Critical Review of N. T. Wright’s The Day the Revolution Began

Dane Ortlund acknowledges that N.T. Wright is one of our strongest writers who has been instrumental for his own development in understanding the Bible. He acknowledges that he has learned much from Wright but concludes: “The problems with this book, unlike the majority of Wright’s other books, so outweigh the good things that the net effect of reading it is spiritually dangerous. Many college students will read this book for their understanding of the crucifixion. I wish they wouldn’t.”

The reasons for his concerns include:

1) False dichotomies -This is a problem with other books of his, but here the false dichotomies are so fundamental to his argument, and so frequently rehearsed, that they become not only grating but structurally weakening. The entire book is built on artificial either/ors when a nuanced both/and would be far more true to the facts and convincing.

2) Caricatures – Wright unfairly caricatures the conservative evangelicals’ view of  (a) heaven and hell and (b) God’s holiness, wrath and divine judgment on sin.

3) Doctrinal vagueness – Wright is unclear on how the cross does what it does, Continue reading ‘Critical Review of N. T. Wright’s The Day the Revolution Began’ »

Module on Asian Religions: Islam and Buddhism

MODULE on ASIAN RELIGIONS: Islam & Buddhism (30-Hour Lectures)
Organized by Malaysia Bible Seminary and Kairos Research Centre

 

PROGRAMME INFORMATION

LECTURER       DR. NG KAM WENG
DATES                 March 27-31, 2017
DAY & TIME     Monday–Friday, 9.00 am–5.00 pm
VENUE               Dream Centre PJ (DUMC)
2 Jalan 13/1, Seksyen 13
46200 Petaling Jaya, Selangor Continue reading ‘Module on Asian Religions: Islam and Buddhism’ »

On being a Reformed, Pauline and Narrative Theologian.

Related Post: Short Comment on N.T. Wright’s Narrative Model

Two false dichotomies:
1) “Pauline” versus “Reformed”
It has been convenient for some New Perspective on Paul (NPP) scholars to pose a false dichotomy between being “Pauline” and being “Reformed”. This dichotomy is misleading because it refuses to acknowledge that Reformed theologians, as children of Martin Luther and John Calvin, are imbue with a profound desire is to think Paul’s thoughts after him when they insist that justification by faith alone and union with Christ is the central and teaching of Pauline soteriology (regardless of whether their critics agree with their theological insight). Likewise, the Reformed critique of NPP arises from a deep concern to uphold the integrity and coherence of Pauline soteriology.

2) “Narrative reading of Scripture” versus “Doctrinal, thematic reading of Scripture.”
N.T. Wright criticizes conservative scholars for formulating doctrines without grounding them on the “biblical story” of God’s advancing kingdom that results in human liberation and final completion of creation because of Christus Victor. Continue reading ‘On being a Reformed, Pauline and Narrative Theologian.’ »

Penal Substitution as Anchor and Foundation of Other Dimensions of the Atonement

Supplementary Reading #1 on Penal Substitutionary Atonement

Related Posts:
Penal Substitution as the Heart of Christ’s Work on Atonement on the Cross
N.T. Wright’s Non-Traditional Theory of Substitutionary Atonement

The theory of penal substitution is the heart and soul of an evangelical view of the atonement. I am not claiming that it is the only truth about the atonement taught in the scriptures. Nor am I claiming that penal substitution is emphasized in every piece of literature, or that every author articulates clearly penal substitution. I am claiming that penal substitution functions as the anchor and foundation for all other dimensions of the atonement when the scriptures are considered as a canonical whole. I define penal substitution as follows: The Father, because of his love for human beings, sent his Son (who offered himself willingly and gladly) to satisfy his justice, so that Christ took the place of sinners. The punishment and penalty we deserved was laid on Jesus Christ instead of us, so that in the cross both God’s holiness and love are manifested.

The riches of what God has accomplished in Christ for his people are not exhausted by penal substitution. The multifaceted character of the atonement must be recognized to do justice the canonical witness. God’s people are impoverished if Christ’s triumph over evil powers at the cross is slighted, or Christ’s exemplary love is shoved to the side, or the healing bestowed on believers by Christ’s cross and resurrection is downplayed. While not denying the wide-ranging character of Christ’s atonement, I am arguing that penal substitution is foundational and the heart of the atonement. Continue reading ‘Penal Substitution as Anchor and Foundation of Other Dimensions of the Atonement’ »

Short Comment on N.T. Wright’s Narrative Model

Related Post: On Being a Reformed, Pauline and Narrative Theologian

Answers to questions on my earlier post on N.T. Wright’s Non-traditional Substitutionary Atonement from a reader:

Question 1: Should we abandon or improve on N.T. Wright narrative model?

I agree in principle with NTW that theology should be anchored in biblical history and history of salvation. Notice I deliberate go beyond using just a generic “narrative’ model to emphasize “biblical history” which is both a record of God’s mighty acts in history, and revealed interpretation through his prophets and apostles? Naturally, this salvation history is not a list of abstract theological propositions (which NTW loves to criticize), but a divine narrative fleshed out in the primeval history of Genesis, the history of Israel, the ministry of Jesus and the apostolic ministry in the early church.

