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This is proving to be a tumultuous year for the world, and for the post-colonial western world in particular. Many people are hoping—myself included—that the coronavirus pandemic has woken us up to the damage that we are doing to our planet, and that the death of George Floyd has finally ignited a… (17 Jun 2020 | 5 comments)
The social unity and cohesion of the churches among the pagan nations was of utmost importance for the apostolic mission. Much of the teaching in the New Testament letters is given over to the issue. We mostly think of church unity as an end in itself, but the apostles also had an (14 Jun 2020 | 0 comments)
This is an attempt to address, at least in part, some difficult questions raised by Tim Peebles and Kevin Holtsberry in response to my recent reviews of books on coronavirus by Piper, Brueggemann, and Wright. The criticism seems to come down to two basic questions: Is coronavirus—even if we… (8 Jun 2020 | 3 comments)
This is the third short book-length theological response to the coronavirus pandemic that I’ve read. I’ve also looked at John Piper’s Coronavirus and Christ and Walter Brueggemann’s Virus as a Summons to Faith: Biblical Reflections in a Time of Loss, Grief, and Uncertainty. Tom… (3 Jun 2020 | 13 comments)
The Reformed tradition reads the coronavirus pandemic in a narrowly personal and dualistic fashion, with little regard for the tumultuous realities of history. How far this falls short of the standards of the biblical witness is apparent from Walter Brueggemann’s somewhat improvised contribution to… (27 May 2020 | 6 comments)
Ben Sciacca’s Gospel Coalition piece on “Coronavirus as Dress Rehearsal” had me fooled. Aha! I thought. That’s exactly what I’ve been saying. The pandemic is a dress rehearsal—a foretaste, a harbinger, a portent—for far more serious things to come. Conservative evangelicalism in America… (21 May 2020 | 55 comments)
The coronavirus pandemic is an opportunity for the church to rethink its message and reform its behaviour, and we need to take up this challenge urgently. That’s how I see it. So it’s good that John Piper has attempted, within a very brief span, to assimilate the pandemic into his theological… (19 May 2020 | 11 comments)
Paul says that God sent his Son to Israel “in the likeness of sinful flesh” and probably “as a sin offering”. By so doing he “condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit” (… (12 May 2020 | 10 comments)
It sometimes happens that a response to a comment takes on a life of its own, which is the case with this attempt to address the excellent points made by Ted Hopkins about certain areas of disagreement and the tension between history and theology. I’ve omitted the reference to a “strong creator-… (6 May 2020 | 19 comments)
A passage that rarely gets taken into account in expositions of the “gospel” is John’s vision of three angels in Revelation 14:6-11. The context is important. It comes as part of a visionary interlude between the seven trumpets (8-11) and the seven bowls (15-16). I argued in The Coming of the… (30 Apr 2020 | 11 comments)
I was asked earlier in the year to answer a few questions about the “narrative-historical” approach to reading the New Testament, which has been the focus of this blog and a handful of books. I didn’t notice that the whole thing had to be done in 500 words and set about writing this rather lengthy… (24 Apr 2020 | 9 comments)
The merry-go-round of the debate between Scot McKnight and Matthew Bates, as exponents of a “King Jesus” gospel, and Greg Gilbert, representing a more traditional Reformed emphasis on justification by faith, continues to spin noisily. Gilbert has issued a response to the criticism he received from… (23 Apr 2020 | 5 comments)
Matthew Bates will think I’ve got it in for him, but that’s not the case. I love the direction he is moving in. I just don’t think he’s taking the journey seriously enough. He has a piece on Scot McKnight’s Jesus Creed blog asking whether Together for the Gospel and The Gospel Coalition are… (21 Apr 2020 | 10 comments)
Peter asks a question that gets right to the heart of my attempt to follow the historical narrative of scripture through to our own time. This is exactly the sort of conundrum that a consistently developed narrative-historical method throws up—and, I think, solves: I don’t mean any… (17 Apr 2020 | 13 comments)
This is the best theological reflection on coronavirus that I have read so far. It’s a Jesuit Review essay by Tomáš Halík, who is a Catholic priest and a professor of sociology at Charles University, Prague. It offers something of the prophetic perspective that is missing from much of the bland and… (15 Apr 2020 | 2 comments)
In a Seven Minute Seminary video on the will of God and natural disasters Ben Witherington, who is a very good biblical scholar, argues emphatically that COVID-19 is not an “act of God”. One of the main tasks of Jesus’ earthly ministry, he says, was to get rid of disease, decay, and death so… (13 Apr 2020 | 24 comments)
My wife thinks this is rather heavy reading for Easter, so be warned….The doctrine of “penal substitutionary atonement”—the idea that God punished Jesus on Good Friday in our place—divides Christians: some find it theologically profound, others find it morally repugnant. My argument has… (10 Apr 2020 | 0 comments)
A popular text for people who would like to think that in the end all people will be saved is the assertion in Colossians 1:19-20 that through Christ God was pleased to “reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.” Steve Chalke, for… (9 Apr 2020 | 0 comments)
Enough of Steve Chalke’s book, let’s get back to coronavirus. How do we talk about it theologically? Or, as Baptist theologian and ethicist Roger Olson asks, “Where is God in this pandemic?” Coronavirus is not one of the four horsemen of the Apocalypse—that was a very different future, from a… (6 Apr 2020 | 2 comments)
Enough of the pandemic, let’s get back to Steve Chalke’s book The Lost Message of Paul. Chalke is a somewhat post-evangelical leader in the UK with excellent credentials. In this book he is using the “new perspectives” on Paul that have emerged in New Testament scholarship in recent… (3 Apr 2020 | 2 comments)