Wright’s BT Story

I can summarize others’ objections to the theology of N.T. Wright, but I still find the NPP difficult enough overall that I have to admit I’m mostly trusting those smarter than me in objecting to it. It’s ok for young men to admit they don’t understand everything.

But there are some things I do understand and appreciate about N.T. Wright (and so does Thomas Schreiner, I read recently!).

One of them is his attempt in The New Testament and the People of God to construct a Christian epistemology before embarking on a New Testament theology. I’ve mentioned this before. His emphasis on story—though I’ve criticized before one place he takes it—seems to me just right. We all tell ourselves grand stories of origin, purpose, and destiny. We also tell ourselves little stories—which fit in the big stories—about the events of our day or the relationships we have with people. Will we let the Bible’s story subvert (to use Wright’s wording) our own stories?

If we say we will (Wright says fundamentalists don’t [NTPG 103]), then we had better get the big story of the Bible down. Here’s how Wright summarizes that story:

“Reality as we know it is the result of a creator god bringing into being a world that is other than himself, and yet // which is full of his glory. It was always the intention of this god that creation should one day be flooded with his own life, in a way for which it was prepared from the beginning. As part of the means to this end, the creator brought into being a creature which, by bearing the creator’s image, would bring his wise and loving care to bear upon the creation. By a tragic irony, the creature in question has rebelled against this intention. But the creator has solved this problem in principle in an entirely appropriate way, and as a result is now moving the creation once more towards its originally intended goal. The implementation of this solution now involves the indwelling of this god within his human creatures and ultimately within the whole creation, transforming it into that for which it was made in the beginning.” NTPG 97-98

I’d like to see a little more specificity on the atonement, even in this grand story, but let’s call that an error of omission and not commission.

Mark Ward

PhD in NT; theological writer for Faithlife; former high school Bible textbook author for BJU Press; husband; father; ultimate frisbee player; member of the body of Christ.

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