OST is closed for business but its spirit survives on my blog.

Piper’s objections to Wright’s ‘good news’

One of the more peculiar objections that John Piper raises against Wright’s understanding of Paul’s ‘gospel’ is that the announcement that Jesus is Lord ‘is an absolutely terrifying message to a sinner who has spent all his life ignoring or blaspheming the God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ’ (Piper, The Future of Justification, 86-87). It is, therefore, not good news at all.

Christopher Hitchens, God is not Great

I picked up Christopher Hitchens’ God is not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything at Schiphol Airport yesterday on my way back to London from the Hague. I’m four chapters in and so far heartily recommend it: nice yellow cover, scathing, articulate and tendentious polemic. I would suggest that this sort of critique of religious belief and practice, not least of Christian religious belief and practice, should be required reading for anyone who aspires to lead the church beyond the intellectual and moral complacency of Christendom.

Sweet and Viola: A Jesus Manifesto

Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola have recently issued A Magna Carta of Restoring the Supremacy of Jesus Christ, a.k.a. A Jesus Manifesto for the 21st Century Church. They argue in the preamble that Christianity is nothing more, nothing less than Christ, but that in the church today there is a serious danger of the person of Jesus being marginalized in the interests of fashionable political causes, labelled variously ‘justice’, ‘the kingdom of God’, ‘values’, and ‘leadership principles’. So they have issued this manifesto not merely in order to promote their new books but to bear witness to the ‘primacy of the Lord Jesus Christ’.

Church and state, God and Caesar, and MPs’ expenses

I attended a Charities Parliament event last night – a panel-based discussion about the challenge of restoring trust in the British political process following the expenses scandal. The panel consisted of the Times religion correspondent, Ruth Gledhill, David Landrum (Senior Parliamentary Officer for the Bible Society), the Bishop of Rochester, Michael Nazir-Ali, and, when they eventually turned up after voting for a new speaker of the House of Commons, the MPs Alistair Burt and Andy Reed. Despite Jonathan Bartley’s disappointment about the make-up of the panel, it proved a stimulating, if at times incoherent, conversation.

1. Isaiah, the gospels, Jesus and a universal metanarrative

How far can the gospels be shown to present Jesus as the fulfilment of Isaianic prophecy? Most people know that Isaiah is quoted, and to some extent reflected (eg the suffering servant) in the gospels. But what if the gospels went much further than this, and presented a panorama of prophetic fulfilment, enacted in the drama of Jesus himself, which was the picture painted by Isaiah, and which had to do with momentous events depicted by Isaiah as the very fulfilment of history in Jesus’s time - Israel’s history and ours?

Why the Question of the "Reality" of Jesus' Resurrection Misses the Point

Awhile back on his Beliefnet blog, Tony Jones posted a short essay called: “Why it Matters that Jesus REALLY Rose”. Contrasting his self to Marcus Borg who denies the reality of Jesus’ physical, historic resurrection, Jones affirms his “belief in the actual, physical, historic resurrection of Jesus [bold in the original].” Thus, in an important sense, Jones is positioning his argument neatly within the liberal-conservative debate. It is a debate that hinges on the rather arbitrary idea that some words have literal meanings that point to real things and some words have metaphorical meanings that are more ambiguous and don’t correspond to real things. I wonder: which words are which? And how does one determine the difference between the two kinds of words—literal and metaphorical?

What evangelicals fight about: creation

The second bone of contention in the much abused skeleton of Evangelical thought is creation. Dickinson and Buckeridge (for the background see What evangelicals fight about: atonement) list the options: ‘Three main opposing views with hot and sometimes harsh debate between supporters of six-day creationism, intelligent design and theistic evolution.’ To be honest, I am rather uninformed about this whole issue, and what I have to say will probably seem naïve and misguided. But I think that there are options available to us in a postmodern framework which, if we could just extract ourselves from beneath the suffocating weight of the interminable modern debate, could prove re-invigorating for the missional work of the church.

A Response to Andrew's Questions on Resurrection

A few days ago Andrew Perriman posted a sort of review and a list of comments regarding Kevin Beck’s book titled This Book Will Change Your World.  In response to my comments, Andrew also had a couple of questions about the resurrection, especially about 1 Thes. 4 and 1 Cor. 15.  This is a response to the questions Andrew raised about the resurrection, not just recently but also in the past.   Hundreds of pages can be written on these two passages, and I am hoping that however inadequate of a response, Andrew together with the readers of Open Source Theology will enjoy these arguments and interact in a constructive and meaningful way.

What evangelicals fight about: atonement

A recent edition of Christianity magazine (March 2009) ran an article by Ruth Dickinson and John Buckeridge on the current health of Evangelicalism in the UK. It captures a spectrum of opinions from Nims Obunge’s upbeat opinion that ‘evangelicals are becoming more conscious of the need to be a visual healing part of a hurting society’, to David Coffey’s despair over the ‘growth of judgmentalism and isolationism’, to Jacky Oliver’s avowed preference not to use the word ‘evangelical’ at all because of its associations with ‘intolerance, judgmental fundamentalism and people who lack humility or grace’.

Search Magazine article on open source religion

I was interviewed a while back by Sam Kean for an article on open source religion for Search Magazine (‘a non-profit, non-partisan, non-sectarian magazine exploring the intersection of science, religion, and culture’). The article has now appeared with a good few paragraphs about Open Source Theology. It is a little disconcerting to find this website in the company of such esoteric movements as the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, Open Source Judaism, and Yoism. But if allowance is made for the inevitable distortions (or perhaps insights?) that come from such an alien perspective, the article does a good job of articulating my original thought that ‘open source’ is a useful ‘metaphor for a much more transparent and collaborative approach to doing theology within what is to my mind still a mainstream Christian tradition’.

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