Spring 2018: The Christian Faith, Scripture, and the Public Square

ctr cover 15.2Evangelicals are well aware of the concept known as the “naked” public square. This phrase describes the ethos of our current cultural climate, which harbors an antagonistic and even hostile attitude toward religious influences in society. So much so that many desire to have political discourse only if religious speech and perspectives are excluded from the conversation. Such an environment creates a host of complexities that believers have to face. One in particular is how the church can possibly appeal to Scripture when engaging various ethical issues in broader cultural venues. If the majority of people express no deference to biblical authority, then how can believers use the Bible effectively when expressing their views and expect anyone to listen. This is quite a weighty issue today and that is why the first three articles in our Spring 2018 edition of CTR are dedicated to it. Subsequently, two articles are stand-alone essays addressing issues pertaining to biblical and theological studies.

Our lead article is written by Andrew “Spence” Spencer, who serves as the Director of Assessment and Institutional Research at Oklahoma Baptist University in Shawnee, Oklahoma. Spencer provides an overview of how Karl Barth’s theological views on the relationship between the Church and State developed amidst the national turmoil in Europe during World War II.

Our second article is by Darrell L. Bock who serves as the Executive Director of Cultural Engagement and Senior Research Professor of New Testament Studies at Dallas Theological Seminary in Dallas, Texas. Bock discusses the important but complicated matter of how believers should consider appeals to Scripture when addressing audiences in the public square. He first highlights some of the cultural changes that have emerged in recent decades which make such endeavors challenging. Then he appeals to strategies that believers in the early church used to express their faith values within the hostile context of the Roman Empire.

The third article is written by Jonathan Leeman who is the editorial director for 9Marks ministries in Washington, DC. Leeman engages the question of how believers can discern the clear ethical teachings within Scripture and then navigate the multitude of issues in our present-day culture that Scripture does not directly address. Leeman argues that addressing this challenge not only benefits believers as they strive to grow in their spiritual maturity and theological literacy. It has tremendous implications for pastoral ministry as well.

Our fourth contributor is David Wenkel who is an independent scholar who also serves as an adjunct professor at the South Chicago extension campus for Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. Wenkel’s article is one of two stand-alone pieces that offer insight in the fields of biblical and theological studies. He argues that the writer of Hebrews makes the case in chapter 11 that God’s miraculous act of enabling Abraham and Sarah to have a child in their senior years was a typological foreshadowing of the future resurrection of Christ from the dead as described later in chapter 13.

Finally, our last entry is by Jeremy Kimble who is Assistant Professor of Theology at Cedarville University in Cedarville, Ohio. Serving as another stand-alone piece, this article focuses on an analysis of the relationship between trinitarianism and Ecclesiology. Kimble interacts with several theologians who support the idea that the doctrine of the church is a natural outflow of the doctrine of God. In doing so, he discusses how several key features of interpersonal relations within the Godhead establish an interpretive grid for understanding the identity and mission of the church.

Following these articles are sixteen book reviews that inform readers about works which can improve their theological libraries. And also remember that past issues of CTR can be accessed online at atla.com. Your local university or seminary can provide you with a password.

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