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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10 Key Trends in Global Christianity, Part 4

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.

4. Christianity is no longer a Western-dominated religion.

In 1900, there were twice as many Christians in Europe as the rest of the world combined. By 2017 both Africa and Latin America will have passed Europe in the number of Christians living there.

By 2050, Africa will be home to 1.25 billion Christians. In a few decades, more than 1 in 8 people in the world will be an African Christian.

You should see the Friends I have on Facebook. Increasingly, my readers are native missionaries and teachers in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. And they are energetically preaching the gospel as fast as resources allow. Continue reading

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N. T. Wright’s The Day the Revolution Began, Romans Reconsidered, Part 66H (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.

Jesus as Ransom

(Matt. 20:26-28 ESV)  26 “It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant,  27 and whoever would be first among you must be your slave,  28 even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” 

(1 Tim. 2:5-6 ESV)  5 For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,  6 who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time. 

Matthew, Mark (10:45 is parallel with the quoted Matthew passage), and Paul all refer to Jesus giving his life as a “ransom.” And it’s never made much sense to me, because, well, who was kidnapped? I mean, in contemporary English, “ransom” is what you pay to get a kidnapped loved one back from the kidnappers. We now have computer hackers who load “ransomware” on computers, locking up a corporate system until the company pays a ransom. So how on earth could Jesus be a ransom? Continue reading

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10 Key Trends in Global Christianity, Part 3

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.

3. Cities are growing faster than Christians are moving to them.

In 2017, 55 percent of the world’s population will live in an urban environment. More than 4.1 billion people will live in cities and almost 1.6 billion of them will be Christian.

The global urban population is growing at a 2.2 rate, while the Christian urban population is growing slightly slower at 1.6.

I’m not sure how this compares to the US, but here in the South, cities breed big churches  — and some truly great churches. The members are often higher in income and very generous in giving. Urban churches tend to have more highly educated members, and so often they serve as centers of influence within their denominations, producing literature, ministry methods, and even training ministers. Continue reading

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N. T. Wright’s The Day the Revolution Began, Romans Reconsidered, Part 66G (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.

Hebrews: Jesus our great High Priest

The author of Hebrews demonstrates that Jesus’ experience as a human on earth better equips him to be our Savior. For example, the author sees that Jesus is able to help us defeat temptation because he himself experienced temptation —

(Heb. 2:18 ESV) For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.

(Heb. 4:15 ESV) For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.

I’ve not been able to find the author who first taught me this, but there’s an argument that Jesus, through the present work of the Spirit, is better able to help us overcome sin in our lives because Jesus, while in human form, had to learn how to defeat temptation. He never would have experienced the temptations that comes from hunger, the desire for power, and the like except as a human. Therefore, his humanity is what equips him — and therefore the Spirit — to help us cope with the weakness of our own humanity. Continue reading

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N. T. Wright’s The Day the Revolution Began, Romans Reconsidered, Part 66F (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.

Christus Victor

We’ll see at the end of chapter 8 this marvelous passage —

(Rom. 8:38-39 NET)  38 For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor heavenly rulers, nor things that are present, nor things to come, nor powers,  39 nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. 

We considered the concept of Jesus’s defeat the powers and principalities in an earlier post, and I only intend to remind you of that. The idea is that Jesus, on the cross, took the worst that his spiritual enemies could dish out and defeated them — through the resurrection.

As a result, we are assured that we also will be victorious because we will also be resurrected. The enemies of Jesus — Satan, Death, Sin, and whatever demonic powers there may be — all took their best shot and lost. Continue reading

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10 Key Trends in Global Christianity, Parts 1 & 2

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.

1, Some Christian groups are growing faster than others.

While Protestants (1.64 percent) and Catholics (1.08 percent) are growing near or below the population growth rate of 1.21 percent, evangelicals and Pentecostals/Charismatics are growing much faster.

Evangelicals (2.12 percent) and Pentecostals (2.22 percent) are outpacing other branches of Christianity. By 2050, those two groups combined (1.67 billion) will outnumber Catholics (1.61 billion).

2. Pentecostals continue with their explosive growth. Continue reading

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