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Showing posts from January, 2010

Galatians 1:4 and the Deliverance of Christ

1 Paul, an apostle—sent not with a human commission nor by human authority, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead— 2 and all the brothers and sisters with me,
To the churches in Galatia: 3 Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, 4 who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, 5 to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.For our last post in this section we will focus on the theology of verse 4. As we mentioned in our first post, Paul addresses his concerns right off the bat. The Galatian's insistence on the necessity of doing works of the Law in order to be part of the people of God undercut the core confession of their faith. They misunderstood the gospel. It's all about Jesus. Jesus is the one who laid his life down to save us. How could we turn to another gospel by saying that it wasn't enough? Paul insists that it was enough. Jesus die…

All-Star Game Overhauls

With the NFL's Pro Bowl around the corner, now is an apt time for me to air my number one complaint about the NFL's, NBA's, and MLB's All Star Games and suggest the solution for each. I'm not aiming at novelty, just honesty.

The Pro Bowl (NFL):

Problem: The game is completely meaningless. All-Star games tend towards meaninglessness, but this one is at the pinnacle of the mountain of no-meaning. It's outside the confines of the regular season, probably by necessity. Many to players bail out. The new format makes it even worse by eliminating players from the Super Bowl teams from participating. And even those who do show up don't play hard. The thing is, I think that all of those problems are defensible. It's way too easy to get injured in a football game. Why should players and teams take that risk for a meaningless exhibition?

Solution: Eliminate the Pro Bowl. Since the game is bound to be meaningless, and bad football why not go the whole way and complete…

What Paul Doesn't Say in Galatians 1:1-5

1 Paul, an apostle—sent not with a human commission nor by human authority, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead— 2 and all the brothers and sisters with me,
To the churches in Galatia: 3 Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, 4 who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, 5 to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. (TNIV)

For those who are familiar with Paul's letters one of the most striking elements of Galatians is the absence of an introductory thanksgiving. Typically Paul thanks God for the addressees of his letters right after the salutation (e.g., Phil. 1:3-11, Rom. 1:8-10). Not so in this case. Here in Galatians, Paul does not have a single word of praise for the Galatians. This shows that the situation there was really bad. He is so upset with their abandonment of the gospel that he has nothing good to say about them.

As Dunn points ou…

Galatians 1:1-5 and the Overall Argument of Galatians

1 Paul, an apostle—sent not with a human commission nor by human authority, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead— 2 and all the brothers and sisters with me,
To the churches in Galatia: 3 Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, 4 who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, 5 to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. (TNIV)This is the first of several posts on the opening section of Paul's letter to the Galatians. Here we will look at what role this section plays in Paul's overall argument. I will probably write a post of this nature at the start of each new section of Galatians. My goals in blogging through Galatians are multifaceted. There are several levels at which we need to understand Scripture. One of them is at the level of overall argument. I hope these posts help us see what Paul is trying to accomplish in each section of Galatian…

Baptism, the Lord's Supper, and Theological Method

Over at Jesus Creed Scot McKnight has an interesting post discussing elements of Chris Hall's book, Worshiping with the Church Fathers. The section under discussion is on the sacraments/ordinances, specifically baptism. Near the start of the post, McKnight brings up, what I think is an excellent point that I'd like to develop a little bit more.

How do we understand baptism and the Lord's Supper? Are they sacraments or ordinances? Much of Evangelicalism, at least those with baptist roots, tend to see them as ordinances. They are things that we are commanded to do by Jesus, therefore we do them. The Lord's Supper is an act of remembrance of the Lord's death and baptism is a public declaration of our faith that symbolizes our death to sin and new birth into new life.

Those who see them as sacraments invest them with more meaning. What Hall points out, very helpfully, is that sacramental theology is rooted in the incarnation. God comes near to us in matter (Read Scot'…

Presuppositions and Biblical Interpretation

This semester I'm taking 'Introduction to Biblical Theology,' and for this class we've been assigned to read and review According to Plan by Graeme Goldsworthy (I will abridge my review and post it here sometime in the next couple of months). I'm nearly finished with parts one and two, and thus far I like the book very much. I think it is an excellent primer to biblical theology and deals with many of the difficulties of hermeneutics in a clear, concise, and thoughtful way.

In the third chapter of the book he discusses the differences between working within humanistic models of knowing and a properly Christian model of knowing. When contrasting their differing presuppositions Goldsworthy states that,
Either we work from the basis of a sovereign, self-proving God who speaks to us by a word that we accept as true simply because it is his word, or we work on the basis that man is the final judge of all truth. The Christian position, to be consistent, accepts that the Bi…

Galatians - Coming Soon!

By this upcoming weekend I hope to have my first post up on Galatians. This will be a lengthy series that I hope you enjoy and profit from. We will probably go paragraph by paragraph dealing with whatever issues the text brings up. Each section will probably get multiple posts at differing levels dealing with different aspects of the text and our analysis. Some posts may be a little technical. Hopefully many will be deeply theological and practical. At any rate, here's an open invitation to you all to wrestle through this key Pauline epistle with me.

Imputation and Judgment on the Basis of Works

This started as a comment on a recent post at Word and Spirit, but was getting too long so I made it a separate post. In his post, Mark Heath discusses Romans 2:6-10 and justification. The basic problem is that if we are justified by faith, how can we be judged on the basis of works?

