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

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My arguments against Ortlund’s restatement of Packer’s arguments against annihilationism On the Gospel Coalition site Gavin Ortlund has summarily restated J.I. Packer’s response to annihilationist arguments. Here I restate my arguments against the arguments against annihilationism, while noting at the same time that annihilationism as a reading of New Testament eschatology is itself... (7th Oct. 2015 | 8 comments)
Was Jesus’ atoning death unique? Christian soteriology works on the assumption that Jesus’ death was a unique saving event. The only real antecedent considered is the suffering of Isaiah’s servant, upon whom the Lord has laid “the iniquity of us all”, understood not as referring to a historical figure or community in Isaiah’s... (1st Oct. 2015 | 4 comments)
Some notes on Mark 1:2-3 in response to Rikk Watts Rikk Watts has kindly responded to my reflections on his argument about the high christology of Mark 1:2-3. I’m not trying to pick a fight here—and I say, as before, that this is an argument for the kingdom narrative rather than against a high christology. But the issue is an important one, and for... (28th Sep. 2015 | 2 comments)
What happened to the resurrection of the wicked? Robin Parry poses an interesting puzzle about the resurrection of the wicked. I’ve slightly restated it, but it goes roughly as follows: At the end of the age there will be a resurrection of both the righteous and the unrighteous for judgment: sheep and goats, wheat and weeds, good-doers and evil-... (23rd Sep. 2015 | 0 comments)
Deeper into the doctrine of the second coming of Jesus The Gospel Coalition has been doing an intermittent series over the last year tagged “Deeper into Doctrine”. For people who prefer their theology in narrative form—and for post-moderns generally, if there are still any around—“doctrine” is a dirty word. But I don’t see any objection to formulating... (16th Sep. 2015 | 3 comments)
Where Witherington finds Wright least convincing Ben Witherington has been doing a thorough and informative series of posts on N.T. Wright’s new/forthcoming book Paul and His Recent Interpreters, starting here—in itself a good overview of recent Pauline scholarship. I haven’t been tracking with it too closely (I have been persuaded to read the... (10th Sep. 2015 | 13 comments)
Telling our story (all of it) Last week I went with my friend Steve Knight to see Hamlet at the Barbican. Hamlet is a tragedy. By the end of the play everyone of any dramatic importance is dead. The old king has had a “leperous distilment” poured in his ear. Polonius is stabbed in error behind the arras. Rosencrantz and... (8th Sep. 2015 | 1 comment)
Narrative, a Jewish Jesus, and early high Christology I heard Rikk Watts from Regent College, Vancouver, talk this week to a group of church leaders about what’s currently going on in theology. He began with some good reflections on the challenges facing anyone trying to keep track of developments across the ever-expanding—or ever more boggy—field of... (3rd Sep. 2015 | 2 comments)
Why the end of the world is the end of the world What happens at the end? What sort of transformation does John have in mind when he says that earth and heaven “fled away” from the presence of God at the judgment of all the dead (Rev. 20:11)? Are we to suppose that the world-as-we-know-it must finally disappear—or perhaps be destroyed—to be... (27th Aug. 2015 | 41 comments)
Who says that this prophecy has two referents? It is often argued that biblical prophecies may have two or more frames of reference. For example, Middleton allows that the language of cosmic dissolution in Jesus’ apocalyptic discourse (sun and moon darkened, stars falling from heaven) may refer to events leading up to the war against Rome and... (20th Aug. 2015 | 5 comments)
The widow of Zarephath, Naaman the Syrian, and the redemption of the world One of the ways the evangelical church is attempting to correct the traditional notion that salvation has to do with individuals going to heaven when they die is to affirm instead the idea of salvation as the redemption of creation. J. Richard Middleton’s book, A New Heaven and a New Earth:... (19th Aug. 2015 | 2 comments)
J. Richard Middleton on salvation and the restoration of all things Who or what is saved? And how does salvation fit into the biblical story? In his book A New Heaven and a New Earth: Reclaiming Biblical Eschatology J. Richard Middleton argues against an old model which defines salvation as a personal journey towards an otherworldly destiny: Jesus died for my sins... (13th Aug. 2015 | 1 comment)
Is the church in the post-Christian West in exile? Is “exile” a good word for the state of the church in the post-Christian West? The metaphor is commonly used, especially by those who see some missional potential in the marginalisation (another spatial metaphor) of the modern church. See, for example, Michael Frost’s Exiles: Living Missionally in... (6th Aug. 2015 | 9 comments)
The Son of Man according to Daniel, Enoch and Jesus: it’s the same old story Scholars disagree over who exactly the son of man figure is in Daniel’s vision. Is he a supernatural being—a great angel like Michael? A human individual, perhaps a messiah? Or is he a symbolic person representing the suffering saints of the Most High? I lean strongly towards the latter... (22nd Jul. 2015 | 3 comments)
Reframing the story that gets us to Jesus I watched one of Regent College’s Reframe videos with the Harlesden crowd earlier in the week. Old Testament professor Phil Long does what everyone seems to be doing these days—he tells the story about Israel that climaxes in Jesus. I’m all in favour of it, but I think that the video highlights... (16th Jul. 2015 | 4 comments)
The end of Gehenna Jeremiah foresees a day of judgment coming upon Israel because the “sons of Judah… have set their detestable things in the house that is called by my name, to defile it”, and have sacrificed their children in Topheth, which is in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom (Jer. 7:30). The Babylonian army... (13th Jul. 2015 | 18 comments)
Ben Irwin: The Story of King Jesus (a review) I came across Ben Irwin’s blog because he linked to the piece I wrote on Jesus having nothing to say about homosexuality, and quite a lot of people stopped by to look. I noticed that Ben has written a book called The Story of King Jesus, and since, in my view, the recovery of the narrative of... (10th Jul. 2015 | 1 comment)
Paul within Judaism and the challenge for the post-Christendom church I’ve tried this sort of exercise before, but reading Magnus Zetterholm’s chapter in Paul Within Judaism: Restoring the First-Century Context to the Apostle has prompted me to have another go at schematising the relation between theology and history and the challenge that this presents to the church... (2nd Jul. 2015 | 10 comments)
The Christianized Paul, the New Perspective Paul, and Paul within Judaism One of the most important questions driving current developments in our understanding of the New Testament—and therefore of what it means to be “Christian”—has to do with the relation between the early Jesus movement and Judaism. In practice this issue closely matches the hermeneutical question... (24th Jun. 2015 | 1 comment)
Mapping the hermeneutics of penal substitution: McGrath, Bird and me Yesterday’s post about Simon Gathercole’s little book defending substitution as an integral part of Paul’s understanding of the atonement got a brief mention in a piece by James McGrath along with a post by Mike Bird on the same subject. Here I attempt to map the three positions represented by... (18th Jun. 2015 | 8 comments)
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