οὗτός ἐστιν ᾽Ιησοῦς ὁ βασιλεὺς τῶν ᾽Ιουδαίων

King Aslan

“This is Jesus the King of the Jews” was a mocking but ironically true description placed over the head of a Nazarene, who was hanged on the Roman cross, according to the gospel of Matthew.  In the opening of this gospel, the author could not resist the temptation of enlightening us that in Bethlehem of Judea, and during the reign of Herod the king, a Nazarene child was born. This child was the foretold king of the Jews by the prophet. David’s royal offspring confirmed in God’s house and in God’s kingdom forever. This child’s throne was said to have been established forever.

Christ Jesus’ person and works were a royal parousia, inauguration of the kingdom of God. The good new is that this King is our Lord and Savior. He is a servant King. The King who brings God’s Kingdom on earth as it is in Heaven.

G. Goldsworthy said it well, “Jesus is declared to be the bringer of the kingdom through his life (which includes his miracles and his teachings), his death and his resurrection.” (Goldsworthy 2000: n.p)

Herman Ridderbos also correctly contended that “[t]he kingdom is concentrated in him[Jesus] in its present and future aspects alike.”(Ridderbos 1982: 657) because all the parousia about the kingdom centers in the person of Jesus as God’s Messiah.

God’s kingdom came on earth as it is in heaven. God’s reign that necessarily brings order and justice, the inauguration of the restoration of God’s creation purpose is already here but not yet. It awaits a future consummation, the times of restoration of all things. Before those times, argued George Eldon Ladd, “the kingdom of God has entered this age and invaded the kingdom of Satan in spiritual power to bring to men in advance the blessings”(Ladd 1984: 609). This is kingdom that is coming, and that is now here.

Christians are citizens of the kingdom of God. They recognized already the supreme authority of God. They freely and joyfully bow down and confess that Jesus is Lord.  They are the people who are participating through faith and obedience in the reign of Christ Jesus, their sovereign Lord. The kingdom of God is within their reach¹ (Luke 17:21). God had already delivered them from the domain of darkness and transferred them to the kingdom of His beloved Son (Col. 1:13). The beloved Son is their King forever. They are the Church. Christ Jesus became their salvation. He is Lord. He is King. He reigns.

Bibliography:

Goldsworthy, G. (2000) ‘Kingdom of God’ in Alexander, T. D., & Rosner, B. S. (Eds.) New dictionary of biblical theology. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

Ladd, George Eldon (1984) ‘Kingdom of Christ, God, Heaven’ in Walter Elwell (ed.), Evangelical Dictionary of Theology. Grand Rapids: Baker.

Ridderbos, Herman (1982) ‘Kingdom of God, Kingdom of Heaven’, in J. D. Douglas (ed.), New Bible Dictionary 2nd edn.; Leicester, England: InterVarsity Press.


[1] N. T Wright(1996:469) and G. R. Beasley-Murray (1992:23) argued that the kingdom of God is ”within your reach” is more likely than ”in your midst”.

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Works Of The Law: Sanders, Dunn And Wright

E. P. Sanders’ masterwork, Paul and Palestinian Judaism (1977)[1], challenged the “Lutheran” perspective of Paul and Palestine Judaism, which is the dominant among orthodox Protestantism since Reformation of 1517 . His case against Lutheran tradition that viewed Paul as contending against Jewish legalism, viz., salvation by merit and works of righteousness, saw the rise of various perspectives of Paul and the Law.

Paul And Law: E. P. Sanders, James D. G. Dunn and N. T. Wright

Apostle Paul read and interpreted in his proper Jewish paradigm and not through the lens of Augustine and Martin Luther’s musingly contextual struggles opened new doors to a variety of new perspectives[2]. New Perspective, wrote D. A. Carson, “ is a bundle of interpretive approaches to Paul, some of which are mere differences in emphasis, and others of which compete rather antagonistically.”(Carson 2001: 1)

Paul’s understanding of the Law, mostly in Galatians 2:16, 19, 21; 3:2, 5, 10–13, 17–19, 21, 23–24; 4:4–5, 21; 5:3–4, 14, 18, 23; 6:2, 13 in contemporary discussion are indebted of scholarly works of Sanders, Dunn and Wright.  In order to understand their new perspective of Paul’s understanding of the law, one has to understand “covenantal nomism” to which all three subscribed in their apologia of the New Perspective .

