jon meacham & nt wright

I read an interesting article from Newsweek‘s managing editor Jon Meacham in which he gives positive mention to Anglican bishop (and biblical theology super-stud) NT Wright, especially for his books The Challenge of Jesus, Simply Christian (new this year), and The Resurrection of the Son of God (academic). The context is the opening of The Da Vinci Code in theaters. Meacham is a historian, and therefore is frustrated with Dan Brown’s fiction presenting itself as maybe historical fiction (in which the characters and story are made up, but the historical elements that provide the setting are accurate. Brown’s “historical elements” are inaccurate by all repudable accounts–regardless of theological perspective). Meacham is suggesting alternatives for folks to read instead of The Da Vinci Code that would be more profitable to them (though I still plan to read it…maybe when we get settled in Houston!).

I really appreciate a church-goer (Meacham is Episcopalean) who writes for a mainstream news weekly suggesting that people read one of the great orthodox bishops and biblical theologians in the world today like NT Wright. So I’ll join him in that recommendation. But I’ll take issue with an underlying presumption about his other book recommendations (though not with the books themselves). Meacham seems to view all religions as humankind’s reaching out to God, an effort on our part to seek the Divine. While I’ll agree that the vast majority of humankind across time and the globe has been interested in seeking God, Christians (and as best I can tell, Jews and Muslims too) believe that their descriptions of God and understanding of his will and the like are not based on their best searching, but on God’s gracious self-revelation in historical events. This self-revelation, we believe, is shared with us faithfully and trustworthily through sacred texts, that is, scripture. In fact, some of us believe that any truth about God found in other religions is there not because of humanity’s cleverness, but because God has left a witness to himself in those religons or cultures–not the fullness of self-revelation, as in Jesus Christ, but something that may lead them to him through Christ. It’s a daring belief–that what we know about God is not due to our own diligence in searching after him, but to his generosity in making himself known to us–but it is that belief that makes our religion divine, and not human, in origin.

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One thought on “jon meacham & nt wright

  1. It is intriguing that NT Wright can write a 700 page plus book trying to prove the resurrection of the flesh, and not once find space to quote 1 Peter saying ‘All flesh is grass’, or once finding space to quote in full Paul writing ‘The last Adam became a life-giving spirit’.

    There were two big , early churches in Thessalonica and Corinth , which were full of Christian converts. These Christian converts believed that the dead were lost, and that dead bodies rotted. They believed in the resurrection of Jesus, but denied that dead bodies could live again (and so doubted the resurrection of mortals like themselves).

    They believed Jesus was a god, so he could easily have gone back to being a spirit after death, but there was clearly something about the resurrection of Jesus which made these Christian converts doubt that God would choose to breathe life into dead bodies.

    Paul regards them as idiots for wondering how dead bodies could rise, because they had not worked out that Jesus was a model for their resurrection, and that they too would become ‘a life-giving spirit’.

    But, of course, Paul does not go so far as to quote his Lord and Saviour who supposedly proved the resurrection in Matthew 22:31. How can Jesus himself have taught the resurrection of the dead, when 2 early , big Christian churches were full of converts to Jesus worship and still claimed that the dead were lost?

    It is like finding early converts to Mormonism who weren’t sure about that Book of Mormon thing. That would lead one to suspect that the Book of Mormon was not authentic.

    Matthew 28:17 says ‘some doubted’, even after seeing the resurrected Jesus, and seeing all the proofs the resurrected Jesus supposedly gave.

    NT Wright has no doubts and is living proof that if people had seen a resurrected Jesus, they would not have had those doubts.

    Wright writes ‘Equally, Matthew, like the others, describes a Jesus who comes and goes, appears and disappears, and is doubted at the very end by some of his close and obedient associates….’ (page 646)

    What was there to doubt, when the risen Jesus had gone out of his way to prove his resurrection?

    Why doesn’t Wright share the doubts of Jesus closest and most obedient associates?

    Wright assures us that Matthew did not mean to imply that there were any splits or disunity. How Wright knows that is beyond me, but if you want to fill a 700-page book , you need an awful lot of speculation to fill up the pages.

    Wright announces ‘We can be sure however that this strange comment would not have occured to anyone telling this story as pure fiction….’ (page 643)

    Suffice it to say that Wright gives no sources, or methodology, or any way of testing his claim that we can be ‘sure’ that it is not ‘pure’ fiction. (If not pure fiction, is it not at least partly fiction?)

    How can we be sure? Wright never gives any arguments for his certainty, or any proofs of his ability to think himself into the mind of an anonymous person of 2,000 years ago and know for sure what would have occurred to that anonymous person and what would not have occurred to him.

    It is remarkable that Wright thinks it is possible to doubt proofs supplied by the Son of God himself, but we are not allowed to doubt the words of a Bishop of Durham. The pronouncements of the Bishop of Durham can be taken as sureties, while the proofs that Jesus gave were not enough to dispell doubt.

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