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  • Direction: Reader Response to David Faber
    therefore we need to be aware of our limits when we speak about God But that does not make me a Kantian Contrary to what Faber says I do believe that God is real not just a human construct and that God is a personal reality whom we can know and experience Faber does not discuss in his review the fourth chapter on the Trinity where I refer to God as a transcendent loving and creative power in the universe hardly a Kantian view of God Even more important for readers to understand me is that they see how my book stands over against Kant in two very fundamental ways I argue for a concrete embodied Jesus who is the revelation of God we know as love and who calls us to a life of discipleship This is in sharp contrast to Kant who developed an abstract ethic that is known by reason apart from a concrete bodied Jesus of history My criticism of H Richard Niebuhr s Christ and Culture New York Harper 1951 is his Kantian abstract Christology which detaches Christ from history and thus falsely sets up the problem of Christ and culture A concrete bodied Christology

    Original URL path: http://www.directionjournal.org/32/2/reader-response-to-david-faber.html (2016-02-16)
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  • Direction: Being There: The Bible Through Simulation
    groups as small as a half dozen and as large as three dozen in a time frame of just over an hour to as much as three hours Typically about one third of the time is spent in small group Bible study and strategizing Here the group perhaps in the days or week prior to the event studies how to assume the character roles which they will play Small groups then convene in a large group council for the reenactment of the event again about one third of the session The rest of the time is devoted to introduction and debriefing often with a suggestion for worship as well as summarizing what has been learned Book 1 Beginnings opens with What Happened in the Garden a simulation based on Genesis 2 3 A panel of judges representing God decides the fate of Adam and Eve in a case presented by the prosecution and the defense The Wise Men has Herod and the magi characters depending on priests and Herodians scribes elders and Pharisees for information on the career of the Messiah The House Church based on the book of Philemon invites four parties to counsel Philemon regarding the returning Onesimus Book 2 Trying Times includes Job and His Friends in which Job s counselors challenge him on issues of suffering and sin What Shall We Do with Jesus the trial before the Sanhedrin offers participants the opportunity to exile or punish Jesus rather than crucify him The Council of Jerusalem based on Acts 15 investigates diversity 235 within the followers of Jesus as they study Scripture to determine what to do with Gentile converts Book 3 Faith Takes Action opens with The Council at Mizpah a simulation based on the book of Genesis Prophets priests royalists neo Babylonians and Rechabites

    Original URL path: http://www.directionjournal.org/32/2/being-there-bible-through-simulation.html (2016-02-16)
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  • Direction: Not as the Scribes: Jesus as a Model for Prophetic Preaching
    scribal preaching a term Ahlgrim invents and which he uses to describe both the scribes in Jesus day and much of contemporary preaching The scribes he says focused on detailed exegesis of Scripture combined with an application based on an authoritative tradition 236 Their style would have been logical and didactic and would have appealed to the minds of the listeners A great deal of preaching today he suggests would be scribal preaching Jesus preaching in contrast was based not on knowing about God but on knowing God Jesus did not usually preach exegetically but proclaimed divine truth through original styles Ahlgrim explains three forms of Jesus preaching discipleship instructions eschatological pronouncements and parables Each style is described in succinct detail The author suggests that Jesus must have preached by telling longer parables of which only a summary is contained in the scriptures Those parables were mixed with exhortation declarations and statements to produce sermons that had authority not as the scribes because Jesus sermons were fresh current and real If contemporary preachers wish to speak in Jesus name they ought to adopt his mode and methods Rather than just repeating or rephrasing Jesus parables they should make them their own using biblical themes and developing stories but not simply explaining biblical texts Preachers should use current situations that parallel the biblical teachings The book gives instructions on how to craft sermons Jesus way Then Ahlgrim concludes with five of his own sermons to illustrate how he preaches prophetically as he understands the preaching of Jesus Ahlgrim s approach is fresh and creative He writes with enthusiasm and good humor His book will challenge every expository preacher to take a fresh look at their preaching style Ahlgrim does not write to criticize but to help His book is worth reading

