This week, we take up the subject of…N.T. Wright. Widely regarded as one of the most influential and best New Testament theologians of our day, we consider how best to read him and his impact on Christianity in the English speaking world.
The NT Wright Page is the single best place online for more of his work. You might also consider looking at one of his many books (we mentioned a few in the show).
Additionally, this NT Wright interview came up, as did Sarah Over the Moon’s dismayed response to it. Consider as well Alastair’s examination of Wright’s views on marriage for more.
Other details worth noting: the iTunes feed is here (thanks to everyone who has reviewed us so kindly) and an RSS feed for the show lives here.
Finally, as always, follow Derek, Alastair, and Andrew for smart thoughts about theology and the world.
Special thanks to Christopher Hutton editing the audio.
From Sarah Over the Moon:
“For me, Surprised By Hope served as a gateway drug into feminist, liberationist, and queer theologies that emphasize bodies and history and engagement with “the world.” ”
All the fears of conservative evangelicals in a single sentence.
I wrote a book on the body, so I’m not afeard!
And an excellent book it was.
In any case I’m Postmillennial, so I’d rather say that Sarah has simply drawn unwarranted conclusions from Wright.
Also, apropos of your comments about how Wright isn’t all that novel because “we’ve been here before, guys”, I think you’ll appreciate this (the title says it all):
I think you should not discount the conservative misreading of Wright in a very similar way to the progressive misreading that you mentioned.
I had several conservative friends share Wright’s video as a ‘see he is on our side’ way. And pretty much there was universal surprise because they assumed that Wright’s support of women clergy would mean that he also would be supportive of same sex marriage.
I think that it shows some of the strange fault lines that occur when we assume that one idea automatically leads to another.
Thanks for the comment, Adam. I have been surprised at how many people have been surprised by Wright’s position on same-sex marriage. Not only is robust opposition to same-sex marriage implicit within his more positive theological vision (as I discussed in my post), but this is an issue that he has addressed several times in the past. His views on the subject have even been noted in the general media over in the UK.
It is generally unwise to assume that Wright is an ally of either ‘side’ in such debates. In my experience, conservatives are usually made fairly well aware of the supposedly objectionable elements of Wright by his critics in their own camp. His position on women in the priesthood is familiar, for instance (though far fewer are aware of his rather pronounced complementarian comments on gender and marriage—read the few pages from here). Even with this awareness, it is easy to forget that Wright is not on board with much that conservative evangelical and Reformed people stand for (about which, more in the follow-up podcast). As I suggested in the podcast, we would all do well to resist the urge to make Wright stand for things, start to engage with him on his own terms, and agree or disagree with him accordingly. There is a great deal that we can benefit from, even when it is clear that Wright will never be straightforwardly ‘on our side’.
I really enjoyed the podcast. I would like to chime in and say that growing up in American Baptist Fundamentalism, dying and going to heaven as disembodied, ethereal spirit was eternal life and the future hope of the believer. I did not encounter the orthodox Christian view of the bodily resurrection and New Heavens/New Earth until I began my theological studies in college. I know it sounds incredible, but it’s true.
Shameless plug. I did my dissertation on Justification in Calvin, Edwards, and Wright. It’s published as Living Justification. You can get it on Amazon. Might be helpful here.
Thanks, Jonathan, that does sound helpful!
Shameless plugs work better when you link!