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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)
Was Jesus' kingdom spiritual or physical? No. The debate running over here regarding spiritual and physical kingdoms seems to me to be getting confused. To my mind, a straightforward distinction needs to be made between the place where the king is and the place where his reign takes effect. Jesus became Israel’s king by his resurrection and... (17th Jul. 2012 | 9 comments)
Michael Bird notices that there are two competing gospel visions in evangelicalism In some reflections on an essay by Darrell Bock in the recent Howard Marshall festschrift Michael Bird makes the comment: “I seriously wonder if we have two competing gospel visions in evangelicalism.” He quotes a couple of paragraphs from Bock’s essay which make the point that whereas the gospel... (15th Jul. 2012 | 1 comment)
In what sense are we "bound to what the New Testament teaches"? I don’t want to make this too much a Q&A type blog, but when good questions come up in the comments, it seems a shame to waste them. This one from Mitchell Powell gets at a problem which is often reckoned to be the Achilles heel of narrative-historical approaches to the New Testament, though... (12th Jul. 2012 | 32 comments)
Mark Driscoll and the marks of a "true church" Scot McKnight has provoked copious debate on Jesus Creed in characteristically economical fashion by asking people what they think of the eight marks of a “true church”, by which is meant a church that conforms to the teachings of the New Testament, as defined by Mark Driscoll: The church is... (9th Jul. 2012 | 5 comments)
I think I might be a realized premillennialist I picked up a discounted copy of Roger Olson’s A-Z of Evangelical Theology (SCM, 2005) in the London School of Theology book shop earlier in the week. A central theme of the book that I am currently working on will be the kingdom of God and how to live with it, so I had a look at Roger’s brief... (6th Jul. 2012 | 13 comments)
By way of distraction: Studdert Kennedy on the Blessed Trinity I am sitting in the library at the London School of Theology trying to cobble together a book proposal. Looking for distraction I have just pulled off the shelf beside me The Wicket Gate by G.A. Studdert Kennedy, first published in 1923. Opening the book more or less at random I happened upon this... (3rd Jul. 2012 | 4 comments)
Do both the good and the bad go to Hades? Steven Opp has drawn attention to the argument of W.G.T. Shedd in The Doctrine of Endless Punishment that Sheol in the Old Testament (Hades in the Greek Old Testament) is not merely the grave but a place of endless punishment for the wicked, in part, at least, on the grounds that there are passages... (2nd Jul. 2012 | 8 comments)
More on the rich man and Lazarus and the question of “hell” I have suggested in The Coming of the Son of Man and on this blog that the story of the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16:19-31 is not intended to provide factual information about the afterlife but rather belongs to Jesus’ critique of a complacent elite in Israel that served mammon rather than God (... (1st Jul. 2012 | 9 comments)
Is David Fitch right that God is making the world right? Having just read Frank Viola’s Beyond Evangelicalism, I thought I ought to take a look at David Fitch’s more solidly analytical, and much less succinctly titled, The End of Evangelicalism? Discerning a New Faithfulness for Mission: Towards an Evangelical Political Theology (Theopolitical Visions).... (26th Jun. 2012 | 8 comments)
Should we still love our enemies? Chris asks a straightforward and pertinent question in response to my general argument that a narrative-historical hermeneutic, which necessarily brings into the foreground of our reading the contextual factors that restrict the New Testament’s frame of reference, may still be formative for the... (21st Jun. 2012 | 10 comments)
At the risk of repeating myself... I have been goaded, against my better judgment, into responding to Peter Wilkinson’s persistent complaint that I have not answered the five points that he raised against the narrative-historical reading that I have been determinedly advocating here. His arguments have to do not so much with the... (19th Jun. 2012 | 14 comments)
What was God's "eternal purpose"? I recently argued that Frank Viola’s definition of “beyond evangelical” captures some important, healthy emphases but does not do justice to the “narrated existence of the people of God”. Frank’s response was that the narrative component comes under the fourth note of the “eternal purpose” of God;... (18th Jun. 2012 | 9 comments)
Is the promise of the narrative-historical approach real or illusory? I’m participating in a small forum on, among other things, critical realism somewhere in the damp, green depths of the English countryside at the moment. Critical realism can be addressed from different angles, but one major area of relevance for Christian preachers, teachers, and theologians is... (15th Jun. 2012 | 5 comments)
Bebbington, Viola, and the redefinition of evangelicalism The British historian David Bebbington is usually credited with devising the standard definition of evangelicalism. I came across it again today in Frank Viola’s compilation of blog posts . Viola very briefly summarizes Bebbington’s definition in order to explain what he means by “beyond... (12th Jun. 2012 | 5 comments)
The narrative-historical reading of the New Testament: what's in it for me? Part 3 In this short series of posts I have been trying to show why and how a narrative-historical reading of the New Testament—that is, a reading that adjusts the theological content of the New Testament to its proper and natural historical horizons—remains formative and instructive for the church today... (9th Jun. 2012 | 18 comments)
The salvation of Gentiles at Antioch in Pisidia Before I get on to part three of “The narrative-historical reading of the New Testament: what’s in it for me?”, I want to make a few clarifying comments (not for the first time) about the “salvation” of some Gentiles at Antioch in Pisidia in Acts 13:44-48. I made the point in part two that Gentiles... (7th Jun. 2012 | 3 comments)
The narrative-historical reading of the New Testament: what's in it for me? Part 2 In the first part of this three-part post I outlined i) what I understand by a narrative-historical hermeneutic, ii) why it cuts across the grain of mainstream evangelical thinking, and iii) in general terms how I think it can be shown that this way of reading the New Testament may still be... (6th Jun. 2012 | 9 comments)

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