Episode 106: An Interview with Dr. Chris Green – Sanctifying Interpretation

In this episode we sit down with Dr. Chris Green to talk about his book, Sanctifying Interpretation, and how God uses the ‘troubling texts’ of Scripture to make us holy. Grab a copy of it here, and/or read Andrew’s review of it here.

Be sure to subscribe to our YouTube Channel and follow us on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter to stay connected with us throughout the week!

My relationship with Scripture began in church… we went to church 4-5 times per week and the sermons were almost always from the Old Testament… the readings of the Old Testament were almost always typological… 

From the time of my childhood, the Old Testament texts—especially the troubling ones—have been the ones that have drawn me…  

I believe that God is like Jesus… if that is true, then all of Scripture is written by Jesus… so we should look at his teaching to see what the rest of Scripture is… 

When you look at the Gospel portraits of Jesus, you see that he is incredibly difficult… we have this notion that Jesus was a simple teacher… but that’s not true… Jesus in the Gospels almost never says anything that anyone understands, and when they do think they understand it they try to kill him… that’s true to what the Old Testament is… 

Before I wrote this book, I was convinced that you couldn’t talk about reading Scripture without first talking about what it means to be human and what it means to be the people of God… human beings have a calling: to be interpreters and mediators, and we mediate by interpreting… we are priests in that way… 

This, I believe, is the only way to understand why God would give us the Bible in the first place: it must be that he means for us to have to grapple with texts… Jesus never writes anything himself; he inspires others to write his story—and this is how Jesus writes and teaches… 

The reason that interpretation is difficult is because the process of becoming holy people is difficult…  

When we’re reading troubling texts, the first and most important thing is to pay attention to the fact that we are troubled, to lean into it, and to ask why we are troubled…  

Everyone says that the Old Testament is full of judgment… but if you actually go back and read the texts, what you see is that without exception, the judgments fail to work… no judgment short of the judgment that falls on Christ actually solves the human situation…  

Everyone needs to read Scripture… but we need to stop talking about it and actually read it, and read it well… we need to defamiliarize ourselves with our “readings” of Scripture and go back and read them with fresh eyes…

Episode 103: An Interview with Dr. Simeon Zahl – The Holy Spirit and Christian Experience

In this episode we sit down with Dr. Simeon Zahl to talk about how a robust theology of the Holy Spirit can give us better language for talking about the role of experience in the life of a Christian. Grab a copy of his book, The Holy Spirit and Christian Experience here.
Be sure to subscribe to our YouTube Channel and follow us on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter to stay connected with us throughout the week! The main thing that drove me to write this book was that Protestant theology had gotten into a false dichotomy: either suspicion about experience or being uncritically accepting of it… I just think we need a better way of accounting for the experiential dimensions of the Spirit’s work…  I grew up with good Lutheran theology, but when I was in college at Harvard I got involved in the Alpha course… and at the Holy Spirit weekend, a lot of people had experiences of the Holy Spirit that were life-changing… I had been taught that I needed to make a choice between my Lutheran theology and the charismatic experience, but Alpha showed me that wasn’t the case…  People mean different things when they talk about ‘experience’… but fundamentally, everything is experience… you can’t get rid of it… the thing to do is to try to think well about it…   The main way the Scripture leads us to think about experience is through the doctrine of the Holy Spirit… the Spirit is the right way of talking about God’s action in the world…   There’s a story that’s told in the theological academy that the doctrine of justification by faith is a cold, legal, rationalistic form of Christianity… but when you read [the Reformers], you see that it’s all about a kind of experience that you’re being led to… an experience of moving from terror to joy…   Biblically and theologically, the Spirit is involved in three areas of life: salvation, sanctification, and the mission of the church… these things are not abstract… they are about having our desires transformed so that we desire the things of God…   There’s a way of talking about the Spirit where when you’re stuck in behavior patterns you can’t change then it must be a sign that you’re not a Christian… that always bothered me… what do we do when there isn’t striking transformation?  Luther is helpful here… he says you are both a sinner and a saint, which creates room to admit what is true… the gospel creates a firewall against despair… when our attention is on God, things go back into their proper shape…  We need to beware where we are preaching an idea or a concept that hasn’t been filtered through experience… it will create a disconnect for people…

Episode 091: An Interview with N.T. Wright Pt. 2

In this episode, Andrew, Glenn, Jason, and Daniel chat about what they’ve learned over the years from NT Wright. Be sure to catch part 1 of Glenn’s conversation with Wright HERE.

