First Impressions of the CEB New Testament: Romans

I’m especially severe on English Bible translations in both Galatians and Romans, especially Romans, since it’s considered Paul’s magnum opus.

from Paul’s Letter to the Romans (all bold emphases added):

1:3— “His Son was descended from David” vs “concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh” (ESV).  κατὰ σάρκα, “according to the flesh,” is untranslated in the CEB.  This becomes problematic in light of Paul’s use of κατὰ σάρκα throughout Romans.  κατὰ σάρκα appears to be a technical term in Romans.

Perhaps ἐκ σπέρματος, “from offspring of,” rendered “descended from”—is sufficient.

1:4— “publicly identified” is good for the Greek ὁρισθέντος, rendered “declared to be” in ESV and others.  I go with the CEB here.

1:5— “faithful obedience” vs “obedience of faith” (ESV).  CEB treats πίστεως descriptively, avoiding the ambiguity of the ESV and others.  Perhaps the CEB is to be preferred in light of the unfaithfulness of the Jews at 3:3.

1:15-17 marks a new paragraph against ESV and others at 1:8-15 and 1:16-17.  I’m going with the ESV and others here because of οὕτως, linking verse 15 with verse 14, naturally.

3:22— “through the faithfulness of Jesus Christ” vs “through faith in Jesus Christ” (ESV).  Of course I prefer the CEB here!  It’s time to seriously rethink this matter.

What we have here is διὰ πίστεως Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ in relation to δικαιοσύνη θεοῦ with the prepositional phrase εἰς πάντας τοὺς πιστεύοντας.  It’s time we also recognize that Messiah was expected to be faithful and obedient.  Paul brings this out in 5:19 and Phil. 2:8.

3:25— “Through his faithfulness, God displayed Jesus as the place of sacrifice where mercy is found by means of his blood.”  We have a major rearranging of furniture here with “Through his faithfulness” for the Greek διὰ πίστεως, being applied to God’s covenant faithfulness, rather than the traditional reading of a text like the ESV (“to be received by faith”).

Now the only initial reason I see for this rendering in the CEB is to look back at the 3:3, where we find τὴν πίστιν τοῦ θεοῦ, “the faithfulness of God” and in v. 5, θεοῦ δικαιοσύνην θεοῦ, “the righteousness of God, with both of these coming together in 3:21-26.

4:1— “So what are we going to say?  Are we going to find that Abraham is our ancestor on the basis of genealogy?”  Now this is major rearrangement!  What was Richard Hays, the translator of Romans in the CEB, thinking?

I first encountered this “rearrangement” in Mr. Hays Conversion of the Imagination: Paul as Interpreter of Israel’s Scripture (pp. 61-69). It commends itself in light of Romans 3:27ff.  Also, let us NOT forget that Paul didn’t break his thought at 3:31.

5:1— “Therefore, since we have been made righteous through his faithfulness combined with our faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”  Now you have to really wonder what’s going on with the CEB.

My informed assumption is that πίστεως is here treated as a plenary genitive, “his faithfulness combined with our faith,” with πίστεως functioning also anaphorically, pointing back to Abraham’s faithfulness, the God’s faithfulness, or Jesus’ faithfulness.

To be honest, this is too much for me to process right now.

6:4— “We too can walk in newness of life.”  I remember Mark Strauss criticised the ESV “newness” here.  Well, I was surprised to see the CEB, a newer translation, making the same “mistake.”

8:3-13—the Greek σάρξ, sarx, is rendered “selfishness,” “self-centered.”  I find “selfishness” for sarx to be too weak, too narrow.  Is Paul only talking only about “selfishness”?  I think of “selfishness” as one among many vices.

8:26— “but the Spirit itself pleads.”  The neuter English pronoun “itself” is used here for the Greek neuter pronoun αὐτὸ.  So neuter pronoun for neuter?  Fair enough?  Now the gender of the Holy Spirit is called into question?

10:4— “For Christ is the goal of the Law…” vs “For Christ is the end of the law…” (ESV)  The CEB’s “goal” is to be preferred for the Greek τέλος.  But I find the TNIV’s “Christ is the culmination of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes”—to be superior.

12:1— “This is your appropriate priestly service” vs “which is your spiritual worship” (ESV).  I go with the CEB here, given the significance of λογικός and the cultic imagery of λατρεία.

16:7— “Say hello to Andronicus and Junia… They are prominent among the apostles…” vs “They are well known to the apostles” (ESV).  I read the verse in Greek.  Consulted a few NT guys on the verse.  I simply cannot defend the ESV’s rendering of the prepositional phrase ἐν τοῖς ἀποστόλοις as “to the apostles.”

If you’re use to reading Romans from a Bible translation in the Tyndale/KJV tradition, you’ll find the CEB both refreshing and challenging at times.

See my First Impressions of Galatians here.

