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

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What was justification by faith? This is a knee-jerk, end-of-the-week, dogmaphobic, book-promoting (see below) reaction to a post on justification on the Zondervan Academic site that came up today on my news feed. The post, called simply “What is justification?”, is an adaptation of material from an online course on Romans by... (30th Jun. 2017 | 3 comments)
Wolfhart Pannenberg backs the narrative-historical method (up to a point) Barney, who is clearly still having a hard time focusing on his PhD studies, sent me a copy of an essay by Wolfhart Pannenberg to read. We will be discussing it tonight over a pint, so I’ve taken the opportunity to summarise it here and present some initial thoughts regarding its relevance for what... (29th Jun. 2017 | 1 comment)
On the mortality of the soul He who asked what happens to us after death has also asked whether I believe in the immortality of the soul. The short answer is no. A slightly longer answer would go something like this….It’s a generalisation—we always have to reckon with the extent to which Jewish thought was hellenised in the... (22nd Jun. 2017 | 2 comments)
What happens to us after death? I happened to hear a point-blank sermon last Sunday about the judgment of God. The gist of it was that just as God punished sinful humanity long ago by means of a flood of water, he will again punish sinful humanity by means of a flood of fire. Come back next week for the good news.One of the New... (20th Jun. 2017 | 11 comments)
Faith, politics and salvation by Christ alone Tim Farron resigned yesterday as leader of the Liberal Democrats because the conflict between his evangelical faith and the values of a progressive liberal party had become unmanageable. His official statement can be read here.During the election campaign he had struggled in particular to explain... (15th Jun. 2017 | 2 comments)
What “horizon” do we have to live for? To take my mind off the gloomy prospect of prolonged political chaos that we’ve woken up to here in the UK, I thought I’d write a quick response to the following question that was put to me—just to get things in perspective:If I understand what you’ve written on your blog correctly, ​the... (9th Jun. 2017 | 2 comments)
The adoptionist parable of the slave in the vineyard in The Shepherd of Hermas In yesterday’s post I touched on the parable of the vineyard in The Shepherd of Hermas Parable 5 as an early instance of an adoptionist christology. Mark Edwards drew my attention to a ZNTW article by Bogdan Bucur, which argues for a non-adoptionist reading of the parable and its interpretation.... (8th Jun. 2017 | 0 comments)
Was Jesus an adopted Son? One of the critical points at which a narrative-historical method and post-Christendom mission intersect, in my view, is the confession of Jesus as Lord. To say that Jesus is Lord is not the same as saying that Jesus is God, contrary to the arguments of many who support an early high christology.... (7th Jun. 2017 | 3 comments)
The destiny of the unevangelised (in narrative-historical perspective) I happened this morning upon a short video in which the highly regarded New Testament scholar Ben Witherington talks about the fate of people who do not hear the gospel. He asks the question: Isn’t it inherently unfair that people should be damned simply because they haven’t had an opportunity to... (3rd Jun. 2017 | 3 comments)
Jesus and the job of modern missionaries Following my “Stories about Jesus: how they fit together, and what he means for us today” post a couple of months back, a missionary friend got in touch wondering what this all meant for the “job of the missionary” in the secular Western context. My typical way of answering this sort of question is... (31st May. 2017 | 6 comments)
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)
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