Subscribe and Watch our conversation on our YouTube channel here.

————————

One of the things we do with crisis is we ask, “How did we get here?” and try to assign blame… and of course we want to get out of it as soon as possible… telling the story of Jesus won’t let us escape the sojourn… Jesus is the one who is the companion in the sojourn…

Jesus is not ONE of the ways we make sense of the world, Jesus is THE way we make sense of the world… Tom was one of the first people who helped me understand that the question is not “why” is this happening but “who” is God for us in this?

There are two threads in the OT… one thread is that calamity is the result of judgment… the other is the innocent sufferer… what I love about Tom is that he shows us that Jesus is both (the judgment-bearer and the innocent sufferer)…

A lot of Christians see racial justice as tangential to the gospel… but when you read the New Testament, you see that it is central…

Tom reminds us that we cannot privatize the gospel—Jesus is the ruler over all things and all people, and what God is doing is reconciling all things to himself in Jesus, and everyone to one another…

Part of God’s saving work is that God’s covenant righteousness is also covenant membership… Tom helps us see that Paul is talking about who belongs – and if we all belong because of our faith in Christ, there can’t be division anymore between me and my brother…

The beauty of repentance is that we are casting ourselves upon merciful God… for white America, this will be one of the hardest things to learn… that we can’t fix this… that we’re going to have to listen to our African American brothers and sisters and let them lead the way…

So much of Tom’s work contradicts our implicit divided worldviews… we think there is God’s realm and our earthly realm… but when you look at the history of Jesus, you see that heaven and earth are interlocked…

If the church now is Christ’s availability to the world, we are the place where the weeping of God meets the pain of the world…

Episode 090: An Interview with N.T. Wright

In this episode we sit down with world-renowned New Testament scholar N.T. Wright to talk about his new book “God and the Pandemic” as well as the way Gospel addresses racism.

Subscribe and Watch our interview with N.T. Wright on our YouTube channel here.

————————

Obviously there are plenty of things in the Old Testament which are about people misbehaving and God producing specific judgments—a plague or being defeated in battle or whatever it may be. But there are many other passages in the Old Testament—with the book of Job in the middle—which say “Yeah, bad things happen, but this was not God doing it and I do not deserve it.”

What “God and the Pandemic” is really all about is hermeneutics—it’s how to read the Bible for all it’s worth instead of just taking a bit here and a bit there… We have to read the Bible as a whole narrative with Jesus in the middle and only then do we get the real message.

Again and again the New Testament encourages us not to say “OK, we can now produce a rational analysis of why God has done this or that,” but we can say “what is our vocation as followers of Jesus in this extraordinary situation?” 

This is what it looks like when God takes charge: It’s not God sitting upstairs pushing buttons and pulling levers. It’s God coming in the person of his Son, in order to confront evil to take its weight upon himself to bring healing and New Creation… 

When Jesus redefines power at the end of Mark 10, he says, “Yeah, the emperors boss and bully and beat people up to get their way, we’re not going to do it like that. We’re not going to do it like that. We’re going to do it the other way. If anyone wants to be great, they must be your servant, the slave of all” …That’s the redefinition of power itself.

God is leading wise, humble Christian servants to be at the place of pressure and pain to be there in prayer. To be with. That’s the whole thing. God with us. 

In Romans 8, Paul is talking about how God saves creation as a whole with humans at last rescued from sin and death to take their place as the rescued rescuers… God has designed the world to work as a garden through human agency. We don’t make roses grow, but we prune them and tend them. 

