A Midtown Prayer

Father in heaven, you are the Creator of all things.  This is your world and you rule it from the heavens.  There is no other God but you alone.  And you are faithful.  You say things and you do them.  You speak, and then you perform it.  You are completely unlike us—we say things and […]

Read More…

Paul, Judaism, & Legalism, Pt. 4

I’ve understood the terms “legalism” and “ethnocentrism” roughly along the following lines: Legalism: seeking to accumulate merit through doing good deeds with the goal of presenting a claim to God for salvation. Ethno-centrism: the notion that God’s salvation is limited to those who are “within the Law,” those who are ethnic Jews or who convert […]

Read More…

Paul, Judaism, & Legalism, Pt. 3

In my CT article on Paul, I stated the following: The problem in the early church, therefore, was not the temptation toward legalistic works righteousness. They faced the communal challenge of incorporating non-Jewish converts into the historically Jewish people of God. First-century Judaism didn’t have a legalism problem; it had an ethnocentrism problem. The first […]

Read More…

Paul, Judaism, & Legalism, Pt. 2

Robert Gundry sums up a traditional Protestant conception of first-century Judaism: [T]he question is whether [Jews of Paul’s day] thought meritorious works on their part were needed to supplement God’s grace. Yes, they did, as another Dead Sea Scroll attests: “Now we have written to you some of the works of the Law …. And […]

Read More…

Paul, Judaism, & Legalism

In my CT article on Paul, I questioned the common assumption that Paul left a legalistic Judaism at his conversion for the freedom of Christianity.  Robert Gundry responded in a letter to the editor: In “The Paul We Think We Know,” Timothy Gombis stated that “[f]irst century Judaism didn’t have a legalism problem.” Instead, “it […]

Read More…

A Prayer for the Weekend

Father, grant us grace to take up our crosses and follow Jesus in the way of suffering and death.  We know that the only way to resurrection and victory is through suffering and the cross, but it is difficult.  We love our pleasures.  We love the trivial pursuits that take up our time and fill […]

Read More…

U2’s “The Playboy Mansion” & Justification By Faith

U2’s “Pop” is the third and final album from the group’s experimental years in the 1990’s.  It’s probably their darkest album, although that term doesn’t really do its mood justice.  Their decade-long exploration of wisdom themes and their thoroughgoing subjection of modern culture to intense scrutiny comes to a climax on this album.  “Achtung Baby” kicked […]

Read More…

Theological Method & The Gospel

I mentioned a while back that the equation of justification by faith with “the gospel” by resurgent neo-Calvinists and folks associated with the Gospel Coalition was a sign of ignorance of the biblical gospel among evangelicals.  Such limiting of the gospel to this singular Pauline metaphor is inappropriate. Yesterday’s post is another reason for my claim.  […]

Read More…

The Reformation’s Anthropological Turn

In the fifth chapter of The King Jesus Gospel, Scot McKnight recounts the centuries-long transition from the large-scale and robust gospel vision of the New Testament to the anthropologically-oriented formulaic gospel of contemporary evangelicalism.  The turning point is the Reformation. In the previous chapter, Scot discusses Paul’s gospel from 1 Corinthians 15.  The gospel according […]

Read More…

A Faithfully Storied Gospel

Sprinkled throughout Scot McKnight’s new book, The King Jesus Gospel, are brief anecdotes from Scot’s students about their understanding of the gospel.  They all reflect a truncated and hollowed-out gospel vision.  These reports from evangelical undergraduates demonstrate the effect of a generation raised on a “packaged gospel.” I’ve discovered the same thing.  I taught undergraduates […]

Read More…