This entry was posted in Bible Translations, Bibles, Biblical Greek, Common English Bible, ESV, Miscellanies, Pauline, Richard B. Hays, TNIV and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

71 Responses to First Impressions of the CEB New Testament: Romans

  1. Sue says:

    Good analysis. I do hope that some things you mention will be ironed out eventually. It seems that there is no decision as to how to treat sarx.

    Thanks for your comment on Rom. 16:7. The NET and the ESV reveal their agenda in this verse.

    I note with amusement that you are not aware that the Spirit became masculine somewhere near the end of the 19th century. The spirit is a relatively young male in the Godhead. Here is the KJV,

    26Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.

  2. Sue says:

    I think “goal” is better and closer to the meaning than “culmination.” That still sounds like the “end” or “termination” of the law. But telos means “purpose” or “goal.” That is what “end” used to mean at one time in English. “Goal” is a significant improvement, IMO.

    • T.C. R says:


      Thanks. To my ear “culmination” implies the coming together of all these bits and pieces and then, bam! 😉

      Yeah, the gender of the Spirit thing. 😀

  3. Theophrastus says:

    I don’t know, TC. The CEB translation is being done in three years. Compare that to the RSV (which, of course, was a revision) and took fifteen years to complete. The NRSV (which, of course, was also a revision) took seventeen years to complete. I just don’t see how a high quality translation can be done so quickly.

    You’ve already pointed out in Galatians 2:20 they skipped an important phrase! I’ve found several dozen painfully awkward sentences in the translation. The style is also inconsistent form book to book, as you are probably noticing.

    I’m beginning to suspect that this translation is just sloppy — a rush job.

  4. We need another “translation” like a hole in the head! Hay’s is somewhat always on his own drumbeat. Romans 16:7 has been worked-over way too much. One cannot build a “theology” here!

    Finally, I agree with Theo. as to the CEB.

  5. Scott W says:


    The reason the work on the CEB was done so fast was because of the use of technology (project management website through which the parties interfaced and did much of the work) and strict adherence to project management goals. I’ve read a comment by a CEB editor who stated that the reason the NRSV took so long was the almost never ending editorial feedback loop in play in that project.

    And this goes to another point you make about the lack of consistency in the translation. One can view this in two ways. Either this is the result of a sloppy work or the translators and editors were trying to reflect the various styles of the biblical authors themselves according to the stated goals of this translation in rendering the biblical text into “common english”. Personally, I think it’s more of the latter. When I compare the CEB NT with, say the NIV, which I once used as my main Bible, the NIV i characterize as “McTranslation” because it has very definite stylistic consistency, to the point that everything reads the same, even in a somewhat polished contemporary English. From my exposure to the CEB thus far it doesn’t have that “committee” feel to it. There are few awkward sentences but this is the first iteration of this version, but what has been produced is impressive. The renderings have a tendency to make an “impact” on the reader. I appreciate that.

    I think their goal was more to get specialists in each book and give them leeway to craft the translation more in terms of stylistic diversity of the books themselves. I do know that the CEB chose some translators who are currently working on commentaries as they did translation work. For example, CEB Romans was co-translated (2nd draft) by Beverly Gaventa of Princeton Seminary who is presently at work on the Romans commentary for the New Testament Library series. And Revelation and Johannine specialist Craig Koester of Luther Northwestern Seminary who was lead translator for CEB Revelation is preparing the Revelation commentary for the Anchor Bible. Of all the recent translations overall the CEB has the list of the most distinguished scholars. From Luke Timothy Johnson to Margaret Mitchell (UChicago) on 1 Corinthians to Pheme Perkins (Boston College) on Ephesians.

  6. Tim says:

    What’s your take on the actual rendering (not paragraph division) of 1:17? It just seems odd to me.

    – Tim

  7. T.C. R says:


    Scott W mentions the use of technology. I was actually going there. He beat me to it. 😉

    As I indicated before, the TNIV NT 2001 was tweaked by the time of the whole project in 2005. I’m thinking something similar is going to happen with the CEB. They’ve got a year. 😉

    Scott W,

    There are many things that I enjoy about the CEB: for example, it’s consistent rendering of dikaioo (I’m working on a separate post for that).

    But I think they do need some concordance here and there, and a bit of consistency in Paul. For example, Gal. 2:16 and Romans 3:22. I’m thinking they should have taken the same approach. Too much leeway, then?


    What’s the oddity about Romans 1:17 in the CEB? Let’s start there.

    • Tim Worley says:

      It’s the “from faithfulness for faith” in 1:17 that strikes me as odd.

      I realize that εκ πιστεως εις πιστιν is a complex phrase to render (as reflected in the CEB footnotes – “faithfulness” is footnoted “or faith”, while “faith” is footnoted “or faithfulness”). But this strikes me as clunky.

