November 1, 2012 by Jason Hood
One of the themes of my current research is the role humanity plays in the Kingdom of God. It’s a theme that first arises in Genesis 1 and appears throughout the Bible. (You can see an older post on this theme here.)
As Chris Wright notes, “Only when we link the kingship of David and his successors to the kingship of God can we make sense of texts that envision the reign of David over the nations or even over the earth.” (Mission of God, 345). Wright particularly cites the Psalms as the source of this emphasis.
In the introduction to his commentary on Psalms, James Mays explains the significance of this theme for the Psalter’s approach to Messianic Psalms. Psalm 2 has a central role to play in the Psalter’s overall message. This Psalm shows that the establishment of God’s anointed human king is
the response by the kingdom of God to the kings and rulers of earth. The king represents the kingdom of heaven on earth and will extend the reign of God over the unruly, rebellious kings of the world.
Despite the devastating failure of this mission, highlighted especially at the conclusion of Book III in Psalm 89, the Psalms continue to develop the theme, and in such a way that these psalms function as messianic prophecy.
[I]n Psalm 110, the promise that the king will represent the kingdom of God the nations of earth is renewed.
In these psalms . . . the entire history of kingship in Judah has been collapsed into the question of God’s steadfast love to David as the secret of God’s coming rule in the world.
Mays goes on to cite the way in which the assocation of Psalms with David adds one more important Christological piece. Citing Psalm 22 in particular, these psalms produce a surprising shift in the view of the Messiah; he is not just the king who bears God’s kingdom, he is
one of the lowly, beset by all of the predicaments that belong to common humanity, vulnerable and needy. . . . The prayers even imply that it is in the travail of his human nature that this David mysteriously will carry out his vocation . . .
October 15, 2012 by Jason Hood
In Eccl Hist 1.7, Eusebius cites from Julius Africanus on his reconciliation of Jesus’ genealogies and on the nature of genealogical tradition in Judaism. One of the interesting tidbits from that section is the understanding that resurrection was far from clear in the OT. Because “a clear hope of resurrection was not yet given they had a representation of the future promise by a kind of mortal resurrection, in order that the name of the one deceased might be perpetuated” (1.7.2).Given that evangelicals struggle with the relative lack of clarity on resurrection in the OT, it’s interesting that Julius and (perhaps) Eusebius take it at face value. Paul and the author of Hebrews both make a similar connection as they tie the promise of Isaac to resurrection in Romans 4 (especially 4:17) and Hebrews 11:11-12, 17-19.Consider Jesus’ logic against the anti-resurrection Sadducees in this light: if God is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, then he is the God of the living, and resurrection is secure . . . not least because Isaac and Jacob sprang from the “dead” bodies of Abraham and Sarah.1 Comment
August 20, 2012 by Jason Hood
As popular as it now is in some circles to deny that believers experience any judgment whatsoever, the New Testament (including Jesus in the gospels, Paul in Acts and his letters, and elsewhere in the NT) and early Christianity are crystal clear that Christian eschatology includes the judgment of our actions at the feet of Jesus.
Judgment of all is placed at Jesus’ feet in a variety of NT texts and the earliest creeds of orthodoxy, which include a comprehensive reference to the judgment of “the quick and the dead.” James proves the point when he warns of stricter judgment for Christian teachers (3:1).
Many wish to exempt Christians from all scrutiny on the basis of texts such as Paul’s insistence that “there is therefore now no condemnation for all who are in Jesus the Messiah” (Rom 8:1). But in context Paul is not teaching that there’s no critical analysis of our actions, words, and thoughts, or no consequences for misdeeds, but that Christians are saved from a judgment of death (7:9-10, 24).
There are a number of valuable things lost when we neglect, deny, or downplay this teaching:
- The NT regularly uses final judgment as a motivation for action and a warning against disobedience and carelessness.
- The notion that the Lord’s judgment alleviates our vengeance in the present surely applies to wrongs—however heinous, malicious, or mild—perpetrated by believers.
- For biblical writers, judgment testifies to God’s impartiality.
- In the historical creeds and the NT sources, judgment from Jesus is a matter of Christology, such that to deny this fact constitutes a dethroning of Jesus, a Christological error verging on heresy. Jesus shares Yahweh’s position as the Judge of the world, before whom every knee will bow.
June 14, 2012 by Jason Hood
. . . can you spot?
I’m currently enjoying as much of the European Championships as I can. I’ve copied the current headlines from the sidebar of soccernet.com (run by ESPN). How many signs of the end of the world can you spot?
