Skip to main content


Showing posts from May, 2010

Thompson on Truth in 2 John

In his greeting to the congregation the Elder repeats two important themes: truth (vv. 1-4) and love (vv. 1, 3, 5-6). Truth includes matters of both faith and practice, and thus designates what Christians are to believe (vs. 7; 1 Jn 4:2; 5:6) and how they are to live (vv. 5-6). Truth is the reality to which Christians are committed, and they are known by their commitment to it.

But that reality is not simply a static and objective entity or set of beliefs. We tend to think of truth as a number of abstract propositions that we are to comprehend and believe. But for the Elder, truth is a vital force that can be personified as living in us and being with us. Because it comes from the living God, truth is a dynamic power that abides with believers, enabling them to know what is true. And because truth comes from God, it exists forever and remains with the faithful, just as God exists eternally and remains in relationship with the faithful. If we could capture John's view of truth as a …

Book Review: The Great Theologians

In recent decades, one of the biggest problems in the church has been a lack of interest in and attention to church history and historical theology. Lately we have begun to see a correction, but this correction needs to flow down to the laity as well. That is where The Great Theologians: A Brief Guideby Gerald McDermott comes into play.

In this book, McDermott highlights eleven of the most influential theologians in the history of the church: Origen, Athanasius, Augustine, Aquinas, Luther, Calvin, Schleiermacher, Edwards, Newman, Barth, and Balthasar [1]. Each get between fifteen and twenty pages, in which McDermott provides some brief biographical notes, an overview of some key aspects of their theology, a section detailing what the current church needs to learn from them, a short selection from their writing, questions for group discussion, and suggested further reading.

That seems like a lot to fit into fifteen or twenty pages, but McDermott does an admirable job. He selects vignette…

Judgment and Justification Part 2

What is God up to in this world? What is his grand plan? Following my teacher, Graham Cole, I would suggest that the missio dei is to secure God's people in God's place under God's rule living God's way in God's holy and loving presence as worshippers. While we won't look at every single element of the missio dei, I want to use it as a guide for breaking up the discussion. In this post we will look at the relationship between judgment and 'God's place,' which is where we experience God's presence. This may not be the most intuitive place to start, but hopefully it will make sense by the end of the series (if not sooner).

First, though, we need to recognize that what we are doing in this sequence of posts is looking at how God's rule relates to all of the other elements of the God's plan. One of the key roles of a king is to judge. And judge God does, over and over in Scripture. I remember when I first put together a list of significant pa…

Judgment and Justification: Part 1

God's judgment and its related themes are a particular point of interest for me, especially when they come into contact with the justification debates. So, across several posts, we'll be looking at judgment, justification, and other related topics (I am not sure how many posts it will be in total). I wrote a paper this past semester on the theme of judgment for my intro to biblical theology class. I'll present some of my findings from that paper in this series, but I also want to use these posts to extend some of the observations that I made and also address systematic theology questions that were not germane to a biblical theology paper. One thing that I do want to stress up front is that while I have put a lot of thought into these issues, I see my proposals as being far from a final word. This is a work in progress in what I intend to be a life long pursuit. I appreciate feedback, and especially push back, because, to borrow a line from NT Wright, I am sure that a fair …

Galatians 2:11-14: The circumcision group

11 When Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. 12 For before certain people came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles. But when they arrived, he began to draw back and separate himself from the Gentiles because he was afraid of those who belonged to the circumcision group. 13 The other Jews joined him in his hypocrisy, so that by their hypocrisy even Barnabas was led astray.
14 When I saw that they were not acting in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in front of them all, "You are a Jew, yet you live like a Gentile and not like a Jew. How is it, then, that you force Gentiles to follow Jewish customs? (TNIV) There's an important issue that we need to wrestle with in this passage, and it's the question of whether or not the people from James and the circumcision group are the same group. I am not inclined to think that they are. The ensuing discussion is drawn from Longenecker's commentary pp 73-5.

In vers…

Book Review: The Living Paul

This month's (actually this is April's - you'll get a second one this month) book review is The Living Paul: An Introduction to the Apostle's Life and Thought by Anthony Thiselton. Thiselton is one of the world's foremost theologians, and is especially known for his work on hermeneutics. He has also written a major commentary on 1 Corinthians which is my personal favorite on that book.

In chapters one and two, Thiselton addresses barriers to properly understanding Paul. The first chapter shows that Jesus and Paul aren't at odds, Paul didn't start a new religion that didn't care about Jesus apart from his death and resurrection. Iin fact shows that there was a lot of overlap between the teaching of Jesus and the teaching of Paul. The second chapter deals with the use of apocalyptic language. Often we don't recognize this aspect of the Pauline epistles. Here, Thisleton is especially helpful in showing the apocalyptic element of Paul's thought as we…