Top 50 Blogs by Theology Professors

Written by L.G. at 11:53:PM ON 10TH DECEMBER, 2010
You might think that professors would have little time for blogs, but it appears that many theology professors use their blogs to announce news, to test out new theories about religious faith, practice, experience and spirituality, and for communicating with students and peers. While not all the professors listed in our top 50 blogs by theology professors focus entirely on theology in their blogs, the authors are at least current in their updates. And, they often are engaging, sometimes controversial, and many have been blogging away in the blogosphere for quite some time.


An Unsettling God : The Heart of the Hebrew Bible

An Unsettling God: The Heart of the Hebrew Bible

An Unsettling God : The Heart of the Hebrew Bible by Walter Brueggemann is an honest reading. It is an honest grappling with the text of the Old Testament. John Goldingay's remarks however summarize this reading succinctly. He notes, ""An unsettling God? 'An unsettling Walter Brueggemann' some of my students would say." This book is a real look by a real scholar concerning the peculiarities of the Old Testament concerning YHWH as a dialogical character and His partnership with Israel, the human person, the Nations, and Creation.

This text itself is a condensing of Brueggemann's larger work, "Theology of the Old Testament". In the Preface he lets us know that "The big idea of this book is that the God of ancient Israel is a God in relationship, who is ready and able to make commitments and who is impinged upon by a variety of "partners" who make a difference in the life of God." (pg. xi) Indeed a God in relationship "pervades the Old Testament".

In the first chapter Brueggemann suggests Christians "in the present time" are to undergo a "recovery of the  Jewishness in our ways of reading the text." (pg. 6) He says that "a recurring Christian propensity is to give closure to our readings and interpretations, it is recurringly Jewish to recognize that our readings are always provisional, because there is always another text, always another commentary, always another rabbinic midrash that moves beyond any particular reading." He also discusses Martin Buber and his likewise dialogic reading of the text. There is truth to this but we cannot leave it here. Even as we read the text, all the while understanding a dialogic nature, and then re-read the text again and again over time we still glean truths that emerged from our initial readings. The meaning is then found in a relational aspect since much of the Scriptures appear to be pregnant with meaning. This should not mean however that there is no discernible meaning even at first reading.

He goes on to discuss how God is a God in pathos. God's pathos, "concerns the engagement of YHWH with Israel and with the world, and therefore YHWH's vulnerability and readiness to be impinged upon." (pg. 9) He mentions the work of Abraham Heschel concerning YHWH's pathos. He then writes, "the peculiar character of this God is as available agent who is not only able to act but is available to be acted upon." (pg. 9) He also notes the work of Jurgen Moltmann and the ways Christian theology has "asserted the apatheia of God...by acknowledging the suffering of the Son in which the Father does not participate." (pg. 10) Moltmann believes that "it is necessary to talk in trinitarian terms" concerning "what happened between Jesus and his God and Father on the cross..." He also notes "The Son suffers dying, the Father suffers the death of the Son." (pg. 11)  Brueggeman agrees here and says that "Moltmann's statement is completely congruent, in the categories of Christian theology..." For Brueggeman God is "deeply at risk in the drama of fidelity and infidelity in the world." (pg. 11) 

In chapter five Brueggeman goes on to point out that "YHWH takes creation--the whole known, visible world--to be YHWH's partner." He points to Genesis 1-2 as obvious example and says others not so obvious.  He cites various passages in this chapter including Psalm 19:1-4; Psalm 24:1-2; Psalm 104:14-23. He defines creation as "the network of living organisms that provides a viable context and home for the human community...an outcome of YHWH"s generous, sovereign freedom." (pg. 138) Often times we do not take into account God's role with creation. Brueggeman rejects Creation ex nihlo and posits that God "ordered the 'preexistent material substratum.'" (Pg. 138)

