Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Liberalism has Started to Eat Itself: Jacob Williams on Free Speech

So this is an interesting discussion affecting Oxford University at the moment.

Here's one side of the story


And here's another.

What do you think?

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Bauckham on "Deliberate Hindsight"

"If God crucified introduces radical novelty into the identity of God, wherein lies the consistency of identity? The first point to make is . . . that Jewish monotheism did not characterize the uniqueness of God in such a way as to make the early Christian inclusion of Jesus in the unique identity of God inconceivable . . . However, this - so to speak - negative consistency was clearly not sufficient for the early Christians . . . they developed their fresh understanding of the Christological identity of God through creative exegesis of the Hebrew Scriptures . . . Precisely at points where they appreciate most fully the new identity of God in Jesus, they are engaged in exegesis, the process of bringing the texts of the Hebrew Scriptures and the history of Jesus into mutually interpretive interplay. We misunderstand this process if we see it as an attempt, by reading Christology back into the texts, to pretend that actually nothing at all was unexpected . . . With deliberate hindsight they understand the identity of the God of Israel afresh in the light of his new identity as the God of Jesus Christ."

Richard Bauckham, "God Crucified," Jesus and the God of Israel, 2008: pp53-54

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Scholarly Bunfight Brewing Over Peter

If you like a good scrap between Bible scholars (and I do!) you should get in at the start of emerging hostilities between Larry Hurtado and Robert Gundry. They are both top rank NT scholars (IMHO) but come from very different approaches.

Larry started it in this scathing review of Robert's latest book about the apostle Peter.
For readers of any persuasion, however, the thesis advanced in Gundry’s book will come as something of a shock. Gundry insists that, just like Judas Iscariot, the Peter of the Gospel of Matthew is presented in a very negative light as a total and final failure. Other scholars might hesitate to defend such a view, given that it appears that no one previously in the 1900 years of reading of Matthew has advocated it.
While Robert has riposted on Scot McKnight's blog with a equally scathing attack on Larry's review.
In every instance of my argument, observes Hurtado, I have “to urge an interpretation, an inference” (emphasis original) rather than something “explicit.” Is that observation an argument? It sure looks like one. For if not, Hurtado needn’t have made it. But if so, am I to understand that he and others don’t engage in interpretation and inference?
Hopefully this is only the beginning of an all out flame-war between the two of them and their acolytes! Keep it clean chaps, Marquis of Queensberry rules!

Beards, Beards, Beards.

While I have commented before on the theology of beards in the feeds last week there were two beard related articles worthy of mention.

One on the health benefits for all humanity

And one on the missional benefits for Anglican clergy in London

Let me know what you think.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Call for Posts and Free ANE Resources

Tim Bulkeley is looking for posts for this month's biblical studies carnival, drop him a line if you want to nominate a post.

Tim has also has a chapter in a new SBL publication, THE BOOK OF THE TWELVE AND THE NEW FORM CRITICISM, Mark J. Boda, Michael H. Floyd, and Colin M. Toffelmire (eds), which is, amazingly, available for free download! Not only that but they have a whole series of impressive tomes on the ANE available for free download.

SBL are to be commended for such a commitment to open source scholarship and genuine "publication."

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

A New (to me) Blog!

Just come across this blog through a friend's facebook feed, been very impressed with the range and quality of the writing.

It's called Thicket of the Jordan by one Esau McCauley, an African-American Anglican Pastor.

Among other things, he writes about being a Black Anglican,
Easter and the Lord of the Rings,
and Star Wars.

Check him out and enjoy.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Chicken Theology


This came through the post on Facebook, thanks to G.E. Cockrell (a coincidence? IDK). Some deeply insightful analysis here:




Why Did the Chicken Cross the Road? (Theological Version)

Rick Warren: The chicken was purpose driven.

Pelagius: Because the chicken was able to.

John Piper: God decreed the event to maximize his glory. OR . . . it was an act of Christian hedonism. The chicken realized that his greatest joy would only be found on the other side.

Irenaeus: The glory of God is the chicken fully alive.

C.S. Lewis: If a chicken finds itself with a desire that nothing on this side can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that it was created for the other side.

Billy Graham: The chicken was surrendering all.

Pluralist: The chicken took one of many equally valid roads.

Universalist: All chickens cross the road.

Martin Luther: The chicken was fleeing the Antichrist who had stolen the Gospel with his papist lies.

Tim LaHaye: The chicken didn’t want to be left behind.

James White: I reject chicken centered eisegesis.

John Wesley: The chicken’s heart was strangely warmed.

Rob Bell: The chicken. Crossed the road. To get. Cool glasses.

Joel Osteen: The chicken crossed the road to maximize his personal fulfillment so they he could be all that God created him to be.

Roger Olson: The chicken recognizes no clear evangelical boundries.

Driscoll: A [bleeping] chicken crossed the road to go get a beer.

Gary Demar: The chicken was fleeing the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70. That’s it.

Jim Wallis: The chicken is an organizer for Occupy Barnyard.

Emergent: For this chicken, its not the destination that’s important. Its the journey itself.

N.T. Wright: This act of the chicken, which would be unthinkable in British barnyards, reeks of that American individualism that is destructive to community.

Al Mohler: When a chicken begins to think theologically, he has no other alternative but to come over to the Calvinist side of the road.

Michael Horton: The chicken was forsaking the kingdom of this world to live solely in the Kingdom of Christ.

John Frame: The chicken had an existential need to change its situation according to a new norm.

T.F. Torrance: The inner logic of the incarnation proved an irresistible draw to the other side of the road.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer: He was abandoning cheap grace for the costly discipleship of risking the dangers of crossing the road.

Karl Barth: The crossing of the road, like all true theology, was done for profoundly Christological reasons. Because Christ came as the judge to be judged, all chickens cross the road in the end.

