Archive for the ‘N.T. Wright’ Category


Out of Ur posted a hilarious spin on the Chuck Norris craze (or should that be a hilarious round-house kick???) in relation to the ever prolific writing pastor-theologian N. T. Wright (thanks for pointing me to this Marc).

Here are a few of the highlights:

For too long, Chuck Norris has been the benchmark for superhuman acts of power and justice. We’re setting that right.

From Wright fans John Raines, Kevin Emmert, Drew Dyck, and Paul Pastor comes this list of adoration for everyone’s favorite bishop-scholar-warrior-guru.

You call it idolatry. We call it reality. POW!

Keep kicking, Tommy-gun!

1. N. T. Wright doesn’t parse nouns. They decline themselves before him.

2. When James Dunn came up with the New Perspective, it was already old to N. T. Wright.

(for the rest of the twelve they came up with see HERE)

And here are a few of my own:

Just for fun what would you add?

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The pastor-theologian

“When I was at seminary back in the early 1970s, my tutor told me firmly one day that I would have to choose between being an academic and being a pastor. I decided, sitting there in his office, that I was not going to make that choice… That has resulted in a lifetime of shifting from one foot to the other, as it were, in a world for which for whatever reason — and this is odd in the history of the church…theologians of the past have mostly been pastors — think of Augustine or Luther or whoever — they were pastors, they were preachers, they were teachers, they worked with people, they prayed with people, they didn’t sit in a study and do a cerebral thing away from that, and I fail to see why we should collude with this split world of post-Enlightenment ‘either the brain or the heart’…”

N.T. Wright, here.

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You read that right…Der Führer has something to say about N. T. Wright on the issue of justification. Who knew he was such a fan of Piper’s. 🙂

My own critical engagement with N. T. Wright on the issue of justification is not nearly so funny. But I enjoyed writing it.

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Cover of "Surprised by Hope: Rethinking H...

Cover via Amazon

N.T. Wright just has a way with words.  Regarding the “work of salvation, in its full sense,” he summarizes that it is

“(1) about whole human beings, not merely souls; (2) about the present, not simply about the future; and (3) about what God does through us, not merely what God does in and for us.” (Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church, NY: HarperOne, 2008, p.200, original emphasis)

Salvation is not simply about any notion of saved “souls”, but about saved “wholes” (p.199) [make sure that one is read and not simply heard…or its homophone might make for a humorous aside].  God is working out the redemption of creation…not simply disembodied “souls” nor even simply of some chosen, but removed few.  The whole world (cosmos) shall be renewed, even as it is already underway through the reconciling work of Christ by His indwelling, empowering, life-giving Spirit.

In relation to this, he discusses the “kingdom” and thus God’s reign over all which is being carried out in the present (though awaits final consummation and revelation).  He writes,

“God longed…to re-establish his wise sovereignty over the whole creation, which would mean a great act of healing and rescue.  He did not want to rescue humans from creation any more than he wanted to rescue Israel from the Gentiles.  He wanted to rescue Israel in order that Israel might be a light to the Gentiles, and he wanted thereby to rescue humans in order that humans might be his rescuing stewards of creation.  That is the inner dynamic of the kingdom of God.” (p.202, original emphasis)

This is salvation…the work of the kingdom now as foretaste of the kingdom come.  The salvation of all we are…the salvation of creation groaning for redemption and the “revealing of the sons of God” (Rom.8:19).

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I’ve nearly finished with N. T. Wright‘s Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the ImageMission of the Church (HarperOne, 2008) and have indeed been surprised.  I wasn’t sure what I’d discover in this volume, but Wright has once again offered an accessible, significant and timely book.  This volume should be required reading of pastors in particular as we think through more carefully our theology of “heaven” and the Resurrection.  I discovered (to my pleasant surprise) that he essentially posits (of course in a far more developed and articulated fashion) what I wrote elsewhere about “abandoning heaven.”  The pop-theology notion of “heaven” is utterly deficient as any form of Christian belief or hope.

I believe his message (and the one that has been stirring in me of late) must be taken seriously especially in my own fellowship (the Assemblies of God) wherein we seem to hold to an escapist notion concerning both death and the “rapture of the Church.”  The good news is transformative…it is redemptive.  It is not escapist.  The world (indeed the whole cosmos) belongs to the redemptive plan of God in Christ.

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Mike Bird posted a video interview with N. T. Wright about what he would want his children to know after he is dead…his answer: look to Jesus!  I’d be interested though in thoughts on his comments as I have my own thoughts about an existentialist approach to Jesus.

On a slightly totally less serious note…check out the following interview of N. T. Wright by Stephen Colbert on the topic of “heaven” HERE.

