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Steve Stewart—pastor, church leader, and founder of Impact Nations—joined David Capes to talk about God’s work in his life and Impact Nations, an international organization dedicated to the whole gospel which means impacting whole persons, spiritually, economically, educationally and socially. Out of the Covid pandemic and the racial, political predicaments washing over us, Steve has written a terrific book entitled The Beatitudes for a Time of Crisis (Impact Nations Publishing, 2020). Like many others Steve has found solace, direction and inspiration in that first part of Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount. Steve talks with David about how one beatitude leads to the next, and how the gospel is not just about who’s going to heaven? It is about the whole person and what God intends for us here and now. That is why Steve says the beatitudes and the Sermon on the Mount deal with Kingdom citizens doing the right thing for the right reason. The beatitudes are both an invitation to share in God’s life and a paradox. Be sure to get his book and read it carefully. If you want to know more about Steve’s work at Impact Nations, you can do so at www.impactnations.com.
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The Stone Chapel is a podcast of the friends and staff of the Lanier Theological Library in Houston, Texas. It is hosted by Dr. David Capes, Senior Research Fellow at the library and former faculty member at Houston Baptist University and Wheaton College. The purpose of the podcast is to bring to our audience great conversations from the world’s leading experts in theology, biblical studies, archaeology, Church history, the Dead Sea Scrolls, ethics, ministry, and a host of other topics close to the mission of the library.
The Lanier Theological Library is a magnet for scholars, church leaders and influencers. For the last ten years, it has welcomed hundreds of academics and church leaders from across the globe for public lectures, study, panel discussions, consultations, and encouragement.
These podcasts as well as the Lanier library and the Stone Chapel are generously underwritten by Mark and Becky Lanier and the Lanier Theological Library Foundation. If you have questions or comments, please be in touch: Email email@example.com
Dr. Jonathan Pennington, Associate Professor of New Testament Interpretation at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, reflects upon a clause often translated as “be perfect” in Matthew 5:48. He suggests that “Be whole” is a better interpretation of the Greek.
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Jonathan Pennington, associate professor of New Testament interpretation and director of research doctoral studies at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, discusses features of his new book, The Sermon on the Mount and Human Flourishing: a Theological Commentary (Baker, 2017). In particular he argues that the beatitudes (ch. 5) are all about human flourishing. “Flourishing are the poor in spirit . . . “ (Matthew 5.3).
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Dr. Jonathan Pennington, associate professor of New Testament and director of the doctoral program at Southern Seminary, has written an important, new book on the Sermon on the Mount. The title is The Sermon on the Mount and Human Flourishing: A Theological Commentary (Baker Academic, 2017). You can find a link to Amazon here. The book is not exactly new; I’ve known about it for about a year now. But it is new to me and perhaps to many of you.
Pennington is regarded broadly as an expert on the Gospel of Matthew. Now, on the way to writing the prestigious Pillar Commentary on the whole Gospel, he paused and wrote an extensive theological commentary on the Sermon. The Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) is probably the best known sermon of Jesus. Oscar Brooks called it “the inaugural address” of Jesus because it laid out the platform for the kingdom of God.
At the heart of Pennington’s book, as the title shows, is an interpretation of the beatitudes and the Sermon as what we would call today “human flourishing.” Essentially, what wisdom is needed and what virtues must be cultivated in order for humans–or in this case, Jesus-followers–to flourish. He begins by re-translating the beatitudes (Matt 5.3ff) in a manner like: “Flourishing are the poor the spirit, . . . “; “Flourishing are those who mourn, . . . ” You get the idea. He moves the Greek word makarios out of the category of “happy” or “fortunate” or “blessed.” While the term “human flourishing” may be anachronistic, it is heuristically valuable and gets at the heart of what is the good life and good society.
One of the most important features of the book is Pennington’s commitment to join together the Jewish wisdom tradition with Greco-Roman virtue ethics. Rather than seeing these as discrete aspects of Galilean/Jewish culture, Pennington invites us to see these as mutually instructive. He makes a good case for it. But wisdom here is not just “this worldly,” it also has an eschatological dimension as well. It is thoroughly Christ-centered and kingdom-focused.
Pastors and scholars have been writing on the Sermon for years. My first encounter with a book devoted largely to it was Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s book The Cost of Discipleship. I am not sure the trend will end, but I do think that Pennington’s book is likely to become one of the most significant books on the sermon for years to come.