Sanders, Dunn and Wright perceived Paul as not going against Jewish legalism, which contrary to Lutheran traditional understanding they argued, did not teach salvation by merit and works of righteousness, but salvation through entering God’s covenant by grace but remain in it by intentionally obedience to the law.

Sander explained that “[c]ovenantal nomism is the view that one’s place in God’s plan is established on the basis of the covenant and that the covenant requires as the proper response of man his obedience to its commandments, while providing means of atonement for transgression”(Sanders 1977: 75).

Even though obedience of the law does not earn God’s grace, argues Sanders[3], it is the way a person maintains his or her position in the God’s covenant. (ibid 420). The Jewish concept of righteousness “implies the maintenance of status among the group of the elect”[4](ibid 544).

Dunn concurs and recapped Sanders’ “covenantal nomism”.  He wrote,

“This covenant relationship was regulated by the law, not as a way of entering the covenant, or of gaining merit, but as the way of living within the covenant; and that included the provision of sacrifice and atonement for those who confessed their sins and thus repented”(Dunn 2007: 132)

Dunn maintained that Israel was given Torah, as “an integral part of the covenantal relationship, and that obedience was necessary if Israel’s covenant status was to be maintained.” (Dunn 2004: 111) It is no exaggeration, wrote Dunn, “to say that for typical Jew of the first century AD, particularly the Palestinian Jew, it would be virtually impossible to conceive of participation in God’s covenant, and so in God’s covenant righteousness, apart from these observances, these works of the law.”(Dunn 1999: 193 emp. original)

Endorsing Sanders’ notion of covenantal nomism, Wright contemplated that “God took the initiative, when he made a covenant with Judaism; God’s grace this precedes everything that people (specifically, Jews) do in response”(Wright 1997:19). He penned,

The Jew keeps the law out of gratitude, as the proper response to grace—not, in other words, in order to get into the covenant people, but to stay in. Being “in” in the first place was God’s gift. This scheme Sanders famously labelled as “covenantal nomism” (from the Greek nomos, law). Keeping the Jewish law was the human response to God’s covenantal initiative.(ibid)

“Works of the Law” And Covenantal Nomism

Sanders’ “covenantal nomism” paradigm[5] is the driving foundation of many contemporary new interpretations[6] of Pauline phrase; “works of the law” in Romans 3:20-28 and Galatians 2:11-21 and also how one ought to understand what Paul meant by calling Christ the end of the law in Romans 10:4 and Galatians 3:23-25.

For Sanders, the subject matter in Galatians 2-4 and Romans 3-4 “is not ‘how can the individual be righteous in God’s sight?, but rather, ‘on what grounds can Gentiles participate in the people of God in the last days?’” (Sanders 1991: 50)

“The ‘works of the law’ by which one cannot be ‘justified’”, contended Wright, as he read and interpret Paul into Sanders’ understanding of Judaism, “are the “living like a Jew” of Galatians 2:14, the separation from “Gentile sinners” of Galatians 2:15.” He continued,

They are not, in other words, the moral “good works” which the Reformation tradition loves to hate. They are the things that divide Jew from Gentile: specifically, in the context of [Galatians 2:15-16 …] the “works of the law” which specify, however different Jewish groups might have put it at the time, that “Jews do not eat with Gentiles.”(Wright 2009: 116-117)

Dunn, like Wright, took a similar approach. He wrote,

The phrase “works of the law” in Gal. 2.16 is, in fact, a fairly restricted one: it refers precisely to these same identity markers described above, covenant works – those regulations prescribed by the law which any good Jew would simply take for granted to describe what a good Jew did. To be a good Jew, was to be a member of the covenant, was to observe circumcision, food laws and Sabbath.(Dunn 2008: 111)

“We may justifiably deduce, therefore [from the context of Gal 2:15-16]” concluded Dunn, “that by ‘works of the laws’ Paul intended his readers to think of particular observances of the law like circumcision and food laws” (Dunn 1999: 191 emp. original)

