Where Calvin Went Wrong

Where Calvin Went Wrong.

Scot McKnight comments on Don Thorsen’s latest book Calvin vs. Wesley, which throws new light on the perpetual Calvinist-Arminian debate.

We Will Call it “PFG”

We Will Call it “PFG”.

This is Scot McKnight’s introduction to the forthcoming (1 November) monumental work of NT Wright on the theology of Paul.

The Issue: What does Genesis 1-2 Say about God and Humans?

The Issue: What does Genesis 1-2 Say about God and Humans?

Scot McKnight discusses a recent article of Tremper Longman on Genesis 1-2.

Good reading for those interested in the evolutionism vs creationism debate

Does Your Evangelical Orthodox Faith Have A Place for Mary?

Theotokos

Here is what Scot McKnight writes about this in a recent post on this blog:

You have, or perhaps “They had,” three options: Mary gave birth to the human Jesus (but not to the eternal, divine Logos), or Mary gave birth to the Christ (not to God, but to Christ, who was both human and divine), or Mary gave birth to God (Jesus was divine). The first view is called Anthropotokos, the second Christotokos, and the third (orthodox view) Theotokos. (A long “o” in the -kos ending.)

The issue is discussed in Ron Heine, Classical Christian Doctrine: Introducing the Essentials of the Ancient Faith. His sketches of the signal issues in orthodox development is admirable, lucid, and deserving of a place on the shelf of student and pastor libraries. Continue reading “Does Your Evangelical Orthodox Faith Have A Place for Mary?”

Behind Evangelical Politics: Abraham Kuyper


Abraham Kuyper

It would as easy to exaggerate his influence as it is for some to ignore his influence, but at least a major voice behind all of evangelical political action — from Francis Schaeffer and the Moral Majority to Charles Colson, Nancy Pearcey, Wayne Grudem and then on to even someone like Tim Keller and JD Hunter or Andy Crouch and in other ways in people like Jim Wallis and evangelical progressives — is the Dutch theologian, journalist, pastor, and politician Abraham Kuyper. Many of us know him from his century-long reprints of Lectures on Calvinism, in which Calvinism does not mean TULIP but a comprehensive world view, but now James D. Bratt has written the Life of Lives when it comes Kuyper: Abraham Kuyper: Modern Calvinist, Christian Democrat. All those who care about Kuyper or who want to comprehend his influence on political and cultural thinking will have to absorb the fullness of this complete biography by Bratt.

How to summarize such a full and fast-paced life? Bratt’s words will have to do: “The Calvinist champion was a man of self-will; the man of faith, obsessed with working; the one humbled before God, yearning to be lifted high among men, and succeeding” (375). I suspect many great Christian leaders, Calvinist or not, has similar paradoxes at work in life, but I see the man less as paradoxical and more shaped by a relentless Calvinist ambition to get the world and church in order. He was a man with disciples but no real colleagues when he was at work.

Kuyper was a Titan. “Thus, in terms of the great quarrel in nineteenth-century American Calvinism, Kuyper combined the organization skill of Lyman Beecher, the platform presence of Charles Finney, and the public activism of both with the theological convictions — and no less the theological acumen — of Charles Hodge” (xx). That is the man we encounter in Bratt’s massive and splendidly written, if often assuming too much knowledge of the history of ideas, European history and Dutch politics than most will bring to the book, biography. Now some summary points.

Read HERE the rest of this text.

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Women in Ministry: One Week Intensive

Women in Ministry: One Week Intensive.

Some help from Scot McKnight for those who are struggling with the biblical legitimacy of idea of ‘women in ministry’.

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Wayne Grudem Continues His (pseudo)Theological Crusade

post-feminist

Wayne Grudem is one of the favourite authors of those evangelicals inclined towards fundamentalism. His extremely simplistic Systematic Theology (see for instance his absolutely pathetic treatment of the doctrine of the Trinity|) has been translated into many languages, including Romanian, creating confusion in the minds of many candidates o ecclesial ministry.

Among other subjects, it seems that Grudem has acquired a real obsession with evangelicals sympathetic to the egalitarian position  on gender roles (or what he calls ‘evangelical feminism’). He has published already three books on this topic (see HERE, HERE and HERE).

Recently, David C Cramer, from the Council for Biblical Equality, in his article ‘Assessing Hierarchist Logic: Is Egalitarianism Really on a Slippery Slope?‘ has taken Grudem to charge on his claims that what he calls ‘evangelical feminism’ is leading people on the slippery slope towards liberalism, showing the logical fallacies on which Grudem builds his argument. Continue reading “Wayne Grudem Continues His (pseudo)Theological Crusade”

John Piper’s Freudian Slip – On What Else but Women Teaching Men

In his book The Blue Parakeet, at p. 148, Scot McKnight argues that, to be consistent, a man who refuses to listen to a woman teaching in church, he should also refuse to read biblical commentaries written by women.

