King's Evangelical Divinity School

21 November 2011

King David Street souk (Jerusalem Old City)

Here's a video filmed this evening walking down the King David Street souk (Arabic: market) in Jerusalem's Old City, inside the Jaffa Gate. The video shows just a small section of this mainly Arabic market in one of the Old City's main thoroughfares. I've uploaded various other video clips of my current visit to Israel and will upload more before I return this weekend. I'll post several here but to view the rest visit www.youtube.com/calvinsmithvideos. My aim is a series of short clips offering insight into the topography, history, culture, religion and everyday life of the country. If you subscribe to the channel you'll be notified whenever new clips are uploaded.

20 November 2011

Jerusalem

Hi, currently in Jerusalem so blogging is going slow right now. However, I plan to post a link to a new Youtube channel tomorrow evening with video clips I will film which I think people will find interesting. I'm spending my time during this particular trip here in Jerusalem, the Dead Sea valley, the Golan and northern Israel (Syrian and Lebanese borders), and parts of the coastal strip. I'll be uploading clips (internet connection permitting) each evening and will organise Youtube settings so anyone subscribing will receive notification each time I post a video clip. My aim is to post brief clips (typically 30-90 secs) which move beyond tourist stuff to offer insight into the topography, history, culture, everyday politics and aspects of the theology of the land. The aim is a series of brief snapshots for those wanting to know more about this part of the world. I hope you enjoy it. More late tomorrow evening.

Update

I've now created a YouTube channel www.youtube.com/calvinsmithvideos. There are some clips uploaded already, with many more to follow over the next few days. You can comment on videos, and if you subscribe to my YouTube channel I think you're notified automatically whenever I upload a new video clip (if any veteran YouTubers know othewise or have additional advice please do post details here).

17 November 2011

The Jews, Modern Israel and the New Supercessionism

Since the TV debate on the Church and Israel we've received requests for the little book I edited in 2009 entitled The Jews, Modern Israel and the New Supercessionism: Resources for Christians. Unfortunately it is currently out of print. However, because there were five print runs and copies were ordered by various booksellers, I believe the odd copy is still available through some organisations (e.g. CFI) and smaller independent booksellers (possibly through Amazon).

The book is currently being revised and several new chapters added (including one by Ron Diprose, author of Israel and the Church). I expect it to be published in the first half of 2012.

15 November 2011

Allowing the text to speak for itself

Biblical interpretation can be hard work, with all manner of pitfalls the interpreter of Scripture must avoid. Two issues in particular represent serious challenges to the hermeneutical task. The first is the danger of so focusing on interpreting individual texts that the establishment and interpretative value of any overarching narrative of the Bible as an essential hermeneutical tool is lost. Synchronic interpretation at the expense of a   diachronic approach represents a serious loss to the interpretative process, particularly for the Evangelical interpreter for whom the canon of Scripture exhibits internal unity and purpose as the revealed word of God.

In short, it's all very well (and an essential aspect of exegesis) to study individual short texts in depth, historically, linguistically and of course theologically. However, unless these texts are related back to and interpreted in light of the wider narrative running through the Bible, the hermeneutical process is incomplete. This focus on a theological and canonical interpretation is known as biblical theology, which seeks to establish overarching themes and narratives throughout the whole Bible. (Incidentally, the term "biblical theology" has had several meanings in the history of the academy, so my definition above should not be confused with these.)

13 November 2011

Guest Post: The End of God?

The following is a guest post by Chris Lazenby in response to the documentary The End of God? aired on BB4 on 10 November.

As is often the case with modern documentaries on science and religion, this one seemed designed from the outset to try and destroy any remaining faith people may have in a supreme being. Dr Thomas Dixon, the presenter, informed us at the very outset that: ‘in the battle between science and religion, it would seem that science has won the war. Is there any room left for God?’

12 November 2011

TV Debate: Has the Church Replaced Israel?

Ninety-minute debate between Stephen Sizer and Calvin Smith, broadcast live by Revelation TV on 9 November 2011.


Has the Church Replaced Israel? (TV debate) from Calvin Smith on Vimeo.