(The Russian fine headline is the result of Poles and Russians clashing in the streets before their fight, and it had more to do with history and current nationalistic and expansionistic policies and rhetoric than soccer…unless we recognize that the latter may in fact be a subset of the former.)
EURO 2012 HEADLINES
- Poland convicts 23 hooligans in fast-track trials
- Croatian fans burn EU flag, carry far-right signs
- Sub’s late clutch goal lifts Portugal by Denmark
- Germany’s 2-1 win has Dutch near elimination
- Russia fined $150K for fans’ attacks after match
- Captain’s strike gives Poland key tie vs. Russia
- Czechs score 2 in first six minutes, beat Greece
- Sweden players see ‘fun’: others call it bullying
- Euro viewership on ESPN triples over ’08 tourney
- Italy player says he hopes no gays are on team
May 10, 2012 by Jason Hood
The Evangelical Free denomination recently modified its doctrinal statement, led by Greg Strand, Bill Kynes, and others. They did a fine job on this, and you can read the results in the book Evangelical Convictions.
The Canadian branch recently revised their doctrinal statement also and eliminated the requirement of premillennial eschatology in keeping with essentials. The Americans attempted the same but were unable to do so (see Strand’s interview with Ed Stetzer). Too many of the older guard of that denomination have been taught that amil and postmil views were tantamount to liberalism. For instance, the postmil approach was favored by social gospelers who failed to take human sin seriously; the amil interpretation of Revelation (which is suspicious because it takes a symbolic approach and therefore, so the argument runs, does not take scripture literally) has been favored by non-evangelical interpreters in recent years.
Admittedly, guilt by association is rhetorically powerful; but it’s also about the worst argument imaginable for a doctrine. It fails to note that the modern missionary movement spearheaded by Carey, Judson, and others was fueled by postmil expectation; and something like the amil position was held by Augustine, Aquinas, Bernard, Luther, and Calvin.
Should we associate premil theology and interpretation with, say, Jim Jones or David Koresh?2 Comments
October 24, 2011 by Jason Hood
There’s an article in the latest Bulletin for Biblical Research in which I explore Paul’s heavenly experience in 2 Cor 12. Paul’s “thorn in the flesh” in the same passage has been the subjection of much speculation (and I ponder that as well), but the more interesting question to my mind is what Paul saw on his “trip” to the third heaven.
We have a good bit of relevant data to consider. Jewish and Christian beliefs and Pauline descriptions of heavenly and ecclesiological realities suggest that in the “third heaven” Paul enters the heavenly model for the earthly temple. If so he would witness God and the Son of Man enthroned and glorified in the heavenly equivalent of the holy of holies.
But the “heavenly ecclesiology” of Paul and other NT authors stresses the temple nature of the church and the church’s access to the holy of holies in heaven. I explore the possibility that Paul would have seen the church-temple enthroned with God and the Messiah (Eph 2:6). If so, it makes sense that this event was formative for Paul’s mission and theology, and also explains why he might not have elaborated on what he saw for the congregation in Corinth.
Not two weeks after I submitted this article my grandmother asked me about this passage out of the blue. She was reflecting on a prayer service for my grandfather in which she believes she saw Jesus standing with a few deacons as they prayed over him. She’s no charismatic, but Church of Christ (and therefore not prone to alcohol, to put it mildly, and averse to charismatic sensations of any sort). She’s a sober, sane person not given to speculation or hyperbole.
She’s also not prone to asking me about biblical passages, other than chatting about Ephesus; her husband was stationed in Izmir (Smyrna) when my mother was a little girl, and they used to picnic at the ruins.
I can’t speak for my grandmother, but for my part our conversation was a very tender and encouraging moment, not least given the fact that I am prone to ponder the usefulness of deep academic study of biblical passages. And I can’t commend my article, but I can report that reflecting on the heavenly nature of the church is terrifically encouraging…2 Comments
September 26, 2011 by Matthew Mason
In a brief sketch of the conditions necessary for theology to flourish, John Webster gives this helpful reminder and eschatological encouragement for those of us tempted to look back wistfully to a golden age of Christian theology:
At no stage in the history of Christian theology have these conditions been perfectly fulfilled. Present circumstances may be straitened; but we would be unwise to consider ourselves in a worse case than our forebears. Theology is not exiled from its past but its future – from the tranquil order of heaven [sic] where creaturely reason will be free and entirely happy in the knowledge of God. For the present, we have to rough it, grateful for good things and patient with what is irksome. (‘Editorial’, IJST 13/2 (2011): 128)
September 13, 2011 by Jason Hood
Al Wolters (author of this amazing book) wrote a great article dealing with 2 Pet 3:7-10. “2 Peter 3 speaks of three ‘worlds,’ each consisting of heaven and earth: a world before the flood, called ‘the world that then existed’ (3:6), the present world between the flood and the Day of the Lord, called ‘the heavens and earth that now exist’ (3:7), and a future world after the Day, called the ‘new heavens and new earth’ (3:13).” These aren’t three worlds, Wolters notes; they “are really the same world in three periods of its history.”
