John McKinley

The Meaning of "Head," Part One

By John McKinley Apr. 14, 2014 9:00 a.m. Theology, Church Life, Culture, Marriage and Family, Ministry and Leadership, New Testament

I’ve begun reading into the topic of women and men in ministry. I noticed immediately that the concept of “head” stands out in the debate between egalitarian and complementarian interpretations. As a metaphor, the concepts and specific applications intended by Paul can be elusive. For help, I turned to an expert on the subject, my colleague, Dr. Michelle Lee-Barnewall. Below are her explanations of four questions as part of beginning to explore the meaning of “headship.”

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Christian Theological Slogans

By John McKinley Mar. 11, 2014 9:00 a.m. Theology, Church Life

I occasionally hear students repeat a slogan in class when they hear me say something that calls the slogan into question, or that directly contradicts a slogan. This is a shock for the students. The slogans are an oral tradition circulating in evangelical churches, a weak catechism of some of our most important beliefs.

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Tunneling through the Barriers to Prayer

By John McKinley Feb. 13, 2014 9:00 a.m. Spiritual Formation

Everyone knows we should pray more than we do, that prayer is really important, and that any hero of the faith has had prayer as a massive ingredient of their life. Even Jesus had to pray. After reading through Donald Bloesch’s The Struggle of Prayer, I have noticed five barriers to prayer in my life, and some ways of tunneling through or around them.

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A Commentary for the Hard Questions

By John McKinley Jan. 9, 2014 9:00 a.m. Apologetics, Ministry and Leadership, New Testament

When I was a research student holed up in a windowless office in the library for a year, the PhD student next to my office was Jeremy Howard. While I struggled through stacks of research trying to avoid drowning in the historical theology portion of my dissertation, Jeremy was blazing through the writing of his dissertation on the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum physics and its use for Christian apologetics. His research world couldn’t have been farther away from mine. Years later, he has recently piloted a work that fits a gap I didn’t know I was looking for. To pass on an introduction to this new series, I interviewed the general editor, Jeremy Howard with several questions here.

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The Incarnation and the Mind of Christ, Part Two

By John McKinley Dec. 18, 2013 9:00 a.m. Theology, Biblical Exposition, New Testament

In Part One, I introduced the implausible situation that Jesus lived from His infancy with full divine awareness. I presented one argument that the New Testament presents Jesus as functioning with a human mind. This claim has been affirmed by the Council of Chalcedon (451) in opposition to some teachers such as Apollinaris, who denied that Jesus possessed a human mind and will. An incarnation involving two minds is complicated, but such is the historic teaching of the church.

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The Incarnation and the Mind of Christ, Part One

By John McKinley Dec. 11, 2013 9:00 a.m. Theology, Biblical Exposition, New Testament

One professor in this school playfully describes the birth of Jesus this way.

There is Jesus, lying in the manger and looking out through the doorway of the stable at the stars in the night sky. I made all those stars. The baby then has another sensation alongside this new experience of seeing His creation through eyeballs, and it’s uncomfortable. I’m suddenly wet all through my diaper, and it’s getting cold! A normal infant would scream at this point until mom showed up. But not Jesus. He looks over at His teen-aged mom and thinks, I’d like to have this wet diaper changed, but Mary’s had such a hard night after so long of a trip. I’ll wait a few hours until she’s had some more rest. And so, baby Jesus, the pint-sized God-man waits until His mom has gotten the rest she needs.

Probably not. It strains at plausibility to think that Jesus lived with His full divine consciousness from the beginning of His human life. We can be sure that Jesus knew His unique identity and relationship to God as His Father when He was twelve, having declared as much to Joseph and Mary in Jerusalem (Luke 2:49). Luke adds, “Jesus kept increasing in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men” (v. 52, NASB). Jesus certainly knows who He is when He begins teaching, but beyond these details we don’t have revelation how much He knew before age twelve, or when. 

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The Relative Importance of Theological Doctrines

By John McKinley Nov. 14, 2013 9:00 a.m. Theology

Christians will commonly argue with each other about “secondary” issues of doctrine, while assuring themselves and the rest of us that it’s okay since they agree on the “primary” issues. Obviously, not all topics of biblical teaching are on the same level of importance. On the basis of this sort of distinction between “primary” and “secondary” we can readily join with Christians across denominational lines while continuing to warn Mormons that they have the primary material wrong.

My concern is that the well-intentioned emphasis on the basics of mere Christianity and “primary issues” that we can all agree on also disparages the “secondary issues.” Less clarity in the Bible, less agreement among Christians, and less treatment by the tradition should not add up to counting these matters as unimportant. I suggest that the doctrinal topics that Christians feel free to disagree about are not adiaphora in the sense that we need not take them seriously. I propose a different analogy to help alleviate this concern.

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