Where is the Trinity in the Old Testament?

A piece of mine reflecting upon the doctrine of the Trinity within the Old Testament has just been posted over on the Desiring God website:

Arising out of the crucible of christological and theological debates in the early centuries of the church, the Christian doctrine of the Trinity expresses the mystery of God that is the heart of all revelation. The philosophical cast and categories of these later disputes transposed the biblical material into very different idioms and discourses animated by rather different concerns. While they were concerned faithfully and fully to articulate the material truth of the biblical doctrine of the Trinity, the philosophical vantage points from which they did so were not, for the most part, native to — or at least typical of — the Scriptures themselves.

The result is a doctrine that speaks to deep realities that are often only penumbral to the revelation of Scripture itself, within which the sort of philosophical concerns regarding being that would exercise later theological minds emerge only sporadically and tangentially. Although the truth of the Trinity is materially present within Scripture, it requires a sort of discourse that proceeds according to different — and largely extra-scriptural — principles of investigation for that truth to come into crisp doctrinal focus.

The later philosophical discourse that played midwife to a Christian doctrine of the Trinity is by no means either illegitimate or inappropriate, as some more biblicist thinkers have suggested. Quite the opposite! It has served more fully and consistently to disclose the eternal, uncreated, living God who exists independent of all created things. This, it must be observed, continues a work of demythologization that distinguishes the Old Testament itself from the ancient Near Eastern literature contemporary with it, the gods of whose polytheistic pantheons were typically fickle, flawed, and limited sexual beings with origin stories, conceptually and metaphysically imprisoned within the changeable material realm of creation itself.

Read the whole piece here.

Posted in Bible, Doctrine of God, Genesis, OT, OT Theology, The Triune God, Theological | 6 Comments

How Has Modernity Shifted the Women’s Ordination Debate?

A piece of mine on the subject of the plausibility structures for women’s ordination was published yesterday over on the North American Anglican. Within it, I argue that the strength of the women’s ordination position depends heavily on certain features of the world of modernity and that it makes much less sense without out.

Close consideration of plausibility structures is generally quite lacking in debates surrounding women in pastoral ministry. We principally occupy ourselves with rehearsing familiar arguments on various sides of the questions. While these arguments have evolved in some subtle ways and some have been largely abandoned, many of them are substantially the same as they were a couple of hundred years ago. However, the relative effectiveness of these arguments has changed markedly, in ways that will be difficult to understand apart from attention to the transformation of our underlying plausibility structures. Indeed, even when the arguments are the same, the distribution of weight between them has altered significantly. In particular, arguments from nature against the ordination of women have greatly diminished in their effectiveness, and opponents of women’s ordination have placed much more emphasis upon arguments from divine command and theological symbolism.

The plausibility structures for the ordination of women are sociocultural and institutional, not merely theological. And the theological plausibility of women’s ordination or prominent ministry depends heavily upon explicit and implicit ecclesiologies that are heavily influenced by, or which function in terms of, specific sociocultural factors and contexts. The widespread shift towards women’s ordination in the last century has largely arisen from rapid and far-reaching changes in our institutions and social structures.

Read the whole thing here.

Posted in Church History, Controversies, Culture, Guest Post, Politics, Sex and Sexuality, Society, The Church, Theological | 4 Comments

Rightly Dividing the Red Sea

I’ve written a piece over on TGC, on the Red Sea Crossing.

We shouldn’t be surprised by the resurfacing of the birth theme just as Israel is about to leave Egypt, the womb in which it has been growing. After the contractions of the plagues, the Passover is the start of labor. In the Red Sea the waters of the womb are broken and Israel, God’s firstborn son, passes through a narrow passage into the light of a new day, to be greeted by joyful songs on the other side. The Red Sea crossing is thus a birth event in which a new people are created (cf. Isa. 63:11–14).

Read the whole thing here.

Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Comments

The Rhetoric of Race

I have written an article in the latest Theopolis Conversation on the subject of race, in response to Vincent Bacote. Within it I briefly discuss a few of my concerns about the rhetorical shape of current conversations about race in the US.

It has seemed to me that recent years have witnessed a growing essentializing and ideologizing of racial discourse, as a specific set of discourses of American provenance have been conflated and projected into the world more generally in ways that cannot but prove unhelpful. The gains in rhetorical force have frequently come at the expense of clarity and understanding.