In a recent audio commentary, John Piper takes on that issue and argues that reading a biblical commentary written by a woman is OK ‘as long as the man does not see her’, and he suggests that is behind Paul’s injunction that ‘women should not teach men’ (1 Timothy 2:12).

I am afraid what we have here is not only a sample of outdated fundamentalism, of the kind Piper if guilty time an again, but also an unintended Freudian confession of being obsessed with women bodies.

Rachel Held Evans takes this on in her article on this topic and provides us with a few examples:

  • ‘Piper’s primary measure of appropriateness is whether a man feels threatened by a woman’s teaching’
  • ‘Piper argues that a woman can teach a man so long as her teaching is “impersonal,” “indirect,” and “removed”—essentially, so long as it is easy for him to forget she is a woman’

As Evans rightly argues, these statements, and others like them are dehumanising for women and, I would add, a pathological expression that needs a bit of psychoanalytic unpacking. Continue reading “John Piper’s Freudian Slip – On What Else but Women Teaching Men”

A Few Comments About Snyder’s Text on Holistic Evangelism

After I have published (see HERE) Howard Snyder’s text on evangelism, somebody asked if indeed the author’s position was aligned 100% with what the New Testament has to say about evangelism. In other words, is not evangelism primarily a communication of good news and is not ‘conversion evangelism’ the prime emphasis of the biblical text?

Here is my answer to this absolutely legitimate question:

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In my opinion, the question of the meaning of ‘evangelism’ cannot be decided based on an etymological study of ‘euangelizo’ or of an exegetical study of the occurrences of this term in the NT, which is similar to the fact that the meaning of ‘church’ in the NT cannot be legitimately decided on the basis of an etymological study of ‘ekklesia’ (as coming from the Greek ek-kaleo) and the exegetical study of the occurrences of this term in the Bible (74 in the Septuagint and 114 in the NT).

The reasons for this are multiple: Continue reading “A Few Comments About Snyder’s Text on Holistic Evangelism”

Is Evangelicalism Ending? 2

Is Evangelicalism Ending? 2.

This is Scot’s second installment on David Fitch’s book The End of Evangelicalism?

Really worth reading by those interested in the future of evangelicalism.

Scot McKnight – Fourth Advent Candle – Love

4th advent candle

Today we relight the first three candles of the Advent Wreath — the candles of HOPE, PEACE and JOY.

Now we light the fourth candle of Advent. This is the candle of LOVE.

Jesus demonstrated self-giving love in his ministry as the Good Shepherd. Advent is a time for kindness, thinking of others, and sharing with others. It is a time to love as God loved us by giving us his most precious gift. As God is love, let us be love also. Continue reading “Scot McKnight – Fourth Advent Candle – Love”

In search of a better adjective for ‘evangelical’

 

Scot McKnight struggles with something that is becoming more and more problematic: the use the unqualified term ‘evangelical’ to define the tradition we are part of. He writes:

An adjective seems necessary because the word “evangelical” is used by so many types. We’ve got conservative evangelical and progressive evangelical and European evangelical and moderate evangelical and charismatic evangelical. The need for an adjective doesn’t bode well for the word evangelical — it’s gotten too big for its britches. For two decades or more I was on the search for the purest and best kind of evangelical, a search that is unattainable (so I think now), but that search means I’m always open for yet one more try.

It is his way of introducing a new book with tries to explore this problem: Prophetic Evangelicals: Envisioning a Just and Peaceable Kingdom (Eerdmans, 2012), by Bruce Benson, Malinda Berry, and Peter Heltzel. Here is how Scot summarises the argument of the authors for suggesting the adjective ‘prophetic’ as a qualifier for ‘evangelical’: Continue reading “In search of a better adjective for ‘evangelical’”

Scot McKnight – Second Advent Candle – Peace

second Advent candle

Today we relight the candle of HOPE.

Now we light the candle for the second Sunday in Advent.

This is the candle of PEACE.

As we prepare for the coming of Jesus, we remember that Jesus is our hope and our peace.

From the prophet Isaiah:

“For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
– Isaiah 9:6-7 Continue reading “Scot McKnight – Second Advent Candle – Peace”

Scot McKnight – First Advent Candle – Hope

First Sunday of Advent

Today we light the first candle of the Advent wreath. This is the candle of HOPE.

