It’s been nearly 2000 years but Saul of Tarsus remains an influential yet highly contested figure. Within New Testament scholarship, particularly in the Protestant world, there is still fervent disputation on what he really said as evidenced by the fairly recent debates between the so-called “Old Perspective” and “New Perspective(s) on Paul” regarding justification. The Old Perspective represents the mainstream Protestant position on justification and they contend that it is at the heart of Paul’s theology. The New Perspective challenges the traditional Protestant view of justification. They think it is important but they strongly argue it is not the centre of Paul’s thinking.
In the New Testament the Church gave itself all sorts of names like believers, saints, disciples, brothers and sisters while it identified outsiders as unbelievers, sinners and ungodly. Where do these designations come from, what do they say about the Church and those outside it, and how should it shape the way the Church thinks about itself and outsiders today?
This year I wrote a short post in tribute to the brothers and sisters in Egypt who were murdered by Muslim terrorists during church service on Palm Sunday. I remember reading the story and seeing the images of freshly bloodied palm fronds. I was moved in a way that I had not thought I would. Continue reading “Synergy through Suffering”
Earlier this year I saw fake news on Facebook about how Mike Pence, Vice-President of the United States, was going to get creation taught in science classes. Now an elder at my church excitedly shared this story, blessing Pence for his initiative. The moment I saw the story and this elder’s response I was horrified and I let him clearly know. Apart from it being scientifically and theologically nonsensical to even think of something like that, what struck me the most was how oblivious this church leader of mine was about the current American cultural climate, especially post-election 2016. Continue reading “Knowing my Brother”
One of the common Christian catchphrases is having a ‘personal relationship with God/Jesus Christ.’ It is part of the en vogue notion of Christianity not being a religion, which is thought to be man-made, and relationship which is supposedly real and meaningful. The problem with this and other mottos of popular theology is that it is regularly assumed to be true and not actually examined. Is Christianity really about a personal relationship with God? Continue reading “A Mediated Relationship with God”
For a more detailed discussion than was offered in Part I, here is a two part interview at Trinities podcast of Dr. Hurtado’s on his new book Destroyer of the Gods: Early Christian Distinctiveness in the Roman World. I was particularly struck by how difficult it was to be a a faithful Gentile Christian to one god in a pagan world where idolatry was a necessary part of every single aspect of life. Continue reading “The Early Distinctive Christian Faith II”