Going Public: Why Baptism Is Required for Church Membership. By Bobby Jamieson. Nashville: B&H Academic, 2015. 256 pp. $24.99, Paperback. ISBN 978-1-4336-8620-7.
Going Public: Why Baptism Is Required for Church Membership is another contribution in the ever growing field of 9Marks’ ecclesiological discussion. For Bobby Jamieson, a PhD student at Cambridge University, the main point of the book is tied in to the ecclesiological nature of baptism and church membership. “This whole book aims toward the conclusion that churches should require prospective members to be baptized—which is to say, baptized as believers—in order to join” (1). He does so in three major parts.
In part one, “Getting Our Bearings,” Jamieson spends the first two chapters by laying his groundwork carefully. In chapter one Jamieson argues that “according to Scripture baptism is required for church membership and for participating in the Lord’s Supper, membership’s recurring effective sign” (8). As the book is Baptist in its truest fashion, this is to exclude paedobaptists since they have not been baptized biblically and, therefore, are excluded from participation in the Lord’s Supper (8–11). This, he believes, is a debate worth having. In chapter two Jamieson highlights six reasons open membership “feels right,” but is incorrect. Of the strongest, especially within Reformed circles, is the desire for evangelical cooperation across lines between Presbyterians and Baptists.
Part two is Jamieson’s attempt to build a case for the points he has argued thus far. In chapter three he stays close to the biblical text to argue that believer’s baptism is when a Christian’s faith is made public. “If you’re looking for a visible hook to hang your hat on when you speak about conversion, baptism is the natural choice” (41). He also takes on Piper’s stance on open membership (50–52). Continue reading
Recapturing the Voice of God: Shaping Sermons Like Scripture. By Steven W. Smith. Nashville: Broadman and Holman, 2015. 240 pp. $24.99, Paperback. ISBN 978-1-4336-8250-6.
Steven W. Smith, current Vice President for Student Services and Communications at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, has challenged the primary notion of what people consider expository preaching. According to Smith, expository, or text-driven, preaching “is not a style but a theologically driven philosophy of preaching whose purpose is to get as close to the text as possible” (1). Sermons are simply a “re-presentation of what God has already presented” (3). In order to accomplish this, Smith argues that preachers should pay attention to the genre.
Chapter one highlights the deficiency of the typical “one size fits all” structure of a sermon. The structure of the text shapes the structure of the sermon (8). The task of the preacher is to “re-present what God has said” and the end of preaching is “to sound like God’s Word” (10). This leads to his point in chapter two, namely that the secret to great preaching is simply staying at the text until its meaning is clear (17), because it is the pastor’s responsibility to explain the Scripture to the congregation (22–25).
In chapter three Smith helpfully guides the reader through the basics of genre and forces the preacher to understand the influence of genre. He argues that genre is both situational and moving. Smith convincingly argues that if the preacher views the genre as arbitrary the communication of the text will be flat. The preacher must remember that the exegetical work is done by “mining the life that is already embedded in the text” (32), thereby relinquishing the temptation of presenting the sermon as either flat or static. Continue reading
A New Testament Biblical Theology: The Unfolding of the Old Testament in the New. By G.K. Beale. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2011. 1,072 pp. $54.99, Hardback. ISBN 978-0801026973.
In his Biblical Theology in Crisis, Brevard Childs formally announced the discipline of Biblical Theology as dead in 1970. This premature denouncement was formed through his understanding of scholarly engagement with biblical exegesis and theology and the difficulty in grouping the two disciplines together. However, contrary to Childs’ claim the discipline of Biblical Theology has flourished and currently thrives. A New Testament Biblical Theology: The Unfolding of the Old Testament in the New (NTBT) by G.K. Beale attests to the flourishing of biblical theology.
Beale, professor of New Testament and Biblical Theology at Westminster Theological Seminary, has produced the massive tome of his understanding regarding how biblical theology should be approached. Notable is the subtitle of the book The Unfolding of the Old Testament in the New as readers of Beale’s previous works will remember his connection between the Testaments. The structure of the book is meticulously detailed with ten “parts” that are composed of twenty-eight chapters in total.
Beale understands biblical theology as nothing else than “the exhibition of the organic progress of supernatural revelation in its historic continuity and multiformity” (9). His thesis of how biblical theology is presented within the Bible is connected with the “already-not yet” realized eschatology proposed by George Ladd. He rarely deviates from this notion and highlights its connection to either the biblical storyline or theological themes throughout the work. He prefers to examine the Bible as a whole thematically rather than individual works, which provides him the ability to cover more material and to view the storyline of the Testaments. Continue reading
New Testament Theology: Magnifying God in Christ. By Thomas R. Schreiner. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2008. 992 pp. $50.00, Hardback. ISBN 978-0801026805.
The discipline of New Testament studies has seen a flurry of publications within the field of New Testament theology in recent years. This field was formally deemed as “too broad” considering the varying New Testament books, reasons for writing, and amount of material the biblical scholar must cover. Rather, works within the field of New Testament theology have flourished with author’s seeking to provide either a chronological, or canonical, or a thematic examination. Thomas R. Schreiner opts for the latter in order to prevent forming New Testament “theologies.”
In New Testament Theology: Magnifying God in Christ Schreiner, professor of New Testament and biblical theology at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, advances the thesis that New Testament theology is “God-focused, Christ-centered, and Spirit-saturated” (23). Furthermore, he argues “for the centrality of God in Christ in the concrete and specific witnesses of the NT as it unfolds God’s saving work in history” (23). Simply put, he views the three-fold work of God and his promises as “already fulfilled but not yet consummated in Christ Jesus” (23). Thus, “the grounding theme of NT theology is magnifying God in Christ” (120). This is a theme that is repeated throughout his work (289, 865, 880) and is slightly modified when he remarks that God works out his saving plan in order that “he would be magnified in Christ, so that his name would be honored” (14).
To accomplish this immense task, Schreiner divides his work into four main parts. In part one, Schreiner formulates his thesis by emphasizing the portions of Scripture which attest to the already-not yet schema of fulfillment. The Synoptic Gospels are concerned with the discussion of the kingdom of God which is “God’s saving power, the fulfillment of his saving promises” (79) and that it was essentially “inaugurated…but not yet consummated” (79). Outside of the Synoptics and John’s theology, Schreiner argues that God has begun his saving promises in Christ, but “believers still await the completion of what God has promised” (116). The realized awaits the consummation and return of Christ for the fulfillment of the promises of God in order to be fully realized. Continue reading