My Top Ten Theology Stories of 2009
Theology is not a discipline perfectly suited for annual evaluation. New insights and challenges may bounce around theological journals and conferences for decades before breaking into popular discourse. But unexpected events often intrude on these discussions and bring certain doctrines to the forefront. My criteria for compiling such a top ten list are admittedly subjective, based on another year of tracking evangelical life, thought, and mission for Theology in the News.
1.Both NIV and TNIV Will Be Phased Out Being people of the Book, evangelicals are sensitive about their Bible translations. So the evangelical world reacted with shock when Zondervan and Biblica announced that the best-selling NIV and controversial TNIV would both be phased out to make way for a new translation in 2011. This story won't disappear soon, as the translation committee headed by Doug Moo must decide whether to retain the gender-inclusive language that prevented many NIV readers from switching to the TNIV.
2.SBC Seeks a Great Commission Resurgence Old rifts were healed. New vows were made. There was a lot to cheer when the Southern Baptist Convention created a task force that would explore how to faithfully fulfill the Great Commission. Other denominations will be watching to see how the task force streamlines mission agencies that have been cutting back due to the economic downturn. The GCR Declaration drafted by Johnny Hunt and Danny Akin deserves a wide reading among evangelicals.
3.ELCA Okays Gay Unions, Pastors Few observers were shocked when the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America approved same-sex unions and decided gays and lesbians living in partnered relationships could serve as pastors. We've seen this story unfold in other denominations, and now we await the exodus of conservative churches. But natural events and questions about their supernatural origins turned this story into a hot topic when John Piper weighed in.
4.Coral Ridge Hires Tullian Tchividjian, Critics Break Away Succession is rarely smooth. How do you replace a revered, internationally known pastor when he is the only shepherd a congregation has ever known? Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church tapped Billy Graham's grandson, Tullian Tchividjian, to succeed D. James Kennedy and merged with nearby New City Church. Tchividjian talked often of carrying on Kennedy's theological vision, but his leadership didn't accord with some Kennedy loyalists. Tchividjian survived a vote to oust him, but several leading critics left Coral Ridge to start their own congregation.
5.Manhattan Declaration Prods Culture, Invites Pushback Despite disconcerting cultural trends, Protestant, Roman Catholic, and Orthodox leaders united around a statement declaring their fidelity to biblical morality. But the Manhattan Declaration produced an unintended consequence by pitting allies against one another and reigniting a fierce debate over whether evangelicals should engage in ecumenical dialogue and joint social activism.
6.Adoption Push Gains Steam Adoption is a practical, sacrificial way that Christians live out their pro-life convictions. It also happens to be one of the most important Christian doctrines. We "groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies" (Rom. 8:23; cf. Gal. 1:5; Eph. 4:5; Rom. 8:15). Conferences and books that connect the doctrine with the action have equipped Christians to embody their beliefs. A high-profile example hit the big screen with The Blind Side.