R. B. Hays, as cited by D. Garlington, also interpreted “‘works of the law’ [as] refer[ring] primarily to practices commanded by the law (circumcision, dietary laws, sabbath observance) that distinctively mark Jewish ethnic identity; these symbolize comprehensive obedience to the law’s covenant obligations.”(D. Garlington 2005: 39 cite Hays 1993: 2185)

In Romans, “The works of Torah,” underlined Wright, are those practices which “mark Israel out from among the nations, cannot be the means of demarcating the true covenant people; they merely point up the fact of sin (3:20, looking back to 2:17-24 and on to 5:20 and 7:7-25).”(Wright 1995: n.p)

I doubt circumcision, as “works of the law” could merely be grouped together with food laws and Sabbath as a badges of Jewish ethnic covenant membership to which good Jew took for granted to describe what a good Jew did as Dunn explained. Stephen Westerholm pointed out that At Sinai, God entered into a covenant with Abraham’s seed. He went on to say,

By the laws of that covenant God’s people were to live. Those laws included circumcision. If males wanted to belong to God’s people, they must start by getting circumcised (Westerholm 2006: 208)

Unlike food laws and Sabbath that Jewish did to “stay in”, circumcision was done to “get in”. Thus, I believe circumcision as viewed by Christian’s missionaries in Galatia was not simply to mark Jewish ethnic identity but to show that Christians at Galatia have entered into God’s covenant.

Implications of Sanders, Dunn And Wright’s Understanding of Paul And Law

Call To Obedience: Slaves To Christ

Commenting on Romans 8:3-4, Wright perceived Paul to mean, “God has accomplished the goals for which the covenant was put in place, while dealing simultaneously with the fact that the covenant people themselves were part of the problem within creation”(Wright 2005: 31) He went further to declare that what the Torah could not do in the old creation, namely enabling God’s people to stay in the covenant, God, in new creation, did it through Christ Jesus and the Holy Spirit.

Present-day Christians are called to obedience to Jesus’ lordship. Their obedience, which is “not a list of moral good works but faith”(Wright 2002: 420), consists of both confessing Jesus as Lord of their lives and in believing that God raised Jesus from the dead.

The bondservanthood call of Christ Jesus means “obedience to the law’s covenant obligations”, which is “actually the human faithfulness that answers God’s faithfulness”(ibid). Obedience to the law is not in order to get into the covenant people of God but to stay in. Getting into the covenant people of God was in the first place God’s gift given through Christ Jesus.

Obedience to the law is, thus, necessary if Christian’s are to maintain the covenant status of staying in as God’s elect. Wright expounded,

It is the God-given badge of membership, neither more nor less. Holiness is the appropriate human condition for those who, by grace alone, find themselves as believing members of the family of God. (Wright 1997: 160)

Room For Boasting: Salvation is of God And I

Thomas R. Schreiner provided an excellent argument to show how salvation in Sanders, Dunn and Wright approach, is partly due to believer’s obedience to the law. He argued,

For if obedience to the law is a necessary condition of salvation, then it follows logically that one cannot be saved unless one observes the law. But if one cannot be saved unless one keeps the law, then salvation is due, in part, to human attainment. But if salvation is partially due to human attainment, then one could justly say that his or her obedience to the law earned or merited, at least partially, salvation. (Schreiner 1985: 265)

If Schreiner argument is sound, then I believe Christians can boast[7] in their salvation since they have partly contributed their faithfulness.  Indeed it is by God’s grace alone Christian got “in” in God’s family, but contrary to Ephesians 2:8-9, it is by their works, which is their merits or faithfulness due to their obedience to the law, that they stay in.

From this, the role of justification is not so much soteriology how one get saved but ecclesiology, how to stay in God’s family. Criticizing imputed righteousness, Wright insinuates that our faithfulness, namely good work contribute in our salvation since our justification is partly depend on what we do with our life.

