N. T. Wright’s The Day the Revolution Began, Romans Reconsidered, Part 68A (the Spirit has set you free, Part 1)

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.

Romans 8:2

(Rom. 8:2 NET) 2 For the law of the life-giving Spirit in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and death.

The “law of Sin and Death” is a reference back to —

(Rom. 3:20 ESV)  20 For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.

(Rom. 5:20-21 ESV) 20 Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more,  21 so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

(Rom. 7:8-9 ESV)  8 But sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness. For apart from the law, sin lies dead.  9 I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin came alive and I died. 

(Rom. 7:22-8:1 ESV)  22 For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being,  23 but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members.  24 Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?  25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin. 

The “law of Sin and Death” is the Torah. Continue reading

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10 Key Trends in Global Christianity, Part 7

Aaron Earls has posted on global Christianity trends in an article at the Facts and Trends blog. We Americans have a tendency to assume that the USA is the world, and so we think that what happens here determines how the rest of the world thinks and behaves. But the fact is that we are but one nation out of many, and most Christians live somewhere else.

7. Christians possess and are giving large amounts of money.

The total personal income of Christians around the world will equal close to $53 trillion in 2017. In 2017, believers will also give $900 billion to Christian causes.

Churches themselves will bring in $360 billion, while parachurches and other religious institutions will collect $540 billion. The income of global international missions will reach $53 billion.

Interesting. That’s not a tithe but about 2% of Christian income — but still a huge number. And more goes to Christian parachurch organizations (nonprofits or NGOs) than to actual churches by 50%. I had no idea …

I’ve seen reports that young ministers are preferring to go to work for parachurch organizations rather than churches — to avoid church politics, tradition barriers, and such like. But many parachurch organizations do good work but don’t do good Christian work. I mean, if they aren’t concerned with making converts to Christ, as well as digging wells and painting houses, it’s not Kingdom work and doesn’t further the cause of Christ.

So there are plenty of nonprofits that work cooperatively with local congregations to help them and do what they are called to do.I’m 100% in favor of such works. But works that serve the needy without addressing the spiritual needs of those served are no different from a secular organization in effect. I’d not give them a penny because it’s just so easy to do what you do in the name of Jesus. Which I believe is what we’re called to do.

 

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N. T. Wright’s The Day the Revolution Began, Romans Reconsidered, Part 67 (No condemnation)

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.

Romans 8:1

I’m going to backtrack just a hair. We’ve covered these verses already, but only from the perspective of atonement theology. There’s more there.

(Rom. 8:1 NET) There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.  

“Condemnation” (katakrima) is used by Paul to refer to the loss of immortality, which he often refers to as “death,” in parallel with God’s words to Adam when God warned Adam against eating the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Adam did not die on that day, but he did suffer the curse of death. He lost access to the Tree of Life and so he lost all hope of immortality.

Katakrima is a legal term and refers literally to a verdict of guilty. Therefore, it’s the opposite of “justification,” which is a verdict of “righteous” or innocent.

Rom 5:16 and :18 are the other places the word is used — Continue reading

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10 Key Trends in Global Christianity, Part 6

Aaron Earls has posted on global Christianity trends in an article at the Facts and Trends blog. We Americans have a tendency to assume that the USA is the world, and so we think that what happens here determines how the rest of the world thinks and behaves. But the fact is that we are but one nation out of many, and most Christians live somewhere else.

6. Churches have crossed the 5 million mark.

In 2017, there will be more than 5.5 million congregations in the world thanks to a 2.9 percent growth rate. Churches will number 7.5 million in 2025 and around 9 million in 2050, according to projections.

Christianity may be on the decline in Europe, but worldwide, it’s enjoying healthy growth. (Our GDP should grow so fast.) This means that the intellectual center of Christianity will eventually move south. Presently, nearly all commentaries and original research comes out of Europe or North American — but just as the intellectual center shifted more and more to the US after World War II, we’ll see greater internationalization of the intellectual leadership of Christianity. Continue reading

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N. T. Wright’s The Day the Revolution Began, Romans Reconsidered, Part 66J (Atonement Theories)

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.

The utter sinfulness of sin, redux

I read a post by Mark Love, which reminded me of some posts by Richard Beck, and then all of a sudden, Wright’s point about heaping up sin on Jesus so that it might be shown to be “utterly sinful” made sense in a whole new (old) way —

(Rom. 7:11-13 NET)  11 For sin, seizing the opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it I died.  12 So then, the law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous, and good.  13 Did that which is good, then, become death to me? Absolutely not! But sin, so that it would be shown to be sin, produced death in me through what is good, so that through the commandment sin would become utterly sinful. 

(Rom. 8:3 NIV) For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh,

Let’s start with Love’s postContinue reading

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10 Key Trends in Global Christianity, Part 5

Aaron Earls has posted on global Christianity trends in an article at the Facts and Trends blog. We Americans have a tendency to assume that the USA is the world, and so we think that what happens here determines how the rest of the world thinks and behaves. But the fact is that we are but one nation out of many, and most Christians live somewhere else.

5. Only half of Christians live in Christian-dominated nations.

Entering the 20th century, 95 percent of Christians lived in countries that were at least 80 percent Christian. By the 21st century, the portion of Christians living in predominantly Christian nations dropped to 59 percent.

The percentage will continue to fall, but at a much slower rate. In 2017, 53 percent of Christians will live in heavily Christian nations.

This is a huge demographic shift. Before the American Revolution, most nations had a simple system: either you worshiped the way the king worshiped, or you left, or you died. The idea of “freedom of religion” only goes back to Locke’s Letter Concerning Toleration from 1669, which largely invented the notion of religious toleration — and it’s one of the great accomplishments of the Enlightenment and the so-called American Experiment. And until the US showed that it could be done, freedom of religion was not considered a human “right.” Continue reading

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N. T. Wright’s The Day the Revolution Began, Romans Reconsidered, Part 66I (Atonement Theories)

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.

The indwelling Spirit

The Spirit is not a major theme of Wright’s book. Personally, I would place far greater emphasis on the outpouring of the Spirit in atonement theology. Let’s start with some background observations, that ought to be second nature to the readers by this time.

  1. As we previously covered at the end of Rom 2, there’s a major theological thread that runs through the OT, beginning with Deu 30:6, in which God promises to circumcise the hearts of Israel when they repent and return to him, thereby ending the curses of Deu 28-29 and Lev 26. This circumcision of the heart will be accomplished by the Spirit, whom God will pour out over Israel in the Messianic age.
  2. Joel prophesies in Joel 2:28-32a that the Spirit will be poured out on all peoples regardless of social station or gender — so that all who call on the name of the LORD will be saved.
  3. Jer 31:31 ff promises that God will write his laws on our hearts, resulting in forgiveness.

The entire chain of verses (covered earlier) speak to the Spirit bringing about both obedience and forgiveness of sins. That is, there is this whole pneumatology (theology of the Spirit) in the OT that is about atonement but which speaks in terms of the Spirit rather than a crucified Messiah. Obviously, this is no contradiction. Rather, it’s yet another way to understand the atonement. Continue reading

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