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Paul and Jesus

I spent several posts explicating Paul’s understanding of his gospel, that by Christ’s death and resurrection a person is put into a restored relationship with God. He had several ways of explaining how it worked (the “judicial” model; the “participationist” model; and the other models I described). But in all of these ways, it was Jesus’ death and resurrection that mattered. It was not keeping the Jewish law. It was not knowing or following Jesus’ teaching. It was not Jesus’ miracles. It was not … anything else. It was Jesus’ death and resurrection. I then summarized in my previous post, the teaching of Jesus himself, about the coming Son of Man and the need to prepare by keeping the Law of God, as revealed in the Torah, as summarized in the commandments to love God above all else and to love one’s neighbor as oneself. Do these represent the same religion? I see this as one of the most fundamental and important questions in all of early Christianity. I’m not asking if Paul invented Christianity, [...]

2020-04-03T16:59:53-04:00May 6th, 2014|Historical Jesus, Paul and His Letters|

The Message of Jesus

To this point in the thread I have been talking about Paul’s “religion” – specifically, what he thought was important in a person’s relationship with God. He expressed his views in a variety of ways – I have talked about his judicial and his participationist understandings of salvation, and have made brief comments on yet other “models” that he used to express his view about the act of salvation that God had achieved through Christ. In all of these models, it was the death and resurrection of Jesus that was of paramount importance. It was that, nothing else, that brought about salvation. And what did Jesus himself think? This is arguably the most important point to consider about early Christianity. Did the best known apostle of Christ proclaim the same, or very similar message, to Jesus himself? Or not? In my New Testament class every semester I have my students debate, in class, a resolution dealing with the issue: “Resolved: Paul and Jesus represented fundamentally different religions.” Students are surprised by the topic. Until they [...]

2020-04-03T17:00:03-04:00May 5th, 2014|Historical Jesus|

Response to the Response: How God Became Jesus

My publisher, HarperOne, asked me to write a 1000-word response to the book that was written in response to How Jesus Became God.  As you probably know, the book is called, somewhat expectedly, How God Became Jesus.  I have toyed with the idea of giving a chapter-by-chapter response here on the blog.   I’ve grown a bit cold to the idea, though, since I’m not sure every chapter of their book really needs a response.  I may respond to a couple of the chapters.  In the meantime, here’s one response you can read that is, interestingly, written by Daniel Kirk, a professor of NT at the evangelical Fuller Theological Seminary, about one of the better chapters in their book: What I give below is the overall response to the book that I wrote for my publisher.  We had thought about publishing it somewhere, but I’ve decided to give it here instead. ************************************************************ It is always exciting to publish a book that is considered controversial; it is more exciting when it is thought to be controversial before anyone [...]

2017-12-14T23:20:59-05:00May 2nd, 2014|Bart's Critics, Book Discussions, Public Forum|

Other Models of Salvation in Paul

I have been discussing various ways that Paul understands the importance of the death and resurrection of Jesus for salvation, and have focused on the judicial and participationist models – mainly because these are the two that Paul most frequently appeals to (without calling them the judicial and participationist models!).   I need to clarify a few points before moving on to speak of yet other models that Paul appears to use. First, several readers have seemed to think that I have a personal relationship to these models.   Several have asked how I could possibly believe such a thing.  And one has asked what right I have to talk about “sin” if I’m not a Christian and so do not believe in sin.  So let me clear: I’m not affirming or denying anything Paul says in any of his writings.  I’m simply describing what it is he says.   Some people have trouble understanding the difference between description and prescription, but there’s a big difference. I remember back when I was a conservative evangelical at Princeton Theological [...]

2020-04-03T17:00:45-04:00May 1st, 2014|Paul and His Letters|
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