King's Evangelical Divinity School

29 January 2010

Dictionary of Major Biblical Interpreters

Dictionary of Major Biblical Interpreters, by Donald K. McKim, ed.
Leicester: InterVarsity Press, 2008.
Review originally published on the IVP website.

An Invaluable Resource for Hermeneutics, Biblical Studies and Church History Alike

This excellent book, which boasts an impressive list of contributors, represents an essential hermeneutics resource. As well as over 200 entries on major biblical interpreters, it offers an invaluable panorama of hermeneutic history divided into six periods, thereby rooting each individual interpreter within an essential historical, ecclesiastical and philosophical framework. The broadly sympathetic articles provide historical context and biographical details for each interpreter, together with their exegetical methods and hermeneutical significance. Each article includes a useful list of further reading. Major interpreters from across church history are represented. Essays exploring well-known figures (eg Barth, Childs, Schleiermacher) are substantial and insightful, discussing not only their hermeneutic but also those theological and philosophical influences underpinning it. Less well-known interpreters are also examined, together with church figures better known for other reasons (eg Athanasius, Bede, Jonathan Edwards) but whose biblical interpretation is nonetheless important. I know of no resource like this, providing the student and scholar alike with a bewildering array of first rate material. Not only a hermeneutics resource, this book is equally useful for church history and biblical studies, and at just £30 for over 1100 pages represents excellent value. I will be making it required reading for our undergraduate hermeneutics programme.

Review by: Dr Calvin L. Smith
Course Director, Midlands Bible College, England.

Except 1, "Pentecostalism and Politics in Latin America"

Back in 2007 I produced a manual for an M.A. module exploring Pentecostalism and politics in Latin America for the University of Wales. Because of my ongoing research into this field, which is why some people visit this blog, over the next couple of weeks I thought I'd intersperse my other posts with the occasional excerpt from this study guide for those interested in learning more about Pentecostal political involvement in Central and South America. So anyway, here's the first excerpt.

28 January 2010

Faith in Democracy

Just received details of the latest Tyndale House newsletter, which includes a short piece on Dr Jonathan Chaplin, Director of the Kirby Laing Institute for Christian Ethics (based at Tyndale House), who is a consulting editor at the Evangelical Review of Society and Politics. Anyway, here is what the Tyndale newsletter states. Be sure to click on the Guardian link.

KLICE Making Waves
In December Dr Jonathan Chaplin, Director of the Kirby Laing Institute for Christian Ethics, based at Tyndale House, caused consternation to a large number of secularist readers of The Guardian, one of Britain's leading newspapers. Dr Chaplin demonstrated some of the problems with the secularist desire to exclude religion from public life, and in doing so provoked the largest number of responses on the newspaper's website that it has known for this type of article. You can read the article here:  
The Tyndale newsletter can be found here.

26 January 2010

"We are all Seismic now"

By now most of you will have heard the story breaking across the blogosphere over the weekend (and which shows no sign of dissipating) concerning an Anglican priest’s attempt to silence a blogger critic. The priest is Stephen Sizer, a vocal opponent of Christian Zionists (and indeed anyone who mildly suggests the Jews remain God’s chosen people), he vociferously opposes Israel and lends rather uncritical and slavish support to the Palestinian nationalist cause. It was always inevitable, then, that the blog Seismic Shock, set up with the express purpose of highlighting and identifying anti-Zionism, anti-Israelism, even anti-Semitism within the Church, should focus on Sizer’s theology and activities, including appearing on Iranian television to discuss Christian Zionism, speak at Muslim centres and Palestinian solidarity events, and rather unwisely share platforms with people who, for example, condone suicide bombings.

