(how to tell the biblical story in a way that makes a difference)
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 then systematically expounds those events.

In this crude “meta-narrative” the story about Jesus has two parts to it. There is the “Jesus is God” story about the eternally...

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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 a robust defence of the traditional view: Scandalized by the...

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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 ESV translation of this verse is fairly typical: “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake...

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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 objection is basically that Paul makes the story of Jesus’ suffering and vindication a universal model for Christian...

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10 Mar 2017

Perhaps a bit more clarification is needed. I argued in the last piece on Hebrews that there is no deep metaphysical magic involved in what is said about atonement in the letter.

It is the resurrection that changes everything. This was a continuation of a couple of other posts setting out a “pragmatic non-theory of the atonement” (see below).

Alex has come back with a pointed comment:

A dead guy...

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9 Mar 2017

I started looking at Hebrews 10 in order to reply to a comment from Chris Wooldridge, who cited the chapter as an example of how Jesus’ death is treated not only as a historical event but also as a theological or metaphysical event.

But you quickly discover that Hebrews 10 is part of a long, dense, tightly woven, intertextual (i.e. it draws extensively on the Old Testament) argument about the significance of Jesus’ death and...

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3 Mar 2017

In his excellent essay on mystical transformation in Philo and Paul, Volker Rabens says of 2 Corinthians 3:18: “Many who have tried to grasp the nuances of Paul’s argument in this passage...

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