King's Evangelical Divinity School

29 May 2012

A Thread Shedding Light on the Ongoing MJ Identity Debate

The fellows at Rosh Pina Project have posted a video and brief comment on some idiocy which seeks to claim Gentile Christians are somehow Israelites via the "lost" tribes. RPP also posts a link to a critique (better, demolition) of this teaching by Derek Leman, a North American blogger and leader of a Messianic synagogue.

But what's really interesting is the manner in which the thread develops on the RPP website, which helps to demonstrate some of the internal issues - particularly surrounding identity - which the Messianic movement is currently grappling with. For some background, one of the comments is from a former MJ who has returned back to Judaism, Derek Leman (a Gentile currently undergoing conversion to MJ) also comments, as do several Jewish believers (watch out for Dan Benzvi). Fascinating stuff! 

By all means add your comment at RPP, but please add any here too for if anyone wants to discuss some of these issues. The Gentile church is, by and large, ignorant of some of these issues facing the Messianic movement.

25 May 2012

More TV (this time exegesis and heresy)

On Tuesday 10 July I'm back on Revelation TV for a one hour broadcast. During the programme I'll be discussing the use and abuse of the Bible, together with the issue of heresy, with presenter Doug Harris for his Simply the Truth programme. I think it's scheduled for 7 pm but check listings. The channel is available on Sky, can also be viewed in the US if you have a ROKU box, and can be watched online. 

22 May 2012

Have Evangelicals Downplayed the Power of the Cross?

Christian contemporary music doesn't much appeal to me. On the whole I think the secular world does a better job (and at least when its artists behave badly you're expecting it). I also find some loud rock contributions somewhat distracting during worship. But that's just my personal preference.

One exception is Ricardo Sanchez's Power of the Cross which I first heard at a US conference earlier this year. What immediately stood out was the song's lyrics. While some rock worship songs are rather empty of theology, Sanchez's song focuses strongly on Christ's work at Calvary.

The power of the cross, of course, is a scriptural theme. The Apostle Paul explains how the cross lies at the heart of the gospel, so that for those of us being saved it is the very power of God. He writes:
For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. 18 For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. (1 Cor 1:17-18 ESV)
Evangelicals have always strongly affirmed and proclaimed this salvific aspect of the cross. An emphasis upon the cross is a defining characteristic of Evangelicalism. Evangelicals preach the good news of salvation through the cross, and indeed are even named after this good news (euangelion). The cross is also a central aspect in Bebbington's now famous quadrilateral (generally regarded as the standard definition of Evangelicalism): biblicism, crucicentrism, conversionism, activism.

However, I wonder if too many of us Evangelicals have focused so much upon the power of the cross in the life of the individual that we have relegated its wider power.

18 May 2012

Tonight at Leeds Messianic Fellowship

This evening I'm speaking at Leeds Messianic Fellowship at 7.45 pm. The aim of my talk is to explore the nature of the new supersessionism and look at why replacement theology is so prevalent today. If you can make it I look forward to seeing old friends and meeting new ones. Details of LMF and where they meet can be found on

17 May 2012

Is this the best way to do it?

Received the following YouTube clip purporting to show a Word of Faith (i.e. prosperity gospel) preacher who, not knowing what is about to happen, has her theology publicly challenged and is rebuked by a Calvary Chapel pastor in her own church. It's painful to watch and raises some questions. But first, here's the video...

I have a problem with much of the prosperity message. Indeed, in preparation for a recent television discussion on heresy I participated in, my research led me to conclude that outside doctrines which question or deny the very person and work of Christ, the next big issue thoroughly condemned in Scripture as antithetical to the faith is the love of money and exploitation of the faith for greed (e.g. Annanias and Shapphira, Simon Magus, 1 Tim 3:6-10). In 2 Corinthians the Apostle Paul draws a strong link between false teachers who preach a different gospel (11:1-6), demand money for their ministry (verses 7-12) and who are servants of Satan (13-15). This kind of language is reserved for a select few in the New Testament.

16 May 2012

Israel: Colonial Project or Thoroughly Middle Eastern?

