GOOD NEWS & Matthew Bates explains why this means: “Jesus has become the saving king.”

By Matthew Bates, Christianity Today, 4/21/20.

… 1. Basic fallacies of biblical interpretation regarding “gospel” (euangelion). Greg Gilbert, John Piper (The Future of Justification, p. 86-91), and those who follow their line of thought combine two well-known errors of biblical interpretation. A simplistic treatment of roots (the “root fallacy” or etymological error) causes them to pay insufficient attention to the ancient context. Because the word euangelion comes from eu- (“good”) and angelion (“tidings” or “message”), they assume that it must mean good news for you and me personally or it simply can’t mean “good news.” Yet in the NT and its world euangelion frequently refers to a royal announcement, such as news of a new king, for the general public quite apart from whether that announcement would result in good for you or me personally. That is, the good in good news is not intrinsically a personal good.

For example, when Vespasian became Caesar, this was heralded as good news (euangelia) for the empire before he had done anything good or bad, without regard for his intentions toward specific individuals (Josephus, Jewish War 4.618, 4.656). Everyone knew Vespasian’s ascension meant that some specific individuals would benefit and others would be condemned. Yet in the ancient world it was still appropriate to call such events “good news” for the empire as a whole irrespective of individual outcomes. Accordingly, Gilbert’s claim, “For it to be good news, we have to know what this king intends to do—whether he intends to crush or to save, to condemn or to forgive,” is not based on accurate research.

In fact, the first time this word euangelion appears in the Bible, we see why. A herald brought what he considered to be “good news” of Saul’s defeat and death to David, but David had the man put to death (2 Sam 4:10). It is still called “good news” in Scripture even though David had the man killed for delivering it! Since an individual is crushed and condemned by the king, this is precisely the opposite of what Gilbert says must define the essence of good news. It proved to be supremely bad news for this man; yet the herald’s message is called “good news” in Scripture because the herald was referring to events of kingdom-wide significance that he considered good news. And this was ordinary usage. This is but one of many examples that shows that Gilbert’s argument is invalid.

Yes, Jesus is a supremely good king (on which, see Joshua Jipp, Christ Is King). But the kindness or malice of the king toward specific individuals did not control how the word euangelion referred in the New Testament’s world. It referred to empire-wide good news apart from what that news might mean for this or that specific citizen. Gilbert’s and Piper’s conclusion otherwise is based on a simplistic construal of the word roots as that is combined with a failure to take into account the ancient context sufficiently.

2. “Gospel” reference failure. But the problem for Gilbert’s and other T4G/TGC leaders’ version of the gospel is even more severe. The word “gospel” cannot successfully refer at all in the New Testament if it means what they think it means. Gilbert’s definition of the gospel makes each individual’s own personal justification intrinsic to the gospel itself rather than a benefit that derives from it.

I think I am summarizing him fairly when I say that for Gilbert, the gospel is God is righteous, you (inclusive of each individual) are a sinner, but by dying an atoning death for your sins Jesus Christ has justified you, so you must respond with faith and repentance (see Gilbert, What Is the Gospel?). The justification of each unsaved “you” is intrinsically part of the gospel for Gilbert. But that would mean that when Jesus is proclaiming the gospel in the NT, then each future unsaved Christian’s unique justification is being proclaimed as part of the referent within his message. So if I you or I am not yet “saved,” it refers to “you” and to “me” even though we haven’t yet been born. But that doesn’t make sense, does it?

The truth is this: when we find the word “gospel” in the New Testament, the gospel is not about me (it does not refer to me), but the gospel’s promises are for everyone, including me. If I choose to accept the gospel, its benefits, like justification, adoption, and forgiveness, are applied to me by the Holy Spirit.

3. Failure to distinguish the objective work of the Christ for a group from its subjective appropriation by an individual. Here I am speaking only to Gilbert rather than the other T4G/TGC leaders I’ve mentioned, as this is a problem with his analysis, but I don’t know how far it extends. Part of the gospel is that “the Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures” (1 Cor. 15:3). The saving work of the king has been decisively accomplished on behalf of his people. But that doesn’t mean each individual who will become a Christian has yet experienced it.

Salvation is about a group of people first, individuals second. The clearest statements describing the purpose of the gospel in Scripture indicate that it is “for the obedience of pistis in all the nations.” This is best understood as loyal obedience or allegiance to Jesus as the Messiah, the lord, the king (see Rom. 1:2-5, 16:25-26; Bates, Gospel Allegiance, p. 68-73). God’s purpose is to create a people for himself. After his enthronement as king, Jesus pours out the Spirit on a group, filling each individual. When each person initially enters salvation, she or he does not enter in isolation. The justified church always exists prior. As the Father and Son send the Spirit to the church, upon our declaration of allegiance (ordinarily at baptism) we are enveloped into the justified Spirit-filled community in such a way that we are justified and have the Spirit too. There is an objective/corporate dimension (the church exists as a justified community) and subjective/individual dimension (a person is not justified until they enter it).

Here’s another way to look at it. The classic theological distinction is between the historia salutis (God’s saving deeds in history) and the ordo salutis (the sequence by which an individual comes to experience salvation). Even though some versions of the ordo salutisare problematic (see Bates, Salvation by Allegiance Alone, p. 166-75 for discussion), nevertheless one can say that on the cross Jesus won justification objectively through his accomplished work as part of salvation history for whoever ultimately comes to be found “in him.” That can never change. The possibilityand promise that we can be justified by faith is part of the gospel in this sense. Yet an individual does not experience the saving benefit of justification until she or he gives trusting loyalty to Jesus as king. That is, subjective personal appropriation of salvation is not part of the gospel proper, but rather one of its applied benefits. An individual’s justification is part of the gospel as a potentiality, but not as a realized actuality.

4. Faulty method leads to a faulty frame and center. I don’t want to beat a dead horse, since McKnight has already taken Gilbert to task over this here and here (and in The King Jesus Gospel). The best method for defining the gospel is to look at the passages of Scripture that give explicit gospel content as well as the overall structure of the Four Gospels (e.g., Mark 1:14-15; Luke 4:18-19; Rom. 1:2-4, 1 Cor. 15:3-5; 2 Tim. 2:8; the sermons in Acts). This is what I do in Gospel Allegiance. When we do this, we find that it is a narrative about how Jesus became the saving king.

