March 18, 2003

Interview with NTW

Category: Theology - Soteriology :: Permalink

Mark Horne (who isn’t blogging) just posted Travis Tamerius’s interview with N. T. Wright at Theologia for your reading pleasure. Here are a couple of paragraphs to whet your appetite:

Look at what Paul actually says when he talks about how people become Christians. Look for instance at 1 Thessalonians where he says quite a lot about it without ever using the word justify or any of its cognates. He talks about the gospel coming to you in the power of the Spirit. You accepted that word not as the word of man but as what it really is, the word of God that is at work in you believers. It’s quite clear what Paul is talking about, that he comes into town announcing that Jesus is Lord, as a royal herald. He is saying that the crucified Jesus is the Lord of the world. And this is not, “Here is a way of salvation. You might like to apply it to yourself.” It’s not, “Here is a new way of being religious and you might enjoy it.” This is really an imperial summons: “On your knees!” Nobody ever went into a Roman town and said, “Caesar is lord and you might like to have this experience of acknowledging him as lord if that suits you.” They said, “Caesar is Lord, get on your knees and we want the tax right now.”And when that message is announced, some men and women find to their astonishment that they believe it. I say to their astonishment because it’s stupid. Paul says that it’s stupid. He knows it. You can just imagine it. It’s like someone telling a joke in a foreign language and not knowing why people laugh. Paul was going around the Roman world saying that this crucified Jesus is the lord of the world. He must have felt many times this is the craziest thing imaginable yet when I say it, lives are changed, the community emerges, people love each other. That is grace. And it is all of grace. But then the minute they say, “I really believe that Jesus is Lord, I really believe that God has raised him from the dead” and so on, then the doctrine of justification comes in and says you are all one in Christ Jesus. And, the proof is right there in Galatians 2:11-21. The first major discussion of justification is really all about who you are allowed to eat with. It’s not about how to go to heaven when you die.

(Note: Wright does not deny that believers to go to heaven when we die, though he stresses that our final goal isn’t heaven but the resurrection body. As well, his point here is that the first major discussion of justification has to do with table fellowship here on earth and not, there in Galatians 2, with how to go to heaven.)

Posted by John Barach @ 9:33 am | Discuss (0)

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