Elliott E. Johnson’s, A Dispensational Biblical Theology, now is available on Kindle. It worth reading of all of its pages. Advocates and critics, alike, should respect this work.
“It appears that our entire encounter with the Bible, even if it involves our natural abilities, is a supernatural encounter. This would seem to imply that whatever we meet in the Bible—historical facts, poetic praises, proverbial wisdom, promises of help, descriptions of God’s nature, illustrations of God’s ways, standards of holy living, procedures of church discipline, predictions, calamities, warnings of Satanic opposition, summons to faith, analyses of human depravity, directions for husbands and wives, political insights, financial principles, and much more—all of it will only be seen aright when we see it illumined by, and in relation to, the peculiar glory of God. In other words, no matter how natural the process of reading is, and no matter how natural the objects discovered are, no reading and no discovery happen without dependence on God or without seeing all things in relation to his worth and beauty—if we are reading the way God means for his book to be read.”
John Piper, Reading the Bible Supernaturally: Seeing and Savoring the Glory of God in Scripture (Wheaton: Crossway, 2017), 178-179. Also available via Kindle, and at wstbooks.
Finally, I secured my copy of Edwards the Exegete. I am so excited! It takes a little while to fit a work like this into the budget, even when it is sale price.
Edwards was an incredible Christological, whole-Bible thinker. I hope to learn from his method how to become a better reader of Scripture. From the little bit I have read, I would invite anyone who wants another look at a better understanding of how to read Scripture to slowly wade through Sweeney’s work. It will be worth every effort given to the task. Sweeney is academic, yet lucid in his writing.
You have been kind enough to ask me loving, sensitive, sympathetic, and well-intended questions as it relates to the most recent police shootings of African Americans. If you want your heart broken over the issues facing African Americans, by means of exploring the history of this country and race, I would encourage you to read The Warmth of Other Suns. Within the last two months, I have recommended this book to more than a handful of kind friends like you.
Many African American families of my generation or older grew up knowing stories like the ones in this book, often with respect to the experience of a relative. In an Honor/Shame community such as ours, stories like the ones in Warmth are the fuel for both encouraging our children to excel in school and work, and for making us cautious, if not cynical, about what goes on in this country regarding race. Yes, I know that the Cross and the Empty Tomb are the warp-and-woof of the solution to problems of race in America. Also know, however, every church-going African American, at least my age or older, grows up with a form of these stories turning our engines, and contributing to the filter(s) by which we see everything.
Reading a book like Warmth might help you understand why just one racial incident makes the majority of our community respond as if someone has threatened us with nuclear war or genocide. No one else in this country has faced what African Americans have faced since their inception as an American people. No one ethnic or self-identified social group faces today what African Americans have endured for the last 500 years in America.
Enjoy the book!
I enjoy reading Peter Leithart on exegesis and hermeneutics, even though I often find slight disagreement with his readings. His writing is most lucid, and his thinking about passages of Scripture often challenges me to ponder deeper the assumptions I bring to the interpretive table.
At last year’s Center for Pastor Theologians conference, I remember Leithart speaking on Revelation 17 and saying that we cannot start with grammatical-historical analysis when approaching Scripture because of the unity of Scripture—that the Author knew the end from the beginning. He went on to say that the “fragmented Bible” is not the Bible of the church, and that we need to learn again to read the Bible as one book.
I am not ready to jettison grammatical-historical analysis as the third step – after prayer, and multiple readings of the text – in approaching Scripture—no more than I am ready to abandon it in reading Leithart, such that I understand by his words that he means we should read all Scripture in light of the whole story of Scripture, and that he does not mean that I should throw away my BHS, NA 28, or UBS 5. If I get rid of grammatical-historical analysis, “fragmented Bible” might become a Bible with missing books or pages rather than a way of speaking of atomistic reading or reading without Biblical Theology lenses.
I am developing a presentation on the relationship between Augustine’s Christology, his hermeneutics, and three of his tractates in John 16 and 19. The related research has led me into the figurative readings of Augustine and the fathers—readings similar to Leithart’s. I am gaining a greater appreciation of what Leithart is attempting to do in exegesis – so much so that I found myself attempting a Leithartian reading of Ex. 24:15 (the subject of another paper on which I am working).
