N. T. Wright’s The Day the Revolution Began, Romans Reconsidered, Part 36 (reconciliation; death through one man)

dayrevolutionbegan

N. T. “Tom” Wright has just released another paradigm-shifting book suggesting a new, more scriptural way of understanding the atonement, The Day the Revolution Began: Reconsidering the Meaning of Jesus’s Crucifixion. Wright delves deeply into how the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus accomplish our salvation.

Rom 5:10-11 [JFG]

(Rom. 5:10-11 ESV)  10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.  11 More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

We reverse field just a tad to deal with concept Paul keeps throwing at us: reconciliation. I think Kruse puts his finger on why Paul brings up this new concept here —

The juxtaposition of justification (5:9) and reconciliation (5:10) is noteworthy, and raises the question of distinctions between the two concepts. As used by Paul, the terms are very close but nevertheless distinct. Justification is essentially a legal term relating to decisions in a court of law, whereas reconciliation is a personal term relating to the restoration of relationships. But Paul’s understanding of God as the justifier of sinners cannot be separated from his understanding of God as reconciler. For Paul God is not the detached judge dispensing judgment, but the lover of sinners desiring reconciliation with them.

Colin G. Kruse, Paul’s Letter to the Romans, Pillar NTC; Accordance electronic ed. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2012), 238. Continue reading

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18 Church Trends (and More!): Trend 19

Actually, I have one more trend. This is from the Washington Post, by way of Ben Witherington’s blog.

After statistically analyzing the survey responses of over 2,200 congregants and the clergy members who serve them, we came to a counterintuitive discovery: Conservative Protestant theology, with its more literal view of the Bible, is a significant predictor of church growth while liberal theology leads to decline. The results were published this month in the peer-reviewed journal, Review of Religious Research [downloads document]. …

[D]ifferent beliefs, though equally strong, produce different outcomes. Continue reading

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N. T. Wright’s The Day the Revolution Began, Romans Reconsidered, Part 35 (Jesus, our Passover lamb)

dayrevolutionbegan

N. T. “Tom” Wright has just released another paradigm-shifting book suggesting a new, more scriptural way of understanding the atonement, The Day the Revolution Began: Reconsidering the Meaning of Jesus’s Crucifixion. Wright delves deeply into how the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus accomplish our salvation.

Rom 5:6-10, Part 2

(Rom. 5:6-10 ESV)  6 For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.  7 For one will scarcely die for a righteous person — though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die — 8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  9 Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.  10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. 

Wright makes a very different but very helpful point from this passage —

The “coming anger” (or “wrath”) of God was mentioned by Paul as the primary threat hanging over the human race in 1:18. This was reaffirmed in 2:5 (“You are building up a store of anger for yourself on the day of anger, the day when God’s just judgment will be unveiled”). Most people, reading 3:24–26, have assumed and then tried to demonstrate that Paul is saying that this “wrath” falls on Jesus instead of on his people, that God put Jesus forth as a “propitiation,” a means of turning away wrath. That is the position I have myself taken in commentaries and books. But there is a problem with this reading. Here, in Romans 5:9, Paul refers back to “being justified by his blood,” which is a clear summary of 3:21–26, and then says that as a result of this “justification” believers will be saved by Jesus from the wrath or anger that is still to come. This doesn’t seem to fit. If the wrath had been dealt with in 3:24–26 — in other words, through Jesus’s death, appropriated in present “justification”— then why would Paul speak of it in chapter 5 as still future? The answer, I think, is given in 8:1–4, to which we shall shortly come.