He goes on to note that creation includes "human creatures but not especially human creatures--are looked after, cared for, sustained, and protected by the generous guarantees that the Creator has embedded in the creation." (pg. 139) YHWH gives the "blessing of life" as "guarantees for all creatures" (pg. 141) and wisdom compels us to give attention to things that "keep the world generative." (pg. 141) 

Speaking of a "Renewed Creation out of Hopelessness" Brueggeman brings our attention to Hosea 2:2-23. He notes that on the basis of this text that "the future to be given by YHWH, it is no longer possible to keep distinct the future of Israel and the future of creation..." (pg. 157) He takes us into many texts but cites Isaiah 65:17-25 and says that the "new creation now promised concerns not only Israel, not only the entire human community, but also all of creation, so that hostilities at every level and in every dimension of creation will be overcome." (pg. 160)

Brueggeman concludes that there is a "basis for a genuine alternative to the nihilism of the modern world...This testimony of Israel, echoed by Christianity, not only gives different answers--it insists on different questions, wherein the answers offered are...tenuous...the intramural quarrels in the church, and the ancient alienations between Christians and Jews, are unconscionable...when this lean, resilient tradition stands as a fragile alternative to the embrace of the Nihil." (pg. 176)

This book is not for the faint of heart, or the "weekend warrior". If you are a student of the word and want to dive into the heart of the Hebrew Bible then read this book. You may not agree with everything but you will learn something.


Former Justices O'Connor & Souter on Cameras in the Court


Linda Greenhouse, commented that "Of course, not too many people get the chance to actually see the Court in action...Here we are on C-SPAN. C-SPAN has kind of has a dog in that fight of wanting to bring the Court into the living rooms of America." Justice David Souter comments, "A fight which I hope C-SPAN loses."


HCSB : Online Study Bible Resource

The Holman Christian Standard Bible has a new website. It is still in beta version. The HCSB is a fresh translation using optimal equivalence. It is offered freely as well as notes and commentary. Other great resources also available. 

Larry Hurtado and Devotion to Jesus

From Larry Hurtado's blog:

"I’m pleased to report that my essay, “EARLY DEVOTION TO JESUS: A REPORT, REFLECTIONS AND IMPLICATION” is published in Expository Times 122/4 (2010): 167-76. I have placed the manuscript on the “Essays, etc.” page of this blog site.
The essay reports on some 20 years of involvement in the historical investigation of earliest devotion to Jesus, giving major results, and also a few brief observations and exhortations for Christianity today."

Those who are interested in early Jesus studies will enjoy this essay. Click here to read.

Icons of Evolution 10th Anniversary: Archeopteryx


Mere Churchianity by Michael Spencer

Mere Churchianity: Finding Your Way Back to Jesus-Shaped Spirituality

"Fining your way back to Jesus-Shaped Spirituality" is what Mere Churchianity is all about. In over 200 pages Michael Spencer, aka. Internet Monk attempts to show us our need for us to become more Christo-centric. He also wrote the famous essay in the Christian Science Monitor called "The Coming Evangelical Collapse". This book is the only book Spencer wrote before dying of cancer on April 5, 2010. Frank Viola, author of Jesus Manifesto, says "As someone who has been writing for years on the supremacy of Jesus Christ and its relationship to his church, I found the Christ-centeredness of this book to be profoundly refreshing. We have lost a choice servant of God in Michael, but heaven is the richer. I'm thankful that he left us this excellent contribution."

Spencer introduces the book with "The Dairy Queen Incident". This title immediately got my attention since Dairy Queen is also in my home town and I also eat there quite a bit after services. Texas is DQ country. At any rate, he recounts a story of him as a youth pastor while his youth group and he frequented the local DQ. As is often reported, sadly, the youth group was not very friendly and damaged their witness. Later Spencer received a letter from a girl who worked at the DQ. The note, among other things, noted "your youth group invaded and abused our restaurant...you probably don't know that I am a member of you church, but for the past year I have been an atheist...Christians like you have convinced me that God is a myth, an excuse used by religous people to mistreat others..." The letter says much more but you will have to buy the book to find out!