      Personally, I’m inclined toward Moo’s view here, taking the phrase to mean something along the lines of “completely by faith” (i.e., exclusively by faith), similar to Paul’s usage of “death to death/life to life” in 2 Cor. 2:16 (assuming this means something like “a fragrance of complete death/life”), or the NLT’s “by faith from start to finish.”

      Could the CEB be emphasizing the relation of πιστεως to δικαιοσυνη, in the sense of covenant faithfulness? In that case, I assume the translators meant “revealed out of God’s/Christ’s covenant faithfulness, for [the sake of? with the result of?] our personal faith.” While that is certainly a plausible interpretation of εκ πιστεως εις πιστιν, if that’s what they were going for I don’t think it was rendered as clearly as it could have been.

      That (and my preference for Moo’s “nothing but faith” view) is my issue at 1:17.

      • T.C. R says:


        “From faithfulness for faith” does seem odd.

        In his Romans in the Paul for Everyone series, N.T. Wright has “from faithfulness to faithfulness.”

        This has more to do with the larger context of Hab. 2:4, yes, within a new perspective paradigm.

        If dikaiosyne theou is rightly “covenant faithfulness,” then the CEB is not so odd, though I would go with: “from faithfulness to faithfulness. Just as it is written in Scripture, ‘The righteous shall live from his faithfulness.'”

        The shortcoming I see with Moo looking to a text like 2 Cor. 2:16 is a failure to weigh the theological import of pistis, as a counterpart of the Hebrew emunah.

  8. Theophrastus says:

    Scott W: May I ask, where are you finding the list of translators/reviewers for each biblical book? I see the complete list of translators, but I do not know which book each translator worked on.

    Of all the recent translations overall the CEB has the list of the most distinguished scholars.

    Do you really think that? For example, do you think the translators of the CEB are more distinguished than the translators of the 2007 New English Translation of the Septuagint?

    • Scott W says:

      Information about who translated each book is something I culled from various blogs and websites of biblical scholars.

      And it’s funny you should mention the NET LXX in relation to the CEB because some of the scholars who did translation on that work also contributed to the CEB Apocrypha like Bernard Taylor, Cameron Boyd-Taylor and Benjamin Wright. My statement pertained more to general bibles for liturgical and general use, which the NET LXX is not. The list of scholars forteh CEB OT/Apocrypha is especially strong and diverse also. CEB employed scholars who worked on the NRSV, NIV, ESV, HCSB, and other translations.

  9. Theophrastus says:

    One of the many things that it appears this translation has lost, in its rush to publication, is the careful and long negotiations to make sure that it received the imprimatur from the US Conference of Catholic Bishops. You can see the list of approved translations here; there is the NRSV, and NAB of course, but also the Good News Bible and even the NIV Psalms. It seems they were in too much of a rush to get this out the door to worry about the 68 million US Catholics (and countless more in the English speaking world.) But at least they actually involved a small number (11 out of 107 total translators) Catholic scholars in the translation — it appears they have completely excluded Eastern Orthodox scholars This translation was not aimed at being ecumenical after the fashion of the NRSV.

    A bit sobering when one realizes that the NRSV is in the process of becoming the official lectionary of most of the English speaking Catholic Church outside of the US.

  10. ScottL says:

    TC –

    3:22— “through the faithfulness of Jesus Christ” vs “through faith in Jesus Christ” (ESV). Of course I prefer the CEB here! It’s time to seriously rethink this matter.

    So also the preferable translation of NT Wright. Do you appreciate the new perspective on Paul and justification? You know I want to re-review Wright’s and Piper’s books/debate.

    8:26— “but the Spirit itself pleads.” The neuter English pronoun “itself” is used here for the Greek neuter pronoun αὐτὸ. So neuter pronoun for neuter? Fair enough? Now the gender of the Holy Spirit is called into question?

    Is the Spirit specifically male? Is God specifically male? Or has God been revealed in the form of Father and Son? But does that make God intrinsically male?

    10:4— “For Christ is the goal of the Law…” vs “For Christ is the end of the law…” (ESV) The CEB’s “goal” is to be preferred for the Greek τέλος. But I find the TNIV’s “Christ is the culmination of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes”—to be superior.

    Goal and culmination both seem good, but I understand your leaning towards culmination. Maybe we should have both with the conjunction ‘and’ in between. Or is that too much rearranging?

    Since you enjoy reading on Romans a lot, maybe consider Andrew Perriman’s The Future of the People of God: Reading Romans Before and After Western Christendom. I recently purchased his The Coming of the Son of Man: New Testament Eschatology for an Emerging Church. I hope to start that soon, and will get to meet him over here in Brussels in October. He has some great thoughts on the re-evaluation and re-arranging of our theology in the postmodern world. Not in a let’s-believe-anything-we-like. But approaching Scripture in a fresh way realising that Scripture doesn’t teach what we thought it taught from a western-Christendom-modern view. Anyways, check out the Romans book if you want. 🙂

    • Perriman is simply Hyperpreterist! This is hardly orthodox.

