Angels from the realms of glory, wing your flight o’er all the earth…

Why Romans 8 should not make you a Calvinist

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 Calvinism. Now he looks out on the sweeping landscape of Paul’s letter to the Romans through the small window of his cell, through the rigid bars of Calvinist doctrine.

What persuaded Justin Dillehay to make the move was listening to the beguiling voice of John Piper. As an Arminian he had believed that there is no one-to-one correspondence between those who are foreknown and those who are glorified. There is no guarantee that those who are called will be saved.

Two recent articles on the Gospel Coalition website ask whether missionaries should target unreached people groups. Darren Carlson and Elliot Clark argue that the strategy rests on a faulty assumption: that the ethnē in Matthew 24:14; 28:19 are not “ethnolinguistic” groups as understood by modern... (12th Dec. 2019 | 0 comments)
It’s the period of Advent, when we traditionally reflect on the “coming” of Jesus into the world, so let’s consider the question of why he came when he did. Why was Jesus born in 4 BC or thereabouts, and not two hundred years earlier, or a thousand years later?I’m still making my way through... (11th Dec. 2019 | 2 comments)
I make this point frequently: the theological content of the New Testament is not structured systematically and universally. It is structured narratively and historically. So, for example, we are not presented with a general doctrine of atonement that applies under all circumstances. What we see, I... (5th Dec. 2019 | 0 comments)
I am delighted—and a little nervous—to announce that my new book End of Story? Same-Sex Relationships and the Narratives of Evangelical Mission has just been published by Wipf & Stock. The book explores how scripture frames the ancient phenomenon of same-sex sexual relations narratively—in... (30th Nov. 2019 | 6 comments)
Ryan sent me a nice email a few days ago. He tells me that he has a very conservative theology but struggles with the traditional understanding of hell. He has read some of the articles on this site about hell and finds them “extremely fascinating”, but he has some questions. For example, why... (26th Nov. 2019 | 0 comments)
Still going strong here. In chapter three of Gospel Allegiance: What Faith in Jesus Misses for Salvation in Christ Matthew Bates sets out his version of the gospel narrative as a sequence of ten events, somewhat in the manner of the Apostles’ Creed (86-104). (I had a similar go at writing a... (20th Nov. 2019 | 0 comments)
The second part of chapter two of Matthew Bates’ important book Gospel Allegiance: What Faith in Jesus Misses for Salvation in Christ considers the means by which the “gospel of allegiance” saves people.He sums up the argument so far: “The gospel in Romans 1:1–5 is about the incarnation and... (14th Nov. 2019 | 1 comment)
Chapter two of Matthew Bates’ Gospel Allegiance: What Faith in Jesus Misses for Salvation in Christ sets out his understanding of the Greek word pistis. In the first part he explains why he thinks that “allegiance” is a better translation of the word than “faith”. In the second part he asks how “... (12th Nov. 2019 | 3 comments)