Evangelicals & N.T. Wright

I’m still in the midst of reading Paul and the Faithfulness of God, so I’m not yet certain that it will do in Pauline studies what Jesus and the Victory of God did in the study of Jesus and the Gospels. But while doing some digging for a writing project, I again came across these lines from Alister McGrath, writing with reference to JVG. I’m more interested in what he says about evangelical identity than about Wright, but this is certainly worth pondering regarding our relationship to Scripture:

Wright’s project is like a gadfly to evangelical theology.  It is an irritant, a stimulus, that demands we reexamine our ways of thinking and interpreting Scripture, particularly Paul’s writings, to see whether we have fallen into settled and lazy ways of thinking that, in the end, fail to do justice to the New Testament.  A favorite slogan of later-Reformation writers was that the Reformed church must be ecclesia semper reformanda—that is, a church that is always reforming itself.  Reformation, rightly understood, is not a once-for-all event whose ideas are to be set in stone but an ongoing process of reexamination and reconsideration, forced upon us by the priority of the biblical text over our provisional interpretations of that text.  Wright obliges us to read the New Testament again and to take the profound risk of allowing our most settled ideas to be challenged in the light of the biblical witness.  The price of being biblical is to constantly return to the Bible, sometimes with anticipation and at other times with trepidation, in that our present ideas may find themselves rendered questionable.  It is a price that I, for one, am glad to pay

From “Reality, Symbol & History: Theological Reflections on N. T. Wright’s Portrayal of Jesus,” in Jesus & the Restoration of Israel: A Critical Assessment of N. T. Wright’s Jesus and the Victory of God (ed. Carey C. Newman; Downers Grove, IL: IVP, 1999), 178-79.

5 thoughts on “Evangelicals & N.T. Wright

  1. thebarrowboy

    That’s a really great quote. Ecclesia semper reformanda should be a given but for many Christians it clearly isn’t.

  2. Andrew

    It may be that the church should always be ‘reforming itself’ but it is also true that those who claim the heritage of the reformation are comfortable with the tradition they’ve inherited – and are quite resistant to change.

    Those ancient protestants re-introduced the idea of appealing back to the biblical and history for truth, but what remains in the tradition they left is merely an appeal back to the reformation.

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