Michael F. Bird spotted that “[a]s opposed to popular views of faith as tantamount to assent, the [New Perspective] has generally emphasized the transformative character of the Christian life whereby the works that the believer does demonstrates the integrity of the faith that they profess”(Bird 2005: 68) and rightly took a middle position of not surrendering “sola of sola fide” and holding an outworking of holiness, righteousness obedience, and love as a transforming and renewing power of the gospel(ibid).

More To Be Done: A Conclusion

Though Wright would protest that his case has not been grasped if one concludes that our obedience of the law, which is our faithfulness, does indeed “compromise the gospel or justification, [by] smuggling in ‘work’ by a back door”(Wright 1997: 160), I do see how our faithfulness, which is necessary condition for our salvation, according the Sanders, Dunn and Wright, does not smuggle in our merits into the gospel.

Even though I do not completely agree with New Perspective on Paul and I do find its foundation wanting, I am continually edified and challenged by stimulative and provocative writings of Sanders, Dunn and mostly Wright’s. Their contribution toward Paul understanding of the law outside Augustinian-Lutheran approach is intriguing and awakes a desire to look beyond traditions in search for God’s truth.

Footnotes:

[1] Krister Stendahl’s article “The Apostle Paul and the Introspective Conscience of the West”(1963) sowed a seed of perceiving Paul in his own religious context and not through the eyes of Augustine-Luther context, which Sanders watered.

[2] Often misleadingly tagged as “New Perspective On Paul”. A tag that was first introduced in James D.G. Dunn’s lecture 1983 university lecture. One can argue that the quest for historical Jesus also contributed to quest for historical Paul to which Paul is read in his Jewish context.

[3] Even Deut. 6:25 may be argued imply that obedience to all God’s law is Jews’ righteousness.

[4] With eight points, Sanders summarized “covenantal nomism”: “(1) God has chosen Israel and (2) given the law. The law implies both (3) God’s promise to maintain the election and (4) the requirement to obey. (5) God rewards obedience and punishes transgression. (6) The law provides for means of atonement, and atonement results in (7) maintenance or reestablishment of the covenantal relationship. (8) All those who are maintained in the covenant by obedience, atonement and God’s mercy belong to the group which will be saved. An important interpretation of the first and last points is that election and ultimately salvation”(Sanders 1977: 422)

[5] Wright believes that Sanders understanding of Judaism “dominates the landscape, and, until a major refutation of his central thesis is produced, honesty compels one to do business with him. I do not myself believe such a refutation can or will be offered; serious modifications are required, but I regard his basic point as established” (Wright 1997: 20)

[6] Example Craig A. Evans, F. Vouga, J. J. Collins

[7] According to Wright exposition of Rom. 3:27, the boasting that is excluded “is not the boasting of the successful moralist; it is the racial boast of the Jew […]”(Wright 1997: 129) though Rom. 2:17-24 may be argued to imply successfully moralist.

Bibliography:

Carson, D. A. (2001) Justification and Variegated Nomism. Volume 1: The Complexities of Second Temple Judaism  eds., P. T. O’Brien and M. A. Seifrid. Grand Rapids: Baker.

Dunn, James D. (1999)  Jesus, Paul and the Law: Studies in Mark and Galatians. Westminster/John Knox Press, U.S.; 1st American Ed edition.

__________________ (2004) Review: Donald A. Carson, Peter T. O’Brien, and Mark A. Seifrid, eds, Justification and Variegated Nomism, Volume 1: The Complexities of Second Temple Judaism, Trinity Journal  25.1, 111-113

__________________ (2007) The New Perspective on Paul: Collected Essays. Ed. Jörg Frey. Mohr Siebeck Gmbh & Co. K.

___________________ (2008) The New Perspective on Paul: Revised Edition. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.

Garlington, D. (2005) In Defense of the New Perspective on Paul: Essays and Reviews. Wipf & Stock Pub

Hays, R. B (1993) The HarperCollins Study Bible: New Revised Standard Version. eds. W. A. Meeks, et al.; New York: HarperCollins.

Sanders, E. P (1977) Paul and Palestinian Judaism: A Comparison of Patterns of Religion. Philadelphia: Fortress.