To our hurried, Twittering, lament is a really difficult thing to do. To hold back from what we think we ought to say at once. To say: “No, I’m going to wait. I’m going to stay in this place of pain. Please help me Lord…help me to use these psalms, and teach my people to use these psalms, and to have a season of lament to just say ‘How long O Lord, how long?’” And then there may be new things that grow out of that… we become gradually formed by the passion of Christ. 

The Christian example of two thousand years of caring for those who cannot care for themselves has rubbed off on the world… The Church still has to say “We’re not giving up on this. We’re in this for the long haul.” 

Caring for the poor, caring for the sick and the dying, caring for the weak and the vulnerable and those without education. This is part of our DNA. This is what we do as Christians. And Christians have done that from day one, because it’s what Jesus did.

People think of going to church with the people who look like them and talk like them, but the whole point of the gospel in the beginning was that this was a new way of being human in which men and women every nation and tribe and tongue would come together.

Christianity is an entire way of being human. It’s economics, it’s politics, it’s philosophical, it’s everything. It’s got some religious elements, but it didn’t look like a first-century religion at all. It is its own category. And that category is instantiated in the life of the multi-colored, multi-ethnic everything-together church.

Episode 083: An Interview with Matthew Bates

In this podcast we sit down with New Testament scholar Matthew Bates to talk about what he means by “gospel allegiance”.

We’ve missed what the gospel means and what faith means, and in light of that the whole package has been skewed…

What I am trying to say is that the gospel focuses on Jesus’ kingship, and in light of that, faith is the allegiance that we give to the king… we haven’t paid enough attention to this…

The gospel is the news that Jesus is the saving king, the victorious king… the Bible itself summarizes the gospel that way… “Christ” is a royal title, not a name…

The problem is that in the church we’ve often reduced the gospel to the cross, rather than the whole event of Jesus… this has the effect of putting the emphasis on the wrong place…

The word faith in the New Testament can also mean loyalty, and even faithfulness… this then will involve our bodily doing in some way…

The Christian community for too long has been swept along by the notion that Jesus is king over my spiritual life but not king over anything in the actual world…

When the Christian community gathers together and confesses that Jesus is king, we are creating an alternative social-political reality…

A lot of our disputes in the church about salvation have to do with grace… grace in the ancient world was reciprocal… if you received a gift you needed to give a response gift to keep the circle of gratitude moving…

Understanding this helps us see that God has already given the gift – the Christ-gift, the gospel, and the benefits that flow from it… none of us deserved it… in light of it, we are invited to reciprocate with our allegiance…

A good starting place for pastors would be to do a series on the gospel… look at texts that talk about Jesus being installed as the Son of God with power…

Working on the “gospel” first paves the way to work on the notion of allegiance… you need to help people see that faith doesn’t deny trust but usually means loyalty, which is a holistic response…

You can grab Matthew’s book Gospel Allegiance over at Amazon!

Episode 076: Women in Ministry // (The “Tough” Texts)

In this episode, with John MacArthur’s controversial comments regarding Beth Moore in the air, we sit down to talk through some of the key texts for thinking about a theology of women in leadership.

The charismatic movement believes that God pours his Spirit out on all people… so in my journey, I’ve always wondered, “What would prevent a woman from preaching?”

For me, I came to Christ in high school, and my very first youth pastor was a woman, so I didn’t even realize it was an issue… when I started really reading the Bible, I saw women all over the place… so when I got to the troubling passages, I assumed there had to be an explanation…

Our entry point into the conversation really does matter… and we can’t just enter into it through our experience, and try to make the Bible match our experience… but it turns out that the Bible does have a whole lot to say about women in ministry…  

“Suitable helper” in Genesis is actually a bad translation… it is saying that alone, Adam can’t fulfill the commission…

The Hebrew word that is used for “helper” is actually most often used of God in the Old Testament… if the Old Testament had wanted to communicate subordinate status, it did a bad job of that…

