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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)
Tom Wright has written an Ideas piece for Time Magazine in which he argues that Christianity is not supposed to give answers about the coronavirus. It’s our rationalist culture, he says, that needs a reason for everything, and it’s rather “silly” to ask whether the pandemic is a punishment or… (31 Mar 2020 | 9 comments)
I made the comment in part 1 of this review of Steve Chalke’s The Lost Message of Paul that he has worked hard to integrate recent New Testament scholarship into his analysis of Paul but that in the end his personal judgment as a post-evangelical pastor gets the better of him. That started… (25 Mar 2020 | 1 comment)
Ich habe bisher nur eine Person gehört – ein junger New Yorker, der im Fernsehen interviewt wurde –, die das Wort “apokalyptisch” im Zusammenhang mit der COVID-19-Pandemie verwendet. Ich denke, dass wir in der Regel sehr pragmatisch vorgehen. Aber es ist noch zu früh, und in dem Maße, wie die Zahl… (23 Mar 2020 | 0 comments)
Steve Chalke is a British “Baptist minister, author, speaker, justice campaigner, broadcaster, social entrepreneur and former UN Special Advisor on Human Trafficking”, and the founder of the Oasis Trust. The Lost Message of Paul is his belated sequel to The Lost Message of Jesus,… (21 Mar 2020 | 4 comments)
[If you’re looking for a German version of this post, you’re in luck.] I’ve heard only one person so far—a young New Yorker, interviewed on TV—use the word “apocalyptic” in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic. Mostly, I guess, we are being very pragmatic about it. But it’s early days… (18 Mar 2020 | 6 comments)
In his book How Jesus Became God: The Exaltation of a Jewish Preacher from Galilee, Bart Ehrman argues that in Galatians 4:14 Paul in effect speaks of Jesus as an angel:You know that because of a weakness of the flesh I first proclaimed the good news to you, and you did not despise or… (14 Mar 2020 | 1 comment)
Alastair Roberts asks, “Where is the Trinity in the Old Testament?” He is quite candid about the fact that the “philosophical cast and categories of these later disputes transposed the biblical material into very different idioms and discourses animated by rather different concerns”; and he warns… (10 Mar 2020 | 7 comments)
James Mercer is on the ministry team of the Benefice of St Aldhelm in Purbeck on the south coast of England. I’ve known him for some years, and we’ve had a few good conversations about the practical application of the narrative-historical method. He posted this bold, inspiring and beautifully… (6 Mar 2020 | 7 comments)
Paul’s exhortation to the Philippians to “work out (katergazesthe) your own salvation with fear and trembling” is a bit of a puzzle. Are we saved by works after all? Remembering the exodus, the Psalmist declares, “Yet God is our King from of old; he worked salvation (eirgasato sōtērian… (4 Mar 2020 | 5 comments)
I wrote a piece a while back about a Barna Group report on evangelism in the UK, which took the goal of evangelism to be the transformation of individuals and communities “by Jesus’ love”. I made four broad points: 1) there is no simple universal “gospel”; any decisive proclamation of good news… (27 Feb 2020 | 9 comments)
I despair sometimes of the Christian captivity to dogmatic tradition. Here’s someone, for example, excitedly celebrating the fact that he has relocated from the prison of Arminianism (a relaxed, easy-going prison, but a prison nevertheless) to the stronger, more secure, and safer prison of… (19 Feb 2020 | 10 comments)
In the Prologue to God Untamed Johannes Hartl tells the story of being stuck on Mount Athos in northern Greece in a ferocious storm. He has spent a few days on this isolated peninsula, in the skete of St Anna, with a friend walking and praying. Now they need to get to Thessaloniki to catch… (14 Feb 2020 | 0 comments)
How, Michael Bird asks, did the early church carry forward “Jesus’s appropriation of Israel’s sacred traditions about the restoration of Israel and the inclusion of the nations in God’s saving purposes”?It’s a good question. If Jesus was a “prophet of Jewish restoration eschatology”, whose… (6 Feb 2020 | 3 comments)
I still have a lot of marking to do, so I’ll keep this to the point again. A good friend with an interest in these matters came across Keith Giles’ argument that Paul is referring to something other than “homosexuality” in 1 Corinthians 6:9 and 1 Timothy 1:10. He wants to know what I think of … (28 Jan 2020 | 18 comments)
I have a lot of marking to do, so I’ll keep this to the point. In the Greek Old Testament it is God alone who rebukes the sea and calms the storm (Ps. 17:16; 103:7; 105:9; 106:28-29; Is. 50:2 LXX). So when Matthew says that Jesus “rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm… (22 Jan 2020 | 14 comments)