I’ve had several projects on my plate as of late. That’s why I haven’t had much time to post new material. Here are the latest links that I’ve found particularly useful over the past two weeks:
- I am afraid of this indisputable pro-choice argument– Matt Walsh
- Symbols of Christ in the Wilderness– Nick Batzig
- We Won’t Solve Biblical Literacy with Bible Trivia– Marc Cortez
- Is Tim Keller Weak on Wrath?– Tony Reinke
- K. Scott Oliphint speaks on Covenantal Apologetics at ETS
What I’ve been reading:
Description: In his recent book How Jesus Became God: The Exaltation of a Jewish Preacher From Galilee historian Bart Ehrman explores a claim that resides at the heart of the Christian faith— that Jesus of Nazareth was, and is, God. According to Ehrman, though, this is not what the earliest disciples believed, nor what Jesus claimed about himself. The first response book to this latest challenge to Christianity from Ehrman, How God Became Jesus features the work of five internationally recognized biblical scholars. While subjecting his claims to critical scrutiny, they offer a better, historically informed account of why the Galilean preacher from Nazareth came to be hailed as ‘the Lord Jesus Christ.’ Namely, they contend, the exalted place of Jesus in belief and worship is clearly evident in the earliest Christian sources, shortly following his death, and was not simply the invention of the church centuries later. (From the back cover)
Here are this weeks noteworthy articles and blogs:
- Twelve good arguments atheists advance against Christianity– Peter Saunders
- John Piper Interviews Jerry Bridges (Video)
- The Lost Art of Apologetics– K. Scott Oliphint
- The Eternal, Inextricable Link– K. Scott Oliphint
- Chapter Outlines and Summaries on Greg Beale’s “A New Testament Biblical Theology”
- Law and Les Miserables, Revisited– Matthew Lee Anderson
- Grace, Law, and the Gospel of Grace according to Les Miserable– Michael. F. Bird
- 12 Primary Ways the New Testament Uses the Old Testament– Andy Naselli
- What is God’s Global Urban Mission?- Tim Keller (below)
Here are some of my favorite links over the past 2 weeks:
- When is a Gospel not a Gospel?– Michael F. Bird
- Five Presentation Mistakes Everyone Makes
- Hermeneutic Humility– Tony Reinke. Here Reinke quotes one of my favorite passages from Jonathan Pennington’s latest book Reading the Gospels Wisely.
- Like a Blind Man Trying to Understand Color– Justin Taylor
- Top 12 Books of 2012- Tony Reinke
- An Interview with Bruce Ware on the Humanity of Christ– Justin Taylor (above)
The gospel is an explosive announcement that the despised and rejected one is now installed in a place of authority and deserves the acclaim normally reserved only for the greatest of worldly kings, for the highest gods of the pantheon , and even for the covenant God, Yahweh put. In other words, Jesus is King and reigns over all.
But merely stating that Jesus is King is an insufficient representation of the gospel if we do not point out how he has shown his kingly power in giving himself up for our sins and being raised by God for our acquittal. The gospel is a royal announcement that God has become king in Jesus Christ and has expressed his saving sovereignty through the death and resurrection of the Son, which atones, justifies and reconciles. There is no gospel without the heralding of the king, and there is no gospel without atonement and resurrection.
-Michael F. Bird, Introducing Paul: The Man, His Mission and His Message
At cliché as it sounds, looks like the gospel really is about Jesus as Lord and Savior.
Some have made the claim that the apostle Paul wasn’t interested in the ‘historical’ Jesus. As far as they are concerned, Paul was more interested in the ‘theological’ Christ of his redemptive narrative. Regularly referenced to support this claim are Paul’s own words in 2 Corinthians 5:16:
From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer.
This of course potentially is a huge blow for Christians who root their faith in real history. After all, part of the common Christian confession is (according to The Apostles’ Creed) Jesus the Messiah “suffered under Pontius Pilate.” That places the significance of Jesus’s life and ministry within a particular geographical and historical setting.
In his Are You the One Who is To Come? The Historical Jesus and the Messianic Question, Michael F. Bird brilliantly summarizes the theme of messiahship in the Gospel of Mark.
