Welcome to my digest of Christian comment.
For Biblical commentary, use the Bible Commentary menu above, and for topical comments, use the categories list on the right.
AV: ‘Many mansions’; NRSV: ‘Many dwelling places’; RSV, NIV, ESV, GNB: ‘Many rooms’.
The meaning of this underlying word (monē) is disputed. It was translated as ‘mansiones‘ in the Vulgate, (and then into ‘mansions’ in the AV). Because the word ‘mansiones‘ can carry the idea of temporary lodgings, or places along the way, a theology of post-mortem progress and development has been built on it (from Origen onwards). …
1. The guilt of sin. This is justification, ‘the very hinge and pillar of Christianity’, (Thomas Watson).
John Stott has said, ‘Nobody understands Christianity who does not understand…the word “justified”.’
Spurgeon tells the story of a man who was so constantly in debt and continually being arrested by the police, that once, when going by a fence, having caught his sleeve on one of the rails, he turned around and said, “I don’t owe you anything sir.”…
We preach Christ, and not just the benefits that he offers. This is part of the commitment to ‘Trinitarian personalism’ advocated by Scott R. Swain. He concludes:
Often the commitment to being “Christ-centered” in preaching leads to sermons whose central point is the atonement or justification. Now mind you, one cannot preach Christ without preaching the atonement and justification. But there is a marked difference between preaching the crucifixion and preaching “Jesus Christ and him crucified” (1 Cor 2:2).…
Challenged by a Jehovah’s Witness heckler to find the doctrine of the Holy Trinity in the Bible, J.I. Packer responded along the following lines:
(i) endorsed Old Testament monotheism (Mark 12:29), yet
(ii) regarded Himself as ‘the Son’ in a unique sense (Matt. 11:27; Mark 12:1-12; 13:32), and prescribed and accepted worship of Himself as Son of God, treating this as a proper expression of faith (John 5:23; 9:35-38; 20:28); and
(iii) promised the Holy Spirit as ‘another Comforter’ in succession to Himself, to carry on His own many-sided ministering role (John 14:16); and
(iv) bracketed Father, Son and Spirit together as the triune ‘name’ (singular, note, not plural) into which – that is, into a relationship with which – future disciples were to be baptized (Matt.…
Christopher Ash, in Teaching Psalms, Vol 1, has developed a case for interpreting and preaching the Psalms in a rigorously Christ-centred way.
He espouses the view that all the psalms are ‘about, for, or to the Anointed King (Messiah).’
My initial reaction to this proposal was twofold:
(a) Yes, I want to exalt Christ in every possible way, and therefore to celebrate an approach that is thoroughly Christ-centred.
(b) But I suspected that Ash’s approach is actually quite restricted, in inhibiting a Trinitarian reading of the Psalms and in (potentially) leading to a neglect of their original meaning. …
Various interpretations have been put forward:-
1. That the difference is between intentional and unintentional sins. …
Some years ago, I wrote:
What does the Bible have to say about freedom from slavery? Do we have to privilege the story of the Exodus over the teachings of Paul in order to arrive at an acceptable answer? Or do we have to ditch the Bible as our holy book, because we believe that it fails to condemn slavery in its various forms?
In chapter 7, Esau MacCaulley tackles the most important biblical texts on this question.
Reading the Bible like Jesus did
When Jesus was asked about divorce, he pointed his questions back beyond the Mosaic law (Deut 24:1-4), which permitted it under some circumstances, to God’s creational intention:
In chapter 6, Esau McCaulley discusses the anger that African Americans feel about their historic and ongoing mistreatment at the hands of others.
McCaulley writes movingly of his own and others’ experiences. However, I shall focus on his biblical and theological reflections, for it is these which give the book its unique character and value.
In the chapter, the author presents four reflections on the issue of ‘Black rage’.
1. Israel’s anger as a means of processing Black grief
We turn especially to the psalms of imprecation, and especially Psa 137. …
In chapter 5, Esau McCaulley discusses the issue of black identity.
For some people, he says, Black Christianity is a false notion, foisted upon black people by their oppressors.
History says otherwise. In the days of the early church, there were three centres of Christianity – Rome, Antioch and Alexandria. It cannot be true, then, that Christianity first came to Africans via slavery. Christianity belongs to Africans as much as it belongs to Europeans. Ethiopia was evangelised in the 4th century, and Nubia (in what we now call the Sudan) by the 6th century.…