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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 give... (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 is,... (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)
Daniel Meeter: Why Be A Christian (If No One Goes to Hell)? Daniel Meeter has written an elegant, lucid, sensible, and humane book about hell and, as far as I am concerned, gets most of it right. The basic argument of Why Be A Christian (If No One Goes to Hell)? (Shook Foil Books, 2012) is that the “Bible does not teach that anyone spends eternity in hell”... (30th Oct. 2012 | 0 comments)
In the likeness of sinful flesh Last week it was Romans 9:5 and the question of whether Paul says that the Christ is “God over all, blessed forever”. Since then I have been fretting over Paul’s account of Christ’s self-emptying and vindication in Philippians 2:6-11. I am working on a paper developing an idea about the conceptual... (25th Oct. 2012 | 4 comments)
Does Paul say that Jesus is God in Romans 9:5? I have been puzzling over Romans 9:5—a notorious interpretive crux, as scholars like to say. Is this a rare place in the New Testament where it is stated that Jesus is God? This is how the ESV takes it: They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of... (17th Oct. 2012 | 20 comments)
Scot McKnight on the historical Jesus and the Jesus of the church Scot McKnight argues that historical Jesus studies must start from the premise that the “church either got Jesus wrong or said too much”, that the “real” Jesus of the historians and the theologized Jesus of the church cannot be reconciled, and that historical Jesus studies are of no use to the... (11th Oct. 2012 | 20 comments)
Some notes on discipleship I have the opportunity to do some teaching on discipleship later in the week at a Christian Associates staff conference in Scotland. This rather lengthy piece is part of my preparation. I have tried to outline how I see discipleship functioning in scripture, with particular attention given to the... (9th Oct. 2012 | 6 comments)
Fitting the baptism of John into the missional narrative I think I would be right in saying that much “missional” theory these days accepts that in our post-Christendom and post-modern cultural context there is likely to be a significant transitional period between first serious exposure to the “gospel” and conversion. People don’t simply get saved. They... (7th Oct. 2012 | 12 comments)
Who is the father in the parable of the prodigal son? Who is the father in the parable of the prodigal son? We mostly take it for granted, of course, that the father is God and that the central point of the story is that God forgives the repentant sinner. I have pointed out before that this is not a story about personal salvation by grace rather than... (1st Oct. 2012 | 16 comments)
Kester Brewin on the failed “mutiny” of the prodigal son I’m not quite sure what I was expecting when I offered to review Kester Brewin’s Mutiny! Why We Love Pirates, And How They Can Save Us. Probably something that spoke rather more directly to the “emerging church” than this book does. Kester is a “teacher, popular blogger, and pioneering alt.worship... (28th Sep. 2012 | 0 comments)
Hellbound, Universalism, Hell and Heaven, and The Coming of the Son of Man Robin Parry has a lively review of Hellbound: The Movie on his Theological Scribbles blog. According to Robin the “focus was primarily versions of eternal torment vs. versions of universalism”. Annihilationism, which I would have expected to have entered the ring as the main challenger to the... (25th Sep. 2012 | 19 comments)
What does it mean to be “born again”? When Jesus tells Nicodemus that he must be “born again” in order to see the kingdom of God (Jn. 3:3), does he have in mind the Protestant doctrine of personal regeneration? Or is he saying that Israel, represented by the devout Pharisee Nicodemus, is in need of national regeneration? Or neither? Or... (24th Sep. 2012 | 18 comments)
Disorganised Religion Day The Mennonite Centre Trust and the Anabaptist Network are holding a Disorganised Religion day in London on 3rd November to explore “how alternative ways of understanding the bible might help us recover how we can live distinctively in 21st Century Britain”. They will have Lloyd Pietersen there,... (19th Sep. 2012 | 1 comment)
No other name by which we should be saved I am not a universalist. I do not think that the New Testament teaches that everybody will be “saved”, though it appears that the political landscape of the new creation will be more complex than we may have thought. The framing soteriological argument in the New Testament is not that humanity... (12th Sep. 2012 | 16 comments)
Understanding the big picture of the Bible: a guide to reading the Bible well Ask yourself: What interest does your pastor have in the New Testament texts? What does he or she want to do with them? What does he or she need to do with them? Or if you yourself are a pastor or minister or vicar, what interest do you have professionally in the New Testament? Whom do you need to... (6th Sep. 2012 | 19 comments)

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