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Hermeneutics 101, Part Three: The Bible is a Story that Points to Jesus + Love

Two weeks ago, I began a three-part seminar on hermeneutics, an introduction to biblical interpretation. Part One of the seminar was entitled, "The Bible is Alien to Us," and introduced participants to the translation process and comparing English translation approaches, introducing participants to the historical and cultural context of the Bible (i.e. the ancient Near East), and introducting participants to some of the literary elements of scripture (e.g. genre, metaphor, idiom, and myth).

Last week, I taught Part Two, entitled: "We Read the Bible Through Lenses," and introduced participants to Social Location and to a "Community Hermeneutic."

This week, I taught the third and final session of the seminar, entitled: "The Bible is a Story that Points to Jesus + Love." In this session, I introduced a Narrative approach to interpreting the Bible, a Greg Boyd's "Cruciform-centic hermeneutic," an ethical reading of the Bible (i.e. a "Hermeneutic of Love"), N. T. Wright's "Five-Act Model," William Webb's "Redemptive-Movement Hermeneutic," and a hermeneutic I develop called, "Kingdom Air Hermeneutic."

For PDF versions of the manuscript and slides, see my account:

Hermeneutics 101, Part Three: The Bible is a Story that Points to Jesus + Love (Manuscript)
Hermeneutics 101, Part Three: The Bible is a Story that Points to Jesus + Love (Slides)


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A Few Brief Reflections on the OPEN 2013 Conference

Last week, I had the honor of co-directing the first conference on the Open View, that was intentionally designed for church leaders and laypeople, with Tom Belt, Tom Oord, and Marcia Erickson. Two previous conferences that were devoted to the dialogue between the Open View and science were held in 2007 and 2008, in Quincy, MA and in Azusa, CA respectively. But many Open View proponents felt it was time for a deliberately non-academic conversation. That's why "OPEN 2013" focused on practical subjects related to the Open View and implemented dialogue, rather than exclusively lectures, as the primary method of participation.

The conference was held at Woodland Hills Church and senior pastor Greg Boyd was one of the conference's keynote speakers. John Sanders and Thomas Jay Oord also delivered keynote talks. All three keynote speakers did a fantastic job, and each one provided substantive Q&A sessions following their talks. Dr. Oord even integrated Q&A into his presentation making it extraordinarily interactive. But one undeniable highlight of the conference was Jessica Kelley's sharing of Henry's Story. Her testimony of how the Open View and the Warfare Worldview has helped her process her pain and preserved her faith in God was definitely the emotional pinnacle of the conference. Several of us on the planning team noted her poise during Q&A and her powerful gift of clear communication.

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OPEN 2013 - Open Theology & the Church

The first Open theology conference for church leaders begins tonight. I'm honored to be helping to lead this historic event, and I hope that it becomes an annual event.

OPEN 2013 - Open Theology & the Church is being held at Woodland Hills Church in St. Paul, MN and sponsored by ReKnew Ministries. The conference keynote speakers are Greg Boyd, John Sanders, and Thomas Jay Oord.

For livetweets of the event, follow @OpenTheology on Twitter.

Q&A sessions with the conference speakers will be live streamed at The Open View website. To participate in the discussion, tweet your questions using #OPEN_2013.

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Building a Boyd of Straw with Sound Bite Scholarship

