Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Generous liberal support for Bishop of Durham's move

Ruth Gledhill and just about everyone else in Anglicanland is reporting that Bishop Tom Wright of Durham will resume his alter ego as Professor N.T. Wright, taking a chair at St Andrew's University, Scotland.

"The leading bishop for the evangelical centre, NT Wright, Bishop of Durham, is returning to academia, taking a chair at St Andrew's. He is 61 and could in theory have remained at Durham until he was 70. As one of the top five, he carries authority by virtue of his position but also has added value by virtue of his skills of communication and of intellect. He will be badly missed by his troubled church. Professor Ivor Davidson at St Andrews said, 'Tom Wright ranks among the most distinguished New Testament scholars in the world, and his profile as a churchman, writer and communicator is simply outstanding. I am delighted that he will be joining us at St Andrews, where he will further enhance the long-established reputation of the School of Divinity as a major international centre of biblical and theological scholarship.' So why is he going? Might it be because they the Church has decided to sell his castle? Read our news story here, with comments from Rowan Williams."

Ivor Davidson, incidentally, until very recently was professor at the University of Otago, Dunedin, NZ.

Bishop Tom/Professor N.T. Wright has led an amazing life and it could be a long time before we see his like as theologian, communicator, and leader seated again in a leading episcopal cathedra.

It is good to see some early signs of the generous and gracious support of liberal or progressive Anglicans for this move, not. This comment From a Leading Liberal/Progressive Anglican Blog:

"As a graduate of St Mary's College (the School of Divinity) of the University of St Andrews, I am dismayed at this appointment and note that it will adversely affect my donations to the college and the university."

Loving that liberal tolerance for the ideas of other people!

I do hope the C of E appoints another top scholar to Durham. It has been a great tradition which skipped an opportunity between Jenkins and Wright. It was my personal privilege to live in Durham when Jenkins was the bishop there. He had an amazing intellect, and I know his detractors rise up to condemn him even now for leading people astray over the resurrection (but he had defenders in Durham as I recall, evangelicals who appreciated his catalysing of conversations in pubs!), but he preached one of the most memorable sermons I have ever heard in my life!

Clayboy has an excellent rumination on this move: absolutely 'wright', biblical scholarship these days is mostly a factory churning out articles and books to satisfy measurement of academic performance by numbers; and some of it - just reading some the other day - is fashionable opinion dressed up in academic language.

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