Does God discipline those whom God loves?

Is being a follower of Jesus primarily about experiencing and living in God’s love, or primarily about living out the disciplines of discipleship? Is it about knowing that we are loved and accepted as we are, or about the need for change and transformation on the journey from sin to salvation? Is it about allowing God to do his sovereign work in us, or about the things we need to do in response to his love? To each of these questions, dear Reader, I am sure you are crying ‘False dichotomy!’—and yet many church contexts and cultures lean to one of these rather than the other, and it shapes the preaching, teaching and general ethos of the church community. 

Does God disciplines those whom God loves? At first glance, this question is easy to answer in the light of Prov 3.12: clearly, yes. But a single text cannot settle an issue, especially a text that talks of discipline in physical ways (‘spare the rod and spoil the child…’; compare Prov 13.24) which we now find problematic for all sorts of reasons. And yet the principle is reappropriated in the new covenant in Hebrew 12.6, and in the context of the eschatological struggle between the power of sin and the work of the Spirit, as an illustration of what it means to be children of God—so it is not easily set aside. 

Reading Scripture with our past, with others and with God

My latest Grove booklet is on How to Interpret the Bible. After exploring the four questions of genre (kind of writing), (historical) context, content and canon, I offer the following conclusion. You might by now be wondering ‘What happened to simple, believing reading of the Bible that I was taught to do when I first came … Continue Reading

How to interpret the Bible

Many ordinary readers of the Bible feel very nervous when interpretation is mentioned. For some, ‘interpretation’ means ‘making the Bible mean what it doesn’t say.’ For others, it becomes the realm of experts who are schooled in complex issues of language and philosophy and threatens to remove the possibility of reading for themselves. They are … Continue Reading

Is David Bosch’s ‘missio Dei’ an error?

Michael Lakey writes: If the literature is any guide, the work of David Jacobus Bosch constitutes for many missiologists one of the major recent theological loci of critical reflection upon the nature and ends of Christian mission.[1] A Dutch-heritage, Protestant scholar, whose adult life coincided with the apartheid era in the Republic of South Africa (RSA), … Continue Reading

What does Revelation tell us about the human condition?

I have contributed a chapter to a book appearing next year on Anthropology of the New Testament, exploring Revelation’s depiction of the human condition. I include here some paragraphs from my introduction, and the conclusion. Revelation’s anthropology (like much else about it!) is less straightforward and less predictable than commonly thought. Excavating the anthropology of the … Continue Reading

What has economics to do with theology?

Richard Peers offers a thoughtful review of Talking to My Daughter About the Economy, Yanis Varoufakis, Bodley Head 2017 (2013): There is competition for the title ‘Queen of The Sciences’. Traditionally applied to theology as the summit of knowledge and the science which explained the meaning of things and held together the other areas of knowledge, the … Continue Reading