December 27, 2015

When Joseph Chose to Bear Mary’s “Sin”

When Joseph Chose to Bear Mary’s “Sin”

Joseph, her husband, being a righteous man, and not willing to make her a public example, intended to put her away secretly. (Matthew 1:19, WEB)

Joseph was betrothed to Mary. Legally, she was his wife, though they had not yet been officially wed. And then he discovered the unthinkable. She was pregnant.

He knew the child wasn’t his. So what else was he to think? The only explanation was that she had been unfaithful. Of course we know the truth now—we know that the child inside her was conceived by the Holy Spirit—but at this point, Joseph did not know. As far as he knew, she was an adulteress.

December 22, 2015

When John Piper and I Agree (What Is Our Hope In?)

When John Piper and I Agree (What Is Our Hope In?)

I very rarely agree with John Piper. I love him as my brother in Christ, but beyond the most foundational elements of the Christian faith, he and I just don’t see eye to eye on very much.

So I was thrilled when reading his recent article, “Should Christians Be Encouraged to Arm Themselves?,” to find such a major point of unity between us on such an important issue facing the church. The article does reflect a few of the theological underpinnings of our disagreements, but I don’t want to focus on those right now.

December 21, 2015

Did Mary Remain a Perpetual Virgin?

Did Mary Remain a Perpetual Virgin?

Now the birth of Jesus Christ was like this; for after his mother, Mary, was engaged to Joseph, before they came together, she was found pregnant by the Holy Spirit. (Matthew 1:18, WEB)

With the exception of some liberal scholars, Christianity has always maintained that Jesus was born of a virgin. However, much of Christianity is divided over whether Mary remained a virgin after giving birth to Jesus. Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox, along with some Anglicans and Lutherans, believe that she did remain a virgin, but for the most part, Protestants deny it.

December 14, 2015

Matthew’s Subversive Genealogy of Jesus

Matthew’s Subversive Genealogy of Jesus

The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham. (Matthew 1:1, WEB)

As we begin reading the Gospel According to Matthew, it’s tempting to just skip over the genealogy he opens with. After all, what do we really have to learn from a list of names? But this list is far more than a historical record.

In fact, Matthew doesn’t seem at all concerned with historical reliability here. He freely skips over generations, and in some places he even swaps historical figures. That’s because Matthew intends to make a statement with this genealogy.

December 13, 2015

The Importance of Jesus as Our Only Foundation

The Importance of Jesus as Our Only Foundation

This past Friday, I visited a thrift store and picked up a book called If Grace Is True: Why God Will Save Every Person, which I then devoured over the next day and a half. It’s coauthored by two Quaker pastors, and as the subtitle implies, it seeks to defend the view of universal reconciliation or universalism—the idea that God never rescinds his offer of forgiveness, that he continues seeking the lost even after death, and that all will eventually repent and accept God’s grace.

I won’t spend much time either defending or refuting this view right now. I consider myself a hopeful universalist—meaning that I believe in the possibility of eventual reconciliation for all, and that I hope (in the strong sense of the word) for this to be the case, but that I am not fully confident in every individual’s desire to receive God’s grace. I therefore consider it also a possibility (though I hope this will not be the case) for some to so strongly reject their source of life that they will eventually cease to exist.

My caveat to the book’s premise aside, I really was loving the first four chapters. Nearly every point the authors raised was resonating with me.

December 9, 2015

Blogging through Matthew: Introduction

Blogging through Matthew: Introduction

Over the next few months (or for as long as it takes) I’m going to blog all the way through the book of Matthew. This won’t be a verse-by-verse commentary so much as a section-by-section exploration, in which I’ll pick out anything that seems to be of particular interest or importance.

Why? Matthew is the first book of the New Testament according to most canons, making it a natural place to start. But more importantly, it contains Jesus’ “Sermon on the Mount,” which I view as foundational for everything else. Scattered throughout the rest of the book are scores of other topics I’d like to address. And I expect to discover some new insights along the way.

December 7, 2015

On the Athanasian Theology of Wesley’s Incarnation Hymn

On the Athanasian Theology of Wesley’s Incarnation Hymn

It’s that time of year again. We’re once more officially allowed to sing about our Savior’s birth. I won’t dwell on how much I detest the divorcing of so-called “Christmas carols” from the rest of hymnody. I’ll just say that I believe we should preach the incarnation of the Word, both in season and out of season, using music along with every other method.

But for now, I’m going to focus on one of my favorite incarnation hymns, “Hark How All the Welkin Rings.” You may know it better as the abridged and modified “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing,” but I’m going to follow Charles Wesley’s full original lyrics. (Welkin, by the way, is an older word meaning the “sky” or “heaven.”)

In particular, I want to examine how Wesley captures an Athanasian understanding of the incarnation. It feels as if he had just finished reading Athanasius’ On the Incarnation of the Word of God, and used that as his inspiration to write “Welkin.”

December 3, 2015

December 2, 2015

My 7 Blogging Promises

My 7 Blogging Promises

A little over three years ago (when I first started blogging) I made seven promises to the readers of my blog.

Looking back, I can see how true those promises have turned out to be, particularly numbers one through three.

Since I’ve now moved on to a new blog, reflecting some of my changing beliefs, I think it wise to reaffirm these seven blogging promises.

  1. I promise that I do not know everything.
  2. I promise that I will be wrong about some of the things I write.
  3. I promise that some of the beliefs I have right now will change.
  4. I promise that I will regret some of the things I post.
  5. I promise that I will not always act in accordance with what I post.
  6. I promise that I will continue asking the Spirit to teach me.
  7. I promise that I will try to correct my errors as they are revealed.

December 1, 2015

What Defines a Heretic? Am I One?

What Defines a Heretic? Am I One?

Biblical definition

Biblically speaking, the word heretic comes from the Greek hairetikon, meaning “divisive” (Titus 3:10). A heretic is one who purposes to create disunity, fragmenting the church. In this sense, I am not a heretic. My heart’s desire is to see the church fully united once more. This is one of the key driving factors that motivates everything I do. I hate disunity with a passion.

Though I align myself most closely with the Anabaptists, I do so with the full acknowledgement that they are just one tradition within the whole of Christ’s beautiful universal church. I long for the day when Anabaptists, Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholics, Protestants, and all the rest will sit together around one common table—when we will together break bread and drink wine in memory of our Savior, without stopping to worry about how our brothers and sisters may happen to understand the sacrament.