_________________ (1991 Paul. Oxford University Press.

Schreiner Thomas R.(1993) Paul’s View Of The Law in Romans 10:4-5. Westminster Theological Journal. Vol. 55, 113-135

________________________ (1985) Paul and Perfect Obedience to the Law: An Evaluation of the View of E. P. Sanders. Westminster Theological Journal. Vol. 47:2, 246-278

Westerholm, Stephen (2006) Justification by Faith is the Answer: What is the Question? Concordia Theological Quarterly. Vol. 70:3/4, 197-217

Wright, N. T. (1995) Romans And The Theology of Paul.  Originally published in Pauline Theology, Volume III, ed. David M. Hay & E. Elizabeth Johnson, 1995, 30–67. Minneapolis: Fortress. Site ntwrightpage.com Last Accessed 17/10/2012

________________ (1997) What Saint Paul Really Said. Was Paul of Tarsus  the Real Founder of Christianity? William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company. Grand Rapids: Michigan

________________ (2002) Romans Commentary, The New Interpreter’s Bible, vol. X. Nashville: Abingdon.

________________ (2005) Paul: Fresh Perspectives. London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge.

________________ (2009) Justification: God’s Plan and Paul’s Vision. Intervarsity Press.Downers Grove, Illinois.

Ben Witherington III + Jesus’ Wife Controversy

Seven Minute Seminary provided a brilliant intake of Ben Witherington III thoughts on Karen L. King “Gospel of Jesus’ Wife”.

J. W. Wartick did a brilliant task of assembling an array of responses:  Jesus’ wife? A survey of responses.

I will add to Wartick’s list:

What About the Back of the So-Called Gospel of Jesus’s Wife? by Michael Kruger

Did Jesus Have A Wife? : A Caution to Media Sensationalism by Randy Hardman

Btw: It is wonderful to be back after a 3 weeks visit in Arusha, Tanzania. My wife, Lea, and I took our 6 months daughter, Eliose Madaleine, to see her grandparents and great grandma. It was lovely to be back to my native country.

Hippolytus: This is Jesus of Nazareth

Hippolytus of Rome(ca A.D. 160–236.) was a disciple of Irenæus and a brilliant theologian. He was a defender of Logos doctrine that distinguished the persons of the Trinity. In Against The Heresy of One Noetus, Hippolytus gave a wonderful description of Jesus of Nazareth:

This (Word) was preached by the law and the prophets as destined to come into the world. And even as He was preached then, in the same manner also did He come and manifest Himself, being by the Virgin and the Holy Spirit made a new man; for in that He had the heavenly (nature) of the Father, as the Word and the earthly (nature), as taking to Himself the flesh from the old Adam by the medium of the Virgin, He now, coming forth into the world, was manifested as God in a body, coming forth too as a perfect man. For it was not in mere appearance or by conversion, but in truth, that He became man.

Thus then, too, though demonstrated as God, He does not refuse the conditions proper to Him as man, since He hungers and toils and thirsts in weariness, and flees in fear, and prays in trouble. And He who as God has a sleepless nature, slumbers on a pillow. And He who for this end came into the world, begs off from the cup of suffering. And in an agony He sweats blood, and is strengthened by an angel, who Himself strengthens those who believe on Him, and taught men to despise death by His work.

And He who knew what manner of man Judas was, is betrayed by Judas. And He, who formerly was honoured by him as God, is contemned by Caiaphas. And He is set at nought by Herod, who is Himself to judge the whole earth. And He is scourged by Pilate, who took upon Himself our infirmities. And by the soldiers He is mocked, at whose behest stand thousands of thousands and myriads of myriads of angels and archangels. And He who fixed the heavens like a vault is fastened to the cross by the Jews.

And He who is inseparable from the Father cries to the Father, and commends to Him His spirit; and bowing His head, He gives up the ghost, who said, “I have power to lay down my life, and I have power to take it again;” and because He was not overmastered by death, as being Himself Life, He said this: “I lay it down of myself.” And He who gives life bountifully to all, has His side pierced with a spear.

And He who raises the dead is wrapped in linen and laid in a sepulchre, and on the third day He is raised again by the Father, though Himself the Resurrection and the Life. For all these things has He finished for us, who for our sakes was made as we are. For “Himself hath borne our infirmities, and carried our diseases; and for our sakes He was afflicted,” as Isaiah the prophet has said.

