- John Barber argues that evangelicalism is dying, but that there’s hope for revival.
- Kevin DeYoung offers some words from Dorothy Sayers on the importance of theology in her day (and ours).
- A new study confirms that poor people are more generous.
- A Methodist church in the UK has backed off from its plans to celebrate communion via Twitter.
- Denny Burk offers 6 reasons to try the Olive Tree Bible app.
- The BBC interview NT Wright on his impending retirement and move to St. Andrews. HT
- Apparently there’s a new FB scam targeting Justin Bieber fans. Of course, if you’re a Justin Bieber fan, you probably deserve it.
- And, some guy was such a big Ayn Rand fan that he drove across America, plotting his course with a GPS system, so that when he was done it would spell out “Read Ayn Rand.” I’m sure that was time well spent.
- The lastest issue of Themelios is out. In addition to the usual wealth of book reviews, it has an interesting article by Fred Zaspel arguing that B.B. Warfield was not a proponent of theistic evolution, despite claims to the contrary and a symposium on Jeffrey J. Niehaus’s book Ancient Near Eastern Themes in Biblical Theology.
- Out of Ur has posted the third part of the discussion between Mark Dever and Jim Wallis.
- And, if you’re a student and you’re trying to figure out if you should skip class today, there’s now a calculator for that. The skipclass calculator claims to offer a “surefire mathematical formula” for determining if you can afford to miss class. HT
- Mark Stevens reports that Clark Pinnock passed away yesterday. In his long career, Pinnock taught at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, TEDS, Regent, and McMaster. He was probably best known in recent years for his work on open theism, but he also made important contributions to theological methodology, pneumatology, soteriology, and bibliology.
- iMonk has an interesting post on what it means to be “passionate” about something.
- R. Scott Clark offers a nice roundup of resources critical of N.T. Wright’s version of NPP.
- Jim West has been wikied!
- And, apparently teen sex does not necessarily impact a person’s grades. That’s a relief. I know that as the father of two young daughters, my main concern about the possibility they’d become sexually active as teenagers is that their grades might suffer. Now I can sleep well at night.
- A couple of good articles at Inside Higher Ed today. One details the problems facing for-profit schools and criticisms raised by a recent GAO report. Given that many are looking to these schools as the “wave of the future,” these developments are worth keeping an eye on. In a second article, Adam Kotsko responds to an earlier essay arguing that Christians face discrimination in higher ed. Kotsko contends that the problem really comes from the fact that evangelicals have historically resisted assimilating to secular culture. So, for Kotsko the problem is less one of discrimination than one of assimilation.
- Out of Ur discusses Brandon O’Brien’s new book The Strategically Small Church. It’s nice to see small churches getting some attention for a change.
- Michael Halcomb has compiled a very helpful set of language resources at his new site Getting Theological Languages. If you’re looking for resources on learning Aramaic, Greek, Hebrew, theological German, or theological French, this is worth checking out.
- Mark Stevens is giving away a copy of N.T. Wright’s The Resurrection and the Son of God.
- Roger Olson discusses his problem with Calvinism, resonating many of the same themes that came up during our own discussion of the topic. He also has a post on church music that is well worth reading. I think the focus of his discussion is misplaced (hymns vs. choruses), but the emphasis on the importance of having solid biblical/theological content is our worship music is spot on.
Wifi is a wonderful invention. I’m sitting in a nice, secluded cabin on Lummi island. Woke up to a rooster crowing on a nearby farm and spent the last couple of hours reading, drinking coffee, and enjoying a cold, misty morning. I just got caught up with my blog reading, and thought I’d go ahead and pass some links along. To keep the list manageable after a few days off, I’m just going to highlight the more interesting ones, and I’ll keep the comments to a minimum.
- Anne Rice has been interviewed by NPR on her recent decision to leave the Catholic church.
- NT Wright has a great article on C.S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity – explaining both what he appreciates about the book and what he dislikes. (HT Mike Bird)
- Here’s a debate between Richard Gaffin and Wayne Grudem on the nature of prophecy today. (HT Tim Challies)
- Jim West discusses theological exegesis.
- NYT has an article on pastoral burnout.
- Paul Helm has posted the fourth part of his review of Kevin Vanhoozer’s Remythologizing Theology.
- Jim West carried through on his promise to revive the Biblical Studies Carnival.
- Patheos has begun a discussion on the future of evangelicalism. The series began with the topic of “transforming the church” and posts from Scot McKnight, Collin Hansen, Kevin DeYoung, Justin Taylor, Ed Stetzer, Matthew Anderson, Al Hsu. Next up: “transforming the culture”
- iMonk disucsses Rachel Evans’ open letter to Ken Ham.
