I was just alerted to a radio program from last summer in which Michael Horton examines the theology of N. T. Wright. You can listen to it here or click the play button below.[audio:http://swn.edgeboss.net/download/swn/saved/oneplace/mp3/2655936/wi20080601.mp3]
For the most part, the critique focuses on Wright’s “new perspective” reading of Paul. But there is also discussion of Wright’s counterimperial interpretation of Paul.
I think the reviewer does not know that a Dead Sea Scroll uses the term “works of the law” (Ma’asah ha Torah (sp?)) to describe the Jewish boundary markers, so I think Wright gets this correct, contra the reviewer.
I was impressed how the reviewers were actually very kind to Wright and really praised him numerous times. I often do not find this the case when reformed individuals are discussing others who disagree with them on such an issue. One thing that was troubling to me is that they kept reiterating that Wright can be so “dangerous.” Who can’t be dangerous? Denny can be dangerous, Piper can be dangerous, Horton can be dangerous, everybody can be dangerous! I praise God for the work of N.T. Wright, and contra Denny, I am glad he calls out the U.S. of A. from time to time and the imperial theology we espouse in our conservative world (psssstt: you don’t always have to back up, support, and agree with our country’s decisions, even when your pawn is in the white house).
I’m not a Reformed guy, but I’m not sure yet whether I buy Wright’s thesis. This discussion was quite helpful in a lot of ways, so thanks for posting it.
By way of criticism, I just have three small things.
I do agree that Wright often characterizes the Reformers position on an individual gospel for individual people. This is something I’ve noted with his presentations and have been frustrated by.
However, I felt like there were places where these men characterized Wright’s position as well. I think it would have been helpful to have a representative of the New Perspective in their dialogue. It could’ve helped clear some of these things up.
That said, at one point that say that Wright is loved by those who love social justice, but not exegesis. Then an (IMO underhanded) reference is made to McClaren. I would just say that Wright has emphasized repeatedly the necessity of proper exegesis and those who do so otherwise, do so without justification. And I think it’s just wrong to connect Wright’s scholarship in any way with the stupidity that is McClaren – even if McClaren does occasionally manipulate Wright for his own ends.
Lastly, there was a quick word at the end that suggested that Wright mixes up the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of this world. But this is a misrepresentation – Wright is clear that there is a distinction! I’m not sure why they would say this about him (maybe they explain it on the webpage they referenced), but that statement by itself is misleading and isn’t substantiated in their talk.
Ok, I’ve written enough. Thanks again for posting it, it really was quite helpful.
Thanks for bringing this interview to our attention. In my opinion meaningful topics are raised in this post. Although the format of a radio show and a few comments keeps the discussion superficial.