The gospel is that Jesus the king:

1. preexisted as God the Son,

2. was sent by the Father,

3. took on human flesh in fulfillment of God’s promises to David,

4. died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures,

5. was buried,

6. was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures,

7. appeared to many witnesses,

8. is enthroned at the right hand of God as the ruling Christ,

9. has sent the Holy Spirit to his people to effect his rule, and

10. will come again as final judge to rule.

(Bates, Gospel Allegiance, p. 86-87)

This narrative has a climax rather than a center: Jesus has become the saving king.

Read more at … https://www.christianitytoday.com/scot-mcknight/2020/april/why-t4gtgc-leaders-must-fix-their-gospel.html

THEOLOGY & Book of Revelation: What Most Evangelicals Entirely Miss #ScotMcKnight

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: I studied under George Elton Ladd at Fuller Theological Seminary NT theology and the book of Revelation. And, I found Revelation to be extremely helpful and insightful … if you take time to dig into it. Several authors since the time of Ladd have analyzed it with his same level of validity and reliability. Here is Scot McKnight discussing several who embrace that same level of Ladd’s systematic theology when analyzing the book of Revelation.

Book of Revelation: What most evangelicals entirely miss” by Scot McKnight, Pathos, 10/28/18.

…A good book on how theologians and others in the history of the church have read Revelation is called The Book of Revelation and is by Timothy Beal, and it’s a good and easy read.

But what most evangelicals (of this kind of reading) entirely miss is what Craig Koester, in Revelation and the End of All Things, sketches with utter clarity. (Check out also Ian Paul, Revelation.)

What’s that? Revelation is about the reality of evil, the war with evil, and the defeat of evil, and the eradication of evil. Evangelicals have made this about gruesome end time scenarios filled with Who is Who? questions and answers and speculations (that inevitably prove to be wrong — no the Antichrist is not Henry Kissinger, no Gog and Magog are not communist Russia, no, no, and no). Wrapped up in those scenarios is a lurking “Sure glad I won’t be there because I’m a Christian and will be raptured,” which rapture isn’t even mentioned in Revelation.

No, 1000x No, that’s not what Revelation is about. Revelation is about the reality of evil, the war with evil, and the defeat of evil, and the eradication of evil. Craig Koester totally gets it.

Here’s the assumption that is where Revelation starts as a cosmic narrative:

A basic assumption is that God is the Creator of the world and the source of life (4:11; 10:6). Gods opponents are the destroyers of the earth (11:18).

The narrative focuses on evil and its defeat.

Revelation regards evil as a kind of cancer that has invaded God s world. Cancer cells are malignant, and as they grow, they destroy the healthy tissue around them. As the disease spreads, life is diminished as more healthy tissue is destroyed, and if the cancer is left unchecked, death will result. Accordingly, treating the disease means destroying the malignant cells that destroy life—and the goal is that life might thrive. This is the drama that unfolds on a cosmic scale in the last half of Revelation, where the Creator and his allies set out with the goal of “destroying those who destroy the earth” (11:18), so that the victory will be life for the world.

Evil has Agency.

The plotline traces the defeat of Satan, who is cast down from heaven to earth, and from earth to the abyss…

Read more at … http://www.patheos.com/blogs/jesuscreed/2018/10/29/book-of-revelation-what-most-evangelicals-entirely-miss/

THEOLOGY & #ScotMcKnight on the Book of Revelation’s Trumpets Of Terror

by Scot McKnight, Pathos, 10/24/18.

What about those trumpets of terror that unfold in Revelation 8-11?  For our posts on Revelation we are reading Craig Koester Revelation and the End of All Things and Ian Paul, Revelation.

I have reformatted Koester’s wonderful summary into separable points:

First, Context:

Seven trumpets are blown in succession, creating the third cycle of visions in Revelation. At the conclusion of the previous cycle, a graceful silence lingered in heavens chambers after the voices in the celestial chorus had sounded the “Amen” in their praises of God and the Lamb (7:12; 8:1). Rather than allowing readers to bask in quietude, however, John directs attention to seven angels, who are given seven trumpets, whose sound will break the stillness and signal an onslaught of new visions even more terrible than those that have gone before (8:2).

Big idea

This section plays a major role in showing how God s purposes are to be understood.

What if God responds with wrath?

The opening scene in which prayers rise from the altar (8:3-5) recalls how the martyrs under the altar had demanded to know how long God would delay in bringing justice against those who had shed their blood (6:9-11). The trumpet visions now reply to the prayers by implicitly raising a question: What if God responds to the prayers by sending wrath on the unrepentant world? What will that accomplish? Readers are shown the horror of pitiless wrath as disasters strike earth, sea, and sky, and demonic hordes of locusts and cavalry torment humanity amid clouds of fire, smoke, and sulfur (8:7-9:21).

Wrath accomplishes what?

Yet the wrath accomplishes nothing. The wicked simply persist in their refusal to repent (9:20-21). At this point readers might well expect the seventh trumpet to signal the arrival of God’s catastrophic judgment with earsplitting finality. But the last trumpet does not sound and the end does not come.

Read more at … http://www.patheos.com/blogs/jesuscreed/2018/10/24/the-book-of-revelations-trumpets-of-terror/

THEOLOGY & 5 Five observations and a summary definition of what Matthew (Jesus) meant by “hypocrisy.” #ScotMcKnight

by Scot McKnight, Pathos, 8/8/18.

…Hypocrisy is:

1. Inconsistency between what one teaches and what one does (23:3-4)

2. Desire for prestige and power and congratulation (23:5-12)

3. Abuse of teaching authority through both false teachings and false practices (23:13, 15, 16-22, 23-24, 25-26, 27-28).

4. Overconcern with minutiae and lack of focus on the major issues (23:23-24, 25-26, 27-28): that is, moral myopia.

5. Inconsistency between appearance and practice (23:27-28).

Put together, Jesus accuses the Pharisees for “hypocrisy” because (1) they had abused their teaching authority by teaching false things, (2) not living according to what they taught, and for (3) their desire for power and control. In addition, (4) their teaching was a focus on minor issues to the neglect of major issues.