This is He who was hymned by the angels, and seen by the shepherds, and waited for by Simeon, and witnessed to by Anna. This is He who was inquired after by the wise men, and indicated by the star; He who was engaged in His Father’s house, and pointed to by John, and witnessed to by the Father from above in the voice, “This is my beloved Son; hear ye Him.” He is crowned victor against the devil.(Hippolytus 1886: 230 paragraphs added)

I called this a gospel according to Hipppolytus.

Source: Christian Classics Ethereal Library (Public Domain)

Hippolytus of Rome. (1886). Against the Heresy of One Noetus S. D. F. Salmond, Trans.). In A. Roberts, J. Donaldson & A. C. Coxe (Eds.), The Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume V: Fathers of the Third Century: Hippolytus, Cyprian, Novatian, Appendix (A. Roberts, J. Donaldson & A. C. Coxe, Ed.) . Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Company.

Penal Substitution: Nothing But The Blood

For over 130 years, many orthodox Christians have sang and are singing Robert Lowry’s (1826 –1899) treasured hymn with joy, delight and awesome conviction that the Old and the New Testaments testify that “Nothing but the blood of Jesus” can wash away our sin, make us whole again, white as snow, and our sin atone. “Naught of good that [we] have done”. Nothing but the blood of Jesus is Christians’ hope and peace. This is all their righteousness. “Glory! Glory! This [they] sing—Nothing but the blood of Jesus, All [their] praise for this [they] bring”.

The story is changing. The blood of Jesus shed for our sin, in our place as God’s grace, mercy and forgiveness is nothing than “a footnote to a gospel that is much richer, grander, and more alive, a gospel that calls you to become a disciple and to disciple others, in authentic community, for the good of the world”(McLaren 2003: 215)

The notion of God so loved the fallen world (John 3:16) that He did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all (Rom. 8:32), a demonstration of His own love for us while we were still sinners (Rom. 5:8) Christ died for us, so that by the grace of God, Jesus suffered and tasted death for everyone (Heb. 2:9) and we, thus, might live through him (1 John 4:9) since his atoning sacrifice (1 John 4:10) has freed us from our sins by his blood (Rev. 1:5) is sadistic and masochistic and in fact a form of cosmic child abuse, we are told.

In Recovering the Scandal of the Cross, Joel B. Green and Mark D. Baker, misrepresented penal substitution, I believe, as “God takes on the role of the sadist inflicting punishment, while Jesus, in his role as masochist, readily embraces suffering” (Green & Baker 2000: 30). They contented that “It will not do, therefore, to characterize the atonement as God‘s punishment falling on Christ” (ibid 113)

A Baptist minister, Steve Chalke, lines with Green and Baker, as he expounded:

The fact is that the cross isn’t a form of cosmic child abuse—a vengeful Father, punishing his Son for an offence he has not even committed. Understandably, both people inside and outside of the Church have found this twisted version of events morally dubious and a huge barrier to faith. Deeper than that, however, is that such a concept stands in total contradiction to the statement: God is love”. If the cross is a personal act of violence perpetrated by God towards humankind but borne by his Son, then it makes a mockery of Jesus’ own teaching to love your enemies and to refuse to repay evil with evil.’(Chalke 2003: 182-3)

Is it true that Christ Jesus representing us as he lived, dead and rose again to bore our penalty by his blood a form of cosmic child abuse? What is Old and New Testaments understanding of Christ atoning work? I believe it is in the context of redemptive history as told in the Old and New Testaments that we can begin to understand the notion of Christ Jesus’ death.