With Christians around the world, we use this light to help us prepare our hearts and minds for the coming of God’s Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ.

May we receive God’s light as we hear the words of the prophet Isaiah:

“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness — on them light has shined.”
Isaiah 9:2 Continue reading “Scot McKnight – First Advent Candle – Hope”

Oxytocin – The ‘Moral Molecule’

Scot McKnight shared in his Weekly Meanderings a very interesting article on oxytocin. Here is a quote:

In 2001, I started studying a then little-appreciated molecule called oxytocin that initiates uterine contractions during mammalian birth and milk flow during breastfeeding. What else might this ancient nurturing chemical do, I wondered?

A lot, it turns out. I found that oxytocin is the master “connection” molecule in human beings. It makes us care about our romantic partners, our kids, and our pets. But here’s the weird part: when the brain releases oxytocin we connect to complete strangers and care about them in tangible ways. Like giving them money. Continue reading “Oxytocin – The ‘Moral Molecule’”

When is the Bible metaphorical?

When is the Bible metaphorical?.

Here is some help for those who need some help in moving from blatant literalism to wise Bible reading, that distinguishes between metaphorical and plan textual meaning.

What’s the difference between a Pastor and a Priest? | Black, White and Gray

What’s the difference between a Pastor and a Priest? | Black, White and Gray.

Mark Regnerus (look HERE if you don’t know who he is) compares in this blog post priests (mostly Catholic) and pastors. Since we are here, maybe it would be useful to recommend to you Black, White, and Grey, a blog written by a number ot Christian sociologists, including Regnerus.

There is humour in it, so it should be fun, but there is also a lot of serious stuff. Enjoy!

(Thanks to Scot McKnight for the link, that I have found in his amazing Weakly Meanderings, that I highly recommend as a source of very interesting links.)

* * *

Here are the first items (there are 20 in total), for wetting your appetite: Continue reading “What’s the difference between a Pastor and a Priest? | Black, White and Gray”

The King Jesus Gospel: The Original Good News Revisited 15 – ‘Gospel culture’ vs ‘salvation culture’

If you ask anyone from that 74 percent of Americans who say they have made a commitment to Jesus Christ what the Christian gospel is, you will probably be told that Jesus died to pay for our sins, and that if we will only believe he did this, we will go to heaven when we die. And he continues: In this way what is only one theory of the “atonement” is made out to be the whole of the essential message of Jesus [the gospel]. What does it mean in this setup to “believe”? But for some time now the belief required to be saved has increasingly been regarded as a totally private act, “just between you and the Lord.” Only the “scanner” would know. (p. 75)

From the enhancement of a gospel culture with a profound emphasis on salvation we have now arrived at the ability for a person to be able to say he or she has had the right experience. And that experience far too often is nothing more than “I’m a sinner; Jesus, take my place.” A gospel culture will have none of it, nor will a proper sense of salvation. I leave the last words here for Willard: What must be emphasized in all of this is the difference between trusting Christ, the real person Jesus, with all that that naturally involves, versus trusting some arrangement for sin-remission set up through him — trusting only his role as guilt remover. (p. 75) Continue reading “The King Jesus Gospel: The Original Good News Revisited 15 – ‘Gospel culture’ vs ‘salvation culture’”

The King Jesus Gospel: The Original Good News Revisited 13 – The Genevan Confession

Like the Augsburg Confession, the Genevan Confession is framed even more by a “salvation culture.” Hence, here are the central articles that express the heart of the Reformed perspective on the gospel:

The Word of God The one and only God The law of God alike for all The natural man — total depravity Man by himself is lost Salvation in Jesus Righteousness in Jesus Regeneration in Jesus Remission of sins necessary for the faithful. Continue reading “The King Jesus Gospel: The Original Good News Revisited 13 – The Genevan Confession”

The King Jesus Gospel: The Original Good News Revisited 12 – The Augsburg Confession

In 1530, Philip Melanchthon presented to Charles V at the Diet of Augsburg a confession built on conclusions that were forming among the Lutheran Protestants. I draw attention here to the order and substance of this confession, which need to be seen over against the classical order and substance of the Nicene Creed. Nicea framed things through God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, and the God the Son articles were derived from 1 Corinthians 15.