Paul Tillich: Because he sensed that the other side of the road represented the ground of all being.

New Ager: Because he saw the light beckoning him forward.

Fundamentalist: Because his pastor told him so.

Any additions you would make? :-)

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

December 2015 Biblical Studies Blog Carnival

It's been a while since I have been active with the carnival in any capacity whatsoever, and in all likelihood that is not about to change but it is good to see it is still going strong. Check it out. I probably will while I'm waiting for my brother and fam to arrive from the UK at some unearthly hour tonight. :-)


PhD Scholarships with Torrance and Wright

So personally, being overseen by both Alan Torrance and NT Wright sounds terrifyingly intimidating, but if that floats your boat there is still time to apply.
The University of St Andrews and the Templeton Foundation are funding six doctoral scholarships to cover all fees for doctoral research undertaken in the Logos Institute for Analytic and Exegetical Theology in St Andrews. This is open to overseas, European and UK students.
Studentships will be awarded to doctoral research in the following general subject-areas: 
1. The relationship of God to time/history;
2. The Christian doctrine of forgiveness - its grounds, nature and implications;
3. Personhood: divine and human;
4. Human uniqueness and the question of human purpose.

Barclay on Grace

Barclay's 2015 book on grace, Paul and the Gift, has been gathering momentum as a push back against the New Perspectives' (alleged) minimisation of the radical nature of Paul's view of God's grace. There is a nice interview in  CT about it, which also presses him to apply (albeit too briefly) his view of grace to churches today:
That’s why some of the most exciting churches today are not necessarily the big ones, but rather the small, multicultural, urban churches where you discover that different ethnicities and languages don’t count before God. Our education, our age, our job, the kind of music we listen to, the books we read—these do not ultimately define us. What defines us is who we are in Christ. We all are on the same level together and are therefore able to form countercultural relationships despite our differences. And that opens up the possibility for hugely creative Christian communities.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

The Search for the Historical Christmas Story

Is there a better way between the dismissive arrogance of the sceptics and the naive fideism of the fundamentalist? I hope so.

My pet litmus test for a true interest in the historical Christmas (rather than the populist semi-pagan saccharine version) is the lack of room in the inn, which was of course no such thing but simply an overflowing guest room in the house of one of Jospeh's relations.

Generally the main sceptical complaint is the dissimilarity of the Christmas stories but they align in more ways than they disagree. The biggest stumbling block for most is the issue of Jesus' birth at Quirinius' census for which there is considerable evidence to the contrary. Not least that Quirinius was not governor of Syria until 6 AD. However even this is not as cut and dried a mistake as it appears.

There are various theories about what (known) astronomical event might explain the Magi's star, and one who connects the later Christian attachment to the fish symbol (Ichthus) to a a convergence with Pisces constellation at the time of Jesus' birth. It's an interesting theory, although the implications would be troubling: what does the horoscope have to do with Christ?

Personally I think Christians should be aware of the difficulty of establishing some of our beliefs as fact. Equally we should beware of taking traditional and popular interpretations, translations and accretions as gospel. On the other hand, the problem with archaeology is that most of the data is still underground. Just as many Bible events seem unlikely from the best historical evidence, so have many Biblical events previously thought to be improbable or false been corroborated by evidence later. Both the sceptic and the believer are better served by remaining humble, curious and open-minded.

If two gospels managed to miss the birth narratives out completely we probably don't need to iron out all the details of the story to know who Jesus was, is and why he is important.

Let me know what you think :-)

Monday, December 21, 2015

Logical Fallacies and the Fallacy Fallacy

Yes I know that is a lot of fallacies in the title. I came across this little picture on FB this morning.


Which I thought was worth keeping as a nice summary of the main logical fallacies, but then I read this piece by Randal Rauser which complains about a fallacy which he coins the Fallacy Fallacy:

The fallacy fallacy illustrates the old adage: “a little knowledge is a dangerous thing.” In this case, the person knows just enough of logical fallacies to throw around labels that effectively inoculate themselves (and others) against good reasoning.
 
So be careful folks, watch who you wave those fallacies at!

 

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Rauser on Heaven

Here's a nice video of Randal Rauser explaining how so many Christians get the Biblical teaching on Heaven wrong and why it matters. Enjoy :-)

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

It's Tense Being a Pastor-Scholar

Blogger Andrew Wilson writes for CT on the tensions that pastor-scholars face.

The specialist - generalist tension
The practical - theoretical tension
The university - church tension
The novelty - fidelity tension

He also links to Michael J Kruger's blog post on a chiastic typology of scholar/pastors

Pastor
Pastor - scholar
Pastor - scholar active in the academy
Scholar - pastor active in the church
Scholar - pastor
Scholar

I think both the roles of pastor and scholar have become more all consuming and complicated in recent decades and increasingly the divide will be greater. Many pastors simply don't have the time to read more than a book a month, yet on any academic biblical or theological topic the secondary literature is so overwhelming that most full-time scholars struggle to keep up with it. This is one of the things I find blog reading very valuable for when scholars take the time to blog their research into digestible chunks. Additionally with the internet access to more and more resources does make it possible for even very isolated pastors to access cutting edge scholarship and even engage with it. So maybe there is hope for pastor-scholars yet  . . .



A Rather Handy Disagreement Heirarchy

Way back in 2008 Paul Graham suggests up with a heirarchy of types of disagreement. Now you can see this represented with a handy graphic (which unfortunately doesn't go all the way to the top level - central point refutation) supplied by Films for Action.







While Graham aims this at comments on websites I think this is a helpful tool for any discourse to evaluate your own comments and disagreements. Especially helpful for students to have a typology in which to be self critical of their opinions.

All of which is very helpful in not being an ass hat to begin with.