They flattened the Torah into a listing of God’s will while Jesus saw love of God and love of others as the center of that Torah. If the Pharisees saw love as one of the commandments, however important, Jesus saw love as central and everything as expressive of that love. This reorients all of the Torah, all of teaching, and therefore all of praxis.

To be “hypocrite” is to be a false teacher who leads both self and others astray from the will of God. The term should not be limited to “contradiction between appearance and reality” (the classic definition of hypocrisy)…

Read more at … http://www.patheos.com/blogs/jesuscreed/2014/05/26/heretic-vs-hypocrite/

 

YOUTHFULNESS & Bonhoeffer’s quote examined by Scot McKnight regarding the lure of focusing on the youthful spirit rather than the Holy Spirit.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote in 1930 …

“Since the days of the youth movement [referring to the German Youth movement in the late 19th century] the church has been more obsessed with the youthful spirit than the Holy Spirit.”

What Happens to Church Ministry When…?

by Scot McKnight, Jesus Creed, 10/27/14.

What happens to ministry, then, when we turn the pastor from the giver and the audience as receivers into the pastor as a kind of mentor or guide for the congregation to discover God at work in their life as they really live it? This is the question Andrew Root thinks is at the heart of Bonhoeffer’s own ministry to youth (Bonhoeffer as Youth Worker).

This question transcends youth ministry. This question leads us from Sunday as performance to Sunday as worship; from the pastor as didactic performer to the pastor as, well, pastor and spiritual mentor. It leads us in some ways to the vision of Eugene Peterson.

To move on from where we were in our last post Bonhoeffer moved on from Barcelona back to Berlin to do his second dissertation (Act and Being) but his supervisor (Seeberg) kept DB from doing a study of child and youth, though he smuggled in some theology of youth at the end.

Off to Union he went and at Union in NYC he came in contact with Abyssinian Baptist church where he became a Sunday School teacher for youth, and is right here that Root sees Bonhoeffer’s great contribution to youth ministry as a theological turn in youth ministry. DB moved from the phraseological (which he saw throughout the American church, which was mostly NYC and Union), to the real. Here is how Root captures it, and it leads to this question: which of these expressions capture what we need to learn?

In youth ministry the theological turn is a turn into the real; it is the seeking divine action in and through the concrete and lived experience of young people. Bonhoeffer’s experiences in New York provide a great lesson for those us of seeking the theological turn in youth ministry today. It shows us the negative so that we might move into the constructive. We hear that the theological cannot become the phraseological and that we must take every step with our young people to avoid all loose phrases that are not bound in their experience of wrestling with God. To fall into the phraseological blinds us, as youth workers, from seeing the concrete humanity of young people and helping them see the humanity of others. “Youth ministry can so often overlook the reality of the suffering other, avoiding the challenges of reality in favor of safe programmatic language, settling for a drive toward religious socialization.”

The theological turn in youth ministry does not simply use the language of theology or religion. Rather, the theological turn in youth ministry seeks the living revelatory encounter with Jesus Christ (the real, as Bonhoeffer says). And Bonhoeffer’s New York experience not only gives us the negative, a warning to stay away from the phraseological, but also pushes us into the constructive and practical. Watching Bonhoeffer, we see how forms of art (like the [Negro] spiritual for him) capture the deep expressions of others’ concrete and lived experience. Bonhoeffer’s own youth ministry, which moved from the phraseological to the real, from the abstract to the concrete, from theology to the theological, involved inviting young people to reflect on art (deep expressions of pathos) as an introduction to young people themselves doing the theological, seeking God in the midst of their own deep questions and experiences.

Bonhoeffer was not trying to get young people to like art, to become fans of the spiritual, but was inviting them to step inside it as a concrete articulation of the human experience, to dwell in the experience for its corollaries to their own concrete and lived experience of Negroes, to seek the God who suffers the experience of exclusion. He wanted them to seek God’s act and being in and through Jesus Christ within the experience, to speak of the presence and absence of God within the concrete and lived as the way of doing the theological.

During his time in Harlem, youth ministry remained and even deepened as Bonhoeffer’s ministerial focus. But as such it also became more integrated. Bonhoeffer took his rich theological conceptions of sociality and Stellvertretung and pushed further into the concrete. The spiritual and Harlem helped move in this direction. Even his classes at Union, the classes he was reluctant to take when arriving, turned him to the practical. As a doctoral student in Berlin, Bonhoeffer had been drawn to practical theology courses, and at Union he found that such practical theological classes moved him into further reflection on youth work (85-86).

Read more at … http://www.patheos.com/blogs/jesuscreed/2014/10/27/what-happens-to-church-ministry-when/

KINGDOM & Scot McKnight: The 4 NT basics of the kingdom and when they do (and do not) relate to social work.

by Scot McKnight, “Secularizing Kingdom,” Pathos, 11/15/10.

… Sit down some afternoon — maybe today — and look up all the “kingdom” references in the New Testament and you will see the following major ideas:

First, kingdom refers to a redemptive society. Second, one must “enter” this redemptive kingdom society by repentance and faith and obedience to Jesus. Third, kingdom society and Jesus are so closely connected one has to say that there is no such thing as “kingdom” apart from relationship to Jesus. Fourth, no one uses the word “kingdom” in the NT for “social” justice that is not connected to kingdom people of Jesus or connected to the fellowship of his followers — the Church.

The best example of “kingdom” work in the entire Bible is Acts 2:42-47, and there the kingdom people, in the context of a local fellowship (church), were making the kingdom manifest. The place to begin with kingdom work is to take care of the society of Jesus’ followers.

But somehow this equation of “kingdom” with “social” work, especially as distinguished from “church” or “spiritual” or “evangelistic” work, is precisely what has happened in our culture. We have all kinds of people who want to do “kingdom” work but by that they mean “social” justice — and by that they mean helping the poor, building homes in Haiti, creating wells of water in Africa, ministering to AIDS victims in the world, showing support for Palestinians in the Middle East, or running for political office. These folks have done the unthinkable: they have secularized the kingdom of God.