“So what?” I hear some people say. “He can do what he likes, can’t he? This is, after all, a free country, and however unreasonable someone’s views are, or ill-advised they may be in how they choose to promote them, what’s to stop him?” Actually, I wholeheartedly agree, couldn’t agree more in fact. Not that I agree with Sizer’s views, by a long shot. Having reviewed his first book for a scholarly journal (and currently reviewing his sequel), I find Sizer’s theology unpersuasive, overtly polemical and unnecessarily pejorative (and thus not particularly constructive or helpful). Meanwhile, a tendency to build straw men and parody his opponents suggests methodology takes somewhat of a back seat. More’s the pity really, because aspects of extreme Christian Zionism do need to be challenged, and I believe that had he set about his crusade (and make no mistake, it is a crusade) with a greater degree of charity towards those Christian brethren he disagrees with, he would likely have won some of their support, helping a number of Christians to be more objective and realistic in their support for Israel. Instead, his brusque and abrupt manner has merely served to polarise the Church unnecessarily.

25 January 2010

So Sorry (and I will comment soon)

Sincere apologies for the lack of blogging over the last five days. I've been trying to wrap up a new edited book which should be with the publisher by now (more details on this later). But in the meantime, on Saturday a story broke and quickly scattered far and wide across the blogosphere. It can be found here, the websites/blogs which have so far caught on to and publicised it here (scroll down), and it even made the Spectator here. I think this story has legs and will run for some time and, given the significance, has the potential to reach the highest echelons, so do keep an eye on it.

It has been particularly frustrating not being able to comment yet, especially since knowing about it for some time, together with various people asking when I intend to blog on it (knowing this is something I have views on). But these publishing responsibilities have taken up all my time in recent days. Nevertheless, I'll post my comments tomorrow (Tuesday), I suppose a positive aspect of that is I will at least be able to draw on the latest details of a story developing by the minute. In the meantime, if you haven't heard about this story, be sure to catch up on the links above.

20 January 2010

Poll on Christian Responses to Israel: One Week Left

I've a new poll on Christian responses to Israel (see top-right of this page). So far responses are a little thin, though better than several previous polls. Anyway, just a week left of voting to go, and while number of votes could be higher at this stage, nonetheless some interesting results are beginning to emerge. I'm planning to analyse and comment on results if enough people participate, so please cast your vote and get your mates to do so as well. I want as many votes as possible (though ideally from regular blog visitors). Thanks.

Pentecostal Presence, Power and Politics in Latin America

Several weeks ago I blogged about a new article I'd written on Latin American Pentecostalism for the Journal of Beliefs and Values. I said then that I thought I might be allowed to publish a version of the article at some stage on this site, once I had secured permission. Having now heard from the publisher I'm pleased to be able to offer the text, in full, of the pre-print version. (The pre-print version is the text of the article submitted prior to the peer-review process, before any recommendations and subsequent editorial changes take place. Actually, the article was accepted with no changes other than some bibliographic corrections). I'm very grateful to the publishers for this permission to reproduce the article. So for those interested in a survey of Latin American Pentecostalism and its impact on that continent's society and politics, here's the original pre-print article in full (all 5,000+ words of it). Hope you enjoy it.

19 January 2010

Where has the common sense gone?

Unbelievable story (and not an hysterical report appearing in a tabloid). Please tell me, where has common sense gone in this country? I was going to make a joke about incompetent bafoonery, but decided against it just in case I might be arrested and given a lifelong ban from blogging (perhaps that is their aim?). And to think, when I read  Wells' 1984 as a teenager the concept of "thought crime" seemed so unrealistic, dark, distant... so un-British. A good ticking-off yes, even a stiff fine. But arrested, banned (the new British disease) for life from the airport, held for hours in a cell for hours, computers seized? Certainly not. Kind of feel ready to move back to southern Spain, where I was brought up under the Franco regime (the secret police watched us and kept files on our dissenting Protestant activities). At least they had better weather. If you have to put up with stupidity, might as well do it in the sun :)

18 January 2010

Arabs, Christians, Israel and Ethnicity

Let’s bring our perusal of this thorny issue of ethnicity and racism vis-a-vis the relationship between the Church and Israel to an end for now (there are other issues I want to explore at a later date) with a brief consideration of the extent to which some Christians themselves might be guilty of racism within this wider debate. Let me begin by pointing out just how harsh and hateful genuine racism is, so I don’t use the term lightly here, unlike some who hijack and employ it loosely for polemical reasons and cheap political point-scoring. I’m talking here about real, premeditated racism, that is, hatred of someone by virtue of their race, rather than the unwitting variety that may also cause offence but which is not driven by outright hatred of someone because of their race.