With Mary and Martha… “sitting at the feet” is the same description used of Paul with Gamaliel; Martha is mad because Mary is transgressing a social boundary, and Jesus welcomes it…

What winds up happening is that we take a couple troubling texts and use them to dismiss all the others that seem to be saying something else…

In 1 Corinthians 14, we need to remember that this is one side of a correspondence… Paul has already given instructions on women prophesying in the church… in chapter fourteen he is quoting the Corinthians back to them to say, “This is NOT what I teach…”

In 1st Timothy 2, Paul is offering a specific prescription for a specific thing happening in the church… this is Pastor Paul showing up and trying to correct something that’s wonky inside the church…

We need to realize that either we are misreading Paul, or Paul is flat out misreading Genesis… instead what Paul is saying to the Corinthians is, “YOU are misreading Genesis…”

Grab Lucy Peppiatt’s book Rediscovering Scripture’s Vision for Women HERE 

Grab Pastor Brady’s Book Let Her Lead HERE

Episode 068: Blessed, Broken, Given

In this episode we sit down with Pastor Glenn Packiam to talk with him about his new book “Blessed, Broken, Given.”.

Jesus didn’t give us a theory of the atonement; he gave us a meal… bread is the most common food item around the world… the commonness of bread speaks to us of how God takes the common and fills it with his glory…

 The Holy Spirit meets us through all kinds of means… the Lord’s Table is called a sacrament because it is a visible sign of an invisible grace… the bread and wine are meant to speak to us of God’s presence…

I wanted the book to address three longings of the heart… the first is whether my life really matters… the second is, is my life too messy… the third is, does my life have purpose?

“Blessed, broken, given” is about glory in the ordinary, grace in the mess, and purpose in the everyday… I’m trying to say, “If you look closely at the Table, the message of the gospel is there…”

To be blessed is to be commended by God… but really it is to be re-storied… to be taken back to your good beginning and to give you the name that he has for you…

We often think that our story began with Genesis 3, with the fall… the story that God tells about us begins earlier… it is that God made us and saw that it was good…

Broken is a way of talking about our frailty… it is also a way to talk about our failure, and that’s where shame comes in… the Bible’s answer to shame is that there is a redeemer, a savior who can wipe away our guilt so that our faces are never covered in shame…

Another kind of brokenness comes when we experience pain… the message is that God’s redemption is more powerful than prevention…

Most of us think that our purpose has to be epic… but that’s not how the people in the Bible lived… there’s a long life of faithfulness behind each of the moments we read about in Scripture… purpose looks like faithfulness in the everyday…

*Be sure to grab a copy of Blessed, Broken, Given HERE! (And leave a review!)

Episode 062: The Old Testament and the Church (Pt 2)

This is part 2 of our conversation on how the Old Testament and the New Testament relate, and how we can faithfully preach and teach the Old Testament in the Church.

There is no kingdom without law, without rule… if there is a king, there are people who live under the king’s way, his rule…

The giving of the Law at Sinai begins with grace… he rescued them from slavery, saying, “I want to be yours and I want you to be mine, and this is what that looks like…”

The Law at Sinai both confirms and establishes the covenant, it reveals what God is like, and it shows us how we are to live in the world… 

One of the things we have to remember about the purity and hygiene laws is that the ancient Israelites were out in the desert without the kind of sanitation we have today… God wasn’t embarrassing them but protecting them and their society from getting sick… 

So many of the instructions regarding sacrifices are instructions on sacrifices for happy occasions… it’s about how to throw a party that honors God… 

Even the sin and guilt offerings are a tremendous blessing… in the ancient world, there was no way to get out from under the burden of having done something wrong… 

Some things from the Old Testament are strengthened in the New… the sexuality laws are strengthened and clarified in the New… on the question of sexuality Jesus takes them back to the beginning…

The Church in the first century is wrestling with how Jew and Gentile live together… they’re not throwing the Old Testament away but are looking to it for wisdom and guidance in how to be one people in Jesus… 

There is a “law” for Christians now… it is the law of the Spirit written on our hearts… bearing one another’s burdens, loving our neighbors as ourselves… it looks like the fruit of the Spirit… 

The major shift in the New Testament is not that there’s no law but that there is now the Spirit of God living inside of us enabling us to live in right relationship with God and others…

Episode 060: The Old Testament and the Church (Pt 1)

In this episode (part 1 of 2) we sit down to talk about the challenge of preaching and teaching Christ in and from the Old Testament.

