Here are some highlights of those reports:
Some of the historic Christian creeds that emphasize the birth, death and resurrection of Jesus – to the point of excluding the rest of his life. As a result, many believers use a “truncated form of Christianity, however creedal it may be, as an escape from reality.”
Two Gospels have had the volume turned up way too loud, while the other two have been played too softly.
Orthodox Christianity “has not wanted Jesus to have a political message.” Christians have turned off parts of the gospel, like turning down the volume on a song. But the biblical gospels must be listened to in symphony, “like a musical score that demands to be played.” Heard in full sound, the gospels tell about the establishment of a theocracy, and portray what theocracy looks like with Jesus as king with « an entire agenda for renewed humanity ».
When God wants to reign, he doesn’t send in the tanks. He sends in the meek, the broken-hearted, the crushed in spirit. The church is not a spectator.
In describing the call of the Christian, Wright used the metaphor of a medieval stonemason shaping stones for Durham cathedral, where he served as bishop until 2010. Though the mason doesn’t know what the cathedral will look like, Wright said, he trusts the architect, believing that one day he will look up and find it in its place in the great west front.
Wright also didn’t shy away from challenging his Calvin audience, as when he said that “swathes of evangelicals are more anxious to protect a theory of scripture than to hear what the scripture actually says.” And at a Q&A with students in which he discussed current beliefs about the afterlife, Wright shared his opinions about dispensationalism, a Christian ideology at odds with much of his own project, calling it “extremely worrying” that what began as the literature of the oppressed is now in the United States being wielded by the powerful. “That’s your problem, not mine,” he said.
In one of the reports above I read a heartfelt confession worthy of quotation in paragraphs through which you learn more about where Tom Wright is coming from:
The voice behind the echoes
“I had a dream the other night, a powerful and interesting dream. And the really frustrating thing about it is that I can’t remember what it was about.” That’s how Wright begins Simply Christian: Why Christianity Makes Sense.
He describes longings common in every culture and era, voices that echo in our imagination yet elude us in reality. We dream of justice, a world put to rights so that all enjoy hope and prosperity. We hunger for spirituality and deep relationships. We delight in beauty. Yet in trying to find these things that we know must exist, “we’re like moths trying to fly to the moon.”
Too often, instead of living a “full, rich, glad human existence,” we give up on the echoes. “Made for spirituality, we wallow in introspection. Made for joy, we settle for pleasure. Made for justice, we clamour for vengeance. Made for relationship, we insist on our own way. Made for beauty, we are satisfied with sentiment,” Wright says.
It’s only in the story of Jesus that we “recognize the voice whose echoes we have heard.” Wright’s big picture view of Christianity, as revealed in the Old and New Testaments, shows how God acts in human history to make all things new. The Incarnation is a divine rescue mission from evil, death, and the powers and principalities that corrupt God’s good creation.
- N.T. Wright: The Gospels Have Been Taken Too Lightly By Chris Strong (trinityspeaks.wordpress.com)
- Wright’s own pilgrimage in theology.