Q&A: why should Christians attend church?
A reader asks on behalf of himself and his daughter. I briefly demonstrate that the Bible doesn’t just consider it normal to worship with other believers, but really a practice of such critical importance to our spiritual growth that avoiding it carries an expectation of furious judgment.
Does diachronic faith undermine perseverance and regeneration?
A reader asks whether adopting a Federal Vision-like perspective on faith and justification can stop there. Must it not logically lead us to deny the perseverance of the saints, and in turn the Reformed understanding of regeneration? I explain why I think this is broadly mistaken.
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?
Faith across time: 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.
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.
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.
Sacrificial animals did not die for moral guilt
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.
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.
Vicarious atonement and gift-giving
Western intuitions about vicarious atonement are overly selective given other vicarious mechanisms we take for granted.
What is hell, and is it biblical? Part 7: the early church
A response to Jacob McMillen and Josiah Pemberton. In this installment, I demonstrate how they must cite cherry-picked evidence from the most absurdly unqualified sources to make the case that eternal punishment wasn’t part of early church doctrine.
What is hell, and is it biblical? Part 6: argument from statistics
A response to Jacob McMillen and Josiah Pemberton. In this installment, I briefly demolish their “statistical argument” that if hell were in the Bible, it would appear more often.
What is hell, and is it biblical? Part 5: exegetical fumbles
A response to Jacob McMillen and Josiah Pemberton. In this installment, I show the blunders and gymnastics required to so comprehensively misunderstand the obvious “hell passages”.
Why are some not drawn?
A cautious response to a difficult question.
What is hell, and is it biblical? Part 4: is hell eternal or age-long?
A response to Jacob McMillen and Josiah Pemberton. In this installment, I show that if you believe hell’s duration should be translated as “age-long” rather than “eternal”, you not only mangle basic language, but eviscerate the gospel and spiral into heresy on the nature of God himself.
What is hell, and is it biblical? Part 3: Gehenna
A response to Jacob McMillen and Josiah Pemberton. In this installment, I correct their hasty assertions about how “Gehenna” is mistranslated, by examining its use in Second Temple sources.
What is hell, and is it biblical? Part 2: the nature of hell
A response to Jacob McMillen and Josiah Pemberton. In this installment, I illustrate their fundamental misunderstanding of the traditional doctrine of hell.
What is hell, and is it biblical? Part 1: hell and the gospel
A response to Jacob McMillen and Josiah Pemberton. In this installment, I question how their view of hell can square with a gospel that preaches eternal life.
A simple argument that John 6 is not referring to the Eucharist
I mean, of course it’s not—but try convincing a Catholic of that.
What is being born of water in John 3:5?
Is it baptism, amniotic fluid, or is John tracing a trajectory of Old Testament allusion and physical metaphor?
What does baptism signify?
Is it membership in the covenant? Or just membership in the covenant community?
Who is baptism for?
Is it for babies? Or believers only? It is for new covenant members— who the Bible explicitly identifies as regenerate believers.
Silly myths and irreverent visions
An exchange in which I resist being led away by a professing believer whose sensuous mind is puffed up without reason…
Can unbelievers understand the Bible?
A brief response to an important question, in which I answer yes and no.
Annihilationism versus eternal torture
…and why I don’t have anything to do with the Christian Apologetics Alliance.
If God wants to save everyone, why did he only choose Israel?
If you want all people to be part of your kingdom, you don’t disinherit them and then pick just one family.
Thorny problems with Calvinism #4: why evangelize if everything is predestined?
The fact that God has predestined something doesn’t mean it will happen no matter what, but rather that it will happen inevitably by the means which he has also predestined.
Does James teach justification by works?
Yes—inasmuch as works are a proper part of the living faith by which we dwell in Jesus, and he in us.
Thorny problems with Molinism #2: the demonstrable falsehood of its governing intuition
The Molinist’s governing intuition is that people can’t be responsible for choices which (i) do not ultimately originate in their own wills or (ii) where they could not have done otherwise. This intuition is flatly contradicted by Jesus in John 6:44; so Molinism should be rejected as false.
What is love? Part 3: the nature of God’s love toward us
What does it mean that God is love, that he loves us, and that we are to love him? In part 3, I delve into the notion of triune love as “onetogetherness”, and what it therefore means when God says he loves us.
Why do some people exercise faith and others not?
In a synergistic framework, what is the explanation for some people responding affirmatively to prevenient grace, while others do not? If it is because of the grace they receive, then God shows partiality; if it is because of their character, then they have reason to boast; if it is neither, then salvation is down to luck.
Was the atonement wasted if God chooses who to save?
A response to the common intuition that, under Calvinism, Jesus’s suffering was wasted for all those who God did not choose to save.
On the atonement, part 6: unlimited satisfaction fails to actually accomplish redemption for anyone
Part 6 of 6, in which I consider and confute the objection that an unlimited satisfaction would not actually secure or guarantee salvation for anyone.
On the atonement, part 5: universal salvation, or double payment
Part 5 of 6, in which I refute the objection that unlimited satisfaction entails either universal salvation, or a double payment for sins.
On the atonement, part 4: God’s desires frustrated?
Part 4 of 6, in which I interact with the objection that unlimited satisfaction requires that God be at cross-purposes with himself, entertaining frustrated desires which he cannot fulfill.
On the atonement, part 3: the objective grounds for faith
Part 3 of 6, in which I forward the argument that limited satisfaction undermines the assurance of salvation at exactly the times we most need it, by removing the objective grounds for faith.
On the atonement, part 2: the grounds for the universal gospel call
Part 2 of 6, in which I argue that limited satisfaction is inconsistent with the universal gospel call—whether conceived of as an invitation, or as a command only.
On the atonement, part 1: headship and imputation
Part 1 of 6, in which I show that limited satisfaction is inconsistent with what is revealed in Scripture about federal headship and forensic imputation: two doctrines central to Jesus’ penal substitution.
On the atonement: introduction
In which I introduce the case I will forward for a particular redemption grounded in an unlimited satisfaction on the cross.