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

Narrative substitutionary atonement in Luke: Jesus and the sins of Barabbas

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 just that he constructs it narratively rather than as a matter of explicit theological assertion.

13 Apr 2017

The day before Good Friday seems a fitting time to launch a narrative-historical alternative to Tim Challies’ thoroughly Reformed Quiz on the Atonement. Well, not quite an alternative, more a commentary on the standard Reformed account of the significance of Jesus’ death. There are 33 questions in Tim’s quiz, so...

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6 Apr 2017

There is a struggle going on in the church—or at least in parts of the church—over how we should read the New Testament. Basically, as I see it, it comes down to this: do we read through the lens of later theological constructions (Patristic, Orthodox, Thomist, Reformed, Pentecostal, modern evangelical, etc.), or...

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3 Apr 2017

At the heart of the critique of the traditional doctrine of (penal) substitutionary atonement is a moral revulsion against the idea that a good God would think it necessary to use violence to bring about the redemption of humanity. Chuck Queen, for example, whose argument against substitutionary atonement I...

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28 Mar 2017

Having critiqued Owen Strachan’s defence of the atonement doctrine, it seems only fair to examine a thesis from the anti-substitutionary camp. My friend Scott pointed me to Chuck Queen’s combative essay on the Baptist News site: “It’s time to end the hands-off attitude to substitionary atonement”. It will do nicely...

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21 Mar 2017

Theology has always had a “narrative” shape. The problem with propositional or systematic theologies is not that they are non-narrative but that they have reduced the dense historical narrative of scripture to a bare sequence of cosmic-level events: creation → fall → redemption → final judgment. Theology...

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18 Mar 2017

It appears that famous people like Michael Gungor and William Paul Young, author of The Shack, have been causing a stir by questioning the morality of the doctrine of atonement for sin. Owen Strachan, who is described on the Gospel Coalition website somewhat vaguely as a “systematic professor”, has offered...

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16 Mar 2017

One of the passages that crops up in discussions of what Paul meant when he talked about being conformed to or transformed into the image of Christ—and to whom that language applied—is Colossians 1:24. Davo mentioned it in a comment recently, and I have been meaning to get back to it.

The ...

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14 Mar 2017

It was put to me by Crispin Fletcher-Louis on Facebook that my argument about being—or rather not being—transformed into the image of Christ is at odds with the general scholarly view these days that the so-called “Christ-hymn” of Philippians 2:6–11 is “determinative of Christian identity at every stage”. The...

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