Archive for category N. T. Wright
The disciples wanted a kingdom without a cross. Many would-be “orthodox” or “conservative” Christians in our world have wanted a cross without a kingdom, an abstract “atonement” that would have nothing to do with this world except to provide the means of escaping it. Many too have wanted a “divine” Jesus as a kind of “superman” figure, a heavenly hero come to rescue them, but not to act as Israel’s Messiah, establishing God’s Kingdom on earth as in heaven. Jesus’ shocking combination of scriptural models into a single vocation makes excellent historical sense; that is, it explains at a stroke why he did and said what he did and said. But, as we shall see, it remains as challenging in our world, and indeed in our churches, as it was in Jesus’ own day.
-From Simply Jesus, pp. 173-4
This weekend the 19th Annual Wheaton Theology Conference featured a fruitful engagement with the scholarship of N.T. Wright. Thanks to the internet, you didn’t have to drive to Chicago to hear the great bishop and the other keynote speakers engaging and critiquing his works. Now, you can watch the videos or download the mp3 audio by clicking the link below. Enjoy!
RJS at Jesus Creed brought these two videos to my attention. Wright discusses our need to approach the Scriptures on their own terms and how our particular worldview and philosophical presuppositions color our understanding of the text. The first video highlights the Enlightenment’s influence on our views of God, and the second video discusses how to approach Genesis 1-3 and Adam and Eve through ancient Near Eastern lenses. You can never get enough of N.T Wright! Enjoy!
What do you think of his observations?
This is an essay I wrote in 2004 attempts to expand our understanding of salvation emphasizing the significant roles both narrative and community play in one’s conversion.
It was not long ago that I found myself passing out gospel tracts on a San Diego street corner with some well-meaning Christians carrying signs conveying the message: “Turn or Burn!” A few others carried crosses on their backs as they preached threats of hellfire and damnation. “If you were to die tonight”, they exclaimed, “Would you be certain that you would go to heaven?” Reflecting back on that experience, I have been led to question whether this was really what the biblical concept of ‘salvation’ is all about: life after death, getting into heaven when I die, and enjoying “Pie in the sky, in the sweet by and by.”
A biblical survey of the theme of salvation, however, immediately disqualifies such narrow caricatures and gross simplifications of the ultimate Christian hope. After glimpsing the beauty and grandeur of God’s purposeful plan revealed in his Story from the Creation to the Cross to the New Creation, one can only feel a sense of shame and sadness at the narrow, simplistic, and, at times, awfully inadequate definitions of ‘salvation’ the church has preached, promoted and propagated to the world around us.
Paul urges Christians to put on the “helmet of salvation.” Yet, in many quarters, the helmet has been shrunken down so small and tight, to fit our rigid formulas and simple slogans, that it is beginning to cut off the circulation and life it is meant to protect. We need to loosen the helmet of salvation so that it is large enough to fit all of the blessings and benefits that God has accomplished for the world through Christ.
The current essay is an attempt to loosen the helmet, to broaden our understanding of salvation. After building a brief case for the need of a more holistic and multifaceted understanding of salvation, I will argue more specifically for two dimensions of salvation often overlooked: salvation as (1) invitation into the Christian Story and (2) incorporation into the Christian Community. Read the rest of this entry »
These are not the BEST books I’ve read. There are definitely books more profound, better written, more well-known and vastly more influential. But there are books that we read at certain times in our own spiritual and intellectual journeys that just come at the perfect time to open new windows of thought, challenge previous convictions and leave a large impact. The following are 3 books that really impacted me early in my quest for knowledge of God and his world. In no particular my top 3 are:
1. How Now Shall We Live? by Charles Colson and Nancy Pearcey. The back cover claims that ”true Christianity goes far beyond John 3:16 — beyond private faith and personal salvation. It’s nothing less than a framework for understanding all of reality. It is a worldview.” This book was so defining and eye-opening in the early days of my pursuit of God in college. I have sweet, sweet memories of running out to my car each day on my lunch breaks the summer before my senior year of college to read. This is a monstrous book pushing 500 pages and paints a comprehensive picture of reality as seen through biblical lenses. I remember how powerful it was to see how the Christian faith colors the way we live and view all of reality — science, sex, politics, ethics, world religions, media and culture. The book seeks to offer the biblical answer to the five major worldview questions: Where did we come from? Who are we? What has gone wrong in the world? How can we fix it? How now shall we live? Even better, this book seeks to show how other worldviews try to answer these same questions but come up short. Whether or not you agree with the authors’ point of view on everything, this is a book worth wrestling with. I cannot say how much this book fueled my desire to gain a more comprehensive understanding of God and what he has accomplished in the world through his Son Jesus Christ.