10 November 2011

That TV Debate

As some of you know, last night I participated in a live television debate with Stephen Sizer, vicar/pastor of Christ Church, Virginia Water and author of several books on Christian Zionism. It was good to meet Stephen at last and discuss some of the issues. I also appreciate the very many kind words received from so many people via email, text and phone since. Other than expressing the odd opinion on a news clip I've never been on TV before, so I was initially a little nervous, but by the end I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. I thought the debate was good-natured and interesting and I hope viewers found it informative and helpful. Anyway, I have permission to distribute the recording so in due course I'll upload the entire ninety-minute discussion here. Thanks again for all your kind words and encouragement.

9 November 2011

Ortega's Re-election

So Nicaraguan leader and former Sandinista guerrilla Daniel Ortega has just secured another term as President (despite the constitution barring it). Ortega, of course, was one of the nine Sandinista comandantes during the 1979-90 revolutionary period. Ousted in 1990, after which the Sandinistas ominously vowed to "rule from below", Ortega made a remarkable comeback some years ago and has retained and strengthened his grip on power ever since.

7 November 2011

With Ilan Pappe On Their Side

The chaps over at Rosh Pina report the interesting news that the filmmakers of the anti-Christian Zionist film With God On Our Side have had to retract a purported quote by David Ben-Gurion because it seems there's no record of him having said it. The problem is, the reliability of this quote was questioned more than three years ago by the revisionist historian Benny Morris after the now disgraced Independent columnist Johann Hari (critic of Israel and now it transpires - somewhat ironically - serial mis-attributor of quotations) used the quote in an offensive anti-Israel tirade. Apparently this erroneous quote is attributable to the anti-Zionist historian Illan Pappe who is not noted for being an objective historian interested in facts. Thus, one cannot help but wonder what other factual errors the film contains given its reliance on Pappe.

4 November 2011

Messianic Alarm

I've previously posted on some of the issues contributing to diverse expressions of Messianic Judaism (MJ, also Messianic Jews), for example MJ self-identity as both Jewish and Christian, the movement's relationship with (and role within) the wider Church, and Torah observance. I'm particularly concerned at how vociferous anti-Israel sentiment within segments of Evangelicalism further complicate Messianic Jewish self-identity as believers in Jesus, together with their relationship with the Church. It can't be very easy to identify oneself as both a Jew and a believer in Jesus while some in the Church openly and systematically demonise Israel (flatly refusing to see both sides of the story). Furthermore, it makes it so much harder for a Messianic believer to share his or her faith with another Jew if what is being offered is inclusion within a body which is critical and polemically one-sided in the current Middle East conflict. That the Church has a long history of anti-Semitism only compounds that point.

Thus Messianic believers are increasingly alarmed by some of the extreme rhetoric emanating from within parts of the Church. There is considerable disquiet at the harm it is causing MJ-Gentile Christian relations, together with MJ efforts to evangelise the Jewish people. There is growing criticism, too, of how some MJs are dialoguing with anti-Israel Christians, for example through the forthcoming Christ at the Checkpoint. An open letter posted yesterday to Messianic leaders and congregations raises this very point. It provides some insight into how the movement is feels under siege and seeks to respond to the current anti-Israel rhetoric and activism evident within Evangelicalism.

3 November 2011

Still Making Mistakes

A few days ago Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas conceded the Palestinians and Arab world had made a mistake by rejecting the 1947 UN partition plan, choosing to go to war instead. Israel, of course, won the war, expanding and consolidating its territory in the process. Had the original partition plan been accepted how different the Middle East might have looked today.

1 November 2011

Is Social Justice Essential to the Church's Mission

Today the issue of social justice is increasingly discussed by Evangelicals who ask whether or not it represents an essential aspect of the Church's mission. Christian Post reports on a debate between Albert Mohler and Jim Wallis on this very issue, recently held at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Illinois. One issue arising out of the debate appears to be the fundamental importance of defining terminology. What, for example, does social justice mean exactly? For some it quite clearly represents a whole political ideology, for others it is a much more fluid and broad term. Whatever your view, the recently held debate (and comments posted by bloggers following the Christian Post story) demonstrates the need to define terminology before getting involved in debating issues.

Further details of the debate can be found here.