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

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What happens on the “day of Christ”? Less than you might think The New Testament narrative at every point is directed towards future events, from John the Baptist’s announcement that the bad trees of Israel would be cut down and burned in the fire to John the Seer’s vision of a new heaven and a new earth. I say “events”—plural—because I don’t think the... (7th Nov. 2018 | 3 comments)
More on the new Jerusalem in the midst of the nations In Revelation 21:22-26 John describes a situation in which the new Jerusalem is surrounded by the nations, which walk by its light, and the kings of these nations bring their “glory and honour” into the city. Despite the fact that the gates of the city will always be open, nothing unclean, nor any... (2nd Nov. 2018 | 14 comments)
What was the most important lesson that the early church learned from Jesus? Professor James Dunn gave a class yesterday at the London School of Theology for a mixed group of undergraduates, research students, and the teaching body. The topic was “Jesus according to Jesus”, which was taken from his forthcoming book Jesus According to the New Testament. He took us on a... (1st Nov. 2018 | 4 comments)
How come there are bad people in the new heaven and new earth? I started out with the intention of explaining what appears to be the persistence of bad things and bad people in the new heaven and new earth described in Revelation 21-22. John tells us that the gates of the new Jerusalem that is seen descending from God will never be shut, but “nothing unclean... (24th Oct. 2018 | 18 comments)
unPodcast: Does the narrative-historical method help us to answer the question “Why be a Christian?” This is the script for the recent podcast of the same name for those who prefer the sound of the voice in their head.Here’s the question that I want to address. It was sent to me by someone who gets the narrative-historical approach to reading the Bible and is wondering whether it has anything to... (18th Oct. 2018 | 5 comments)
Why did Jesus say he would crush some to pieces? If you’re looking for a good example of how conservative evangelicalism gets the Jesus story wrong (albeit with the best of intentions), look no further than this piece on The Gospel Coalition site, in which Steve Mathewson asks, “Why Did Jesus Say He Will Crush Some to Pieces?”It has to do with... (16th Oct. 2018 | 1 comment)
Podcast: Does the narrative-historical method help us to answer the question “Why be a Christian?” On my blog and in a few books I argue against the theological interpretation of scripture and for a consistently narrative-historical interpretation of scripture. Why? Because the method makes much better sense of the texts. But can it do more than that? Can it give us better answers to the big... (11th Oct. 2018 | 3 comments)
Podcast: The good news is the narration of history Most people probably still think of the “gospel” as the offer of eternal life to individuals on the basis of Jesus’ atoning death. That is quite wide of the mark as far as the New Testament is concerned. I argue here that the good news was an unfolding story about how the God of Israel was... (5th Oct. 2018 | 0 comments)
The Bible Project New Testament Overview: story and history Alex asked what I thought of The Bible Project’s telling of the biblical story in this video. The video is called a “New Testament Overview”, but really it’s a lively, line-drawn, animated presentation of the “epic complicated story of God’s covenant partnership with Israel and all humanity”. The... (28th Sep. 2018 | 9 comments)
Why is there no “gospel” in the Gospel of John? Here’s an irony, surely. The Gospel to which everyone turns for their definition of the “gospel” is one of the few books of the New Testament in which the euangelion word-group does not appear. The other gospel-free texts are Titus, James, 2 Peter, the letters of John, and Jude—all minor epistles... (21st Sep. 2018 | 2 comments)
The “patriarchy paradox”: why both complementarians and egalitarians may have got it wrong (and right) An article in the London Times today reports on what it calls the “patriarchy paradox”, which is that social equality between men and woman appears currently to reinforce rather than weaken gender stereotyping. You need to subscribe to the Times to view the article, but I’ll summarise the content... (15th Sep. 2018 | 2 comments)
What is the case against the case against women’s ordination? Alastair Roberts is an astute, articulate and assiduous commentator on both scripture and society. I’ve enjoyed reading a lot of what he has written. But I’m disappointed by his defence of the complementarian view of male-female relations in family and church.In a recent video he makes the case... (10th Sep. 2018 | 2 comments)
Podcast: The debate about “hell”: why both sides are missing the point The popular debate about “hell” has been misconceived. Our narrow theologies of personal salvation have blinded us to the large-scale narratives that give meaning to the language of wrath and judgment in the teaching of Jesus and of those sent out to proclaim his name among the nations.This first... (4th Sep. 2018 | 3 comments)
Some notes on Jesus as Son and Wisdom of God in Hebrews 1:1-4 Alex had a question about how Christ reveals God in texts like John 1:18, Colossians 1:15 and Hebrews 1:3, where there seems to be more going on than the “kingdom” story about how Jesus became Lord and would judge and rule over Israel and the nations of the pagan oikoumenē or “empire”. Here are a... (30th Aug. 2018 | 2 comments)
Beware (other) paradigm shifts in Christian theology Roger Olson discusses what he calls a “paradigm shift in Christian theology” in the modern era. The largely novel thesis is that Jesus is the full and perfect revelation of God. There is no other God “lurking behind Jesus with a different character, disposition, than the one revealed in the person... (22nd Aug. 2018 | 9 comments)
God reigns, God returns, God redeems in history I pointed out last week that in the standard “redemption in history” construal of the biblical narrative—as represented, for example, by Chris Wright’s The Mission of God’s People: A Biblical Theology of the Church’s Mission—all the history is found before Jesus. Nothing of significance... (16th Aug. 2018 | 0 comments)
Mission and the “history of redemption” Chris Wright’s The Mission of God’s People is methodologically one of the best books on a biblical theology of mission that I have come across. I will be recommending it in the workshops that Wes and I will be doing at the Communitas staff conference later this week. Wright argues that mission... (7th Aug. 2018 | 5 comments)
Every knee shall bow: the question about Jesus and God The central claim of the New Testament regarding the risen Jesus is this: because he was faithful unto death in fulfilment of his mission to Israel, the God of Israel raised him from the dead and gave him the authority, which formerly belonged to God alone, to judge and rule over the nations—... (31st Jul. 2018 | 32 comments)
The biblical story, part three This is the third of three posts outlining the biblical narrative for the purpose of constructing a narrative theology for mission. The first part presented us with Israel as a new creation people called to worship and serve the living God, in the midst of hostile nations, over a long period of... (26th Jul. 2018 | 2 comments)
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 | 3 comments)
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