Posted by: Joel | July 19, 2009

Bishop N. T. Wright weighs in.

Another Wright, Christophet, weighs in on some false dichotomies in evangelical mission here, and here.

Posted by: Joel | July 8, 2009

Peter Leithart on Imputation


Posted by: Joel | June 14, 2009


Daniel Kirk on N.T. Wright and the PCA

Daniel Kirk distinguishing Narrative theology/N. T. Wright from conservative presbyterianism (The Structure of the Universe. Part 1: The Universe, Part 2: Ethics, Part 3: Atonement, Part 4: WWJD?, Part 5: Cur Homo?, Part 6: Why Israel?, Part 7: Revealed)

Another series by Daniel Kirk: The Story of the Universe. (Part 1: A Storied God, Part 2: The Father-Creator, Part 3: The Father-Gardener, Part 4: Firstborn Son of Creation)

Posted by: Joel | June 7, 2009

The Hidden Life of a Pastor

Lesslie Newbigin

Posted by: Joel | April 29, 2009


“The world reads Christians, not the Bible.”
Andrew Marin

Posted by: Joel | January 15, 2009

Genesis and the Patriarchs

Reading through Genesis I was struck with how gracious God really is. Sometimes in the past I have had this idea in my mind that the biblical characters of the covenant are moral models to be emulated. And in a certain sense they are, as Hebrews 11 shows. But when I read about these guys in Genesis I begin to see that they are just as sinful as I am.

Abra(ha)m: A model of faith in a large way. Left his home country and kin to follow the Lord to the land that He would show him. But in spite of the Lord`s promise to Abram that He would make him into a great nation, Abram lied in saying that his wife Sarai (Sarah) was actually his sister, even to the point of giving her away twice as the wife of another, to save his own skin. He also took Sarai`s servant Hagar and `went into her`in order to make it a reality by his own more plausible means.
Isaac: Lied to Abimelech in saying that Rebekah was his sister, to save his own skin.
Jacob: A major deceiver – taking the whole birthright thing into his own hands – twice. His house was also full of ‘foreign gods’ (Gen. 35.2).
Joseph (although not necessarily counted as a ‘patriarch’): He was an arrogant little kid rubbing his dreams of grandeur into his brothers’ faces. He was probably the most exemplary of the four, but it took being sold by his brothers into slavery, and then yet again being wrongly put in prison for some years, in order for him to be humbled and trusting enough to follow Yahweh with this whole heart.

Clearly, then as now, it is first and foremost about God’s gracious initiative as opposed to our goodness.

Posted by: Joel | January 10, 2009

Dog Quotes

A little change of pace in this post, in light of the fact that my wife is introducing me to the world of pets. The strange thing is that once you begin to see and experience pets, these quotes start to make sense…

If your dog is fat, you aren’t getting enough exercise.

Women and cats will do as they please, and men and dogs should relax and get used to the idea.
-Robert A. Heinlein

If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not bite you; that is the principal difference between a dog and a man.
-Mark Twain

Posted by: Joel | January 1, 2009

I was hoping this day would come:

N.T. Wright responds to Piper’s The Future of Justification: A Response to N. T. Wright and sets out in clear terms his understanding of Paul’s doctrine of ‘justification by faith’.

Posted by: Joel | December 29, 2008

The greatest of these is love

George Eldon Ladd, in his book The Gospel of the Kingdom makes some comments on ‘eternal life’ as a relational, experiential fellowship with God (as the characterizing feature). In an already/not yet framework he discusses Paul’s “now I know in part”. This relational, experiential fellowship with God also includes knowledge about God, for it would be very hard to know somebody if you didn’t know anything about them! But Paul, of all people, confesses that now he knows only in part, but when the Age to Come is fully manifest he will know in full, because he will see God face to face instead of through a mirror dimly (1st century mirrors were anything but crystal clear). Ladd goes on to remark that this is why Paul sees love as the greatest gift of the Spirit. It is because of our ‘in part’ knowledge (factual and relational) that we need the various gifts of the Holy Spirit in this already/not yet overlap of the ages. When the Age to Come is fully manifest, we will not need these gifts anymore. However, love will abide. Love will be the main characterization of the fully manifest life of the Age to Come. Love is the very (inter-trinitarian?) life of God.

I found this really inspiring to think about. God is love. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. The most important [commandment] is, ‘Hear O Israel, The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these. So now faith, hope and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love. It makes sense. Now let us more forward in repentance and deepening faith as we pray for the Father to work the old self out of, and the life of Jesus the Messiah into, our hearts via his Holy Spirit.

Posted by: Joel | December 27, 2008

The Gospel

So I have been looking and praying for a first sermon text. One that has weighed heavily on me is Romans 1.16-17. The challenging thing for me is that this short, powerful text contains two themes that I am unsure about due to debates going on in the scholarly world: what Paul (and others) mean by ‘the gospel’ and what  he means by ‘the righteousness of God’. If this ends up being my sermon text, then this affords me a great opportunity to wrestle with this and search the Scriptures in a very pointed and in-depth way. And it doesn’t seem to help my faithfulness a whole lot when basic concepts such as these are hanging in possible directions. 

First: gospel. The church tradition I was raised in sees the gospel as (a Lutheran understanding of)  justification by faith: “We are sinners but Jesus took the punishment for our sin so that we can be righteous before God, and he will make all things new as well”. An author I have become very interested in (and tend naturally to trust ), N. T. Wright, sees the gospel as “Jesus is Lord and God has raised him from the dead” in Christus Victor fashion. He likes to quote that ‘we are not justified by faith by believing in justification by faith.” I am currently reading a book by George Eldon Ladd that takes another angle: The gospel of the kingdom. 

In a cursory flip through the New Testament it seemed that at different times the word refers to all three. At first this was frustrating and confusing, but then I realized that it doesn’t have to be. Maybe the ‘gospel’ encapsulates all three of these concepts. But I am still seeking to determine whether there is one entry point that is foundational, or rather that serves to encompass all others in its branches. Is this the gospel of the kingdom? This one seems the most likely entry point and foundation to me because, as far as I can see, Jesus’ whole ministry was framed in terms of the kingdom of God, the spread of the church in Acts is framed in terms of the kingdom of God (especially the mention of it in the first and last chapters which seem to form an inclusio for the whole book), Revelation seems to be primarily about the cosmic battle between good and evil which will end with the kingdoms of the world becoming the kingdom of our God and his Christ, and all of the New Testament epistles seem to rely on the kingship/lordship of Christ either implicitly or explicitly in their teachings and as the foundation for their faith and hope.

If I am to preach that we are not to be ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God unto salvation, then I need to be able to tell people what it is that they are not to be ashamed of and what it is that holds so much power for salvation. And it would really help me as well!

If anybody has any helpful thoughts on this I would appreciate them!

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