The atheist here makes a great point. It is a stark reality to those who forget the Christian life is not about human lordship but Christ Lordship. As humans we make a mess of things when Christ is not Lord. In the book Beyond Opinion Alister McGrath notes, " One of the fundamental factors leading to the rise of atheism is a perception that belief in the divine does not lead to a morality that is clearly superior to that offered by secular culture.” (pg. 25) It is important that the modern church move towards a more Christological focus not only in theology but also in practice.

Spencer notes, "American Christianity has evolved into a movement that Jesus would not recognized if he were to show up next Sunday." (Spencer, pg. 24) More than likely Spencer is right. Many churches would probably expel Christ or Paul if they were to show up on Sunday. Our Western sensibilities would be incensed. He also notes that the "evangelicals are in the midst of a kind of exodus...Evangelical churches haven't lost a culture war or forgotten how to be relevant. They have become a movement that has so little to do with the centrality of Jesus..." (Spencer, pg. 25) Without naming names Spencer calls out the "motivational speaker" type pastors that are telling audience how to "improve their lives with a positive attitude and relentless efforts to be nice...this pastor leads millions of people every week to believe that Christianity is about you getting everything you want the way you like it so that you you you you.." (Spencer, pg. 29) You get the point here, right?

Some readers may see this book as radical and well they should. No one usually agrees with EVERYTHING they read either. We cannot underestimate our dilemma though. It is a radical change we need. A radical turning but in the direction of Christ and His Lordship over heart and culture. Spencer says "Christianity can be spelled out in a few words: Jesus is God. Lord and God." (Spencer, pg. 35)

We need personal transformation by the authentic Christ of Scripture. Not a prosperity gospel or a blab it and grab it religion. We don't need another pastor telling us about a positive mental attitude every service either. Spencer notes that he is "swimming in a sea of mediocrity, worshiping in a church captivated by consumerism...I need some truthful talk--not safely scripted chitchat--about what it means to follow Jesus...I need to see and know real human beings who have walked the path of hard choices and hard times in order to remain faithful to Jesus." (Spencer, pg. 45)

If you want to be challenged, read this book.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from WaterBrook Press as part of their Blogger Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commision's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."


Trinitarian Art [HD]

Apostolic Identity in The Bible and Culture

Why is there a need for Apostolic Identity? Maybe it would be helpful to use an illustration but first ponder how our world interprets Scripture. Or, how they have interpreted Jesus? For example, in his book Be Intolerant Ryan Dobson offers this rendering of culture. 

Does this sound familiar? 

And Jesus said unto His disciples, “Go into all the world, teaching all men to live any way they want, and urging each to find his or her own path to God. Let not any one of you make someone feel inferior or victimized because of your beliefs. Above all, be tolerant. Verily, verily, I say unto you that what you believe and how you live do not matter, so long as you are sincere.”
Leaving that place, Jesus led His disciples to Jerusalem where they broke bread at Club Upper Room. There He addressed them again, saying, “I am one of the ways, one of the truths, and just one possible life. If you are basically a good person, you’re okay in my book. And if you choose to come to the Father (or Mother, if you prefer) through Me, that’s cool. Now go forth to live according to whatever feels good to you.”
And there was much rejoicing.[i] 
Actually, Jesus was very exclusive and said something very different. In John 10:7-11 Jesus says that He is the “truth”; “the gate”; “whoever enters through me will be saved”; “I am the good shepherd”. In John 14:6 again Jesus says something different. He says “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (ESV) Jesus alone was born of a virgin conception (Matthew 1:18-25); Jesus alone is God Incarnate (John 1:1-18); Jesus alone lived the perfect, sinless life (2 Corinthians 5:21); Jesus alone died a substitutionary death (Romans 3:21-26); and Jesus alone was resurrected from the dead as the victor over death and hell (Revelations 1:18). The Apostle Paul, in no uncertain terms, says in Romans 8:9 “Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.” (ESV) 

The Bible:

In our times there is a famine for the Word of God (Amos 8:11-12; 2 Timothy 4:3; 2 Timothy 2:15). Most people do not DESIRE sound doctrine but they readily follow after false teachers and false prophets who only proclaim what people want to hear (2 Timothy 4:3-4). Every believer, every teacher, every preacher, every person must be about proclaiming the Word of God! We are never given the right or liberty to teach or preach our own ideology, or traditions. We are to preach and teach the Word of God (2 Timothy 4:2) and therefore we limit our doctrinal teaching to the Biblical record and not speculation.

