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

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Kingdom and mission. What’s changed since Schweitzer? Not much Bruce Chilton starts his book Pure Kingdom: Jesus’ Vision of God by noting that at the end of the nineteenth century Albert Schweitzer had come to the realisation that the “kingdom of God” was basically “eschatological”. He had seen the connection between Jesus’ teaching and the literature of early... (10th Nov. 2015 | 4 comments)
Lead us not into temptation What does Jesus mean when he teaches his disciples to pray “lead us not into temptation”? In a brief appendix (“Jesus’ Prayer and the War of Worlds”) to his book Pure Kingdom: Jesus’ Vision of God Bruce Chilton aims to define a middle ground between two misunderstandings of the petition. On the one... (3rd Nov. 2015 | 1 comment)
Tom Wright on religion and politics: the beginning and end of theocracy The National Secular Society has taken Tom Wright to task for advocating a “cruciform theocracy” that would overcome the prevailing separation of religion and politics in the West. A more detailed summary of Wright’s talk at St Paul’s Cathedral in London a week ago can be found on the Christian... (27th Oct. 2015 | 17 comments)
Evangelical views of the resurrection As an addendum to the previous post contrasting two accounts of resurrection here’s a set of diagrams illustrating three ways of thinking about the relationship between the resurrection of Jesus and subsequent resurrections. The first is the conventional modern evangelical view that can’t see... (22nd Oct. 2015 | 1 comment)
Two ways of thinking about resurrection I have to say, I have enjoyed my conversation with Carl Mosser about theosis as an account of what it ultimately means to be redeemed. I still don’t really get it. That may have something to do with language—an “allergic reaction” on my part to the “deification terminology”—but it clearly has a lot... (21st Oct. 2015 | 8 comments)
What happens at the end of Revelation? A comment by Chris Jones in response to something I said about the difference between the coming of the kingdom and the (supposed) redemption of the cosmos has had me looking at the sequence of events at the end of Revelation again.My view hitherto was that after judgment on Rome we have a thousand... (19th Oct. 2015 | 6 comments)
Theosis and the supposedly cruciform God Some recent conversations around the theme of theosis have directed me to Michael Gorman’s book Inhabiting the Cruciform God: Kenosis, Justification, and Theosis in Paul’s Narrative Soteriology. Gorman’s thesis about theosis runs something like this: i) Jesus is a crucified or cruciform Lord; ii)... (15th Oct. 2015 | 4 comments)
Salvation by faith, judgment by works, and the theological captivity of ideas Someone got in touch recently asking about how we square the circle of justification by faith and judgment according to works in the New Testament. We are told all the time that we’re saved by faith and not by works—don’t you dare lift a finger to try and save yourself! But there’s no shortage of... (13th Oct. 2015 | 4 comments)
You are gods: Carl Mosser on theosis Michael Bird’s Euangelion blog is a constant source of intriguing biblical studies, etc., miscellanea. Yesterday it was Byzantine Star Wars iconography, today it’s Carl Mosser explicating the biblical basis for the supposed doctrine of theosis—roughly the idea that believers, if they stick with the... (9th Oct. 2015 | 10 comments)
My arguments against Ortlund’s restatement of Packer’s arguments against annihilationism On the Gospel Coalition site Gavin Ortlund has summarily restated J.I. Packer’s response to annihilationist arguments. Here I restate my arguments against the arguments against annihilationism, while noting at the same time that annihilationism as a reading of New Testament eschatology is itself... (7th Oct. 2015 | 8 comments)
Was Jesus’ atoning death unique? Christian soteriology works on the assumption that Jesus’ death was a unique saving event. The only real antecedent considered is the suffering of Isaiah’s servant, upon whom the Lord has laid “the iniquity of us all”, understood not as referring to a historical figure or community in Isaiah’s... (1st Oct. 2015 | 4 comments)
Some notes on Mark 1:2-3 in response to Rikk Watts Rikk Watts has kindly responded to my reflections on his argument about the high christology of Mark 1:2-3. I’m not trying to pick a fight here—and I say, as before, that this is an argument for the kingdom narrative rather than against a high christology. But the issue is an important one, and for... (28th Sep. 2015 | 2 comments)
What happened to the resurrection of the wicked? Robin Parry poses an interesting puzzle about the resurrection of the wicked. I’ve slightly restated it, but it goes roughly as follows: At the end of the age there will be a resurrection of both the righteous and the unrighteous for judgment: sheep and goats, wheat and weeds, good-doers and evil-... (23rd Sep. 2015 | 0 comments)
Deeper into the doctrine of the second coming of Jesus The Gospel Coalition has been doing an intermittent series over the last year tagged “Deeper into Doctrine”. For people who prefer their theology in narrative form—and for post-moderns generally, if there are still any around—“doctrine” is a dirty word. But I don’t see any objection to formulating... (16th Sep. 2015 | 3 comments)
Where Witherington finds Wright least convincing Ben Witherington has been doing a thorough and informative series of posts on N.T. Wright’s new/forthcoming book Paul and His Recent Interpreters, starting here—in itself a good overview of recent Pauline scholarship. I haven’t been tracking with it too closely (I have been persuaded to read the... (10th Sep. 2015 | 13 comments)
Telling our story (all of it) Last week I went with my friend Steve Knight to see Hamlet at the Barbican. Hamlet is a tragedy. By the end of the play everyone of any dramatic importance is dead. The old king has had a “leperous distilment” poured in his ear. Polonius is stabbed in error behind the arras. Rosencrantz and... (8th Sep. 2015 | 1 comment)
Narrative, a Jewish Jesus, and early high Christology I heard Rikk Watts from Regent College, Vancouver, talk this week to a group of church leaders about what’s currently going on in theology. He began with some good reflections on the challenges facing anyone trying to keep track of developments across the ever-expanding—or ever more boggy—field of... (3rd Sep. 2015 | 2 comments)
Why the end of the world is the end of the world What happens at the end? What sort of transformation does John have in mind when he says that earth and heaven “fled away” from the presence of God at the judgment of all the dead (Rev. 20:11)? Are we to suppose that the world-as-we-know-it must finally disappear—or perhaps be destroyed—to be... (27th Aug. 2015 | 41 comments)
Who says that this prophecy has two referents? It is often argued that biblical prophecies may have two or more frames of reference. For example, Middleton allows that the language of cosmic dissolution in Jesus’ apocalyptic discourse (sun and moon darkened, stars falling from heaven) may refer to events leading up to the war against Rome and... (20th Aug. 2015 | 5 comments)
The widow of Zarephath, Naaman the Syrian, and the redemption of the world One of the ways the evangelical church is attempting to correct the traditional notion that salvation has to do with individuals going to heaven when they die is to affirm instead the idea of salvation as the redemption of creation. J. Richard Middleton’s book, A New Heaven and a New Earth:... (19th Aug. 2015 | 2 comments)
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