Josh Philpot

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Archive for the ‘Gospel’ Category

Richard Hays on Gospel-Shaped Hermeneutics

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Last weekend I attended a lecture by Richard B. Hays at the Lanier Theological Library. I read Hays’ new book, “Reading Backwards,” last year and it’s excellent. This lecture was an overview of that book. The library usually posts their lectures for free here, but this most recent one is not up yet. The central thesis or aim of the lecture of the view that the Gospels teach us how to read the OT, and—at the same time—the OT teaches us how to read the Gospels. Or, as Hays reiterates over again, we learn to read the OT by reading backwards, and—at the same time—we learn how to read the Gospels by reading forwards from the OT. In the lecture, Hays offered Seven Proposals for Gospel-Shaped Hermeneutics: 

  1. A Gospel-shaped hermeneutic actually requires us to “read backwards,” and the meaning of the narrative of the OT can only be understood in retrospect. Hays was careful to point out that this hermeneutic does not require the view that the OT authors knew the full implications of their words. 
  2. Scripture must be interpreted in light of the cross and resurrection of Jesus. 
  3. The diverse use of OT texts in the Gospels summon us to read their narratives creatively and not rigidly. 
  4. In the view of the Gospel writers, Israel’s scripture told the true story of the world, and thus we must give care attention to the large, narrative arc of the Bible. 
  5. Reading Israel’s story in retrospect (i.e. in light of Jesus) is not a negation of Israel’s history but a transfiguration and continuation of that history. 
  6. The diverse references and allusions to the OT are “metaleptic” (metalepsis), which Hays explains as the literary phenomenon that occurs when an author cites or alludes to a text in such a way as to bring the entire context of the citation into view. 
  7. The more deeply we probe the Jewish and OT world of the Gospel writers, the more we come to see that they understand Jesus to be the embodiment of Israel’s God. 

Hays did mention at one point that although he uses the term “figural” instead of “typological” he means essentially the same thing. He said that he avoids the term “type” so as not to add to the debate between typological and allegorical readings of the Bible. 

Written by Josh Philpot

May 26, 2015 at 11:49 am

Counterfeit Gospels—Trevin Wax

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A couple of months ago I put my name into this site, and then I received a copy of this book from the publisher for the purpose of this short review. I was please to see that the book I received was by Trevin Wax, Counterfeit Gospels (Moody, 2011). I’ve always enjoyed Trevin’s blog, and I’ve had the opportunity to speak with him a couple of times. He’s a great guy and I’m thankful for the work he is doing for the church at Lifeway.

I was skeptical about Counterfeit Gospels at first, mainly because so many books on the gospel have been printed recently and I didn’t think that we needed another. But I really enjoyed this one in particular. Trevin’s writing style is engaging and personal. Many of his stories and illustrations I can relate to, which kept me reading. The book is broken up into three parts: (1) Story, (2) Announcement, and (3) Community. These three parts form the backbone of the biblical gospel. There is a story that culminates in Jesus (his life, death, and resurrection), an announcement that all people should repent and believe, and a community that gospel believers should be a part of—the church. Trevin frequently refers to this as a three-legged stool: the gospel story provides the context for the gospel announcement, which then births the gospel community. The best way to do evangelism, Trevin says, is to emphasize all three.

Within each part Trevin highlights two “counterfeits” that subvert the gospel. For part 1 there is the therapeutic and judgmentless gospels, each offering a counterfeit story/announcement/community. In part 2 Trevin mentions the moralistic and quietistic gospel counterfeits, and in part 3 the activist and churchless counterfeits. I won’t explain them here, but Trevin provides a helpful chart on pg. 210. All of the counterfeits are false gospels that ensnare the church. Thus the purpose of the book is to articulate the true gospel and to show how attempts to change it ultimately fall flat.

The implications of the gospel are far-reaching, so the church must get it right. Every generation will need to understand the biblical gospel and apply it to appropriate contexts. Trevin Wax has given us a great little aid for doing that in this generation, and I’m glad I had the opportunity to read Counterfeit Gospels and recommend it to others.