Peter’s comparison of a final eschatological shift with the flood points not to mere destruction, but ultimately to transformation and recreation. What Peter is describing is not a “burning up” (the normal Greek term for “burning up by fire” is not used) but a melting purification or refinement. What has thrown us off for centuries is the fact that the KJV, based on much later texts, including the normal Greek word for “burning up.” Notice in the ESV on 2 Peter 3:7-10 that the footnotes account for several options. The last part of verse 10 is probably best taken as saying something like, “through fire, the earth and its works will show what they are made of.”
Wolters concludes that some earlier scholars “have read into Peter’s text features of a Gnostic worldview which looked on the present created order as expendable in the overall scheme of things. The text of 2 Pet 3:10, on our interpretation, lends no support to this perspective, but stresses instead the permanence of the created earth, despite the coming judgement.”
In a recent version of Tyndale Bulletin, Jonathan Moo follows the same train of thought for 2 Pet 3:7.
For nerds, Al Wolter’s article, “Worldview and Textual Criticism in 2 Peter 3:10,” WTJ 49 (1987) 405-13 is online. For theocultural spectators, Wolters’s book Creation Regained (1985) made him one of the chief architects of the resurgence of the neo-Calvinist, Kuyperian approach to culture in the Keller/Covenant/A29 wings of the Young Reformed movement. But if you’ve never heard of him, don’t fret. Wolters is singularly uninterested in marketing himself or his accomplishments.0 Comments
August 9, 2011 by Matthew Mason
In an old (by internet standards!) but very good article, Michael Linton speaks about the French composer Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992). I’m going to stick my neck out and suggest that Messiaen was the greatest Christian artist of the twentieth century, and one of the greatest composers of all time. He was certainly one of the most radical and progressive composers of his age, yet his music is deeply rooted in the Church and in his Catholic faith (he was organist of Church of La Trinité in Paris for most of his life).
In June 1940, Messiaen was rounded up and snet to a Nazi internment camp. In December 1940 he completed one of the masterworks of twentieth century music: the Quatuor pour la fin du Temps (“Quartet for the End of Time”). I still remember being enthralled by this when I first heard it as a 17 year old.
Linton compares the quartet with other works written in the shadow of World War Two, indicating what a Christian artist, informed by Christian eschatology, can achieve that secular artists – and in at least 3 of these cases, secular geniuses – could not achieve.
…not too long after Messiaen’s quartet was completed, Schoenberg, Shostakovich, Britten, and Penderecki would write pieces expressive of the horrors of the Nazis and their war, music full of screams, howls, and cries for righteous justice against the oppressor.
But Messiaen has no place for such neo-pagan hysterics. In the middle of a prison camp, a prisoner unsure if he would ever again see his family or home, Messiaen composed a vision of heaven where anger, violence, vengeance, and despair are not so much repressed as irrelevant. This work has nothing to do with war, or prison, or “man’s inhumanity to man.” This piece is entirely about the work of God and the glory of Jesus. There is no darkness here. There is no bitterness. There is no rage. Instead there is power, light, transcendence, ecstasy, and joy eternal.
July 6, 2011 by Jason Hood
I regularly need to remind myself that God promised to do some things, he is doing them now, and he will eventually finish the job in his good time:
New things (Isaiah 42:9, 43:19, 48:6)
New name (Isaiah 62:2, 65:15)
New Heavens and New Earth (Isaiah 65:17, 66:22)
New covenant (Jeremiah 31:31-34)
New spirit (Ezekiel 11:19)
New heart (Ezekiel 18:31; 36:26)
New life (Ezekiel 37)
New wine (Zechariah 9:17)
In return, we’ll have to sing new songs (Isaiah 42:10; Psalms 33:3, 40:3, 98:1, 144:9, 149:1; Revelation 5:9, 14:3).
And it’s all starting right now: ”If someone is in the Messiah–that’s New Creation! The old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17)0 Comments