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

Evangelism in the age of stupid

I have a few loosely related comments to make about an article on the Christianity Today site by the missiologist Ed Stetzer: “Headwinds in Evangelism: New Challenges Secularism and Pluralism Add to Outreach.”

1. Having watched the new Attenborough documentary Climate Change: The Facts and Franny Armstrong’s The Age of Stupid last night, and with London’s streets currently blocked by Extinction Rebellion protesters, who are now threatening to shut down Heathrow Airport over the Easter weekend, I don’t think Christians should be too blasé about telling their flying-around-America stories. The actress Emma Thompson was criticised for flying back from Los Angeles to join in the demonstration. A spokesperson for Extinction Rebellion said in her defence that her flight was an “unfortunate cost in our bigger battle to save the planet”. Can high profile Christian leaders even claim that much?

14 Mar 2019

What I say is: a narrative theology ought to be able to account for the whole experience of the people of God, not just the beginning, middle, and end of it. We may give some sort of priority to the early biblical sections of the narrative, but the story doesn’t stop with the events of the New Testament—...

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26 Feb 2019

Whoever finally redacted Isaiah 40-55 saw fit to insert or leave the passage about the suffering servant between a promise concerning the redemption of Jerusalem and the return of the exiles (Is. 52:1-12) and the assurance that the ruined city would be abundantly repopulated: “the children of the desolate one will...

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7 Feb 2019

In the famous “servant song” of Isaiah 52:13-53:12 the prophet describes a person who has suffered punishment because of the sins of Israel, and whose sufferings have had some sort of redemptive effect:

But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the...

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1 Feb 2019

The Canaanite woman in Matthew’s story got the leftovers from the table at which the “children” of the household of Israel were being fed. She had no right to sit at the table, nor was any such right promised to her or her daughter; and it is clear that Jesus found her a distraction.

The earlier encounter...

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26 Jan 2019

When Jesus says that some people will “see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory” (Mk. 13:26), does he mean this literally—picking up on a recent comment? Does he expect people to look up to the sky and actually see a human figure descending to earth on a cloud, like Mary Poppins?

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21 Jan 2019

The story of the Canaanite woman (Matt. 15:21-28; cf. Mk. 7:24-30) has been going round in my head the last few days, partly because I have been marking a number of undergraduate essays comparing the two versions of the episode, partly because I happened across quite a good podcast in which Trevin Wax and Brandon...

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10 Jan 2019

One of the main arguments that I have been putting forward on this site is that modern evangelicalism needs to shift its weight from the rickety stool of theology or dogmatics, before it collapses, to the much more solid and reliable stool of history. What would this mean for how we understand things? First, we...

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1 Jan 2019

I want to begin the new year by exhorting “evangelicals”—that is, by my definition, Christians who think that the Bible is to be taken seriously—to get to grips with eschatology. Why not? It’s as good a time as any to pause and reflect on where things are going.

The traditional view is that the events...

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