Written by Josh Philpot

June 19, 2012 at 2:52 pm

Posted in Book Reviews, Books, Gospel

Adoption Video for Crossway

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In March of this year the Adopting for Life conference was in Louisville, KY. A friend of ours asked if we would like to be interviewed by Crossway (who published Russell Moore’s book, “Adopted for Life“) about our upcoming adoption. The interview is now on Vimeo here, and will be on the Crossway blog sometime soon (we’re not really sure when).

At the time when this video was shot we were one week away from picking up our two kids from Ethiopia. I think you can see how excited we were, and how pretty my wife is . . .

Written by Josh Philpot

July 29, 2010 at 8:04 pm

Posted in Adoption, Family, Gospel

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Anne Rice

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A couple of years ago I read Anne Rice’s “Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt” and wrote some thoughts here on the blog. Recently I saw this video of her sharing how she returned to the Roman Catholic church after 38 years of being an agnostic. It’s a fascinating video and I encourage you to watch it in its entirety:

Written by Josh Philpot

July 6, 2010 at 12:52 am

Posted in Culture, Gospel

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Son of Hamas

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As a graduate of Liberty University I’ve been ashamed to watch the rise and fall of Ergun Caner, who recently lost his position as dean of Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary. Caner received heavy scrutiny over the past year for fabrications he made about his life as an American Muslim and his conversion to Christianity, seemingly for personal gain. I will not rehash the details here, so if you want an overview of the situation you can get a good summary at this site.

In the midst of such lies and half-truths it is refreshing to hear about Mosab Hassan Yousef, the author of the NY Times bestseller, “Son of Hamas.” Yousef is the eldest son of a founding member of the terrorist organization Hamas, and even participated in acts of terrorism and torture in his young adulthood. He eventually became a Christian and as a result had to seek political asylum in the US. I haven’t read the book yet, but I have it on my Amazon wish list and look forward to picking it up some day (Tim Challies reviewed the book here). Phil Sumpter linked the following videos on his blog recently, which I found fascinating. Although I have no doubt that Ergun Caner was raised in an Islamic home and converted to Christianity, the embellishments in his own story for self aggrandizement are disappointing to say the least. Yousef’s story, however, is of a different kind. His is a true story of a true terrorists and a loss he suffered for embracing the gospel. The videos below provide a glimpse into his life as a Muslim, struggling to understanding the love of God and how to communicate that to his family.

Written by Josh Philpot

June 29, 2010 at 8:00 am

Posted in Culture, Gospel

Interpretive Challenges in the OT #2 – JPS Translation of Gen. 3:15

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serpent-and-foot-ktWhile reading through my JPS Torah I came across this translation of Gen. 3:15:

I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; They shall strike at your head, and you shall strike at their heel.

Notice anything different? I mean, besides the obvious bold and italicized font? At the heart of this problem is whether “offspring” is an individual, referring to a specific child, or whether it is to be taken as a collective singular, referring to many children. The Hebrew term for “offspring/seed” (zera’ – I’ll use the 2 English words interchangeably) is a masculine noun but is somewhat flexible. In Gen. 4:25 it clearly refers to one person (Seth), whereas in Isaiah 41:8 it refers to Israel as a nation. If one takes “offspring” as referring to an individual (as in the Christian tradition), then the following pronouns (in bold) would be “He shall strike…” and “his heel.” If one takes “offspring” as a collective singular then the JPS translation can be substantiated.

How do we figure this out? Well, rather than deliberately retrojecting the NT understanding of “seed” into Genesis lets first argue from the text itself. In the OT, “seed” seems to follow both lines of thinking mentioned above. Since the woman’s seed struggles against the Serpent’s seed, we can infer that it has a collective sense. But since only the head of the Serpent is represented as crushed, we can expect an individual to deliver the fatal blow and to be struck uniquely on his heel. Additionally, biblical Hebrew employs a grammatical gender (“he,” “she”) agreeing with its it’s antecedent. In other words, “seed” is a masculine noun and should thus be followed by masculine pronouns – “He shall strike” and “his heel.” But that only eliminates whether or not the phrase should be translated “she”, which is totally out of the question (but used some older Catholic translations!). The real problem is if it should be translated “they” or “he”. The most impressive evidence against “they” is the Greek Seputagint (LXX), our oldest translation of this text (third or second century B.C.), which translates this phrase with “he” (autos). This is noteworthy given that the Greek antecedent is neuter (sperma), which means that the oldest translation of Genesis deliberately avoided “it” and understood 3:15 as referring to one person (see R.A. Martin, “The Earliest Messianic Interpretation of Genesis 3:15” JBL 84).

