Plotting the kingdom: now and not yet and not like that

Wed, 23/04/2014 - 22:12

In order to keep my knee-jerk prejudices against certain aspects of traditional evangelical theology in good working order I have been reading Understanding the Big Picture of the Bible: A Guide to Reading the Bible Well, edited by Grudem, Collins and Schreiner. What I have been looking for is examples of how theologians really don’t get narrative, and I have not been disappointed. Thomas R. Schreiner begins the section on the New Testament by affirming that biblical theology, unlike systematic theology, “concentrates on the historical story line of the Bible”, and then proceeds to outline “some of the main themes of New Testament theology” (109). In other words, he’s incapable of dealing with the “historical story line” without systematizing it.

The first of the main themes is the “already-not-yet” of the kingdom, which Schreiner thinks “dominates the entire New Testament and functions as a key to grasping the whole story”. I’ve discussed this before, but I’ll discuss it again.

18 Apr 2014

There is a simple, universal or cosmic or existential narrative of the cross—the horizontal beam. Humanity has fallen, every individual person has sinned and must go by way of the cross to gain eternal life. But, for all its merits, this is a theological abstraction. It is not the biblical narrative.

The...

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17 Apr 2014

I’ll make this my last post on Bird, et al.’s lively—bordering on manic—response to Bart Ehrman’s book . Chris Tilling is a good friend, so I need to tread a little carefully here. His argument is based largely on his published PhD thesis , which I have read and greatly enjoyed.

In chapter 6 of he puts...

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9 Apr 2014

Bart Ehrman thinks that Jesus became God—not in reality, of course, but in the minds of the early Christians. Against Ehrman, Simon Gathercole argues in , much as Michael Bird did earlier, that the Synoptic Gospels “see Jesus as having pre-existed and as divine in the strong sense of that word” (116)....

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2 Apr 2014

The sermon on the mount is addressed to first century Jews in Israel. The Beatitudes define that small community of first century Jews in Israel through which and for the sake of which YHWH would restore his people at a time of severe political-religious crisis. It is a community of the...

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27 Mar 2014

I am very appreciative of Michael Bird’s work, partly because he understands the importance of developing a credible theological mindset on the basis of a New Perspective reading of the New Testament, partly because he quoted my sinking ship parable from...

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21 Mar 2014

Mike Mercer—Chaplain Mike—wrote a nice piece a couple of years back on the Internet Monk site putting forward the view that Matthew’s Gospel is “a Torah, a catechism, an instruction manual for the church”. He wonders whether this perspective brings into question my contention that Jesus was a prophet of Israel...

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19 Mar 2014

Another place where gender and eschatology intersect is Jesus’ answer to the Sadducees’ question about the woman whose misfortune it is to be serially married to seven brothers: “In the resurrection, therefore, whose wife will the woman be? For the seven had her as wife”. In Luke’s more developed version Jesus...

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17 Mar 2014

Following a vigorous and invigorating discussion of Trinity, subordination and headship at a small theological forum last week, I sat down this morning to have a look at Ephesians 5:22-33 again. It occurs to me that I have never really considered the possibility of assimilating the gender issue into the narrative-...

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At random...

The Holy Spirit 4: The Spirit given to the servant of YHWH There is remarkably little in the Gospels that directly links Jesus’ ministry to the activity of the Holy Spirit. He is driven into the wilderness by the Spirit (Matt. 4:1); he returns to Galilee “in the power of the Spirit” (Lk. 4:14); he...
The begotten Son and the subordinate woman I’m still working on the Trinity and gender question, and I have to say, it still mystifies me that theologians on both sides of the debate will argue that relations between the persons of the Godhead are determinative for relations...
The true meaning of Luke’s Christmas, part 4 The Benedictus of Zechariah (Lk. 1:68-79), like Mary’s Magnificat, is a pastiche of Old Testament phrases and imagery celebrating the fact that the God of Israel is acting to transform the socio-political circumstances of his people. A...