Two books on Wright part 1 of 2
Those of you who read my blog know that amongst NT scholars, there is one from whom I have gained much - one of the most able and brilliant NT scholars the UK has ever produced, Tom Wright (sorry, Jim, but I do think that he really is clever!).
Here in the UK, Wright has now quite an astonishing following amongst evangelicals. I think that this is largely to do with the nature of his writing (it is exceptionally lucid and clear) and his non-specialist target audience, so that he has made top-notch NT scholarship accessible to the church.
However, translated into sermons, Tom Wright's approach has, in my experience, often lead to sermons like this:
1) "You thought that this verse meant that ... but you are wrong! Understood in terms of exile and restoration, it really means this ..."; Or "You a wrong! It is not about going to heaven when you die ... You have never understood, it is not about imputed righteousness ... " etc.
Such sermons are not necessarily bad in themselves, of course, but depending on how it is delivered, sometimes people leave church with a sense of the perspicuity of scripture lying in tatters on the floor, wondering if they can ever understand the gospel again without high-level academic help. It is a negative moment - and I think an important and potentially very healthy one - but preachers influenced by Wright have not always, in my experience, been as helpful in being more constructive nor theologically confident. Not true of Wright himself, but occasionally of those who have read some of his books for a sermon.
Here is the second type of Wright-influenced sermon I have heard:
2) "Not Neoplatonism and saved spirits, no, but resurrection - our hope is a transformed physicality, and so this means you can care about social justice".
While both of these types of sermons have their place, I am pleased that Stephen Kuhrt's little volume, Tom Wright for Everyone: Putting the theology of N.T. Wright into practice in the local church (SPCK, 2011), is now available to help negotiate what Wright's theology could mean at a more popular and ecclesial level (for which Wright has been tirelessly writing for the last few years).
I know, the book subtitle does smack me as a little sycophantic and yuk, but given the above I think it will be of great benefit to many.
In part 2, while mentioning the second book on Wright's theology to have been published recently, I want to explain more about how my personal theological journey has been impacted by Wright, and the ways in which my thinking has developed in slightly different directions in the last 3 years. Cos you really want to know that, right? Course you do.