Who, then, is the seed of the woman? The immediate seed is probably Abel, then Seth (Gen. 4:25 – “God has appointed for me another offspring instead of Abel”). The collective seed is the holy offspring of the patriarchs (Gen. 15:5; 22:17). After Genesis we do not hear again of the promised seed until God promises David a seed (2 Sam. 7:12), which should also be understood in both ways. Moving to the NT, the unique fulfillment of this seed promise, however, is Jesus Christ, who comes into the world through the seed of the woman: the patriarchs and David. Paul refers to the seed of Abraham as the individual Jesus Christ (Gal. 3:16) but then also includes the church in Christ as Abraham’s seed (Rom. 16:20; Gal. 3:29).

Conversely, the seed of the Serpent is/are not little snakes, nor demons (since Satan does not father demons), but most likely those who are in rebellion against God. There are the elect, who love God (John 8:31-32), and the reprobate, who love themselves and are of their father, the devil (John 8:44; 1 John 3:8). Each main character in Genesis, then, is portrayed as either the seed of the woman (like Abel and Seth) who carries on God’s promise of Gen. 3:15, or the seed of the Serpent (like Cain) that reproduces the Serpent’s unbelief. In the end, although both individuals will be grievously wounded (“strike” and “crush”), this struggle with the Serpent is ultimately won in the suffering of that Seed (Isa. 53:12; Luke 24:26, 46-47; Rom. 16:20; 2 Cor. 1:5-7; Col. 1:24; 1 Peter 1:11).

Therefore, I believe we can agree in part with the JPS translation (and others) of “they shall strike” and “their heel,” but only if they mean a collective seed and are not simply avoiding the singular notion for fear of adopting a Christian worldview (of Jesus!). The better translation would keep the singular intact, “he shall strike” and “his heel,” which suggests a promised offspring that will project a new spiritual race into this fallen world.

Written by Josh Philpot

April 21, 2009 at 5:57 pm

Book Review: “Death by Love” by Mark Driscoll and Gary Breshears

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I usually stay up to date with the ministry of Mars Hill Church and their pastor, Mark Driscoll. Although controversial, I have admired the way in which his ministry has reached Seattle, WA (the most unchurched city in America). Indeed, Mars Hill (not to be confused with Mars Hill of Rob Bell fame) has penetrated the culture with the gospel and thousands have been saved. As Driscoll has said elsewhere, Mars Hill seeks to combine a message that is timeless with a ministry that is timely, and I’m inclined to agree.

Aside from pastoring and teaching at conferences Driscoll has written many books, the latest of which is “Death by Love: Letters from the Cross,” published by Crossway as part of Mars Hill’s Re:Lit ministry. After seeing this provocative video I picked up the book this week and read it.

I won’t spend much space on this review, but to say that I endorse the book and pray that it has an impact on other Christians. The book is structured as 12 letters to 12 different people, most of which have been held captive by certain sins. All 12 are real people with real situations that Driscoll has counseled throughout his pastoral ministry. After meeting with each person, Driscoll writes them a letter explaining how Jesus’ substitutionary death and resurrection penetrates their individual situation. While Driscoll writes the bulk of the book, there is supplemental theological material by Dr. Gerry Breshears (prof. of theology at Western Seminary) at the end of each letter. What this amounts to is solid pastoral insight (Driscoll planted and has pastored Mars Hill for 12 years) with solid theological underpinnings.

There is much to be commended about the book, but I don’t encourage everyone to read it. Driscoll is not afraid to rebuke those who are held captive to sin. His language is often vivid and provocative. However, his language is sincere and his writing is filled with Christ. To that end, he takes his job seriously, and his impact for the church at Seattle has been very fruitful. I pray that we all would likewise be devoted to the gospel as Driscoll.

Written by Josh Philpot

April 5, 2009 at 11:17 am