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The Revolution 1: Why the cross?

A vitally important scandal: Why the cross?First post summarising N.T. Wright, 2016. The day the revolution began: Reconsidering the meaning of Jesus’ crucifixion. London: SPCK.The previous (introductory) post on Tom Wright's book is here.
The day the revolution began has four parts, and this post attempts to summarise Part One.Some will find Tom Wright’s central presupposition controversial. It is that the church has never sorted out what was accomplished by the cross. To do this, he says, that we need to get inside the mindset of the earliest Christians and to understand how they saw the cross.What happened on the cross?Over the centuries, the cross has acquired a patina of respectability. People wear its image around their necks, yet this is tantamount to wearing the hangman’s rope, or worse. The Roman world in which Jesus was crucified was totally brutal, and within it, as ancient writers attest,[1] crucifixion was the extreme of brutality, used to show subject peoples who was …

The Revolution 0: A personal introduction to Tom Wright's The day the revolution began

What did Jesus accomplish on the cross? A personal introduction to Tom Wright's The day the revolution began.N.T. Wright, 2016. The day the revolution began: Reconsidering the meaning of Jesus' crucifixion. London: SPCK. (Available also as an ebook)I read N.T. (Tom) Wright's 2016 book The day the revolution began shortly after its publication, then realised I hadn’t quite grasped what Wright was saying, so early this year I read it again, making notes in the hope that this would bring me closer to the book’s message. I offer my notes here as a series of blog posts (eight, not including this one) in case they might help someone else. The book is probably the most thought-provoking piece of Christian theology I have ever read—certainly the most significant piece of middlebrow theology.[1] I know that this assessment will make some with more theological training than me throw up their hands in despair: see the conclusions of Derek Rishmawy's[2] and Dane Ortlund's revi…

Genetics, Genesis and a philosophical gap

Dennis R, Venema & Scot McKnight, 2017. Adam and the genome: Reading scripture after genetic science. Grand Rapids MI: Brazos Press.I’ve just read Adam and the genome. A Google search shows that it has stirred up much dust in the USA, and there are extensive reviews of it (e.g. here and here) and blog series that summarise it (start here and here), and an attack here, so I shall neither summarise nor review it, but simply make a few comments.The relationship between science and Christian faith as it affects the reading of Genesis 1–3 to evoke a great deal of passion in the USA. Christians in the UK and Australia are in the main much less concerned about the issue—in my view rightly so, as the Christian gospel doesn’t depend on one’s interpretation of the opening chapters of Genesis (I know not everyone would agree—a bit more on this below). I read the book not out of passion but out of curiosity, partly because I had read in several places that Venema’s exposition of molecular ge…

The pursuing God, summary (Part 3)

This is the last of three posts about Joshua Ryan Butler’s The pursuing God: A reckless, irrational, obsessed love that’s dying to bring us home (Nashville: W Publishing, 2016). It summarises Part Three, ‘Rising up from the waters: Resurrection.’ The second post is here.The TrinityThe Trinity is a communion of love (Chs 25–27).[1] The Spirit moves through the universe, sustaining everything. The Son unites divinity and humanity, reconciling heaven and earth and is King of earth. The Father is in a sense defined by that title, as without a Son he would not be Father. But God is ultimately beyond description, filling the universe through the Son and the Spirit. The three are not in competition. The main theme of Jesus’ longest recorded prayer (in John 17) is that the Father and the Son seek to glorify each other and the Spirit brings glory to both (John 8:54; 14:13; 16:14).[2] Butler translates the early church’s term perichor─ôsis as ‘mutual indwelling’, make up of peri ‘around’ and cho…

The pursuing God, summary (Part 2)

This is the second of three posts about Joshua Ryan Butler’s The pursuing God: A reckless, irrational, obsessed love that’s dying to bring us home (Nashville: W Publishing, 2016) (The first post is here). It summarises Part Two, subtitled ‘Crucifixion’. Butler seeks to communicate something of what happened on the cross. The cross is the climax of God's pursuit (Ch 13). Traditionally, Christians have described it as Jesus receiving the punishment due to us, but this is sometimes referred to today as 'divine child abuse'. God is all-loving, goes the response, so he would never have taken his anger out on his son. For Butler this is a caricature of what happened on the cross because the child abuse metaphor sees Jesus as a victim. Not so: he was a willing agent (John 10:18)[1] who knew in advance what would happen (Mark 8:31, 9:12, Luke 9:22).[2],[3] Butler writes, ‘The cross is not happening to Jesus; Jesus is happening to the cross.’ He is motivated by love (Galatians 2:20…

The pursuing God, review and summary (Part 1)

This is the first of three posts about Joshua Ryan Butler’s The pursuing God: A reckless, irrational, obsessed love that’s dying to bring us home (Nashville: W Publishing, 2016). It consists of a brief review, followed by a summary of Part One.

The opening words of this book get straight to the point: ‘This is not a book about our pursuit of God; it’s about God’s pursuit of us.’ It’s quite a remarkable book. It is aimed (or so it seems) at a popular American audience, but it certainly does not have the superficiality of some popular Christian literature. Its subject matter is the basics of evangelical Christian theology, and Butler tackles certain folk simplifications of that theology, explaining what Christians traditionally believe and why. He does this with stories and illustrations rather than dry theological exposition, outlining the fundamentals of belief in some detail and with passion. He has a way with words, and he communicates theology in the language of 21st-century reader…