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Where does authority lie? Peter Enns on historical criticism and evangelicalism Peter Enns has written a clear, concise and sensible piece on the uneasy relationship between historical criticism and evangelicalism that I think is well worth reading. He notes the tensions between evangelicalism’s commitment to scripture as divine revelation and the proper task of historical... (4th Jul. 2013 | 5 comments)
Three ways to put ourselves in the story In response to my argument that what we have in the New Testament is a “narrative for the early churches as they confronted the frightening hegemony of classical paganism”, Evelyn asks, quite reasonably: “but then how can it serve as a narrative for us?” I will suggest here that there are three... (2nd Jul. 2013 | 9 comments)
Would God have got excited about the conversion of Constantine? Someone recently got in touch with some pertinent questions about my contention that the main trajectory of New Testament eschatology lands not at the end-of-the-world but firmly in the muddy battle-field of history, at the conversion of Rome.This is not just a question about New Testament... (27th Jun. 2013 | 16 comments)
Does James preach the gospel? It may sometimes appear that the narrative-historical approach to reading the New Testament throws up more questions than answers, but one point that I am pretty confident about is that what the modern evangelical world generally means by “gospel” is not what Jesus or Paul meant by “gospel”.Or... (24th Jun. 2013 | 5 comments)
Creation, fall, redemption, and new creation is not much of a metanarrative I came across this somewhat at random, but it illustrates a point. In an article on the role of theology on the Gordon Conwell website John Jefferson argues that a sound biblical theology is like the backbone in the human body—it provides “support, shape and stability to the Body of Christ”.In the... (21st Jun. 2013 | 7 comments)
Does the gospel first appear in Genesis 3:15? Another good example of how theology gets read back into texts where it doesn’t belong is provided by the argument that the gospel first appears in Genesis 3:15. The singular “seed” of the woman, who will crush the head of the serpent, is taken to be a prophecy of the coming messiah. It’s known as... (18th Jun. 2013 | 11 comments)
The Gospel Coalition gets the gospel back to front A while back Daniel asked me what I thought of a Gospel Coalition video called “Did Jesus Preach the Gospel?” The question which John Piper, Tim Keller, and Don Carson address is basically this: Is Paul’s gospel of justification by faith on the basis of Jesus’ atoning death for the sins of the... (13th Jun. 2013 | 24 comments)
Church as eschatological community (part 1) I gave a talk last night at Community Church Harlesden on church as eschatological community. It was a little complicated, as you can see from this handout, so I promised to write up a summary. I’ll do it in two parts. If you’re not sure what “eschatology” means—or at least, what I mean by “... (5th Jun. 2013 | 3 comments)
Adam, original sin, and wrath against the Jew At the THINK Conference last week Tom Wright made the interesting observation that Judaism shows very little interest in Adam and his original sin until after the destruction of the temple. With slightly different emphases the apocalyptic texts 4 Ezra and 2 Baruch, written around AD 100, both make... (29th May. 2013 | 16 comments)
The Lord said to my lord... I have argued in a number of posts recently (see below) that the confession that Jesus is Lord is not the same as the confession that Jesus is God, and that we are likely to miss a critical part of New Testament teaching if we carelessly conflate the two. There is an eschatological or historical... (25th May. 2013 | 55 comments)
Rob Bell: What we don’t talk about when we talk about God I have been listening to Rob Bell talk about his book What We Talk About When We Talk About God with Justin Brierley and Andrew Wilson on Premier Radio’s Unbelievable podcast. I download one of these discussions from time to time if I have a long car journey to make. I find them a bit rambling... (22nd May. 2013 | 15 comments)
Is the Shema really so important for understanding “one God… one Lord” in 1 Corinthians 8:6? Richard Worden Wilson has drawn attention to a short piece by Scot McKnight on the relation between Paul’s statement about one God and one Lord in 1 Corinthians 8:6 and the Shema, the great Jewish confession that “The LORD our God (yhwh eloheinu), the LORD (yhwh) is one” (Deut 6:4). McKnight thinks... (16th May. 2013 | 7 comments)
Tweaking Richard Bauckham on Jesus and the God of Israel In his valuable book Jesus and the God of Israel: God Crucified and Other Studies on the New Testament’s Christology of Divine Identity Richard Bauckham argues that the unique identity of God in scripture is characterized in two ways: he is the particular God of Israel, known to them as YHWH,... (14th May. 2013 | 41 comments)
Some rough and ready “rules” for doing a narrative-historical reading of the New Testament In response to persistent demands that I explain my hermeneutic, here is a list of seven rough and ready “rules” for doing a narrative-historical reading of the New Testament. They loosely outline or summarize what is to my mind a coherent and defensible methodology, but I have not offered here... (9th May. 2013 | 22 comments)
What must a person believe in order to be saved? The question came up in yet another long and fraught debate about the divinity of Jesus whether belief that Jesus is God is required for salvation. Reference was made to an article by C. Michael Patton, who thinks that the following beliefs are essential for salvation: belief in God, in Christ’s... (3rd May. 2013 | 13 comments)
Christendom: fulfilment or false start? In a perceptive comment in which he recommends consideration of Abraham Heschel’s “theology of Pathos”, Mark Nieweg draws attention to what he sees as a fundamental dilemma or paradox at the heart of the consistent narrative-historical approach to reading the New Testament.I have actually been more... (30th Apr. 2013 | 15 comments)
Jesus as Lord in Mark Ed Dingess, who appears to be a Reformed apologist, has taken the trouble to add some polite and thoughtful comments to my post “Kenton Sparks: historical criticism and the virgin birth”. He makes some good points and raises some good questions about the narrative-historical approach to reading the... (24th Apr. 2013 | 168 comments)
What about 1 Corinthians 1:30? Nope, no imputation of righteousness here either. So where is it then? John Piper thinks that 1 Corinthians 1:30 “stands as a signal pointing to the righteousness of Christ that becomes ours when we are united to him by God through faith”.1 He is pleased to be able to quote Tom Wright’s “concession” to the Reformed position regarding this text:It is the only passage I... (18th Apr. 2013 | 2 comments)
More on the righteousness of God and the justification of believers Some pertinent questions were asked by Jon and Geoff in the comments in response to my last post on Wright and White on the “righteousness of God” in 2 Corinthians 5:21. This is an extended answer to them. The questions overlap a little, so I may be repeating myself in a couple of places.It may... (16th Apr. 2013 | 26 comments)
Wright and White on the “righteousness of God” in 2 Corinthians 5:21 Driving back from visiting my mother yesterday I listened to a Premier Radio podcast of Tom Wright and James White debating the meaning of “justification” in Paul. It’s a difficult and rather disjointed conversation—Justin Brierley was clearly struggling to keep his head above water—but it’s worth... (12th Apr. 2013 | 17 comments)
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