Tag Archives: bible

94: Do Your Own Work

In this episode John and Greg to discuss a recent discussion John had with his parents around NT Wright’s book Surprised by Hope. While discussing the first chapters, John referred to some ideas Gregg has put forth.

John was surprised when his father suggested that, “It’s great that Gregg has those ideas, but you have to figure out your own ideas here.” The idea being that John needs to do his own study of the Bible. As the discussion continued, John realized that his father’s knowledge and proficiency regarding the Bible was quite pronounced. From this, John wondered: Can one become this proficient if the impetus for doing so is simply duty and obligation?

In other words, John speculates that his father’s reason for becoming so familiar with the Bible is because he wanted to and questions whether someone could become so proficient driven only by obligation or duty.

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76: Plug Me Into the Bible Matrix

In this episode John begins by voicing concern that his current “infatuation” with N. T. Wright may be misplaced: is Wright as good as he sounds (and as right as Gregg seems to think he is)? John explains that he went looking for criticisms of N. T. Wright and found several such podcasts, and so wonders whether he is being persuaded more by Wright’s convincing speech or by his standing in the Christian community?

Gregg responds by highlighting how, relative to the prominent theologians of the past that Wright’s perspective contradicts (Augustine, Luther, and Calvin) Wright is seen by many who champion the views of these historical thinkers as second-tier scholar or even an upstart. So on the question of eminence persons versus evidence of facts, Wright, as an exegete, offers a densely argued factual presentation of his conclusions that other can—and have—engaged with. Yet among scholars Wright’s views have stood the test of counterargument.

In Gregg’s mind, then, the issue here is essentially how rightly to view / understand God, humanity, and the relationship between the two. Yet Gregg argues that this three-part issue cannot be resolved by deciding between Wright’s view and, for instance, a reformed or Calvinist view. Rather, N. T. Wright’s work represents the essential groundwork to address the issue but remains insufficient because it too remains tied to the very terms of engagement according to which the discussion, to this point, has taken place. And these terms are insufficient.

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74: The Gospel Doesn’t Start at Christmas

In this episode John and Gregg return to their discussion of the Christmas story (from Episode #73) and the notion that “the gospel” does not begin with Christmas or Jesus’ birth but, essentially, with a promise that God made to Abraham and the reality that the gospel is also the culmination of God’s interaction with Israel, through the covenant.

John wonders both about where the gospel story begins and what Gregg’s summary of the gospel would be.  Gregg notes his excitement while preparing last week’s notes and how both last week’s and the current discussion draw so much from N. T. Wright’s perspective, a perspective which both makes sense of the Bible (though excellent exegesis) and makes sense as a story, by encompassing the whole narrative of the biblical text and the whole story of what God has been doing with and through Israel.  As such Gregg argues that Wright’s perspective is clear and credible, and so is effective in creating the right orientation between listeners and the gospel.

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72: Too Much Love and Mumbo Jumbo

In this episode John and Gregg discuss a post, “Are we supposed to balance love and truth?” on Gregory Boyd’s blog.

John is surprised to learn that Gregg has hesitations about the article’s view. Gregg explains that while evangelicals tend to fix truth over love, this article fixes love over truth. Yet in his view both alternatives are problematic: love and truth instead appear to be co-central and in tension with each other, but not fixed in a hierarchy.

For Gregg the lack of biblical references is worrying; for John the references used become far less straightforward when seen in their larger contexts (within the chapters they are situated in). Gregg also finds the terminology to be vague and confusing: what is “the command to love”? In other words, to help readers understand as best as possible why not cite the passages (Matt 19, Mk 10, Lk 10)?

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70: Eminence or Evidence | Expectations Around Experiencing God

In this episode John enquires into the result of Gregg’s 6 month stay in Switzerland, at Swiss L’Abri.  Gregg recaps his time by noting that his writing has been very productive, and especially his most recent topic: “everyday” experiences versus exceptional experiences (particularly, ‘experiencing’ God). Gregg is concerned not only to lay out the content of such experiences–his own included–but also to offer sufficient theoretical, theological, philosophical background for the discussion to appear credible.

In brief, Gregg’s view on the matter is that we should expect such exceptional experiences—experiences of God acting currently, in people’s lives—to be personal but not necessarily individual. In other words, we should expect God to “show up” and act in people’s lives but not necessarily our own lives, which raises both the importance of testimony and of understanding who God is and what God’s priorities are (so as properly to set one’s expectations, relative to God’s action, within Christianity).

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