PonderForth: Halloween and Soteriology

Go ahead an bookmark the new blog PonderForth.
You can thank me later.

Michael Forth, the author, is a good friend of mine and a bright doctoral student at Aberdeen University. This week he posted two blogs worth reading:

A Word About Halloween:
“The bottom line is that we are witnesses to Christ and His Kingdom.  All symbols that do not point to Jesus are not wrong; they have been twisted from their proper purpose of revealing Him to His world.  We are to untwist them; we are to bend them back into shape so they can reveal Christ and His Kingdom.  In the case of Halloween, is there anyone better to explain the true meaning of death and how it has been overcome?  How can we not embrace this opportunity to reclaim a symbol that has been illegitimately appropriated by an unbelieving culture, especially when it was done by means of such a silly subculture as the neopagans.

It would be improper, however, to use this line of thinking as an opportunity to browbeat our neighbors in the name of Jesus.  We are witnesses and ambassadors, not Gospel thugs.  When we use Halloween as an excuse for aggressive evangelism, we show that evangelism per se mean more to us than our neighbor.  Our neighbors feel as though we are using a children’s holiday to sell them a spiritual pyramid scheme.  Opportunistic evangelism never works.”

The Price We Pay for Soteriology:
“The more and more that I experience of the Evangelical world, both in the U.S. and in our new circumstances in Scotland, the more I am convinced of the dangers of soteriolatry (soteriology + idolatry).  Soteriolatry is a name that I have given to the Evangelical tendency to prize soteriology (the doctrine of salvation) above all else, functionally turning it into an idol with disastrous effects.  While I may have coined the neologism “soteriolatry” in a moment of self-congratulatory pseudo-insight several years ago, others with similar concerns may have coined the same term or something similar….

This overemphasis on soteriology in the Evangelical tradition may well be labeled as Neo-Lutheran, since it stems largely from one of the primary motivations of Luther (though without his nuance and balance).  Some may disagree with this label, but I will use ‘NL’ as shorthand for this perspective in what follows.  What am I offering in contrast to the focus?  What can I say?  I’m a kingdom guy.  I believe that when the New Testament refers to the gospel it is referring to the good news of the arrival of the Kingdom of God.  It is only within such a context that our salvation in Jesus Christ has its proper place.  Without such a context, it too often seems as though we are saved for the sake of being saved.”

New Contributor…and other news

New Contributor

We are excited to add a new member to the growing team at Cataclysmic…

Michelle Mikeska (follow on twitter @M_Mikeska), a fellow HBU graduate, a Bible teacher, and minister, will be formally introduced and begin posting next week. Looking forward to seeing where Michelle and all the members of the team take Cataclysmic in the coming days.

Other News (or somethings to read over the weekend)

Glad to see Bryan Bibb begin blogging. His posts on “how professors should (or should not) engage the larger world outside the classroom as ‘public intellectuals’” have been great.

Mentioned this before, but if you are interested in academic blogging check out Joshua Mann‘s how-to on starting an academic blog. Great information and interviews with those who have been successful at blogging.

Introducing New Contributors to Cataclysmic

Over the next several weeks, multiple changes will be coming to Cataclysmic.

The most exciting and immediately noticeable change will be the addition of two new regular contributors to the blog. I am happy to welcome – Jessica Parks and Mike Skinner. I met Jessica and Mike through our connection with Houston Baptist University. I was once a graduate student there and now teach as an adjunct; Jessica and her husband (Jimmy) graduated in May with matching Masters in Biblical Languages; and Mike is currently working on his Master of Theological Studies. Bios will post later in the week, in the mean time you can find out more about Jessica on her current blog Facing the Jabberwock (also @mrsjessparks on Twitter) or Mike at First Colony Christian Church (also @mike_skinner on Twitter). I am looking forward to all they will bring to Cataclysmic.

A second change is that Jessica has agreed to become the administrator for Cataclysmic and she has a green light to make any changes she wants. Thus, I am sure that over the next few months you will begin to see the blog refined. The changes may be slight or substantial, but certain they will be for the better.

Finally, with new contributors you will see content exploring topics that have not been previously considered on the blog. I am excited to see where Jessica and Mike will lead us in this regard. Also, the blog may even become more academic in nature, will see how it plays out, but it will not lose two central components.

  1. First, all three of us love scripture. We regard scripture as a source of authority over our lives, albeit we might describe it differently, and believe the voice of scripture continues to speak to us, in us, and through us. Thus, the blog will not lose it focus on scripture.
  2. Second, each of us values the church. Our scholarship and this blog are meant to edify; in other words, we think and write to serve the church. Therefore, the blog will continue to engage topics important to the church.

I, for one, am very excited about the future of Cataclysmic. Cataclysmic is changing. Welcome change.

Warp and Woof (2.1.2013)

Can’t believe it is already February. The month seem to be a blur with some vacation early in the month and sickness taking up the last half month. Yet, through it all I give you this week’s reads:

Academics and Blogging – This has been relatively steady topic in my feed for sometime. It can be struggle, especially for those still in school or early in their career, to decide for or against blogging. Mainly Macro and Brian Leport offer advice for those struggling with “to be or not to be” a blogger.

Visualizing – This is not a post but a link to the site. It is, “A community of creative people making sense of complex issues through data and design.” Be careful, you may get sucked in and spend way to much time looking around.

Ecclesia and Ethics – An online, real-time conference. It has a great line-up of speakers, including N.T. Wright, Michael Gorman, and Stanley Hauerwas, and will be interesting to see how it works. Change is always scary!

JSPL – Nijay Gupta announces the release of 2.2 of JSPL (nicknamed Galaterfest). As a PhD student working in Galatians…I am both excited and terrified. Anyone else share the fear that your whole dissertation is going to become irrelevant before you can get it finished?

Revelation and Discipleship – Kait Dugan gives a reflection on Bonhoeffer, Ziegler, and discipleship. She writes, “The Christian life is essentially revolutionized to be about discipleship of the Crucified Lord into the depths of this world.”

Finally, Tim Gombis turns his attention to spiritual gifts. While I think Disney has become an easy target, I am constantly amazed by the thoughtfulness and frequency of his posts.

I hope to post one more by Bryan E. Lewis but I have not been able to get his site open in a few days. Will see what happens.

Blogging 2013

I have finally moved into the New Year and slowly getting back to doing all those things I should be doing.

No, blogging is not one of them, but it is something enjoy. This year I am going to be very intentional in my blogging and have three posts a week each tied to a particular topic.

Metaphor and Biblical Interpretation

The beginning of the week post will be about my academic research. The first set of posts is going to be about how we employ metaphor theory in biblical interpretation. It is the methodology section of my thesis and part of a paper I writing for submission to SBL. (Will post later today to set this up.)

The Link

The mid-week post will be from the class I teach at Houston’s First Baptist Church on Wednesday evening. This semester we are studying Ecclesiastes and the Sermon on the Mount together. We are going examine the difference between living life in vain and life redeemed.

Warp and Woof

The end of the week round-up will be a sampling of stuff from around the web, quotes from books I’m reading, and/or where God is working on me.