(how to tell the biblical story in a way that makes a difference)

Why we should contain rather than extinguish the fires of hell

I have written rather a lot about the doctrine of “hell” on this site, for several reasons. It bothers people. It is one of the least pleasant aspects of conservative-fundamentalist expressions of Christianity. It continues to be misunderstood by its detractors and defenders alike. It draws on narratives and concepts that are not marginal to the argument of the New Testament but lie at its core. And addressing the texts is a simple and effective way of illustrating the point of the narrative-historical hermeneutic.

Essentially, I maintain that most of those narratives and concepts pertain not to what happens to people in some sort of conscious existence after death but to the hardships and horrors of historical calamities experienced—as divine judgment—by communities, cities and nations. I have adopted a policy of narrative-historical containment.

7 Mar 2018

This always baffles me. At the heart of Jesus’ teaching is the proclamation of the coming kingdom of God: ‘Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel”’ (Mk. 1:14–...

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5 Mar 2018

Carrying on the conversation from here, with some repetition…

God was gracious and forgave or overlooked the sins both of Jews and pagans who believed in the new future vouchsafed by the death and resurrection of Jesus.

Both Jews and Gentiles, therefore, like Abraham, were “justified” by...

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3 Mar 2018

In answer to Peter’s comments about my post on the “The logic of salvation for Jews and Gentiles in Paul” here’s another broad-brush attempt to clarify the thesis.

His basic point is that there is no real difference in the logic: “it seems that Paul’s argument was that Jews and Gentiles were in the same boat...

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28 Feb 2018

I’ve just finished reading a book on the church and same-sex attraction that has an appendix setting out the “Bible’s meta-narrative in its four great acts: creation, rebellion, redemption and perfection”. This grossly reductionist storyline is how evangelical thought has typically reconciled itself to a...

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23 Feb 2018

Is the main story that the Bible tells bigger than human history or smaller than human history? The biblical story is certainly bookended with creation and new creation, but it’s what happens in between that I’m concerned about—the sequence of events from the rise of Babel (Gen. 11:1-9), say, to...

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15 Feb 2018

There were two parts to the prayer that Jesus taught his disciples.

Our Father in the heavens, sanctified be (hagiasthētō) your name; may your kingdom come; may your will become as in heaven also on earth. (Matt 6:9–10)

First, they were to pray that by intervening as...

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8 Feb 2018

Someone suggested on Facebook that Ephesians 1:7 contradicts my argument about the narrative logic of salvation:

In him we have redemption (tēn apolutrōsin) through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses… (Eph. 1:7)

This is the ESV...

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7 Feb 2018

This is a response to a couple of questions raised about the conclusions to the preceding post on the logic of the salvation of Jews and Gentiles. First, what did I mean when I said: “As a response to the fall of Christendom, modern evangelicalism has reinvigorated the universal model to keep the numbers up…”?...

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