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


22 Jun 2022

Matthew Hartke posted a couple of pages from Robert Carroll’s book When Prophecy Failed: Cognitive Dissonance in the Prophetic Traditions of the Old Testament on Twitter last week. It got me fretting. The argument of the book is that there is evidence in the Old Testament of how Israel sought to mitigate the failure of prophecy either by revising prophecy or by revising history, and that cognitive dissonance theory helps us to understand the psychological or sociological processes underlying the accommodation. The thesis gets at the heart of Hartke’s own rejection of Christianity, which he states very well:

I couldn’t help reaching the conclusion that Christianity itself, in all its various iterations, was the product of our widely attested tendency to cling to our deeply held beliefs when they come into conflict with reality, rationalizing away the conflict instead of letting go.

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Jesus’ parable of the wedding feast in Matthew 22:1-14, like the two parables preceding it, is directed against the chief priests and elders of the people who questioned his authority to pronounce judgment on the temple (Matt. 21:23-27). The leaders of Israel are those who refuse to attend the… (1 Mar 2022 | 0 comments)
The Hebrew word shalom features prominently in “missional church” discourse. John Franke says, for example, in his Missional Theology: An Introduction: “The restoration of peace or shalom, the all-embracing blessing of the God of Israel and Jesus Christ, may be the simplest, most… (25 Feb 2022 | 0 comments)
This is a story of our times, surely: a person I know slightly, trapped a while back in an evangelical Reformed seminary, drawn to the narrative-historical argument but not sure what to do with it, has now abandoned his faith, identifying as someone who is at best sympathetic to the (21 Feb 2022 | 3 comments)
I have Daniel Hoffman to thank for this little aperçu. Jesus is riding on a young horse (pōlon), perhaps awkwardly on a young donkey, descending the Mount of Olives towards Jerusalem (Lk. 19:37). There is no explicit reference to Zechariah 9:9, but presumably the allusion was not… (16 Feb 2022 | 0 comments)
The books I’ve been reading on “missional church” have a couple of key objectives in common: to describe the progress of the Western church towards a new “missional” paradigm, and to map that paradigm on to an expansive reading of the biblical narrative. It’s an obvious, perhaps inevitable,… (9 Feb 2022 | 6 comments)
A significant tranche of missional church thinking centres on the APEST paradigm. The argument is that if the church is to become a movement again after the sclerotic institutionalism of the Christendom era, it needs urgently to reactivate the gifts of apostle, prophet, and evangelist. Shepherds… (4 Feb 2022 | 2 comments)
It is clear from reading recent books on missional church that a missional theology needs to extend in two directions. It needs to extend in a social direction to encompass the existence of churches as communities interacting with societies; and it needs to give an account of the… (31 Jan 2022 | 0 comments)