The Augsburg Confession converted the order of the “articles” into sections on salvation and justification by faith. It is precisely here that a “gospel culture” was reshaped into a “salvation culture” or, better yet, “justification culture.” Here are the central categories of the Lutheran confession: God as Triune [as at Nicea] Original sin [major reshaping idea] The Son of God [as with Nicea and Chalcedon, with a clear understanding of a satisfaction and propitiation of God’s wrath] Justification by faith. Continue reading “The King Jesus Gospel: The Original Good News Revisited 12 – The Augsburg Confession”

The King Jesus Gospel: The Original Good News Revisited 11 – How did ‘evangelicals’ become ‘soterians’

All I want to contend for is that the first four centuries were shaped by a gospel culture that derived directly and profoundly from the apostolic gospel tradition. But something happened that has led to the contemporary superficial perception of gospel and reduction of salvation to personal decision and has all but wiped out the gospel culture of Jesus and the apostles.

How did “evangelicals” become “soterians”? Or, when did the “gospel” become the Plan of Salvation? It began in many ways with Augustine, but its more focused beginning was in the Reformation, though it did not happen during the Reformation. We can pinpoint the documents themselves that both provide evidence for the shift that was underway and that also provide the foundation for creating a salvation culture. Those two documents, one from the Lutheran wing and one from the Calvinist/Reformed wing, are the Augsburg Confession and the Genevan Confession. Continue reading “The King Jesus Gospel: The Original Good News Revisited 11 – How did ‘evangelicals’ become ‘soterians’”

The King Jesus Gospel: The Original Good News Revisited 10 – Gospel and Creed

Careful attention to words has now convinced me that “creed” and “gospel” are intimately connected, so intimately one can say the creed is the gospel. Perhaps you are shocked that I could even connect “creed” to “gospel.”

Though I’ve been aware of the words used in the creed for a long time, it was in reading a book by Ted Campbell called The Gospel in Christian Traditions that a historical reality about the creeds and the gospel dug its way into my bones and brought new life to my own personal faith. Continue reading “The King Jesus Gospel: The Original Good News Revisited 10 – Gospel and Creed”

The King Jesus Gospel: The Original Good News Revisited 9

Comment

So, what’s so wrong with turning the gospel into the ‘plan of salvation’? Scot outlines below the serious implication of this shift.

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…the Plan of Salvation can be preached apart from the story, and it has been done for five hundred years and two thousand years. When the plan gets separated from the story, the plan almost always becomes abstract, propositional, logical, rational, and philosophical and, most importantly, de-storified and unbiblical.

When we separate the Plan of Salvation from the story, we cut ourselves off the story that identifies us and tells our past and tells our future. We separate ourselves from Jesus and turn the Christian faith into a System of Salvation. There’s more. Continue reading “The King Jesus Gospel: The Original Good News Revisited 9”

The King Jesus Gospel: The Original Good News Revisited 8

Because the “gospel” is the Story of Jesus that fulfills, completes, and resolves Israel’s Story, we dare not permit the gospel to collapse into the abstract, de-storified points in the Plan of Salvation.

We must say something vitally important to preserving a gospel culture: Paul does not articulate how Jesus’ death did something “for our sins.” He only tells us that Jesus actually died “for our sins.” However we tell the Story of Jesus, that story must deal with “sins,” and it must deal with those “sins” as something “for which” Jesus died. We can tell this story in a number of ways… but the story must aim at showing that the gospel saves. Continue reading “The King Jesus Gospel: The Original Good News Revisited 8”

The King Jesus Gospel: The Original Good News Revisited 6

In this book I will be contending firmly that we evangelicals (as a whole) are not really “evangelical” in the sense of the apostolic gospel, but instead we are soterians. Here’s why I say we are more soterian than evangelical: we evangelicals (mistakenly) equate the word gospel with the word salvation. Hence, we are really “salvationists.” When we evangelicals see the word gospel, our instinct is to think (personal) “salvation.” We are wired this way. But these two words don’t mean the same thing, and this book will do its best to show the differences. The irony here is obvious: the term we use to define ourselves (gospel/euangelion) does not define us, while the word that does define us (soteria or “salvation”) we do not use to describe ourselves. We ought to be called soterians (the saved ones) instead of evangelicals. My plea is that we go back to the New Testament to discover all over again what the Jesus gospel is and that by embracing it we become true evangelicals. My prayer for this book is that it will revive a generation of evangelicals to become true evangelicals instead of just soterians. What has happened is that we have created a “salvation culture” and mistakenly assumed it is a “gospel culture.”

Scot McKnight, The King Jesus Gospel: The Original Good News Revisited (Zondervan, 2011), p. 29

Comment

Here are the simple definitions my friend Sam was asking about.

Is it clear now, or we need to clarify more?

