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

Should missionaries focus on unreached people groups?

Two recent articles on the Gospel Coalition website ask whether missionaries should target unreached people groups. Darren Carlson and Elliot Clark argue that the strategy rests on a faulty assumption: that the ethnē in Matthew 24:14; 28:19 are not “ethnolinguistic” groups as understood by modern anthropologists but the nations referenced in the promise to Abraham that all the families or tribes of the earth would be blessed through him (Gen. 12:3). Matthew Newkirk agrees that the table of nations in Genesis 10 is in view but holds that the list includes “both tribal and linguistic dimensions, evident by the use of the Hebrew term mishpachot (“clans/families”) as well as by the repeated mention that these various subgroups of Noah’s offspring were divided according to language”. The story of the Tower of Babel, which sits between the table of the nations and the calling of Abraham, further underlines the element of ethnolinguistic differentiation.

It’s the period of Advent, when we traditionally reflect on the “coming” of Jesus into the world, so let’s consider the question of why he came when he did. Why was Jesus born in 4 BC or thereabouts, and not two hundred years earlier, or a thousand years later?I’m still making my way through... (11th Dec. 2019 | 0 comments)
I make this point frequently: the theological content of the New Testament is not structured systematically and universally. It is structured narratively and historically. So, for example, we are not presented with a general doctrine of atonement that applies under all circumstances. What we see, I... (5th Dec. 2019 | 0 comments)
I am delighted—and a little nervous—to announce that my new book End of Story: Same-Sex Relationships and the Narratives of Evangelical Mission has just been published by Wipf & Stock. The book explores how scripture frames the ancient phenomenon of same-sex sexual relations narratively—in... (30th Nov. 2019 | 6 comments)
Ryan sent me a nice email a few days ago. He tells me that he has a very conservative theology but struggles with the traditional understanding of hell. He has read some of the articles on this site about hell and finds them “extremely fascinating”, but he has some questions. For example, why... (26th Nov. 2019 | 0 comments)
Still going strong here. In chapter three of Gospel Allegiance: What Faith in Jesus Misses for Salvation in Christ Matthew Bates sets out his version of the gospel narrative as a sequence of ten events, somewhat in the manner of the Apostles’ Creed (86-104). (I had a similar go at writing a... (20th Nov. 2019 | 0 comments)
The second part of chapter two of Matthew Bates’ important book Gospel Allegiance: What Faith in Jesus Misses for Salvation in Christ considers the means by which the “gospel of allegiance” saves people.He sums up the argument so far: “The gospel in Romans 1:1–5 is about the incarnation and... (14th Nov. 2019 | 0 comments)
Chapter two of Matthew Bates’ Gospel Allegiance: What Faith in Jesus Misses for Salvation in Christ sets out his understanding of the Greek word pistis. In the first part he explains why he thinks that “allegiance” is a better translation of the word than “faith”. In the second part he asks how “... (12th Nov. 2019 | 3 comments)
I have spent way too much time finding fault with Matthew Bates’ argument that Paul alludes to the pre-existence of Jesus in Romans 1:3. Now to get on with the substance of Gospel Allegiance: What Faith in Jesus Misses for Salvation in Christ. It might be a bit ambitious to take this one chapter at... (8th Nov. 2019 | 0 comments)