Yesterday the Arab world marked the Nakba ("catastrophe") commemorating the displacement of Palestinians following Israel's independence and the first Arab-Israeli war. Though the Palestinian refugee issue remains high profile (indeed a whole division of UN bureaucracy is given over to this single issue), the displacement of another Middle East (ME) people following Israeli independence is rarely discussed. I refer, of course, to nearly equal number of Jews forced to abandon their property and flee for their lives from Arab countries venting fury.

How the stories of both these tragic displacements are played out is very different. In one case, the vast majority of ME Jews fled to Israel, where they were welcomed, given a new life and opportunity, and today enjoy the full rights of citizenship and have contributed substantially to their country's economic success. In the other case, Palestinian refugees have, sadly, received no such welcome from the Arab world to which they fled, where the vast majority have few rights or citizenship.

14 May 2012

His Grace responds to the ASA

For context, see here. For His Grace's response to the Advertising Standards Authority see here. For plenty of comment on this ludicrous situation just Google "ASA" and "Cranmer".

Given the Archbishop's response I wonder if by now the ASA is severely regretting getting involved.

12 May 2012

His Grace persecuted by the ASA

Archbishop Cranmer is in trouble. Apparently, the Advertising Standards Agency is formally investigating His Grace and has demanded an official response for posting the following "homophobic and offensive" advert on his blog:

No, I don't understand any of it either. Read the full story over at Cranmer's blog. He's been swamped with comments and well-wishers.

If this is for real (and I must admit I double-checked to make sure it wasn't 1 April), all the ASA has succeeded in doing is contribute to the advert's dissemination far beyond the organisers' wildest dreams, as well as make Cranmer a martyr (again). I suspect we're going to see another Spartacus moment across the blogosphere.

10 May 2012

Handbook of Pentecostal Christianity

Last week I received my copy of the Handbook of Pentecostal Christianity, edited by Adam Stewart (Northern Illinois University Press). In the introduction Adam writes:
This book was written with two primary objectives in mind; first to assist college, university and seminary instructors who are faced with the task of introducing their students to Pentecostalism and, second, to serve as a compact companion for general readers who are interested in learning more about Pentecostalism. The increased scholarly interest in this religious movement has created a need for a concise, interdisciplinary text that can help instructors from various disciplinary backgrounds introduce their students to the wide array of necessary events, ideas, and figures that form its basic vocabulary (p 5).
So if you're interested in an scholarly introduction to Pentecostalism and Pentecostal Studies, you'll find this book useful. The book consists of fifty entries, two of which - Latin American Pentecostalism and Televangelism - are mine.

Click on the icon to order a copy from Amazon. If you do so through this link a small commission will be paid towards the work and ministry of King's Evangelical Divinity School.

9 May 2012

Canadian Minister Identifies What It's All About

A United Church of Canada minister has challenged his denomination's campaign which pushes for an economic boycott of Israel. Revd Andrew Love has spent time in the West Bank and is not uncritical of Israel, yet he believes the proposal minimises the Holocaust, is “biased and one-sided" and erodes a UCC commitment to strengthen ties with the Jewish community. He also expresses concerns about anti-Semitism. Revd Love also states:
I really want to believe this is the workings of a very active minority in the church. 
And with this statement the Canadian minister has surely put his finger on the pulse of what's behind organised Christian anti-Israel sentiment, not just in Canada but across the world. Well-meaning, sincere and objective individuals aside, there is clear evidence of a one-sided, ideologically-driven and frantically active minority of Protestant elites who, despite commanding little by way of wider grassroots support, nonetheless set about exploiting and capturing the system. In such cases it has less to do with peace than ideology.

I'm frequently reminded of how Marxist-Leninism historically employed similar strategies. It worked initially, of course, but inevitably the house of cards always eventually came tumbling down. One might think they can manipulate the grassroots, but history indicates that over time they usually see through it all.

Read the full report on the UCC here.

1 May 2012

Debate on ecumenism (Revelation TV, 24 April 2012)

Here's a live debate I participated in during a live broadcast by Revelation TV last week. The subject was ecumenism and the person I debated with was the Revd Elizabeth Welch (Chair, Society for Ecumenical Studies). The programme was Simply the Truth, chaired by Doug Harris.

Calvin L. Smith debates ecumenism, Revelation TV (24 April 2012) from Calvin Smith on Vimeo.