1. Historical Setting:

 The Openness of God was published in 19941 and made significant waves in evangelical theological scholarship circles. The view detailed in that book wasn't new; it had been held by many Christian theologians throughout Church history2, but what made the book so significant is that the evangelical theological landscape in the United States had shifted and a new regime was in power: Neo-Calvinists3. These conservative evangelical scholars viewed Open theology as a threat to their new found hegemony, so they sought to discredit and marginalize Open theists. Two of the clearest examples of this were the attempt in 2000 by John Piper to have Greg Boyd ousted from the faculty of Bethel Seminary, the denominational seminary of the Baptist General Conference (now "Converge"), and the 2002 attempt to expel John Sanders and Clark Pinnock from the Evangelical Theological Society (ETS).4 In both cases the complaints were brought by Neo-Calvinists. Another casualty of these Neo-Calvinist inquisitions was Roger Olson, a classical Arminian scholar. He has written candidly about the dishonest and dishonorable ways he was treated by Neo-Calvinists simply for suggesting Open theists were not heretics and that Open theism deserves to be consider a legitimate evangelical position.5 In 2010, Dr. Olson had this to say,
"The controversy has largely died down now.  But there are many stories yet to be told about it.  I believe much of the controversy over open theism among evangelicals was fueled by misinformation, misrepresentation and down right demagoguery.  In many places and at many times open theism and open theists did not receive a fair hearing.  And I know of cases in which evangelical critics knowingly misrepresented open theism in order to create fear of it among the untutored (i.e., people who would never pick up and read a book by an open theist).
As I look back on that decade long controversy now, my heart is heavy for evangelicalism.  I was profoundly disillusioned by the dishonesty and lack of sincerity of many evangelical luminaries who I know read books by open theists and often talked with open theists about their views and nevertheless went public with blatant misrepresentations.  I was also profoundly disillusioned by the heat of the controversy in which some evangelical scholars and leaders hurled accusations and charges against open theists that were completely out of proportion to the amount of time and effort they had spent in dialogue with their fellow evangelicals who either were open theists or sympathized with them."6
The beginning of the decade Olson describes is the setting in which an author with whom I am unfamiliar, named Paul Kjoss Helseth, wrote a critique of Greg Boyd's Open theism for the Journal of the ETS (the very group that would vote to investigate Pinnock and Sanders a year later). There is no doubt Helseth's work helped to fuel the flames of discord that led to the 2002 ETS witch hunt. The claim of the article is that Boyd's Open theism describes and promotes an arbitrary and malevolent conception of God over and against all his own claims to the contrary. The article is titled, "ON DIVINE AMBIVALENCE: OPEN THEISM AND THE PROBLEM OF PARTICULAR EVILS".7 As Dr. Olson so poignantly put it, Helseth's article is filled with "misinformation, misrepresentation and down right demagoguery." In this brief refutation, I will address many of the caricatures and fallacies contained in the article, though an exhaustive reckoning is far beyond the scope of this piece. I'm certain a book-length treatment would scarcely provide space. Instead, I must limit myself to exposing only a portion of the many Man of Straw arguments, logical fallacies, and dirty scholarship tricks this article includes. To start, I will detail many of the foundational errors this article makes.

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Review of "Does God Expect Nations to Turn the Other Cheek?" by Greg Boyd in _A Faith Not Worth Fighting For_

Greg Boyd has written an important chapter in the new book (unfortunately) titled A Faith Not Worth Fighting For 1. Boyd's chapter is titled, "Does God expect Nations to Turn the Other Cheek?"

In his brief essay, Boyd manages to make a very concise and compelling argument in such a small space. He does so by making his arguments very direct. For example, he tackles Romans 13 head-on, summarizing much of John Howard Yoder's exegesis from The Politics of Jesus. He also summarizes much of his arguments from The Myth of a Christian Nation regarding the distinctiveness of God's Kingdom reflected in its unique "power under" in contrast to the kingdom of the world's commonplace use of "power over".

The piece that makes this essay stand apart and what makes it essential to the dialogue between Christian pacifists and Christian Just War theorists is the refinement of Boyd's distinction between what he calls "Kingdom Pacifism" and "Political Pacifism" and greater detail on the expectations of Kingdom Pacifism for the violence of nations.

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Practices Make Perfect: Action —> Vision —> Love —> Action

Yesterday, a pal from the social networking world, Ekupatra Tupamahu, hipped me to a chapel lecture delivered by James K. A. ("Jamie") Smith at Calvin College not too long ago. His talk was a promotion of his new book Desiring the Kingdom and it was very thought-provoking. I'd like to explore some of Smith's thoughts in conjunction with a lingering thought or two from Greg Boyd's Seeing is Believing. But before I dive right into a reflection on Smith's thoughts, I thought I'd confess my thoughts on Smith himself.