Let me say this clearly: each of those activities is good and godly; each of those actions is noble and ennobling. But none of those actions are “kingdom” work unless they are done in the context of the redemptive society of Jesus, and that means more or less in connection with the Church of Jesus Christ, who is Messiah and Lord.

One could say such actions “extend” the kingdom society of Jesus to others; I’m fine with that. But the fundamental idea here is that if we want to talk “kingdom” let’s talk what Jesus actually says about kingdom…

Read more at … http://www.patheos.com/blogs/jesuscreed/2010/11/15/secularizing-kingdom/

WOMEN LEADERS & Women who were the point persons/leaders in many early house churches

“The Elect Lady” by Scot McKnight, Pathos, 9/21/17.

Not often observed in the conversation (ahem, debate) about women in ministry is 2 John, a letter addressed by John (according to traditional scholarship) to a woman who is the leader of a house church.

…Women were the point persons/leaders in many early house churches: Chloe (1 Cor 1:11), Lydia (Acts 16:40), mother of John Mark (Acts 12:12), Nympha (Col 4:15), Prisca and Aquila (Rom 16:3-5; 1 Cor 16:19), Philemon, Apphia, and Archippus (Philemon 1-2), and perhaps Stephana (1 Cor 16:15, 17) [from p. 3, from his wife Aida Besancon Spencer’s study].

Read more at http://www.patheos.com/blogs/jesuscreed/2014/09/18/that-elect-lady/#OBQt5oIiGz6dbf3Z.99

WOMEN LEADERS & Why the Elect Lady of John 1 is Probably a Church Leader

“The Elect Lady” by Scot McKnight, Pathos, 9/21/17.

Not often observed in the conversation (ahem, debate) about women in ministry is 2 John, a letter addressed by John (according to traditional scholarship) to a woman who is the leader of a house church. The whole text immediately follows so you can read it, with important expressions italicized (http://www.patheos.com/blogs/jesuscreed/2014/09/18/that-elect-lady/#OBQt5oIiGz6dbf3Z.99)

…Yes, in church history some have argued that the “elect lady” of 2 John is the church itself and not a female leader. But William David Spencer, in his final piece as editor of Priscilla Papers (28.3, 2014, pp. 1-4), has devoted some space to showing that in fact it is far more likely that the “elect lady” is the church leader of a house church.

1. 2 and 3 John are close enough that few question the same authorship, making parallels between the letters especially important.

2. Inasumch as 3 John’s address is Gaius, who is clearly the leader of that church, it follows that the “elect lady” of 2 John is most likely the same at “her” church. Some speculated her name was “Electa” or “Kuria” (from the Greek of 2 John 1).

3. The use of “children” in the Epistles of John refers to church members. The lady must be distinguished from the children and, therefore, the “lady” cannot be the church itself.

4. By calling them “your children” the “lady” functions as the pastor of those children, much as Gaius does in 3 John. To call the “lady” the church as a whole, then, fails at the simplest level of language.

5. Women were the point persons/leaders in many early house churches: Chloe (1 Cor 1:11), Lydia (Acts 16:40), mother of John Mark (Acts 12:12), Nympha (Col 4:15), Prisca and Aquila (Rom 16:3-5; 1 Cor 16:19), Philemon, Apphia, and Archippus (Philemon 1-2), and perhaps Stephana (1 Cor 16:15, 17) [from p. 3, from his wife Aida Besancon Spencer’s study].

Read more at http://www.patheos.com/blogs/jesuscreed/2014/09/18/that-elect-lady/#OBQt5oIiGz6dbf3Z.99

KINGDOM & McKnight + Stroope on “Why Do Christians Speak of ‘Mission’?”

by Scot McKnight, Pathos, 4/7/17.

Michael Stroope has a full scale analysis of the Christian usage of the term “mission” and terms associated with it, like “missionary” and now today the very happy, fuzzy term “missional.”

His study is called Transcending Mission... The big book has three essential points:

(1) to figure out why the Bible has so little use of the language of mission, and never does “mission” occur,  and then,

(2) to examine where we picked up this term “mission.” 

(3) His third point? Get rid of mission language and reframe our calling with kingdom language.

He contends the term enters the Christian vocabulary through pilgrimage traditions that soon become colonialism and imperialism and territorial conquests. He locates some of it in the Jesuits and esp in the 1910 Edinburgh Mission Conference.

Instead of mission language, Stroope proposes “kingdom” language. Ah, kingdom, but what does kingdom mean? (That’s what I’m asking as I’m reading him. I have my Kingdom Conspiracy in mind of course.)

Mission is contested language that requires continual promotion, defense, and revision, as this vocabulary is supplied language to the Christian tradition. When mission ascends to the status of sacred language, it can eclipse the kingdom and thus limit our view of Gods reign and muddle our ability to participate in his kingdom. The language of the reign of God, on the other hand, expresses an abiding theme throughout the Bible that culminates in the message of Jesus. When discovered and embraced, God’s reign forms us into pilgrim witnesses, who, though weak and afflicted, are liberated to live alongside and love those we encounter along the way. 358

He contends “kingdom” reorients us to be witnesses and pilgrims of the kingdom. His view of kingdom is largely that of GE Ladd with some NT Wright.

As language enters vocabulary, integrates with thought, and becomes the content of communication, it changes the way one sees God, it shapes identity, and it determines actions. Kingdom language prompts those who follow Christ to live as pilgrims who give witness to the coming reign of God. They are not called missionaries, and their life purpose is not named as mission. To supplant the structures of thought expressed in Scripture with the language of a modern tradition is to underestimate the power of God’s kingdom to change the world through witnesses and pilgrims. 376

Kingdom language is the better choice of language, because it is rooted in revelation, includes all types of believers, prioritizes formation of life, expands possibilities, underscores the place of the church, liberates from Christendom assumptions, and points to the Spirit’s work. 376

What of the church?

