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Paul (and the righteousness of God) I’m doing some preparatory work for a short series of lectures on Paul and thinking that it may be helpful to set out a rough summary of his thought—a sketch of the big picture—from my over-zealous narrative-historical perspective. If nothing else, it may help me to respect some boundaries.It is... (23rd Sep. 2013 | 5 comments)
I object! In What was credited to Abraham by faith? I suggested—perhaps somewhat mischievously, certainly polemically—that ‘The language of “imputation” or “impartation” or “infusion” is overblown.’ Nathan wonders why I am so opposed to the concept. What am I trying to counter? That bears some consideration... (18th Sep. 2013 | 4 comments)
Passover and atonement I made a bit of a mess of this—the system let me down—but I’ve moved this lengthy conversation about the passover and atonement to a separate thread. It arose from this paragraph in response to Peter Wilkinson:And I still don’t get this argument about the passover. I see no reference to the... (14th Sep. 2013 | 15 comments)
What was credited to Abraham by faith? Still on the subject of judgment and works, justification and faith, and the fundamental misalignment of Reformed theology… Darren asks: “What was credited to Abraham by faith?” I’m not entirely sure what he’s getting at—he may just be asking what “it” refers to: “he counted it to him as... (13th Sep. 2013 | 11 comments)
Justification by faith (in the story of Israel and the nations) The classic doctrine of justification is roughly that God declares righteous—and will declare righteous at the final judgment—the sinner who has faith in Jesus. There is nothing that we can do to make ourselves right with God—no works of any religious or moral “law”. The righteousness of Jesus may... (10th Sep. 2013 | 8 comments)
Judgment according to works: a flawed paradigm I was hoping that at least one of the views expressed in Four Views on the Role of Works at the Final Judgment (Counterpoints: Bible and Theology) , edited by Alan Stanley, would recognize that the theological problem looks very different—and frankly much less problematic—from a narrative-... (4th Sep. 2013 | 17 comments)
Some women and the story of God’s people, and a brief obituary Elkanah had two wives. Peninnah has children, but Hannah has no children. Elkanah favours Hannah, but Peninnah “used to provoke her grievously to irritate her, because the Lord had closed her womb”. At the temple in Shiloh Hannah prays that the Lord of hosts will look on the affliction of his... (28th Aug. 2013 | 5 comments)
John Barton on biblical criticism and reading the Old Testament I have found John Barton’s defence of “biblical criticism” as a fundamentally semantic or literary enterprise extremely helpful in clarifying what I mean by a narrative-historical hermeneutic. The biblical text relates, on the one hand, to how things really were, and it is the task of historical-... (20th Aug. 2013 | 11 comments)
Don Carson, kingdom, ethics and individual salvation I managed to get an internet connection on the bus between Antakya (Antioch on the Orontes) and Tarsus and followed a link from Michael Bird to a Themelios article by Don Carson on “Kingdom, Ethics, and Individual Salvation”, republished on the Gospel Coalition site. It doesn’t seem an... (16th Aug. 2013 | 9 comments)
Where should a statement of faith begin? I was asked a while back by Brad Knight what I thought of this post by Roger Olson. Olson addresses the question:When composing a Christian statement of faith, a statement of faith for a Christian church, educational institution, whatever, what or whom should the first article be about? Where... (14th Aug. 2013 | 3 comments)
Rocking the boat: Noah in narrative-historical perspective Following the brilliantly intense Christian Associates staff conference in Budapest, my wife and I are spending a couple of weeks in eastern Turkey. Yesterday we went to see the remarkable rock structure, in the hills close to the border with Iran, that is believed by some to be the petrified... (9th Aug. 2013 | 11 comments)
Evangelicals, historical criticism and the second coming One of the most encouraging developments in evangelical thought in recent years has been the willingness of scholars to engage with scientific and historical criticism. I have recommended the work of Kenton Sparks and Peter Enns before. Evangelical Faith and the Challenge of Historical Criticism... (29th Jul. 2013 | 9 comments)
Making space for God in post-Christian Europe I spent last week teaching at a church family camp in Belgium on the theme of “Making space for God in post-Christian Europe”. It was a great opportunity to think through, with a highly motivated but marginalized group of people, how a narrative-historical approach to the New Testament might help... (23rd Jul. 2013 | 8 comments)
Church as eschatological community (part 2) This is the belated second part of my write up of a talk I gave at Community Church Harlesden a few weeks back. In part one I argued that what we find in the New Testament is not a generic or standard or universal definition of church but a definition of church as historically contextualized,... (9th Jul. 2013 | 6 comments)
Where does authority lie? Peter Enns on historical criticism and evangelicalism Peter Enns has written a clear, concise and sensible piece on the uneasy relationship between historical criticism and evangelicalism that I think is well worth reading. He notes the tensions between evangelicalism’s commitment to scripture as divine revelation and the proper task of historical... (4th Jul. 2013 | 5 comments)
Three ways to put ourselves in the story In response to my argument that what we have in the New Testament is a “narrative for the early churches as they confronted the frightening hegemony of classical paganism”, Evelyn asks, quite reasonably: “but then how can it serve as a narrative for us?” I will suggest here that there are three... (2nd Jul. 2013 | 9 comments)
Would God have got excited about the conversion of Constantine? Someone recently got in touch with some pertinent questions about my contention that the main trajectory of New Testament eschatology lands not at the end-of-the-world but firmly in the muddy battle-field of history, at the conversion of Rome.This is not just a question about New Testament... (27th Jun. 2013 | 16 comments)
Does James preach the gospel? It may sometimes appear that the narrative-historical approach to reading the New Testament throws up more questions than answers, but one point that I am pretty confident about is that what the modern evangelical world generally means by “gospel” is not what Jesus or Paul meant by “gospel”.Or... (24th Jun. 2013 | 5 comments)
Creation, fall, redemption, and new creation is not much of a metanarrative I came across this somewhat at random, but it illustrates a point. In an article on the role of theology on the Gordon Conwell website John Jefferson argues that a sound biblical theology is like the backbone in the human body—it provides “support, shape and stability to the Body of Christ”.In the... (21st Jun. 2013 | 7 comments)
Does the gospel first appear in Genesis 3:15? Another good example of how theology gets read back into texts where it doesn’t belong is provided by the argument that the gospel first appears in Genesis 3:15. The singular “seed” of the woman, who will crush the head of the serpent, is taken to be a prophecy of the coming messiah. It’s known as... (18th Jun. 2013 | 11 comments)
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