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Showing posts from August, 2013

My 500th Blog—The surprising power of a blog

I was wandering around my blog today and noticed that this would be my 500th post. This surprised me, because I hadn’t realised I had written that much. I didn’t think I had had that much to say.

Then I noticed that tag, "Stats." I hadn’t really taken time to look at the stats before and wondered, how many people have viewed my stuff? What a shock. I learnt that as of 11.38 am today, there had been 782 page views today alone. There were 908 yesterday. Last month there were over 26,000. Overall, there have been around 305 thousand. While I am sure there are plenty out there who would have far more views, I have to say I am more than a little surprised. I read the stats to Emma and she was similarly amazed.

Now I have written a couple of books and a number of articles. Yet, I am certain that none of them have been viewed that much. It goes to show that the internet is a much more immediate and powerful tool for communication. It is far more dynamic than the published text in boo…

“My God, my God, Why have you Forsaken Me?” Did God Forsake Jesus on the Cross?

What did Jesus mean when he cried out from the cross, “My God, my God, Why have you forsaken me?” It is common in evangelistic presentations to see this as a pivotal moment in salvation history when all the sin of humanity was loaded onto Jesus and he became the bearer of our sin, in a quasi-literal sense. As such, Jesus became abhorrent to a Holy God who is disgusted by sin, and so God turned his face away from the sin-laden Jesus. That is, he abandoned or forsook Jesus. The cross then becomes the point at which God punishedJesus for our sin.  He then died having taken the punishment we would have had from God for our sin. Traditional theology says he then descended to hell with the sin. However, God’s justice was satisfied. He then rose from the dead having overcome sin.
I believe there are problems with this construct. It is a theological interpretation of the text and moment which is flawed. When Jesus said these words that is not what he was saying. What was he doing then?
Firs…

Is the Gay Issue a Secondary Theological Issue?

It is not uncommon to hear some Christians, including some evangelicals, argue that the current gay marriage issue should not concern us much, as it is a secondary issue. As such, the outcome of the legislation and Christians conducting same sex marriages is not one of those issues we should make a big deal of. In this blog-piece I want to take this on. I believe that marriage and sexual immorality is not a secondary issue, but is primary and very much so. In fact, I would argue it lies at the heart of a Christian theology.
1. Heterosexual Marriage is Essential to a Christian View of the World The Christian story is not merely about one nation Israel and the church. It is a story of a whole world and all its people. It is a human story which begins well before Israel or the church is mentioned with Adam, Eve, and all the nations. God’s plan is for a people inhabiting his wonderfully crafted world who live out their humanness well. Marriage and heterosexual sex producing offspring is ess…

Why Get Water Baptised?

A friend of mine who is coming to know Jesus asked me the other day what he had to do to show that he is a Christian. I told him he had to do nothing, because faith saves us. Faith is that “yes” that wells in the human heart to God who is calling us. It is not something we do, but something that wells up inside and we respond to. Genuine faith of course leads to actions that spring forth from it (e.g. James 2:17; Gal 5:6; Eph 2:10); but it is the faith that saves us. We are “justified by faith” and not any works (see esp. Eph 2:8–9). That is the wonder of Christian salvation—Jesus has done it all for us, all we have to do is yield to him. When we do we are saved not by works, but by grace through faith alone.
However, while it is true that we are saved by faith alone, I suggested that baptism is the moment where we publically declare that faith to God and people. While some traditions sprinkle water for baptism, most do so by immersion—a person enters water, is immersed under it, and…

Should All Christians Speak in Tongues?

Introduction Someone asked me (again) the other day whether all Christians should speak in tongues if they are open to the gift? Or is it a gift only some Christians get? It is an important question, because if one believes all should or can speak in tongues those without the gift of tongues can feel somehow inferior. They can believe that there is something deficient in their relationship with God. On the other hand, some can take a position of spiritual superiority over others if they do speak in tongues believing that if only they are open then they will receive it. Let me add that I write this as a tongues-speaker having received the gift of tongues in my early days as a Christian. I often pray in tongues as a part of my prayer life.
Some False Ideas There are a number of false ideas about tongues held by some Christians that can quickly be put to bed. One is that the gift no longer exists and that it was only for the time of the Apostles—cessationism. This view is often held by Cla…

An “Aha Moment,” 1 Cor 1:17

What a privilege I have to be paid to study the Scriptures, digging in each day to the text in its original language, seeing things, learning things, being shaped—what a joy. Thanks Laidlaw. Thanks God. In this short blog, I want to share a little thing I really saw the other day.
Now, to understand this, you need first to grasp the cruciform or kenotic nature of Paul’s theology. This is bought out well by scholars like Michael Gorman. That is, undergirding Paul’s understanding is the crucifixion. The crucifixion for Paul not only saves us, but provides the shape of Christian life. His ethics is based on living out of the cross. I call it “the pattern of the cross” and say more about this in my forthcoming commentary on Philippians. The thing is, that Christian life is cross-shaped, cross-eyed, so to speak. Words which define this are things like humility, selflessness, servanthood, sacrifice, suffering, i.e. love. It is self-emptying for the world. The opposite of things like selfis…