Kingdom language recognizes the place of the community of faith in the activity of God. Some view the church as the problem or an impediment, so they advocate a “kingdom orientation” rather than a “church orientation,” as if we must choose between the two. For sure, the church is not the kingdom of God, but the church, as the body of Christ, exists in the world to speak and embody kingdom values. As a community of people being transformed into the likeness of Christ, the church is able to witness to Christ’s teaching, life, and death. By the very fact that people surrender personal desires and their agenda to live alongside others, they offer a counterwitness to the pervasive individualism of modern life.

The themes of my Kingdom Conspiracy are God/Jesus as king, the king’s rule by way of redemption and governing, the people of Israel and the church who are the redeemed/governed people, the king’s instructions/law and the king’s location and sacred space. The above paragraph could have been expanded to see even more vitality to the relationship of kingdom and church and actually support most of what he is saying.

As for replacing “mission” with “kingdom”? I’m for far more stringent and rigorous biblical theology, which Stroope is doing. He’s right on the history of the term “mission” being something that has taken over, though some of what is meant by “mission” surely is involved in “kingdom” so that I’m not sure I’d make as big a difference. However, he’s right when speaks to the framing issue: which term we use matters immensely, and kingdom is the term to use.

Read more at … http://www.patheos.com/blogs/jesuscreed/2017/04/07/christians-speak-mission/

BRIDGES & Not Walls

by Scot McKnight, Pathos, 11/15/16.

Bridges not walls. I am convinced that, as Christians, we are called to build bridges not walls. This doesn’t mean a wishy-washy lack of conviction, but an approach that sees the others as human beings created in the image of God – often as brothers and sisters. I fail in my calling as a Christian and a scientist if I fan the flames of conflict rather than seek to lead people into understanding. I also fail if I allow wall-building to pass unchallenged… (Gal. 5:13-26, 6:7-10) …

We tend to put a lot of emphasis on acts of the flesh such as sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft … drunkenness, orgies, and the like, often skipping over the central part of the list. But this is the part that is hindering our witness today … hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy. I have not heard anyone among my non-Christian colleagues accuse Christians of debauchery and drunkenness; the most common complaints come from the middle group: hatred, discord, selfish ambition and the like. The impression is not of a people shaped by love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control or of a people who are marked as those who do good to all people.

Far too often we invite people to come behind our wall rather than building bridges that heal.

Elsewhere Paul writes “Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” (Romans 12:17-18)…

Read more at … http://www.patheos.com/blogs/jesuscreed/2016/11/15/bridges-or-walls-rjs/

THEOLOGY & Scot McKnight on Ecclesiaphobia

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: “In my research into emerging and fresh expressions of the church in both North America and England, I have witnessed what Scot McKnight calls ecclesiaphobia. Here is a good introduction to the concept, along with some important concerns.”

by: Scot McKnight, 7/6/15.

In a few of his many writings Roger Scruton wags his finger at the deconstructionists, and he’s concerned especially with Foucault and Rorty and in some measure Derrida. He calls the concern oikophobia. (See his A Political Philosophy or The Need for Nations.) Oikophobia is a Greek term, composed of house/household and fear, and the term is thus used to describe rejection of all things local and home-ish, that is, that which is Western, traditional, the supposed hegemony of bourgeois culture, and what amounts to a Western sense of economy.

To one degree or another the oikophobes become anarchists. Anarchy, by definition, is oikophobia.
Oikophobia, it can be said with utter candor, in the hands of some — I have my eye on a few authors and supposed leaders of the church who in one way or another believe God/Jesus has left the house — has become ecclesiaphobia, a fear of all things connected with the institutional, traditional church. In fact, both terms are suspect: institution and tradition. It must all be done away with, we — I now speak in their mindset — must start all over again, we gather our crowds of the discontented, and then we pretend (for that is all it is) that the institution and the tradition are dying so let’s join in what will be when it will be and we will be its true priests and prophets (most are males.

For sure, some ecclesiaphobes claim they love the church and that is why they are oikophobic ecclesiaphobes, but the fact is that they (1) love only the church constructed in their own mind of idealism and (2) snarl at most or all institutional or traditional forms of the church. Indeed, they are rejecting 99% of the church in the world. The hubris can be breathtaking.

First, we and they only got to the social tolerance and acceptability of their accusations on the basis of the oikos and the ecclesia as it existed in that traditional and institutional form.

Second, ecclesiaphobia operates structurally with a series of denials: it…
(1) nullifies the church is to operate on the basis of the Biblical tradition of Wisdom, made manifest in Christ and in the history of the church through an ongoing accumulation of theology-in-praxis that becomes both the resource and the guide to present and future decisions,
(2) diminishes Scripture as the origin for all theological reflection,
(3) quenches the Pneuma of God (God’s Spirit) over time — that God’s Spirit has been at work in the entire history of the church — as a fund of wisdom and divine guidance or discernment,
(4) minimizes tradition as another fund of theology-in-praxis-over-time and thinks instead starting anew will become a better tomorrow, and
(5) it fundamentally veers in its arrogance from the judgment of the universal, catholic church in the world and believes itself either as the vanguard of where the church ought to be or as so wise that it need not listen to the wisdom of the church universal.

To sum this up, the ecclesiaphobe has denied the sacredness of the church, or put differently, the sacredness of the history of the church. The enviornment of the ecclesiaphobe is de-sacralizing of the past. What gives them energy is belief about the future church.

Read more at … http://www.patheos.com/blogs/jesuscreed/2015/07/06/ecclesiaphobia/

WOMEN LEADERS & Rethinking One of Paul’s Passages about Women #ScotMcKnight

by Scot McKnight, 6/12/15.

Lucy Peppiatt WTCThere are at least five reasons why we ought to reconsider the traditional (women ought to show submission to men in church gatherings) reading of 1 Corinthians 11:2-16, and these are Lucy Peppiatt’s five:

  1. The “spectacular array of contradictory commentary” on these verses should at least make us think we have not yet found a reasonable solution.
  2. The rhetorical readings of the passage, readings that genuinely resolve the tensions in the passage and with big themes in Paul’s letters, have not been refuted. They’ve most been ignored. Here she refers to Thomas Shoemaker, Alan Padgett, and Jose Vadakkedom.
  3. The historical reconstructions of what was at work behind the women wearing veils theory are far from convincing. Which, she asks in a telling way, is more credible? Women acting totally out of line and out of character or males emerging out of a misogynist culture acting misogynistically in church settings?
  4. The whole shame and honor “respect” Paul — according to traditional readings — wants to keep in tact goes against Paul’s constant rebutting of acting in a ways that bring honor. Put differently, asking Paul here to be pushing the honor categories of the Roman world asks Paul to act against his own teaching.
  5. Paul’s big theme of radical equality in Christ (Gal 3:28; Col 3:11) is mocked by radical inequality if the traditional reading of 1 Cor 11:2-16 is right.

