Q. Steve, you host a Southern Heritage Conference annually in Monroe. What is the focus of this conference and how did it begin?
A. We were concerned, as Jefferson Davis once told the Southern people, that we should not allow Northerners to tell our history. We were concerned that the truth about our Southern forefathers was not being told and that our children might grow up ignorant as to what their great grandfathers fought for and stood for. We believe we have an honorable heritage that should be preserved and defended. We recognize that not everything that the South did was honorable or sinless; but, by and large, it was a culture founded upon Christianity, and that reality ought not to be forgotten by coming generations.
Jesus begins this section of His sermon by addressing those who are really hearing and taking to heart what He is saying, i.e., His true disciples. He contrasts with the strong conjunction, "But," alla in Greek, those upon whom the woes are pronounced and His true disciples. To them as the "blessed" ones He commands them to love their enemies. "They will be able to love their enemies, etc. A new life and a new power are in their hearts, those of the kingdom of God, vs. 20, and they will show their presence in the most distinctive and tangible way. The fruits of repentance which Jesus names are those which the world cannot achieve by any ethics it may invent or practice." - Lenski
God promises in His word the triumph of His kingdom. Nevertheless, when we look at the many divisions existing among God's people, a unified effort to advance this cause seems distant at best. Personal disputes, theological differences and organizational rivalries often characterize the disciples of Christ rather than love for one another (John 13:35). Instead of an ecumenical and charitable spirit flowing between believers, it is common to find a party spirit - an "us and them" attitude. I find such discord saddening and discouraging. Well, as for me and my organization, the party is over! This declaration is made in the context of my own acknowledgment that I have, at times, been guilty of such attitudes and am hereby publicly repenting of such.
Any Christian with an interest in biblical theology and eschatology must face the question of the role of Israel in the plan of God. All evangelicals agree: God's redemptive purpose in the Old Testament focuses on Israel as his special people. But all evangelicals do not agree on the answer to the questions; What is Israel's present role in the new covenant era? What is God's prophetic purpose for Israel in the future? These are important issues, which, if unresolved, wholly undermine one's understanding of Scripture.
Holwerda's Jesus & Israel and Walker's Jesus and the Holy City are among the finest theological analyses I have ever read on the question of Israel. In fact, these books quickly established themselves as among the most important theological treatises I have read on any topic. I will be requiring these in courses I teach at Bahnsen Theological Seminary.
Another of the books is a very insightful analysis of the topic of spiritual adultery and the people of God: Orthund's Whoredom: God's Unfaithful Wife in Biblical Theology. This might seem an odd book to review under the topic of Israel. Nevertheless, because of my doctoral studies on the Book of Revelation this title greatly intrigued me. I believe Revelation relates God's divorce of Israel for covenant adultery (the seven sealed scroll is a divorce decree), her capital punishment (the fiery judgments on the harlot), and Christ's turning to take a new bride, the Church (the new Jerusalem from heaven). This is not the view of Orthund, but his helpful study of spiritual whoredom throughout Scripture proved quite beneficial for my research.