St. John’s College, Nottingham, has a number of great You Tube videos on theological topics. I found this well-produced, 14-minute clip of Tom Wright summazing his view of Pauline Theology. I think I’ll air this in my summer school Romans course next week when I introduce my students to Wright. (I’m trying to do more of these kinds of things in class so it’s not always just me representing other scholars, but allowing scholars to speak for themselves).

 

The meaning of Romans 7 finally uncovered:

I was once alive apart from teaching, but when the end of the semester came, grading came alive and I died.

The very job that promised life proved to be death to me.

For grading, seizing an opportunity through the teaching, deceived me and through it killed me.

So the teaching is holy, and the classroom is holy and righteous and good.

Did that which is good, then, bring death to me? By no means! It was grading, producing death in me through what is good, in order that grading might be shown to be sin, and through the classroom might become sinful beyond measure.

For we know that the teaching is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under grading.

I’m not clever enough to come up with this, but Marc Cortez is. (And on a more serious note, his little volume Theological Anthropology: A Guide for the Perplexed is really helpful.)

It is the last day of class today for my M/W course on Pauline Epistles II (covering only Galatians-Colossians and Philemon). I’ve structured the class to end with Ephesians (since it is probably the latest of these epistles), so today we’ve covering Eph 6:10-24. To get a handle of the passage I’ve been reading through Tim Gombis’ The Drama of Ephesians: Participating in the Triumph of God (InterVarsity, 2010)–also because my students have a book review of it due today–and I was struck by Gombis’ insightful comments on how believers are to participate in divine/spiritual warfare. I’ve always been puzzled about how to apply Paul’s instructions about the “armor of God” in Eph 6:10-18 in the resistance of cosmic spiritual powers. Gombis’ take on the entire subject is illuminating.

First, Gombis suggests that while these powers are real and not to be demythologized, it is important that we focus not on their identities, but on their effects, i.e., “social practices, systems of injustice and oppression and relational dynamics that allow for exploitation and prevent human flourishing” (p. 50). (This looks similar to the approach of Robert Ewuisie Moses in his recent Practices of Power: Revisiting the Principalities and Powers in the Pauline Letters [Fortress, 2014], though I have not yet read it). As we strap on the armor of God, therefore, we are not to engage these spiritual beings head on in any way, if for no other reason than because they have already been defeated by Christ himself (Eph 1:20-23; Col 3:15). Instead, the church’s engagement of the powers involves redeeming and transforming their social and structural effects.

[T]he church wages its warfare in a subversive manner–it is not at all what we might expect. If Paul’s rhetorical summary appears in Ephesians 6:10-18, then his instructions for performing divine warfare are contained in the ethical section of the letter, Ephesians 4:17-6:9. Here, we will see that the church engages in warfare against the powers in ways that defy and overturn our expectations. Our warfare involves resisting the corrupting influences of the powers. The same pressures that produce practices of exploitation, injustice and oppression in the world are at work on church communities. The church’s warfare involves resisting such influences, transforming corrupted practices and replacing them with life-giving patterns of conduct that draw on and radiate the resurrection power of God. Our warfare, then, involves purposefully growing into communities that become more faithful corporate performances of Jesus on earth. Far from being a frightening prospect, this is good news for the world. (pp. 159-60)

I find Gombis’ understanding quite sensible. For one, it helpfully connects Ephesians 6 to the previous two chapters of the letter in a way that I had not previously considered; thus, rhetorically, the end of the letter hangs together quite naturally. Secondly, this reading makes sense of Paul’s largely virtue-driven system of spiritual defense: by embodying “truth,” “righteousness,” “peace,” and “faith,” believers will be transformed and thereby resist evil powers as well as influence their communities. Now, “the gospel,” “salvation,” “the word of God,” and “prayer” are not virtues to be embodied in the same way as those just mentioned, but one can easily see how these can also function as means of individual and community transformation, both inside and outside the church.

Gombis’ book is a good read. I’m looking forward to hearing how my students respond to it!

This is good: Hitler on Wright and Piper

HT: Joel Willits

But I also really like what my students have prepared:

Ben C. Blackwell:

This is sure to be an interesting conference.

Originally posted on A Word in Edgewise:

 

A friend of mine Edward Fudge is hosting a conference this summer, July 11-12, at the Lanier Theological Library.  The title is “Rethinking Hell.”  Edward Fudge, as you may know, has written the definitive book on hell as annihilation.  Here is an announcement I received recently on it.  If you are in or near Houston this summer, you should plan on attending.  Go to the site http://www.rethinkinghell.com for more details. 

Eleven weeks from now, registrants from countries on three or four continents arrive in Houston for the first ever Rethinking Hell Conference. Awaiting them will be a schedule that includes high academic prowess and ground-level practice, historical exhibits, a live podcast interview with audience involvement, screening of a feature movie, and never-before-seen excerpts from an international documentary film now in progress.

All this happens in a world-renowned venue, the Lanier Theological Library and Chapel, whose professional staff is accustomed…

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Ben C. Blackwell:

Good stuff here. Thanks Brian for the recommendations….

Originally posted on the archives near Emmaus:

This week’s recommendations:

5. The Growth of Global Pentecostalism by Marc Cortez

4.a Jesus the Widower by James McGrath and b. Jesus’ Wife Fragment Latest from Mark Goodacre

3. Richard B. Hays by J. Ross Wagner

2. Boyarin on the Jewishness of High Christology by Nick Norelli

1. Fundamentalist Arguments Against Fundamentalism by Craig A. Evans

For more connect to us on Facebook or on Twitter @nearemmaus

or follow me on Twitter: @brianleport

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Ben C. Blackwell:

Cyril is one of my favorites.

Originally posted on Cataclysmic:

I grew up in a church setting in which “communion” was not observed regularly. The few times that it was practiced, we utilized a “fast-food” strategy – efficiently passing out individually packaged cups and crackers. For us, communion was one of many possible ways that we remembered the individual forgiveness which we received because of Jesus’ death.

I’ve since learned that communion is not simply one of many ways to worship Jesus but is instead a central way that believers encounter the transforming presence of Christ. One of my teachers regarding the Eucharist was the church father Cyril of Alexandra. Here are a few excerpts from Cyril’s commentary on Luke 22:17-22:

“Christ dwells in us, first, by the Holy Spirit, and we are His abode, according to that which was said of old by one of the holy prophets. ‘For I will dwell in them and lead them, and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to Me a people.’. . …

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