It seems to me that this is in no small measure a result of the abstraction of discourse encouraged by the Internet, on which vague ideological concepts can subsume and efface the particularity and variegation of concrete issues and events (which get rendered as de-particularized symbols of the concepts). Master concepts such as ‘white supremacy’, ‘white privilege’, or ‘whiteness’—concepts in which countless disparate tensions, inequities, and frustrations of myriads of individuals’ and communities’ lives can be agglomerated—may be incredibly low resolution for the purposes of analysis, yet are effective rhetorical tools for mass mobilization and offer catharsis in their naming of pervasive yet rather amorphous realities people feel.

Read the whole thing here.

Posted in Culture, Guest Post, Politics, Society, Theopolis | 1 Comment

Davenant Hall Course on Reading the Bible

Only a few days left to sign up! $99 for ten weeks of interactive classes. Recordings of all classes included.

Sign up for Davenant Hall courses here!

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Daily Reflections on Scripture for 2020

Although I write and speak on a great many topics, nothing is more central to my personal practice or my Christian vocation than pursuing and encouraging the attentive reading of Scripture. For 2020, I wanted to take this a step further and to start an ambitious project to produce daily podcasts/videos in which I would read and reflect upon passages of Scripture in a lectionary. My hope is that this would encourage people to read and meditate upon Scripture as a daily practice, ideally as part of daily devotions. It is also convenient for people who want to think about Scripture on their commute or while doing household tasks.

There is a crisis of biblical literacy in the Church today, but I wanted to do my bit, not just to address a crisis, but to catalyze an appetite for and attentiveness to Scripture in people who join me on this journey, hoping that this might yield long term fruit for God’s kingdom. The Internet is no replacement for embodied and concrete relational Christian practice. However, it does afford us possibilities to facilitate, encourage, and equip such concrete practices. This is what I am aiming to achieve with this project.

For the project, I have chosen to use the lectionary for Morning Prayer from the new ACNA Book of Common Prayer, the text of which is available for free from the Internet. I would also recommend the hard copy of the book, which is a very attractive volume, especially the deluxe edition.

This is the very first beginnings of a project which has considerably greater ambitions. There are some exciting things happening behind the scenes and you should expect a far more extensive resource in the not-too-distant future.

The task itself is a fairly daunting one in many ways. It takes a lot of time, commitment, energy, and resources to do it well. At the moment, my funding is reduced from what it was a few months ago; I am going into this trusting that my commitment to doing a year of this won’t prove to be a costly mistake, but that I will be able to produce something of genuine service to people, while still keeping the wolves away from the door! If you would like to support this project, the best way to do so is to use it and share it with others as you find it helpful (word of mouth is hugely important, perhaps especially during this initial period). This really is what it is all about. I would also greatly value your prayers, as I believe that this project is as challenging as it is worthwhile and will need God’s aid if I am to complete it well (and hopefully extend it in the future). Constructive criticism and input are also valuable, especially in this teething period.

If you would like to support me in more material ways, I am currently investing much of my support in building up a robust collection of commentaries, which are an invaluable resource for my research. I will keep a list of commentaries and other volumes that I would use for my research here: if you would like very directly to equip me in what I am doing, this is a great way to do so. You can also support me on my Patreon account or on PayPal here. Beyond the immense help it provides practically, the support that I currently receive has been a huge encouragement—reminding me that others are genuinely invested in my labours (truly, this is a blessing I fear that too few people really enjoy)—and a source of confidence that I can expand what I am doing and take on ambitious new projects like this one.

The biblical reflections I am producing are available on YouTube, Soundcloud, and iTunes.

Posted in Audio, Bible, My Doings, NT Theology, OT Theology, Podcasts, Public Service Announcement, Scripture, Theological, Video, What I'm Doing | 7 Comments

Man and Woman in Creation (Genesis 1 and 2)

9Marks have published an abridged version of an article of mine over on their website.

Expressing sexual difference in a vast array of culturally conjugated ways can display the beauty of our particular differences. Our differences are more than merely random and unstable assortments of contrasts between two classes of persons. Far from it. Our differences are musical and meaningful, inseparably intertwined.

Recognizing this truth, most cultures celebrate sexual difference by developing gendered customs, forms, norms, and traditions. Rather than treating gender, as our culture is often inclined to, as a restrictive, stifling, and legalistic constraint, this approach welcomes sexual difference as an often liberating manifestation of meaning and beauty that resonates with the deep reality of the creation.

Read the whole thing here.

Posted in Bible, Creation, Genesis, Guest Post, OT, OT Theology, Sex and Sexuality, Theological, Theopolis | 1 Comment