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I offer three reasons for revising what was, until recently, a fairly widespread assumption about a limitation on Protestant ethical theory. First, I identify a broad and diverse array of contemporary Protestants who are rehabilitating natural law theories or facets thereof. Second, I consider and attempt to rebut two principal objections to the theological coherence of a distinctively Protestant theory of the natural law. With special reference to the theology of John Calvin, I argue that a Protestant account of the natural law need not deny that either (1) sin has dramatically hindered the cognitive faculties of humans or (2) God is somehow subjected to the natural law. Third, I illustrate the ecumenical implications that may result from Protestants’ explicit affirmation of the natural law. I conclude that the Protestant tradition affords both historical examples and conceptual space to accommodate some form of natural law theory.
Proverbs 1–9 is often said to have a city background that contrasts with the agricultural imagery dominant in the maxims sections. However, this is an oversimplification. There are also maxims in the main Proverbs collection that concern the city, and the city background revealed within Proverbs 1–9 links up with the portrayal of the ‘capable wife’ in Proverbs 31:10–33. Having established the presence of city references throughout Proverbs, this article explores how the portrayal of Woman Wisdom and Woman Folly in particular gives fascinating insight into the heart of happenings in the Israelite city.
Although there is considerable documentation of women preachers during the English Civil War period and the Interregnum, it is clear that such activities were not encouraged among English Calvinistic Baptists, and most especially among Particular Baptists. Yet there was a tension in even the most restrictive Baptist teaching on this subject. For since Baptists had opened the door to congregational participation in the public ministry of the church, they were faced with the problem of partially closing that door in order to restrict the ministry of women to that of diakonia, and good works. Nevertheless, a small number of women have been identified as both prophets and Particular Baptists, and the nature and context of their ministry illustrates the role of women in early Baptist communities.
Over the last fifty years studies of Anselm of Canterbury's concept of divine justice have delivered different results. The aim of this article is to present the results of a new comprehensive inquiry, based on the interpretation of key passages about justice in Anselm's theological works. The article argues that Anselm works with three definitions of God's justice. The first is the most traditional: God's justice is his right dealing with good and bad. The second definition follows the Anselmian concept of God: God's justice is his acting according to his being that than which nothing greater can be conceived. The third definition is God's rightness of will, preserved for its own sake. The article concludes that the attempt to show how these three definitions are related to each other brings to light tensions and loose ends in Anselm's works.
This article examines two topics that emerge from N. T. Wright's Paul and the Faithfulness of the Gospel: Paul the Shammaite-zealot and the ‘great narrative’ of an Israel in exile, waiting for something. The perspective adopted is that of a historian, for whom the fundamental question is whether Wright's accounts approximate plausible reality two thousand years ago. With respect to the first topic, analysis of source material on the Pharisees in the pre-70 period renders Wright's association of Paul with the rabbinic ‘House of Shammai’ and zealotry doubtful in every part. Similar issues arise in relation to the second topic, where Wright's proposal is supported by a kind of proof-texting, without methodical concern for the nature, context, coherence, themes, rhetoric or meaning of texts in situ.
The basic agenda and resulting architecture of N. T. Wright's reconstruction of Paul's theology in Paul and the Faithfulness of God are a dramatic and brilliant break with most previous analyses and an important step forward. But closer analysis suggests that his project also contains some serious problems. First, it is not well executed: there are basic problems of method and exegesis with Wright's manner of reading Paul's texts. Second, Lutheranism and various modern dichotomies have not been purged sufficiently thoroughly from Wright's reconstruction of Paul's thought, resulting in tensions of truly tectonic proportions. One is left with the impression of a magnificent venture foundering in its haste – haste perhaps extending back to the venture's original design, when certain contradictory tendencies needed to be confronted and solved, but were not.