What Jesus Thinks of (some) Pastors and Church Leaders

The operative words here are status and honor, chased behind by the words power and authority, chased behind by theological discussions about the importance of leadership and pastoral authority. The problem, very quickly, is what Jesus thinks of (some) pastors and church leaders (including seminary professors!). He thinks they have gotten things upside down. A [Read More...]

NT Wright: Paul, Israel and the Church

NT Wright’s new study on Paul, Paul and the Faithfulness of God, argues two central themes: that monotheism, election of Israel, and eschatology have been fulfilled in Christ and the Spirit, and that this fulfillment is entirely within the scope of Israel’s Story — it is not “replacement” but “fulfillment.” He knows classical Protestant theologians think [Read More...]

When Leaders Demand Honor

As we described in a previous post (Putting People in their Place), the Roman world was a world shaped by the “honors race,” or the quest for honor and status. What happens when the gospel invades the honors race? What happens, more particularly, when the apostle Paul encounters the Roman honors race with a gospel [Read More...]

Putting People in their Places

Humans look at others and assign the others a social location. Not all humans do this because there are some who like to think they don’t assign others. We may strive not to assign others but those who are successful are few indeed. The Romans did not even try; in fact, status and honor and [Read More...]

NT Wright, Paul and How to Live the Christian Life

The issue is eschatology, and eschatology for Paul begins with the resurrection of Jesus, and that means new creation has been unleashed while there is yet more to come (N.T. Wright, in Paul and the Faithfulness of God). The Christian life is about learning in the “meantime” in the power of the Spirit through Christ. For [Read More...]

Eschatology Begins Here

Where does eschatology, the belief in the future, begin for the Christian? for Paul? Right here: If Jesus of Nazareth had been raised from the dead, then it meant either that the whole cosmos had gone completely mad or that ‘the resurrection’ had come forward into the present, in just this one case, with Jesus [Read More...]

What did Paul Do to Jewish Eschatology?

Maybe we should begin where NT Wright begins in his Paul and the Faithfulness of God — with how different Jewish hope was from Greek and Roman (no) hope: The verdict ‘without hope’ might at first seem harsh. Did not many hope for a blissful life beyond the grave, whether in the Elysian fields, conversing with fellow-philosophers, or at least [Read More...]

NT Wright and Justification as Re-Worked Election

The issue for NT Wright in his Paul and the Faithfulness of God is how Paul reworked and revised the Jewish doctrine of election, and to do so in a way that preserves God’s covenant with Israel and expands enough to include how Paul expands the people of God on the basis of faith in Christ. [Read More...]

Justification Re-Imagined (NT Wright)

For NT Wright the whole “Paul project” is to learn to see Paul as carrying Israel’s Story but seeing that Story being reworked, revised and reimagined in Christ and in the Spirit … and hence, too, what is meant by justification. There are some debates amongst evangelicals today — like is justification before union or [Read More...]

Salvation Re-Imagined through the Spirit (NT Wright)

One of the more (I predict) focused-upon sections in NT Wright’s Paul and the Faithfulness of God will be what he says about salvation, but he draws a set of narrowing circles: first we must think election, then salvation, and only then justification. All reworked “in Christ” and “in the Spirit” (which Wright always writes “spirit”). [Read More...]