As such, I do not consider criticising Judaism on purely theological grounds to be racist, just as so-called ‘Islamaphobia’ is not racist, whatever some would have us believe (such people seem unaware of the openly proselytising nature of Islam and how it is practised by people of all races). I am wary of deep-seated anti-Judaism within the Church because it has ultimately manifested itself in expressions of anti-Semitism during certain epochs in the Church’s history. But this aside, I do not consider criticism of Judaism on theological grounds to be racist. It can certainly be distasteful (depending on how it is done), while anti-Judaism moves firmly beyond a respectful theological critique. But I do not believe criticism of a religion is automatically racist.

17 January 2010


Seen all those suitably grave news reports and documentaries about how the Himalayan glaciers (all 15,000 of them) could melt in the next 20+ years because of climate change? Well, today's Times newspaper reports how the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which issued the original doom and gloom prophecy, is seriously considering retracting it. Seems it based the report on a story appearing in a popular science journal eight years earlier, which itself based the story on a hurried telephone conversation with an unknown scientist from Delhi who hadn't collected any actual data. One wonders, then, where he got the story from. Perhaps his nearby corner shop? ("This is very good mineral water, Professor, made from the purest Himalayan glacier melt water"). Or perhaps while unwinding at his local bingo hall? I can just imagine the sequence of calls leading to this isunderstanding...

Two fat ladies, left it too late.
Open the (flood) doors, all the fours.
All the threes, catastro-phe.
Double hockey stick, 77 (particularly apt bingo call, I think).
All the fives, no-one survives.

Or maybe he got it from his local pub while relaxing with mates. ("There was an Englishman, an Irishman and a Scotsman trekking the Himalayas, you see...).

Quite something how these things take on a life of their own, reaching even the dizzy heights of the IPCC.



(19 Jan 2010)

Must be serious when the institutionally-"warmist" BBC highlights the issue, suitably spinned (or is it spun?) of course:

16 January 2010

Is Today's Jewish State Racist?

Further to my recent posts here and here concerning biblical Israel, ethnicity and racism, today I want to  broaden the discussion a little and consider if modern Israel is a racist country, a charge periodically leveled at the Jewish state. Many people using such language are either ideologically-driven (usually on the hard left), so that in reality it makes little difference whatever Israel does, she will also be criticised, or else they have never visited Israel and are totally unaware of the reality on the ground. Unfortunately, this pejorative language is increasingly echoed among some Christians who seem to be driven by an irrational, pathological hatred of Israel. What is ironic is when such people either accuse Israel of being racist or that its entire  existence owes itself to racism, and in some cases even publicly suggest the bulk of fellow Christians who happen to be Zionists espouse a racist theology, but then get highly offended and threaten to sue or bring in the police when people suggest they are anti-Semitic. So easy to label a nation racist, isn't it? (who's going to sue you?)

Anyway, let's look briefly at whether or not Israel is racist. The first thing to note is Israel’s relationship with two (not one) groups of Arabs: Israeli Arabs and Arabs living in the West Bank and Gaza. The former are actually Israeli citizens who live within Israel’s internationally recognised borders. As citizens, they have the right to vote, form political parties, stand for election, take their grievences to the Israeli courts, and so on. One of Israel’s official languages is Arabic. You’ll find Arabic writing on Israeli bank notes, while there are Arab members of the Knesset (the Israeli parliament).