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I just watched an interesting (and helpful) interview (HERE) with N. T. Wright on the recent controversy caused by Rob Bell‘s “Love Wins.”  I’d be interested to hear your responses to Tom.

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I just read a wonderful article  by John Dunne (thanks to Mike Bird’s link) that discusses the contributions of NT Wright and asks why there are so many theologians within the Evangelical tent that oppose his work on several counts.  I found it a helpful summary of Wright as well as why Wright’s contributions should be  embraced by Evangelicals of all stripes. (I only wish I had written it 🙂 ).

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With N. T. Wright and James Dunn (via):

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In What St. Paul Really Said, N. T. Wright takes our understanding of “the Gospel” to what it would have meant for Paul and his contemporaries. Modern Christians–evangelicals in particular–have tended to define “the Gospel” as having to do with how people are saved. It is, to modern ears, primarily a soteriological concept. To some degree, then, “the Gospel” leans heavily towards being about us (this is my conception, not Wright’s).

Wright argues that for Paul, the Jews and the people of the first century Roman world, “the Gospel” would have been understood as something quite different–or perhaps it could be better phrased: something much bigger than just soteriology in a narrow “how are we saved” sense.

Jews and Romans would have understood the term “Gospel” in different ways, says Wright, be we don’t need to pit them against each other. On the one hand, the Jews understood the term “Gospel” or “Good News” in Isaianic terms: “Here is your God!” (Isaiah 40:9, Wright’s own translation) and “Your God reigns” (Isaiah 52:7, Wright’s translation).

These passages, in company with others (e.g. 60:6; 61:1), are among the climactic statements of the great double theme of the whole section (Isaiah 40-66): YHWH’s return to Zion and enthronement, and the return of Israel herself from her exile in Babylon. They are not simply miscellaneous ‘good news’, a generalized message of comfort for the downcast; they are very specific to the plight of Israel in exile… The ‘good news’…would be the message that the long-awaited release from captivity was at hand (42-3).

For Israel then, the term “gospel” would refer to return from exile (in Jesus’ day, I suppose, it would be under the Roman “Babylon”). This is, I suppose, to some degree about salvation, but more analogous to our notion of being released from captivity to sin, which is not something evangelicals regularly consider when they think of salvation. It is certainly a result of Christ’s saving work, but not salvation per se. Salvation, and therefore “the Gospel”, for evangelicals tends to be about “going to heaven” or “eternal life”. But this concept does not appear to be on the Jewish radar–the “afterlife” was not something they spent much time talking about, if the Old Testament is any indication.

As for the Romans, the Greek word for “Gospel” (euangelion)

is a regular technical term, referring to the announcement of a great victory, or to the birth, or accession, of an emperor… The coming of a new ruler meant the promise of peace, a new start for the world, not least at the time of Augustus, who became the first Roman emperor in 31BC following a long period of civil war (p. 43).

So to the Romans, then, “Gospel” was not understood as “salvation” in our modern sense of the term, either. They wouldn’t think of the afterlife–to them the term had more to do with enthronement. According to Wright, scholars have historically tried to make Paul be either one of these two–a Jewish thinker or a Greek thinker. But Wright notes that

the Isaianic message always was about the enthronement of YHWH and the dethronement of pagan gods; about the victory of Israel and the fall of Babylon; about the arrival of the Servant King and the consequent coming of peace and justice (44).

To force a choice between a secular and a sacred understanding of “Gospel”, is to not recognize that for both Jews and Romans at the time claims relating to the emperor (including the move towards his divinization) were religious to the core.

[“The Gospel”] is not, then, a system of how people get saved. The announcement of the gospel results in people being saved — Paul says as much a few verses later. But ‘the gospel’ itself, strictly speaking, is the narrative proclamation of King Jesus. He can speak equally of ‘announcing the gospel’ and of ‘announcing Jesus’, using the term…’to act as herald’ in each case… When the herald makes a royal proclamation, he says ‘Nero (or whoever) has become emperor.’ He does not say ‘If you would like to have an experience of living under an emperor, you might care to try Nero.’ This proclamation is an authoritative summons to obedience… (45).

(Here I’m put in mind of and tempted to go to Bonhoeffer’s “Christ, Reality, and Good” in Ethics, but that might be forcing it.)

In summary, a classic N.T Wright line: “To announce YHWH [and by extension, Jesus] was king was to announce that Caesar is not” (44).

It seems to me that evangelicals have been very good at setting up a system of salvation, of telling people how to “go to heaven”, but we have not been so good at preaching the Lordship of Christ. Have evangelicals missed the Gospel?

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