    Original URL path: http://www.directionjournal.org/32/2/not-as-scribes-jesus-as-model-for.html (2016-02-16)
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  • Direction: The Company of Preachers: Wisdom on Preaching, Augustine to the Present
    the attention of both preachers and students of preaching Lischer introduces each of the fifty seven selections with a brief description that places the author and the text historically and homiletically The essays themselves come as book selections excerpts from addresses notably the Lyman Beecher Lectures at Yale testimonies and sermons that are superbly edited into a living conversation At times the exchanges are sharp as authors passionately defend or question such issues as the place of rhetorical flourishes or the purpose of preaching As is always the case in an edited work readers will find themselves more amply rewarded by some selections than others due in part to the wide spectrum theologically and historically As Lischer writes in his introduction A thematic and historical collection such as this presents a fascinating case study in continuity and discontinuity in theology and he might add homiletic theory In a book of this amplitude a few teasers must suffice as an introduction to content Phillips Brooks reminds readers that the truth is proclaimed through the preacher s personality Gardner Taylor s stately rhythm like a black spiritual calls the preacher to serve as Ezekiel s watchman John Wesley rejects by name preachers who value style over substance Nicholas Lash intrigues with his call to perform the Scriptures as the ultimate test of right interpretation Throughout the conversation and debate rage regarding the role of the preacher the congregation and the Spirit of God in proclaiming the message How might this fine volume be improved Lischer himself apologizes for the patriarchal language but defends it as representative of the authors Yet the problem is not this manliness of language but the paucity of female authors included just five with the majority of them 238 defending feminine preaching or feminist interpretation Also missing is

    Original URL path: http://www.directionjournal.org/32/2/company-of-preachers-wisdom-on-preaching.html (2016-02-16)
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  • Direction: Family Matters: Discovering the Mennonite Brethren
    One The Family History looks at MB connections with the early church the Anabaptist Reformation the birth of the Brethren in Russia their migrations to North America and developments on this continent Part Two Family distinctives notes several MB characteristics especially its Pietist and Anabaptist influences its New Testament hermeneutic its focus on peacemaking and missions and its various institutional activities e g education and publishing Part Three Stories of Growth describes MB expansion and activities in various parts of the world Canada the United States and beyond North America to the developing world Part Four Future Perspective contains only one chapter challenging MBs to be true to their vision for building family ties Family Matters is intended for a popular audience It contains many stories and illustrations and should be enjoyable but informative reading for members of MB congregations who often lack adequate knowledge regarding their history and faith While the authors present the ideal what things should be like in the MB church they often use the word struggle indicating that MB matters are in process or not as they should be They also inform the reader of the theological and cultural diversity found in MB congregational life Though these two books are both aimed at similar audiences they differ significantly For Everything a Season uses less popular language and clearly adopts an historical approach It contains fourteen essays written by a range of Mennonite Brethren from both the U S and Canada Most of these authors are well known figures in MB circles And while this book is organized topically nearly all of the essays are developed historically that is they take us from the earliest developments to the present Despite being a collection of essays For Everything a Season has a clear focus It examines aspects of MB life and developments in North America from 1874 to 2002 approximately the time when many MB institutional activities were directed by the General Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches With the end of this binational conference in 2002 it is only natural to reflect upon developments in the Mennonite Brethren churches during the life span of this institution 240 These essays do not speculate on the reasons for the demise of the General Conference and not all of them address the formal activities of the conference This volume begins with a description of the birth of the Mennonite Brethren Church in southern Russia The scene then changes to North America where it remains for the rest of the book Chapter 2 examines the coming of the MB immigrants to North America in the 1870s and their subsequent movements on this Continent We next encounter those who came from the Soviet Union to Canada during the 1920s and 1940s Essay four introduces the reader to the diverse theological influences that have forged the Mennonite Brethren faith While in North America the MBs have experienced a number of organizational and structural changes the subject of chapter 5 Mennonite Brethren have always

    Original URL path: http://www.directionjournal.org/32/2/family-matters-discovering-mennonite.html (2016-02-16)
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  • Direction: For Everything a Season: Mennonite Brethren in North America, 1874-2002. An Informal History
    sections and thirteen chapters Part One The Family History looks at MB connections with the early church the Anabaptist Reformation the birth of the Brethren in Russia their migrations to North America and developments on this continent Part Two Family distinctives notes several MB characteristics especially its Pietist and Anabaptist influences its New Testament hermeneutic its focus on peacemaking and missions and its various institutional activities e g education and publishing Part Three Stories of Growth describes MB expansion and activities in various parts of the world Canada the United States and beyond North America to the developing world Part Four Future Perspective contains only one chapter challenging MBs to be true to their vision for building family ties Family Matters is intended for a popular audience It contains many stories and illustrations and should be enjoyable but informative reading for members of MB congregations who often lack adequate knowledge regarding their history and faith While the authors present the ideal what things should be like in the MB church they often use the word struggle indicating that MB matters are in process or not as they should be They also inform the reader of the theological and cultural diversity found in MB congregational life Though these two books are both aimed at similar audiences they differ significantly For Everything a Season uses less popular language and clearly adopts an historical approach It contains fourteen essays written by a range of Mennonite Brethren from both the U S and Canada Most of these authors are well known figures in MB circles And while this book is organized topically nearly all of the essays are developed historically that is they take us from the earliest developments to the present Despite being a collection of essays For Everything a Season has a clear focus It examines aspects of MB life and developments in North America from 1874 to 2002 approximately the time when many MB institutional activities were directed by the General Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches With the end of this binational conference in 2002 it is only natural to reflect upon developments in the Mennonite Brethren churches during the life span of this institution 240 These essays do not speculate on the reasons for the demise of the General Conference and not all of them address the formal activities of the conference This volume begins with a description of the birth of the Mennonite Brethren Church in southern Russia The scene then changes to North America where it remains for the rest of the book Chapter 2 examines the coming of the MB immigrants to North America in the 1870s and their subsequent movements on this Continent We next encounter those who came from the Soviet Union to Canada during the 1920s and 1940s Essay four introduces the reader to the diverse theological influences that have forged the Mennonite Brethren faith While in North America the MBs have experienced a number of organizational and structural changes the subject of chapter