13 January 2010

Old Testament Israel and Racism

A couple of days ago I commented briefly on the view held by several anti-Israel Christians that God having a chosen people is a racist theology. My post was not aimed at all Covenantalists, some of whom, even though I may disagree with theologically, include friends and colleagues I respect deeply. Rather, my comment was aimed at the more polemical (and arguably less theological) variety of supercessionism which so hates Israel it childishly accuses fellow Christians who take a different view as somehow racist. This said, the concept of God choosing for Himself a peculiar people, as detailed in the Old Testament, merits further comment, so today I thought I'd elaborate just a tiny bit more on this notion of an ethnically distinct chosen people who were Old Testament Israel.

12 January 2010

Man-Made Global Warming Taking a Short Holiday For Now?

The Telegraph ran this report on its website yesterday:
The world could be in for a spell of cooler temperatures, rather than hotter conditions, as a result of cyclical changes in ocean currents for the next 20 or 30 years, it is predicted.

Research by Professor Mojib Latif, one of the world's leading climate modellers, questions the widely held view that global temperatures will rise rapidly over the coming years.
But Prof Latif, of the Leibniz Institute at Germany's Kiel University and an author for the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), believes that the cool spell will only be a temporary interruption to climate change.
He told a UN conference in September that changes in ocean currents known as North Atlantic Oscillation could dominate over man-made global warming for the next few decades.

Controversially, he also said that the fluctuations could also be responsible for much of the rise in global temperatures seen over the past 30 years.
Prof Latif told one newspaper at the weekend: "A significant share of the warming we saw from 1980 to 2000 and at earlier periods in the 20th Century was due to these cycles – perhaps as much as 50 per cent.
Quite. What's significant here is that this chappie is not only a reputedly well-respected scientist and climate modeller, he's closely associated with the UN's IPCC and thus a key player in the man-made global warming industry. So reading his views concerning the direction global warming might be taking in the wake of an Artic blast Europeans and North Americans have just endured, it raises all manner of possible motives for his quite ashtonishing statement. You may tick one box only...

[ ] The cynical option. This an attempt by the said scientist to hedge his bets and salvage his good name and that of his colleagues, just in case the theory of man-made global warming proves not to be true. Perhaps he has sniffed the general (and growing) scepticism in the air concerning man-made global warming, so he's saving face and started to distance himself from some of the "science", especially in light of the recent climategate scandal.

[ ] Ever-so-slightly-less-cynical option. Maybe he's a "warmist" zealot after all, and this is nothing more than an attempt to push back the date of the looming apocalypse a trite (a common practice, it seems, among some of the global warming crowd... nothing like damaging one's credentials by setting too early a date for the end of the word, so that the prophet and hearers are still alive when the date comes... and goes).

[ ] A bit of a panicker, actually. This might, ironically, be an example in reverse of when the scientific community overreacts to a bit of extreme weather and immediately pulls out the foreteller robes and hat and prophesies doom and gloom. In fairness to the professor he's the only warmist (and one connected with the IPCC) I've come across honest enough to consider recalibrating global warming predictions in response to extreme cold weather! Usually it's the other way around...  an unseasonably warm Summer and it's time to make Hollywood movies about the end of the world.

[ ] The imperialist (or Westcentric) option. Unseasonable weather in North America and Europe this Winter (excluding Russia, which though in Europe isn't really one of us) has resulted in a radical overhaul of global warming predictions. Forget what's happening elsewhere on the globe...

[ ] Reasonable, objective, let's-not-be-flippant, typically English option. This is an entirely reasonable, objective scientist after all who is simply putting the break on heated and extreme predictions by some of his more undisciplined colleagues acting in the name of sensationalism.

[ ] Unthinkable option? The scientist is 100% correct, man-made global warming is a genuine threat but one which, according to the world's natural climate cycles is now on the back burner for the next two or three decades.

