Book Notice: “40 Questions About Baptism and the Lord’s Supper” by John S. Hammett

Hammett picSome theological topics remain on the front burner of discussion and debate in theological education. Baptism and the Lord’s Supper are two of those topics. To address some of the most pressing theological and practical questions on these ordinances (or are they sacraments?), John Hammett, J. L. Dagg Chair and Senior Professor of Systematic Theology at Southeastern, has written 40 Questions About Baptism and the Lord’s Supper (Kregel, 2015). The 40 Questions series is edited Ben Merkle, professor of New Testament at Southeastern.

Following a helpful introduction in which he sketches the historical and recent interest in these marks of the church, Hammett organizes the book according to four main sections: general questions about baptism and the Lord’s Supper (part 1); questions about baptism (part 2); questions about the Lord’s Supper (part 3); and concluding questions about the importance of baptism and the Lord’s Supper for theology and the Christian life (part 4).

In part 1, Hammett explores the terminology for these sacraments/ordinances, who can administer them, and whether they can be practiced outside the church. In parts 2 and 3, after exploring introductory questions such as the origin of baptism and the Lord’s Supper, the ordinances (this is a Baptist blog after all) are considered from the perspective of denominational views, theological issues, and practical issues. Hammett considers the views of Roman Catholic, Lutheran, Reformed, Baptist, and other traditions before asking theological questions like, “Should Infants Be Baptized?” (chs. 16–17) and practical questions like, “How Often Should the Lord’s Supper Be Observed?” (ch. 36). Finally, in part 4, he reflects on the theological and practical significance of baptism and the Lord’s Supper.

Though deeply theological, then, the book has a practical feel, as is the design of the 40 Questions series. Each chapter, which answers one key question, contains reflection questions that prompt the reader to retain and integrate what they have just read. For instance, on the much-debated topic of infant baptism, Hammett offers historical and biblical arguments for infant baptism before providing his (Baptist) rejoinders (ch. 16). Yet, instead of leaving his points as the final word, Hammett asks the reader searching questions such as, “How might churches reflect the welcoming and positive attitude of Jesus toward children (as seen in Matt. 19:13–15; Mark 10:13–16; Luke 18:15–17) in their practices? If not by infant baptism, what would be appropriate ways?” (p. 137). This approach allows the reader to come to informed, not biased, judgments.

40 Questions About Baptism and the Lord’s Supper is also fairly and expertly balanced. After discussing the covenantal case for infant baptism (ch. 17), Hammett concludes, “Baptists think that their positive case for believer’s baptism from the teaching and example of the New Testament is sufficient to support their limitation to believers, and thus to rule infant baptism non-biblical. Nevertheless, the Baptist position is the minority position, historically and contemporarily. Thus, a consideration of the arguments offered in support of infant baptism seemed warranted” (p. 144). The balanced approach encourages readers to defend (charitably) their view while presenting other views of baptism and the Lord’s Supper in a fair-minded way. This feature, among many others, makes Hammett’s new book a sound and clear resource for pastors, teachers, students, and interested laymen in various denominations.

Book Notice: “A Theology of Matthew” by Charles L. Quarles

Quarles_Matt picSoutheastern’s own Chuck Quarles, Professor of New Testament and Biblical Theology, has recently published yet another fine work in New Testament studies. Already the author of several books including The Cradle, The Cross, & The Crown and The Sermon on the Mount, Quarles recently published A Theology of Matthew: Jesus Revealed as Deliverer, King, and Incarnate Creator (P&R, 2013).

Quarles wrote the book in order to combat what he calls “the doctrinal anemia of the contemporary church.” “Doctrinal anemia,” Quarles writes, “involves ignorance of fundamental truths of the Christian faith that are essential to the salvation of individuals or necessary for the spiritual health of God’s people” (p. 1). He communicates to the reader the results of a survey he has administered regularly to college freshmen. The test does not measure their convictions, but only what they know or understand about the key doctrines of Christianity. Quarles’s findings are not heart warming: 78% think all people are basically good; 65% cannot identify the definition of new birth from a multiple-choice question; 54% think that faith in Jesus is unnecessary for salvation. The anemia continues on down the theological line (pp. 1–2).

Rather than allowing himself to descend into a state of weltscherz, Quarles aims to write biblical theology for the church. A Theology of Matthew is the first fruit of his desire to rectify things, and he launches the project by teaching us what Matthew thought of Jesus. “Rediscovery of biblical theology best begins with a rediscovery of who Jesus is and why he came. The Gospel of Matthew is an excellent place to rediscover the biblical view of Jesus” (p. 2).

Quarles does not simply describe Matthew’s Gospel or his theology. Quarles teaches readers how to study the Gospel. In part 1, he provides the foundations for this study by describing the key historical details of the Gospel––who, what, when, where, how, and why (ch. 1). He then explains the mutually interpreting ways we ought to read the Gospel (ch. 2). For instance, we do well to read the Gospel vertically and horizontally, and especially in the light of the Old Testament, which Matthew deeply relied upon.

