Works-righteousness: a square contractual peg in a round covenantal hole
In antiquity, the key distinction between contract and covenant was one of performance versus loyalty. This was widely understood and accepted; so how plausible is it that first century Judaism treated God’s covenant as a contract requiring performance, rather than as what it claimed to be—a covenant requiring personal fidelity?
Was Jesus an alpha male? Part 2: command
To properly understand intersexual dynamics, we need to ground them in human nature—which is fundamentally the image of God. This image consists in two related elements which are both encompassed by the term command.
Was Jesus an alpha male? Part 1: a trick question
Christians should not be forcing their view of authentic masculinity into a simplistic dichotomy based on evolutionary psychology—no matter how central that is to the conceptual nexus of the manosphere. God’s design for men is exemplified in Jesus; not in natural selection.
How to improve God’s Big Picture
Vaughan Roberts’ God’s Big Picture is a video series worth watching. It rightly emphasizes kingdom as the backbone of the gospel narrative, but suffers from some typically Western blind spots that water down that narrative in unfortunate ways.
Is final justification unchristian?
Final justification does not add anything to the conditions of justification; nor does it entail that God grounds his verdict in our works rather than in his Son’s. On the contrary, final justification is on account of the very same faith that first joined us to Jesus and his vindication—and our works are a proper part of that faith.
Does God need the divine council?
Many people object that since God doesn’t need anyone to help him rule in the heavenly places, therefore there is no divine council. This objection is puzzling, since it is easily repurposed to “prove” that there are also no earthly rulers either.
Women: the cause of, and solution to, all of society’s problems
Glenn Stanton represents a broad stream of thought about gender relations and marriage within evangelicalism. Unfortunately, that stream of thought is flagrantly incoherent, shamelessly unscriptural, and because it ultimately amounts to gyneolatry, actually produces the precise social decline that it laments.
A brief theology of kink #2: the natural order of things
To discern the permissibility of a particular sex act, we need to first know what the features of sexuality are; what they tell us about God’s intentions for his creation; and whether that act defies those intentions. This is not as straightforward as you might think.
Am I toxically paranoid, or are you naïvely inured?
The frog is disputing the meaning of the bubbles as the pot comes to the boil.
A brief theology of kink #1: what does the Bible command?
The Bible gives very few commands about what sex acts are permissible for married couples. Its concern seems to be not for regulating the nature of sexual intimacy, but rather for ensuring that it occurs with the right person. What couples may do is thus left for them to discern.
The Last Jedi is the first successful leftist porno
Why did the latest Star Wars installment receive fawning critical adoration, but widespread contempt from average movie-goers? Because average movie-goers didn’t realize that it was a film made to stimulate the engorgement of virtue, rather than to tell a story.
Does 1 Corinthians 8:4–6 deny or affirm the existence of other gods?
This is commonly taken as an anchor point for proving that other gods do not exist—but in fact, it is saying the opposite.
What is the kingdom of God? Introduction: a tale of two kingdoms
Why do the gospels represent the good news as being about the “kingdom of God”? What is this kingdom, and how does it relate to us today? In this series I trace the surprising biblical narrative of kingdom, from Genesis 1 to Revelation 22, starting by showing that John 3:16 is actually about God transforming man’s ruined kingdom into his own eternal one.
Against “Against Intellectual Property”
In which I find N. Stephan Kinsella’s Against Intellectual Property generally wanting, due to the skewed nature of his libertarian ethical presuppositions, and the problem he has in grounding any kinds of rights whatsoever.
What is the kingdom of God? Part 10: the urgency of preaching Jesus as king of the western world
The results of the evangelical gospel are things like easy-believism, an inability to easily squash the lordship salvation controversy, moralistic therapeutic deism—and ultimately cultural relativism due to the privatization of religion. The New Testament’s cosmological gospel confronts these errors.
What is the kingdom of God? Part 9: the Great Commission as a directive to conquer
The evangelical moralistic gospel hopes less, demands less, and achieves less than the all-encompassing ambitions of the New Testament’s cosmological one. If Jesus really is ruling until he puts all his enemies under his feet, then he is creating a new nation out of all the old ones through the Great Commission—and this happens geometrically until there is nothing left for us to do.
What is the kingdom of God? Part 8: the gospel as a message of triumph
Whereas the apostles front-load the gospel with Jesus’ resurrection for worldwide kingship, evangelicals front-load it with his death for sin. Thus, whereas the New Testament’s gospel is a message about all-encompassing cosmic restoration through Jesus’ resurrection and enthronement, today’s gospel is a message about individual moral restoration through Jesus’ death and atonement.
Baptism as a pledge of allegiance
Baptism is (among other things) a public renouncement of one’s former enslavement to Satan and the other spiritual rulers of this present darkness, and a vow of fealty to the enthroned king, Jesus.
Who is the serpent in Genesis, and is it an actual snake?
Several different strands of evidence point to the serpent being not an animal, but a shining, serpentine angelic being.
Thorny problems with the serpent being a talking snake
This surprisingly common YEC interpretation of Genesis 3 is problematic for at least seven reasons.
Angels and ghosts
The common assumption that Matthew 18 and Acts 12 give us glimpses of guardian angels is probably mistaken. Rather, the term angel in these passages is referring to human spirits.