Lucy Peppiatt, in Women and Worship at Corinth, is right on each of these tension points. The passage has not been explained adequately by those who think each of the words in our passage stems from Paul and expresses Paul’s own theology.

The problem at Corinth is a lack of unity in the gatherings. Oneness in Christ needs to be seen in concrete social settings. How they are behaving when it comes to worship, the Lord’s Supper and spiritual gifts mock their unity. The problems in these areas — note this term — is domination by those with more social cache. (This is my term, not Lucy’s.) So, and this is my reflection, one has to wonder if that same kind of domination is not being expressed in 1 Cor 11:2-16. (At least I do.) Paul’s “in Christ” theology, again, is radical and he knows it; we cannot expect him to undo it in 1 Corinthians 11:2-16 by asking the Corinthians to act like the Roman culture all over again. New creation had been unleashed “in Christ” and it was to have radical implications at the social level of fellowship; it was not to be overturned out of respect to the Roman way of life.

Now to our passage: in short, the problems arise because we want to think 1 Cor 11:2-10 and 11:11-16 are expressing the same theology. A rhetorical reading, one that would have been “performed” well by the lector of this letter (see my post from yesterday), suggests these two sections do not cohere theology but conflict with one another because one is Paul’s response to the other.

Peppiatt, along with Shoemaker, Padget and Vadakkedom, proposes then that Paul interweaves words and views of the Corinthian male dominant crowd (found in the letter from Chloe) with his own responses. Thus, the passage would have been “heard” as Paul’s argument against head coverings, head coverings proposed by males who wanted females to be in submission in the public assembly.

Here is the scenario at work in the community of Christians at Corinth, and here she adapts Ben Witherington III’s scenario:

  1. Partisanship centered on particular Christian teachers.
  2. Cultural values of the wealthy that could lead to lawsuits.
  3. Unequal treatment of the lower status folks at the Lord’s table and dining in pagan temples.
  4. Hubris with respect to spiritual gifts.
  5. Disagreements about sexual conduct — inside and outside marriage.
  6. Disagreements on eschatology, esp the resurrection, and over reigning and glory.

Both Witherington and Peppiatt think — and #1 makes this clear — this is about some dominant males. The problem was well-to-do Gentile males. Bruce Winter, too, thinks there is a pervading masculine culture of dominance at work in Corinth (After Paul).

Peppiatt: Corinth was being dominated by some articulate, gifted males and they implemented some oppressive practices that was unraveling the freedom Paul’s gospel created. They wanted to display their glory, honor and authority on their heads (short hair, bald, etc) and wanted women to reflect their honor by what they wore on their heads. The males, in other words, were worldly in allowing the Roman culture of honor and shame to shape what worship looked like. This, she contends, is superior in explanation than the wild women theory.

Read more at … http://www.patheos.com/blogs/jesuscreed/2015/06/12/rethinking-one-of-pauls-passages-about-women/

PREACHING & Why/How Paul’s Letters Were Performed by a Reader in Public #ScotMcKnight

by: Scot McKnight, 6/11/15.

Screen Shot 2015-06-07 at 5.37.27 AMIn a previous post I observed that Paul’s letters were not read by individuals but performed by a reader (or lector). The lector didn’t read a letter of Paul cold on the spot but instead would have been given instructions (by Paul and his co-workers). In fact, it would not have been unusual for the lectors to have prepared and performed the letter in advance — or a number of times, perhaps rehearsing the letter’s performance a few times. None of this, of course, is discussed by Paul in his letters but he does mention couriers and reading (e.g., Rom 16; Col 4).

Though this helps explain Lucy Peppiatt’s theory about 1 Corinthians 11:2-16, the post today is about performance in the world of Paul and is based on the excellent sketch of memorized speech-making by William D. Shiell, in a book called Delivering from Memory: The Effect of Performance on the Early Christian Audience (Eugene: Pickwick, 2011). Shiell is the senior pastor at First Baptist Church Tallahassee. His work is rooted in the excellent work on rhetoric by George A. Kennedy.

Some are calling this “performance criticism,” and perhaps America’s best-known expert is David Rhoads. The facts/details about performance are based on ancient rhetorical handbooks. I don’t know anyone who thinks Paul was trained as a rhetor or a lector, but the reality is that most in the Roman and Jewish worlds would have experienced trained rhetors on a common basis — the public square. Thus, those who “read” Paul’s letters aloud would have “performed” them on the basis of experiencing other lectors/rhetors. None of this stretches evidence and is therefore valuable for learning to “hear” Paul’s letters as they were meant to be heard for he wrote them to be read in the congregation’s public gatherings (Col 4:16).

To quote Shiell, “In Hellenistic Jewish and Greco-Roman audiences, the performer and the audience were shaped together by the recitation [or reading], retention, and response to the performance” (7). Furthermore, “Prior to performance, the reader practices, remembers, retains, and paraphrases the reading” (8). [Is it possible that what we now know as text-critical variants began at the original performance?]

Here are some clear texts about public reading of letters: Acts 15:31; 1 Thess 5:27; Col 4:16; Luke 4:17-20; 1 Tim 4:13-16.

On performance, notice these texts: Acts 12:17; 13:16; 19:33; 21:40; 23:1, 6; 24:10; 26:1.

On audiences, here: Acts 2:37; 19:28; 26:24; 2 Tim 3:16…

Read more at … http://www.patheos.com/blogs/jesuscreed/2015/06/11/performing-a-pauline-letter/

GREAT AWAKENING & America’s Greatest Evangelist? Whitefield (w/ Thomas Kidd)

by: Scot McKnight, 4/18/15.

