Category Archives: Research
Are we “Born of God”, or “Adopted”? It can’t be both.
Does the Bible say we are adopted by God? I am quite certain that the Bible does not say we are adopted by God. It does say that we are born of God. Many commentators seem awfully confused about this, but that’s because they are reading an English translation of a Greek document, written in a […]
How to understand the “Two Natures of Christ”? That’s the wrong question.
Was Luther wrong about “Justification by Faith”?
Justified by Faith Luther made axiomatic the claim that the believer is “Justified by Faith”. He was right, of course, but did he understand what that phrase meant to the author of it, and to the original audience?
The Fundamentals of Christianity, as encoded in the Writings of Moses
The core of the Christian/Jewish polemic: What was Moses trying to say? At the very core of the ministry of Jesus, and the teachings of his apostles, is a fundamental claim about what Moses was saying in the first five books of the Bible. Either he was saying that the Covenant struck at Mt Sinai […]
Become like a little child; Understand the Kingdom of Heaven
The Story of Cain and Abel This basic little story is not complex. It is structured like a children’s story. But for reasons I list below, theologians almost universally fail to understand it. It means what it says: “If you do well, will you not be accepted?” ()
Acts 17 – Paul’s address to the Athenians – That moment when God made foolish the wisdom of the world.
Paul in Athens The Book of Acts tells the story of the early church in Jerusalem, and then follows Paul’s missionary journeys. In chapter 17, Paul addresses the wise, the powerful, and the religious of Athens. What he said there is often misunderstood or misrepresented. This was, however, arguably the moment that Paul would later refer […]
What’s Your Story?
God’s Story, and your place in it. The Universe is a Story. It is the Story of God, His Creation, and His plans for that Creation. Those plans include two parts, although these are two sides of the one “coin”: the redemption of all that is of God, and the destruction of everything else. You […]Read More
Romans 8:28-30: Not “Predestination”, but an argument against Judaisers
An appeal for clarity A favourite text of those who argue about Predestination is Romans 8:29-30. It mentions people being “predestined”, and a lot of speculation has surrounded the concept throughout Christian history. The speculation essentially fails to grasp the point: Gentiles and Jews are equally considered God’s “holy people”.Read More
Holiness: It’s not a process.
What is “holiness”? The term “holiness” conjures ideas of piety and moral uprightness. In fact, the word translated as “saint” from the New Testament is literally “holy person”. So we might well imagine very religious piety. Sanctification is a word based on the same Greek root word as “holy”. It means making something holy. Modern commentators will […]Read More
The Angels at Christmas time: What’s with that?
Why is there so much about angels in the Nativity narratives of the Bible? The Biblical account is a narrative. It is constructed in the form of a story. So if the whole story of God is being told through the history of God’s dealings with creation, who is the story for? Who is the […]Read More
A magnifying glass on the Galileans, the Blood, the Tower of Siloam, and the Vineyard of Luke 13:1-9
Luke 13:19 – Pilate, Tower, Siloam, Galileans, Blood, Sarcifices, Sin, Calamity, Vinyard, and Jesus. I recently wrote this piece about Luke 13:1-9. My findings surprised me in one way: I had always thought this passage was about “sin and calamity”, and as it turns out, most Bible scholars think that too, to various extents. What I […]
Trinity: Perhaps the JW’s believe it?
Trinity: Have the JW’s withdrawn their objection? I’ve given Roman Catholic theology a few critiques, so it’s only fair that I publish something different. I recently wrote this essay to refute the 1989 Jehovah’s Witness tract entitled, “Trinity: Should you believe it?” My overall answer is that the tract was badly misleading and inaccurate. It […]
Romans 8:12-14 “Flesh and Spirit”. Do the translators understand?
Discerning the Worldview of the Translators…? The Bible talks about “the flesh” and “the spirit”. Various translations treat these concepts in subtly different ways, and in those differences there can be substantial theological impact. Irrespective of what we want it to say, it is important to comprehend what the original author meant by these terms, […]Read More
Genesis 2:2-3 – Why God rested
Why did God rest? We often ask our Biblical texts questions that they were not designed to answer. This can be ok sometimes, and it can yield information that is good and helpful. But at other times it can result in us reading the text in ways that were never intended, potentially obscuring or even […]
Isaiah and the theme of Hiddenness In the Book of Isaiah there is a notable theme describing a kind of “hiddenness”, which refers to spiritual blindness and deafness by the people. It is a fascinating theme, and often misunderstood. This is a little journey through the Book of Isaiah tracking on this particular theme.Read More
Are the Biblical miracles just “a foretaste”, given to the early church? Can we expect miracles today? Understanding the Biblical miracles as an eschatological “foretaste” is helpful when considering the “consummated kingdom” to which they point, but such an understanding of miracles does not resolve the question of whether they are to be experienced today. […]Read More
Is Ecclesiastes about feelings?
How are we supposed to feel when we read Ecclesiastes? I was asked whether the central message of the book of Ecclesiastes was “Pessimism”, or “Joy”. In other words, how are we supposed to feel when we read it? (Or perhaps, how did the author feel when it was put together?) I don’t think we’re […]Read More
What is a “Statement of Beliefs”, anyway?
“What we believe…” – Is that a creed? Is it a doctrine? Or is it just “What we could agree on at the meeting”? In this article I’m examining one specific article in one particular “Statement of Beliefs” to see what function it fills. I’ve been bothered by both the presence and the absence of […]
An Encounter with a Modern-Day Cultural Man
Bennelong: One Man, Two Worlds I have a (dear) friend who grew up as a young boy learning many of the Indigenous Australian ways – bushcraft, stories, hunting, and so forth. I had the opportunity to interview him as part of an anthropology assignment, and in the process I became his student. For some cursory background […]