Thursday, November 20, 2008

Recent Books by HTC Staff

With a few books published in the last year or so either authored by, edited by, or with significant contributions from, HTC staff, I thought I would do a quick summary of them. Hoping I haven't missed any, here goes:

A Bird's Eye View of Paul
Michael F Bird
IVP 2008

How Did Christianity Begin?
Michael F Bird and James G Crossley
Hendrickson 2008

Editorial Criticism
Kingship Psalms
Royal Court
The Wisdom Poem
Wisdom and Covenant
, all Jamie A Grant
in IVP Dictionary of OT: Wisdom, Psalms and Poetry
Temper Longman III and Peter Enns (editors)
IVP 2008

Words and the Word: Explorations in Biblical Interpretation and Literary Theory
David G Firth and Jamie A Grant (editors)
including: Poetics by
Jamie A Grant
Apollos 2008

Karl Barth and Covenant Theology, ATB McGowan
in Engaging with Barth: Contemporary Evangelical Critiques
David Gibson and Daniel Strange (editors)
Apollos 2008
also includes:
Karl Barth and the Visibility of God, Paul Helm, HTC MTh Lecturer

Evangelicalism in Scotland from Knox to Cunningham, ATB McGowan
in The Emergence of Evangelicalism: Exploring Historical Continuities
Michael A G Haykin and Kenneth J Stewart (editors)
Apollos 2008

The Divine Spiration of Scripture: Challenging Evangelical Perspectives
ATB McGowan
Apollos 2007
published in the US as:
The Divine Authenticity of Scripture: Retrieving an Evangelical Heritage (IVP, 2008)

These are a couple of years old now, but worth including:

Always Reforming: Explorations in Systematic Theology
ATB McGowan (editor)
Apollos 2006

The Saving Righteousness of God: Studies on Paul, Justification and the New Perspective
Michael F Bird
Paternoster 2006

The God of Covenant: Biblical, Theological and Contemporary Perspectives
Jamie Grant and Alasdair Wilson (editors)
Apollos 2005

Monday, November 17, 2008

Latest HTC Newsletter

The latest newsletter is now on the HTC site, where you can read the article from the Principal about his forthcoming departure, and also read about the 2008 Graduation (25 students graduated last year).

HTC at ETS

It's that time of year again: the great Evangelical Theological Society Annual Meeting is about to kick off again, this time in Providence, Rhode Island (that's a Rhode Island beach on the right - looks a bit like South Uist!). Scanning through the program for non-US papers, there are a few contributed from German institutions, one from Hungary, one from Trinity in Bristol, and a couple from the University of Wales. Scottish institutions come in with a good showing (2 Aberdeen, 5 St Andrews, 1 Edinburgh), including 4 papers from Highland Theological College...Scotland is surely the UK Home of Evangelical Theology! There are many, I'm sure, who would argue with that!

Anyway, the papers being presented by HTC staff and students are as follows:

Dr Michael Bird
The Role of 'Canon' in New Testament Theology
(Biblical Theology Program Unit)

Dr Michael Bird
What if Luther had read the Dead Sea Scrolls? The Challenge of Historicizing Reformed Theology: Galatians as a Test Case
(Hermeneutics)

Dr Innes Visagie
Is the Story Character of Reading Reality Leveling the Playground between Science and Theology?
(Hermeneutics)

Ian Maddock
Free Grace versus Free Grace: John Wesley, George Whitfield, and the Nature of the Gospel
(Issues in Systematic Theology)

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Doing the Law

In my recent post on Romans 2, I speculated whether Paul takes the phrase 'doing the law' as shorthand for living according to the obedience of the covenant in a general sense, whether he is speaking of the Mosaic or the New. In the Old Covenant, this would not only include ethical obedience, but performing the sacrifices of the Law.