Mark’s story of Jesus essentially unpacks the designation “Jesus Christ” from the incipit (1:1) so as to show that the Messiah who Christians confess is made known as
- The Son of God, who is beloved by the Father, commissioned for his messianic mission by reception of the Spirit, and exercising command over God’s enemies, be they demons or the armies of Rome.
- The Son of Man, who is authorized to speak for God, appointed to suffer and rise from the dead, and destined to judge the inhabited world.
- The Son of David, who heals the afflicted of Israel, is greater still than David himself and ushers in David’s coming kingdom.
- The King of the Jews, who in an ironic twist, at the end of his triumph, is enthroned as the King of Israel on the cross and there reveals the true power of his kingship by refusing to save himself.
In one sense this is a fairly radical reinterpretation of messiahship, but in another sense it is also an apology [defense] for Jesus as the Messiah. The crucifixion is not thrust upon Jesus as a pure accident of unfortunate events; rather, he deliberately embraces it as part of a larger redemptive purpose. Mark’s Gospel is fundamentally an apology [defense] for a crucified Messiah, something that was pertinent theologically, sociologically, and culturally for Christians in the Greco-Roman world. In other words, Mark’s Jesus is not the Messiah despite the cross, but precisely because of it.
-Michael F. Bird, Are You the One Who is To Come? The Historical Jesus and the Messianic Question, 145. Emphasis added.
I’m with Michael Bird on this one:
I’m not a big fan of bumper sticker theology: that is, sticking pithy theological slogans onto the bumper of the car. I particularly dislike the one ‘Christians are not perfect, just forgiven.’ While true at one level, it overlooks the crucial ingredient in the Christian life being the renewing power of God working in us through the Spirit. It might be better to write, Christians are not perfect, but God is at work in them through the vitalizing power of the Holy Spirit to transform these cracked jars of clay into glorious vessels of holiness, righteousness and goodness – if only bumper stickers word that big! In Paul’s writings, renewal is the process of transformation into the image of God that is realized through the operation of God’s glory and via the agency of the Spirit. The Spirit is continually at work in believers to make them less like themselves and more like God’s son.
Michael F. Bird, Introducing Paul: The Man, His Mission and His Message
Michael Bird paints a vivid picture of the two alternatives of idolatry:
A society that has rejected God will be driven to pursue power or pleasure, the fist or the phallus, Hitler or Heffner. That is not how the story supposed to go. The good news is that Paul can also say that everyone is invited to church: adulterers, homosexuals, warmongers, sex-addicts and sexual deviants of every kind. You may come as you are, but no one is allowed to stay that way. For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God and need to hear the good news of redemption and experience the transforming power of the Spirit to enable men and women to become the renewed humanity he always intended them to be (see Rom. 3:21-26; Col. 3:1-17).- Michael F. Bird, Introducing Paul, 156
What a depressing and frightening picture of sin! What a glorious gospel!
The argument of Romans 5:12 – 21 involves a synkrisis, or comparison between the two ‘types’ or figures, Adam and Christ. In Adam, we have a story of a world gone horribly wrong. As the one who was made to rule over creation is now subject to it, he forfeits his wonderful privileges of intimate fellowship with God. He suffers a severe loss of fortunes, loses divine favor, is exiled from paradise, and even his own being becomes disfigured and corrupted. The one created for immortality experiences the painful horror of death, and so do all of his offspring, as they share his guilt and new-found disposition towards evil. It is not blessings but sins that are multiplied to future generations, as humanity forgets and then forsakes God altogether and so recapitulate the story of Adam’s disobedience in their own persons. Death begets death. Sin dehumanized humanity, so that, despite possessing the divine image, they are little more than complex beasts, fighting and devouring one another.
But in Christ we have a story of a world put right, as Christ is faithful where Adam was faithless, and is obedient where Adam was disobedient. Through his act of righteous obedience, Jesus overturns the transgression of Adam and so is able to deliver and transform the fallen progeny of Adam. Christ creates in himself a new humanity, which, through the renewing power of the Spirit, is able to undo the effects of the fall and become the new Adamic race.