In Parts 2–5, Quarles explores the theological themes that emerge from Matthew’s presentation of Jesus. Matthew presents Jesus as the New Moses (part 2), New David (part 3), New Abraham (part 4), and New Creator (part 5). Quarles expertly shows how these identities of Jesus––truly one, divine identity––tie together with his roles: our Savior (part 2), our King (part 3), our Founder (part 4), and our God (part 5). The back cover nicely summarizes Quarles’s approach: “Who is Jesus? Why should we worship him? This book answers these questions by surveying Matthew’s primary theological themes and how they interconnect with the rest of the Bible. Quarles focuses on Matthew’s portrait of Jesus as the Savior of sinners, the King of God’s people, the founder of a new Israel, and the incarnation of the Creator.”

Quarles has produced a coherent, clear, and moving exposition of the theology of Matthew. He has done this so that we might sit in awe of the treasures of Jesus. Yet, this is not all. “As amazing as it is to see Matthew’s awe-inspiring treasures on display, Matthew intends far more than this. . . . Matthew intends to share his treasure, not merely to show it. He longs for his treasure to become ours” (p. 193). Quarles shares this desire of Matthew, and he has expertly passed on Matthew’s theology to us so that we might truly know and worship Jesus.

Quarles also represents the commitment of SEBTS and its biblical studies faculty to serving the church through scholarship. Recent publications include but certainly are not limited to: Quarles, Andreas Köstenberger, and Scott Kellum, The Cradle, the Cross, and the Crown (Broadman & Holman, 2009), and The Lion and The Lamb (B&H, 2012); Tracy McKenzie, Idolatry in the Pentateuch (Wipf & Stock, 2010); Ben Merkle edits the very helpful 40 Questions series (Kregel); Maurice Robinson, Analytical Lexicon of New Testament Greek: Revised and Updated. Co-edited with Mark House (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 2012); Mark Rooker, The Ten Commandments: Ethics for the Twenty-First Century (B&H, 2010); Heath Thomas, Poetry & Theology in Lamentations: The Aesthetics of an Open Text (Sheffield, UK: Sheffield Phoenix Press, 2012); and numerous journal articles by these and others.

For those who seek to follow God’s call and keep the commands of Jesus Christ in the Great Commission, consider these SEBTS programs taught by Chuck Quarles and our other excellent biblical studies faculty.

The Bachelor of Arts in Christian Studies with a minor in Biblical Studies introduces undergraduate students to the knowledge and skills central to the work of pastors, particularly in the area of Old and New Testament competency. The Master or Arts (Biblical Languages) prepares students to serve as translators and as field supervisors for Bible translation teams. The Master of Arts (Old Testament) provides serious students with an opportunity for advanced study beyond the Master of Divinity or baccalaureate degrees.

The M.Div. with Pastoral Ministry prepares students for pastoral ministry in the local church with and is grounded in study of the Old and New Testament. The M.Div. with Christian Ministry offers the same strong core education while giving one freedom to pursue elective courses in the area of OT, NT, Hebrew and Greek. The M.Div. with Advanced Biblical Studies offers the greatest opportunity for focus in the biblical languages, preparing one for a pastoral or teaching ministry. The Th.M. in Biblical Studies equips post-M.Div. students who want to enhance their theological training, either for preparation for doctoral study or as an advanced degree for service in the church. Students can take the thesis or non-thesis tracks under the supervision of a professor in the area of Old Testament. Finally, the Ph.D. in Biblical Studies prepares students to teach the Bible and biblical languages to college or seminary students, and to write about the interpretation and theology of the OT and NT.

Click the links to find out more and apply.

 

 

Book Notice: “Paul’s Missionary Methods”

Several Southeastern faculty members, along with SEBTS PhD student Lizette Beard, have contributed to a recent major publication in the realm of biblical studies and missions. Paul’s Missionary Methods: In His Time and Ours, co-edited by Robert L. Plummer and John Mark Terry (IVP) commemorates the 100th anniversary of Roland Allen’s landmark, Missionary Methods: Saint Paul’s or Ours? with 14 essays on the nature of Paul’s ministry and its implications for contemporary mission methods.

Southeastern faculty members make a strong contribution to this important book. Benjamin Merkle (Associate Professor of New Testament and Greek) writes on “Paul’s Ecclesiology.” Chuck Lawless (Dean of Graduate Studies and Professor of Evangelism and Missions) discusses “Paul and Leadership Development.” Ed Stetzer (Visiting Professor of Missional Research) and Lizette Beard (PhD Student in Applied Theology) contribute “Paul and Church Planting.” Other contributors to the book include experts such as Michael Bird, Eckhard Schnabel, Craig Keener, and David J. Hesselgrave.

Here is the description of Paul’s Missionary Methods from the back cover:

A century ago Roland Allen published Missionary Methods: Saint Paul’s or Ours?, a missiological classic which tackled many important issues . . . Using the centennial anniversary of Allen’s work as a springboard for celebration and reflection, the contributors to Paul’s Missionary Methods have revisited Paul’s first-century missionary methods and their applicability today. This book examines Paul’s missionary efforts in two parts. First Paul is examined in his first-century context: what were his environment, missions strategy and teaching on particular issues? The second part addresses the implications of Paul’s example for missions today: is Paul’s model still relevant, and if so, what would it look like in modern contexts?

So, if you are engaged in teaching, writing, or serving in missions this is a book well worth reading. Pick it up here and dig in.

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