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

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What is the church and what is it for? A dynamic definition What is the church and what is it for? In the West we live in a post-Christendom and increasingly post-Christian world whose fundamental beliefs are secular humanist. The great public symbols of Christian authority have been cast to the ground and trampled under foot. The last vestiges of a... (22nd May. 2015 | 7 comments)
Why did Jesus instruct his disciples not to preach the kingdom of God to Gentiles and Samaritans? This issue came up in some teaching I did recently. Why did Jesus instruct his disciples not to go in the way of the Gentiles or to the towns of the Samaritans but only to the “lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matt. 10:5-15)? Doesn’t that contradict the “great commission”, when the disciples are... (18th May. 2015 | 10 comments)
7 fallacies about hell Like a lot of people who promote the doctrine of hell as a place of eternal suffering, J.D. Greear insists, in “7 Truths About Hell” on the Gospel Coalition site, that he would happily erase the belief from Christian teaching if he could, but he can’t because it’s in the Bible, so we have to live... (11th May. 2015 | 7 comments)
The biblical story of the kingdom of God: a thought for election day Samuel had judged Israel all the days of his life, doing the circuit from Bethel to Gilgal to Mizpah to Ramah. In his old age he appointed his two sons as judges over Israel, but as is sometimes the case with public officials, they turned out to be corrupt: “They took bribes and perverted justice... (7th May. 2015 | 7 comments)
Jesus and the sea: arguments about divine identity There are two incidents in Mark’s Gospel where Jesus demonstrates mastery over the sea. In one he calms a storm with a word of rebuke (Mk. 4:35-41); in the other he walks on the water as the disciples struggle to cross the Sea of Galilee at night, seemingly with the intention of passing by them (Mk... (4th May. 2015 | 4 comments)
The Lord’s Supper in narrative-historical perspective There are two main debates that the church has engaged in over the Lord’s Supper, one having to do with theory, the other with practice. First, what is the relation between the physical elements of the “meal” and the person of Jesus? Is Jesus really present in the substance of the bread and the... (1st May. 2015 | 5 comments)
The meteor sighting on the road to Damascus: why do we believe what we believe? William Hartman is the co-founder of the Planetary Science Institute in Tucson, Arizona, which presumably makes him a reputable scientist. In a March 2015 article in the journal Meteorites and Planetary Science, which is presumably a reputable scientific publication—you get a bit wary about these... (27th Apr. 2015 | 13 comments)
Rethinking Matthew’s coming of the Son of Man I came across this comment from Peter Enns this week: “I am very amenable to Andrew’s approach and others like it—although I still do a double-take at Matt 24:30-31.” That sort of remark—particularly from someone as sane as Peter Enns—usually makes me go back and look at the text again. I think I’... (23rd Apr. 2015 | 18 comments)
The stories we get so animated about My view is that one of the main challenges that the church in the West faces—at least from my late-Protestant and somewhat post-evangelical perspective—is to learn to tell our “story” differently. This has to do, in the first place, with how we understand ourselves as a biblical people, but it also... (20th Apr. 2015 | 2 comments)
Who was the suffering servant of Isaiah 52:13-53:12? I have written a few times about the controversial doctrine of penal substitutionary atonement (see below). A friend got in touch this week asking whether I thought the word “chastisement” in Isaiah 53:5 should be read “through a filter of penal substitution”—she had discovered (via the Septuagint... (14th Apr. 2015 | 1 comment)
Does Jesus have anything to say about homosexuality? Simple answer, no. Scot McKnight has recently proposed three (or four) teachings in the Synoptic Gospels where Jesus may have had homosexual behaviour in mind. The discussions I’ve been involved in over the last few weeks have focused primarily on the prohibitive texts in Leviticus and Paul. It’s been assumed that... (8th Apr. 2015 | 9 comments)
The resurrection of the Son of God (and the rationalisation of God the Son) It was put to me in a comment on FaceBook this week that from time to time I “point out the weaknesses of the Trinity”. That’s true, but the statement needs careful qualification. I point out the weaknesses of the theological formulation of Trinitarian belief for hermeneutical reasons—I think that... (3rd Apr. 2015 | 8 comments)
Judgment, kingdom, and sexual immorality The previous post (“Resurrection, judgment, and sexual immorality”) was an attempt to locate Paul’s condemnation of sexual immorality in general and homosexuality in particular in Romans 1:24-27 in the eschatological narrative that I think controls his thought in the letter. Here I will try to do... (2nd Apr. 2015 | 8 comments)
Resurrection, judgment, and sexual immorality This week began with a class on Acts in Nottingham and ends with a three day theological forum in Glasgow on healthy sexuality and the LGBT debate. Here I attempt to track the route between the two topics—to show how Acts sets the eschatological frame for Paul’s condemnation of sexual immorality... (27th Mar. 2015 | 8 comments)
The argument of Galatians: justification by faith in a new future As much as any other of Paul’s letters, Galatians is written with an eschatological narrative frame firmly in place. It’s not immediately obvious—it’s been squeezed to the periphery by the argument about faith and the Jewish Law which dominates the letter. But that does not mean that eschatology... (19th Mar. 2015 | 3 comments)
The skeletal narrative of the Synoptic Gospels Some more sketchy notes on the Synoptic narrative for my teaching at St Johns Nottingham before moving on—rather hesitantly—to John’s Gospel. The story told about Jesus and the coming kingdom of God in the Synoptic Gospels does not stand on its own; it is not a self-contained narrative. It is an... (12th Mar. 2015 | 4 comments)
The kingdom of God: a down-to-earth explanation Tomorrow in Nottingham we will be looking at the narrative skeleton of the Synoptic Gospels as an outworking of the history of second temple Judaism and as the ground for the emergence of the church in the third century. I shall quote Wright’s criterion of “double similarity”, though perhaps not... (9th Mar. 2015 | 4 comments)
The rich man, Lazarus and Abraham I’ve written about the parable of the rich man and Lazarus (Lk. 16:19-31) a couple of times (see below), mainly for the purpose of dismissing the popular doctrine of hell. I missed an intriguing intertextual detail, however, that is attributed to Simon Perry in a Wikipedia article, though Nolland... (6th Mar. 2015 | 2 comments)
The proclamation of the gospel is the “narration of past history” (Hengel) I’m currently teaching an Introduction to the New Testament class at St John’s Nottingham. I started last week with a quotation from Martin Hengel: “There cannot… be any proclamation of the gospel which is not at the same time a narration of past history.” That can be taken in different ways, but... (3rd Mar. 2015 | 9 comments)
Ethnocentrism, universalism, and new creation: an overstated salvation-historical paradigm I said last week that I would expand on my critique of Donald Hagner’s diagrammatic representation of Old Testament salvation history in his The New Testament: A Historical and Theological Introduction. As he sees it, the biblical story plays out against the backdrop of the “reality of a fallen... (23rd Feb. 2015 | 8 comments)
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