    • T.C. R says:

      Scott L,

      Regarding the New Perspective, you could say that I lean more in that area, esp. that of N.T. Wright.

      Regarding the gender of the Spirit, the Greek pneuma, “Spirit,” is neuter. But that’s grammatical though. Referent is another issue.

      Yeah, those Perriman’s titles look good, esp. the one on Romans. Well, you’re going to see the man in person. 😀

  11. ScottL says:

    Robert –

    Perriman would not label himself by any of the millenial views or the four typical views of preterist (hyper or partial), futurist, idealist, or historical. Yes, his ideas seem to be connected to preterism. But he has told me that is not what his focus is. His focus in moving beyond the normal eschatological discussions of ‘when is the parousia?’ or ‘when is the millenium?’, etc, to focus on being part of the renewal of all things, as places like Rom 8 and Rev 21 points to. I will read more in his book, and hopefully engage in some conversation when he is over here in October. But I sense Perriman is trying to rethink our eschatological perspectives from the typical western and modern views.

  12. ScottL says:

    Robert –

    I do understand that we cannot completely remove ourselves from historically defined theology. But, another example might be that I could talk about charismatic or Pentecostal theology, but a more helpful word today is probably continuationism, since there are many who believe all gifts of the Spirit are continued post-first century even unto today, but don’t identify with the particulars of the aforementioned movements. That is understandable with many theological frameworks, i.e., another example being the new perspective on Paul.

    So, again, Perriman steers clear of certain terms (as I would and you would as well) because they can carry much baggage with them. And, he is not actually a full or hyper preterist, at least as I can tell. I don’t believe he sees every prophecy as being fulfilled (though he probably wouldn’t utilise that kind of language either). A full/hyper preterist says it is all done. I am not sure he is at that place. But maybe you have heard him say otherwise?

    • Scott,

      I have seen a friends copy of the latter book, and read some lines. And The Preterist Research Institute gives the book full support. It sort of reminds me when I read Albert Schweitzer’s book: The Mysticism of Paul the Apostle. I always liked the person of Schweitzer, but not the full of his theology. BTW, Schweitzer taught that both Jesus and Paul taught some kind of imminent Coming. For Christ it was THE end (which never came of course..Schweitzer) And for Paul (according to Schweitzer) this moved into even more than a Christ-Mysticism, to a form of a general Hellenistic-mysticism. A Christian gnosticism to my mind! And of course this is not really Pauline.

      And for what its worth, I am a cessionist myself.

  13. ScottL says:

    Robert –

    I didn’t want to get into a discussion (nor debate) about eschatological or pneumatological views. I understand your views. I simply wanted to share with TC about Perriman’s new book on Romans. I think it would be an interesting and engaging read.

    • Scott,

      Sorry if it seemed polemical, however preterism is just not part of Christian orthodoxy to my mind at least. Christian theology should have its limits also. Note too, this is bent towards the “emergent” church aspect. As a classic “churchman” I feel I should speak out here. But no debate certainly.

      • Hi guys. Scott’s right. I don’t think the labelling helps us to understand either the New Testament or our own historical context. If nothing else, it is usually symptomatic of a partisan approach to interpretation, which can only really distort and misdirect.

        Beyond that, my objection to the ‘hyperpreterist’ label is two-fold.

        First, even from our perspective at the tail-end of the Christendom period, I think the New Testament points us to a final resurrection of all the dead, a final judgment, a final destruction of all that is evil, Godless, satanic and of death itself, and a final remaking of heavens and earth, in which God is restored to the heart of the created order. That is hardly trivial. What it excludes is the ‘events’ indicated principally by the language of a coming ‘kingdom’ and of the vindication of the suffering Son of man. My argument is that this language aims at historical circumstances in the foreseeable future of the emerging church – notably the destruction of Jerusalem and the eventual victory of the church over imperial paganism. It seems to me absurd to think that Jesus and the church would not have needed to say something about these massively important developments.

        Secondly, from the point of view of New Testament interpretation – that is, from an exegetical point of view – my approach is arguably better characterised as hyper-futurist. I think that both Jesus and Paul had more or less fully future eschatologies, though occasionally the transformative events to come are seen to be anticipated in present circumstances. For example, I would argue that the healings in the Gospels are not signs that the kingdom has come or that Israel has been healed, but are signs that these things will happen through the critical events that Jesus prophesies.

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  15. T.C.

    I have yet to see the New Perspective affect the real Body-Life of the Church. In reality most pastors don’t even know the workings of the position (in my opinion). Myself, I am not sure it will ever really affect the life of the Church? I could be wrong? But I don’t think so.

