Thursday, November 16, 2006

Foundations Autumn 2006

The latest edition of Foundations carries a number of excellent articles.
Evangelicals and Public Theology by Daniel Strange helps us to avoid being seen as grumpy old men when we enter the public policy arena. He urges all Christians to "put their vocation and calling totally and utterly under the Lordship of Christ".
Moore Theology by Philip Eveson helpfully discusses some of the theological trends emanating from Moore Theological College, Sydney. In a friendly, constructive way he discusses the "Moore view" on the call to the ministry, worship and the law. Eveson writes warmly of Moore's evangelical credentials and stand for the authority of Scripture. But he suggests that Moore downplays Systematic Theology and has little room for the direct work of the Spirit in the life of the believer. These tendencies serve to undermine a theology of revival. In addition, little emphasis is given to the anointing of the Spirit in preaching. "For our gospel came to you not on word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit and in much assurance." (1 Thessalonians 1:5 emphasis added). This is a timely article in view of Moore's influence upon the UK's Proclamation Trust. (See my post on the Trust's Evangelical Ministry Assembly here).
What did Christ accomplish on the Cross? Mostyn Roberts gives a well considered theological exposition of the cross. Roberts discusses the controversy over penal substitution. He recognises that the New Testament gives a multifaceted presentation of the cross, but argues that 'penal substitution is the gospel'.
Review Article: Kevin Vanhoozer and the Drama of Doctrine. Bill Nikides reviews Vanhoozer's Is There Meaning in This Text?, First Theology: God, Scripture and Hermenutics and of course The Drama of Doctrine. Nikides is impressed, saying, "Vanhoozer is the theologian's is not every day that I am able to find a place of worship in such a wilderness of words." The "wilderness of words" is a reference to some aspects of contemporary scholarship, not the book under review!
New Testament Survey (2004-2006). Alistair I. Wilson reviews recent contributions to New Testament scholarship. Many valuable works by the likes of I. H. Marshall, D. A. Carson, D. J. Moo, M. J. Harris, N. T. Wright and others are mentioned.
Foundations is published by Affinity £4.00 post free within the UK, £5.00 & postage overseas.


michael jensen said...

hmm. I shall have to chase up this article by Eveson: it sounds very inaccurate. It all depends what he means by 'direct work of the spirit' of course...

Guy Davies said...

The article is certainly worth looking at. I'd be interested to know what you think once you've read it.

michael jensen said...

Hmm. struggling to locate a copy of the article...

could you get one to me somehow? (I am in the UK)

Guy Davies said...

I don't think that an electronic copy exists. You may have to order Foundations from Affinity. It's only £4 - see link on the post.

michael jensen said...

Well, I have obtained a copy, and it is a disappointing read I have to say. It is a poor effort. Eveson's evidence is chiefly the magazine 'The Briefing' which, while it is published by a Moore graduate, is not a Moore publication and not fairly representative of the quality and depth of the work the faculty at Moore do. There are several much more substantial works - some are even 'gasp' pieces of systematic theology! - with which one has to deal in order come to terms with the Moore position.

The articles on worship etc that he reproduces are at the extreme end of the Sydney position, and are frequently offered as ginger pieces rather than statements of belief. That is not to say they are without influence of course. However, Woodhouse's articles on the Word and Spirit I don't think represent the majority opinion amongst the Moore Faculty.

I would contest Eveson's biblical theology and his version of systematic theology of course. I think he is badly wrong on 'the call' and 'the law', problems I find endemic in English evangelicalism. Personally I have some sympathy for his view on church meetings: again, many of the faculty of Moore would too. David Peterson's book on Worship for example is a far more considered and at depth piece than the articles in the Briefing and offers a nuanced account.

And I don't think Eveson's tone is particularly friendly either! His distate was barely disguised: 'these people' et al.

Hmm. Much on which to think!

Guy Davies said...

Glad that you managed to obtain a copy of the article. You don't seem altogether convinced by Eveson's arguments.

michael jensen said...

No: can you see the steam coming out of my ears? ;-) I would have rather not have the pleasantries at the beginning because they begin to look insincere by the end.

I think Eveson's version of 'systematic theology' is very dubious. If this is what is meant by systematic theology, then I am glad we lack it! His use of source material is ridiculous, with respect. He clearly has no idea what actually happens at Moore other than what can be gleaned from our website.

If he is reacting to English evangelicals who use our material as a source, he is better dealing with them directly.

I think there are some points on which we could self-reflect, and Eveson has named some of them, but as I have said, the opinions he labels 'Moore theology' are not as uncontested in Sydney as he makes them appear.

perhaps I will be calmer tomorrow!

Guy Davies said...

Calm down now Michael!

Philip Eveson has spoken at Moore, so he has some first hand experience of the College.

No doubt the "Moore view" is not totally monolithic and there are variations within the overall emphasis of the College.

It seems that you agree with Moore's teaching on the call to the Ministry and the law. I would share Eveson's understanding of these issues.

What would you say regarding the relationship between Word and Spirit in preaching? In your view, does Moore theology have a strong emphasis on revival defined as a fresh outpouring of the Spirit upon the Church?

Guy Davies

michael jensen said...

The problem is perhaps that, instead of arguing a case, Eveson makes an accusation (ie, 'Moore doesn't talk about 'the call') as if that is automatically a bad thing.

I have to say I am baffled by the Word/Spirit in preaching issue somewhat. I am not even sure what the issue is! I certainly don't understand the talk of anointings etc. But of course, preaching is a spiritual activity in every respect - not that the Spirit is separated from rational/verbal or planned processes as it sometimes seems to be in pietist/charismatic theology.

If the complaint is that some Proc Trust style sermons have become lectures and not sermons, well then, I say, don't blame us! I don't think this is true of the Sydney sermon. It is certainly not true of Vaughan Roberts, under whom I currently sit.

Moore doesn't emphasise a theology of 'revival', in the language it is cast in by Eveson (and as you do here), though of course mission (and prayer for mission) is extremely prominent. Then again, I don't see that as a weakness. I have never understood the biblical or theological basis for such language. (Sorry, I realise I am talking to a Welshman here!)

What is perhaps fair is that we have in repudiating the excesses of charismaticism lost the ability to speak positively of the work of the Spirit. A good dose of Edwards' Religious Affections is needed to adjust the balance somewhat perhaps!

When did Eveson come to Moore?

Guy Davies said...

I did a Google search for "Eveson Moore College" while looking for an electronic copy of his article and came up with this document: here

His visit is listed under point 9. "Visitors to the College". I seem to remember that he gave some lectures on justification.

So, you agree then when it comes to the work of the Spirit in preaching and revival, less is Moore. Perhaps Jonathan Edwards is the man to help.

michael jensen said...

No no. Lots of Spirit in preaching, of course! As I say, I can't quite see what the issue is.

Revival: well, it begs the question as to whether there is such a theology to be had.

The point is: just because we don't cast the Spirit in quite the same role as the Lloyd-Jones school does, doesn't mean we have less of a pneumatology.

Downplay systematic theology? That, I think, is not a charge that is sustained by this article.

Guy Davies said...

Thanks for your feedback on this article, Michael. It's been helpful to have your Moore perspective (if I may call it that) on some of the things that Philip Eveson said.

At least we both agree that good old Jonathan Edwards may be able to point us in the right direction!