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

That sinking faith feeling

Here I want to try and answer some questions sent to me by someone who grew up in the “reformed, fundamental, SBC” tradition but has spent the best part of the last year deconstructing his faith “down to nothing.” He has been reading the work of historically-minded interpreters like Pete Enns and NT Wright, but has been having a hard time finding a way forward. His faith is sinking. “I currently don’t see any reason to be a Christian or to continue in the Christian way.”

My initial response was that the faith questions are much harder to answer than the historical-exegetical questions, and—goodness knows!—the historical-exegetical questions are hard enough. But interpretation is a major part of the problem, and I think it is important to recognise that it has implications for faith, both positively and negatively.

Certain core emphases or tenets have emerged over the years as I have dug myself deeper and deeper into the pit of the narrative-historical perspective:The key to understanding the Bible is history, not theology.What holds the whole thing together is the historical existence of a people that tells... (14th Aug. 2019 | 4 comments)
In the opening paragraph of his book Jewish Messianism and the Cult of Christ (SCM Press, 1998) William Horbury outlines a basic model for understanding the relation of the Old Testament to history. His leading contention is that the Old Testament “forms the backbone of any study of messianism in... (6th Aug. 2019 | 3 comments)
At the Communitas Family Reunion in Malaga last week my friend Wes led a brilliant series of teaching conversations on Daniel 9. In my view it was a model of narrative-historical pedagogy. The historical context was critically appraised and kept in focus, and precisely for that reason our group of... (30th Jul. 2019 | 1 comment)
A post by the Arminian theologian Roger Olson this week outlining “9.5 Theses about Evangelical Christianity” serves to illustrate a number of the points that I made with my little diagram about theology and history. It’s a quick read. Here’s my take on it.1. I don’t see the problem with... (19th Jul. 2019 | 7 comments)
It’s summer in the northern hemisphere, and there’s not much happening, so I was doodling and came up with a little diagram to show the difference between traditional evangelical thought and the approach that I take on this blog. For many readers it will be familiar, but if you’re new here, it may... (16th Jul. 2019 | 6 comments)
In this rather long post I want to address some questions put to me about the general plausibility of my reading of the parousia texts as prophecies regarding two historical developments—the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple by the armies of pagan Rome and the overthrow of pagan Rome through... (11th Jul. 2019 | 5 comments)
I had two emails from friends recently, within a few minutes of each other, recommending books to read. The first pointed me to an online edition of Fragments from Reimarus: consisting of brief critical remarks on the object of Jesus and His disciples as seen in the New Testament. The English... (1st Jul. 2019 | 0 comments)
Here’s another response to a comment that has outgrown itself and become an ad hoc summary piece. Peter Wilkinson points to Romans 3-4 as evidence that the gospel for both Jews and Gentiles was that Jesus died for their sins:The argument is addressed to Jews and Gentiles v.9, v.19b. The... (26th Jun. 2019 | 48 comments)