(how to tell the biblical story in a way that makes a difference)
25 May 2017

In a recent article on the Christianity Today site Fred Sanders argues that “We Actually Don’t Need a Trinitarian Revival”. He has heard widespread rumours of the death of Trinitarianism and he thinks that they are “grossly exaggerated”. Where the “everything-you-know-is-wrong diagnosis” fails is in not recognising a basic distinction between primary and secondary forms of...

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16 May 2017

Last night I went to hear Steve Walton’s inaugural professorial lecture at St Mary’s University. The lecture was entitled “Doing Theology Lukewise: Luke as theologian and storyteller”. It was a straightforward demonstration of the theological depth of Luke’s narrative art. It was lucid, engaging, and I enjoyed it immensely.

One of the main points that Steve wanted to make was that, contrary to popular opinion, Luke has an atonement theology—it’s...

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9 May 2017

Stefan Paas is Bavinck Professor of Church Planting and Church Renewal at the Free University Amsterdam, which is where I started work on my PhD back in the 90s.

In an excellent article in Mission Studies called “Mission from Anywhere to Europe: Americans, Africans, and Australians Coming to Amsterdam” (2015) he examines three phases of foreign mission to Europe over...

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8 May 2017

Matthew Bates’ book Salvation by Allegiance Alone: Rethinking Faith, Works, and the Gospel of Jesus the King is just one straw in a strong wind blowing out of biblical studies, driving us away from theological towards narrative constructions of Christian identity and purpose.

In my view, this is an exhilarating and necessary development, but Matthew’s book, for all its merits, has highlighted a fundamental shortcoming. Because evangelicals naturally...

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4 May 2017

In chapter four of his book Salvation By Allegiance Alone Matthew Bates sets out to defend his core thesis that the pistis (“faith”) with which we respond to the gospel is better understood in terms of concrete allegiance than as mere mental assent.

He argues that the gospel consists in an eight-part narrative that “climaxes with the enthronement of Jesus as the cosmic king, the Lord of heaven...

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27 Apr 2017

From pre-existence and incarnation Bates works swiftly through “died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures”, “was buried”, “was raised on the third day”, and “appeared to many”, to the climax of the chapter and the best bit of the book so far: “is seated at the right hand of God as Lord, and… will come again as judge” (52, his italics).

The shape of the story supposedly reflects a...

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24 Apr 2017

I am in solid agreement with Matthew Bates that the central narrative of the New Testament—the narrative which makes sense of the “gospel”—has to do with the enthronement of Jesus as king by his resurrection from the dead and his ascension to the right hand of the Father.

Two areas of disagreement have surfaced so far:

  • Bates is trying to read the New Testament at a cosmic level, guided by theological interests, whereas I think it needs to be read at a political...
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