Wright, N. T.. The Day the Revolution Began: Reconsidering the Meaning of Jesus’s Crucifixion (Kindle Locations 4395-4403). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition. Continue reading

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N. T. Wright’s The Day the Revolution Began, Romans Reconsidered, Part 34A (the Churches of Christ and the New Perspective)

dayrevolutionbeganI’m long past due in explaining how all Wright’s New Perspective thinking matters to a typical Church of Christ. I apologize for that — but there’s no good place in Romans to stop. I mean, the Churches desperately need the lesson of Rom 5 we just covered, but they just as desperately need to hear from Paul’s chapter 8. And chapters 12-15. I mean, it’s almost as though Romans was written as a corrective to the 20th Century Churches of Christ.

I say “20th Century Churches of Christ” because during most of the 19th Century, the Churches had a much healthier theology and practice — and things are trending toward the better now in the 21st Century. The Churches with the biggest doctrinal problems are those who insist on clinging to the teachings of the 20th Century Churches.

So what does the New Perspective change? Why does it matter? Continue reading

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N. T. Wright’s The Day the Revolution Began, Romans Reconsidered, Part 34 (the passage the Churches of Christ most need)

dayrevolutionbegan

N. T. “Tom” Wright has just released another paradigm-shifting book suggesting a new, more scriptural way of understanding the atonement, The Day the Revolution Began: Reconsidering the Meaning of Jesus’s Crucifixion. Wright delves deeply into how the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus accomplish our salvation.

Rom 5:6-10, Part 1 [JFG]

(Rom. 5:6-10 ESV)  6 For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.  7 For one will scarcely die for a righteous person — though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die — 8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ [our King] died for us.  9 Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.  10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. 

When I was in law school, back in the late 1970s, I was invited by friends to join them at the beach for spring break — each of all three years. But my wife is a CPA, and for her, this was the middle of tax season. And it was made very clear to me that I was not to go to the beach while she was slaving away until 10 o’clock each evening to put me through school.

So I was at home, with all my friends at the beach, and bored. I used the free time to catch up on some projects — including trying to understand the NT’s teachings on grace and the Holy Spirit. I didn’t have nearly the Bible study resources I have today, and the literature available in the Bible bookstores was not nearly as helpful as what can be found today.

But somewhere in there, it started to come together for me — and among the most important passages I stumbled across was this one. It revolutionized my thinking. I mean, it turned my world upside down. In fact, it turned me into a Change Agent. Continue reading

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18 Church Trends (and More!): Trend 18+

Completing my highly derivative series on church trends are observations from Chris Martin.

Trend 18+ are a series of trends Martin found in the recently released Gallup survey.

  • 68% of ALL U.S. adults use Facebook.
  • 56% of 18-29-year-olds use auto-deleting apps (mostly Snapchat).
  • 59% of 18-29-year-olds use Instagram.
  • 36% of 18-29-year-olds use Twitter.
  • Overall, Facebook is, and will continue to be, king of the social media world.

As a church leader, what conclusions do you draw about church? Continue reading

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N. T. Wright’s The Day the Revolution Began, Romans Reconsidered, Part 33 (the love of God poured out by the Spirit)

dayrevolutionbegan

N. T. “Tom” Wright has just released another paradigm-shifting book suggesting a new, more scriptural way of understanding the atonement, The Day the Revolution Began: Reconsidering the Meaning of Jesus’s Crucifixion. Wright delves deeply into how the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus accomplish our salvation.

Rom 5:3-5, Part 2

(Rom. 5:3-5 ESV)  3 Not only that, but we rejoice [Greek: “boast”] in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance,  4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope [confident expectation of redemption],  5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

“God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit.”

As we’ve seen in earlier posts, the language of the Spirit being “poured” is a reference to several OT prophecies of the coming of the Spirit at the end of the Exile and the coming of the Kingdom. And it’s specifically promised to not only the first generation to receive it, but successive generations. We need not repeat those many passages here.

The Greek is ambiguous as to whether “God’s love” is “God’s love for us” or “our love for God.” Some translations, such as the ESV, prefer to think in terms of God’s love for us, likely because traditional readings of Romans so emphasize what God does for the sinner. But Wright disagrees, and I think for good reason — Continue reading

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