TC ERT Apr 2012 Vol 36 No 2


Now available
Paternoster Periodicals, c/- AlphaGraphics, 6 Angel Row, Nottingham NG1 6HL, UK

Theme: Spiritual Disciplines and the Gospel


  • The Spiritual Disciplines and Christian Ministry by Beverly Vos
  • Practicing Ministry in the Presence of God and in Partnership with God: The Ontology of Ministry and Pastoral Identity: a Trinitarian-Ecclesial Model by John Jefferson Davis
  • The Problem of Evil from a Gospel Perspective by James P Danaher
  • Law and Gospel: The Hermeneutical/Homiletical Key to Reformation Theology and Ethics by Thomas K. Johnson
  • Rethinking Postliberal Theology: Comparing and contrasting Lindbeck and Vanhoozer by Richard A. Pruitt
  • Justifying Advocacy: a biblical and theological rationale for speaking the truth to power on behalf of the vulnerable by Andrew Sloane
  • Book Reviews

Editorial: Spiritual Disciplines and the Gospel

The importance of the ‘Spiritual Disciplines’ for Christian ministry is our lead article in this issue. Beverly Vos, from Tasmania, points out that these disciplines are of ‘prime importance’ because they are a proven way of helping us ‘to become more like Christ’—the heart of effective ministry.

This is a good introduction to a major study by John Jefferson Davis (USA) which draws attention to the way ministry must be practiced ‘in the presence of God and in partnership with God.’ Drawing on insights from a range of areas, the author presents convincing theological argument ‘for an ontological understanding of the nature of ministry and pastoral identity, in contrast to prevailing functional views’ which is urgently needed today.

Evil is a constant companion in this life so James Danaher (USA) urges us to consider it from a gospel perspective. ‘Jesus [did] not come into the world to destroy evil and suffering, but to show us how we can transform evil and suffering and therein be made evermore into God’s forgiving and loving likeness.’ This too is an important perspective for a world that is rent by violence and hatred.

Another constant issue for ministry is the relation between law and gospel. In fact, Thomas Johnson believes it is the historical key to understanding the Reformation, but more importantly is the normative key for understanding the gospel. In his focused study of Luther and Calvin, he presents a solid rationale for what he believes is a ‘proven tool’ for understanding the Bible, pastoral care and public witness.

Going further into the practical application of gospel principles, Andrew Sloane (Australia) presents ‘a biblical and theological rationale for speaking the truth to power on behalf of the vulnerable.’ This systematic and theological defence of ‘advocacy’ is unique in its field and is worth serious attention, not only because it fills an important gap but all the more because it is ‘grounded in the gospel—both in its form and content.’ Furthermore, it ‘works by identification with the poor’ and is not only ‘a legitimate expression of the gospel’ but a ‘costly embodiment of it.’

While our final article may seem like a theoretical discussion of theological method unrelated to our main focus, the point at issue in the parallel studies of Lindbeck and Vanhoozer by Richard Pruitt (USA) is the dynamic relationship between biblical text and the life of the Christian community. As Pruitt notes, ‘…the church discovers its identity … in reading the story of the Bible and, from that reading discerns, learns, and teaches how Christian believers are to behave and act.’

If our use of Scripture determines how we believe and act, then the spiritual disciplines are not merely matters of the private life but they encompasses all of life and requires personal attention, sound theological method and dedicated practical application.

Thomas Schirrmacher, General Editor
David Parker, Executive Editor