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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)
Hellbound the Movie I guess many people will know already that Hellbound the Movie is set for release in the US on September 21st. Kevin Miller asked me last year if I’d do an interview for it, but I was in Dubai and he was in the US, and it never happened. That was a missed opportunity. I’m now back in London, and... (31st Aug. 2012 | 12 comments)
Response to Douglas Wilson The seemingly affable, well-read, articulate and entertaining Douglas Wilson has taken the trouble to respond in some detail to my critique of his argument about Hellenistic influence on the supposed language of “hell” in the New Testament, so I will return the favour. He who blinks first loses,... (31st Aug. 2012 | 9 comments)
Some quick notes on Douglas Wilson's argument about Hell and Hellenism Douglas Wilson—a genial fellow by appearances, who calls himself an “evangelical, postmill, Calvinist, Reformed, and Presbyterian, pretty much in that order”—complains about the “doctrinal mischief” that is being caused by the ‘use of “Hebraic narrative” to deny the doctrine of Hell’. Daniel... (29th Aug. 2012 | 6 comments)
Sheol, the place of the dead The question of what sort of place “Sheol” is and who goes there often gets brought up when hell is being discussed. Alex Jordan, for example, made this comment a few days back:I believe there are warnings about hell in the Old Testament. Sheol is not a neutral place, but the place where the wicked... (21st Aug. 2012 | 19 comments)
Tim Challies' final arguments for the existence of hell Tim Challies’ final post on “The Holiness of God and the Existence of Hell” is a bit of a let-down. I was rather hoping that he would examine the biblical evidence for his doctrine of eternal conscious torment. I thought he might have considered how words like “wrath” and “Gehenna” and “Hades” are... (17th Aug. 2012 | 47 comments)
Tim Challies on the wrath of God and the existence of hell Tim Challies thinks that one of the most important questions that as Christians we have to ask ourselves today is “Does hell exist?” I also think that this is an important question, one that, in my view, highlights a major flaw in the way most modern Christians understand the Bible, which is why I... (16th Aug. 2012 | 27 comments)
Who else has argued that Gehenna is a place of historical judgment? I see one hand hesitantly raised I have argued in The Coming of the Son of Man (91-94) and frequently on this blog that in Jesus’ teaching the Greek word geenna, which is usually erroneously translated “hell”, signifies not a general “place” of punishment of sinners after death but divine punishment of Jerusalem by means of... (10th Aug. 2012 | 34 comments)
Can anyone recommend a seminary that embraces narrative theology? I have had a couple of questions from someone which I’m struggling to answer. He grew up and still lives in Texas, has a “hyper-conservative, mainstream” evangelical background, but has recently been exploring new ideas about theology and doctrine, in particular the sort narrative approaches to the... (9th Aug. 2012 | 11 comments)
Should the church be committed to the mission of Jesus? The last of the eight marks of the “true church” according to Mark Driscoll is that the “church is committed to Jesus’ mission”—and you think, well, that’s a no-brainer. Go into all the world and make disciples of all nations. Proclaim the good news that Jesus died for our sins. Baptize people.... (2nd Aug. 2012 | 9 comments)
Satan, The rise and fall of Do I believe in Satan? To be honest, on a good day, I’m not sure I do. I suspect that this arch hypostasis of evil is just a bit too much of a stretch for my largely rationalist view of the world. Should I be concerned about this? A narrative appraisal of Satan’s function in the New Testament... (30th Jul. 2012 | 28 comments)
The story is more than gospel: a response to Leslie Leyland Fields In an article in the latest edition of Christianity Today (“The Gospel Is More Than a Story: Rethinking Narrative and Testimony”) Leslie Fields examines the current preference expressed by many evangelicals for narrative over doctrine. She offers by way of evidence a statement made by Derek Flood... (25th Jul. 2012 | 6 comments)
The kingdom of heaven and the men of violence While we’re on the subject of the kingdom of God, what are we to make of Jesus’ enigmatic saying about violent men taking the kingdom by force (Matt. 11:12)? The only way to make sense of it, I would suggest, is to read carefully Jesus’ reaction to the visit from the disciples of John the Baptist... (22nd Jul. 2012 | 3 comments)
The kingdom of God is in the midst of you. Or is it? The coming of the kingdom of God in the Synoptic Gospels is, in my view, entirely a cataclysmic future public event. This event would not happen very soon, from Jesus’ point of view, but some of his followers would certainly live to witness it. It is closely linked, in Jesus’ apocalyptic story-... (21st Jul. 2012 | 24 comments)
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