Biblical politics

Can the Bible speak usefully and clearly to contemporary political issues? There are enough examples of people who want to insist the answer is yes, and then display a powerful conviction that one or another secular slate of partisan positions is, astonishingly, completely supported by Scripture. (For a very generous review of a particularly unfortunate recent example, that apparently even manages to defend the practice of torture as Biblically sanctioned, see Krish Kandiah’s blog here…) Perhaps there is an alternative way of addressing the question: if we took a good sample of people, and mapped their political beliefs against their practices of Bible reading, would anything significant be observed? A recent sociological study seems to suggest yes,...

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How much Scripture to preach on?

It won’t come as much of a surprise to anyone who knows me, virtually or in real life, that one of the (fairly few) things that annoy me about the contemporary, ‘soft-charismatic’ style of worship that represents the British Baptist mainstream these days is the relative lack of Scripture heard in the services. I’ve written elsewhere about my desire to return to, at least, ‘Old Testament, Epistle, Gospel’ patterns of lectionary reading as opposed to just reading the passage preached on. (We’re just back from holiday in the Lake District, which allowed us to return to the delightful little fellowship at Hawkshead Hill Baptist Church. Three passages of Scripture, read and allowed to mutually interpret, during the sermon;...

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How new is the ‘new perspective’?

I am no expert on the ‘new perspective on Paul’. I’ve read the obvious things – Sanders, Dunn, Wright, &c., although not Doug Campbell’s new book yet – and routinely use commentaries that presume or argue for the position; I’ve even preached and taught in ways that  broadly assumed the correctness of the NPP;  but I’ve never given the arguments the time or attention they no doubt deserve. I have long harboured a suspicion, however, that at least a part of what is going on under the headline is a comprehensive and massive exercise in deconstructing a straw man. From Sanders down to Campbell, the NPP writers have had in their sights an account of pauline soteriology (‘justification theory’) claimed to...

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New Bibles

We are on the way back from two conferences, the Society for the Study of Theology in Durham and Spring Harvest in Minehead, of which more in another post. I wasn’t expecting my major book purchases from the two weeks to be new bibles–frankly, I’ve got several more than I use as it is… We nevertheless came back with two more, just because they seemed to genuinely add something. The first was the first sight, at Spring Harvest, of the fruit of a project I’ve known about for a while, Bible Society’s Poverty and Justice Bible. Conceived in part as an antidote to the plethora of ‘Sanctified Students’ Daily Walk Bible with Exam Helps’ or ‘Working wives’ five minute holiness devotional Bible’, this...

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