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Mar
25
2015

Who is Jesus? A Historical and Theological Primer on the Identity of Jesus of Nazareth

I recently joined the pastoral staff of New City Church of Los Angeles, and one of my responsibilities is teaching a seminar on three of the most important questions about Christian faith: 1) Who is Jesus? 2) Why did he die? and 3) How can I trust the Bible?

We're calling the seminar Starting Points

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Dec
21
2014

10 Books I'm Reviewing in 2015

One of the best things about being a blogger is reviewing books. And if enough people visit your blog, authors and publishers will send you books to review! This is particularly great when the books that I'm sent are books I'm excited to read. The next crop of books I'm reading to review might be my best yet. So here are 10 books I'm reading (or have already read) to review in 2015:

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Dec
20
2014

Fighting the Virus of Classical Theism, Part 1: Richard Rice and The Openness of God's Bold Rejection of Divine Impassibility

Last month, I traveled to San Diego, CA for the annual conference of the American Academy of Religion and the Society of Biblical Literature. More specifically, I attended the SBL/AAR annual conference to present a response paper in the second session of the Open and Relational Theologies group, which was commemorating 20 years since the publishing of The Openness of God by Clark Pinnock, John Sanders, Richard Rice, William Hasker, and David Basinger. Three of the original authors of the book (John Sanders, Richard Rice, and David Basinger) were there in attendance and presented reflections on the last 20 years.

Why commemorate The Openness of God (OOG) 1? Because that book signaled a theological shift in U.S. American, evangelicalical theology that has very few parallels. It was a bold vision that made claims about God that were shocking to the evangelical theological establishment then and still shock many evangelicals today.

Part 1 of "Fighting the Virus of Classical Theism," will focus on the claims made by Richard Rice in the first chapter of OOG about God's emotional sensitivity and capacity for emotional change. These claims continue to be controversial even now.

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Nov
30
2014

Open Theism and the Millennial in the Pew: Evangelical Theology and Marketing in the Age of the World Wide Web

I’ve entitled my response “Open Theism and the Millennial in the Pew: Evangelical Theology and Marketing in the Age of the World Wide Web”. However, if you’ve paid any attention to religion blogs in the last two or three years, you might want to ask if there are in fact any evangelical Millennials left in the proverbial pew. Well, I assure you: ‘the rumors of our demise are greatly exaggerated.’ It may be true that Millennials aren’t the most enthusiastic generation when it comes to local church membership. But, due to the ubiquity of the Internet (and our vigorous use of it), it’s quite possible that evangelical Millennials are more theologically astute and active than any previous generation. I should say, too, that I do not intend to speak for all evangelical Millennials across the globe. I’m sure there are sociological considerations in South America, Africa, and Asia of which I’m unaware. So, consider my remarks indicative of a Western perspective in so far as Western evangelicalism differs from evangelicalism globally.

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Nov
28
2014

Meet the Eastern Orthodox Kenoticist Who Helped Pioneer Modern Passibilism: Cross-Centered, Trinitarian Theology

Recently, I’ve been reading this fantastically comprehensive treatment of divine impassibility by African theologian Amuluche Gregory Nnamani called The Paradox of a Suffering God. The first section of the book is simply historical analysis of apatheia (the Hellenistic axiom of divine impassibility) from ancient to present times. Nnamani covers everything from Greek philosophy, where the concept originates, to how the axiom mutates by the time of the Protestant Reformation.

Considering how adamantly some folks have argued that kenoticism is at odds with Chalcedonian “orthodoxy”, imagine my surprise when I learned that a Russian Orthodox theologian made a significant contribution to modern passibilism.