The central focus of Scripture is Jesus. The Old Testament which anticipates and prophecies of a coming Messiah is the prerequisite to the New Testament which fully declares God manifested in the Flesh! (1 Timothy 3:16). Therefore, the core of our teachings and the heart of our theologies must be about Jesus Christ and the teachings of His disciples.

The Bible is the inerrant and inspired Word of God. It will not lead us into error and it has been inspired by God Himself by way of human writers or holy men of old. The Bible is our landmark, it is our constant. 

The only way God could reveal to us His Word was by way of a specific cultural setting in actual time and space. This fact does not detract or take away from the truth of His Word. We do not attribute Scriptural authority to the customs of the Bible rather we must discern and uphold timeless Biblical principles that transcend culture. These principles and moral laws do not change but remain in all times, places, cultures or circumstances. For example, dietary laws (Leviticus 11) are not binding today but were abolished by Christ (Mark 7:18-19). However, the principle they taught of separating the clean from the unclean, or the holy from the unholy remains. 

Not wearing clothing mixed with wool and linen found in Deuteronomy 22:11 doesn’t teach a moral purpose but rather it serves to teach the principle of separation. NT believers fulfill these principles by our separation from the world and those things spiritually and morally unclean. We do not simply disregard or completely abandon the teachings of the OT but we examine each teaching to see how it fits into the overall plan of God. We take into account how it fits into his progressive revelation for mankind as He calls us to greater spiritual truths, and even a higher standard of morality and holiness. This is why it is dangerous to ignore passages just because we do not understand them or because there isn’t a second passage that says the SAME thing. Our goal is to bring out the meaning of ALL Scriptural statements and NOT to cancel out their significance. The Scriptures have been preserved for our learning and salvation.

The Culture:

Mark Twain, in his writings about Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, alluded to a gilded era. Who would ever whitewash a fence for an apple core? Twain saw that gilded notion that we are getting something for our money and time but in reality we are getting nothing. Culture offers us cheap imitations - gilded realities.

We must take culture into account but culture NEVER abolishes the Biblical principle. Instead, we distinguish between essential truths and cultural expressions. For example, Abraham arranged the marriage of Isaac but that was an ancient Eastern custom. Lot would have sacrificed his two daughters to protect the angels he knew as guests because this was an ancient Eastern custom of protecting your guests at your own expense.
Paul discusses slavery and even instructs slaves to work diligently for their masters but this is not the Bible condoning slavery. Rather it is God giving us practical guidelines for those who were living in those conditions.

Culture cannot be our benchmark. Matthew 16:26 says, “what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?” (ESV) Jesus desires for His followers to live in the world, to serve, and to witness but not get caught up in the godless pleasures of life and culture. Our relationship to culture is an indicator of our relationship with God. 

1 John 2:15 tells us that “if anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (ESV) and James 4:4 says that “”friendship with the world is enmity [hostility] with God…” (ESV) John also said “Marvel not, my brothers, if the world hate you.” (1 John 3:13 KJV) and “ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.” (KJV)

What is Apostolic Identity? 

We must maintain our Apostolic Identity but what is our Identity? Is it holiness? Is it speaking in tongues? Our Identity is more than one or two things. It's a package deal. I have found that these 6 points set us apart and identify us as Apostolic's to our culture. I have not found where any of them are optional for Apostolic's.

