Is Wright Right Part 2?

Posted: May 28, 2009 in Uncategorized

N.T. Wright sees the Bible as casting the following great narrative:

1-God created everything and He created it “very good” (Gen. 1:31).

2- Man sinned, which brought death, decay, evil and injustice into creation (Gen. 3-11).

3- God, however, is righteous (faithful, just, etc.) and will not abandon His creation and, in fact, sets forth a rescue plan via Abraham and his descendants (Gen. 15).

4- Yet, the instruments of redemption (Israel) are also part of the problem in that they are sinful and this sinfulness plays itself out in many ways, most notably in refusing to become a blessing to the world by attempting to keep the blessing to itself.

For example, Israel was designed to be a nation where there was to be no poor among them (Deut. 15:4), where justice was impartial (Deut. 16:19) , where no debts were to be held in perpetuity (Deut. 15:3) and where all could come to worship the one true God (Isa. 2:2-4). 

Instead of taking the light of God and placing it in a lighthouse to guide the world to safety, Israel, in Wright’s words, placed mirrors around the light.

5- Jesus becomes the one faithful Israelite who lives out the story of Israel including taking upon himself the curses enumerated in Deuteronomy (Deut. 28) for her unfaithfulness in order to free her from exile and renew her for mission once again.  The mission? Take the Gospel to the whole world.

6- The Gospel is the proclamation that Jesus is Lord.  Because of Jesus’ death on the cross, all who declare to loyalty to Jesus, regardless of nationality, are welcomed into the community.  This is justification or “being declared to be in the right.” 

7- This declaration that you “are in” is a preview, if you will, of THE final judgment in which you are found to be a “good and faithful servant” who is privileged to dwell with King Jesus forever.

8-We are still judged by Jesus by our works (Matt. 25:31-46; cf. Rom. 2:6ff, etc.) but these are Spirit enabled works and not done to earn what only Jesus could earn but to simply please the God we love.

9- These Spirit enabled works make up the mission of the church, which is to proclaim the Kingship of Jesus throughout creation, which involves evangelism and social justice working hand in hand.  This is not creating heaven on earth but, in Wright’s words, “building for the Kingdom.”  What does this mean?

10- Christianity is not about “going to heaven when we die” (even though the faithful followers of Jesus who die before his return to earth will be with him in heaven, albeit temporarily), but about new creation.  Jesus will return and inaugurate his Kingdom here on earth (Rev. 21:1-4) where we will gain new physical bodies like Jesus’ resurrected body (Phil. 3:21). 

Here we will live an eternal physical existence and will have all of eternity to enjoy the work we do here and now in the name of King Jesus (i.e., see the homeless person we fed, clothed & introduced to Jesus, walk the lands we helped to clean for a better environment, etc.)  Thus, we are building for the Kingdom.

So, is Wright right? More on that later.

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