His name is Fr. Sergei Nikolaevich Bulgakov (Серге́й Никола́евич Булга́ков) and he lived from 1871 to 1944. According to Nnamani,

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Nov
04
2014

John Piper on Cancer: A Case-study in How New Calvinism Makes God into God's Own Enemy

 

When the Cure is Worse than the Disease

It might seem crazy to say that cancer is a “gift from God,” but John Piper has gone on record saying precisely that.[1]  In a 2006 article published to the website of Desiring God Ministries (Piper’s personal ministry), he wrote about cancer on the “eve of prostate surgery” after having been diagnosed with cancer himself. Piper writes:
 
1. You will waste your cancer if you do not believe it is designed for you by God.

It will not do to say that God only uses our cancer but does not design it. What God permits, he permits for a reason. And that reason is his design. If God foresees molecular developments becoming cancer, he can stop it or not. If he does not, he has a purpose. Since he is infinitely wise, it is right to call this purpose a design. Satan is real and causes many pleasures and pains. But he is not ultimate. So when he strikes Job with boils (Job 2:7), Job attributes it ultimately to God (2:10) and the inspired writer agrees: “They . . . comforted him for all the evil that the Lord had brought upon him” (Job 42:11). If you don’t believe your cancer is designed for you by God, you will waste it.
 
2. You will waste your cancer if you believe it is a curse and not a gift.

“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1). “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us” (Galatians 3:13). “There is no enchantment against Jacob, no divination against Israel” (Numbers 23:23). “The Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor. No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly” (Psalm 84:11).”
 
Piper is confident that cancer is “designed by God” because: a) God “foresees molecular developments becoming cancer”; and b) doesn’t “stop it.” That settles it for Piper. God has exhaustive definite foreknowledge of all that will take place in the future, and God is all-powerful. Therefore, if cancer befalls anyone, it is because God wills it.[2]

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Oct
13
2014

Cruciformity or Idolatry: Reflections on Michael Gorman's "Counter-Imperial Theoformity"

I. Turning from Idols to the True and Living God (I Thes. 1.9b)

People are not their positions. Positions are ideological affirmations a person holds at a given time, but which a person can also renounce or just grow out of. If you have been journeying on a theological pilgrimage for any significant amount of time, your positions have no doubt evolved. If they haven't, I would question how critically you've examined those beliefs, and whether you've interacted with the best alternative views.

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Oct
13
2014

The Bible Project: A Beautiful and Powerful New Resource for the Church

Sometimes I wish there was a way to quickly encapsulate vast biblical themes (or summarize entire books of the Bible) in a thorough and creative way. The Bible Project is about as close to that as I've seen.

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Oct
11
2014

God is Loving Savior, the Savingly Loved One, and Saving Love Itself: Reflections on Moltmann's "Doxological Trinity"

Some Christians think God became a Savior only after the historical crucifixion of Messiah Jesus of Nazareth. For these Christians, God is not a Savior essentially, but incidentally. "Saving" is an activity God could do without; it's not something God "has to do." God is a Savior as a result of historical events, not because it is who God is in God's very nature. If humanity has not sinned, Jesus Christ would not have been 'necessary,' and God would not be a Savior.

Depending on your theological perspective, this belief could either appear common sensical or absurd. If you're coming from a Western, conservative, evangelical (Protestant) perspective, you likely find the belief that God became a Savior obvious. And it might be equally obvious that this is why Christians should worship God—because God has saved Christians by the Cross and Resurrection of Jesus. This makes sense to Western Christians because of Western culture. It is the individualism of Western culture that distorts salvation history into God's "plan of salvation" for humanity. And it is the consumerism of Western culture that makes God's praise about the salvation humanity has received."God does what God does because of us, and we worship God because of what we get from God."

Western Christians will argue that they hold this view for two important reasons. First, they claim that this view preserves and secures God's "freedom." They argue that were God a Savior in God's very nature, God would not be "free" to not save humanity. They claim this would introduce "necessity" into the nature of God. Second, they claim that it safeguards salvation as a gracious gift from God. Were salvation not something which God could have withheld from humanity, salvation would no longer be "grace" (a gift) freely given. Thus, they speculate that God could exist without communicating salvation.

However, in chapter 5 of The Trinity and the Kingdom, Jürgen Moltmann directly confronts this conception of God in a section called "The Doxological Trinity."1 He makes several arguments, which dismantle this view, rooted in Scripture, the tradition of the Church, and the doctrine of the Trinity.

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Welcome to TheologicalGraffiti.com

Theological Graffiti is a blog written by T. C. Moore @tc_moore ...a Jesus-disciple, husband, father, Associate Pastor @NewCityChurch of Los Angeles, sometimes web designer, writer, and theology geek. For more about me, visit my Personal Website or my Online Profile. Otherwise, enjoy the graffiti.

Shalom,
T. C.

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