There is an obvious contradiction—at least in the popular imagination—between the values of Jesus and the practices of Christendom, and it is not surprising that what is left of the Christendom church in the West now largely views its past with horror and shame. Surely, the conversion of the Roman Empire was just a ghastly mistake, a betrayal of the gospel, an insult to the memory of Jesus the pacifist, the lover of enemies, the friend of tax collectors and prostitutes, the anti-establishment prophet and social revolutionary?

So how can it possibly be claimed that the historical victory of the church over pagan Rome constituted a proper fulfilment of the goals of Jesus or of the early church?

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I was almost persuaded the other night, sitting outside a pub in Glasgow with some Communitas friends, that the story about Jesus inviting himself into the house of Zacchaeus has been widely misunderstood. The suggestion was that Zacchaeus was all along a righteous tax collector, who… ()
Thanks to James McGrath, I’ve been fretting a bit more over the “fishers of people” saying in Mark 1:17 and Matthew 4:19. In his commentary, Hagner decides in the end that it “refers in a general way to the work of the new disciples, who are now to be concerned with drawing men and women into the… ( | 4 comments)
I was asked whether there is any connection between the condemnation of lust in Matthew 5:27-30 and what is said about marriage in Jeremiah 16. I suggested in the last post that the sayings in the Sermon on the Mount about being thrown into Gehenna are Jesus’ reworking of the prophet’s denunciation… ( | 2 comments)
Ron got in touch to say that he’s persuaded by the argument that Gehenna in Matthew stands for a historical judgment. He can see how this makes good sense of the sayings about anger, hypocrisy, retaliation, and love of enemies, which presuppose a context of conflict and violence. But how is looking… ()
John Walton must know a lot more about the Tower of Babel story in Genesis 11:1-9 than I do—it was the subject of his doctoral dissertation, and, of course, he is an eminent Old Testament scholar. Still, I am not persuaded by his argument in a recent Christianity Today article, “Beware Our Tower of… ( | 2 comments)
I did an interview last week with John Morehead, who directs Multifaith Matters. His organisation aims to provide support for individuals, churches, and organisations doing mission in a pluralistic religious context, so we talked about “narrative-historical approaches to the gospel, salvation, hell… ()
A friend rang this morning wanting to know whether the thousands who died, and no doubt are still dying, in the earthquake that devastated the region around Gaziantep and Aleppo last week are now continuing to suffer in some far worse post mortem state of torment or alienation. It may seem the… ( | 3 comments)