To be honest, my thoughts on Smith are conflicted. On the one hand, the insights he shared in the Calvin chapel (which correspond to his book) are inspiring and I deeply resonate with them. Additionally, I'm fascinated to know more about how he integrates Pentecostalism with Reformed theology. I'll admit I don't think they are compatible at all, so in the least, I expect his reasoning to be interesting. However, it is precisely because he is a proud Reformed philosopher that I am skeptical of him. I find Reformed theology citically flawed and destructive to biblical faith. At the same time, the mental and hermeneutical acrobatics I've witnessed individual Calvinists perform, to "nuance" their Reformed theology to the point where it can be stomached, never ceases to amaze me. Perhaps Smith has found a new and creative way to live with the disgusting implication of Calvinist theodicy. I should add, I was also aware of the fact that Smith recently wrote Thinking in Tongues and was interested in reading it prior to hearing the aforementioned Calvin chapel lecture.

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Wake Up Call: A Review of Present Perfect by Greg Boyd

Present Perfect


Author: Gregory A. Boyd
Paperback: 160 pages
Publisher: Zondervan (2010)
Language: English
ISBN: 9780310283843



General Observations:

Dr. Gregory A. Boyd serves as Senior Pastor of Woodland Hills Church in St. Paul, MN and was professor of theology at Bethel University for 16 years. Boyd studied philosophy at the University of Minnesota (B.A.), and theology at Yale Divinity School (M.Div) and Princeton Theological Seminary (Ph.D). Though Boyd is the author of well over a dozen books, including best-sellers and award-winners, he is perhaps most proud of his beautiful family—to whom he dedicates this book.

By this reviewer's count, Present Perfect is Boyd's nineteenth book either authored or co-authored (including his dissertation), though he has also contributed significant chapters to several other books. Boyd's writing is always excellent and consistent, but it seems clear that he writes in three distinct directions. Boyd's celebrated apologetic works comprise an obvious first stream. Two fine examples are Cynic Sage or Son of God? and The Jesus Legend. Paul Eddy, a teaching pastor at Woodland Hills and professor at Bethel University, co-authors many of these books with Boyd. A second collection of books, for which Boyd might be best known, are his ground-breaking, heady, and often controversial works. Certainly God at War, God of the Possible, and Myth of a Christian Nation fall into this camp. These works both distinguish Boyd from others and mark him as a target of criticism. Present Perfect, the focus of this review, best fits along-side other books in an unexpected third category: pastoral. One might place Seeing is Believing and Repenting of Religion in this group. Having read the majority of Boyd's books and enjoyed his more ground-breaking thoughts best, Present Perfect nevertheless serves a important role in his overall ministry due to its precise aim at an oft-neglected subject.

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Watch Greg Boyd's Address to the University of Rhode Island

Greg Boyd's address begins at 1:01:00

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Four 'Boydisms' by Which We Would Be Wise to Live

4 Boydisms

Greg Boyd is a fantastic teacher. He is as cerebral as it gets. How many U.S. evangelical pastors do you know who regularly bring up quantum physics in their sermons? And Boyd's vita humbles Christian scholars living in even the highest of ivory towers. Princeton, Yale, over a dozen books (many best-sellers) are just a sampling. In fact, Boyd is so brilliant, he interrupts himself from writing books that will change Christian theology forever to write other books that will change Christian theology forever.

But Boyd's brilliance is not what makes him a fantastic teacher. Brilliance alone never made anyone a fantastic teacher. More often than not, genii are terrible teachers. They are so 'in their own heads' they can't effectively communicate with us non-genii. They lack the capacity to translate complex and esoteric concepts into 'layman's terms'. This is precisely what makes Boyd a fantastic teacher. I've been reading and listening to Boyd for 10 years now, and to this day I am regularly floored by how easy he makes it look to teach a diverse crowd of church-goers and seekers theological truths the best of minds grapple with their entire lives. It's the true mark of a gifted teacher surrendered to the Spirit.

In particular, I find it amazing how pastor Greg (whom my wife and I call "GB") can concentrate the most profound and central biblical truths into bite-sized phrases packed with meaning that stick with me years after I first hear them. In this post, I'd like to present just 4 of these 'Boydisms' for your edification. Each one has served to deepen my faith in Jesus and I pray that they will have the same impact on you.

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Welcome to

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.

T. C.

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