26 April 2007

Carson on Wright

I have learned so much from N. T. Wright! It was he who eight years ago first gave me a passion for understanding the history of New Testament interpretation with a book that reads like a novel (this one). I've also been helped to understand the critical theological importance of the resurrection. But D. A. Carson's recent RBL review of Wright's Evil and the Justice of God is right on, and succinctly encapsulates what are, I think, the key problems with Wright's work, most of the main distinctives of which can be seen in EJG. Here are a few statements from the best portion, discussing the atonement:

More broadly, one of the reasons, I think, why Wright prefers the Christus Victor theme, elevating it to controlling status, lies in his narrow reading of the Old Testament story. If his understanding of sin included not only sustained reflection on the nature of the structures of evil but on the nature of idolatry (a major Old Testament theme) and how offensive such idolatry is to God, and how central the theme of the wrath of God is to the plot line itself, then it might be clearer how central the penal emphases of the atonement are among New Testament writers.


When the biblical writers say that Christ's death saves us, from what does it save us? We could say it saves us from death, from the consequences of our sin, from our lostness, but centrally it saves us from the wrath to come. Death, the consequences of our sin, and lostness are nothing other than preliminary manifestations of the wrath of God.

Psalm 36

7 How precious is your steadfast love, O God!
The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings.
8 They feast on the abundance of your house,
and you give them drink from the river of your delights.
9 For with you is the fountain of life;
in your light do we see light.

How can we turn that down?

23 April 2007

Together 2008

Registration is about to open for Together for the Gospel '08. I intend to be there. It is $100 for students. April 15-17 in Louisville. Same speakers as last year. The T4G site has an hour-long intro video with the 4 co-founders, preparing for it.

20 April 2007

Serious Happiness

Read this today--

It is better to go to the house of mourning than to go to the house of feasting, for this is the end of all mankind, and the living will lay it to heart. Sorrow is better than laughter, for by sadness of face the heart is made glad. --Eccl. 6:2-3 (cf. Mt 5:4)

Though to the world (particularly the Western world?) these words are incomprehensible, I find a strange comfort in them. I know what it is like to be the only one in a room not laughing and cracking jokes and yet be (I suspect) the happiest one there. Could it be that those most miserable on the inside are those most prone to cover it up with frivolous jokes that never reach the heart? I think this is what Lewis meant when he said, in the last book of the Narnia series in a chapter called "Further Up and Further In," that "there is a kind of happiness and wonder that makes you serious. It is too good to waste on jokes."

Some of my happiest moments are those filled with solemnity and even, I think, with tears.

19 April 2007

RM Website

Renewal Ministries (run by some of my favorite people!) has redone their website.

18 April 2007

Honest Question:

Where does a Calvinistic, homiletically expositional, continuationist (vs. cessationist), paedobaptist, amillennial, loud-bands-on-Sunday-morning, not-cool-enough-for-Acts-29 seminarian serve as pastor?


17 April 2007

Jesus and the Eyewitnesses

Reading Richard Bauckham's fascinating Jesus and the Eyewitnesses right now, which argues that the Gospels are not the result of a vague, nebulous, communal, layer-upon-layer, oral transmission process (as the form critics have taught us--Bultmann, e.g.), but that they are quite self-consciously the written record of individual eyewitnesses or those who were in direct contact with eyewitnesses (Mark with Peter, Luke with numerous eyewitnesses, Lk 1:1-4), and read this excellent and representative paragraph today:

The early Christian movement was interested in the genuinely past history of Jesus because they regarded it as religiously relevant. But why should this have been the case? Dunn offers a sociological explanation: The early Christians, distinguished from other groups by terms referring to Jesus ("Nazarenes" and "Christians"), "would almost certainly have required a foundation story (or stories) to explain, to themselves as well as to others, why they had formed distinct social groups" (Jesus Remembered, 175). It was for purposes of self-identity that Christians transmitted Jesus traditions and wrote Gospels. While this explanation has the advantage of cross-cultural comparison, it is lacking in the cultural specificty necessary for an adequate explanation. Early Christians were less concerned with self-identity than with salvation, though the two are in their case closely related. Jesus was more than the founder of their movement; he was the source of salvation. Moreover, this salvation was understood within the thoroughly Jewish context of Christian origins. It was fulfillment of the promises made by the God of Israel to his people Israel in the past. It was a new chapter--the decisive, eschatological chapter--in God's history with his people and the world. The events of Jesus' history were charged with all the history-making significance of the activity of Israel's God. Thus, at the deepest level, it was for profoundly theological reasons--their understanding of God and salvation--that early Christians were concerned with faithful memory of the really past story of Jesus. The present in which they lived in relationship with the risen and exalted Christ was the effect of this past history, presupposing its pastness and not at all dissolving it.

--pp. 277-78 (italics original)

Schlatter and Cullmann are applauding in their graves!

16 April 2007


". . . he has put eternity into man's heart . . ." (Eccl. 3:11, ESV)

I am thankful for a 1999 class at Wheaton College on C. S. Lewis, taught by Jerry Root, which helped me for the first time put my finger on this in my own heart. Lewis has always evoked the eternity in my heart more than any other writer, such as in the below post.

11 April 2007

JE Blog

Several interesting posts this week on the Jonathan Edwards Blog.

05 April 2007

To Wheaton We Go

Yesterday Stacey and I decided to go to Wheaton for our next (and last!) degree. I'll be doing a PhD in New Testament, working with Doug Moo. As I have told some of you, God's grace has really gotten out of hand with this one. Thank you to those of you who prayed us through this difficult decision.

02 April 2007

Seneca: Summum Bonum

Some of you know I'm right in the thick of a decision as to doctoral programs (New Testament), and reading this statement from Seneca today was helpful and confirmative.

As often as you wish to know what is to be avoided or what is to be sought, consider its relation to the Supreme Good, to the purpose of your whole life. For whatever we do ought to be in harmony with this; no man can set in order the details unless he has already set before himself the chief purpose of his life

--"On the Supreme Good"