- And, Jonathan Acuff discusses why Christians sometimes act like jerks online. (HT Colin Hansen)
- Paul the Octopus has now picked Spain to win the world cup. Sadly, like many misunderstood superheros, Paul has raised the ire of the lesser abled. And, angry German fans, irate that Paul used his magic powers to cause Germany’s loss to Spain, are now planning to eat him.
- Larry Hurtado continues to add useful resources to his blog. Today’s contribution is his essay “Monotheism, Principal Angels, and High Christology,” which discusses “on Qumran evidence and its relevance for the emergence of Jesus-devotion in early Christianity.”
- Diglotting argues that Jesus was an inclusivist.
- Here’s an article summarizing some research that suggests younger scientists are more likely to be religious than older ones. (HT Rachel Motte)
- By now you’ve probably heard that the PCUSA General Assembly has voted 53%-46% in favor of allowing noncelibate gays and lesbians to be ordained ministers. Although the decision still needs to be sent to the local presbyteries, this vote has sparked quite a bit of discussion. This move follows an earlier one in which the General Assembly voted to approve a new form of church government that will ostensibly be better suited to meet the needs of 21st century churches. Update: The Assembly has also voted not to redefine marriage.
- Nijay Gupta offers some of his favorite resources on the wisdom literature and the prophets.
- And, those reports about the Church of England being on the verge of approving Jeffrey John’s appointment as their first openly gay bishop, were in fact wildly exaggerated. The nomination committee has made it clear that John will not be considered for the post. While they’re at it, though, they will apparently be reconsidering (again) the issue of women’s ordination.
- Of course, we have to mention the fact that someone is actually protesting N.T. Wright’s appointment to the University of St. Andrews. And, no, it’s not John Piper. It’s an episcopal priest angry about Wright’s opposition to gay ordination. (HT Mike Bird) And, Joel Watts offers some good thoughts on the situation.
- In a shocking development, researchers have now determined that more than two hours a day spent watching TV or playing video games can cause attention problems.
- And, please tell me that this is a joke.
Last week I asked those of us who live in/around the Portland area to indicate if they’d rather discuss Walton’s The Lost World of Genesis One or Wright’s After You Believe. The response was unanimous in favor of Walton’s book. So, we’ll set a date/time for that soon.
In anticipation of that meeting, I will occasionally post related resources that you might find interesting/helpful. Today PreacherMike pointed out this video from BioLogos in which N.T. Wright discusses what it means to read Genesis 1-3 as a literary work (rather than a literal one). He contends that that we should stop trying to “flatten” the text and instead should “read it for all it’s worth” – i.e. as both history and myth. Anything else is “to almost perversely avoid the real thrust of the narrative.” Wright also expresses appreciation for Walton’s understanding of Genesis 1 as the creation of God’s temple/abode.
- N.T. Wright has a fantastic review of Michael Ward’s Planet Narnia: The Seven Heavens in the Imagination of C. S. Lewis, explaining Ward’s basic thesis that each of the seven Narnia books are “themed” after one of the seven planets in the medieval cosmology. (HT Euangelion)
- Evangelical Textual Criticism announces a plan to collect resources in NT textual criticism and make them available through the blog.
- Sects and Violence makes some interesting comments about what it’s like to be a Bible scholar at a time when everyone thinks they’re a Bible scholar. (HT Scotteriology)
- Brian offers a bit of a “coming out” statement on why he decided not to be politically affiliated with a particular party any more.
- Salmon Rushdie and Elie Wiesel discuss modern challenges to freedom of speech, with Rushdie arguing that “we are in danger of losing the battle for freedom of speech.”
- And, I couldn’t resist posting Jim West’s comment on Fox TV: “Fox really is to TV what BP is to the Gulf of Mexico.”
I’ve been interested in the debate that Wright and Piper have been engaging in over the “New Perspective” (or at least Wright’s version of it). After reading Piper’s book, The Future of Justification, I thought it was only fair to read Wright’s response called Justification. In this book Wright reminded me of Mike Tyson in the infamous Evander Holyfield fight with that whole “ear incident.” What has been one of the most highly charged polemical books I have read in a long time, Wright simply comes out swinging. Not because he thinks he is losing, but because for nine rounds he feels as if he has been misunderstood, mischaracterized, misquoted, and misrepresented. I cannot blame him for coming out and defending his name, and more importantly, his orthodoxy and love for the cross and resurrection of Jesus as the only source of saving faith sinful humanity has to go to find redemption. The book is well written, and I would contend, the clearest presentation of what Wright has been trying to say. That being said, I still find his argumentation unconvincing.
