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What should we expect apostles to do today? In my view, the missional-incarnational movement needs to engage constructively with the sort of narrative-historical reading of the New Testament that is emerging from biblical studies. And vice versa. I think that both mission and New Testament studies would be served by the dialogue. For example... (6th Aug. 2014 | 0 comments)
Mission after Christendom: beyond the incarnational-missional paradigm As you will be aware if you are not a complete stranger to this blog, I strongly hold to the view that a narrative-historical hermeneutic, informed by good work being done in New Testament Studies, gives us a much better understanding of the New Testament than the theologically driven methods of... (29th Jul. 2014 | 20 comments)
Communities of God’s future The church is always, everywhere a sign of new creation. I would venture to say that it is not in any respect the real thing—nothing has fundamentally changed, there is no mystical “regeneration”, we remain fallen humans through and through, dependent on grace. But when we talk about life in the... (23rd Jul. 2014 | 2 comments)
The mission of the apostles in Acts and what it tells us about church-planting I am preparing some talks on Acts for a church-planting conference in a couple of weeks. What I want to say, roughly, is 1) that the apostles went about their mission with a powerful historical—or apocalyptic—narrative in mind; 2) that the churches they planted were not just churches, they were... (17th Jul. 2014 | 1 comment)
Christ died for whose sins in accordance with the scriptures? Paul reminds the perhaps predominantly Gentile believers in Corinth of the gospel which he had originally preached to them. This gospel he had received from others: “that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in... (15th Jul. 2014 | 8 comments)
The theological interpretation of scripture and the dashing of babies against rocks Psalm 137 begins as a lament. The exiles in Babylon weep when they remember Jerusalem. They cannot sing the songs of Zion in a foreign land. The psalm ends, however, with a plea to YHWH that he will punish the Edomites for their complicity in the destruction of Jerusalem, and a chilling “beatitude... (9th Jul. 2014 | 13 comments)
Jesus’ protest in the temple I started writing a little piece on narrative-historical commentaries and how to get by without them and I was going to use the account of Jesus’ action in the temple to illustrate it, but it got too long. So here’s the part on Mark 11:15-19 and parallels. The rest will follow. The day after his... (1st Jul. 2014 | 4 comments)
Some questions about judgment and hell I got an email from Don Lambirth, who has read material on this site about hell and also my book Hell and Heaven in Narrative Perspective and has some questions. I have edited the questions slightly. Thanks, Don. Hopefully, my answers will be of interest to others. 1) On your view of Gehenna being... (26th Jun. 2014 | 9 comments)
Bart Ehrman on the Life of Brian, parody, and historical implausibility At the “Jesus and Brian, Or: What have the Pythons done for us?” conference at King’s College London this last weekend, Bart Ehrman gave a lecture on “Parody as Historical Method”. At the time it struck me as borderline pugnacious—he was the only one of the presenters I heard who felt the need to... (23rd Jun. 2014 | 0 comments)
Paul’s apocalyptic gospel: vindication, non-universalism and imminence I got so depressed watching England lose to Uruguay last night that I started reading the chapter on the “Apocalyptic Character of Paul’s Gospel” in J. Christiaan Beker’s celebrated book Paul’s Apocalyptic Gospel: The Coming Triumph of God. OK, it wasn’t technically the end of the world, but the... (20th Jun. 2014 | 0 comments)
Some standing here will not taste death... Sitting in the London School of Theology library yesterday I was flicking through David Turner’s Baker Exegetical Commentary on Matthew and came across his discussion of this passage: For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each... (18th Jun. 2014 | 8 comments)
Sinning against Christ and the argument for a divine christology Chris Tilling has taken the trouble to reply at some length to my review of his contribution to How God Became Jesus: The Real Origins of Belief in Jesus’ Divine Nature. I want to address the issues he raises, not with a view to picking a fight with him—honestly, Chris—but because the points he... (12th Jun. 2014 | 1 comment)
Origen, Jesus, and the kingdoms of the world (in narrative-historical perspective) I’ve been reading the Fathers, trying to get a better idea of the catastrophe that befell the Jewish story about Jesus, which is part of the story of Israel, as the church put down cultural and intellectual roots in the Greek-Roman world. Somewhat by-the-by, I came across this passage from Origen... (6th Jun. 2014 | 8 comments)
Missional pneumatology: is the Spirit active outside the church? The piece I wrote last week on the difficulties that post-charismatics can have finding an honest place for the gifts of the Spirit in a justice-oriented “missional” framework provoked a rather aggrieved response from Michael Frost on Facebook. That appears to have been largely a matter of... (2nd Jun. 2014 | 10 comments)
How might the post-charismatic “missional” church rediscover the gifts of the Spirit? We had an interesting session on the gifts of the Spirit last night in Harlesden. Many in the church are from a charismatic background but seemed wary about pursuing the conversation. One young woman put the choice rather starkly—she could spend her time praying that someone’s back-ache would... (28th May. 2014 | 10 comments)
Why does Jesus give the kingdom back in the end and become subject again to God? Bob Macdonald is feeling a little grumpy but he asks a good question about Paul’s belief i) that at the end Jesus will deliver the kingdom to God the Father, and ii) that “the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things in subjection under him, that God may be all in all” (1 Cor.... (23rd May. 2014 | 5 comments)
Is Jesus included in the “divine identity” in 1 Corinthians 8:6? Following a bit of an exchange on Facebook, I have been looking again at the now widely accepted contention, associated especially with Wright, Bauckham and Fee, that in 1 Corinthians 8:6 Paul has taken the extraordinary step of including Jesus in the Shema and therefore in the divine identity. The... (21st May. 2014 | 12 comments)
The book of Acts as political-religious narrative I’ve put this up for a couple of reasons. First, I’m pulling together some ideas for teaching on Acts at a mission conference in the summer, and a rough narrative outline is a good place to start, though how much use I’ll make of it remains to be seen.Secondly, someone got in touch recently asking... (16th May. 2014 | 6 comments)
Who are the “elect” in Jesus’ apocalyptic discourse? I argued in a couple of posts recently that Jesus’ apocalyptic discourse in Matthew 24 has reference exclusively to the siege of Jerusalem, the destruction of the temple, and the significance of this catastrophe for Jesus’ disciples. I maintain, in agreement with Dick France on this point, that the... (12th May. 2014 | 5 comments)
Assessing Dick France’s argument about the parousia of the Son of Man in Matthew In a comment on my recent post It’s not eschatology, folks, it’s just a story Ian Paul kindly took me to task for not consulting Dick France’s The Gospel of Matthew (The New International Commentary on the New Testament) . I used France’s commentary on Mark when writing The Coming of the Son... (7th May. 2014 | 1 comment)
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