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

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Did Jesus heal the centurion’s male sexual partner? I asserted a while back that there is no evidence in the Gospels that Jesus had anything to say, directly or indirectly, about homosexuality. I don’t think he threatened pederasts with drowning, or asked people if they had gone out into the wilderness to see a gay man in effeminate clothing, or... (11th Jun. 2015 | 17 comments)
10 good reasons to switch to a narrative-historical hermeneutic First, what do I mean by a “narrative-historical hermeneutic”? I mean a way of integrating the Bible into our self-understanding as the church—that is, a way of doing theology—that takes it to be the story told by a community about its historical existence over time, reaching back to the promises... (9th Jun. 2015 | 9 comments)
Does it matter whether it really happened? There are two parts to the narrative-historical hermeneutic that I am trying to develop and promote on this site. I argue, first, that the Bible should be read as the complex but essentially coherent story that a people told about its historical experience over a long period of time; and as a... (4th Jun. 2015 | 3 comments)
Tongues of fire Someone asked me yesterday whether “tongues as of fire” (Acts 2:3) points to the fact that the disciples were to proclaim that the kingdom of God was coming, meaning judgment on unbelieving Israel and the nations. I was at the Patriarchal Stavropegic Monastery of St. John the Baptist in Tolleshunt... (26th May. 2015 | 7 comments)
What is the church and what is it for? A dynamic definition What is the church and what is it for? In the West we live in a post-Christendom and increasingly post-Christian world whose fundamental beliefs are secular humanist. The great public symbols of Christian authority have been cast to the ground and trampled under foot. The last vestiges of a... (22nd May. 2015 | 7 comments)
Why did Jesus instruct his disciples not to preach the kingdom of God to Gentiles and Samaritans? This issue came up in some teaching I did recently. Why did Jesus instruct his disciples not to go in the way of the Gentiles or to the towns of the Samaritans but only to the “lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matt. 10:5-15)? Doesn’t that contradict the “great commission”, when the disciples are... (18th May. 2015 | 14 comments)
7 fallacies about hell Like a lot of people who promote the doctrine of hell as a place of eternal suffering, J.D. Greear insists, in “7 Truths About Hell” on the Gospel Coalition site, that he would happily erase the belief from Christian teaching if he could, but he can’t because it’s in the Bible, so we have to live... (11th May. 2015 | 7 comments)
The biblical story of the kingdom of God: a thought for election day Samuel had judged Israel all the days of his life, doing the circuit from Bethel to Gilgal to Mizpah to Ramah. In his old age he appointed his two sons as judges over Israel, but as is sometimes the case with public officials, they turned out to be corrupt: “They took bribes and perverted justice... (7th May. 2015 | 7 comments)
Jesus and the sea: arguments about divine identity There are two incidents in Mark’s Gospel where Jesus demonstrates mastery over the sea. In one he calms a storm with a word of rebuke (Mk. 4:35-41); in the other he walks on the water as the disciples struggle to cross the Sea of Galilee at night, seemingly with the intention of passing by them (Mk... (4th May. 2015 | 4 comments)
The Lord’s Supper in narrative-historical perspective There are two main debates that the church has engaged in over the Lord’s Supper, one having to do with theory, the other with practice. First, what is the relation between the physical elements of the “meal” and the person of Jesus? Is Jesus really present in the substance of the bread and the... (1st May. 2015 | 5 comments)
The meteor sighting on the road to Damascus: why do we believe what we believe? William Hartman is the co-founder of the Planetary Science Institute in Tucson, Arizona, which presumably makes him a reputable scientist. In a March 2015 article in the journal Meteorites and Planetary Science, which is presumably a reputable scientific publication—you get a bit wary about these... (27th Apr. 2015 | 13 comments)
Rethinking Matthew’s coming of the Son of Man I came across this comment from Peter Enns this week: “I am very amenable to Andrew’s approach and others like it—although I still do a double-take at Matt 24:30-31.” That sort of remark—particularly from someone as sane as Peter Enns—usually makes me go back and look at the text again. I think I’... (23rd Apr. 2015 | 18 comments)
The stories we get so animated about My view is that one of the main challenges that the church in the West faces—at least from my late-Protestant and somewhat post-evangelical perspective—is to learn to tell our “story” differently. This has to do, in the first place, with how we understand ourselves as a biblical people, but it also... (20th Apr. 2015 | 2 comments)
Who was the suffering servant of Isaiah 52:13-53:12? I have written a few times about the controversial doctrine of penal substitutionary atonement (see below). A friend got in touch this week asking whether I thought the word “chastisement” in Isaiah 53:5 should be read “through a filter of penal substitution”—she had discovered (via the Septuagint... (14th Apr. 2015 | 1 comment)
Does Jesus have anything to say about homosexuality? Simple answer, no. Scot McKnight has recently proposed three (or four) teachings in the Synoptic Gospels where Jesus may have had homosexual behaviour in mind. The discussions I’ve been involved in over the last few weeks have focused primarily on the prohibitive texts in Leviticus and Paul. It’s been assumed that... (8th Apr. 2015 | 9 comments)
The resurrection of the Son of God (and the rationalisation of God the Son) It was put to me in a comment on FaceBook this week that from time to time I “point out the weaknesses of the Trinity”. That’s true, but the statement needs careful qualification. I point out the weaknesses of the theological formulation of Trinitarian belief for hermeneutical reasons—I think that... (3rd Apr. 2015 | 8 comments)
Judgment, kingdom, and sexual immorality The previous post (“Resurrection, judgment, and sexual immorality”) was an attempt to locate Paul’s condemnation of sexual immorality in general and homosexuality in particular in Romans 1:24-27 in the eschatological narrative that I think controls his thought in the letter. Here I will try to do... (2nd Apr. 2015 | 8 comments)
Resurrection, judgment, and sexual immorality This week began with a class on Acts in Nottingham and ends with a three day theological forum in Glasgow on healthy sexuality and the LGBT debate. Here I attempt to track the route between the two topics—to show how Acts sets the eschatological frame for Paul’s condemnation of sexual immorality... (27th Mar. 2015 | 8 comments)
The argument of Galatians: justification by faith in a new future As much as any other of Paul’s letters, Galatians is written with an eschatological narrative frame firmly in place. It’s not immediately obvious—it’s been squeezed to the periphery by the argument about faith and the Jewish Law which dominates the letter. But that does not mean that eschatology... (19th Mar. 2015 | 3 comments)
The skeletal narrative of the Synoptic Gospels Some more sketchy notes on the Synoptic narrative for my teaching at St Johns Nottingham before moving on—rather hesitantly—to John’s Gospel. The story told about Jesus and the coming kingdom of God in the Synoptic Gospels does not stand on its own; it is not a self-contained narrative. It is an... (12th Mar. 2015 | 4 comments)
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