He begins by typecasting himself as the loyal friend who is attempting to explain to another that the sun does not revolve around the earth. He likens adherents of the “old perspective” to those that would rather cling to tradition that to undertake a “fresh” reading of Paul that might jostle the cart of Pauline theological assumptions that have been held since the reformation. He asserts that those who are attacking him are simply not listening to what he, or for that matter Paul, are saying. He also likens himself to Luther and Calvin who, against the ecclesiological norm of their day, bucked the system in order to render a right reading of Scripture. He is surprised to find so many in the reformed tradition taking him to task for the doing the very thing that their heroes did five-hundred years ago. He goes on to say that the theological framework in which Paul has been interpreted is simply not sufficient. There is too much emphasis placed on individual redemption and not the redemption of the world. There is almost no talk of the Spirit’s role in many present concept of justification. Most importantly for Wright, theologians and pastors are not reading Paul correctly because of a bias that will not fit with their preconceived notions of the law, justification, and Judaism. He argues that if we silence what Paul actually said so that we can feel better about our theological conclusions, we are silencing Scripture and missing out on the beauty of God’s word.
He goes on to defend several of his assertions. First, Wright corrects a misunderstanding of Judaism and the law. He claims that the law was never the means by which people got saved. For Wright, the Jews were never asking this question. The more important question in the Jewish community was, “How do we know who is part of the covenant community of Abraham?” The law provided certain boundary markers to tell who was in the covenant community. This means that we have mischaracterized the Judaism of Paul’s day. He also speaks of justification, as the “status” given that one is right standing with God, and a member of God’s covenant family. Here Wright speaks of the law-court setting in which the declaration of the Judge in favor of the plaintiff only gives a status, not the actual substance of righteousness. There is no change in the moral character of the one who is justified by God. This is one of the main points in Wright’s argument for which he attempts to defend exegetically in the second part of his book. The question that Wright never answers, however, is whether or not believers ever actually get righteousness, or just a status? If we do actually get righteousness, where does it come from? His silence may be his answer. However, Wright never addresses this in his book, but simply says that imputation is not to be found anywhere in Paul. Something I think he drastically overstates. I found some of his exegesis here; especially with 2 Cor. 5:21 to be lacking. He places 5:21 inside of the larger framework of Paul defending his authority as an apostle, and as 5:19-21 as Paul’s explanation of what he is preaching with the authority of an apostle. This however, does not necessitate the exegetical gymnastics he does to make verse 21 speak of Paul as “embodying God’s covenant faithfulness.” The change is unnecessary, and is stretching. Wright also begins to unpack the role of works inside of Pauline theology. It is at this point that I feel Wright did some of his best work. Up until I read chapter eight it appeared that, for all his counter claims that he was not trying to “sneak works in the back door,” that that was in fact what he was doing. In chapter eight he unpacked all of the passages where Paul joins “works” to the eschatological judgment and asks the question, “How do you explain these verses?” He appeals to the necessity of the Spirit in the life of the believer, as well as the believer’s responsibility to live a life in the power the Spirit provides. At this point, I’m not sure that Wright is saying anything much different from the reformation, but as trying to elevate the role of Spirit-empowered works to its proper seat. This was an area in which I was most critical of Wright, but which I feel he defended well. I’m not completely satisfied as of yet, but have shifted.
The book is a great read. There are still questions that I wish Wright would attempt to answer. Although the water still isn’t as clear as I would like, some of the silt appears to be settling. If you have read Piper’s book, this should be the next one you pick up.
- I meant to post this one yesterday, but I forgot. Scot McKnight reviews N.T. Wright’s After You Believe at Books and Culture.
- Scotteriology has a brief post on the importance and usefulness of the documentary hypothesis
- If you’re not sure what all the commotion is about the new social studies curriculum just approved by the Texas State Board of Education, here is a nice article summarizing the issues.
- Scot McKnight has posted some interesting facts about megachurches, suggesting that they’re not as bad as we think (or, at least, they’re not worse than really small churches).
- Apparently the long awaited (100 years) autobiography of Mark Twain is finally going to be released. Sounds like it will be fascinating reading. (HT First Thoughts)
- If you have any interest in higher education, one of the hot issues today is what schools of the future will do with the library holdings. The Boston Glob has an interesting piece today on how Harvard is responding with its library.
- I mentioned last week that the “Get a Mac” ad campaign had been canceled. Well, apparently there’s actually a tribute video now.