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

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Celibacy, marriage, and the end of the age Something that struck me reading Two Views on Homosexuality, the Bible and the Church was the general agreement that Paul’s views about marriage change between 1 Corinthians 7 and Ephesians 5.In the earlier passage he expresses a strong preference for celibacy but at the same time gives a “... (12th Dec. 2016 | 0 comments)
Homosexuality, marriage, and why I don’t think Paul teaches mutual submission There’s an interesting exchange between the contributors to Two Views on Homosexuality, the Bible and the Church (ed. Preston Sprinkle) over how close the modern ideal of Christian marriage conforms to the biblical pattern of marriage. The underlying question is whether we have a closed and fixed... (9th Dec. 2016 | 6 comments)
Talking Jesus: problems with the modern evangelistic paradigm I’ve been working with someone who is doing research on the tensions between what I’ll call for convenience a “narrative-historical” understanding of the gospel and the gospel as it is commonly presented in modern evangelism. The Talking Jesus report came up for consideration as an example of how... (6th Dec. 2016 | 5 comments)
Are non-Christians “lost”? I received a newsletter from a good missionary friend yesterday that spoke of his intention to “rescue lost people for Christ”. I have always felt uneasy about that sort of language. It sounds condescending and disparaging. Perhaps I’m just being squeamish, but I think I have some biblical warrant.... (2nd Dec. 2016 | 4 comments)
The biblical argument about salvation (my soteriology) Emi sent me an email a while back, and because I have been slow to reply, she posted the whole thing as a comment. She notes that I argue in What must a person believe in order to be saved? i) that the mission of the church is not to save as many people as possible; and ii) that when ‘people today... (29th Nov. 2016 | 8 comments)
Two questions about “hell” I have a very clear and consistent view on “hell” in the New Testament. The “wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23). That is the bottom line. But in the New Testament narrative it is the story of Israel and the nations that determines the scope and reference of the “hell” language: wrath against the... (23rd Nov. 2016 | 2 comments)
Homosexuality, Black Friday, and the disordered human condition In his chapter on homosexuality in The Moral Vision of the New Testament Richard Hays argues that in Romans 1:Paul is offering a diagnosis of the disordered human condition: he adduces the fact of widespread homosexual behaviour as evidence that human beings are indeed in rebellion against their... (21st Nov. 2016 | 7 comments)
The inclusion of same-sex believers and the non-inclusion of Gentiles The purpose of this post is, first, to register the fact that J. Daniel Kirk has used Acts 15 to argue for the affirmation and inclusion of gay Christians in the church. I hadn’t seen these before—thanks, Andy, for pointing it out:Embracing the GentilesScripture and the Spirit of ChristGentiles?... (18th Nov. 2016 | 4 comments)
Same-sex same solution (simplified). And what was James on about? Ian Paul, who is a staunch defender of the traditional view, thinks that my modest proposal regarding the relevance of the deliberations of the Jerusalem Council for the seemingly intractable controversy over same-sex unions is a “bizarre misreading of the narrative”. My sense is rather that he has... (17th Nov. 2016 | 5 comments)
Same-sex same solution? Does the Jerusalem Council suggest a way forward? Some years back I wrote a book called Speaking of Women: Interpreting Paul. I took the view that both sides of the debate at the time were misreading Paul in their pursuit of polemical advantage, but I came down nevertheless on the egalitarian side of the fence. I think that male headship in Paul... (15th Nov. 2016 | 3 comments)
Jesus is Lord (still) We visited Philippi in September. We were staying in Kavala, in eastern Greece, formerly Neapolis, which is where Paul landed having sailed from Troas via Samothrace in response to a visionary summons to Macedonia (Acts 16:11-12). The extensive ruins of the Roman colony of Philippi lie about 12... (7th Nov. 2016 | 1 comment)
The rider on the white horse and the war against the beast and the kings of the earth Someone got in touch asking about the interpretation of John’s vision of a rider on a white horse and the war against “the beast and the kings of the earth” in Revelation 19:11-21.What does Revelation 19 and the rider on the white horse defeating the beast, false prophet, and other kings represent... (4th Nov. 2016 | 0 comments)
Same-sex same old story? The narrative-historical approach recognises that the biblical story works on different levels. Modern (evangelical) theologies tend to highlight the universal story of the individual person who is a sinner in need of salvation, etc. More recently greater attention has been given to an overarching... (31st Oct. 2016 | 4 comments)
Kingdom and mission: a pants classification I mentioned before the distinction that Scot McKnight makes in his Kingdom Conspiracy book between a “pleated pants” view of kingdom as the redemptive activity of God and a “skinny jeans” view of the kingdom as social activism in which the church may be more of a hindrance than a help.You probably... (26th Oct. 2016 | 0 comments)
Paul’s parable of the olive tree In Kingdom Conspiracy: Returning to the Radical Mission of the Local Church Scot McKnight takes aim at two broad misconceptions of what the kingdom of God is: the “skinny jeans” reduction of kingdom to social activism, and the more conventionally religious “pleated pants” approach, which regards... (24th Oct. 2016 | 9 comments)
As Scot McKnight says, the meek ought to have inherited the land Let me state this as clearly as I can…(I’ve picked up something of Scot McKnight’s combative tone of voice here.)The sermon on the mount in Matthew 5-7 was not preached to or for the benefit of the post-Christendom, modern-going-on-postmodern, global church.It was preached to beleaguered first... (21st Oct. 2016 | 5 comments)
On second thoughts, the five act play model doesn’t work I wrote a piece recently offering my revision of Tom Wright’s five act play model of biblical authority. The aim was to take account both of the realistic character of biblical eschatology and of the historical experience of the church. This was my proposed narrative structure:Act 1 The people of... (20th Oct. 2016 | 2 comments)
An illustrated guide to Tom Wright and an introduction to “transtomism” I have been reading an excellent little “visual guide” to the thought of Tom Wright by Marlin Watling. The book is called The Marriage of Heaven and Earth, it’s self-published, and is available as a paperback or on Kindle. Coincidentally, my copy of Wright’s The Day the Revolution Began:... (18th Oct. 2016 | 8 comments)
John the Baptist and the wrath to come What did John the Baptist have in mind when he warned the Sadducees and Pharisees about the wrath to come (Matt. 3:7; Lk. 3:7)? Is there any scope for thinking that he is talking about more than—that his language exceeds or transcends—the disastrous events of AD 70? This is one of those posts that... (13th Oct. 2016 | 15 comments)
Getting saved in the Gospels Christianity is reckoned by most people, I imagine, to be at core a religion of salvation. The defining event is the cross, understood as an act of atonement or redemption, the means by which people are saved. If you are not a Christian you are “lost” or “perishing”. If you become a Christian, you... (11th Oct. 2016 | 16 comments)
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