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

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Ascension Day and the Coming of the Son of Man I’m afraid I missed it, but yesterday was Ascension Day. Dang. Ian Paul, however, reposted a good piece making the important point that whereas John’s Gospel makes the crucifixion the climax of Jesus’ ministry, the New Testament as a whole pursues the narrative through the resurrection to the... (26th May. 2017 | 2 comments)
The beginning and the end of Trinitarianism: a response to Fred Sanders In a recent article on the Christianity Today site Fred Sanders argues that “We Actually Don’t Need a Trinitarian Revival”. He has heard widespread rumours of the death of Trinitarianism and he thinks that they are “grossly exaggerated”. Where the “everything-you-know-is-wrong diagnosis” fails is... (25th May. 2017 | 6 comments)
Narrative substitutionary atonement in Luke: Jesus and the sins of Barabbas Last night I went to hear Steve Walton’s inaugural professorial lecture at St Mary’s University. The lecture was entitled “Doing Theology Lukewise: Luke as theologian and storyteller”. It was a straightforward demonstration of the theological depth of Luke’s narrative art. It was lucid, engaging,... (16th May. 2017 | 2 comments)
Mission from anywhere to Europe Stefan Paas is Bavinck Professor of Church Planting and Church Renewal at the Free University Amsterdam, which is where I started work on my PhD back in the 90s.In an excellent article in Mission Studies called “Mission from Anywhere to Europe: Americans, Africans, and Australians Coming to... (9th May. 2017 | 3 comments)
A hermeneutical parable: the frog of the gospel and the lily pond of narrative Matthew Bates’ book Salvation by Allegiance Alone: Rethinking Faith, Works, and the Gospel of Jesus the King is just one straw in a strong wind blowing out of biblical studies, driving us away from theological towards narrative constructions of Christian identity and purpose.In my view, this is an... (8th May. 2017 | 2 comments)
Salvation By Allegiance Alone (5): the exegetical evidence for faith as allegiance In chapter four of his book Salvation By Allegiance Alone Matthew Bates sets out to defend his core thesis that the pistis (“faith”) with which we respond to the gospel is better understood in terms of concrete allegiance than as mere mental assent.He argues that the gospel consists in an eight-... (4th May. 2017 | 2 comments)
Salvation By Allegiance Alone (4): the best bit so far From pre-existence and incarnation Bates works swiftly through “died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures”, “was buried”, “was raised on the third day”, and “appeared to many”, to the climax of the chapter and the best bit of the book so far: “is seated at the right hand of God as Lord,... (27th Apr. 2017 | 2 comments)
Salvation By Allegiance Alone (3): pre-existence and the gospel of Jesus I am in solid agreement with Matthew Bates that the central narrative of the New Testament—the narrative which makes sense of the “gospel”—has to do with the enthronement of Jesus as king by his resurrection from the dead and his ascension to the right hand of the Father.Two areas of disagreement... (24th Apr. 2017 | 1 comment)
Salvation By Allegiance Alone (2): Paul’s gospel and the sweeping plains of history After an exciting afternoon with friends at Antalya Zoo—a pair of lions shamelessly and noisily copulating in the long grass, a family of grizzly bears brawling over some obscure breach of protocol—it’s back to part two of my review of Matthew Bates’ Salvation by Allegiance Alone: Rethinking Faith... (22nd Apr. 2017 | 6 comments)
Salvation By Allegiance Alone (1): a review on the basis of the Introduction alone Matthew Bates’ book Salvation By Allegiance Alone is further evidence that evangelicalism is wrestling honestly and constructively with the biblical, theological and practical deficiencies of the traditional understanding of gospel, faith and salvation.I haven’t got very far into it, but I’m going... (20th Apr. 2017 | 2 comments)
He did not descend into hell… and what really did happen at Easter I visited the excellent Michelangelo & Sebastiano exhibition at London’s National Gallery yesterday as a personal Good Friday ritual. One of the works on display is Sebastiano del Piombo’s Christ Descends into Limbo, which depicts the crucified Jesus reaching out to Adam and Eve in a highly... (15th Apr. 2017 | 7 comments)
A quiz on the atonement (in narrative-historical perspective) The day before Good Friday seems a fitting time to launch a narrative-historical alternative to Tim Challies’ thoroughly Reformed Quiz on the Atonement. Well, not quite an alternative, more a commentary on the standard Reformed account of the significance of Jesus’ death. There are 33 questions in... (13th Apr. 2017 | 0 comments)
Jesus’ parable of the wicked tenants: an exercise in narrative-historical hermeneutics There is a struggle going on in the church—or at least in parts of the church—over how we should read the New Testament. Basically, as I see it, it comes down to this: do we read through the lens of later theological constructions (Patristic, Orthodox, Thomist, Reformed, Pentecostal, modern... (6th Apr. 2017 | 17 comments)
Jesus and redemptive violence At the heart of the critique of the traditional doctrine of (penal) substitutionary atonement is a moral revulsion against the idea that a good God would think it necessary to use violence to bring about the redemption of humanity. Chuck Queen, for example, whose argument against substitutionary... (3rd Apr. 2017 | 11 comments)
Substitutionary versus anti-substitutionary theories: both lose, one more than the other Having critiqued Owen Strachan’s defence of the atonement doctrine, it seems only fair to examine a thesis from the anti-substitutionary camp. My friend Scott pointed me to Chuck Queen’s combative essay on the Baptist News site: “It’s time to end the hands-off attitude to substitionary atonement”.... (28th Mar. 2017 | 7 comments)
Stories about Jesus: how they fit together, and what he means for us today Theology has always had a “narrative” shape. The problem with propositional or systematic theologies is not that they are non-narrative but that they have reduced the dense historical narrative of scripture to a bare sequence of cosmic-level events: creation → fall → redemption → final judgment.... (21st Mar. 2017 | 8 comments)
A commentary on Owen Strachan’s less than biblical defence of the atonement It appears that famous people like Michael Gungor and William Paul Young, author of The Shack, have been causing a stir by questioning the morality of the doctrine of atonement for sin. Owen Strachan, who is described on the Gospel Coalition website somewhat vaguely as a “systematic professor”, has... (18th Mar. 2017 | 2 comments)
How Paul made up what was lacking in Christ’s afflictions One of the passages that crops up in discussions of what Paul meant when he talked about being conformed to or transformed into the image of Christ—and to whom that language applied—is Colossians 1:24. Davo mentioned it in a comment recently, and I have been meaning to get back to it.The ESV... (16th Mar. 2017 | 1 comment)
The Christ-encomium of Philippians 2:6-11 and “Christian” formation It was put to me by Crispin Fletcher-Louis on Facebook that my argument about being—or rather not being—transformed into the image of Christ is at odds with the general scholarly view these days that the so-called “Christ-hymn” of Philippians 2:6–11 is “determinative of Christian identity at every... (14th Mar. 2017 | 2 comments)
A dead guy going to heaven is not metaphysics? Perhaps a bit more clarification is needed. I argued in the last piece on Hebrews that there is no deep metaphysical magic involved in what is said about atonement in the letter.It is the resurrection that changes everything. This was a continuation of a couple of other posts setting out a “... (10th Mar. 2017 | 4 comments)
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