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

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The resurrection of the just and the unjust in Daniel 12:2, and the horizons of New Testament eschatology I think that the best way to understand New Testament eschatology is to organise the material according to three future horizons: i) a disastrous war against Rome, which would result in the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple; ii) the overthrow of classical Greek-Roman paganism and the... (22nd May. 2018 | 3 comments)
Armageddon and the making of history The relocation of the American embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem has given airtime to a right-wing, fundamentalist-Zionist (I refuse to use the word “evangelical” in this context) eschatological narrative that regards this provocative endorsement of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital as a big... (16th May. 2018 | 4 comments)
Why didn’t Jesus just come out and say it: God is going to punish you with violent destruction? If Jesus believed that the coming destruction of Jerusalem and the temple, with massive loss of life, would be an act of deliberate divine punishment, why didn’t he say so explicitly? Why is it that so many of the sayings about judgment that I listed from Luke’s Gospel come in the form of parables... (8th May. 2018 | 8 comments)
Did Jesus avoid proclaiming a “day of vengeance” against Israel in the synagogue in Nazareth? It is sometimes argued by people who think that Jesus had no interest in violence that when he applied Isaiah 61:1-2 to himself in the synagogue in Nazareth, he deliberately stopped short of proclaiming judgment against Israel:And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the... (4th May. 2018 | 36 comments)
The violence of Jesus in the temple: setting a bad example I am generally a hesitant tweeter, but yesterday, in an idle moment, I tagged Derek Vreeland in a tweet suggesting that his republished Missio Alliance article asking “Did Jesus Really Usher in the Kingdom of God?” underplays the future aspect of the coming of the kingdom of God. He kindly tweeted... (3rd May. 2018 | 12 comments)
Death is swallowed up in victory. What? When? And has he misread the scriptures? What does Paul mean when he says that “death is swallowed up in victory”? When will this happen? And has he made fair use of the Old Testament texts that he cites in support of his claim?Paul argues in 1 Corinthians 15:50-57 that flesh and blood will not inherit the rule with Jesus at the right... (30th Apr. 2018 | 8 comments)
What does Paul mean by “The righteous shall live by faith”? The question of the meaning of Habakkuk’s “the righteous shall live by his faith” (Hab. 2:4) came up in a comment on a recent post about Romans. My argument is that when Paul quotes this line in Romans 1:17, he is using it more or less in the same way that Habakkuk intended it, as identifying a... (27th Apr. 2018 | 6 comments)
Who are the Gentiles who have the work of the Law written on their hearts? There is a group of Gentiles in Paul’s eschatological narrative who do not have the Law of Moses, who nevertheless do the work of the Law, and who “will be justified” on a day of judgment and earn “glory and honour and peace” (Rom. 2:12-16). The question of the religious or rhetorical status of... (24th Apr. 2018 | 9 comments)
Nearly 10 essential things to know about Paul’s letter to the Romans Very reluctantly, I am going to take issue with Peter Enns here. In a recent “Bible for Normal People” podcast he advocates what is basically a New Perspective reading of Paul’s letter to the Romans.It’s not about individuals but it’s about a collective. If I can put that a little bit differently,... (18th Apr. 2018 | 8 comments)
The tongue is set on fire by Gehenna By way of an addendum to the previous piece on Jesus’ subversion of the Jewish Gehenna, I want to look briefly at James 3:5b-6, which is the only place in the New Testament outside the Synoptic Gospels where the word geenna occurs. The verse reads (my translation):Behold, how small a fire sets... (13th Apr. 2018 | 7 comments)
The subversion of the Jewish “hell” in the teaching of Jesus A major part of my argument against the traditional doctrine of “hell” is that in Jesus’ teaching “Gehenna” is not a place of unending conscious torment after death but a symbol for the devastation and loss of life that Israel would suffer as a consequence of the war against Rome. I think that... (10th Apr. 2018 | 10 comments)
Yet another attempt to persuade the world that Tim Keller is wrong about hell Steve Jacob found my post on annihilationism very interesting and wants to know whether I think “Tim Keller is on the mark in his recent article on hell”. The short answer is no. A longer answer follows. Readers might also be interested in my post “Tim Keller gets a lot right but gets hell badly... (4th Apr. 2018 | 6 comments)
The resurrection of Jesus and the theological fiction of “redemptive history” Zondervan Academic has just put out a blog post on the resurrection adapted from some online teaching material from Scott Oliphint. Oliphint is professor of apologetics and systematic theology at Westminster Theological Seminary. I want to consider the piece, first, because it’s Easter, and... (30th Mar. 2018 | 0 comments)
The argument against annihilationism In an article on “Evangelical Annihilationism” published twenty years ago J.I. Packer respectfully rebutted the arguments made by the likes of E.W. Fudge, John Wenham and John Stott in favour of a more benign understanding of “hell” not as a place of eternal conscious torment but as eternal... (27th Mar. 2018 | 7 comments)
Did Jesus promise to return within the lifetime of his disciples? A decent sermon at a well known central London Anglican church Sunday night was spoilt, in my view, by the excited closing announcement that Jesus is coming back soon. Apart from the fact that the dogma is questionable on biblical grounds, which I’ll come to, I don’t understand how or why such a... (20th Mar. 2018 | 15 comments)
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... (14th Mar. 2018 | 8 comments)
7 things you need to know about the kingdom of God 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”’ (... (7th Mar. 2018 | 3 comments)
The narrative logic of salvation from the point of view of a Jewish apostle 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 faith in... (5th Mar. 2018 | 2 comments)
Gentiles needed the death of Jesus as much as Jews did, but for different reasons 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... (3rd Mar. 2018 | 8 comments)
The marriage of the Lamb and his Bride and the not-so-happy-ever-after 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... (28th Feb. 2018 | 4 comments)
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