Thomas Kidd is Professor of History at Baylor University. Kidd is the author or editor of many works in the field of early American history. His latest book, George Whitefield: America’s Spiritual Founding Father framed this interview.

The interview was conducted by David George Moore. Dave blogs at www.twocities.org.

…Moore: I recently asked Fred Sanders a question about Wesley and Whitefield’s views on slavery. I would like to ask you about this as well.

Why was Wesley so opposed to slavery while Whitefield we could characterize at least as fairly “pragmatic” on the issue? They were contemporaries, so it can’t be due to a difference of the times they lived in, so what was it?

Kidd: Yes, unfortunately Whitefield both owned slaves and was an important player in having slavery introduced in colonial Georgia, where it was initially banned. To understand the contrast with Wesley, I think chronology and place matter a great deal. First, neither Wesley nor John Newton (the former slave trader of “Amazing Grace” fame) denounced slavery in print until after Whitefield’s passing in 1770.

Second, Whitefield was deeply influenced by the social and economic realities of life in Colonial America in a way that Wesley was not. Whitefield had notions that you could pair economically robust colonies (which, to him and most whites, seemed to requite slaves in the South) with active evangelism of slaves. His greatest social experiment along these lines came at his Bethesda Orphanage in Savannah, where he envisioned providing for many orphans through nearby plantations worked by slaves, who would also be evangelized and possibly educated. It all seems terribly contradictory in retrospect, but Whitefield was very much a man of his time, in which most whites at least accepted the existence of slavery.

Moore: My wife has written on the marriages/ministries of Wesley, Whitefield, and Edwards. Wesley certainly had a troubled marriage and Edwards by all accounts had a stellar one. (Good Christians, Good Husbands?)

Whitefield seemed as consumed with ministry outside the home as Wesley, but his wife was much more understanding than Molly Wesley. I actually have several questions on this issue, but will limit it to this: Do you think itinerants like Whitefield should remain single?

Kidd: As a good Protestant, I don’t like prescribed celibacy, but I do think that from a modern perspective Wesley and Whitefield probably should have considered remaining single. Elizabeth Whitefield was an extraordinarily patient woman, which saved the Whitefields a great deal of trouble in their relationship. He told her that if she married him, he would almost never be at home, and he certainly fulfilled that promise…

Read the full interview at … http://www.patheos.com/blogs/jesuscreed/2015/04/18/americas-greatest-evangelist-whitefield-with-thomas-kidd/

FUTURE & Purgatory: One (Solitary?) Evangelical’s Affirmation #ScotMcKnight on #JerryWalls

by: Scot McKnight, 4:14/15.

Screen Shot 2015-03-07 at 10.58.49 AMJerry Walls is one of the few evangelicals by confession who also affirms purgatory. I don’t agree with Walls here, but after a full book on the topic, Walls reduces his argument to a single chapter in Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory. (Purgatory in the theory of Catholicism is only for Christians; it is not about a second chance; it is entirely for Christians and concerns their sanctification and/or satisfaction.)

How do you respond to this: The only difference between an affirmation and a denial of purgatory is that the former thinks the Christian not only needs entire sanctification but will be conscious and participatory in the process while for the traditional Protestant (denier of affirmation) entire sanctification occurs instantaneously (at death, at resurrection) and is entirely an act of God (and God’s grace).

Some Protestants are not bothered; others are deeply offended. E.g., John Calvin …

Read more at … http://www.patheos.com/blogs/jesuscreed/2015/04/14/purgatory-one-mostly-solitary-evangelicals-affirmation/

CHURCH & Three Terms for “Church” Today #ScotMcKnight

by: Scot McKnight, 3/23/15

Allow me to use three Greek terms to describe how church is not only understand but practiced today. If you observe the practice you can describe the understanding behind it. Each is an expectation that can be met by participating in that expectation. I offer today some thoughts about three models of church at work in our minds and our practices, and send you to A Fellowship of Differents for an exposition of the third sense.

Leitourgia

That is, church is worship service. The Germans calls this Gottesdienst, and many Americans when they say “church” mean “going to a church building on Sunday morning for a worship and sermon service.

Some leitourgia models focus on worship order (the liturgical, lectionary model, eucharist-focused) while others focus on the sermon.

No matter what is believed, for many “church” means the leitourgia. It means what happens when Christians gather on Sunday morning to sing, read Scripture, hear a sermon, and for some participate in eucharist…

Ekklesia

That is, church is gathering together on Sunday morning. The central idea here is not just worship but gathering together. The word “church” comes from the Greek term ekklesia, which some think derives from the idea of being called out, but it means more those who are gathered into assembly. The term refers to the gathering of citizens in a Greek polis to discuss and govern the polis.

For some in this camp of thinking, “church” is about separation from the world (called out from the world) while for others it refers to gathering for a variety of reasons, not least worship and sermons and Sunday School and Bible study. So this term grabs the first term but becomes more expansive of why Christians gather…

Both of the above terms work for the church because they speak of very important elements of what it means to be “church.” But they each need to be bolted into a unit by grabbing the next term, the term I think is perhaps the most expansive term used for the church in the NT. Some may prefer to focus “church” on the term ekklesia and fill it in with the both leitourgia and koinonia. I prefer to see the expansive-ness of koinonia as the best term. Whether you agree or not, we need all three ideas.

Ekklesia Christian living also tends to focus on Sunday gatherings though it often breaks through into fellowship.

Koinonia

That is, church is a group of people who live with one another through the power of the Spirit under the sign of King Jesus. The central idea is that it is a fellowship of people, who know and love one another and who seek to grow into Christlikeness both personally and corporately with one another, who know and care about one another’s children — to nurture them as they can alongside parents. They also share life’s ordinaries with one another: food and table and wisdom and cars and time and dinners and even holidays.

This idea leads us to see the church as a micro-society inside a larger society (our communities, our cities, our states, our nation). As a society it looks after one another holistically. As koinonia, it must gather; as a Christian koinonia, it must worship; but as a koinonia it knows the others as ones with whom one journeys in this life.

