Book Notice: Simon Chan on Asian Theology

Simon Chan
Grassroots Asian Theology: Thinking the Faith from the Ground Up
Downers Grove, IL: IVP, 2014.
Available at

I have to say that this is easily one of the best books that I’ve read this year. I was initially just gonna have a basic perusal through this book, however, after the first chapter I was hooked! If you are into Systematics, mission, Pentecostalism, or global theology, then you will enjoy this book.  Simon Chan (Trinity College, Singapore) does a great job of exploring what Christian theology looks like in Asian contexts, including the challenges and resources that it brings to the task.

Chan really takes a lot of elitest Asian theology to the woodshed as too influenced by western liberalism. I love his citation of Donald Miller that Liberation theologians opted for the poor, but the poor opted to be Pentecostal instead! This book has one of the best critiques of social gospel theology that I’ve ever read on the coat tails of Barth and Hauerwas (p. 39). There is so much I could highlight and reflect on. Chan shows how Christians have engaged differently with Islam, religious syncretism, and ancestor veneration. He draws attention to Chinese, Japanese, and Indian theologians most of us have never heard about. He discusses Catholic statements of faith from the perspective of Asian bishops, sin in an honour-shame culture, the Trinity in a family oriented culture, how Asian theology has a better appreciation of the priestly work of Christ, and the church as the answer to the problems of this world. Fantastic stuff.

I have to say that my favourite segment of the book was about the Holy Spirit. Chan writes:

The way in which evangelicals distinguish themselves from Catholicism might explain why evangelicals lack a robust understanding of the Spirit’s proprium. Like their Protestant forebears, evangelicals tend to define themselves against they they perceive to be abuses in Catholicism. This defining-against becomes one of the hallmarks of evangelical self-identity: ‘Protestants broke with the scholasticism of Catholic theology, the hierarchy fo Catholic ecclesiology, the mechanics of late medieval spirituality, and the basic structure of late medieval Catholic  ascetic and mystical consciousness.’ [Evan Howard]. The things that evangelicals are opposed to in Catholicism -scholasticism, hierarchy, a too-mechanical way of cultivating the Christian life, and mysticism – at first appear quite unconnected to each other, but on closer examination, they are built on the Catholic (and, we may add, Orthodox) theology that understands the union between the Trinity and the church in ontological terms” (p.  147).

One of the best books of the year.


Hillsong Clarifies Stance on Sexuality

Brian Houston, Senior Pastor of Hillsong, made come comments in a NYC press conference that created a bit of a stir because he refused to take a definitive position on the issue of homosexuality. He used the language like "an ongoing conversation" and talking about those "on a journey with it." See full report at RNS. This has be interpreted by many as Hillsong's capitulation on the issue of homosexuality as reported by Andrew Walker at First Things. However, Hillsong has released a statement cl … [Read More...]

Douglas Campbell’s New Book on Pauline Chronology

Douglas Campbell (Duke University) has a new book coming out on Pauline chronology and critical introductory matters called Framing Paul, looks like it will be a treat, see a promo for the book below:  … [Read More...]

Simon Gathercole on the Canonical and Non-Canonical Gospels

A few months ago, Simon Gathercole gave a plenary paper at the BNTS on a comparison between the canonical and non-canonical Gospels.  In brief, Gathercole argues that the canonical gospels are distinguished from "other" Gospels by their kerygmatic content, in that they express what became known as " … [Read More...]

Things to Say if the City of Houston Asks for Your Sermon Notes

I'm sure many of you have heard that the City of Houston has demanded that several leading pastors turn over to authorities any sermons dealing with homosexuality and gender. See news reports here and here.I'll be visiting Houston Baptist University in January, so I thought I better have some … [Read More...]

Cliff Kvidahl Interviews Wayne Coppins about German and English Biblical Scholarship

I'm glad to have Cliff Kvidahl as a guest blogger today so find links below with his interview with Wayne Coppins about the Baylor Press and Mohr/Siebeck Verlag joint venture on translating key German monographs into English.Part 1Part 2Some interesting books are schedule to come out in … [Read More...]

Setting the Australian Church Record Straight about Justification

In the latest issue of the Australian Church Record (a Sydney Anglican on-line magazine, normally an informative and encouraging read) is one of the oddest articles I've ever read. It is by Matt Olliffe on "Has Protestantism Gone Catholic?" which you can read here (p. 6).Olliffe proceeds to … [Read More...]

More on Paul’s Priestly Service in the Gospel

Love this quote from D.W.B. Robinson: Paul cannot separate his own role from the operation of the gospel which he thus expounds to his Gentile readers in Rome. Romans is both an exposition of the gospel of hope and at the same time Paul’s apologia for his ‘priesthood’ in that gospel. D.W.B. Robin … [Read More...]

Ben Witherington on “Jesus is Lord, Caesar is Not”

Ben Witherington over at his blog Bible and Culture is reviewing the book edited by Scot McKnight and Joe Modica Jesus Is Lord, Caesar Is Not: Evaluating Empire in New Testament Studies. His fourth post  in the series is a review of my own contribution on Matthew' Gospel. … [Read More...]

Romans 14: Balancing Liberty and Love

I've just finished writing up some comments and application on Romans 14 for a forthcoming commentary in the SGBC series. If I had to some up the exhortation that Paul makes, I'd put it as follows:- Learn to differentiate between areas of conviction and areas of command. - Don’t major on minor d … [Read More...]

Jobs in NT Studies

There are three jobs going in NT studies at three very prestigious institutions.Wheaton College: Visiting Assistant Professor of Ancient Languages & New TestamentOxford University: Associate Professor of New Testament StudiesDuke University: Associate Professor of New Testament … [Read More...]

Two Important Articles on the Future of Seminaries

For those involved in seminary education or administration, you might want to read these two pieces.First, The Rise and Fall of the American Seminary by Tom Ehrich. A provocative piece, esp. in light of the GTS labour dispute in New York, but probably truer for mainline seminaries. Does the … [Read More...]

Ben Witherington on Dispensationalism

In light of the Left Behind movie, people might like to check out Ben Witherington's narration of the origins and errors of Dispensationalism.Any thoughts from Dispensationalists?  … [Read More...]

The Scandal of Jesus

The Barth "hits" keep coming . . .This one, however, maybe the most significant thing I've read about Jesus in a very long while. In a section on Romans 8:3-4 in an exposition of the clause "God sent his own son in the likeness of sin-controlled flesh" (notice Barth's paraphrase) Barth speaks of … [Read More...]

Free Sample from John Byron’s 1-2 Thessalonians Commentary (SGBC)

Not only is John Byron's commentary on 1-2 Thessalonians now out, but you can read a sample from it here on 1 Thess 1:1-3!The SGBC has a great format for those doing sermon preparation with Listen to the Story, Explain the Story, and Live the Story.I'm in the final stages of finishing off my … [Read More...]