More on God as Father: thinking about adoption

I’ve been mulling over a question Krish Kandiah asked me in relation to the excellent Home for Good project: why do we make so little theologically of our adoption as children of God? Krish pointed out the lack in worship songs, originally, but it strikes me that it is just not a big theme in any recent discussion of soteriology I know, and that this seems odd given its Biblical roots and the fact that it is just wonderful good news. Yesterday, driving between snowy mountains on my way to a ministers’ conference, I suddenly realised I had a plausible answer. There is a significant debate, or perhaps better a linked series of debates, over what it means to name God ‘Father’ in English-speaking Protestantism in the second half of the...

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The bare minimum gospel?

I’ve been involved in a discussion recently, connected to the excellent Evangelical Alliance Confidence in the Gospel campaign, which raised, amongst other issues, the question ‘what is essential to a gospel presentation?’ I understood the reason the question was on the table – are their certain things that, if they are not included, make an account of the Christian gospel simply inadequate – a ‘bare minimum gospel’? – and I sympathise with the concern: of course there are ways of calling people to faith that are so misleading, or just so anaemic, that they need to be criticised. That said, this way of presenting the question was one I struggled with. The good news of what God has done in Jesus Christ His Son, the...

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Theology and Exegesis: an example

To pick up on the theme of my earlier post on the place of theology in exegesis, Justin Taylor has a blog post up today on the doctrine of the eternal generation of the Son, which serves as an ideal example of what I was talking about. Justin frames the question by asking ‘is [eternal generation] really a Biblical idea?’ He notes that the idea has been seriously challenged in contemporary theology, but suggests that, although he lacks space in the post, a ‘full exegetical defense’ could indeed be offered. (‘Eternal generation’ is the doctrine that the Father’s begetting of the Son is an eternal act; it is a necessary doctrine in classical Trinitarianism.) If ‘biblical idea’ means ‘a doctrine that could...

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The Politics of Christmas

I don’t usually highlight my own writing here, but since this is available for free, I thought I’d mention it. I was commissioned by the excellent political thinktank Theos to write on ‘The Politics of Christmas’. The brief noted that we tend to assume that Christmas should be apolitical in our contemporary celebrations, but that the original gospel accounts of the birth of Jesus were perhaps less than apolitical, and that this invited some exploration. (If you know your recent NT scholarship and you’re thinking ‘shooting fish in small bucket; never mind barrel’ – well, yes, guess why I took the commission…) The report was released today; it explores the reasons Christmas became depoliticised in the Victorian...

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Rob Bell (insert stupidly large number here)

In chapter 5, ‘Dying to live,’ Bell turns to give an account of the atonement. He begins with a reflection on the ubiquity of the symbol of the cross, and the slogan, ‘Jesus died on the cross for your sins.’ (122) But what does that mean? Bell explores a ‘multiple metaphors’ view of the atonement, where different stories are told, which each hint at a part of the truth. It’s no secret that I think this is just the right way to approach atonement theology (see any of several publications on the theme); having tried to write a popular-level book on this theme it is humbling and irritating in equal parts to see someone who can really communicate have a go: Which perspective is the right one? Which metaphor is correct? Which explanation is true? The answer, of...

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