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

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The biblical story, part two The Old Testament story left us with a two-part eschatological expectation. During a period of great historical crisis the God of Abraham would demonstrate his righteousness or rightness, first, by saving and restoring his servant people, and secondly, by establishing his own rule over the nations... (17th Jul. 2018 | 1 comment)
The biblical story, part one My friend Wes and I are running some workshops at the Communitas International staff conference this summer, aimed at helping leaders who do not necessarily have formal theological training instil in their communities a good grasp of how scripture informs church and mission. How do we do credible,... (11th Jul. 2018 | 4 comments)
Does Jesus reveal to us what it means to be perfectly human? Marc Cortez has written a book called ReSourcing Theological Anthropology: A Constructive Account of Humanity in the Light of Christ. I haven’t read the book, but I know a man who has, and I propose to take issue with the central thesis of Cortez’s book on the strength of Owen Strachan’s mostly... (4th Jul. 2018 | 6 comments)
Blessed are those who mourn in Western Europe Last month the Pew Research Centre published the results of a survey of the level of religious commitment of people in Western Europe who self-identify as Christians. The basic finding appears to be that people who call themselves “Christian” in Western Europe are less actively religious—less... (26th Jun. 2018 | 1 comment)
Jörg Frey’s critique of the neutralisation of apocalyptic in Wright’s Paul and the Faithfulness of God Jörg Frey offers a useful critique of N.T. Wright’s understanding of Paul’s apocalyptic in his chapter in God and the Faithfulness of Paul—the massive response to NT Wright’s massive Paul and the Faithfulness of God.1 I was asked what I think about it, so here’s my brief assessment and a quick... (20th Jun. 2018 | 0 comments)
Alexandria and Antioch: a revised tale of two cities I make the point frequently that there are two basic approaches to the interpretation of the Bible operative in the church today, a theologically determined method and a historically determined method. The church tends to regard the historical method as detrimental to orthodox belief and the... (14th Jun. 2018 | 0 comments)
Noah—the guy who saved humanity by making wine I’ve been reflecting on the flood story this week in preparation for a sermon on Noah as a risk-taker. This is not the content of the sermon, just some notes on the background narrative of Genesis 1-11.Theological readings of the Bible tend to isolate Genesis 1-3 as a foundational account of... (6th Jun. 2018 | 8 comments)
Does Daniel say that the nations will “worship” the one like a son of man? I am firmly of the view that in the symbology of Daniel 7 the “one like a son of man” who is brought to the throne of the Ancient of Days stands for the persecuted people of the saints of the Most High, in much the same way that the four beasts in the first part of the vision stand for malevolent... (31st May. 2018 | 35 comments)
The resurrection of the just and the unjust in Daniel 12:2, and the horizons of New Testament eschatology I think that the best way to understand New Testament eschatology is to organise the material according to three future horizons: i) a disastrous war against Rome, which would result in the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple; ii) the overthrow of classical Greek-Roman paganism and the... (22nd May. 2018 | 3 comments)
Armageddon and the making of history The relocation of the American embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem has given airtime to a right-wing, fundamentalist-Zionist (I refuse to use the word “evangelical” in this context) eschatological narrative that regards this provocative endorsement of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital as a big... (16th May. 2018 | 5 comments)
Why didn’t Jesus just come out and say it: God is going to punish you with violent destruction? If Jesus believed that the coming destruction of Jerusalem and the temple, with massive loss of life, would be an act of deliberate divine punishment, why didn’t he say so explicitly? Why is it that so many of the sayings about judgment that I listed from Luke’s Gospel come in the form of parables... (8th May. 2018 | 8 comments)
Did Jesus avoid proclaiming a “day of vengeance” against Israel in the synagogue in Nazareth? It is sometimes argued by people who think that Jesus had no interest in violence that when he applied Isaiah 61:1-2 to himself in the synagogue in Nazareth, he deliberately stopped short of proclaiming judgment against Israel:And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the... (4th May. 2018 | 36 comments)
The violence of Jesus in the temple: setting a bad example I am generally a hesitant tweeter, but yesterday, in an idle moment, I tagged Derek Vreeland in a tweet suggesting that his republished Missio Alliance article asking “Did Jesus Really Usher in the Kingdom of God?” underplays the future aspect of the coming of the kingdom of God. He kindly tweeted... (3rd May. 2018 | 12 comments)
Death is swallowed up in victory. What? When? And has he misread the scriptures? What does Paul mean when he says that “death is swallowed up in victory”? When will this happen? And has he made fair use of the Old Testament texts that he cites in support of his claim?Paul argues in 1 Corinthians 15:50-57 that flesh and blood will not inherit the rule with Jesus at the right... (30th Apr. 2018 | 8 comments)
What does Paul mean by “The righteous shall live by faith”? The question of the meaning of Habakkuk’s “the righteous shall live by his faith” (Hab. 2:4) came up in a comment on a recent post about Romans. My argument is that when Paul quotes this line in Romans 1:17, he is using it more or less in the same way that Habakkuk intended it, as identifying a... (27th Apr. 2018 | 6 comments)
Who are the Gentiles who have the work of the Law written on their hearts? There is a group of Gentiles in Paul’s eschatological narrative who do not have the Law of Moses, who nevertheless do the work of the Law, and who “will be justified” on a day of judgment and earn “glory and honour and peace” (Rom. 2:12-16). The question of the religious or rhetorical status of... (24th Apr. 2018 | 9 comments)
Nearly 10 essential things to know about Paul’s letter to the Romans Very reluctantly, I am going to take issue with Peter Enns here. In a recent “Bible for Normal People” podcast he advocates what is basically a New Perspective reading of Paul’s letter to the Romans.It’s not about individuals but it’s about a collective. If I can put that a little bit differently,... (18th Apr. 2018 | 8 comments)
The tongue is set on fire by Gehenna By way of an addendum to the previous piece on Jesus’ subversion of the Jewish Gehenna, I want to look briefly at James 3:5b-6, which is the only place in the New Testament outside the Synoptic Gospels where the word geenna occurs. The verse reads (my translation):Behold, how small a fire sets... (13th Apr. 2018 | 7 comments)
The subversion of the Jewish “hell” in the teaching of Jesus A major part of my argument against the traditional doctrine of “hell” is that in Jesus’ teaching “Gehenna” is not a place of unending conscious torment after death but a symbol for the devastation and loss of life that Israel would suffer as a consequence of the war against Rome. I think that... (10th Apr. 2018 | 10 comments)
Yet another attempt to persuade the world that Tim Keller is wrong about hell Steve Jacob found my post on annihilationism very interesting and wants to know whether I think “Tim Keller is on the mark in his recent article on hell”. The short answer is no. A longer answer follows. Readers might also be interested in my post “Tim Keller gets a lot right but gets hell badly... (4th Apr. 2018 | 6 comments)
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