The King Jesus Gospel: The Original Good News Revisited 5

One of evangelicalism’s most precious convictions, one that I hold dear, is that each person must be born again or be saved. This conviction is established on nearly every page of the Gospels, it can be found in each of the sermons in the book of Acts, and it resonates under and on the pages of the apostolic letters. Personal faith is both necessary and nonnegotiable. The gospel doesn’t work for spectators; you have to participate for it to work its powers. The widespread assumption that church bodies can baptize infants and then automatically catechize those babies into the faith when they are preteens or early teens has been challenged by evangelicalism’s stubborn commitment to make a personal decision about Jesus Christ. One of my close friends, Brad Nassif, is an Eastern Orthodox theologian. He has said to me time and time again that in his tradition the people have too often been “sacramentalized” but not “evangelized.” That is, they’ve gone through baptism and some even attend church but may not have made a personal commitment to Jesus Christ. Theologically, Nassif believes the Orthodox Church has remained true to the gospel over the centuries and that the call to conversion resides within it. But he is also convinced that, like other historic traditions, “nominalism” has got the church by the throat. So, for Brad, the most urgent need in the Orthodox world today is the need for an aggressive internal mission of (re)converting the people, and even some clergy, to personal faith in Jesus Christ. The number of converts from the major liturgical traditions, like the Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church, to evangelicalism confirms what Brad says. The sacramental process isn’t enough; there must be a call for personal faith, and this has been the emphasis in evangelicalism.

Scot McKnight, The King Jesus Gospel: The Original Good News Revisited (Zondervan, 2011), p. 28

Comment

Most evangelicals tend to believe that nominalism is a problem of historical churches and connect this to the practice of infact baptism. However, as McKniht and Nassif contend here, adult baptism is no protection against nominalism, as we well know from our experience.

I dare you to argue reasonably against this.

The King Jesus Gospel: The Original Good News Revisited 4

A short recap of the gospel I received: Basic four spiritual law premise, justification by faith alone, plus some guilt if you didn’t do the “optional” work in addition to the faith part, and a bonus of “you probably have not received that gospel” if you don’t believe in a six-day creation…. Whereas the gospel I grew up with was basically “sin management,” the gospel Paul is describing [in 1 Corinthians 15] is a solution to “sin” in order to “defeat” the bigger problem or enemy: “death.

“I will never forget encountering what Dallas Willard called ‘the gospel of sin  management.’ When I read Dallas, I knew he was right. If the gospel isn’t about transformation, it isn’t the gospel of the Bible. Continue reading “The King Jesus Gospel: The Original Good News Revisited 4”

The King Jesus Gospel: The Original Good News Revisited 1

Anyone who brings up statistics about faith seems to be asking for a fight, but studies across the board — and I love to read such studies — show that the correlation between making a decision and becoming a mature follower of Jesus is not high. Here are some approximate numbers: among teenagers (ages thirteen to seventeen) almost 60 percent of the general population makes a “commitment to Jesus” —that is, they make a “decision.” That number changes to just over 80 percent for Protestants and (amazingly) approaches 90 percent for nonmainline Protestants, a group that focuses more on evangelicals. As well, six out of ten Roman Catholic teens say they have made a “commitment to Jesus.” However we look at this pie, most Americans “decide” for Jesus. Continue reading “The King Jesus Gospel: The Original Good News Revisited 1”

The King Jesus Gospel: The Original Good News Revisited – selected quotes – UPDATE

I have read with great pleasure during my travels last months Scot McKnight’s book The King Jesus Gospel and I have fund you enlightening as to some of the pathologies of present day evangelicalism.

Of course, the book is not an academic treatise, and written primarily for a popular American audience, and its beginning is carefully catering, it seems to me, to an audience that is not used with ‘meat’. But then if gets some ‘teeth’ and bites quite deep.

I find the topic of the book relevant not only for the American context, but also for the Romanian evangelical context, which is is influenced by all the weaknesses (and sometimes also the strengths) of the American evangelical scene.

That is why I have decided to share with you an extended series of quotes from this book, with my comments here and there, in the hope that some Romanian publisher will pick up on it and render it in the Romanian language. Continue reading “The King Jesus Gospel: The Original Good News Revisited – selected quotes – UPDATE”

Jesus Creed » Jesus Creed Books of the Year

Jesus Creed » Jesus Creed Books of the Year.

Scot McKnight has declared Christian Smith’s book The Bible Made Impossible as his Jesus Creed Book of the Year.

This is the next book on my reading list.

At the link above you will also find an interesting list of 2011 books that, according to Scot. deserve our attention.

Here is his presentation of the Smith book: Continue reading “Jesus Creed » Jesus Creed Books of the Year”