In 1 Peter, which is thoroughly Hebraic (even if you take diaspora as metaphorical in 1:1), we find:
Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ to the chosen refugees of the diaspora...according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the holiness of the Spirit, in obedience and the sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ; may grace and peace be multiplied to you. 1Peter 1:1-2 (my translation)
The terse style of 1 Peter (verbs? what verbs?!) leads to plenty of interpolation in the standard translations, e.g. that you may obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with his blood, NASB(!). Anyway, Peter's thought here is of his audience living as Christian refugees (or aliens) by God's election (thoroughly Jewish), in the holiness of the Spirit (parallel to Pauline definitive sanctification), in obedience and the sprinkling of blood (the New Covenant life). It strikes me that the thought here is compatible with (and derived from) the Old Testament covenant life of 'doing the Law'. The fact that Peter has obedience prior to sprinkling of blood poses a problem for those who want (so desperately!) to see the ordo salutis reflected here, but I think that Peter's thought is that these Jewish Christians have been called to New Covenant obedience in the Spirit and that their sins (which they still commit) are atoned for by the blood, not the blood of animal sacrifices that cannot remove sin, but the blood of Jesus the Messiah, the blood of the New Covenant (the argument of Hebrews). So, we can see parallels between Old and New Covenant obedience (what Paul calls 'doing the law'), alongside the excellency and significance of the atoning work of Christ.

Friday, November 07, 2008

HTC Principal returning to Pastoral Ministry

News has just been published in the latest HTC Newsletter that Rev Professor Andrew McGowan, Principal and founder of HTC is to be inducted as minister of the East Church, Inverness and will leave his post as Principal at the end of January 2009. In the newsletter (which is not on the website yet), he writes of his calling back to the parish ministry - a move which takes him back to his initial calling. His departure will be a significant change and great loss for HTC, but he undoubtedly feels that his work in establishing the college is done. It has been, and continues to be, a remarkable story.

In the 14 years since HTC began, it has risen to become an internationally recognised Reformed institution reflecting the best of the Scottish Reformed tradition alongside an international Reformed teaching staff, some of whom are internationally recognised scholars in their own right. HTC is almost unique in the UK: it is thoroughly theological in the academic sense - you learn theology here as a discipline - and it is progressively Reformed in the true sense. The Westminster Standards form the background to the teaching, and this sits alongside a lively commitment to Biblical Studies and Biblical Theology, as well as progressive approaches to Reformed Pastoral Theology, together with the usual Systematics - which reflects Professor McGowan's own standing as a systematician who teaches around the world. HTCs achievements have been recognised by it's ratification as a training insitution by the Church of Scotland, alongside the four historic divinity departments at Edinburgh, St Andrews, Aberdeen and Glasgow. When you remember that this has been achieved in 14 years, it is an incredible testimony to the power of God in raising leaders, giving visions and the resources to bring them to fruition.

From a personal point of view, the departure of Professor McGowan will be a great loss. He has combined historic Scottish theology with new perspectives in the fields of federal theology and scripture. I greatly admire him as a theologian who is also a doer, an achiever . I'm sure that there are many who talk a good game about theological training, but who do not achieve a tenth of what has been achieved by Professor McGowan. I wish him all the best in his return to the work of the parish and I'm sure that his work at East Church will be blessed. It has been a privilege to study here during his Principalship - his return to the parish reminds us here at HTC that theologians are to serve the Church.

And what of the future?! I know that all of the staff here are superb, and not only those who teach. The vice-Principal, Hector Morrison, a Hebridean, was the co-founder of HTC, so we are ensured a continuity of vision. I am convinced that the Lord will continue the work for His Kingdom here, and that whoever takes up the reigns will continue the unique story of HTC.

Monday, November 03, 2008

In Him we have Redemption

A week ago yesterday, I preached on Ephesians 1:7: in Him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins. A few days later I listened to this from Nicole Nordeman who, in my opinion, has some of the very best lyrics out there in the Kingdom...

We stutter and we stammer 'til You say us
A symphony of chaos 'til You play us
Phrases on the pages of unknown
'Til You read us into poetry and prose

We are kept and we are captive 'til You free us
Vaguely unimagined 'til You dream us
Aimlessly unguided 'til You lead us home
By Your voice, we speak
By Your strength, no longer weak
By Your wounds we are healed

Passed over and passed by until You claim us
Orphaned and abandoned 'til You name us
Hidden, undisclosed 'til You expose our hearts
By Your death we live
It is by Your gift that we might give
By Your wounds we are healed

What kind of love would take your shame
And spill His blood for you
And save us by His wounds?