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

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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 | 3 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)
Scripture, same-sex marriage, natural law, and the narrative-historical method 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... (23rd Feb. 2018 | 9 comments)
How would Jesus teach the church to pray today? 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 king in Israel’s history YHWH... (15th Feb. 2018 | 4 comments)
More on the narrative logic of salvation: “we have redemption through his blood” 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 translation. It seems to suggest that Paul regarded Jesus’ “... (8th Feb. 2018 | 13 comments)
The rise and fall of the modern evangelical paradigm 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... (7th Feb. 2018 | 3 comments)
The logic of salvation for Jews and Gentiles in Paul The theologies that dominate the thought and practice of the modern church distribute their truths as flattened user-friendly doctrines. The Bible, however, gives us theological truth in the form of extended narratives mapped against the landscape of ancient history, as seen from the perspective of... (5th Feb. 2018 | 8 comments)
Peter Leithart on the “Christendom model” of church-state relations Peter Leithart has written an excellent, concise, balanced account of the “Christendom model”, its relation to scripture, and its strengths and weaknesses, in a post simply entitled “For and Against Christendom”. I won’t bother summarising it—I hope people will read it. But there are three... (1st Feb. 2018 | 6 comments)
What do I mean when I say that Jesus is my personal Lord and saviour? In a comment on my “Could you please help me understand the practical consequences…?” post Donald asks for ‘some explanation of what our “personal” relationship with Jesus should look like and if possible how it relates to our “personal” relationship to God.’ I’m afraid it won’t be possible to... (29th Jan. 2018 | 23 comments)
I said you are gods… Psalm 82 is one of my favourite psalms. It is short, sweet, theologically irregular, but very much to the narrative-historical point, at least as I understand things. Oddly, it is quoted only once in the New Testament, but it encapsulates what would be a key New Testament affirmation—that the God... (24th Jan. 2018 | 21 comments)
Could you please help me understand the practical consequences…? “Could you please help me understand the practical consequences of the narrative-historical approach?” The question was put to me by a student at a conservative theological college. I realise that most of what I write here is of a “theoretical” nature, but I have tried occasionally at least to... (17th Jan. 2018 | 5 comments)
The doctrine of the Second Coming and the restoration of the kingdom to Israel According to Luke, when Jesus is taken up with the clouds into heaven, two men in white robes are watching on. They ask the disciples why they are still gazing into the empty sky. “This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the way that (or simply ‘as’: hon tropon) you saw him... (10th Jan. 2018 | 22 comments)
Should we “water down” the doctrine of the Second Coming? The Second Coming of Jesus is a classic Christian doctrine. The Nicene Creed says that Jesus is seated at the right hand of the Father and “will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead”. The Basis of faith of the Evangelical Alliance in the UK affirms belief in the “personal and... (9th Jan. 2018 | 12 comments)
New year, new attempt to explain what this blog is all about The argument runs something like this….The church began as a movement within first century Judaism. Like any other historical movement, its character and purpose were shaped by its historical circumstances. It was a product of its time and place. It was part of an ancient story.The church... (3rd Jan. 2018 | 9 comments)
What Christmas teaches us about the gospel Jonathan Leeman has weighed into the debate about whether the gospel has to do with personal salvation or social and cosmic justice. Or both. Or neither. He takes Tim Keller’s side in this week’s little well-mannered twitter spat, and zealously raises the banner of “inseparable asymmetry” in the... (22nd Dec. 2017 | 7 comments)
When is a dichotomy not a dichotomy? Tim Keller vs. Rachel Held Evans This little well-mannered twitter spat illustrates what seems to me to be a basic theological flaw in the modern church.Tim Keller tweeted:Rachel Held Evans replied, somewhat circumspectly, but we know where this is coming from:Various people pointed out—including Keller himself—that Keller was not... (19th Dec. 2017 | 1 comment)
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