The gospel is inherently political
The fact that Jesus’ kingdom is not of this world does not imply that it is not on this world.
Presupposing freewill theism is the opposite of the Naked Bible method
Modern ideas about libertarian free will, conditioned by our culture and theological history, are completely foreign to the assumptions that ancient readers would have brought to the Bible.
Is lack of healing a failing of the church to exercise authority for their king?
In response to a reader’s question, I suggest a moderate path between taking kingdom theology to humanistic extremes that presume upon God’s authority, and swinging so far the other way that we refuse to represent his authority at all.
What is the kingdom of God? Part 7: where we are now, and what we can look forward to
God’s end-game is a human kingdom that is not just restored, but glorified, with believers taking their place as new sons of God, ruling with Jesus forever.
What is the kingdom of God? Part 6: how God is retaking Adam’s kingdom from Satan
God used the collapse of his kingdom Israel, and the death of his king Jesus on a cross, to overcome sin and make the human nature itself sacred space. He thereby disarmed Satan’s claim over humanity by crowning a perfect human king in his place—and started inexorably transforming Adam’s ruined kingdom into Jesus’ restored one by dwelling in human hearts instead of in a land.
Demonization and mental illness
Despite popular assumptions, ancient peoples could usually tell the difference—just like we usually can.
Advice for women on International Women’s Day
This is directed especially to Christian women, since it is based on Scripture—but any woman, and indeed any man, will benefit from it.
What is the kingdom of God? Part 5: when God began retaking Adam’s kingdom from Satan
Before we can understand how God is retaking Adam’s kingdom, we must first establish when he began to do it. Daniel 7 was fulfilled after Pentecost when Jesus went into heaven on a cloud and received kingship to place his enemies under his feet.
Sacrificial animals did not die in place of people
The Levitical system of sacrifices was not intended to model substitutionary atonement; it was about sanctifying the space and the people that God dwelt in the midst of.
Constructive criticism of The Unseen Realm #4: predestination and foreknowledge
In which I offer a friendly critique of some elements of Michael Heiser’s The Unseen Realm—in this instance, his comments in chapter 9 on how God foreknows without predestining.
What is the kingdom of God? Part 4: a tale of two seeds
The fallout of the curse was a bitter war between the seed of the serpent, and the seed of the woman, within the one kingdom God had established. This culminated at Babel, where Yahweh disinherited mankind and divided them among the sons of God—taking Israel as his kingdom and giving the rest to Satan.
If Adam thought Satan was a good guy, was his transgression justified?
A response to Steve Hays, in which I challenge the assumption to begin with, and then doubt the conclusion for two other reasons anyway.
Why think the rulers of 1 Corinthians 2:8 are gods?
In which I outline two significant reasons based on the language used, and what Paul is actually talking about.
Is it right to ask God to forgive you again and again, when he has already forgiven you on the cross?
Short answer: yes, we should continually ask God for forgiveness.
Evangelical complementarian leaders mostly just teaching feminism
The Gospel Coalition tries to teach complementarianism by rebranding feminism, and I demur.
Are cherubs just palace guardians?
Steve Hays argues that my view of Eden as the divine council meeting-place trades on ignoring the role of cherubs as defensive rather than administrative beings. I reply with a three-pronged rebuttal.
What is the kingdom of God? Part 3: what happened in Eden
Adam was created as the first human member of the divine council. The serpent was a shining, serpentine being who didn’t like Adam being given dominion of the earth instead of someone higher up…like him.
What is the kingdom of God? Part 2: the divine council
Israel, like all ancient Near Eastern peoples, conceived of the world as being governed by a cosmic bureaucracy—a bureaucracy the Bible calls the divine council. Prophets were brought into this council when they were commissioned.
What is the kingdom of God? Part 1: representation and rulership
The kingdom of God and the kingdom of man started out as the same thing, and Adam’s representation of God is mimicked in the physical world’s representation of spiritual realities.
Abortion as sacrament: why religious language is still used in a secular culture
A brief analysis of abortion in terms of Satan’s attack on the image and kingdom of God.
Vicarious atonement and gift-giving
Western intuitions about vicarious atonement are overly selective given other vicarious mechanisms we take for granted.
Christianity, confidence, and certainty
We can have complete certainty in the existence of God, and a high degree of confidence in the truth of Christianity specifically. This is justified not only by philosophical, prophetical and historical arguments, but especially by the direct knowledge imparted by the Spirit of God.
Excerpts from credible witnesses to supernatural events
Not every account of supernatural events should be believed, but some have the ring of truth.
What should we make of supernatural events in other religions?
We should welcome them as potential proof of Christianity.
How to better profit from personal Bible reading
Some thoughts and questions to ponder when seeking to apply the Bible to your own life in your personal devotions.
Calvinism, masculinity and niceness
In some ways, this isn’t really about Calvinism. That’s just how the conversation started. It’s about Christianity abandoning masculinity, and thus replacing love with niceness.
Prelapsarian predation, part 4: the curse
Were animals bitey before the Fall? Or did they only start munching on each other afterwards? In the fourth part of this series I assess what we can infer about death and predation from the curse.
The role of elders according to Scripture
What are they supposed to do, and what kind of people should they be?