    Original URL path: http://www.directionjournal.org/32/2/for-everything-season-mennonite-brethren.html (2016-02-16)
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  • Direction: With the Grain of the Universe
    prolegomenon to Christianity becomes unintelligible Natural theology simply names how Christian convictions work to describe all that is God s good creation 142 it is nothing more than the attempt to witness to the nongodforsakenness of the world even under the conditions of sin 20 Hauerwas begins his story with William James not least because he is the Gifford lecturer who seems to have most adequately fulfilled Lord Gifford s proclaimed vision The most determinative theme of James lectures on The Varieties of Religious Experience Hauerwas contends is their presumption that the proper object of religious inquiry is humanity as evidenced by the subtitle A Study in Human Nature In his attempt to adduce essential characteristics of religion from a mass of reported religious experiences James arrives at a diluted theism that comes to nothing more than a religious version of humanism For James theism does not involve the claim that something like God exists but rather that no account of the world is adequate that denies the aspect of human existence that led us to believe in a god 60 242 It was only because the world that James envisioned became a reality a world wherein natural science dictated metaphysics and democratic humanism dictated ethics that another famous Gifford lecturer Reinhold Niebuhr could appear as a Christian alternative to James Niebuhr merely represents a continuation of James s humanism since he treats Christianity as a tool that can repair a problem specified by secular modernity as the human dilemma 116 rather than as the Truth which tells us both what the problem is and also what has been done about it Thus Niebuhr could write there are resources in the Christian religion which make it the inevitable basis of any spiritual regeneration of Western civilization 108 Insofar as human nature and Western civilization delineate the categories of inquiry for James and Niebuhr Christianity is nothing more than a disguised humanism and theology is really anthropology 116 The hero of the story is Karl Barth for the startlingly simple reason that Barth took the object of theological investigation to be God rather than humanity Barth becomes the Gifford Lectures true natural theologian precisely because he develops a massive theological metaphysics that provides an alternative to the world in which Lord Gifford s understanding of natural theology seems reasonable 39 Hauerwas attempts to show that Barth not only helps Christians recover a confidence in Christian speech but also exemplifies how Christian language works 143 For example only when we understand the centrality of the Christian conviction that in the triune God the Son witnesses to the Father can we understand what follows from this that the Spirit makes us witnesses to the Son so that the world may know the Father 207 Only when we grant theology the position to tell us the way the world is and therefore how to live with the grain of the universe 17 do we grasp that witness names the proper form of Christian argument

    Original URL path: http://www.directionjournal.org/32/2/with-grain-of-universe.html (2016-02-16)
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  • Direction: Choosing the Good: Christian Ethics in a Complex World
    Hollinger introduces the reader to various ethical approaches both modern and postmodern that are embraced by both Christian and secular ethicists For example he reviews the modern debate between consequentialism and principle oriented perspectives and the more recent virtue ethics criticism of this foundational approach by developmental psychologist Carol Gilligan the Aristotelian philosopher Alasdair MacIntyre and theologian Stanley Hauerwas While Hollinger offers a helpful analysis of these various ethical perspectives his ultimate intention is to provide a uniquely Christian worldview for dealing with the complex world of postmodernism With this distinctly Christian vantage point readers are invited in the second half of the book to consider how to make and apply ethical decisions Here Hollinger proposes that historical paradigms Scripture and empirical factors must all be considered when choosing the good In the chapter The Bible in Ethical Decision he explores the complex yet necessary resource the Bible provides both for the individual Christian 244 and for the community of faith Then in the final chapters he examines how to apply a Christian worldview in the mix of a pluralistic and complex world Hollinger is to be commended for his fair treatment of a broad range of theologians and ethical

    Original URL path: http://www.directionjournal.org/32/2/choosing-good-christian-ethics-in.html (2016-02-16)
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