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Why did the risen Jesus send the apostles out to make disciples of all nations? A narrative-historical hermeneutic has to respect the distinctions and boundaries—even the cracks and disjunctions—that emerge in the telling of the story. If we allow ourselves to read later developments back into earlier passages, we muddy the waters and risk getting the whole story, to whatever... (30th Oct. 2014 | 14 comments)
Weiss and Schweitzer on the kingdom of God: right, right, right, wrong, and still wrong I have read both Weiss’ Jesus’ Proclamation of the Kingdom of God and Schweitzer’s The Mystery of the Kingdom of God recently. Both excellent books—up to a point, which I’ll come to—and well worth reading. The significance of their work for the modern understanding of the kingdom of God is neatly... (28th Oct. 2014 | 0 comments)
Israel and the nations: the limits of Old Testament expectation This is a rather technical piece—some notes I made while working on something else—but the gist of the argument can be gained from the introduction and the conclusion. I have been looking at how the idea of a Gentile mission emerges in the New Testament. I made the point in “The parable of the... (23rd Oct. 2014 | 23 comments)
How are you to escape being sentenced to hell? I don’t think I’d noticed this before. I have frequently maintained that what Jesus means by the “judgment of geenna” is not post mortem torment in what we call “hell” but the suffering and destruction that would result from the war against Rome. Basically, the argument is that Jesus adapted the... (16th Oct. 2014 | 3 comments)
The parable of the wedding feast and the man without a wedding garment I’ve been asked a couple of times recently about Matthew’s rather startling and perplexing version of the parable of wedding feast (Matt. 22:1-14). Don Lambirth, for example, sent me this question: In your opinion who are the people who are invited but don’t come? Who are those who are invited... (14th Oct. 2014 | 11 comments)
Why I believe in the rapture With all the current excitement/dismay in the US surrounding the release of yet another Left Behind film, starring Nicholas Cage, I thought I would offer a quick overview of arguments that I have presented in The Coming of the Son of Man and elsewhere regarding the offending passages. I was... (9th Oct. 2014 | 10 comments)
How to make narrative sense of miracles of healing The question of whether God heals miraculously today—or, for that matter, ever has—is obviously a difficult and contentious one for the church in a rationalist secular context. A comment by James Mercer, however, in connection with my post on the narratives of mission highlights a different and... (6th Oct. 2014 | 4 comments)
The narratives of mission I suggested in passing in a recent post on mission and blessing that in The Mission of God: Unlocking the Bible’s Grand Narrative C.J.H. Wright (not to be confused with N.T. Wright) ‘has misconstrued the “grand narrative” of the Bible as oriented towards salvation rather than “kingdom”’. JR Rozko,... (30th Sep. 2014 | 10 comments)
Was Jesus wrong about Abiathar the high priest? For the background to this see Ian Paul’s very interesting post “What do we do when the Bible is ‘wrong’?” Ian starts by discussing Peter LaRuffa’s (on the face of it) ludicrous statement: If, somewhere within the Bible, I were to find a passage that said 2+2=5, I would believe it, accept it as... (27th Sep. 2014 | 9 comments)
Is it the mission of the church to be a blessing to people? DeYoung and Gilbert say no I suggested recently that in their book What is the Mission of the Church? Making Sense of Social Justice, Shalom, and the Great Commission Kevin DeYoung and Greg Gilbert highlight some legitimate concerns regarding current “missional” thinking. There will be differences of opinion, but I think... (25th Sep. 2014 | 14 comments)
Satan, serpents and the dreadful forces of political change This is a further—and final—response to some productive comments made by Paul K. regarding my argument about the narrative-historical method and its implications for our understanding of the kingdom of God. He argues that the gospel deals with spiritual powers as well as “socio-political forces”—he... (18th Sep. 2014 | 24 comments)
Narrative rules. But which one? My last post dealt with some specific texts which Paul K. suggested do not fit the kingdom paradigm that I am proposing. A more general question raised in his comment has to do with the relation of the story about kingdom to the theme of creation. Paul agrees that “there is something bigger and... (13th Sep. 2014 | 8 comments)
Kingdom texts that don’t fit the paradigm? In a lengthy comment on my “The narrative-historical method—an outline” post Paul K. asks some thoughtful and probing questions about the relevance or prevalence of the notion of kingdom that I have been proposing. My argument is that the kingdom motif in the New Testament belongs not to a... (10th Sep. 2014 | 8 comments)
The narrative-historical method—an outline This was prompted by a conversation with a London School of Theology student about his dissertation proposal for the distance learning MA in Aspects and Implications of Biblical Interpretation. It’s just another attempt to clarify what I have been calling the narrative-historical method, though... (4th Sep. 2014 | 11 comments)
DeYoung and Gilbert on the mission of the church In their book What is the Mission of the Church? Making Sense of Social Justice, Shalom, and the Great Commission Kevin DeYoung and Greg Gilbert make a brave and generous attempt to steer the conversation about mission back in a more traditional direction. Many people these days would maintain that... (2nd Sep. 2014 | 5 comments)
Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures I have argued in a couple of posts recently (see below) that the “gospel” in the New Testament is not the personal message that Jesus died for your sins but the public proclamation, in the particular historical setting of the crisis of first century Israel, that God has raised his unjustly executed... (27th Aug. 2014 | 11 comments)
Theology, history and which Jesus? One of the main intellectual tasks facing the church in the aftermath of modernity has been to reconnect theology and history. Historical criticism, with help from scientific method generally, generated such distrust of the biblical narrative that it was safer for theologians to do their thing... (22nd Aug. 2014 | 5 comments)
God in Christ reconciling the world to himself is not really the gospel either... In the previous post I argued that in the New Testament the propositional content of the “gospel” is not that Jesus died for anyone’s sins but that Jesus, having been wrongfully executed, has been raised from the dead in vindication and seated at the right hand of God to exercise the delegated rule... (18th Aug. 2014 | 11 comments)
The “gospel” was not about the reconciliation of a man with his creator Here’s another response that I saw on Facebook to my post “What should we expect apostles to do today?” This time the focus is not on the kingdom but on the “gospel”: There is no gospel but the one that reconciles a man with his creator. Everything else must be built upon this or it is built on... (14th Aug. 2014 | 5 comments)
It is not our job to extend the kingdom I came across a comment by someone on Facebook in response to my post about what an apostle does. He suggests, first, that I must come from a typical large church (he couldn’t be further from the truth), that is “not engaging in the Kingdom” (I’ll get on to this), and then asserts: We MUST be... (8th Aug. 2014 | 16 comments)
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