    • T.C. R says:

      Fr. Robert,

      The so-called NP does affect the Body-Life of the Church. Yes, most pastors need to research the matter for themselves. They hear “New Perspective” and immediately become suspicious.

      As N.T. Wrights says, Eph 2:1-10 is Old Perspective and 2:11-22 is New Perspective. 😉

      • T.C.

        I have read & studied the NP myself. From about 2006/7? on. At first I was interested, but in reality it does rely on too many suppositions on the Second Temple Judaism. And yes I read both Piper and even Wrights “Justification”.

        Have you read Cornelis Venema’s book: The Gospel Of Free Acceptance In Christ, An Assessment of the Reformation and the New Perspective on Paul? That book was the hammer blow for me anyway.

  16. T.C. R says:

    Fr. Robert,

    For an N.T. Wright it’s not so much Second Temple Judaism as a starting point. Rather, STJ only evidences what is true of “covenant faithfulness” and the various understanding of it in eschatological terms, around Messiah.

    Haven’t read Venema. So many titles and so little time to read. 😀

    • T.C.

      As Venema says of Sanders ‘covenantal nomism’, it is really semi-Pelagianism. Venema also has a smaller paperback called: Getting the Gospel Right, Assessing the Reformation and the New Persectives on Paul. I have both books, and have read both. Anyone that is especially Reformed simply must read Venema here! And I would go so far as to say, that the NP is not really Reformational, or Reformed.

  17. T.C. R says:

    Fr. Robert,

    I follow N.T. Wright’s lead on NP, not Sanders. There are some major differences. 😉

    • T.C.

      Note really, as Wright stands much with Sanders. Again, you simply must read Venema here. If you are going to stand Reformed? Read Venema! His larger book here (The Gospel of Free Acceptance In Christ, etc.) is simply the “hammer” for the Reformed Gospel here!

  18. T.C. R says:

    Fr. Robert,

    I hold to the doctrines of grace with some modifications, so I’m not too sure about being really “Reformed.”

    Wright stands in the Reformed tradition.

    • T.C.

      Please do me a favor? Read Venema’s large book. Then if you think Wright is still “Reformed” so be it. But the issue really does hinge around the Second Temple ideas, legalism, etc.

      That Wright is Reformed is only “one” foot in, the other..somewhere else? lol 🙂 I think you would agree that Tom is hardly a full “Calvinist”?

      • T.C.

        Please understand I feel that being “Reformed” does stand with the Solo’s somewhat. How can they not, and still be Reformed? Myself, as also a person Augustinian this must be theologically historical. This is quite the loss today, with people like Wright. Again, in my opinion, we simply cannot water-down “Imutation”, etc.

      • Craig Benno says:

        I’m interested in what do you mean by reformed?

        John Wesley considered himself to be part of the reformation tradition… so did Arminius.

        I would say that to truly part of the continuation of the reformed tradition of the church, one has to continually be seeking to reform the church and not just be sitting down complacently accepting church tradition as being reformed.

        Eg, Both Luther and Calvin believed in the assumption of Mary….which for many modern reformists that is a heretical belief….

    • Craig,

      Of course when we use the term “Reformed” we are speaking today at least of the classic Calvinist wing of the Reformation.

      Luther perhaps did believe in the full Assumption of Mary, and Calvin also held to her perpetual virginity (in light of the Incarnation), but I am not sure he held to the Assumption? I used to be Anglo-Catholic, and held to a very high Marian position. Now I am closer to Calvin.

      I am not at all complacently accepting tradition, but both the Word of God incarnationally, in both Christ & His Church. Just keep reading & studying mate! 🙂

  19. *”Imputation” (sticky today

  20. T.C.

    You might find this of interest? Note Augustine’s pre-reformation thought.

    • T.C.

      Also the question for me is, does the NP really value the Gospel of God, and the Reformation Gospel? I don’t think its fits well myself into the Reformed or Reformational theology. And Venema’s book hammers this home! Even Wesley I don’t think would agree with this theology. The nature of Justification is the issue here. And how a man is justified before God cannot be an ecumenical issue either. Justification for the Reformed Christian is forensic, and the only Imputation is of Christ’s righteousness, for the believer.

  21. T.C. R says:

    Fr. Robert,

    No disrespect intended. But I don’t care about the Reformation Gospel.

    Justification is not the Gospel. That’s part of the problem and so many misunderstandings.

    The Imputation of Christ’s righteousness is a construct. It’s not Pauline.

    • T.C.

      And don’t take this wrong either, but all theology is a construct, at least in some manner. And I have been where you are going. The question is, which is the real “biblical” construct? I am going with the Reformed Gospel, and central is being “justified”! Luther knew it, as did Calvin. Salvation is by grace alone in the end! Again, note Jude 1:1 & 24-25, even here is the “Pauline”!

