I finished N. T. Wright’s Paul and the Faithfulness of God! Part 4

FaithfulnessofGodPerhaps the central teaching of Paul and the Faithfulness of God is that Paul was essentially a Second Temple period Jewish thinker, steeped in the Scriptures, and absolutely persuaded that Jesus is the Messiah promised by the prophets and that the new age promised by the prophets had dawned, although it was still in the process of being fully realized.

Let me explain how I understand it. You see, this seems almost trivial until we run an experiment or two. For example, I asked my Sunday school class what it means for us to confess that “Jesus is the Christ.” They correctly told me that “Christ” means “Messiah.”

When I asked what “Messiah” means, most did not know — and they are nearly all lifelong church attenders and very highly educated people. A few said “Anointed” or “King,” but only a few. Continue reading

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I finished N. T. Wright’s Paul and the Faithfulness of God! Part 3

FaithfulnessofGodI’m continuing to attempt to summarize N. T. Wright’s Paul and the Faithfulness of God. It’s rather like attempting to summarize the Encyclopedia Britannica — or for my younger readers, the Wikipedia. Wright’s book is truly encyclopedic (or Wikipedic). And so I can only offer samples, not a summary.

In Part IV, Wright builds on the preceding parts to take on several topics. Of the most interest to me, he ties Paul back to Roman history so that he can frame the discussion of how Paul’s theology connects to politics.

To what extent are Christians to stay away from the government (as David Lipscomb urged) and to what extent are we called to shape the government (per Jerry Falwell, for example)? And Wright does the detailed labor to find a path between Lipscomb and Falwell.

Wright notes a tension in Second Temple Jewish thought. Continue reading

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I finished N. T. Wright’s Paul and the Faithfulness of God! Part 2


Chapters 3-5 of the book are all about the Greco-Roman world in which Paul worked. It’s history — and I love it. I’m a history buff.

The significance for Paul’s writings is not as obvious as the Jewish background covered in chapter 2. Wright will explain the significance of these chapters much later in the book.

This is actually quite a lengthy section, and my only complaint is that Wright waits so long to tie the history to Paul’s theology. On the other hand, it’s incredibly interesting and helpful to understand First Century Rome this well.

Part II

In chapters 6, 7, and 8, Wright takes the preceding material and attempts to recreate Paul’s worldview — the understandings and assumptions that were so obvious in Paul’s world that they didn’t need to be stated. Continue reading

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I finished N. T. Wright’s Paul and the Faithfulness of God! Part 1

FaithfulnessofGodIt’s been nearly a year and 7 hospitalizations since my copy arrived from Amazon on November 6, 2013, but I finally finished the 1,700-page book.

Having a one-week vacation helped, but what helped more was Amazon’s offer to sell me the electronic copy for Kindle for only $2.99 because I’d already paid full price for the hard copy.

By being able to read it on the Kindle, I could read portions in the car and otherwise not have to drag around a 300-pound volume just in case I had a few moments available to read theology.

Better yet, I’m already finding that I use the electronic version to look up key words and concepts without having to flip back and forth to the index. The book is well indexed, but it’s just so much easier to type “Jeremiah” or “epistemology” into the search engine than to flip between the pages in the two volumes and the index. Continue reading

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N. T. Wright at Oklahoma Christian University

This video is from a Q&A session at Oklahoma Christian University, which is affiliated with the Churches of Christ and historically has been fairly conservative. It’s truly fascinating viewing.

Among other topics, Wright discusses predestination, the organic church vs. the institutional church, justification by faith, social justice and politics, women in ministry, the “new creation,” the distinctiveness of Christian love, the Lord’s Prayer, the prosperity gospel, and non-Western versions of Christianity.


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Apologetics: August 24, 2014 class (Jesus is the Messiah)

lapelmicSo this is the last class for the quarter, but less than half the classes have been recorded. I got a late start and I’ve had substitutes teaching while I’ve been on vacation or in the hospital.

But I start over in two weeks, teaching apologetics to the college class, and so we the audio lessons will continue for a while.