The LXX of Ex. 24:13 reads, καὶ ἀναστὰς Μωυσῆς καὶ Ἰησοῦς ὁ παρεστηκὼς αὐτῷ ἀνέβησαν εἰς τὸ ὄρος τοῦ θεοῦ – “And arising, Moses and Joshua, his assistant, went up into the mountain of God” (or, the ESV – “So Moses rose with his assistant Joshua, and Moses went up into the mountain of God”). Similarly, two verses later, the ESV reads, “Then Moses went up on the mountain, and the cloud covered the mountain.” The ESV is reflective of the Hebrew text. However, the LXX reads, καὶ ἀνέβη Μωυσῆς καὶ Ἰησοῦς εἰς τὸ ὄρος, καὶ ἐκάλυψεν ἡ νεφέλη τὸ ὄρος – “And Moses and Joshua went up the mountain, and the cloud covered the mountain.”
I think the Spirit was doing something through the LXX writer/editor at this point so that the first century believers, reading the LXX of Ex. 24:15, would say, “And Moses and Jesus went up the mountain.” I also think their reading would be right.
Recommended Resource: Peter Leithart, Deep Exegesis (Baylor).
This morning, at the Dallas Theological Seminary (DTS) Alumni Breakfast at the ETS Annual Meeting, we honored Dr. Elliott E. Johnson with a festschrift, entitled, The Theory and Practice of Biblical Hermeneutics: Essays in Honor of Elliott E. Johnson (Lampion Press). H. Wayne House and Forrest S. Weiland served as editors. The book recognizes Dr. Johnson for more than 40 years of ministry at DTS, and his influence in the field of contemporary biblical hermeneutics. The work has contributions from Johnson’s present and former colleagues, and former students, including Weiland, Norman Geisler, Walter C. Kaiser, Jr., Charles Baylis, Mark Bailey, Stephen Bramer, and Stephen S. Kim. Most graciously, E. D. Hirsch provided the forward. Several of the chapters intend to demonstrate the theory and method advanced by Johnson in Expository Hermeneutics and many of his other essays.
I gladly contributed a chapter: “The Very Right of God: The Meaning of Luke 13:1-9, and Criticism(s) of John Piper’s View of the Role of God in Tragedy: A Narrative Analysis” (185-203). The essay allows me to honor my former advisor and friend, who has most shaped my hermeneutical theory. It, too, provides me an opportunity to interact honorably with some of the thinking of John Piper, also my friend and the contemporary theologian who has most shaped my theology of the Christian life. Both men acknowledge Hirsch in their interpretive theories. A version of the essay shortened by the editors, due to space limitations, appears in the book. I have attached a pdf of the originally submitted essay below.
Congratulations to Drs. House, Weiland, and Johnson on a worthy project!
I just received my book notice for Thabiti Anyabwile’s, Reviving the Black Church: A Call to Reclaim a Sacred Institution (B&H Books). I have longed to see a book written of this type with a Christ-centered focus as opposed to a social-centered focus. So I am very excited about this book, which in some sense will complement Anybwile’s earlier work, The Decline of African American Theology (IVP). Churches of all types need reviving. Anyabwile graciously directs his focus and hope to a particular segment of the Bride of Christ. You can gain a sense of his hope from his recent CT interview, “Tough Love for the Black Church.”
Within my endorsement for the book (which I am not sure was included) I say,
Unflinching in his call to recover a New Testament church, Thabiti’s proposal is sure to draw naysayers and enemies as he prioritizes identifying the people of God over seeking social significance. But such critics should give the work a full and judicious hearing, for the sake of the exaltation of our people, and for the salvation of people everywhere. Out of deep love for the Black Church, Thabiti has spoken up loudly and timely, with grace and truth.
Congrats, TA! Thank you for providing us with another great resource — another that demonstrates the practicality of Reformed Theology for contemporary African American culture.
Dr. Glenn R. Kreider is Professor of Theological Studies at Dallas Theological Seminary. Along with Jeffrey Bingham, he has edited, Dispensationalism and the History of Redemption: A Developing and Diverse Tradition (Moody Press, 2015). The new work has the potential of defining and clarifying dispensationalism for both the modern academy and the church. Dr. Kreider graciously agreed to an interview in association with the publication of the book.
Dr. Kreider, first, tell us a little about your church and educational background as relates to dispensationalism. Did any of this play a role in your reasons for writing this volume?
I was born into a dispensational family, came to faith in a dispensational church, was trained in two dispensational schools, and now teach at Dallas Theological Seminary. My roots are firmly planted in this tradition. The more I have studied the Bible and the more I have studied the history of interpretation, the more I am convinced that dispensationalism is a legitimate hermeneutical approach. In my view, it seems to be the best way to read the Bible.
