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

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The flood, Sodom, and the end of the world In The Historical Christ and the Theological Jesus Dale Allison argues for an apocalyptic Jesus—that is, for a Jesus whose mind was resolutely set on a cataclysmic and transformative event in a not-too-distant future. He thinks that the “shared hypothesis of Weiss and Schweitzer is not just tenable... (17th Feb. 2016 | 0 comments)
The Son of Man sayings and the horizons of New Testament eschatology My last post, arguing against Dale Allison that Jesus’ saying about the Son of Man coming in clouds relates to the vindication of Jesus and his followers after the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple, elicited a good critique on Facebook. The point made is that there is more to the prophecies... (13th Feb. 2016 | 6 comments)
Can we believe what Mark believed about the coming of the Son of Man? I’m about a third of the way through Dale Allison’s book The Historical Christ and the Theological Jesus. So far, it’s been an introspective, ambivalent—if not vacillating—but engaging reflection on the difficulty of doing historical Jesus research in a way that is theologically or religiously... (11th Feb. 2016 | 3 comments)
What makes us so sure that the harvest is plentiful? Here’s another proof-text beloved of evangelists: “The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into his harvest” (Matt. 9:37–38; cf. Lk. 10:2). It will no doubt get a good airing in the coming months as the Church of... (4th Feb. 2016 | 4 comments)
Putting the apocalyptic back in apologetics Peter’s exhortation to the “exiles of the dispersion” to be ready at all times “to make a defence (apologian) to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you” (1 Pet. 3:15) has been a key text for those wishing to promote either a rational apologetics or personal evangelism.It... (2nd Feb. 2016 | 5 comments)
Yeah, but it didn’t happen: prophecy and historical fulfilment Matt Colvin offers a well thought out rejoinder to my latest attempt to show that John’s account of the fall of Babylon-the-great refers to Rome. The point he makes is a challenging one: John says that the great city will be thrown down by violence and will be found no more (Rev. 18:21). But Rome... (26th Jan. 2016 | 8 comments)
Babylon the great: all intertextual roads lead to Rome I was provoked to write this over-long post by a comment dismissing the relevance of Nahum 3:4 for the interpretation of John’s description of the fall of Babylon the great in Revelation 18 as a “tenuous consideration”. I have spent too much time on this matter already and I don’t expect anyone to... (25th Jan. 2016 | 5 comments)
If the means are political, so is the end: Wright and the Jewish message of Paul In the opening chapter (“Setting the Stage”) of Paul and His Recent Interpreters Tom Wright makes the basic point that our modern culture has separated religion from politics and public life and has confined Paul to the religious sphere. Both in the academy and in the church he is viewed as a... (19th Jan. 2016 | 2 comments)
“A woman sitting on a scarlet beast”—who is the woman? what is the beast? Don Preston has been arguing at length in comments on an earlier post against the identification of “Babylon the great” with Rome (Rev. 14:6-11; 16:19; 17-18). One reason he gives for the view is that the great harlot, which is Babylon the great, is not to be identified with the beast on which she... (14th Jan. 2016 | 9 comments)
Why we need to let some theological air out of the over-inflated balloon of atonement theory I recently chanced upon this quotation from a book by Vernon White, Atonement and Incarnation, published in 1991:The universal claims of the Christian faith are not easy to sustain. It is sufficient merely to spend some time sitting at a roadside café in a busy, cosmopolitan city, watching the... (13th Jan. 2016 | 0 comments)
A handy 17 point summary of the narrative-historical perspective on the wrath of God Following my previous post on “The wrath of God and the death of Jesus” and some discussion that ensued, here is a reasonably concise 17 point summary of the narrative-historical perspective on the wrath of God—at least as I see it. 1. The phrases “wrath of God” or “day of God’s wrath” refer to the... (8th Jan. 2016 | 15 comments)
The wrath of God and the death of Jesus How do you feel when you read the terms “wrath of God” and “penal substitution”? Do you feel that something of profound and eternal theological importance has been stated, even if you’re not quite sure what it is? If so, you are probably on the reactionary Reformed side of the theological fence... (5th Jan. 2016 | 22 comments)
Should we call Jesus “Everlasting Father”? David Sunday asks how Jesus can be called “Everlasting Father” in Isaiah 9:6:For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.“How can Jesus the Messiah,... (29th Dec. 2015 | 3 comments)
Wishing you all a happy and revolutionary Christmas! According to the tradition that has been passed down to us, Christmas is the time of year when we celebrate God coming to earth in lowly human form to save humankind from sin and death. The glory of the deity has been laid aside, the radiant godhead has been veiled in flesh, the creator of all... (22nd Dec. 2015 | 3 comments)
Do Muslims and Christians worship the same God? Wheaton College has suspended an associate professor of political science for endorsing the view of Pope Francis that Muslims and Christians “worship the same God”. The ensuing debate has been partly theological: to what extent are Christian and Muslim definitions of God compatible? And partly... (18th Dec. 2015 | 3 comments)
This changes everything Someone recently told me that the narrative-historical perspective is “quite disorienting”. The experience reminded him of a quote from the philosopher Wittgenstein: “Language is a labyrinth of paths. You approach from one side and know your way about; you approach the same place from another side... (16th Dec. 2015 | 0 comments)
When the missional tail wags the biblical dog A recent series of posts on the Missional Church by Ed Stetzer drew my attention to a Missional Manifesto that Stetzer and others wrote five or six years ago. In many ways, it’s a very good document—a safe, conventional, but in its way compelling exposition of the currently fashionable idea that “... (10th Dec. 2015 | 7 comments)
Evangelicalism in narrative-historical perspective A new report by the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) in the US and LifeWay Research has identified four main statements that constitute normative evangelical belief:1. The Bible is the highest authority for what I believe.2. It is very important for me personally to encourage non-... (2nd Dec. 2015 | 2 comments)
An instructive parallel to the sheep and goats judgment The judgment of the sheep and the goats in Matthew 25:31-46 is a good test case for how New Testament eschatology works. It is usually read as an account of a final universal judgment, on the assumption that we are still waiting for the Son of Man to come on the clouds of heaven at the end of... (27th Nov. 2015 | 5 comments)
Why the Lord’s Prayer should be banned in cinemas The Church of England has been rather taken aback by the refusal of leading cinemas in the UK to screen a video of people, including the Archbishop of Canterbury, reciting the Lord’s Prayer in the run-up to Christmas. The short film, which I find rather moving in its hurried way, is part of a... (23rd Nov. 2015 | 2 comments)
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