Monday, December 6, 2010

Wright's righting of wrongs against Wright

Am about to participate in our annual Aotearoa New Zealand Association of Biblical Studies conference. One of those papers end on end conferences, punctuated by the conference dinner tonight. A wonderful set of people who will not mind in the least me saying that none will present with quite the verve and swerve of N.T. (+Tom) Wright ... because no one else in the world does. He is the hapax legomena [single usage] of biblical scholarship when it comes to style! Anyway, have just come across a rarity in the world of Wright, a posting on a blog - The Ugley Vicar no less. Here is a flavour, but please read the whole. Marvellous.

"I hope all this is reasonably clear. I didn't know whether to be amused or insulted by the chap on your blog who said I must be unclear because I'd never been a parish priest. (I suppose being Dean of a cathedral doesn't count either.) I would like to show him the files and files of letters, postcards, emails and so on from the Old Mrs Joneses of this world who have thanked me heartily for explaining things, in sermons and books, in a way they can understand and in a way that their own vicar had never made clear . . . But maybe he doesn't realise (some don't) that the NT Wright of the academic books is also the Tom Wright of the Everyone series...

I was also struck by the attempt by Ro Mody to systematize a Wright-says-this and Reformed-says-that view. It really doesn't work like that though I haven't got the time to explain why. But please be it noted: I have always, always, stressed penal substitution as being right at the heart of things, both for Jesus and for Paul. I do that in preaching and teaching as well as writing. It is one of the saddest slurs I encounter when people suggest I don't really believe or teach this. It's a way of saying 'we don't understand Tom Wright and he's saying things we didn't hear in Sunday School so he's probably a wicked liberal, and since wicked liberals don't believe in penal substitution he probably doesn't either.'"

1 comment:

Fr. Bryan Owen said...

I'd love to meet Bishop Wright in person. What C. S. Lewis was to me back in my teens, Wright has been for me in my late-30s and early-40s. Indeed, I would go so far as to credit Bishop Wright with reintroducing me to the core of the Christian faith (particularly in his writings on the historicity of the resurrection and the centrality of virtues and character for the Christian life).

I've written about and quoted excerpts from Bishop Wright many times on my blog. In one posting entitled "Anglican Centrist Bishop," I noted that, in spite of the ways in which he gets labeled and pigeon-holed by those on both the Left and the Right:

... Wright's work explodes the binary logic and polemically exclusionary rhetoric governing the ideology of the Left-versus-Right divide. It opens up other possibilities that are faithful to both the historic faith of the Church and to the Church's prophetic engagement with issues of peace and justice. And so the more I get to know Wright through his writings, the more I find him to defy the easy categorizations of "Left" versus "Right," and the more I come to admire and respect him (even when I don't always agree with him). And the more I come to think of him as an Anglican Centrist bishop.

I also cited a very good article entitled, "Wright challenges conservatives, liberals: Bishop of Durham refuses to marry religious belief with political trends." The article is definitely worth a look.