Gentle irony or smugness aside, looking through the above questions and scenarios we do seem to have covered all of the chappie's possible motives for his statement (remaining wedded to an agenda, unease, overreaction, objectivity, or continued belief in global warming). If I missed any let me know. Now consider this: whichever is closest to the truth, none makes a blind bit of difference to the outcome for the globe. Even the last one means we have another 30 years (by which time oil will be so expensive we'll be using alternative sources of energy anyway). In short, the imminent apocalypse promised is being pushed back yet again. No wonder people are becoming sceptical. Nearly thirty years ago we were told London might be under water by now. So in the words of that song, "Don't worry, be happy".

Again, why do I harp on about this issue? Because I think it is in large part driven by governments wanting to raise taxes, and ideologues wanting to make the other half of the population feel guilty and tell them how to live. Meanwhile (and this is the key for me), many Church leaders have missed the boat, allowing the world to dictate their environmental agenda for them without constructing an independent biblical theology of stewardship for themselves.

11 January 2010

"God is no longer a racist"

Have you noticed how the favourite maxim (nay, mantra) of some who vociferously and pejoratively reject the view that the Jewish people somehow retain a continued special place in God's heart claim such a theology is racist? Do a bit of research and dig a little and you’ll see it is a favourite ploy by the new supercessionists. In these New Testament times, they say, the time of the new covenant, God shows no favouritism. Therefore, any view that singles out the Jews as God’s chosen people is a racist theology. Thus they claim “God is not a racist.”

Actually, according to this flawed logic that last phrase should read, “God is no longer a racist” because, as we all know (and supercessionists freely concede) in Old Testament times biblical Israel was indeed God’s chosen people. God did choose for Himself a people - the Jews - who were special in God's sight. So upon reflection, when someone accuses a theology of the Jews as God's continued people of being inherently racist we are left with two logical choices. Either a) God is no longer a racist, or b) God’s choosing of a peculiar people, as He did in Old Testament times, was done in such a way which was never racist to begin with. If the latter, how then can the view today that God has not finished with His people Israel also be considered racist? It can't. And of course we also know biblical Israel was far from racist. She practised an integrationist approach which welcomed all manner of ethnic non-Jews within the congregation of Israel. (More on this in a future post.) To be sure, a minority on the fringes of Christian Zionism may well be racist, but it simply won't do to implicate everyone who holds to the view God has not finished with the Jewish people as somehow crossing the line into racism. Unnecessarily inflammatory language and straw man building such as this merely turns the theological debate into a political football.

So next time someone pompously asserts that a theology affirming God’s favouritism towards the Jews is somehow racist, I suggest a response (in a suitably humble manner, of course) to the effect that, “Oh, I’m glad to hear God is no longer a racist”. Then explain how, according to their logic, He used to be in Old Testament times. I’d be interested to hear their responses.

Adapted from a post originally published on the Midlands Bible College blog.
Take my poll on Christian responses to the State of Israel. See top-right of this page.

9 January 2010

Interesting Find on Two Counts

A short story in Israel's Haaretz newspaper just caught my yesterday. It concerns an inscription, written in ink on clay, which was recently deciphered by a scholar at Haifa University. Upon analysis, it appears to be an early form of Hebrew which conceivably pushes the writing of the Old Testament much further back than previously thought by biblical scholars, from around the 6th century BC to around or near the time of King David, thus calling into question well over a century of biblical criticism.

Interesting stuff, not only because it challenges all that old higher criticism stuff about the age of the Old Testament, but also because if authentic the inscription provides yet another piece of archaeological evidence of a Jewish kingdom in the region long before Islam or an Arab population. You may think this is a given (it is, of course), but unfortunately not only is temple denial in the ascendancy, but the legitimacy of the Jewish state is also often absurdly challenged by some Muslims and Palestinian Authority officials on the basis that a biblical Jewish state is a Zionist myth and never existed! For example, see a report about a PA TV programme by a Jerusalem website here and by Palestinian Media Watch here. If you want evidence from the horse's mouth simply do a search for "20 Zionist Myths Exposed", compiled by M.B. Qumsiyeh, a West Bank scientist and university lecturer (a classic example of the dangers of dabbling in disciplines far removed from one's specialist area and the ensuing tosh it can produce.)

