Other Writings

Welcome to a few of my other writings, in a rather haphazard order.

Conflict resolution is a point of difficulty for a lot of believers. Matthew 18:15-17: Who are the Witnesses? focuses on one particular point of biblical conflict resolution procedure: the need for witnesses of the actual offense in order to proceed beyond the first stage of the disciplinary procedure.

My most-requested paper is Buy a Sword: Toward a Theology of Civilian Self-Defense. In it, I bypass the debate with pacifism and get right down to a serious consideration of self-defense from a Christian perspective. This paper caught me mid-paradigm-shift when it comes to theological method. Although I still agree with the conclusions in the paper, I wouldn’t handle the development the same way at all. I hope to give the subject a thorough reworking in a book-length treatment one of these days.

Dead Man’s Faith: Spiritual Death, Faith, and Regeneration in Ephesians 2:1-10 is my masters’ thesis. Naturally, I recommend it all, but if you want the guts of the argument in a hurry, you’ll find it on page 74. However, out of the whole thing, I am proudest of page vi. I worked my tail off on that page.

In 2005, I was asked to begin work on a very brief Ephesians commentary (as a chapter in a one-volume New Testament commentary). Work on that project has stalled for various reasons, but you can read the first draft of the Introduction here.

It’s not technically writing (except for the handouts), but of late I’ve also taught a series on hermeneutics and Bible study methods at a sister church. Scroll down to my name for the series and individual handouts. If you want them all in a bunch (about 50 pages), you can get them here. If you’re used to hermeneutics books written by people other than God, you’ll find my approach a little unusual, but also, I think, quite profitable.

Old Journal Articles

Orthodoxy, Character, Wisdom and Witness: An Open Letter to the Free Grace Community is a plea to all sides in the current food fight over gospel content to adhere to biblical standards not only in the content of our doctrine, but in the manner of our conduct. Nothing is quite as ugly as an ungracious man preaching a gracious message.

A Free Grace Critique of Irresistible Grace is what it sounds like. I made two conference presentations (see below) on passive faith. One of the major objections was that my position was indistinguishable from irresistible grace. I thought at the time — and still think — that the people who made that critique were having a knee-jerk reaction to what they thought I was about to say, rather than reading what I actually wrote. Nevertheless, there were a number of them, so a response distinguishing passive faith from irresistible grace seemed in order. This is it.

Many people believe that they can’t really understand the Bible because they’re not scholars, don’t know the original languages, etc. Others believe that carnal believers, unbelievers, or [insert other disenfranchised class here] can’t understand the Bible. Who Can Understand the Bible? takes on these common fallacies and explores what the Bible itself has to say about who can understand it — and who can’t.

Holding Center: The Theocentric Unity of Truth in the Postmodern World argues that in an increasingly pagan landscape, the church must be prepared to transmit the necessary culture — especially skilled literacy — for the common people to read the Bible and understand what it says. Yeah, I know, not a great title for that thought. Oh well…

Beyond the Pulpit: Two Ways Ordinary Believers Minister to the Church articulates important elements of church life that are absolutely beyond the reach of paid staff. In some of the most important parts of the church’s ministry, if the work will be done at all, the rank and file believers must do it.

Reverse-Engineered Outlining: A Method for Epistolary Exegesis is a somewhat dated (2001) article on what is now known as the DABAR exegetical method. The presentation is a little clunky, and the terminology is out of date; however, the principles expounded in the article are sound. The method as presented here is optimized for expository literature, but with additional refinements, it will apply as well to narrative and poetry. As presented here, the method also deals exclusively with the original languages, but again, with appropriate adjustments, can be profitably adapted for English readers.

Conference Presentations

Is Faith a Decision? is a presentation I made some years ago on the subject of passive faith. It is, to date, the broadest single article I’ve written on the subject. Even so, it is by no means exhaustive.

Commands to Believe: An Objection to Passive Faith? is more targeted on one specific objection to passive faith: if God commands people to believe, doesn’t that imply they can decide to believe or not?

In late 2007 the Free Grace Alliance, of which I am not a member, graciously invited me to sit on a couple of panels at their annual conference. In that setting, I was representing minority views on a couple of very volatile issues, and I thank the FGA for the gracious treatment I got. At their request, I provided this brief for the moderator of one of the panels. The panel format itself consisted of opening statements from each panelist, followed by questions taken from the floor. I don’t have transcriptions of the question portion, but here are my opening statements for the panels on assurance and the relationship of the cross to the gospel. Taken together, these three documents and my open letter give my basic orientation on the theological food fights presently dividing the free grace community.

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