When I first started reading the Bible I was drawn to the Old Testament because the stories seemed more colorful… but admittedly I read it more like Aesop’s fables…

For me the starting place is that the Old Testament is Christian Scripture… the Church has always regarded it that way… it is the story of the kingdom, which just doesn’t suddenly appear with Jesus… to understand that, you have to go back to the Old Testament…

You begin to learn to read the Bible with Jesus at the center… you see how much of the OT anticipates the Messiah, Jesus, who is and is to come… he is where the story was headed…

Ideas like kingdom, covenant, and temple are motifs that are summed up in Jesus… the OT is not just a preamble but a prelude, where the motifs of the “song” are first laid down… 

We can really only understand the Old Testament fully in light of Jesus… but we can also only understand Jesus fully in light of the Old Testament… 

One of the things that is sometimes lost on people is that the Early Church’s “Bible” WAS the Old Testament… the New Testament is really a running commentary on the Old Testament in light of the Christ event… 

Robert Jenson says “the Old Testament was there before the Church was; the question was never about whether the Church could accept the Old Testament but whether the Old Testament could accept the Church…”

Sometimes we “heroize” Old Testament characters… but really, guys like David aren’t the heroes… Yahweh is the hero… the God who is the Father of Jesus is the hero… 

The question is whether God changes or not… and God is always the Father of Jesus Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit… he’s always the “Three in One…”

Augustine’s phrase was “vestigia trinitate”… that God had left signatures of himself in the created world, and the Old Testament supremely… if we read the Old Testament that way, we’ll see that the God revealed in Jesus is the deep reality of these texts… 

Episode 047: A Conversation with Andrew Wilson

In this episode we sit down to talk to our friend Andrew Wilson about his new book Spirit and Sacrament: An Invitation to Eucharismatic Worship to talk about the what, why, and how of blending the charismatic and sacramental expressions.

 

 

https://www.spiritandsacrament.com/

 

I don’t remember where I first came up with the word (“eucharismatic”), but my history is that I have some Anglicanism in my childhood that was non-charismatic… and then I went to a charismatic church that had almost no awareness of the historical church…

 

At around six or seven years ago I started thinking there was a need for the church to bring together these two gifts… the term eucharismatic is a putting together of two words: eucharistic and charismatic, and the link between them is charis—grace (or chara—joy)…

 

When we understand the gift of God in the spiritual gifts and the gift of God in the Lord’s supper, we can receive all of God’s gifts rather than just some…

 

For me, the sacramental tradition was not associated with joy… but then I began reading the history of the church, these people who had almost unutterable moments of revelation of the beauty of who God is [while celebrating the eucharist]…

 

The Lord’s Supper is the lovely thing where everyone knows that this is something they are supposed to do; the question is how and how often… our church was doing it in homes, like they did in Acts 2…

 

For us, we had to recognize that whatever we did not practice on Sunday we did not ultimately value… you can say the same for the gifts… unless we do this at some point on Sundays, the church will think this is relatively unimportant…

 

I think that for many in more traditional churches, they are concerned about the charismatic out of a concern for orthodoxy and for things to be done in a decently and in order kind of way…

 

One of the things you can do is pick low-hanging fruit… the judicious and careful use of a prophetic impression (and you might not even call it that)—most people, even the most conservative (traditional) are happy with the idea that God might lead them to do something…

 

You just need to be sensitive to the fact that for many people this is really new… you need to be able to explain things in a non-weird way what God is doing…