to speak up or act.

What about you? Do you have a concrete example that resonates with Volf’s quotes above? Do you find his vision, as represented in the quotes above, compelling? Foolhardy? 

Give feedback in the comments.

(Un)Righteous Anger? – Yoda, Jonah, Nahum, and Us

(TEXTS: Jonah 3:5-10; 4:1-11; Nahum 1:1-8)

INTRODUCTION

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A great green theologian of old claimed that anger is based on fear, that it leads to hatred, and results in suffering. And while I do not wish to disregard the wisdom of a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, I would like to take a closer look at anger as discussed in Scripture, and to consider what makes certain instances of anger righteous or unrighteous, legitimate or illegitimate.

This is a question that has been on my mind throughout my final year at Cedarville University. After hearing of a few rumblings at the end of my Junior year, I left for the summer and got myself married. When my feet finally touched the ground at the beginning of term, my university felt like a battlefield. I heard that Michael Pahl had been “reviewed” and then fired over the summer months. Others were being reviewed to see if they really did toe the doctrinal line, or if they were guilty of mind crimes against the thought police. And things didn’t get any better from there.

I saw the havoc that the Cedarville environment was wreaking on my mentors, friends, and their families. My leaders got rid of and harassed beloved members of my community, and then deceptively refused to own up to their nefarious actions.

I got angry. I spoke up. And I was convinced that my anger was righteous. Others were less convinced.

Some stayed poignantly and painfully silent throughout the chaos. Others repeatedly gave platitudes that everything was OK, that we were obligated to trust our leaders, that to question their actions was inherently disrespectful. And some from this latter group met my kind of anger with their own frustration and anger that I dared to criticize their beloved Cedarville.

I’d love to say that I met this opposition with nothing but grace and equanimity, but that wouldn’t be true. I frequently lashed out against these types of people – when they sent me long messages to accuse me of causing unnecessary dissentious strife, or when they parodied us student activists as complete morons with nothing better to do than cook up conspiracy theories.

My university’s behavior was sickening, but these people’s behavior was infuriating. I couldn’t comprehend how they could overlook the suffering I was witnessing and try to protect people who were clearly hiding the truth. So, at times, I lashed out in frustration. And I am convinced that my anger was unrighteous. But what’s the difference between these two types of anger?

Continue reading (Un)Righteous Anger? – Yoda, Jonah, Nahum, and Us