Does Penal Substitution make the rest of Jesus’ life meaningless?

There’s been a long running accusation against Evangelicals that goes something like this.

1. The focus on Jesus dying in our place so we can be forgiven and go to heaven makes the rest of Jesus’ ministry pointless. It means his life was just a build up to the real event – The Cross.

2. Christians who believe that Jesus died to take the penalty so they can have eternal life have very little interest in what happens in this life. They are purely interested in what happens after death. This also means that they have little motivation to change. They might as well do what they want now because they are saved by grace. Continue reading


Who are you righteous to?

Jesus says:

“Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.[1]

He then goes on to give three examples of this, giving, fasting and praying. We are not to do these things for the attention of others in public, showy ways. Usually when these verses are taught the focus is on Continue reading

Original Sin or Original Goodness?

I’ve heard a few people from time to time complain that Evangelicals talk too much about original sin and not enough about original goodness. The complaint is that this leads to a negative attitude to humanity. We fail to see our potential for good. Continue reading

What did the Reformation ever do for us? (2) Brought us back to grace

 the centre of the Reformation was the question “How can I be right with God?” It wasn’t that faith and grace were completely absent from the teaching of the church, it was rather that they’d been squeezed out by works, rituals and sacraments.

Grace had become a substance bestowed on you at baptism because of Jesus’s death. However, through life you could lose grace as well as gain it. Sacraments like the Mass, saying confession, doing penance etc were ways to in effect top your account back up.  You could gain additional grace by taking up holy orders in a monastery.  You could also pay (through a scheme known as indulgences) for your dead relatives to have their grace accounts topped up and that way buy them out of purgatory (an intermediate place between earth and heaven where most people expected to go to pay off their debt to sin in order to purify their souls for heaven). Continue reading

Fulfilling the Law (part 4) Typology

We’re continuing to think through the continuity and discontinuity between the OT and the NT. One helpful way to do this is through Typology. The OT provides types/ patterns or foreshadowing of the greater reality to come in Christ.

Let’s sketch that out a little (nb there’s nothing original in this post but if I were to cite everyone who had picked up on these images the footnotes would be longer than the article). Continue reading

Shame and/or guilt? Collective and/or individual?

Judy Wu Dominick writes about guilt and shame here.  Her thoughts can be summarised as follows Continue reading