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

What Wright does notice is that the covenant with Abraham speaks of a future enslavement and freedom from slavery to be given by God. The covenant anticipates the exodus.

Wright often argues, with some considerable support, that Rom 6-8 recapitulates the exodus. The baptism discussion early in chapter 6 reminds us of the path out of slavery through the Red Sea (which is made explicit in 1 Cor 10). The transition from slavery to Sin and Death speaks of the escape from Egyptian slavery to the new covenant with God made at Mt. Sinai. Paul’s description of how we all struggle to obey is the story of Israel in the wilderness, having its faith tested and often failing.

The presence of God in each Christian through the indwelling Spirit recalls God leading the Israelites through the wilderness by his very presence in a column of smoke and fire. The discussion of the renewed, redeemed Creation parallels the Promised Land inheritance. Our need for the Spirit to pray for us as mediator parallels Moses’ many intercessions for the Israelites before God. The conquest of all Christ’s enemies at the end of chapter 8 parallels God’s promises to Israel to defeat her enemies and give her peace in the land. Continue reading

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Baptism Rates by State

These stats were posted at Thom Rainer’s blog.

Montana: 14.9 members for 1 baptism ratio
New York: 15.4 members for 1 baptism ratio
New England: 15.5 members for 1 baptism ratio
Dakota: 15.7 members for 1 baptism ratio
Iowa: 15.7 members for 1 baptism ratio
Pennsylvania-South Jersey: 16.9 members for 1 baptism ratio

Alabama: 59.2 members for 1 baptism ratio
North Carolina: 59.3 members for 1 baptism ratio
Texas: 65.2 members for 1 baptism ratio

I’ve not been able to source these stats other than in Thom’s blog, and he’s quoting an unnamed source, but he’s enough of an expert in his own right that these are surely correct. Continue reading

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

Atonement Theories

We’re about halfway through Romans, and while Wright has much more to say about the rest of chapter 8, we’re pretty much at the final verse that deals directly with his atonement theories. And so it’s time for a summary — even though I’m anxious to explore the rest of chapter 8. Chapter 8 has always held a fascination for me with Paul’s talk of the indwelling Spirit, the Creation groaning, and predestination.

Now, the goal isn’t to find the one, unique true theory. Most scholars are coming to the view that there are multiple true theories — that the atonement lies at the intersection of multiple themes and narratives.

That’s not how most of us Westerners are used to thinking, but it makes a lot of sense — and explains why the scriptures speak of the atonement in seemingly inconsistent ways. The atonement draws together several strands of biblical thought into a single event that makes the best sense in light of several narrative threads woven through the scriptures. Continue reading

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The Resuscitated Church

Thom Rainer is a church growth consultant, author of several books on evangelism and leadership, and the president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources. Prior to LifeWay, he served at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary for twelve years where he was the founding dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions and Evangelism.

He is a 1977 graduate of the University of Alabama and earned his Master of Divinity and Ph.D. degrees from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. And I’m a fan — and I’d be a fan even if he wasn’t an Alabama graduate.

He recently posted an article on how to resuscitate a dying church based on actual churches where this had happened.

Now, it’s difficult, and most churches that try to self-resuscitate fail — presumably because they still have the same problems that nearly killed them in the first place. But for those churches that managed it, here’s what they did —

  1. A prolonged period of prayer.

It’s a cliche but a true cliche. It starts with prayer, and if your church is too secular or has too little faith to call on God for help, it probably needs to stay dead anyway. Continue reading

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N. T. Wright’s The Day the Revolution Began, Romans Reconsidered, Part 65 (the heaping up of Sin)

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 8:3-4, Part 2

(Rom. 8:3-4 NET)  3 For God achieved what the [Torah] could not do because it was weakened through the [weakness of our] flesh. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh [as a sin offering], he condemned sin in the flesh [of Jesus],  4 so that the righteous [verdict] of the law may be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the [weakness of the] flesh but according to the Spirit.

The heaping up of Sin

Wright also presents a theory that the Torah was given so that Sin (the power of sin in opposition to the power of the Spirit) would be heaped up in Israel and Jesus could, as Israel’s representative, defeat it on the cross.

We’ve covered that theory already but not even to my own satisfaction. Wright gives a more thorough explanation in his commentary of Romans — Continue reading

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In re My Heart Surgery, Part 2

I have news.

1. Further testing shows that, in addition to needing a mitral valve repair, I need a triple bypass. One artery is 90% blocked.

2. Surgery has been moved to March 2 at Baptist Princeton in Birmingham. I go in the day before for preadmission testing, spend the night at a hotel on site, and then they go to work on my chest early the next morning.

I no longer qualify for any of the minimally invasive techniques. We could fairly think in terms of maximally invasive. Split the ribs, connect to a heart-lung machine, and rebuild the heart back to factory specs. I think there’s also new rings, a block and tackle, and a four-post car lift involved somehow, but sometimes I get confused.

I’ll likely be in the hospital for a week or so. May have to go to rehab for a week or so afterwards. There’s something about having a heart valve that pumps half your blood backwards (not kidding) that makes it hard to keep up your exercise regimen. (Or to do anything at all, really.) And then home to recuperate for a while. Continue reading

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NEEDTOBREATHE: “Washed by the Water”

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