ERT Jan 2019 Vol 43 No 1

Now available
Paternoster Periodicals, c/- 8-9 Vanguard Court, Preston Farm, Stockton-on-Tees TS18 3TR UK

Theme: A Global Forum


  1. Editor's Introduction
  2. Call for Papers
  3. Kevin Vanhoozer’s Theodramatic Improvisation and the Jerusalem Council of Acts 15 by Brent Neely
  4. Incarnations, Christian and Hindu: Christology in Conversation with Vaishnavism by Steven D. Boyer
  5. Learning from African Theologians and Their Hermeneutics: Some Reflections from a German Evangelical Theologian by Hans-Georg Wuench
  6. Wilhelm Lütgert and his Studies of the Apostles’ Opponents: Aspiring to a Better Understanding of the New Testament Letters by Thomas Schirrmacher
  7. Law and Gospel: The Hermeneutical and Homiletical Key to Reformation Theology and Ethics by Thomas K. Johnson
  8. The Little Seminary That Could: Trinity School for Ministry by Michael King, Bob Jamison and Bruce Barron
  9. Book Reviews

Editor's Introduction: New Ideas

After nearly forty years of Christian experience, I sometimes struggle with lack of motivation for daily devotionals. I get the feeling that I’ve read the Bible so many times that there is nothing new to discover in another reading.

My response to that devilish impulse is to look for new ideas. Instead of just opening the Bible, I grab a devotional book or listen to a pastor online. In that way, I learn insights from another believer who may have seen something in Scripture that I never noticed.

This issue of ERT features articles that should stimulate readers with new ideas, even though some of them are derived from relatively old sources.

Brent Neely grabs hold of theologian Kevin Vanhoozer’s creative concept of ‘improvisation’ and applies it to the apostles’ actions at the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15. His approach sheds light on our ongoing task of applying a timeless message to changing cultures, as well as on the early church’s use of the Old Testament.

Stephen Boyer points out that Vaishnavism (the branch of Hinduism that venerates Vishnu) understands the concept of ‘incarnation’ in a manner that somewhat resembles Christianity. His exposition of Vaishnavism is enlightening in itself, but it also yields important observations about the significance of the Christian incarnation.

Hans-Georg Wuench, in a colourful article reprinted from Verbum et Ecclesia, demonstrates that African Christians do their theological work quite differently from traditional Western approaches, even when writing Bible commentaries. He finds their deeply personal interaction with the text and their emphasis on contemporary relevance quite refreshing.

The ideas featured in Thomas Schirrmacher’s essay are not new, but are somewhat overlooked. He focuses on the contributions of German New Testament scholar Wilhelm Lütgert, whose ground-breaking analysis of the identity of the apostles’ opponents, especially those lurking as the unnamed targets in many passages of Paul’s letters, greatly affected how these issues are viewed today, more than eighty years after Lütgert’s death.

Along with new ideas, we also need to be reinspired by clear presentations of classic, timeless truths. In that vein, Thomas Johnson provides an updated version of his masterful synthesis (and mainly reconciliation) of Luther and Calvin’s views on the relationship between law and gospel, first published in ERT about a decade ago.

Editors don’t normally publish their own work, but I had space for one more article and my book chapter on an innovative Anglican seminary and its unanticipated global impact seemed to fit nicely. I don’t expect any leftover space for at least the next four issues, as the WEA’s Peirong Lin has structured an exciting set of topics coordinated with the WEA Theological Commission’s agenda. See the call for papers on the next page.

Happy Reading!

Bruce Barron, Editor