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Theology Articles

  • John McKinley — 

    Love is a sloppy concept, and love is a complex reality. I love ice cream. I love my children. I love my wife. I love books. I love God. I love my students. Each of these “loves” has a different content. It could be a problem if I love books in the same way that I love my children, or if I love God in the way I love my wife. Love is not the same in every relationship that we live in. This is a brief analysis of love as we experience and live it in various relationships.

  • Kenneth Berding — 

    The most recent issue of the Journal of Spiritual Formation & Soul Care carried an article I wrote on the relationship between spiritual formation and mission. Here's an outline...

  • John McKinley — 

    In response to the ongoing revelations of widespread cheating in professional sports, my earlier blog explored the idea of cheating as compared to New Testament ethics. So much for why athletes should not cheat, and what they should pursue instead. The doping problems in sport raise another question: what is someone responsible to do when she becomes aware of others' cheating? This question extends beyond sport to daily life evils that are preventable if someone in our lives would just speak up once in a while.

  • John McKinley — 

    Slowly, more top professional cyclists that were rivals of Lance Armstrong are mumbling confessions of the same carefully-worded sort that Lance released last January. Some have been coerced by teams or government inquiries (as with the handful of Americans who testified to their own doping as part of implicating Lance Armstrong). The latest is Jan Ullrich, the German cyclist who placed second to Lance three times in the Tour de France. Like many others, Ullrich used the same worn out excuse that “everybody was doing it,” and that his joining the “medical program” was just a way to play on a level field. What are we to think of these things?

  • Kenneth Berding — 

    A couple years ago I was asked to lead a discussion for the Talbot School of Theology faculty on “The New Perspective on Paul.” Now, you should know up-front that (for the most part) I am not very positive about the overall approach that New Perspectivists take when they interpret the letters of Paul (esp. Galatians and Romans) and when they try to set those letters in a reconstructed first century Jewish theological context. But I also do not believe that it is right or wise for people to be dogmatic about topics that they don’t know very much about. So, to help you interact responsibly with the New Perspective, I want to revisit the lecture I did for the Talbot faculty try to help you understand the New Perspective on Paul so that you can critically weigh for yourself its merits and demerits.

  • John McKinley — 

    An introduction to the book, His Brain, Her Brain: How Divinely Designed Differences Can Strengthen Your Marriage, by Walt and Barb Larimore (Zondervan, 2008).

  • John McKinley — 

    This last part in this series on hell is a listing of many of the biblical passages that touch directly on God's punishment of evildoers. I assembled the passages so that I could see them all at once. The repetition of key phrases and patterns stood out in helpful ways for me. I found it very convincing on many of the traditional aspects of the doctrine.

  • John McKinley — 

    As Part 3 in this series on the doctrine of hell, I introduce an interpretation of hell that is coming into print from a few contributors during the last decade. See Part 1 on the metaphorical language for hell, and Part 2 on the doctrine of degrees of punishments. The traditional teaching about hell has been criticized for many reasons, one of which is that sin continues forever in hell. This seems to be a cosmic dualism where good prevails only in heaven (the new creation), but evil continues to hold out in hell where evildoers continue to hate God and compound their guilt forever and ever. This might not be the best conclusion.

  • John McKinley — 

    Following on my earlier post on the metaphorical language used for naming and describing the punishment of hell, this post explores the doctrine of degrees of punishment. The basic idea is that the Bible seems to say that all evildoers will suffer the same hell for their sins, but God's perfect justice means that worse criminals will suffer worse punishments for their crimes. This is not torture or exacting pain as somehow accompiishing something for God, as if God were a fiendish tormentor. But then what is it?

  • Darian Lockett — 

    When we read the Bible, how do we get to theology? Should we read the Bible as the word of God for the church, as an artifact of history, or as the material for systematic theology? The term biblical theology has been used to describe all of these perspectives. So, what is biblical theology? Some would describe it is a theology that is biblical, theology that is grounded in Christian Scripture. Others might insist that biblical theology is only the theology contained in the Bible, that is, descriptively the theology of the Bible itself. In Mark Elliott’s The Heart of Biblical Theology, reading the Bible theologically demands both notions of biblical theology above. Elliott’s book argues for the undervalued role of providence in understanding how biblical theology must be both constructive theology grounded in Scripture and rigorously descriptive of the theology of the Bible itself.

  • John McKinley — 

    This is the first post in a series of four on the doctrine of hell. I’m not attempting to detail everything about hell in a systematic way. I will focus on three topics that I think are often misunderstood. One of the posts will introduce an idea that is a relatively minority opinion (God’s conquest of sin). The doctrine of hell is a difficult topic. I think that people are often unsure about how to feel about hell, whether we should feel sad, or should we feel relieved that justice is being done? What are God’s feelings about hell? How do we understand hell and God’s love?