Anyway, the Haaretz story can be found here, while the analysis of the inscription was also reported and expanded upon by the Jerusalem Post here. No doubt the archaeological and literary analysis will be debated for some time before any kind of consensus is reached.

Take my poll on Christian responses to the State of Israel. See top-right of this page.

6 January 2010

Should a Christian Appear on Press TV?

Since its launch in 2007 a number of Christians have appeared on Press TV, including one I chatted with some time later who appeared a little embarrassed for having done so. Why, exactly? Well, especially since the Iranian elections there has been a flurry of allegations by various commentators in the media and elsewhere concerning the channel’s agenda and methods, while it seems a number of politicians, analysts and experts wishing to be taken seriously are increasingly doubtful about the wisdom of appearing on Press TV. Thus, in light of these perceptions of the channel and what it represents, the question of whether or not a Christian should appear on Press TV is an important one for believers contemplating how best to engage with the public square.

But first some background on Press TV, which is a 24-hour, English-language, Iranian news and current affairs channel set up by Tehran with the express aim of promoting the regime’s perspective. As such, accusations of bias, selective reporting, even misrepresentation, abound. In its broadcasting Press TV has little time for the US and Western governments, though much of its vitriol is especially reserved for Tehran’s nemesis, Israel and international Zionism (whatever that is), while the channel has also been accused of anti-Semitism. Moreover, several of its presenters include British politicians on the hard left, for example, George Galloway and Jeremy Corbyn, who are deeply critical of Western governments and Israel. Further comment on Press TV can be found in a piece by The Times and The Independent columnist Dominic Lawson, who publishes a comment on the channel in the The Times newspaper here, while Jeremy Paxman on the BBC’s Newsnight interviews a Press spokesman here (the bit I enjoyed the most is about 5 minutes in, when the Press TV guy challenges a fellow guest to provide him examples of propaganda on the channel, whereupon the other guest, much to the chagrin of the channel’s representative who somehow thought he had caught out his opponent, begins to list example after example in a staccato monotone).

The Ecclesiological Debate Raging Within Messianic Judaism

I've mentioned previously the wide-ranging and intense theological debate raging on within Messianic Judaism (MJ) concerning MJ identity, its relationship with the Church and the extent to which Messianic believers ought to be integrated into a church or Torah-observant MJ synagogue. Richard Harvey's book mentioned in that post has gone some way to mapping out the various expressions of MJ.

For those of you seeking to understand this volatile debate on ecclesiology and how it has fragmented the MJ movement, the Rosh Pina Project is a website where issues such as this, of immense importance to MJ, are debated. There, a post recently sought to highlight a possible link between Mark Kinzer and Jesuit spirituality. Mark Kinzer is author of Post-Missionary Messianic Judaism, a book which has caused considerable debate within the movement concerning its ecclesiology, and who belongs to the Torah-observant wing of MJ. Within this branch of the movement are some who not only declare Messianic believers must fully observe the Mosaic Law, but also the ideal for them is to congregate in a wholly Jewish setting in order to retain their Jewish identity, rather than attend Evangelical congregations where their Jewish identity as believers in Yeshua threatens to be diluted. Many Evangelical believers, both Gentile and Jewish, are uneasy with the ramifications of such a bilateral ecclesiology.

The link to the post on Mark Kinzer and Jesuit spirituality can be found here. But what I found particularly interesting was the debate carried on in the comments section afterwards. It becomes immediately clear how intense and passionate the current debate concerning ecclesiology and identity within MJ actually is.

Take my poll on Christian responses to the State of Israel. See top-right of this page.

3 January 2010

Any Further News on Dr Sari Nusseibeh?

