Among Christians, the gospel is considered foundational and we like to think that we know what it is. However, when you pay attention to how believers talk about it, there is some fuzziness regarding what it exactly is. Part of the reason for this imprecision is the fact that the gospel is central. Practically every theological issue orbits around it with varying degrees of separation. It is therefore quite easy to bundle issues into the gospel, especially if they are closely related, even though they might be quite distinct. Continue reading “A Definite Gospel (Part 1)”
One of the most well-known phrases in the New Testament about music is that we should sing “psalms and hymns and spiritual songs” which is found in Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16. We need to know what this little phrase means to properly understand the scriptures and so we can properly live it out today. So what are psalms, hymns and spiritual songs?
First of all, what Paul and the early believers understood as music was obviously conditioned by their time. Obviously, music varies from culture to culture and from era to era. So for instance when the New Testament talks about hymns it clearly does not mean what we call hymns today. Therefore, we need to understand in historical context what the well-known phase meant. Continue reading “Psalms, Hymns and Spiritual Songs for Today”
It is pretty common to hear Western Christian thinkers and commentators talk about and warn against idolatry. The issue of idolatry even appears in some popular Christian worship songs. Idolatry is a real thing and the prohibition against it is a very serious matter for Christians being enshrined in the second commandment. Furthermore, it is a perennial concern throughout the Scriptures. It therefore is certainly something worth talking about and guarding against. However, even though these Christian commentators undoubtedly have real, legitimate concerns, I am not certain what they are talking about is actual idolatry. Continue reading “Modern Idols”
Over the last year or so I have been learning more about honour-shame cultures and how they impact the way we read the Bible, particularly how we understand and communicate the Gospel. The Roman world in which the Jesus’ movement emerged consisted of honour-shame cultures. While I have recognized its importance, its only very recently that I have begun to fully grasp its significance. The insight came from reading a short but illuminating article from Jennie Pollock over at Think Theology entitled Global Glory. She writes: Continue reading “The Shame of the Cross”
Last week I wrote an article on the theological significance of self-organisation. In that piece I argued that disorder is an original part of God’s creation and that he has made it for a purpose. To my delight I just came across an article titled Randomness Keeps You Breathing: A physicist’s perspective on the richness of the created order expressing similar thoughts. Continue reading “The Goodness of Randomness”
So the death and resurrection of Jesus define, for Christians, the core identity of God. God–for us–is the one who handed Jesus over to be crucified, who raised him from the dead, and who has subsequently installed this risen Jesus at His right hand as Lord over all. Deny this and, simply put, you are talking about another God. I’ll leave the last word to Robert Jenson as he unapologetically lays out what which distinguishes Judaism and Christianity ever since Jesus came on the scene (hint: it’s not primarily different “attributes” of God, as if the prospect of Jews and Muslims and Christians all signing off on the same list of divine attributes would mean we all worship the same God. What we fundamentally differ over are the acts of God in history, along with their specific interpretation and meaning for the community of faith):
“To the question “Whom do you mean, ‘God?’” Israel answered, “Whoever got us out of Egypt”. The gospel of the New Testament is the provision of a new identifying description for this same God, that this new description comes to apply is the event witness to which is the whole point of the New Testament. The content of the gospel is that God can now be known as “whoever raised Jesus from the dead” ‘ (Robert Jenson, The Triune Identity God According to the Gospel [Philadelphia Fortress Press, 1982], pp 7-8) Continue reading “A Note on Narrative Theology”