Archive for June, 2012

Is American Christianity Giving in to Juvenilization?

Thursday, June 28th, 2012 by Dale M. Coulter

Recently, Thomas Bergler, a professor at Huntington University in Indiana, released a book in which he argues that American Christianity has been largely co-opted by youth movements during the latter part of the twentieth century. He has also summarized the main arguments in a piece for Christianity Today.

As a product of the Marsden-Noll “school,” Bergler’s arguments remain largely historical with some analysis in the final chapter of the book. His arguments have also received positive endorsements from other historians of American religion, such as John Turner who blogs at The Anxious Bench.

What Bergler attempts to do is track an important trend in twentieth-century evangelicalism (mostly) and its impact, positive and negative, on worship practices, doctrine, church structure, and other features of evangelical Christianity. The argument is sophisticated and should be taken seriously. I find much to agree with, and yet, there are some nagging suspicions I have and from which I cannot escape. My suspicions cause me to wonder about, in Paul Harvey’s words, the rest of the story. . . .

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Spirit-Empowered Christianity

Monday, June 25th, 2012 by Walter Gessner

Spirit-Empowered Christianity in the 21st Century: Insights, Analysis, & Future Trends. Edited by Vinson Synan. Lake Mary, FL: Charisma House, 2011. ix + 595 pp

Vinson Synan compiles a series of scholarly essays designed to consider the future direction of the Pentecostal/Charismatic movement and to offer to the future generations an “important marker . . . at the beginning of the twenty-first century and a visionary guide to the future” (3). Arranging the essays under three sections, Twenty-First Century Renewal, Protecting Our Charismatic Distinctives, and Charismatic Adaptations for Reaching this Present Age, Synan allows for each of the contributors to examine and critique the current state of the Pentecostal/Charismatic movement, while offering through interdisciplinary constructs the desired visionary guide to the future.

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Global Renewal, Religious Pluralism, and the Great Commission

Thursday, June 21st, 2012 by Brandon Kertson

Global Renewal, Religious Pluralism, and the Great Commission : Towards a Renewal Theology of Mission and Interreligious Encounter. Asbury Theological Seminary Series in Christian Revitalization Pentecostal/Charismatic Section. Lexington, Ky.: Emeth Press, 2011.

In the last century, renewal Christianity has exploded around the globe, particularly in the global South. In many countries experiencing the greatest growth, however, Christianity is not the dominant religion. Despite its rapid numerical growth resulting from intense evangelism and mission, little theological reflection has been done as to how the burgeoning movements should live and minister in the midst of such a pluralist world. Global Renewal, Religious Pluralism, and the Great Commission, edited by Amos Yong and Clifton Clarke, contains a series of papers presented and refined at a symposium held at Regent University in February of 2010 to address just this, the nature of the Christian mission in a religiously plural world from a renewal perspective. Read the rest of this entry »

The Cambridge Companion to Miracles

Wednesday, June 20th, 2012 by Timothy Lim Teck Ngern

The Cambridge Companion to Miracles, edited by Graham H. Twelftree. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011. 338+xiv pp. ISBN 978-0-621-899986-4.

This collection of eighteen essays, edited by Regent University’s Distinguished Professor of New Testament Graham Twelftree, examines miracles from a range of perspectives. It includes critical approaches (involving authors skeptical about miracles as well as others who engage with historical figures like Hume, Spinoza, and Voltaire), religiously-informed approaches (that accept the actuality of such occurrences on the basis of their tradition-based and philosophical reasonings with historical proponents like Aquinas in Christianity, Vasubandhu in Buddhism, and Maimonides in Jewish thought), and interdisciplinary approaches (explaining miracles in philosophical debates, and its application for those in palliative care, i.e., care-givers to patients who desire miraculous cures for their ailments). While not organized as sections dealing with critical, confessional/religious, and interdisciplinary approaches, this threefold categorization helped me as a reader to appreciate the complexity behind the volume’s efforts in making sense of the miraculous.   Read the rest of this entry »

Hierarchy and Patriarchy in the Complementarian/Egalitarian Debate

Monday, June 18th, 2012 by Dale M. Coulter

Hierarchies are almost always symbolized by pyramid structures although both egalitarians and complementarians would be uncomfortable with the cultural way of defining such structures. Should the church and home imitate a business model with a CEO at the top? Should they imitate class structures?

In the previous post, I offered three points in response to Joe Carter’s update on the debate between egalitarians and complementarians. My purpose was to clear away some misconceptions and misperceptions by the complementarians to suggest that these missteps occurred on both sides. I want to continue along the same lines by clarifying ideas surrounding patriarchy and hierarchy.

My central claim is that both egalitarians and complementarians embrace hierarchy and both reject patriarchy albeit in different ways. Read the rest of this entry »

Complementarianism, Egalitarianism, and Generating Confusion

Friday, June 8th, 2012 by Dale M. Coulter

Recently I read a string of posts that attempt to update evangelicals on the egalitarian/complementarian debate. As I turned to the most recent post by Joe Carter at The Gospel Coalition, it became clear to me that there are plenty of misconceptions and misperceptions flying around. While I have never met Carter in person, I have appreciated his work at First Things and his stand on various issues, and have had several positive email exchanges. With that being said, I think he gets a lot wrong on the nature of the debate and perpetuates common mistakes that seem to be taken for “truisms” by folks. While it is no surprise that he thinks complementarians are winning the debate, even this conclusion rests on misperceptions about the evangelical world.

Let me illustrate what I mean by responding to just three points Carter makes or reiterates from other bloggers.

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