My problem with NTW is his tendency to rule out the theological implication/interpretation that was first given in embryonic form by the apostles, and developed more fully later in creeds and confessions, etc. as NTW charges the latter for being abstract. Continue reading ‘Short Comment on N.T. Wright’s Narrative Model’ »

N.T. Wright’s Non-Traditional Theory of Substitutionary Atonement

N.T. Wright’s Sweet-Sour Cuisine
Reading N.T. Wright (NTW) is like eating delicious Sichuan cuisine – a unique blend of sweet and sour flavors enhanced by hot and spicy pepper that only a master chef could produce. We begin by savoring the sweet flavors.
First, NTW provides a skillfully crafted narrative of the history of God’s salvation from Adam, through the tragic history of Israel until the coming of the messiah. NTW suggests that Adam in Genesis and Israel in biblical history were entrusted with a “covenant of vocation” to be image bearers of God’s glory on earth. The failure of the first Adam brought the Fall. Israel was to resume this mission as the new Adam to reverse the consequences of the Fall by her obedience to the Torah. Instead, Israel’s apostasy resulted in the exile. NTW emphasizes that the mission of the messiah and the cross must be anchored in this tragic history. NTW’s vision of the “covenant of vocation” emphasizes that God’s redemption involves the restoration of creation is an important corrective of some forms of popular Christianity which narrowly view salvation as saving souls which NTW denigrates as a platonized, paganized version of escaping from fallen earth to go to heaven. Continue reading ‘N.T. Wright’s Non-Traditional Theory of Substitutionary Atonement’ »

Let’s Cultivate Simplicity and Solitude (A.W. Tozer)

Prologue: Every age has its own characteristics. Right now we are in an age of religious complexity. The simplicity which is in Christ is rarely found among us. In its stead are programs, methods, organizations and a world of nervous activities which occupy time and attention but can never satisfy the longing of the heart. The shallowness of our inner experience, the hollowness of our worship, and that servile imitation of the world which marks our promotional methods all testify that we in this day, know God only imperfectly, and the peace of God scarcely at all…If we would find God amid all the religious externals, we must first determine to find Him, and then proceed in the way of simplicity. [Tozer, The Pursuit of God]

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We Christians must simplify our lives or lose untold treasures on earth and in eternity. Continue reading ‘Let’s Cultivate Simplicity and Solitude (A.W. Tozer)’ »

Penal Substitution as the Heart of Christ’s Work on Atonement on the Cross

As an evangelical who has been actively involved with the VCF-IFES movement since my varsity days in the 1970s, I am conscious of standing in the spiritual tradition of Martyn Lloyd-Jones, John Stott, J.I. Packer, Carl Henry and Leon Morris. The VCF (or CICCU as it was known during John Stott’s time) was formed when evangelical leaders felt disillusioned by the liberal tendencies of the major student movement at that time, the Student Christian Movement (SCM). The SCM was championing social justice while the VCF was focusing on  proclaiming and preaching the gospel based on the final and sufficient authority of the Bible. It was the CICCU-VCF’s insistence on the centrality of the atoning work of Christ on the cross that led to final separation between the two Christian movements.

John Stott narrates a fascinating account of the unsuccessful attempt to keep the two movements together. Continue reading ‘Penal Substitution as the Heart of Christ’s Work on Atonement on the Cross’ »

Experiencing God’s Sovereignty: A Meditation on Jeremiah 18:1-10

God Is Sovereign over Our Ministry
I have always felt strangely attracted to Jeremiah. The other prophets may share visions of God’s transcending majesty and deliver awe-inspiring oracles of God (Ezekiel and Isaiah) or triumph over hostile persecutors (Daniel), but they seldom disclose their inner selves. Not so with Jeremiah; he laid bare the emotional conflicts of a man who was chosen to bear the Word of God to a stubborn and rebellious generation even though he was personally least inclined to do so.

Jeremiah’s prophetic mission was characterised by immense sufferings. He was physically abused, locked in the stocks and even left to die in a cistern. He experienced the pain of total ostracism as his kinsfolk whom he loved dearly plotted against his very life. He was denied friendship and the joy of marital companionship. Seldom was the price of prophetic mission extracted so severely as from this sensitive soul. Continue reading ‘Experiencing God’s Sovereignty: A Meditation on Jeremiah 18:1-10’ »

The Federal Constitution, Islamisation and the Malaysian Legal Order

Related Post, Highly Recommended: Interfaith Council Urges MPs to Vote Against Hadi’s Upgrade Shariah Courts Bill

by Guest Writer Mr. Lim Heng Seng.

[The policy introduced by the Mahathir administration in the early 1980s, innocuously promoting Islamic universal values, became a platform for certain quarters to embark on a drive to change the fundamental character of the Malaysia polity and its legal order.

Will Malaysia end up as an Islamic or quasi-Islamic state by the gradual and subtle re-writing of her foundational document, the Federal Constitution?  Or will she retain her character as an essentially secular nation?

These developments in Islamisation threaten to subvert the very foundation on which we, the citizens, and the territorial components of Peninsular Malaysia, Sabah and Sarawak have held together as one nation.]

Continue reading ‘The Federal Constitution, Islamisation and the Malaysian Legal Order’ »