Congratulations to Austin Surls!

lake michiganCongratulations to Austin Surls for successfully defending his dissertation, “Finding the Meaning of the Divine Name in the Book of Exodus: From Etymology to Literary Onomastics.” In his dissertation, Austin argues that YHWH progressively revealed the meaning of his name at three critical points in the book of Exodus (3:13–15; 6:2–8; and 33:12–23, 34:6–7), the last of which provides the full meaning of the divine name. The earlier texts are preparatory for the fuller revelation in Exodus 33–34. From this text—rather than a purely etymological analysis of the word “YHWH”—can the character of God be discerned.

Austin defended on April 10, 2015, under the supervision of Dr. Daniel I. Block (First Reader). His examination committee consisted of Drs. Michael W. Graves (Second Reader), Richard S. Hess (External Reader), and Douglas J. Moo (Chair).

Austin has a B.A. in Biblical Languages from The Master’s College (2006), as well as a M.Div from Northwest Baptist Seminary (2009) and a M.A. in the Bible and the Ancient Near East from Hebrew University. Austin, his wife Heather, and his son David now live in Ammon, Jordan, where they are learning Arabic before Austin joins the faculty of Jordan Evangelical Theological Seminary in 2017.

Congratulations Austin! We’re thrilled for you!

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The Very Rev. Dr. John Behr, “Synchronic and Diachronic Harmony: Saint Irenaeus on Divine Simplicity”

Recently I was posting updates about the colloquium that The Wheaton Center for Early Christian Studies that was held on March 19–20. While space for the colloquium was limited, we had a public lecture delivered by The Very Rev. Dr. John Behr, “Synchronic and Diachronic Harmony: Saint Irenaeus on Divine Simplicity.” If you were unable to attend the lecture, fear not! The video has just been published and I post it here for your viewing enjoyment.

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Review: Imitating God in Christ, by Jason Hood

Hood, Jason B. Imitating God in Christ: Recapturing a Biblical Pattern. Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 2013.

For many of the same reasons as our relative neglect of Imitating God in Christthe category of virtue and the general hesitancy to attribute human agency in the life of Christian sanctification, Protestant evangelicals have not often treated the notion of “imitation of Christ” with much depth.[1] In many evangelical treatments of soteriology, imitatio Christi does not even make an appearance. Yet, as Jason Hood recognizes in Imitating God in Christ, imitation is an “inescapable” aspect of life (13). We regularly engage in imitation from childhood onward, and at least some of the times, we see this as a good thing. Continue reading

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Review: Culture Making, by Andy Crouch

Andy Crouch, Culture Making: Recovering Our Creative Calling (Downers Grove: IVP, 2008), 282 pages.

Amazon | IVPAudioStudy Guide

Culture-Making_book IVP’s decision to re-release Andy Crouch’s Culture Making as a paperback edition makes it a great, affordable recommendation for a Christian layperson or a required textbook for the Christian college student. The book indeed spans the gap from church to academy. It would make a good text for introductory classes on Christianity and culture, on vocation, on Christian worldview or an introduction to the gospel, or even classes in sociology/anthropology from a Christian perspective (for example, Wheaton College’s HNGR program). I plan on using it as a required text for a class in the theology and vocation of education. Continue reading

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Congratulations to James Gordon!

James GordonCongratulations to James Gordon for successfully defending his dissertation on December 12th. His dissertation, “The Holy One in Our Midst: A Dogmatic Defense of the Extra Calvinisticum” provides a cumulative case argument for the extra Calvinisticum. After examining the objections to the extra in Isaak Dorner, Karl Barth, Bruce McCormack, and Darren Sumner, James uses the tools of analytic theology to defuse five objections to the extra: the Nestorian Objection, the Worship Objection, the Incomplete Incarnation Objection, the Humiliation Objection, and the Speculation Objection. He then provides philosophical and theological arguments in favor of the extra, as well as a biblical-theological argument focused on the Temple of God. Finally, James argues for the proper dogmatic use of the extra and why one ought to embrace it.

James was guided in his work by his advisor, Kevin Vanhoozer. His second reader was Daniel Treier and his external reader was Oliver Crisp.

James earned his MA in Philosophy of Religion from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. He currently teaches philosophy at Trinity International University and is a Visiting Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Wheaton College.

Congratulations James!

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Review: Language for God in Patristic Tradition by Mark Sheridan

Language for God coverSheridan, Mark. Language for God in Patristic Tradition: Wrestling with Biblical Anthropomorphism. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2015. 254 pp. IVP Academic | Amazon

In this book, Mark Sheridan examines how early Christians came to terms with the portrayal of God in Scripture with human characteristics (anthropomorphism) and emotions (anthropopathism). Chapter one, “God is Not Like Humans,” sets the stage for the rest of the book. Here, Sheridan points out two Scriptural texts that were significant for how early Christians dealt with anthropomorphisms: Numbers 23:19 and Deuteronomy 1:31. As Origen quotes them (and this Sheridan admits differs from modern translations working from the Hebrew text) these verses read “God is not as man to be deceived nor as the son of man to be threatened” (Num. 23:19) and “As a man he takes on the manners of his son” (Deut. 1:31). Taken together, these verses were seen as pointing to the distinction between theologia (God in himself) and oikonomia (God as he relates to us) (27). A related verse, Deuteronomy 8:5, reads (again, as Origen quotes it) “For the Lord your God has taught you as a man teaches his son” (29). This, Origen says, reveals the manner in which God speaks to us in Scripture, condescending (synkatabasis) or accommodating (tropophoreo) to us like adults do to children (30–32). Most of the chapter is a demonstration of these exegetical principles in the works of Origen. Near the end, Sheridan demonstrates the same principle at work in the writings of the John Chrysostom, adding another principle that guided early Christian exegesis: what is befitting of God (theoprepōs) (41). Thus, anthropomorphic or anthropopathic elements in Scripture that are not befitting of God should not be taken literally because they are part of the oikonomia and represent a form of divine condescension or accommodation to human language. Continue reading

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Review: Horton, Pilgrim Theology

Horton, Michael. Pilgrim Theology. Zondervan, 2011. 506 pp. $34.99
Zondervan | Amazon
Michael Horton
is an incredibly prolific scholar. He has written over twenty books, which includes a 4-volume theological project with WJK (2002–2008) and a one-volume systematic theology, The Christian Faith (Zondervan, 2011). In 2013 (despite the misprinted copyright of 2011), Zondervan released a shorter version of the Horton’s Christian Faith that focuses on the “core doctrines for Christian disciples” (the subtitle). It is “more than simply an abridgment . . . [since it is written] for an entirely new and wider audience.” It is “less detailed” and “serve[s] as something of a travel guide” (14).

Continue reading

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