A Study in Contrast

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N. T. WrightLast night, Bishop NT Wright was on the Colbert Report, on Comedy Central.  I had been previously told that the Colbert Report was top notch political comedy, so I decided to watch the entire episode.  I got through more of Pulp Fiction than I did of Colbert, and I only last about 15 minutes watching Pulp Fiction.  I was left wanting my 15 minutes back.

I got through five minutes of Colbert, and had to fast forward to the NT Wright segment.  (Yeah, I love having a DVR.)  Here is the segment with NT Wright: http://www.comedycentral.com/colbertreport/videos.jhtml?videoId=174352

Colbert was obnoxious, rude, disrespectful, and generally dislikable.  Wright was incredibly gracious, patient, and deferential.  Sadly, every time Bishop Wright was about to drive home a really solid, Biblical point, Colbert interrupted him.  Every time.  I came really close to not finishing the interview.

As I said before, I tried to watch the whole episode.  I realize that the Colbert Report is satire, and suppose to be funny, but when someone is interviewed on a show, even a satirical show, could Colbert put his childishness aside for 5 minutes, and let the man make a serious point?

Note to Comedy Central, try replacing Colbert with someone who is actually, funny.

NT Wright Lecture – Surprised by Hope

N. T. WrightNT Wright was at West End United Methodist Church a little over a week ago.  My wife and I got a babysitter so we could go and hear his lecture.

He was quite good.  Resurrection was the subject of the evening.  Having been told that Bishop Wright was the foremost living authority on the Resurrection and its implications, I really was very interested in hearing his thoughts.  I tried to take notes, but there was a problem; I started to write down one thought, then while I was writing that one, he would make another brilliant statement that I had no way of remembering well enough to make a note of it.  I am hoping to get a hold of the audio, as it was recorded.  One of the pastors told me that Cokesbury is sponsoring the tour, so there are some copyright issues to be addressed, but he did give me a name and a number to call.

So, here are the notes I took.

The book, Surprised by Hope:Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church, is actually designed for the average person.  It partially is condensed from the larger, more technical work, The Resurrection of the Son of God: Christian Origins and the Question of God, Volume Three, and also a response to critics that thought that Wright did not really believe in a final Consummation of all things, which he actually does believe Scripture teaches.

Resurrection is about life after,  life after death.

Resurrection means newly embodied life, after whatever live was there before.

Western culture does not really understand the concept of life after death.

We do not leave space/time/matter.  Eternity is here on earth.  Jesus is making all things new, not all new things.

If you explain the rise of Christianity, you must say they believed all these things because Jesus was actually raised from the dead.

Jews believe that because God is good, and He calls creation good, God would set everything to rights. (I think that is a British expression, setting everything to rights.  It was used quite a bit in his lecture.)

Resurrection is not about just going to heaven.

Heaven and earth are not “upstairs” and “downstairs”, they are the overlapping, interlocking reality of God.  (When Jesus declared that the Kingdom was here, He declared that the age to come was beginning to merge with this present age, so that when we now see through a veil, we will soon see completely.  The Kingdom of God is already here, but not yet fully realized.  The Bishop also wondered that if heaven was “up there” and hell “down below” what must the believers in Australia be thinking.)

The point of citizenship is to be a representative, in the context of the Kingdom of God, we represent heaven on earth.

Jesus does not some to rescue, so much as He comes to remake.

We are shadows of our future redeemed selves.

There was also a short Q/A session.  Two of the questions I found to be quite interesting.

1)  One gentleman asked about the environment and creation care.  Now, from my prospective, those are code words for out of control environmentalism.  However, Wright answered it well.  He went to the issue of stewardship, which is Biblical, and said that stewardship certainly does have implications for how we interact with the created order, and we should be good stewards.

2) This question was a bit more interesting.  Wright spent some time denouncing and debunking dispensational theology.  If you are not sure what dispensational is, read Left Behind, if you can read bad fiction.  Anyway, Wright was asked about evangelizing Jews.  I thought it was an odd question, but again, Wright answered it well.  He pulled up the parable of the prodigal son.  He likened the prodigal to Gentiles, who was in the far off country, in unbelief.  Upon realizing their situation, they returned home to the Father.  The Father welcomes the son home with a party.  The next day, the faithful son who stayed, who Wright likened to the Jews, was upset that the prodigal son got the party when he stayed around.  Do  the two sons live on opposite sides of the property?  Does the Father deny one son the right to live on the land?  Or does the prodigal, ask the Father to find a way for both brothers to live as brothers, and friends?  The answer is the latter.

So, if you get the chance, go see NT Wright.  His 2008 US tour schedule is here.

The Bishop of Durham, NT Wright, in Nashville Tonight

N. T. WrightNT Wright, the current Bishop of Durham, will be at West End United Methodist Church at 7:30, tonight, discussing his book, Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church.  I am told that Bishop Wright is the foremost, living, authority on the Resurrection and its implications.  I am looking forward to this event, particularly because my wife will be joining me, as we have a baby sitter tonight, and because I do enjoy her perspectives on theological issues.

This is the same NT Wright who wrote the New Perspectives on Paul some years ago, that has caused much controversy in Presbyterian and Reformed churches.  My own denomination, the PCA, at the General Assembly last year, voted in the affirmative to accept a study committee’s report stating that the Federal Vision and  the New Perspectives on Paul were inconsistent with what we believed that Scripture teaches, a position I agree with, given my current understanding of the debate.  That being said, I do not think this will come up tonight.

If you are in the Nashville area, and want to go, post a comment, we would like to sit with you.  For those who can’t go, I will take notes, and post some thoughts later tonight, or tomorrow.