      • T.C. R says:

        Fr. Robert,

        Yes, “all theology is a construct, at least in some manner.” Correct. So that brings us to the whole witness of Scripture.

        We both stand in the Reformation tradition. But much of Reformation theologizing needs rethinking. Whatever happened to semper reformata?

        Luther and Calvin were operating in their times and circumstances.

  22. T.C.

    Yes, the nature of the Church as “Always Reforming” is important. But, as we can see with the Cambridge Declaration, the Church must not sell its theological and biblical birthright either. As I have said, I have myself been on the Anglo-Catholic or High Church side. And certainly Wright’s NP position is not really either, but it is closer to the High Church in my opinion. As I have stated one simply cannot make the classic Reformed positions fully ecumenical. Especially Justification!

    It is popular right now to amend Reformed Theology. But I can myself see this going just only so far, without really losing what is central in Reformed Theology. Again, I would side closer with the Cambridge Declaration (96?) in such.

    • T.C.

      Just a note, but I see both the earlier Irish Articles 1615, and then the later Anglican Articles as being Reformed in the Anglican Communion. And here I am quite amazed how far some Anglicans and certainly clergy, have removed. If you have not read these? It is certainly a must to understand classic Anglicanism. (And where Wright resides, at least the history itself). AS, to the nature of the the doctrines of grace, I don’t think I have, myself, ever strayed too much, even when a High Churchmen. And even then I myself fell back towards Augustine.

    • Craig Benno says:

      Robert, I read through that Cambridge Declaration and if you follow it through to its logical conclusions and fully believe in it, you will be a Hyper Calvinist.

      On a side note… how do you pray for the lost? and why do you pray for the lost?

      • Craig,

        I no “hyper-Calvinist”, that is just an “arrow” fired at this grand mystery! I can see you have not read about the aspect of God’s use of secondary sources in this subject of God’s sovereignty & providence; Divine Omniscience, etc. Let me recommend R.C. Sproul here. And the idea that God could know, foreknow, everything without controlling everything is not only unscriptural, but illogical.

      • Craig,

        You also might want to read Augustine’s messages with or toward Pelagius.

      • Craig Benno says:

        Robert I find it frustrating when I ask someone about their faith and or the way they practice it and they then refer me to another source to read…unless it is something they have wrote themselves.

        I would much rather engage with the reality of the person I am talking to.

        As for R.C Sproul I have some of his books in my library, one which I often use. I have read much of Piper, Carson, Olson, Pinnock, Wesley and the only work of Augustine I have read is his “City of God” …which I have to say that if any one dare uses Augustine as a source for their Calvinistic theology they also have to be a continuist because Augustine makes it clear the gifts had continued through out his ministry and experience.

      • Craig,

        To engage me, is to enage something of a classic “Churchman”, Anglican, both Catholic & Reformed. And certainly Augustinian in many places. But, I lock-step really with no human theology fully! I would even say I am something of a Thomist. So yes, I am eclectic to a certain point.

        BTW, Augustine does not engage the fulness or theology of glossolalia. As a Catholic theologian he however always allows God to be God! I am not against miracles at all, I just don’t believe God uses the Apostolic sense anymore, as there are no longer Apostles, in the strict sense. God alone is the healer! As far as I would go with the modern tongues issue, would be psychological. Perhaps something Jungian? Though I don’t follow Jungian thought myself. But I am not against some of Jung’s ideas.

        Finally, I have a large place for the “mystery” of God! But here I would follow more of the classic biblical mysteries, as within the Holy Scripture itself. With both St. Paul and St. John, and the whole of the NT Revelation.

        If you get a chance, you might want to check out the great Anglican mind and theolog: Austin Farrer? Simply one of the modern giants in practical theology! Perhaps start with the edited book: Captured by the Crucified. And then onto Robert Slocum’s: Light in a Burning-Glass, A Sytematic Presentation of Austin Farrer’s Theology. Just a recommendation if you want to see the best of modern, but somewhat conservative Anglican theology?

      • Craig Benno says:

        It may seem that there are some cross posting / miss-understandings here regarding the continuist / cessationist thought.

        If you say continuism is the belief of the continuation of Apostles today in the same vein of the Apostolic forefathers then I have to disagree. However the are Apostolic ministries today who do go and break fallow ground, starting up new ministeries where none existed before.

        In regard to the Apostles healing anyone…which is often a argument used by Calvinists/ cessationists they miss the point of the fact they never healed any one… never ever!! It was always God doing the healing through them… again it belies the point I made before of a lack of understanding in holding a Spiritless Christology and the fact the hold a Spiritless understanding of the ministry of the Spirit through those who were called.

        As for the tongues issue. The Anglican church where I was saved… in 1967 they had a visitation of the Holy Spirit in the little church where two of the older ladies told me it was like a jumbo jet landing in the church with the wind and noise…. Toungues, prophecy healing and deliverance became the norm for that church..