In late November a story appeared on numerous blogs concerning the Palestinian academic Dr Sari Nusseibeh (Birzeit University, Ramallah) having to go into hiding after challenging in a new book the view held by many Middle East Muslims that the Temple Mount in Jerusalem was never a Jewish holy site. Does anyone have any further news on this, or even if it is true? When I looked into it further, the bloggers all seemed to be citing the same source, which makes verification difficult (according to one search engine Sky seemed to have run something at some stage on their site, but when I got there it was a blank page). Therefore, if anyone has any further news from a reputable source I'd be very interested to see it.

For his part Nusseibeh is an interesting character (see his Wikipedia entry for further details, though remember the editing policy of this source) who, as an academic, seems to come across more broad-minded, moderate and objective than some of his Palestinian political peers. Whether or not in this case he received threats (he certainly seems to have experienced some problems in the past for his efforts to engage with the Israelis), the publication of a new edited book on the Temple Mount is not in doubt. The Scotsman newspaper published an interesting article on the project in early December, which can be found here.

Whatever the truth about Nusseibeh going into hiding, it is certainly true that in the region temple denial has become as routine as Holocaust denial. No less than the former Grand Mufti of Jerusalem himself some time ago denied there was ever a Jewish temple on the Temple Mount. The whole thing is a total invention, he claimed. Thus, Jews have no history on the Temple Mount and have no right even to pray there. That a man in such a position could so cavalierly dismiss the many historical documents attesting to the Jewish temple is astonishing, while his dismissal of literally tonnes of archaeological evidence would make even a biblical archaeology minimalist break out in a cold sweat.

This kind of temple denial goes to the very heart of another denial so prevalent in the region: Israel's right to exist. No wonder the Israelis are security conscious, who wouldn't be? Which other nation is routinely threatened with destruction? Thus, regardless of one's theology concerning the relationship between the Church and Israel there is surely something all Evangelicals can agree on: that the Church should strive with all its heart to condemn unfailingly and unequivocally such expression of hatred towards the Jewish people which deny them their existence, their nation, their religious history, and even their slaughter in the millions at the hands of the Nazis.

Take my poll on Christian responses to the State of Israel. See top-right of this page.

Pentecostal presence, power and politics in Latin America

I just had an article published in the Journal of Beliefs and Values: Studies in Religion and Education (the official journal of the Association of University Lecturers in Religion and Education) entitled "Pentecostal presence, power and politics in Latin America". It forms part of an entire edition devoted to an academic treatment of global Pentecostalism, edited by William K. Kay. Details of the other articles and contributors can be found here. At some stage this year copyright rules permit me to post a version of the article on my website, but for now find below an abstract of the paper and keywords. The typeset PDF version can be purchased direct from Taylor and Francis (see link above).


Prior to the 1980s political scientists had by and large dismissed religion as a determinant of political behaviour. Yet sociologists and political scientists were forced to re-evaluate secularisation theories in light of various events on the geopolitical stage involving religion throughout that decade. Significant among these was the explosion of Pentecostalism across Latin America in the 1980s, leading to a boom in academic research keen to explore the social and political impact of this phenomenon. This article traces the rise and identifies the various expressions of Latin American Pentecostalism, together with its political responses across the continent, arguing that perceptions of Latin American Pentecostalism as homogenous and inherently conservative lack nuance and indeed are essentially flawed. In fact, Latin American Pentecostal political responses are diverse, depending on circumstance, Pentecostal expression, country or region, and demographics.

Keywords: Latin America; Pentecostalism; politics; society; religion

Take my poll on Christian responses to the State of Israel. See top-right of this page.

2 January 2010

New Year, New Poll on Israel

In my last poll I asked "Are all the spiritual gifts detailed in the Bible for today?" Results were as follows:

50%  Yes, all of them
  7%   No, none of them
 21%  Some, but not all
 21%  Don't know

However, the number of votes is very low compared with traffic to the site, so it's not really a scientific indicator of the theological views of readers. So here we go with another one which will hopefully attract more interest. I'm asking readers to choose which of the listed statements best reflects their theological response towards the modern State of Israel. The poll is in the far right column. Many thanks.