2. The Divine Conspiracy by Dallas Willard. There are books. And then there are what we might call literary pilgrimages that, much like an actual pilgrimage, bring you to wonderful new vistas of thought and intellectual detours that leave lasting imprints on you. I picked up Willard’s signature book my first semester of seminary studies in San Diego. I have told many people that this dense book covers enough ground to provide a whole seminary education. This 400-page pilgrimage with Willard takes the reader to many memorable places along the journey of life with God. Richard Foster writes the foreword saying the book provides the reader with “a conceptual philosophy for understanding the meaning and purpose of human existence…The breadth of the issues covered is astonishing: from the soul’s redemption and justification to discipleship and our growth in grace to death and our state in heaven.” This is a book to take slowly. One small bite at a time, chew thoroughly and digest thoughtfully. But beware: This book will not leave you unchanged. I know this is one of my favorite books because I never seem to own my own copy — I tend to gave it away. As I read the last page and closed the cover I said, “I have just glimpsed the Kingdom in all it’s fullness.”
3. Christian Origins and the Question of God by N. T. Wright. You may not recognize this title by the great bishop of Durham because it is not a title of a book but rather his ambitious, sure to be monumental projected 5 or 6 volume scholarly series. The first volume is his The New Testament and the People of God which lays out in great detail his methodology for doing NT history and a detailed sketch of the OT history and Jewish expectation during the time of the second temple and the rise of early Christianity. The second volume Jesus and the Victory of God is Wright’s scholarly contribution to the so-called third quest for the historical Jesus. Simply brilliant — though not without many controversial re-readings of Jesus in his first century context. Volume 3 is The Resurrection of the Son of God, an mind-blowing, definitive 800+ page treatment of the historical evidence for the resurrection of Jesus. Enough said. The world is anxiously awaiting the arrival of volume 4, which will be Wright’s full-scale exploration of the theology of the Apostle Paul. Wright is widely recognized as one of the churches most prolific authors and well-respected churchmen. Most are more familiar with his shorter, popular writings like The Challenge of Jesus, Simply Christian, Surprised by Hope and his For Everyone commentaries on the New Testament. His writings have influenced my thought more than any other living author, and there’s no Christian writer I would recommend with more enthusiasm than bishop Tom Wright.
This Top 3 has been harder than any other to narrow down to three. I can’t help but include a list of some honorable mention runner-ups.
HONORABLE MENTION: (Again, these are books that personally impacted me.)
The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan
The Politics of Jesus by John Howard Yoder
Everything written by C. S. Lewis
The Moral Vision of the New Testament by Richard B. Hays
Resident Aliens by Will Willimon & Stanley Hauerwas
The Irresistible Revolution by Shane Claiborne
Two significant voices offer well-needed clarity on the ongoing battle within the Episcopalian and Anglican churches over the question of homosexual clergy. Check it out:
Those who read my series of posts on the debate between John Piper and N.T. Wright must read the following interview with N.T. Wright by Trevin Wax. This is one of the clearest, most concise summaries of what exactly is at stake and which issues are on the table in the debate. Let me quote at length Wright’s response to the main question and encourage you read the rest of the interview HERE.
Trevin Wax: What would you say are the key differences between you and Piper on justification? Read the rest of this entry »
We’re comparing the differences between John Piper and N. T. Wright on Paul and the New Perspective using helpful summaries compiled by Trevin Wax featured in the June 2008 edition of Christianity Today. Today we finish up with the final comparison from Wax’s chart dealing with the question of the present and future realities of justification. What do you think?
PIPER: Present justification is based on the substitutionary work of Christ alone, enjoyed in union with him through faith alone. Future justification is the open confirmation and declaration that in Christ Jesus we are perfectly blameless before God. This final judgment accords with our works. That is, the fruit of the Holy Spirit in our lives will be brought forward as the evidence and confirmation of true faith and union with Christ. Without that validating transformation, there will be no future salvation.
WRIGHT: Present justification is the announcement issued on the basis of faith and faith alone of who is part of the covenant family of God. The present verdict gives the assurance that the verdict announced on the Last Day will match it; the Holy Spirit gives the power through which that future verdict, when given, will be seen to be in accordance with the life the believer has then lived.
Well, as you can see, the debate gets quite technical and complex. The conversation is heated, the stakes are high, the books have been written and each scholar has made his case. For more in-depth study of the broader academic conversation on the so-called “New Perspective” on Paul I recommend the following resources:
ESSAYS, INTERVIEWS & BLOG SERIES