        Psychological it could be at times…
        1.)however on a college mission trip to the local coast we held a mission night… one of the guys spoke publicly in tongues and a Jewish lady came up to accept Christ. She said… the speaker spoke perfect Hebrew in her dialect.

        2.) A man at my church was speaking to an Italian man in tongues… he couldn’t understand a word he was saying.. the man accepted Christ and son said the speaker was speaking in perfect Italian.

        3.) We had a visiting missionary come to church from Papua New Guinee… he was against tongues… but when our pastor prayed for him both in English and his normal tongue, the visiting missionary said…”This does it for me…tongues are real. You spoke perfectly the language and dialect of the people whom I minister to.

        4.) I was used to interpret the gift of tongues one night at church and when I shared what I thought the speaker was saying… it was directly related to an unknown issue someone in the church was going through and brought much comfort to the hearer.

        Robert I can understand your reluctance to agree to the continuation of the Apostolic coming from a RC background in light of how the RC church promotes the pope as Peter the Apostle and in this thought I too am a cessationist.

      • Craig,

        This issue of the Charismatic is not that important to me mate. And as I mentioned I lived thru that whole 70’s thing of such. It really is settled now for me. And the whole testimony of tongues and healing should be a personal thing anyway. I never said, I was neutral during that time. I just don’t see it now as a real “divine” movement. If you do, then fine.

        And I just don’t get a “Spiritless Christology” idea. You should really say, there are just many non-Charismatic’s who live and operate without the sign gifts, etc. If you have read any Barth, or any Eastern Orthodox, you can see there is much about the Holy Spirit.

      • Craig Benno says:

        Hi Robert.
        I want to clear up what I meant by hogwash… I was talking about the pentecostal pastor who tried to change the service structure of the orthodox church he was invited to… his actions I thought were motivated out of a hogwash theology of church practice.

        At one time I was the co-ordinator of the local area inter-church prayer gatherings. Apart from the 7th day adventist and a fundamental independent baptist church we held quarterly prayer gatherings at every church throughout the area. I was also invited to preach at those same churches on a number of times, including the RC church.

        One area I greatly valued from my time in the Anglican church was its liturgic structure and lectionary readings. I also appreciated its approach to recognising parish based ministry boundaries.
        Yet within this same strengths were many inherent weaknesses in that the actual church building was considered to be the center of ministry… community was meant to come to the church… not the church go out into the community …this also is a great weakness within the modern evangelical church also… much effort in getting the congregation to be involved with in house programs.

        The one thing with the more liturgical churches though is they don’t resonant as much with the unchurched community. Historically speaking the liturgy was based for illiterate people to hear and be informed / taught the scriptures on a rote basis. .. today illiteracy is not such a problem with the information highway at our fingertips…. and our church people are much more informed.

      • Craig,

        I think I am done seeking dialogue on the Charismatic issue, okay?

        But, you are certainly dead wrong about the Liturgical Churches! Being raised Roman Catholic, and then being an Anglo-Catholic priest for several years (before I went more fully Reformed in Anglicanism). Along with certain Orthodox friends and fellowship. The reality of the High Church movement is that liturgy is historical, spiritual and certainly mystical. Not to mention the depth of many of their spiritual men (people), and theolog’s. Note the great Anglican Charles Gore for example.

        The Church for the High Church or Catholic (in Anglicanism) people is simply fully sacramental. Note even in the history of the Reformed Church, called The Mercersburg Theology. Nevin and Schaff. No Liturgy, like the East and Orthodoxy is a very spiritual way of faith and worship. Some of the greatest intellectuals are/were High Church! No mere rote ideas here! We can place C.S. Lewis here somewhat.

    • Craig Benno says:

      The Spiritless Christology is in regards to the Cessationists stance / belief about how the Apostles had so called sign gifts which was theirs to use at will… Cessationists seem to make a doctrine in that there is a difference in the modern gift of healing because we can’t heal every body at will and therefore it is a different gift…

      What this thought does is minimise the fact that it wasn’t something the Apostles did, and that it was the Spirit working through the Apostles when the Holy Spirit wanted to.

      I find it interesting about your reference to the Orthodox Church Robert.

      One of my lecturers in Christian Spirituality is a Greek Orthodox Priest and teacher at the Orthodox College in Sydney….He would often say that His Bishop gets excited about the Pentecostals and his teaching at the Pentecostal college as he thinks the Pentecostals are closer to the Orthodox position / experience of the Spirit then any other denomination.

      • Craig,

        I know the Eastern Orthodox also, let a Pentecostal show up in an Orthodox service, and try and change the liturgy with so-called charismatic and spiritual action. They just won’t let that happen! Talk is cheap, as they say. The Orthodox are hardcore when it comes to “their” liturgy.

