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

Mark Driscoll, the church and the supremacy of Christ

The Christian Associates Thinkings group will be getting together in the Hague in October to explore the question of what it means to proclaim Christ as Lord in a post-Christendom, post-modern and religiously pluralist Europe. With that in mind I recently got hold of a copy of a smallish book called The Supremacy of Christ in a Postmodern World, edited by John Piper and Justin Taylor, knowing full well that it was not going to be especially sympathetic to an emerging perspective. The chapter on ‘The Church and the Supremacy of Christ’ by Mark Driscoll caught my eye for a particular reason that I will come to later.

Celibacy?

There has been a constant tension in post axial religions between the attainment of earthly and transcendental goods. Pre axial religions were much more straightforward in seeing the satisfaction of their desires for wealth, health, offspring, land and honour as the main purpose of worship (for example the Mosaic covenant). 

Greg Boyd's review of Re: Mission

Greg Boyd has posted a short review of my book Re: Mission on his blog. He is very generous in his (not unqualified) recommendation of it, but there are a couple of points that I would like to reply to - the question of the ‘preterist’ label and the assumption that New Testament eschatology has to do mostly with AD 70. My response can be found here.

One body and the problem of denominations

N.T. Wright offers the conclusion in What Saint Paul Really Said: Was Paul of Tarsus the Real Founder of Christianity? that because justification by faith has to do with believers having the privilege and calling to sit at same table with each other, regardless of race or gender, the many debates that take place between denominations often serve as self-defeating.

Greg Boyd and the politics of spiritual warfare

Greg Boyd is known for his work on spiritual warfare. Although I have always been rather wary of this whole subject, I enjoyed his talk this week on this aspect of the beautiful kingdom that revolts against the ugliness of the world (see also ‘Greg Boyd, revolting beauty, and the imitation of Jesus’). There is one point, however, that I would like to pick up on. He argued that in the apocalyptic literature that emerged after the Old Testament period we see a greatly increased awareness of the spiritual realm, of cosmic forces – the world is caught in a battle between God and satan, between the good angels and the bad angels, between the holy people of God and the forces of darkness. In other words, a warfare worldview develops that becomes the background for the New Testament and remains relevant for our theology today.

The Rainbow Over

Traditional evangelical theology is rather selective in ending the primaeval story at the fall. Mankind is lost, fallen from an original state of perfection, we are told, the next best thing for us being the advent of the Messiah. One could be ultra pernickety and suggest that by keeping us in a depraved and fallen state, we are more easily controlled since we have to do what we are told in order to receive salvation. Church doctrine is then about power and salvation is administered by those in power. It is in the church’s interest therefore to end the primaeval story at the fall.

Greg Boyd, revolting beauty, and the imitation of Jesus

We have Greg Boyd speaking this week at the Christian Associates staff conference in Sopron in Hungary. His theme is pretty much the stuff of a new book that will be coming out later this year, which, if Greg had had his way, would be entitled Revolting Beauty. As it is, the will of the publisher prevailed and it will be called something else – I don’t know what.

Interview published in Precipice magazine

An interview that I did with Darren King, mostly about The Coming of the Son of Man but also touching on the need for a narrative-realist biblical theology, has just been published at Precipice magazine. This is how Darren introduces the interview:

One of the hallmarks of the Emerging Church is its desire, its commitment, to move beyond traditionalism, to examine various aspects of Christian faith with an openness to new answers - and new questions. While critics often (unfairly) accuse the movement of "rejecting the Bible", the reality is that those immersed within the EC conversation are often willing to embrace the complexities of the Bible in ways that are unfamiliar to others. And embracing the Bible means entering into the story, understanding the journey as it was for the earliest believers, as part of the process in receiving it as our own.

What Do Names Do? Do They Reflect or Do They Evoke?

What Do Names Do? Do They Reflect or Do They Evoke?

The opening words of Martin Buber’s magnum opus, I and Thou, begin: “Basic words do not state something that might exist outside them; by being spoken they establish a mode of existence.”

When Buber says that “Basic words do not state something that might exist outside them,” he is gesturing toward a fundamental divide between two very different ways of understanding the status of language. For purposes of this essay, I’ll say that that distinction rests somewhere between “reflection” and “evocation.” And by that I mean that some hold that their words accurately reflect what is outside them and others hold that their words evoke meaningful perspectives that enable the contours of human life to be defined in particular ways. Let’s look at this distinction a bit more closely.

Gabriel's Vision, archaeology, and the authority of scripture

The interpretation of a recently discovered Jewish text by Israel Knohl, professor of Biblical Studies at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, has been causing moderate fluctuations in the media and blogosphere. Opinions are divided over whether the text, written in ink on a stone tablet, is authentic, legible, or the sort of thing that could ‘shake our basic view of Christianity’. In case you’ve missed all the fun, have a look at an article from last year by Knohl at haaretz.com; the article in the New York Times that appears to have ignited the current debate; good commentary and discussion at the Catholic News Agency site, Cosmic Log, Scott’s Catholicism Blog; an English translation of the badly corrupted text; a useful Vision of Gabriel Watch at paleojudaica.com; and my own reflections on the possible historical implications of Knohl’s contention.

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