This book grew out of a frustration with the way dispensationalism has been represented by its critics, as well as the need to provide an overview of the tradition today for both friends and foes. (A third group, those who are unaware of dispensationalism, might be the largest.) For example, as recently as today, I read the claim (in print, in a book published by an evangelical publisher in 2015) that all dispensationalists believe in several ways of salvation. It has been 40 years since Ryrie’s Dispensationalism Today. We thought it time to provide a summary of dispensationalism as it currently exists.
I notice that the writers come from diverse ethnic traditions, which itself is unique for an evangelical theological volume. How did you decide on the contributors to the volume?
Our intent was to represent the diversity that exists in dispensationalism. Dispensationalism always has been a diverse tradition, with a worldwide impact. We thought that diversity should be represented in the contributors.
The writers of the essays fall into three categories. Several of them were our teachers. Several of them were our colleagues. Several of them were our students. They are all competent scholars in biblical and theological studies, as well as a pastor and a missionary/theologian. And all of them are our friends.
Early in the book you write to dispel some misperceptions about dispensationalism. What are one or two of the most important misperceptions you address?
I have mentioned already the repeated assertion that dispensationalism is heretical because it denies that salvation always has been by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. It seems that this one simply will not die, no matter how many times and how emphatically dispensational writers respond.
Another major misperception is that dispensationalism is a hermeneutical approach that is imposed upon the Bible. The claim is that no one ever has read the Bible this way, until recently, and that no one ever would read the Bible this way unless taught to do so. I believe that, although dispensationalism as a system is relatively recent, most Christians have seen distinguishable periods in redemptive history where God has dealt with his people differently. And, I think a reasonable case can be made that this is the way the Bible should be read.
A related misconception is that dispensationalism is largely concerned with eschatology. We try to show in the book that although dispensationalism does hold to a pretribulational premillennial eschatology, the tradition is much more than that.
Some would say that dispensationalism’s late foray into church history makes it suspect with respect to conforming to orthodoxy. How would you respond to such a charge?
It is true that dispensationalism as a system is recent. But there are no doctrines of Christian orthodoxy that are denied or ignored by dispensationalism. Dispensationalism is a subset of Christian orthodoxy, holding to the trinity, full deity and humanity of Christ, inspiration of Scripture, substitutionary atonement, salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone, the bodily resurrection of Christ and his bodily return, the resurrection of the dead, etc.
What is one significance of holding to a dispensational theology for practical church ministry?
Dispensationalism, like every other Christian tradition, provides the hope of resurrection and the redemption of all things. There is nothing more practical or more significant than the gospel. Dispensationalism recognizes progressive revelation and the redemptive trajectory in God’s relationship with his world. Dispensationalism, as a biblical hermeneutic, helps the student of the Scripture to read, and thus apply, the biblical story to life and ministry today.
What do you hope the broader, evangelical academic community will gain from reading this work?
I hope that dispensationalists will understand the breadth and the diversity of this tradition and that non-dispensationalists will understand that some of what they have been taught about dispensationalism is not accurate. Our goal is understanding.
Also by Glenn R. Kreider
I just received my copy of Sam Storm’s, Packer on the Christian Life: Knowing God in Christ, Walking by the Spirit (Crossway). I am excited to drop into more J. I. Packer. His works, Knowing God (IVP) and Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God (IVP) — two modern classics — profoundly have shaped my routine Christian walk, theology, evangelism, and both pastoral and academic ministries. I get to add Sam’s book to my copy of Dane Ortlund’s, Edwards on the Christian Life: Alive to the Beauty of God (Crossway). Both books intend to strengthen Christian thinking and living by drawing out the richness of historical and modern evangelical – and in the cases of Edwards and Packer, Puritan – thought for conforming one’s life to Christ in the contemporary world.
Over a decade ago I read McGrath’s biography of Packer and was challenged by the depth of Packer’s life–a life lived in the face of God. I am eager to see how Ryken’s new biography of Packer will enrich admiration of Packer, striving for holiness, and greater proclamation of Christ.
Related: J. I. Packer, “Introduction” to The Death of Death in the Death of Christ by John Owen. Packer’s Introduction is a modern classic, and the work by Owen some consider to be the classic, definitive text on the extent of the atoning work of Christ.