This idea leads us to see the church as a family. The most common word Paul uses for the people of the church is “brothers [and sisters].” That tells a story — the church is a fictive kinship, a new family.

Koinonia churches care more about diversity because they care about one another more than most models of the church. Furthermore, because church is seen here as a koinonia this kind of thinking presses us into crossing borders and boundaries into greater diversity and a deeper embrace of differents…

Read more at … http://www.patheos.com/blogs/jesuscreed/2015/03/23/three-terms-for-church-today/

ANGLICANISM & What is Anglicanism? J.I. Packer & #ScotMcKnight Speak

by: Scot McKnight, 5/23/15.

Recently Michael Jensen, at TGC’s site, had a post about the nature of Anglicanism that focused quite rigorously on a conservative version of Reformed soteriology, and you can read his emphases at the link. I countered a bit by suggesting it was creedal to the core. But now another heavyweight, J.I. Packer, has weighed in on the nature of Anglicanism. And their perspectives, while they might agree on lots and lots theologically, reveal that Anglicanism can be approached from a number of angles. I have put in bold the operative emphases of Packer…

Read more at … http://www.patheos.com/blogs/jesuscreed/2015/03/23/what-is-anglicanism-j-i-packer-speaks/

WOMEN LEADERS & The Gospel Coalition, Women, and a Response by Scot McKnight+

by Scot McKnight, 2/2/15

TGC chose to republish a video with D.A. Carson, Tim Keller and John Piper about their beliefs about the roles of women and courage to hold true to the Bible and critique of the lack of courage on the part of those who don’t hold those views. That seems a fair description.

Because they reposted their video I thought it would be good to repost Krish Kandiah’s original response to that video. Before we get to his response I want to make an observation or two about this so-called “courage.”

Courage is determined by one’s social group. It takes no courage at Northern Seminary to affirm women in ministry while it might take more than a little courage in some TGC churches or conferences to stand publicly for women as senior pastors and pulpit preachers. To say it again, it takes no courage in TGC settings to stand against women in ministry while it would take some courage to stand up in a class at Northern and oppose women pastors.

Thus, for the folks in this video to posture themselves as courageous is to say they are in a safe tribe that will support their views. It takes no courage for them to say folks in other settings don’t have their courage.

Put differently, the claim of courage is little more than patting one another on the back. [Now to Krish Kandiah’s piece.]

Read more at … http://www.patheos.com/blogs/jesuscreed/2015/02/02/tgc-women-and-krish-kandiah

THEOLOGY & Scot McKnight on Thomas Oden’s “A Change of Heart”

By Carl Trueman, Jan. 28, 2015, Postcards From Palookaville

As readers will know, this week MoS is focusing on Thomas Oden’s autobiography, A Change of Heart. As I have reviewed it for the January edition of First Things, I asked Scot McKnight, as a friend and representative of another stream of evangelical life, to offer his thoughts on the volume, an invitation he kindly accepted. To coincide with today’s podcast on the book, I post Scot’s review here, replete with quotations which give the reader a real taste of the book as a whole.

Thomas C. Oden, A Change of Heart: A Personal and Theological Memoir (Downers Grove: IVP, 2014). 382 pp. with index.

The tension in Thomas C. Oden’s memoir, tension between a socialist-absorbing and avant garde theology and established reputation among America’s academic elites and (his now well-known) paleo-orthodoxy and refusal to say anything new in theology and disestablishment in the same academic community mirrors the history of the American church in the 20th Century. One might sketch that history with varying trajectories – from orthodox evangelicalism into liberalism in all its forms is a stereotyped story of a slide – but Oden’s story turns that story around for he moved against the grain into a robust embrace of orthodox Christianity.

I first became aware of Oden in the mid-90s when I read both After Modernity … What? (1992) and Requiem: A Lament in Three Movements (1995). Oden tells his story of participation in the two ends of America’s theological spectrum with candor, humility – confessions about his own culpability for his previous beliefs and teachings and wishes that he had been more firm in rearing his children – and restraint, but nonetheless a baring of his soul:

My past visions of vast plans for social change had irreparably harmed many innocents, especially the unborn. The sexually permissive lifestyle, which I had not joined but failed to critique, led to a generation of fatherless children. The political policies I had promoted were intended to increase justice by political means but ended in diminishing personal responsibility and freedom. Many of the seemingly humane psychological therapies I had supported may have made people more miserable, less able to choose wisely or to seek the virtues required for happiness (145).

Read more at … http://www.mortificationofspin.org/mos/postcards-from-palookaville/a-guest-review-mcknight-on-oden#.VM–F3Yhz88

ANGLICANISM & One More Thing about Anglicanism #ScotMcKnight

by Scot McKnight, 1/19/15.

Michael Jensen, at The Gospel Coalition, briefly sketched nine things he wants people to know about the Anglican Church. I have clipped only his bold-faced points and you can read his short explanations at the link above but then I want to add one more point, something he did not mention that puts it all into a slightly different — broader — context and one I’m sure he’d affirm:

1. Since the arrival of Christianity in Britain in the 3rd century, British Christianity has had a distinct flavor and independence of spirit, and was frequently in tension with Roman Catholicism.

2. The break with Rome in the 16th century had political causes, but also saw the emergence of an evangelical theology.

3. Anglicanism is Reformed.

4. Scripture is the supreme authority in Anglicanism.

5. Justification by faith alone is at the heart of Anglican soteriology.

6. In Anglican thought, the sacraments are “effectual signs” received by faith.

7. The Anglican liturgy—best encapsulated in the 1662 Book of Common Prayer—is designed to soak the congregation in the Scriptures, and to remind them of the priority of grace in the Christian life.

8. Anglicanism is a missionary faith, and has sponsored global missions since the 18th century.

9. Global Anglicanism is more African and Asian than it is English and American.

This listing by Jensen seeks to assure folks that Anglicanism is kosher for conservative evangelicals, which it can be and should be (and sometimes quite frankly isn’t) and is not restricted to them, but I’d like to go behind these to what is even more primary …

– See more at: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/jesuscreed/2015/01/19/one-more-thing-about-anglicanism/#sthash.RHSSNUNk.dpuf