      • Craig Benno says:


        It would seem your mixing Christian doctrine with church function. That is appalling about the Pentecostal trying to change the church liturgy.
        This begs the question though as to how we understand liturgy as every type of denomination is litigious.

        Typically most Pentecostal services these days are similar to any other Baptist / Evangelical service with little so called Charismatic action…. which is hogwash.

        An interesting fact about the Orthodox is that they do expect every believer to use and to expect the gifts of the Spirit to be used and functioning within the life of the body… while they have a strict liturgical structure within the service…. they expect full freedom in the life of the church in how they go about their lives.

        Your an interesting Calvinist Robert for most cessationist calvinists speak of the orthodox church as being heretical.

      • Craig,

        Yes, I am an Anglican Reformed but still as the Anglican old doctrine & teaching.. Catholic & Reformed. And also at one time I was part of an Anglican Orthodox society. Don’t let my “cesstionist” view fool you, I am very much centered in on the Holy Spirit, but certainly Trinitarian first – within such…Eph. 2:18 / John 15:26.

        “Mixing Christian doctrine with church function”? We must! “Hogwash”? lol I told you, this issue is not foremost for me, like it appears for you. The Church is approaching a great depth of both cultural (postmodern) and biblical-theological apostasy!

  23. T.C. R says:

    Fr. Robert,

    No need to be paranoid, my friend. 😉

    • Not “paranoid” just puzzled? Reformed theology is simply creedal! My point about a kind of cafeteria style Calvinist theology today. Which I don’t like myself. Fair enough? 🙂

      • T.C. R says:

        Fr. Robert,

        It depends on the type of Calvinist you’re conversing with. For me, much of Calvinist is “a kind of cafeteria style theology.” Yep! 😀

      • T.C.

        My point to using “cafeteria” as a sort of metaphor, is not to the loss of freedom in some obvious personal expessions. But to the certain core of Augustinian and so-called Calvinist doctrine, i.e. ‘the doctrines of grace’. It is here that we find again that core of the Reformed teaching and doctrine. I would be the first to give it plenty of expression, but always within the central doctrine of God Himself! I have also noted a certain loss of the Trinity of God, in so-called modern Reformed. Sure, most people will express their “amen” towards the Trinity, but they really don’t have a workable theology or spirituality in such. This has been my experience with so many Christians, Reformed or otherwise.

  24. Craig Benno says:

    One of the frustrating things I have found within Calvinism and all other forms of isms is in trying to construct or destruct a detailed systematic theology from Paul and the other writers.

    I am not convinced that it was Paul’s or any other writers intention to write such a treatise nor to convey such, rather that each book was written as a pastoral / ministerial response to a particular issue or issues within the church.

    To my mind it seemed the authors are far less concerned with correct doctrine of how and why things worked and more concerned with their hearers continuing on in the experiential freedom of the Gospel.

  25. T.C. R says:

    Sure, most people will express their “amen” towards the Trinity, but they really don’t have a workable theology or spirituality in such.

    Fr. Robert,

    That is why we so need to appreciate an N.T. Wright, who also stands in the Reformed tradition.

    To my mind it seemed the authors are far less concerned with correct doctrine of how and why things worked and more concerned with their hearers continuing on in the experiential freedom of the Gospel.


    To a degree, but we need to back up here. Though we can safely say that the NT documents are all situational, I’m not too sure that we can say that they were “less concerned with correct doctrine of how…”

    For example, what I notice in Paul is first correct thinking which eventually leads to correct living.

    But if you mean Paul and others were not writing systematic theologies, then I’m with you 100%.

    • T.C.

      I will give Tom Wright the typical wide birth for Reformation theology I suppose. At least for today. But in the real sense of “Reformed”, I think not. That would be my thought at least, but I am not alone, and with other Anglicans. As we note Gerald Bray. But to each his own today, as it seems sadly. There must be theological openness, but never mere innovation!

      And as I have said, and will say again, Wright is a brilliant mind certainly! But, brilliance can go astray sometimes. And I myself, will always oppose the NP! Fair enough?

    • Craig Benno says:

      That is exactly what I meant T.C.

  26. Pingback: I’ve Started To Use The Common English Bible | Political Jesus

  27. Tony says:

    Would you ever make the CEB a primary preaching/teaching bible? Why or why not?

    • TC Robinson says:

      Every now and then a Bible translation like the CEB comes along. It will have its admirers and detractors. It’s a fresh translation for sure, bringing its pros and cons.

      At the moment, I wouldn’t make it a primary preaching or teaching for the following reasons: 1. I’m not altogether comfortable with some of its renderings. 2. I preach primarily to NIVers. 3. The Tyndale tradition is not going anywhere. 4. I tend to like most of the updates/revisions in the NIV2011. I hope this helps.

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