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Another Personal Update and On This Blog's Future

I know it has been quite some time since I have posted. Over the summer I began taking graduate courses in Applied Statistics. In the spring I intend to apply for the master's program at Colorado State University (distance). If they don't admit me then I'll do the certificate program. The masters degree would finish in 2018 and the certificate at the end of next year.

Of course that hasn't left me a lot of time for study, so I've had to prioritize. I've focused almost exclusively on papers for my Exploring the Christian Way of Life project and will continue pursuing that focus while I'm in graduate school. I have recently completed the second major paper and will post it in three or four parts in early January. Until I'm done with school, posting will be very sporadic, my apologies, and I am grateful to those of you who continue to read.

I haven't read much outside of things related to my forthcoming paper, but right now I am reading Framing Paul by…

Book Reaction: Paul and the Faithfulness of God

I am calling this a book reaction, not a book review because this won't be a proper review. I don't have the time or energy to write a proper review of Wright's mammoth monograph on Paul. A proper review would talk many, many blog posts (see Witherington, Ben who, at the time I began writing this was on post #24). However, after investing much time and energy working my way through Paul and the Faithfulness of God, and given the importance of the book, I decided to share some very brief thoughts.

Why should you read Paul and the Faithfulness of God? First, if for no other reason, you should because it completes a lifetime of engagement with Paul by one of this generation's leading scholars. What Wright has to say matters and it is the most thorough treatment he (or perhaps anyone else) will ever write. Second, methodlogically Wright is approaching Paul in exactly the right way, by understanding him as a Jew living in the Roman empire. That may seem like an obvious sta…

The Weightier Matter

The World Vision fiasco has had more than its fair share of commenters, but it's too important an issue for me to leave alone without saying something about it. I am furious at the actions of some in response to World Vision's decision. I can understand that some would not want to support World Vision in the future with new child sponsorships or other types of funding. Everyone has the right to channel their money to organizations they agree with. But the decision of some to pull already existing child sponsorships is utterly despicable. How dare you harm a needy child because you disagree with a position held by an organization giving life saving aid. What's more important? I think the words of Jesus in Matthew 23 are apropriate.


23 ‘Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint, dill, and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. It is these you ought to have practised without neglecting the others.24You …

John 3:1-12: Faith and Works

Again, normally I post the text of the passage in the post, but this passage is a little long so I will just link to it, here.


While this won't be a long post, I think its worth while to flesh out the main point of verses 16-21 a bit more fully. As Protestants I think we have a tendency to assume the doctrine of justification by faith without closing examining what the relevant texts actually say. I think this text is a classic case in point. We read that 'whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life' and think, ok, case closed. But, as I pointed out in my last post, if you finish reading the paragraph you will get a different picture. Faith is presented as being the outcome of a life or character that is holy. Those who are holy come to the light, they come to Jesus because they have nothing to fear. There is nothing that they are afraid of being exposed.


Commonly Protestants will claim that the good works God requires flow from faith. John is saying just …

John 3:1-21: The Cause of Genuine Faith

Normally I post the text of the passage in the post, but this passage is a little long so I will just link to it, here.

Nicodemus comes to visit Jesus at night. It is hard to say if this was to keep the visit a secret. It may have been. Certainly, as Moloney suggests, it represents movement by Nicodemus from darkness into the light. He was one of those who was attracted to Jesus by his signs. Would it result in genuine faith? We have to wait until later in the narrative to find out, but in the meantime we can learn where true faith springs from.

What did Nicodemus want to ask Jesus? We'll never know, as Jesus cuts him off prior to asking anything.[1] Jesus' response indicates that Nicodemus has misunderstood something. Something is inadequate in his statement in verse 2. What Nicodemus needs is a divine birth, a moral transformation where he shares in God's moral nature.[2] Nicodemus is completely baffled. He thinks Jesus is demanding two births, a physical impossibility. …

John 2:12-25: Recognizing Jesus

12After this he went down to Capernaum with his mother, his brothers, and his disciples; and they remained there a few days. 13The Passover of the Jews was near, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14In the temple he found people selling cattle, sheep, and doves, and the money changers seated at their tables. 15Making a whip of cords, he drove all of them out of the temple, both the sheep and the cattle. He also poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. 16He told those who were selling the doves, “Take these things out of here! Stop making my Father’s house a marketplace!” 17His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for your house will consume me.” 18The Jews then said to him, “What sign can you show us for doing this?” 19Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” 20The Jews then said, “This temple has been under construction for forty-six years, and will you raise it up in three days?” 21But he was speaking of…

Exploring the Christian Way of Life: The Identity of Jesus - Wrighting the Course?

I hope all of you with me in the Midwest are staying warm.

In my earlier four part discussion of the identity of Jesus, two themes or categories stood out: Messiah and divine identity (perhaps not in Mark, but definitely in the other three gospels). The former seems to me to be the primary category. At the time when I wrote, these categories seemed to me to be distinct, with the Messiahship becoming less important over time as emphasis on divinity increased.

Over the past two months I have been reading Paul and the Faithfulness of God. Wright has argued strongly that divine identity and messianic status were entwined topics for the early church. My continued study of the gospel of John has colluded with Wright's suggestion and made me think that I need to take some time to explore that relationship. Wright, it seems to me, subsumes Messianic status within the notion of divine identity. Without considering the evidence, there's an attractiveness to that proposal because it brin…