St. Paul and Consumer Society

According to many contemporary scholars, the apostle Paul didn’t object to “Judaizers” because they taught that salvation is achieved by works. He objected because Judaizers tried to reverse history by imposing the requirements of the old Mosaic covenant on Gentile Christians. Circumcision, . . . . Continue Reading »

Trashing Luther

Theological hobbyists of a hyper-Catholic sort continue to misconstrue Luther’s “errors.” Oh, I hardly think he was error-free, but (having recently been one) I know Lutherans who pretty much think he was essentially infallible. But I also know Catholics (me having recently become one) who . . . . Continue Reading »

The Most Objectionable Part of the Bible

We all hear about the supposed “God of Wrath” in the Hebrew Bible, and the supposed “God of Love” of the New Testament. Those who draw that distinction don’t know their Bibles very well. For the Hebrew Bible celebrates human sexual love, underwritten by the Hebrew Bible’s God, in its . . . . Continue Reading »

The Abraham Myth

Evangelicals are debating the historicity of Adam, but they are too timid. It is time to reject fundamentalist distortions of the Abrahamic narrative just as decisively as we have abandoned literalistic readings of Genesis 1–3. Clinging to discredited biblical accounts of Abraham as if these . . . . Continue Reading »

Heavenly Treasure

The Ransom of the Soul: 
Afterlife and Wealth in Early Western Christianity
 by peter brown 
harvard, 288 pages, $24.95 In the opening pages of this book, Peter Brown declares that he will “compare two ages—the world of the early church in the late second and third centuries and the early . . . . Continue Reading »

In Praise of Irrelevant Reading

When I moved to England to start a Masters degree in theology, I knew I wanted to study St. Paul’s letter to the Romans. Like many of my counterparts in the Reformed theological orbit, I was enthralled with questions of law and grace, election and final judgment. During my first year of undergraduate study, I’d sat out on the front lawn of the college green, sweating in the spring sunshine, reading N. T. Wright’s What Saint Paul Really Said. I was certain that the most important questions I could write about in my postgraduate study would have something to do with Jews and Gentiles in Christ in those dense later chapters of Paul’s Romans. Continue Reading »

Why San Francisco's City Church is Wrong About Sex

The senior pastor and elders of City Church, identified as the largest evangelical church in San Francisco, will no longer require members to abstain from homosexual practice, so long as the homosexual activity occurs in the context of marriage. According to a letter written by senior pastor Fred Harrell on behalf of the Board of Elders, “We will no longer discriminate based on sexual orientation and demand lifelong celibacy as a precondition for joining. For all members, regardless of sexual orientation, we will continue to expect chastity in singleness until marriage.”“Our pastoral practice of demanding life-long ‘celibacy,' by which we meant that for the rest of your life you would not engage your sexual orientation in any way, was causing obvious harm and has not led to human flourishing,” the letter said. Continue Reading »

Jesus on Safari

It has been nearly ten years since Jaroslav Pelikan died and a full twenty-five since he completed The Christian Tradition, his five-volume, 2,100-page history of “what the church of Jesus Christ believes, teaches, and confesses on the basis of the Word of God.” Who was Jaroslav Pelikan, and why does his work remain so important for serious Christian scholarship today? Continue Reading »