Spies in Canaan from 1440 Book of Hours of Catherine of Cleves


Why I Don’t Flow with Richard Rohr

A review of Richard Rohr’s book on the Trinity. I don’t “go negative” very often, but I really wanted to intercept this book’s false teaching, and The Gospel Coalition was a good place to do it.

The Terrible, Wonderful Simplicity of God

“The faith of a devil!” When John Wesley preached about saving faith, one of the ways he distinguished it from the non-saving kind was with this bold paraphrase of James 2:19. That passage says “You believe…

Biblical Grounding for the Christology of the Councils

When theologians take up the crucial catechetical task of teaching about Jesus Christ, what principle of ordering should they follow? Which sub-topics within this rich field should be taught first, which ones postponed until later, and under what overarching categories should they all be gathered? In this article, I would like to commend one particular organizational schema for introducing Christology to students, and then demonstrate the advantages of that schema by offering a brief example of its key points. The method I recommend is this: follow the leading ideas of the ecumenical councils of the early church and then support them with biblical argumentation. Conciliar Christology is thus the framework for teaching Christology, with biblical material brought in to fill it out.

Hearing VoicesThe Trinity in the Old Testament

This is a 2015 lecture for my students at the Torrey Honors College, introducing prosoponic exegesis and its implications for the doctrine of the Trinity.

The Theology of the Pastoral Epistles

A 2015 lecture exploring what is unique about I & II Timothy and Titus, especially focusing on how the theology leans into the ethics.

On the Doctrine of Divine Blessedness

A four-part series at Ref21 on the doctrine of divine blessedness, published in 2015

Biola in the American Evangelical Story

Douglas A. Sweeney’s The American Evangelical Story: A History of the Movementis a masterpiece of concise storytelling. In introducing the movement, Sweeney combines an insider’s sympathetic understanding with an objectivity and sense of perspective about what to report. The result is a short, readable book that can serve multiple audiences well. I am particularly interested in using Sweeney’s American Evangelical Storyto help new Biola faculty understand their own institutional heritage more fully. If Biola is going to equip and empower its faculty for the task of integration, one of the resources it should provide is a grasp of the school’s identity that is not just superficial.

“Is There a Theology of California?”

In a previous chapter, I argued in favor of a localist approach to the work of systematic theology, and in particular to claim that such a thing was desirable in this particular locale, California. That chapter…

“California, Localized Theology, and Theological Localism”

Wallace Stegner once said, “Like the rest of America, California is unformed, innovative, ahistorical, hedonistic, acquisitive, and energetic—only more so.” As California becomes increasingly self-conscious as a social and political entity, an academic conversation is beginning…

The Promise and Prospects of Retrieval: Recent Developments in Trinitarian Theology

A brief account of how the movement of theological retrieval has affected contemporary trinitarian theology, circa 2014, for the Zondervan Academic Blog

Pagan Propitiation vs Biblical Propitiation

“Propitiation” is one of those five-syllable theological words that tend to break up polite parties. But it’s also a word that’s well worth the work of understanding, because whether we know it or not, all of us are walking around working on some sort of plan for propitiation. The big question is whether our plan is a Christian one. The Ancient Meaning Here’s what I mean: Propitiation is an ancient word, which we as Christians have in common with other world religions. To propitiate a god is to offer a sacrifice that turns aside the god’s wrath. Anyone who believes in a god knows that they need some way to stay on the friendly side of that god. So they give gifts to the god, or serve in the temple, or give alms. And if the god is angry with them, they pay a…

“A Name, Names, and Half a Name,” in a symposium on Kendall Soulen’s The Divine Name(s) and the Holy Trinity

For a 2014 book symposium in Pro Ecclesia, six theologians (Karen Kilby, Matthew Levering, Paul Hinlicky, Neil MacDonald, James Buckley, and me) responded to an important book by Kendall Soulen. Here is my contribution, along with…

Saved by Word and Spirit: The Shape of Soteriology in Donald Bloesch’s Christian Foundations

The late Donald Bloesch did not allocate one of the seven volumes of his Christian Foundations series to soteriology, so there is no single book to turn to in order to examine his doctrine of salvation. Earlier in his career, he did write entire books on the subject: in fact, close attention to the experience of piety and the Christian life was the main motif his first publications, and significantly dictated the formal and material decisions of his influential two volume Essentials of Evangelical Theology. Nor is Bloesch’s soteriology distributed evenly across all seven volumes of Foundations: it is focused in two volumes. Those two volumes are the books on Jesus Christ: Savior and Lord (1997) and The Holy Spirit: Works and Gifts (2000).

Does Doubt Belong in Christian Education?A Common Room conversation

Every couple of years, my colleague Dr. Janelle Aijian and I stage a little argument about the status of doubt as a phenomenon in the Christian life. Here’s one we filmed, with Matt Jenson participating as…

John Wesley on Experiencing the Trinity

What John Wesley thought about the Trinity was wonderfully predictable. By that I mean that anyone familiar with the way Wesley’s mind worked can readily predict the character of his trinitarianism. Since his overall cast of thought was…

Redefining Progress in Trinitarian Theology: Stephen R. Holmes on the Trinity

In various ways, much of the best new work on the doctrine of the Trinity can be considered counter-revolutionary. Nicaea was more doctrinally holistic than merely a refutation of one heresy; Augustine was not merely as bad Colin Gunton alleged; Aquinas did not sever the treatise on the One God from the treatise on the Trinity; De Régnon was overly schematic with his East-West distinction, and so on. The new wave of counter-revolutionary trinitarianism begs to differ, and is finding ways to leap over the orthodoxies of the recent past to get back in touch with a longer narrative that makes more sense. Steve Holmes’s book is the feistiest of this new wave of counter-revolutionary trinitarianism, and serves as a kind of clearing house for all the recent moves, stating them more succinctly, more coherently, and more explosively.

The Theology of First John

A 2014 Torrey lecture in which I explain First John’s particular theological emphases, its rhetorical strategy, and how it functions as a kind of interpretive capstone of God’s revelation.

Theology on the Web

“The web…is of a mingled yarn, good and ill together,” says a character in Shakespeare’s All’s Well That Ends Well. He was talking about “the web of our life,” but the same “mingled” character applies to the…