I’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
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.
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
It’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
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.
So 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.
Up 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. Continue reading
I’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
[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
Reader 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