Here’s today’s class:

You can stream from the lesson from the above link or download it here.

Here are written materials that go with the class:

Living in a story bigger than justification by faith, by Mark Love

Apologetics: The Prophecies, by Jay Guin

Even if you don’t listen to the lesson and even if you’ve already read my post on messianic prophecies, you should read the Mark Love blog. It’s a good one.

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Contact System Broken

ContactUp at the top of this page, there’s a link called “Contact,” which in theory allows you to send me a private message. However, for some reason, the WordPress software stopped forwarding messages to my email.

And I’ve just learned that this system has been broken for the last several months. I’m very sorry for being so slow in responding.

I’ve been able to dig out the old messages, but the bug has not yet been fixed. I understand that the webmaster is working on it.

In the meantime, just contact me by email: jfguin(at)Comcast(dot)net. (The parentheticals should, of course, be replaced by symbols. I write this way to avoid having my email picked up by spammers.)

There are a couple of recurring questions I can answer here –

1. You are welcome to print and distribute copies of my e-books, such as The Holy Spirit and Revolutionary Grace, so long as you do so at no profit. The same is true of the articles posted here. I’m not doing this for money.

In fact, if you give copies to your elders, Bible class students, family, or friends, I’d be thrilled. No royalty or further permission from me required — although I would enjoy hearing how the class or discussion went.

2. I just don’t have time to give individualized income tax advice. You need to see a CPA (not H&R Block or the like) and take printed copies of my articles on taxes and preachers or missionaries with you. Not all CPAs are up on this area of the law, but they should all be able to quickly figure things out with the help of my articles on taxation.

It really is astonishing how complex the tax law is regarding preachers — even more so for missionaries. Even very large, sophisticated missionary organizations struggle to advise on such things.

I’m not surprised that the articles on taxation have triggered so many requests for help, and I wish I had the time to do more.

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On Vacation

Inn at Crystal Beach - ExteriorI’m on vacation this coming week, in Destin, Florida. A very nice place to vacation indeed.

And I have all four kids, two daughters-in-law, and most importantly, two grandchildren here with me. So I plan to be a little distracted.

The week before last, I had back surgery to remove four screws and two rods. It seems the accusations were true: I had a screw loose. Four actually. And now that they’re out, I feel much better. Continue reading

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1 Corinthians 7: Is Marriage Indissoluble Because Covenants are Indissoluble?

1corinthians[Mojohn: I’m convinced that "contract" is not the most accurate English word to describe the marriage relationship. God himself calls marriage a covenant (Malachi 2:14). As I understand covenants in the ancient Near East, a party was bound to perform his treaty obligations even if the other party defaulted. Only the death of a covenant party could terminate the covenant.

[We see this played out in the Prophetic books where it is recorded that God divorced his faithless wives Israel and Judah for their spiritual adultery (Ezekiel 23; Jeremiah 3:6-10), but, he did not get new wives. Instead, he restored the house of Jacob (Jeremiah 33) following repentance in Babylon. Continue reading

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1 Corinthians 7: When Jesus Speaks of “Adultery,” Is He Being Figurative?

1corinthiansReader Mojohn’s extensive and thoughtful comment questions my view that “adultery” in Jesus’ teaching on divorce in Matthew 5 is used metaphorically

[Mojohn: According to CWDNT, the Greek word moichao (Strong's # 3429) is translated “adultery” and “committing sexual acts with someone other than his or her own spouse." The same Greek word can also mean covenant-breaker, as in James 4:4. Because moichao can have both literal and figurative meaning, how do we know which to ascribe to “adultery” as used by Jesus in Matthew, Mark, and Luke?

[Presumably we all agree that as we read or hear communication, our default “programming” is to understand the communication literally, unless the context mandates that we should take it figuratively. Dr. D.R. Dungan incorporates this teaching as Rule 1 in Section 51 (page 195) of his book Hermeneutics. Thus, outside some of the prophetic writings and the verse in James, when one encounters the word “adultery,” one should assume it has its normal, literal meaning.] Continue reading

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