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.”

Meet Jimmy…

Well, I finally convinced my husband Jimmy (@fakejimmy) to be a guest contributor here at Cataclysmic!  While he won’t be one of the regular Cataclysmic bloggers, he will be posting every now and then on his favorite subjects: linguistics and Biblical Greek.  Below is a short bio to help you get to know Jimmy:

jimJimmy Parks is a graduate of Houston Baptist University (MA in Biblical Languages) and will be pursing a PhD in the near future.  Jimmy currently works at a Maternal-Fetal Medicine office where he spends his lunch breaks reading Septuagintal Greek.  He also works as a student grader and occasionally substitutes for Greek, Hebrew, and Linguistics classes at HBU and SWBTS. During the summer he enjoys teaching Greek grammar classes at a local prison.  He is a deacon at First Colony Christian Church (Sugar Land, TX).  Jimmy is married to Jessica and they have two dogs – Charlie and Parker.

Jimmy is interested in Biblical Languages and Linguistics.  He loves reading books about language and the brain and is especially interested in how humans process language.

His first post will be up later this week so stay tuned!

The Septuagint Studies Soireé has arrived!

Abram K-J over at Words on the Word has started hosting a monthly Septuagint Studies Soireé, similar to the monthly Biblical Studies Carnival but focused (obviously) on the LXX.  I am an LXX fanatic and so I’m especially glad that Abram is putting this together each month.  The world needs more exposure to LXX studies and this is a great place to start.

I hope to be able to contribute some more posts on the LXX in the near future (I recently posted snippets from my work on Susanna here, here, and here).  Since I’m currently taking a class on Paul and his letters I would like to touch on Paul’s view of Scripture, particularly his use of the LXX.  I’m also planning to read through the Apocrypha this semester since I’ve only ever read bits and pieces… I know, for shame!).  One could easily get lost in the field of Septuagint studies as there is so much to learn and discover, but it’s all wonderfully fascinating and incredibly important to the life of the Church.

Be sure to check out the Septuagint Studies Soiree #1 as well as August’s Biblical Studies Carnival hosted by Brian LePort (coming September 1st).

Meet Mike…

Mike Skinner is the Lead Pastor of First Colony Christian Church (Sugar Land, TX) and has served in that role for just under 5 years. He also teaches full-time at a local high school, Fort Bend Christian Academy. His class at FBCA is the freshmen Bible course which covers the four Gospels and the book of Revelation. In his free time, Mike is finishing up a master’s degree in Theological Studies at Houston Baptist University. He is particularly interested in hermeneutics, political theology, theological ethics, homiletics, and patristics. Since he is also currently writing his master’s thesis on Cyril of Alexandria, it would be fair to expect some reflections on Cyril’s work and theology. Mike is looking forward to offering some thoughts and interacting with readers on these issues and more.

Follow Mike on Twitter @mike_skinner and listen to his latest sermon from the Resident Aliens series – Don Quixote (Daniel 4).

Meet Jessica…

Jessica Parks is a self-proclaimed language nerd and happily married to one as well. She is a full-time graduate student at Houston Baptist University where she also works as a student grader and occasionally substitutes for Greek, Hebrew, and theology classes.  She recently earned a Master of Arts in Biblical Languages and is starting her second master’s degree this fall in Theological Studies. In addition to biblical languages and linguistics, she is interested in Septuagint studies, early Christianity, patristics, and gender issues. Jessica is a member of First Colony Christian Church (Sugar Land, TX) and serves on occasion through preaching and teaching. She also enjoys going to the movies with her husband Jimmy, playing with her dogs Charlie and Bo, and of course a good game of Zelda.

Follow Jessica on Twitter @mrsjessparks and read her recent review of T. Michael Law’s book ‘When God Spoke Greek: The Septuagint and the Making of the Christian Bible’ as part of a blog tour hosted by Near Emmaus.