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

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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)
Do the disciples pray to the Lord Jesus in Acts? In a comment on an old post looking at a review by Larry Hurtado of Dunn’s Did the First Christians Worship Jesus, Marc Taylor maintains that “Dunn’s assertion that certain prayer words are not used in reference to the Lord Jesus is without merit.” He lists four passages in Acts and a handful from... (18th Nov. 2015 | 15 comments)
20 reasons for thinking that “Babylon the great” is Rome not Jerusalem The New Testament is a thoroughly apocalyptic set of documents. I made the point to my friend JR Rozko last night as we walked through Soho that our current narrative theologies place a great deal of emphasis on the story of Israel that culminates in Jesus, but the New Testament has much more to... (12th Nov. 2015 | 43 comments)
Kingdom and mission. What’s changed since Schweitzer? Not much Bruce Chilton starts his book Pure Kingdom: Jesus’ Vision of God by noting that at the end of the nineteenth century Albert Schweitzer had come to the realisation that the “kingdom of God” was basically “eschatological”. He had seen the connection between Jesus’ teaching and the literature of early... (10th Nov. 2015 | 4 comments)
Lead us not into temptation What does Jesus mean when he teaches his disciples to pray “lead us not into temptation”? In a brief appendix (“Jesus’ Prayer and the War of Worlds”) to his book Pure Kingdom: Jesus’ Vision of God Bruce Chilton aims to define a middle ground between two misunderstandings of the petition. On the one... (3rd Nov. 2015 | 1 comment)
Tom Wright on religion and politics: the beginning and end of theocracy The National Secular Society has taken Tom Wright to task for advocating a “cruciform theocracy” that would overcome the prevailing separation of religion and politics in the West. A more detailed summary of Wright’s talk at St Paul’s Cathedral in London a week ago can be found on the Christian... (27th Oct. 2015 | 17 comments)
Evangelical views of the resurrection As an addendum to the previous post contrasting two accounts of resurrection here’s a set of diagrams illustrating three ways of thinking about the relationship between the resurrection of Jesus and subsequent resurrections. The first is the conventional modern evangelical view that can’t see... (22nd Oct. 2015 | 1 comment)
Two ways of thinking about resurrection I have to say, I have enjoyed my conversation with Carl Mosser about theosis as an account of what it ultimately means to be redeemed. I still don’t really get it. That may have something to do with language—an “allergic reaction” on my part to the “deification terminology”—but it clearly has a lot... (21st Oct. 2015 | 8 comments)
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