Thursday, July 31, 2014

How to shake your faith

Unfortunately, one of the most effective ways to shake the faith of some "bible believing" Christians is not to make them read the works of "theological liberals", or digest critical scholars such as Ehrman or Lüdemann. Just give them a simple Synopsis of the Gospels, with nothing but bible texts in parallel, and the building can come tumbling down.

It's tragic.

A gospel-shaped imagining of Scripture that is i) rooted in tradition, ii) dogmatically located with care and wisdom, and iii) responsible to the phenomenon of the Bible itself, is a crying need for many Christian communities.

We need folk like Pete Enns, John Goldingay, Kenton Sparks, David Crump, Chris Hays, Craig Allert and the many others who have courageously risked not just the approval of their peers, but also in some cases jobs and financial security, for the good of the wider church and its mission.

Keep it up, Christian colleagues, this is important work!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Blog birthday celebration: nine years old! And some blogging advice.

So I thought I'd post a couple of icons to aid your mediations (now stop saying I don't take religion seriously)

photo 1

photo 2

In other news, some advice on blogging, in light of my nine years experience:

1. Stop taking yourself so seriously and have fun! Normal people (i.e. non-sycophants) don't like a scholar's blog, however famous a scholar he or she is, when all they do is trumpet their own scholarship and sound aloof. Instead of R rating, or 18, there should be an Arrogance-o-meter warning for some blogs, to alert the unsuspecting.
2. Blogs are not usually the place for long essays. Keep in punchy.
3. Can't do scholarship on blogs? Depends on what you mean by scholarship, but you can certainly do some real thinking and engage in extremely helpful peer feedback. Blog your thoughts and allow yourself to be vulnerable.
4. Don't be afraid of offending people who get offended on behalf of others. They would have us all locked up in a politically correct prison.
5. Expect lunatics, hobby horse merchants and "I know-I'm-right-so-I'm-parachuting-in-here-to-clear-up-your-ideological-nonsense" type people to comment and try not to get too pissed off by their arrogance. Count to 10 and kick a squirrel, you'll feel better, I promise.
6. Add funny pictures of cats cos that's why many of us surf the internet at all.
7. If you're going to review a book, and here I must speak to myself, make sure it is fair and not shit. More people tend to read blog reviews than they do journal reviews (not that they are much better), so make sure it respects a scholar’s efforts. I think of one review, recently, on First Things which needed a kick up the arse.

I’m sure there is more to say, but I’m already running low on sleep-deprived energy (with thanks to my new adorable son of mine!)

Sunday, July 27, 2014


Tippex-thinner (noun phrase)

Pronunciation: tipɛks-θɪnər

1. (minor, colloquial) A solvent used to make old or dried out Tippex easier to spread on paper.
2. (major, universal) A legal hallucinogenic abused by naughty 80s-90s school children, inhaled by drenching school tie with said substance.


"I love long walks on the beach with my girlfriend, until the Tippex-thinner wears off and I realise that I'm just dragging a stolen mannequin around a Lidl parking-lot"

Thursday, July 24, 2014

In other news

The main man himself, Jon Bennett, has been writing a fun multiple part review of Beyond Old and New Perspectives on Paul. You really do need to check those out and observe, among other things, his gifting for illustrations! The kind of discussion his posts could generate is what makes the internet so rewarding.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Two new reviews of Paul’s Divine Christology

I need to apologise for this horrendously self-promoting post. I’ll go and stub my toes a few times as punishment. But before that:

a) Johnny Walker has written a very kind review here. He concludes:

Tilling's defense of a divine Christology in Paul is the sharpest to date. He builds off the work of Hurtado, Bauckham, and Fee, while strengthening their individual arguments by filling crucial lacunae in their work. Similarly, he confronts the strongest opponents in such a way that avoids endless debates over exegetical minutia. The sheer range of data discussed and included will make any formidable critique a colossally demanding effort. Any future work on Paul's Christology will ignore Tilling's argument to its own peril.

I like the word “peril” and I plan to use it more! I was particularly glad to see that he understood something my critics have missed: "Paul's Christ-relation need not be identical to God-relation ... rather, it must only show a deep compatibility". Quite right! This is something I discuss in chapter 10.

b) Also now available is my friend, Dr Carl Sweatman’s Stone-Campbell extremely lucid and kind review, here. Carl’s own PhD, “The Spirit and the Cross, Divine Wisdom and  Communal  Discernment: A Critical Exploration of 1 Corinthians 2:1–3:4” is one to read and Carl a scholar to keep on your radar!

He concludes:

Tilling is to be commended not only for his ability to engage fairly and thoroughly with scholars on both sides of the debate but also for his patient exegesis and rereading of the primary and secondary sources, and allowing the data to direct the outcome of the argument. Tilling’s monograph serves as an example of how to do scholarly research in NT studies. In terms of weaknesses, one will be hard-pressed to find any, unless of course one wishes that Tilling brought in the disputed Pauline letters as a way for either comparison or contrast with the undisputed ones. Fortunately, at least for one disputed letter (Ephesians), Tilling has already addressed this concern in the 2012 Festschrift for Max Turner

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Enns’ “aha” series

Is well worth a look. I wrote no.10 in the series, here.

Adam Neder’s stellar Participation in Christ

I’ve been so enjoying Neder’s little book which can be purchased here. I highly recommend it!

Some nuggets from chapter 1:

“[R]evelation is not merely the offering and acquisition of information. It is rational, to be sure … [b]ut since it is Dei loquentis persona, it is an event in which God establishes an orderly fellowship between himself and human beings … Thus revelation is inseparable from reconciliation”

“Jesus Christ creates disciples as he becomes Lord of their existence, not as he becomes part of their existence”

“Faith looks to Jesus Christ, not to itself, and should it decide to contemplate itself, it would find only darkness”

What I found most helpful in chap 1 was the explanation of Barth’s rejection of the analogia entis, a position that Barth derived from the nature of God’s grace as evident in the event of revelation.