Puzzling that N. T. Wright endorsed Chalke’s The Lost Message of Jesus, he correctly warned us that it is “to easy to belittle [the interpretation of Jesus’ death]”. Wright agrees that each model has its point to make. “But important though” is the model of Jesus “’representing’ his people, and through them the whole world” since it is “not only in the gospels but in Paul and elsewhere, it will scarcely carry all the weight required”. He explained,

There is too, third [first being exemplary, second representing], a massive sense in which Jesus’ death is penal. Jesus has announced God’s imminent judgment on his rebel people, a judgment that would consist of devastation at the hands of Rome. He then goes ahead of his people to take precisely that judgment, literally, physically and historically upon himself, ‘ Not only in theological truth, but in historic fact, the one bore the sins of the many’ This is both penal and substitutionary, but it is far bigger and less open to objection than some other expressions of that theory. Once you put it together with the previous model (Jesus as Messiah representing Israel and hence the world), you draw the sting of the main objections that have been advanced against it. (Wright 2011: 181)

I believe Wright is very correct. In the next article, I will begin with Passover Lamb of Exodus 12, sacrificial system of Leviticus 14 – 16, and the suffering Servant of Isaiah 52- 53 to show that “without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin.” (Hebrews 9:22 ), “the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”(Matt 20:28 ESV emp. added) and that “Christ Jesus’ blood of the covenant,[…] is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins”(26:28 ESV).

Question: Why did N. T. Wright, who defended superbly penal substitution model in his works, endorsed Steve Chalke’s The Lost Message of Jesus which rejects this model?

Next: Penal Substation: The Lamb and the Suffering Servant

Previous: Penal Substitution: In My Place He Stood

Bibliography:

McLaren, Brian (2003). “The Method, the Message, and the Ongoing Story” in The Church in Emerging Culture: Five Perspectives. Leonard I. Sweet, Andy Crouch, Frederica Mathewes-Green, Brian D. McLaren, Erwin Raphael McManus, Michael S. Horton.

Green, Joel B. & Baker, Mark D. (2000). Recovering the Scandal of the Cross. Downers Grove: Inter Varsity.

Chalke, Steve (2003). The Lost Message of Jesus: Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

Wright, Tom (2011). Simply Jesus: Who he was, what he did, why it matters. HarperCollins Publishers.

Bloody photograph is from Dexter.

The Grand Narrative: Bible Story in 3 Minutes

The Gospel Project is a Christ-centered curriculum that examines the grand narrative of Scripture and how the gospel transforms the lives of those it touches. Over a three-year plan of study, each session immerses participants — adults, students, and kids — in the gospel through every story, theological concept, and call to missions from Genesis to Revelation.(The Gospel Project)

Contextualization: Seasoning With Salt

We must,” claimed Lesslie Newbigin, “acknowledge the fact that there is not and cannot be a gospel which is not culturally embodied. This is simply another way of affirming…the historical nature of the gospel”.  In this series of article I attempt to show that Newbigin is correct.

A gospel that is culturally embodied insures that the mystery of the person and work of Christ Jesus is clear to all whom God opens the door for His Word. There is no and cannot be a gospel which is not culturally embodied because we are called to “[w]alk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time.  Let[ting our] speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that [we] may know how [we] ought to answer each person.”(Col. 4:5-6 ESV)

“Knowing how to respond to seekers in their own life context,” explained Martin, and “how to contextualize the gospel without compromising the message, how to communicate the good news of Christ clearly, and how to keep methods consistent with the message—these are essential ingredients for faithful witness.”(Martin 1993: 206) Concurs with Martin, Dodson argued:

We need churches more concerned with gospel faithfulness through true contextualization. We need to preach, teach, train, and disciple the church to communicate the historic gospel of grace in creative cultural forms that awaken people to Jesus, not just lure them into bland services. May we retrieve the true gospel, expressing it in wonderfully creative ways, in order to awaken people to the grace and truth found only in Jesus. (Dodson 2012: n.p)

A gracious and seasoned with salt presentation and sharing of the good news in Christ Jesus enable a Christian to faithfully maintain both a Christian love and a Christian convictions as she share the Gospel of Christ in the cultural context she finds herself in.

This marks the end of my series on Newbigin and Contextualization. If you missed Newbigin And Cultural Embodied GospelPaul: The Missionary And Contextualizer, and Contextualization: Becoming All Things To All, I welcome you to read them and share your view on contextualization.

Bibliography:

Martin, E. D. (1993). Colossians, Philemon. Believers church Bible commentary (206). Scottdale, Pa.: Herald Press.

Dodson, Jonathan K. (2012) Internet Source,Last Accessed: 5/4/2012