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Are we religious, spiritual, or something else? Most of us will have observed that in the western context religion is out and spirituality is in, and we may well have adjusted church life, preaching styles, and mission strategies with that observation in mind. Religion is institutional, spirituality is personal; religion is controlling,... (4th Jan. 2013 | 3 comments)
Review: Naomi Alderman, The Liar’s Gospel I read Naomi Alderman’s book The Liars’ Gospel: A Novel because a friend was trying to get her to speak at a debate in Westbourne Grove. Sadly, he failed, but the book, for all its profound Jewish distrust of the madman Yehoshuah and the unfriendly religion that his followers devised, is worth... (29th Dec. 2012 | 0 comments)
Some dull but seasonal reflections on the historical context for the fulfilment of the Immanuel prophecy These notes are an attempt to clarify, for myself at least, the historical setting for the Immanuel prophecy in Isaiah 7:14, following the helpful feedback given to yesterday’s post: Are Immanuel and Wonderful-Counselor-Mighty-God-Everlasting-Father-Prince-of-Peace the same person? Thanks to all... (21st Dec. 2012 | 4 comments)
Are Immanuel and Wonderful-Counselor-Mighty-God-Everlasting-Father-Prince-of-Peace the same person? When Matthew applies to the conception of Jesus by the Holy Spirit the words of Isaiah that “the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel”, he is not saying that Jesus is God incarnate. The meaning of the allusion derives from the story that is being told in... (20th Dec. 2012 | 6 comments)
The conception of Jesus, Trinity, and the search for an appropriate metaphysics: it’s nearly Christmas, after all In a recent blog post entitled “Avoiding Trinity” Dave Bish discusses Christian squeamishness about sharing Jesus with Muslims using John’s Gospel on the grounds that it is too Trinitarian. He suggests that such a strategy of avoidance betrays two assumptions—first, that we think that the doctrine... (18th Dec. 2012 | 9 comments)
What is the benefit of Jesus’ death for the Gentiles? I have been asked “how the death of Jesus (instead of the Maccabees, for example) had the effect of abolishing the law which divided Jews and Gentiles”. (It’s what the contact form is for. Feel free to use it.) This seems a fair question. The deaths of the Maccabean martyrs were thought to have... (14th Dec. 2012 | 7 comments)
Forgiveness of sins in Romans The thesis I am exploring in these articles on the forgiveness of sins is that Jesus is primarily understood to have died for the redemption of Israel, as part of a corporate and political—rather than a personal and existential—narrative. The diagrams in this post illustrate the distinction. Jews... (11th Dec. 2012 | 5 comments)
Sweet and Viola’s a-historical kingdom of God In Jesus: A Theography Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola have attempted to write a different type of book about Jesus. Not a biography but a “theography”: “we are telling the story of God’s interactions, intersections, and interventions with humanity through the life of Jesus”. It runs from... (7th Dec. 2012 | 4 comments)
The forgiveness of Israel’s sins in Hebrews The Letter to the Hebrews is addressed to Jewish Christians and is, therefore, thematically much closer to the Gospels and the early part of Acts, which is why I want to look at it before we come to Paul. The argument is by no means an easy one, so if you’re not interested in the sordid details of... (4th Dec. 2012 | 7 comments)
Forgiveness of sins in Acts At the end of Luke the resurrected Jesus sends his disciples to proclaim repentance and forgiveness of sins to all nations (Lk. 24:47). In Matthew they are told to baptize in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit (Matt. 28:19), which is presumably a baptism specifically of... (30th Nov. 2012 | 7 comments)
Forgiveness of sins in the Gospels My intention was to write a fairly straightforward piece on the connection between forgiveness of sins and the death of Jesus for my Lexicon of theological terms in narrative-historical perspective, but it’s become too unwieldy to fit into one article. In Forgiveness and the wiped out document... (28th Nov. 2012 | 14 comments)
Forgiveness and the wiped out document nailed to the cross One of the implications of a narrative-historical hermeneutic is that the community, not the individual, is made the locus for New Testament theological reasoning. So, for example, eschatology—the “end” stuff—is not about what happens to individuals when they die but about what happens to... (27th Nov. 2012 | 17 comments)
A couple more problems with the narrative-historical premise. Will it never end? In The narrative premise of a post-Christendom theology, which stands as an introductory piece for the approach to reading the New Testament that I think an “evangelical” church somehow needs to take on board, I suggest that: The New Testament presupposes, describes, and predicts a long, tumultuous... (23rd Nov. 2012 | 3 comments)
God, theology and history In response to my attempt to correct the impression that the narrative-historical approach to reading scripture has an “ultimate weakness”, Justin and his brother Daniel kindly explained that I had got hold of the wrong end of the stick. The problem that they highlight is not so much that firmly... (22nd Nov. 2012 | 4 comments)
The strengths (and weaknesses) of the narrative-historical method In a discussion of John 14:6 on the podcast site Home Brewed Christianity Justin makes this comment with reference to the narrative-historical hermeneutic that underpins much of what I have written on this blog and in my recent books:…what I think is good about Andrew (as well as being his ultimate... (19th Nov. 2012 | 12 comments)
The Great (Apocalyptic) Commission I recently received an email from someone who has a friend who had a couple of points to make about the so-called Great Commission. She wants to know what I think. Since Jesus tells his followers to make disciples of all “nations” rather than of all “people”, what he means is something like “make... (14th Nov. 2012 | 13 comments)
Reading the parable of the mustard seed after Christendom As I see it, a narrative-historical theology is bound to recognize that the collapse of western Christendom is a profoundly significant event in the story of the historical people of God—as significant as the exodus, the exile, Pentecost, the destruction of Jerusalem, the conversion of the empire,... (12th Nov. 2012 | 0 comments)
Discipleship means giving up everything to follow Jesus. Or does it? Lloyd Pietersen’s post-Christendom reading of the Gospels leads him to stress the fact that for Luke “discipleship means giving up everything to follow Jesus” ( Reading the Bible After Christendom , Kindle version, loc. 657). Jesus tells his disciples that “it is your Father’s good pleasure to... (8th Nov. 2012 | 1 comment)
Keep telling the story, despite God and despite ourselves I spent a very enjoyable day last Saturday listening to Lloyd Pietersen talking to a mostly Anabaptist audience about his book Reading the Bible After Christendom . One of the strong points that he makes in the book and made in the conference is that we have to take the biblical narrative as it... (6th Nov. 2012 | 10 comments)
What do we mean when we say that Jesus is Lord? The “gospel” today comes in two main user-friendly varieties. There is a “hard” version, which says that we are sinners subject to wrath, but Jesus died for our sins so that we may have eternal life with God. And there is a “soft” version, which says simply, with a big smile, that God is love. For... (1st Nov. 2012 | 11 comments)
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