  • Octavio Esqueda — 

    ¿Por qué las cosas son como son? ¿Dónde está Dios cuando el mundo lo ignora a Él y a sus principios? Cuando Dios actúa, ¿por qué hace Él lo que hace? Todos nos hemos hecho alguna vez preguntas difíciles respecto a Dios y a nuestra fe. En muchas ocasiones, lo que vemos aparentemente no concuerda con lo que creemos acerca de Dios. ¿Qué hacer en estas circunstancias? En Habacuc encontramos un libro bíblico que nos muestra un modelo para enfrentar estos momentos y acrecentar nuestra fe en el Dios que sostiene el universo con su poder.

  • Joe Hellerman — 

    We at Talbot, and especially in the philosophy department, are deeply saddened with the homegoing of our mentor and friend, Dallas Willard.

  • Alan Gomes — 

    The Bible is God’s very word and therefore carries the authority of God himself. And that word of God, Scripture tells us, is a powerful thing—“living and active and sharper than even a two-edged sword” (Heb. 4:12). It floods the soul with its resplendent rays, laying bare God’s truth and putting all darkness to flight. Yet, as this text tells us, not all receive the truth of this light, and some esteem it as folly itself. How can this be? If Scripture is “the power of God unto salvation” (Rom. 1:16), how could any reject its authoritative claims?

  • Kenneth Way — 

    Dr. John Walton, Professor of Old Testament at Wheaton College and Graduate School, will present “Origins Today: Genesis Through Ancient Eyes” at Biola University. John Walton’s work on Genesis 1-3 offers a fresh perspective on the complex issue of faith and science by seeking to understand the message of Scripture within its ancient context.

  • Thaddeus Williams — 

    Often times it seems that harder the church tries to be relevant, the more irrelevant we become. The Bible is full of this kind of upside down logic. The self-clingers lose themselves, the prideful end up humbled, those jostling to be first end last, and, now it seems, those trying the hardest to be relevant end up most irrelevant. Thaddeus Williams explores what happens when the church puts relevance to culture ahead of reverence to Christ.

  • Joanne Jung — 

    Something to ponder about an ancient Chinese word...

  • Octavio Esqueda — 

    Esta semana se conmemoran los días más importantes para el cristianismo y, por consiguiente, para todo el mundo. La muerte y resurrección de Jesucristo marcan el eje central de nuestra fe. Durante la semana santa recordamos la muerte de Jesús en la cruz por nuestros pecados y su victoria sobre la muerte a través de su gloriosa resurrección.

  • John McKinley — 

    Dyothelitism means that Jesus possesses two wills, one divine and one human. God the Father and God the Son are distinct persons, but they share the same divine will. The difference of Jesus’ will from his Father’s will in Gethsemane is his human will. By incarnation, God the Son took up a second way of living as a man. He now possesses two natures. Each nature is complete, including a will for each. I define will as the spiritual capacity for desires and choice in the exercise of personal agency. A caution to remember is that these are mysterious operations (desiring, choosing) of mysterious realities (persons, wills, Trinity) that may leave us continuing to wonder even after thinking it all through as best we can. We will consider briefly Jesus’ divine will, his human will, the situation of Gethsemane, and how this affects our thinking about the Trinity.

  • Octavio Esqueda — 

    Recuerdo que el pastor de la iglesia donde crecí repetía constantemente esta frase “el amor es un producto de la voluntad”. Estas palabras se convirtieron en una expresión común en la iglesia y se mencionaban constantemente en diferentes contextos. Me parece que lo que el pastor quería comunicar era que la acción de amar está basada principalmente en una decisión y no solamente en emociones. Nuestras emociones cambian, pero cuando decidimos amar a Dios y a nuestro prójimo independientemente de nuestro estado de ánimo entonces estamos así cumpliendo la ley de Cristo. Estoy de acuerdo con la idea general, pero creo que el amor va mucho más allá de nuestra voluntad. El amor se centra en la persona de Dios y nosotros tenemos el gran privilegio de participar y demostrar el amor divino.

  • Thaddeus Williams — 

    Jesus prayed for His church to form a kind of angled mirror, bonded together with the kind of love that directs the world’s gaze upward to behold the Triune God of love (Jn. 17:11-24). Are we reflecting the Triune God clearly, or do our churches often form more of a cracked mirror, fragmented shards with animosities and apathies caked like mud, refracting little light from above? Dr. Williams explores one reason we may often fail to reflect the Trinity, namely, the lack of a robust doctrine of "the anti-Trinity."

  • Kenneth Berding — 

    What are spiritual gifts, really? Andrew Faris posted an interview with me on this question at the "Christians in Context" blog.

  • The Good Book Blog — 

    Talbot faculty members share some of their picks for the best books released in 2012. Read about their recommendedations here, listed in alphabetical order:

  • Rob Lister — 

    As we near the outset of a new academic semester, I thought this comment from John Frame was a fitting word of encouragement for Talbot faculty and students alike concerning the nature of our engagement with God’s word.

  • Joanne Jung — 

    Hell. I don't think about this subject often, so you can imagine my surprise when I found such moving thoughts on hell from an author I regard: John Bunyan.