N. T. Wright’s The Day the Revolution Began, Romans Reconsidered, Part 2 (Worshiping According to the Truth)

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.

Rom 1:18-25

(Rom. 1:18 ESV)  For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.

Wright points out that the relationship between God and man is broken, at its most basic level, by “ungodliness” rather than sin. Paul will get to sin, but he deals with ungodliness first.

It is a failure not primarily of behavior (though that follows), but of worship. Worship the wrong divinity, and instead of reflecting God’s wise order into the world you will reflect and then produce a distortion: something out of joint, something “unjust.” That is the problem, says Paul: “ungodliness” produces “out-of-jointness,” “injustice.” [JFG: translated “unrighteousness” by most] Since this out-of-jointness clashes with the way things actually are, humans then suppress the truth as well, including ultimately the truth about God himself, and so the vicious circle continues; people continue to worship that which is not divine and swap the truth for a lie (1: 18– 26).

Wright, N. T.. The Day the Revolution Began: Reconsidering the Meaning of Jesus’s Crucifixion (Kindle Locations 4315-4320). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition. Continue reading

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Thom Rainer: Eleven Vital Steps to Minimize Risk of Child Sex Abuse in Your Church

eleven-vital-steps-to-minimize-risk-of-child-sex-abuse-in-your-churchAs I’ve said many times, I’m a fan of the leadership advice provided by Thom Rainer at his Growing Healthy Churches Together blog. He recently posted Eleven Vital Steps to Minimize Risk of Child Sex Abuse in Your Church:

  1. Require membership in the church for an established length of time for anyone who applies to work or volunteer in your children’s ministry. Hammar recommends six months.
  2. Require a written application from both employees and volunteers who work with and around children. Keep digital copies of the applications.
  3. Conduct personal interviews with each person who applies. Keep digital copies of notes from the interviews.
  4. Perform reference checks. Again, keep your digital notes of the conversations.
  5. Run criminal background checks of each applicant. Here is one source to get this information.
  6. Run each candidate’s name through the national sex offender registry. The site is nsopw.gov.
  7. Be diligent about the two-adult rule. A minor should never be left alone with one adult anytime or any place.
  8. Keep all records permanently. In many states discovery is allowed decades after the alleged event occurred.
  9. Have a clear response plan. All leaders and those working with or near children should know how to respond quickly to protect the victim and to comply with all laws.
  10. Have ongoing training for volunteers and staff. Redundancy could save a child. It also demonstrates the church’s diligence in this serious matter.
  11. Make certain your church’s groups operate under all the guidelines of the church as a whole. Church small groups are increasingly becoming more common venues for allegations of child sex abuse.

I would add: Do not procrastinate and If you have a social worker among your members or friends, involve him or her in the process. Every state is different, and it’s the social workers who know the system best.

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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

gospel-oij-png

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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