N. T. Wright’s The Day the Revolution Began, Romans Reconsidered, Part 1 (the righteousness of God)

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 accomplishes our salvation.

A major part of Wright’s book is a fresh look at several passages in Romans, primarily in chapters 1 – 8. The book assumes the reader has a copy of Romans handy or else is very familiar with the text. I thought it might be helpful to consider Wright’s arguments with the text in the post — so readers have an easier time of following the arguments.

You may notice as we go that I’ve not covered all of Wright’s arguments. That’s on purpose. You need to buy the book to get the rest.

Wright works from the New Revised Standard Version, but I’m going to use the NET Bible translation, which makes several revisions that lean Wright’s way because the scholarly consensus has shifted in his direction on several important phrases and words. It’s far superior to the NIV (and related translations), as well as the KJV and NKJV for a technical reading of Romans. The NIV is particularly weak in Romans and Galatians for scholarly study.

The NET Bible is available for free at several sites and is included in most Bible software because of its liberal licensing policy. The home site offers links to translator notes, that are often very helpful and more free from bias than many commentaries. I find them invaluable. (I really wish the NIV and other popular translations would print translator notes. I mean, so often I think, “What on earth were you thinking …?”) Continue reading

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N. T. Wright’s The Day the Revolution Began, Part 16 (Covenantal Substitutionary Atonement, Part 2)

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 accomplishes our salvation.

Abraham’s Covenant of Blood with God [JFG, based on a lesson taught by Ray Vander Laan]

For thousands of years, men have sealed covenants in blood. In the Middle East, they used to say that they “cut a covenant,” meaning the covenanting parties cut their arms and sucked a bit of one another’s blood. The mingling of blood was considered to bring the parties together so tightly they’d have to honor their words. Continue reading

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Which Gospel? From Bill Hull

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Larger file for use in PowerPoint.

Previous version of graphic.

(Thanks to reader JohnF for the upgrade on the graphic.)

Thanks to Scot McKnight, I came across this chart by Bill Hull. The problem is that if your eyes are as old as mine, you can’t read the white against light green boxes at the bottom. My artistic skill set is pretty limited. I learned how to draw an owl in the second grade, and that’s about it. So I tried my hand at editing the image to improve the contrast, and got nowhere. If a reader would like to try his hand at improving this image, that would be great.

But by blowing the picture up bigger than the blog screen will hold, I find the following: Continue reading

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N. T. Wright’s The Day the Revolution Began, Part 15 (Covenantal Substitutionary Atonement, 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 accomplishes our salvation.

Christus Victor

At long last, we get to Wright’s understanding of the crucifixion.

At the heart of it all is the achievement of Jesus as the true human being who, as the “image,” is the ultimate embodiment (or “incarnation”) of the creator God. His death, the climax of his work of inaugurating God’s kingdom on earth as in heaven, was the victory over the destructive powers let loose into the world not simply through human wrongdoing, the breaking of moral codes, but through the human failure to be image-bearers, to worship the Creator and reflect his wise stewardship into the world (and, to be sure, breaking any moral codes that might be around, but this is not the focus). And the reason his death had this effect was that, as the representative and substitute in the senses we shall explore in due course, he achieved the “forgiveness of sins” in the sense long promised by Israel’s prophets.

Wright, N. T.. The Day the Revolution Began: Reconsidering the Meaning of Jesus’s Crucifixion (Kindle Locations 2467-2473). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition. Continue reading

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Guide for a New Adult Education Leader

teacher2

[PS — Do not teach with hands in pocket.]

I get emails —

Jay, I have been asked to be the new head of a group at our church that oversees the adult education curriculum. The shepherds at my congregation are intently interested in doing more than “caretaking” when it comes to adult education: specifically, they are wondering what new and/or successful and/or helpful approaches have been adopted by other congregations to improve the quality of adult education. (“Success” does not necessarily mean “increased attendance,” but perhaps more engagement and spiritual growth). Any ideas? Are you familiar with any of our schools (or folks outside our faith family) that might have ideas about this?

I’m 62. I’ve been involved in adult education in a leadership capacity from about 1980 until I retired from the eldership about 2 years ago. I taught my first adult Bible class in 1978 (while studying for the Bar). So that’s 36 years of experience and over 2,000 classes taught — not counting OIJ. And I have no idea what the best plan is. But I do know some things. Continue reading

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N. T. Wright’s The Day the Revolution Began, Part 14 (“Forgiveness of sins,” Part 2)

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 accomplishes our salvation.

Zechariah’s prophecy as example [NTW/JFG]

Remember: When Wright puts “forgiveness of sins” in quotation marks, he is not being ironic. That is, he’s not saying that sins aren’t really being forgiven. Rather, he is saying that this term is being used in a special sense. For example, in Luke, Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist, prophesies — Continue reading

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Thom Rainer: Surprising Insights Regarding Church Budgets and Salaries

collection plateLongtime readers know I am a fan of Thom Rainer’s work on church leadership. He recently posted an article “Six Surprising Insights Regarding Church Budgets and Salaries.”

Here’s his summary:

  1. Growing churches pay their pastors and staff slightly less than declining churches.
  2. Only two percent of the churches’ budgets are funded outside congregational giving.
  3. One third of the churches increased the outsourcing of staff over the past five years.
  4. Overall church staffing costs have declined to 49 percent of the budget.
  5. The attendance-to-staff ratio is 76:1.
  6. About 81 percent of churches limit visibility of specific salaries to a board, a subcommittee, or senior staff.

Let’s think about these for a moment. Continue reading

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