1. The Oneness of God (Deuteronomy 6:4) Shema Yisrael Adonai Eloheinu Adonai Echad. 

2. The New Birth Experience (Acts 2:38). Faith and Repentance with Baptism by the Spirit and water baptism in Jesus name. 

3. Lifestyle of Holiness (inward and outward) (Leviticus 18:2; 1 Peter 1:14-19). The holiness of God is the basis and the compelling necessity for our sanctification. In Remaking the Modern Mind, Carl Henry noted that a persons “concept of God is determinative for all other concepts; it is the Archimedean lever with which one can fashion an entire world view.” 

4. Worship (Psalm 150 – “let everything praise the Lord”) Heartfelt worship. Worship is something that penetrates every area of our life. Worship is not just dancing or leaping but it is also a lifestyle. We ARE worshippers – we don’t just worship.

5. Gifts of the Spirit and Miracles (1 Corinthians 12:1-11) For the edifying and instruction of the Body. 

6. Discipleship and Evangelism (Genesis 1:27-28; Matthew 28:18-20) 

In the Genesis account God commissioned humanity to multiply themselves in number, and fill the earth. However, there is something startling new with the beginning of the Apostolic Age of the Holy Spirit. Here Jesus commissions the disciples to multiply themselves in number by discipleship and evangelism throughout the earth. Notice, the first commission spoke of spreading human life globally, the new commission was aimed at spreading eternal life globally!

While teaching his theology class at Grace Theological Seminary, Dr. John C. Whitcomb, held up a magazine with a photo of seminary students, attempting to evangelize their community, at a local shopping center. The students stood there with their hands in the air and finger pointing straight up. This was their message. “We don’t know what it all means…but we are in contact with whoever is up there…” 

Although there are some things that we may never be able to explain or make perfect sense of there are things that we can know for sure. In his book, Why One Way? John MacArthur states, “Authentic Christianity starts with the premise that there is a source of truth outside of us.” 

Jesus is Truth. In the Gospel of John Christ states that it is the “truth” and knowing “truth” that sets us free (John 8:32). Truth is liberating. Later in the Gospel Jesus would go on to call Himself “truth” in John 14:6. The same Greek word for truth is used in both passages. Jesus is Truth. 

Jesus is Light. John the Baptist was a forerunner to Christ. A witness to the light (John 1:7-8). John 1:9 says “The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.” (ESV) 

When a person, who has been accustomed to darkness, comes into the light their iris restricts due to the amount of light entering the pupil. This is called adaptation in ocular physiology. Light then exists whether we can or will allow ourselves to see it. Truth is much the same way. Yet, it exists regardless if we see it or not.

We must "consider every question in both ways--both by "looking at" it and by "looking along" it. An example is falling in love. Whose opinion on falling in love would matter the most to you? A man who had fallen in love with a woman who is enjoying and looking along the light of love or the opinion of a scientist or sociologist who are only contemplating or looking at love? We can look at light and it can blind us momentarily; however, we can also look along the light as well and it illumines us or our surroundings.

The latter, is when the light is invisible because you no longer see the light but see "by" the light. C.S. Lewis noted, "Light is not something you see; it's something you see by." It is by God's light that we can read Scripture and understand culture. 

For with you is the fountain of life; in your light do we see light. Psalm 36:9 (ESV)


Evidential Faith: Debate: James Anderson and Glen Burt

Evidential Faith: Debate: James Anderson and Glen Burt: "The Oneness of God and The TrinityDebate When? Monday and Tuesday, January 17 & 18 Where? Eastview United Pentecostal Church. Lufkin, TX T..."


This is not my father's Pentecostalism by Roger E. Olson

Here are some excerpts. Click here to read from Olson's blog.

‎"in the 1970s–many Pentecostals were not open to their young people seeking higher education."
‎"I suspect that IF “this Pentecostalism” had been around when I was in my twenties I could have remained Pentecostal."

Adversus Trinitas

"...unless you believe that I am he you will die in your sins." (John 8:24 ESV)