I've been thinking about this issue a lot lately as I've been reading Gorman's Inhabiting the Cruciform God. I think that for those of us (I include myself tentatively - Gorman's book has shaken me on this issue a bit but I'll hold off on commenting on his views until I publish my book review) who hold to a doctrine of imputation that the problem is exacerbated. If the righteousness we possess is Christ's righteousness imputed to us, then judgment on the basis of works seems to be non-sense. However, it's something that the Bible clearly affirms.

How do we go forward? One suggestion that Heath draws attention to in this Romans passage is that Paul could be speaking hypothetically…

Holiness in Sex within Marriage

Currently I am reading Inhabiting the Cruciform God by Michael Gorman, which I also will be reviewing soon. I wanted to bring up one point that Gorman makes about holiness in sexual relations within marriage, that I don't think I'll have room for in my review.

One of the main points Gorman makes in his book is that Jesus self-sacrifice on the cross reveals God's holiness. Thus, other regard is at the core of what it means to be holy, for both God and us. This understanding of what it means to be holy clearly impacts what it means to have holy sexual relations. Holiness requires more than monogamy. It requires that we serve our spouse through sex. It's not about seeking your own gratification, but seeking the gratification of your spouse first.

Conference Announcement

This year's theology conference at Wheaton looks like an opportunity that is too good to pass up. N.T. Wright is one of the most important and interesting theologians in today's church. It will be held on the Wheaton campus from April 16-17. Wright will be giving the keynote addresses each evening, as well as speaking at the chapel and participating in a panel discussion. Other notable guests include Richard Hays, Markus Bockmuehl, and Kevin Vanhoozer.

The conference isn't cheap, $75 for students and $105 for the general public, but if you're really into studying theology it's a fantastic opportunity to hear some of the great theologians (and hang out with your favorite blogger).

Top 10 Running Backs of My Lifetime

A few weeks ago, a co-worker and I were discussing how much we enjoy top ten lists. So, we decided to start making some. The first one we tackled was the top ten NFL running backs who started their career in 1982 or later. We selected this range because we wanted to pick players whom we both had seen play. Since I was born in 1983, my football memories only go back to about 1990 or so.

We devised a ranking system that factored in rushing yards, touchdowns, receiving yards, yards per carry, the number of seasons with 1200+ yards rushing, and pro bowl appearances (I won't divulge the exact formula).

Here's our top 10 (all statistics are from Pro-Football-Reference).

10. Edgerrin James - I was surprised to see the Edge make the top ten, but the numbers don't lie. He was a very effective runner and an adequate receiver. It's easy to forget how good he was at his peak. He had four seasons with over 1500 yards rushing.

Rushing YardsYards Per CarryTouchdownsReceiving YardsPro B…

Christ vs. Caesar?

One of the hottest trends in New Testament Studies is to see the gospel proclamation in the New Testament as being explicitly anti-imperial. Jesus was called 'lord' and 'savior' in the New Testament. The proclamation about him is called, 'the gospel.' Interestingly, Caesar was also called 'savior' and 'lord.' And proclamations about him were sometimes called 'gospel.' Does this (and other evidence) suggest, though, that the gospel was explicitly anti-imperial?

Not to be a downer, but I think some of the enthusiasm about the anti-imperial nature of the gospel should be tempered. That's not to say that there's no critique of the Roman empire present, but, in my opinion, two things mitigate against this now very popular understanding of the background against which the gospel is supposedly best understood.

First is that the book of Acts repeatedly stresses that the gospel isn't anti-imperial. Notice in many cases, blame for being…

Do Some Pit Bulls Go To Hell?

This morning I read Genesis 9 for my morning devotions and Genesis 9:5 jumped out at me,
and for your lifeblood I will surely demand an accounting. I will demand an accounting from every animal. And from each human being, too, I will demand an accounting for the life of another human being (TNIV).
This passage in particular raises the question of animals and morality. For, if they're not capable of immorality, why kill them for killing people? It seems clear to me that killing the animal that killed a person is the animal's punishment. What's the point? Clearly underlying this section is that human life holds intrinsic value, but I still fail to see why you punish a non-moral being, unless...animals aren't non-moral. Again, how can you demand an accounting of non-moral beings unless...animals aren't non-moral.

If animals are moral agents then this opens a whole range of questions. What does animal redemption look like, then? Are some banished to hell forever and do so…

Speech Act Theory and the Authority of Scripture

Happy New Year everyone. I can think of no better way to bring in the New Year on this blog than by having a brief discussion of a quotation from Drama of Doctrine by Kevin Vanhoozer.

To give a little background to those unfamiliar with Dr. Vanhoozer and recent discussions of hermeneutics and philosophy of language, he bases his approach on what is known as speech-act theory. What speech-act theory helpfully recognizes is that when we say/write something we frequently are communicating more than propositional content. Our words also have the ability to do things. For example when a minister declares a man and a woman to be husband and wife, his proclamation does more than convey the content to those present that the two people are now married, his or her pronouncement binds the two together in marriage. Thus speech-act theory breaks down communication into three aspects: the locution (the propositional content), the illocution (what the speaker is doing in making the statement), and th…