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

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Salvation By Allegiance Alone: 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 | 2 comments)
Salvation By Allegiance Alone: 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 | 6 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)
Jesus the great high priest: no deep magic involved I started looking at Hebrews 10 in order to reply to a comment from Chris Wooldridge, who cited the chapter as an example of how Jesus’ death is treated not only as a historical event but also as a theological or metaphysical event.But you quickly discover that Hebrews 10 is part of a long, dense,... (9th Mar. 2017 | 4 comments)
Moses, the apostles, and transformation into the image of Christ (are we there yet?) In his excellent essay on mystical transformation in Philo and Paul, Volker Rabens says of 2 Corinthians 3:18: “Many who have tried to grasp the nuances of Paul’s argument in this passage have at times felt that they themselves have a veil over their minds” (297-98). A.T. Hanson called it “the... (3rd Mar. 2017 | 10 comments)
2 Corinthians 3:18: back to where I started What does Paul mean when he says: “we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image, from glory to glory” (2 Cor. 3:18)? Over the last couple of posts I have been tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of exegesis.... (2nd Mar. 2017 | 10 comments)
We all are being transformed into the same image—a correction (of sorts) In the previous piece on being transformed into the image of Christ, I included 1 Corinthians 3:18 in a wider pattern in Paul whereby conformity to the image of Christ means specifically sharing in his suffering and resurrection:And we all, with unveiled face, beholding (or reflecting) the glory of... (1st Mar. 2017 | 12 comments)
Who is being transformed into the image of Christ? Not me I’ve just got back from a missions conference at which the idea that believers in general and “missionaries” in particular are being—or should be—transformed into the “image of Christ” got a lot of airtime.I can see what people are getting at. The assumption is that Jesus represents either an ideal... (1st Mar. 2017 | 3 comments)
A pragmatic non-theory of the atonement The title of the previous piece (“The death of Jesus: not as difficult to understand as you might think”) was perhaps a mistake. I suspect that many people found my narrative-historical reinterpretation as baffling as the classical theories of the atonement, if not more so.In my defence I would say... (21st Feb. 2017 | 9 comments)
The death of Jesus: not as difficult to understand as you might think Peter Enns has written in his characteristically provocative style about two issues in the Bible that are really important but not at all clear.The first has to do with Israelite origins. We can be reasonably confident about the broad outline of Israelite history back to the reign of David, but... (17th Feb. 2017 | 30 comments)
Theology and history: is the dam about to break? Here’s one way of framing my “thesis” at the hermeneutical level—that is, at the level of how we interpret the Bible and make use of it as church.For various complex reasons the church is coming under pressure to switch from a theological way of thinking to what I think is most concisely and most... (13th Feb. 2017 | 10 comments)
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