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

Defending the narrative-historical definition of the kingdom of God

The last post on (re-)defining the kingdom of God in nine words elicited a couple of fair and well articulated objections to the narrative-historical approach on Facebook. I was invited to respond. The basic complaint, I think, is that the method is reductionist, leaving the church with too little to work with today. My response in a nutshell is that 1) in certain respects, yes, it is too reductionist; 2) in other respects the reductionism is necessary; and 3) the church needs to find new ways of working with the historically reduced narrative of the New Testament. Now in a bit more detail….

21 May 2019

I know this has been a recurring theme here, but a concise statement about the kingdom of God on the Gospel Coalition site gives me another opportunity to stress the importance of a fundamental biblical-theological distinction, one that I have been making here for the last ten years and more.

It’s like...

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15 May 2019

It is sometimes argued that when Jesus laments over Jerusalem, saying, “How often I wanted to gather your children…” (Matt. 23:37), we should understand this as an assertion of his involvement “in the entire duration of Israel’s history.”1 In Simon Gathercole’s words, Jesus is portrayed in Matthew’s Gospel “as a...

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8 May 2019

In the previous post I put forward my reasons for doubting Michael Bird’s claim, in his anti-adoptionist polemic Jesus the Eternal Son, that Mark identifies Jesus as the “Lord” whose way is prepared by John the Baptist. Bird offers a number of further arguments in his chapter on “The Gospel of Mark and the...

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1 May 2019

Adoptionism, Michael Bird tells us in his book Jesus the Eternal Son: Answering Adoptionist Christology, was one of the “most potent if not persistent heresies of the second and third centuries”. It came in several unpalatable varieties, but common to all was the view 1) that “divine sonship was not...

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19 Apr 2019

I have a few loosely related comments to make about an article on the Christianity Today site by the missiologist Ed Stetzer: “Headwinds in Evangelism: New Challenges Secularism and Pluralism Add to Outreach.”

1. Having watched the new Attenborough documentary Climate Change: The Facts and Franny Armstrong’s...

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16 Apr 2019

I taught a class, as part of a King’s School of Theology course over the weekend, on Jesus and the story of Israel. My starting point was to say that we have two basic ways of telling the story about Jesus. There is a vertical-theological story about the eternal Son who is incarnated in the middle of time,...

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10 Apr 2019

Donald Hagner’s book How New is the New Testament? First Century Judaism and the Emergence of Christianity is coming to epitomise, in my view, evangelicalism’s sad failure of nerve when it comes to the interpretation of the New Testament’s outlook on the future. As a historian Hagner is fully...

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7 Apr 2019

In a section in his chapter on Luke in his book How New is the New Testament?, Hagner sets out an “interpretive dilemma” (41-45). He has gone through the opening chapters of Luke and noted that we find in the infancy stories both “strong motifs of continuity with the language of the OT...

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