Bishop N. T. Wright, as it were...

As if our teeth weren't sufficiently on edge, it happened on the same Commonwealth Day (referred to below) that another prominent Anglican was in Sydney and, following excerpts from the Jensens' Commonwealth Day services, The Religion Report interviewed the Bishop of Durham, N. T. Wright. For a fine illustration of letting your yea be nay and your nay yea, here's a transcript of the interview.

If one were impressed with credentials of the academic and religious variety, I can see why one might find Wright fascinating, but I find him on a variety of issues carefully wrong, and therefore decadent. As just one example, imagine the Apostle Paul summarizing a battle over the morality of sodomy this way:

Because there are many churches and (Episcopal Church USA) has been one of them, which have embraced a particular type of theology, which leads it further and further away from where most of the rest of the Anglican communion are. Of course they will tell it the other way, they would say that the Africans and others have embraced a kind of fundamentalism which leads them away from academic purity and respectability. As an academic myself I would be bound to disagree with that.

For me, that about says it all: speaking of whether the legitimation of sodomy will be accepted by the worldwide Anglican communion, Bishop Wright identifies himself not as a servant of the Word or shepherd of souls, but as "an academic." And his critique of those who are seeking to see sodomy legitimated in Christ's Name is that they are trying to lead Anglican communion "further and further away from where most of the rest of the Anglican communion are."

Imagine the Apostle Paul being interviewed on a Roman radio station concerning the Judaizing schism, and his pointing out that the Judaizers were trying to lead the Church away from where most Christians were on the issue. It boggles the mind, although it's an argument perfectly tuned to Western political culture.

Wright goes on to give a statement that is a picture-perfect synthesis of all that is wrong with the world of Christian intellectuals:

Jesus believed I think, that he was offering a critique from within (Judaism).

Wright "thinks" that Jesus "believed"?

Jesus "was offering a critique"?

Later, Wright thinks again--this time about the Apostle Paul:

...stick with (the Apostle Paul and) you will see that he really does believe that (his critique of Judaism) is the true fulfillment of ...the promises to Abraham...

Really--Paul "believes" that? Is that why the Apostle Paul damned those who didn't believe that?

'Believe' can never be a proper word to describe the ground of authority for Paul's message about which he himself testifies that it is "not according to man" and that he "neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ."

I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed! For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ. For I would have you know, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ. (Galatians 1:6-12)

Jesus and the Apostle Paul "believed"? What insipid trash! Where is the man who is faithful to the Lord Who gave His servants this command:

And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." (Matthew 28:18-20)

Later Wright speaks of the Biblical witness to the Resurrection this way:

...the stories we have in the Gospels are told with particular people referred to, particular names being mentioned, particular locations. And (Richard Bauckham) makes a very strong case that when the early traditions told a story, with a reference to a particular person dropped in, one of the things they were doing was saying "This story, as it were, belongs to that person in the sense that he's the one who can tell you, or she's the one who can tell you about it, and if you want to know the detail, they're still around, you can go and check up on them."

Dear sir, is this really what academic Christianity has been reduced to--that we ramble on about how a very strong case may be made that Scripture's Resurrection story, as it were, belongs to a person in the sense that he's the one, she's the one, who can tell you about it? As it were, a very strong case indeed:

Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile an account of the things accomplished among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word, it seemed fitting for me as well, having investigated everything carefully from the beginning, to write it out for you in consecutive order, most excellent Theophilus... (Luke 1:1-3)

For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep; then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles; and last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared to me also. (1 Corinthians 15:3-8)

In this gelded age, the revelation and authority of God are soft-pedalled by emasculated clergymen who like to think of themselves not as preachers and shepherds, but intellectuals and "academics."

Yes, I know full well the whole world is going after that super-apostle, Bishop Wright. But I say to those I love, leave him alone. Even if his content is sometimes helpful when dealing with our decadent world, his affect, his rhetoric, his way of speaking is absolutely poisonous to those training to be faithful shepherds of God's flock. The last thing we need today are men who are emasculated and "think," "wonder," "intuit," and "digress" instead of fighting the good fight with all their might.

Finally, National Radio's Religion Report puts this question to Bishop Wright: "You've said that you're an Anglican because you were brought up as an Anglican. Is there any other reason why you're an Anglican or why you would want to commend Anglicanism to anybody who was thinking of joining?"

Here's Wright's response, in its entirety:

In a sense I'm an Anglican because I was brought up there. But there are millions of people who are brought up as Anglicans and who've moved away either into atheism or agnosticism, or into Catholicism in one direction, or Orthodoxy, or into being a Baptist or a Pentecostal or whatever. So just being brought up in it isn't a sufficient reason for staying there. And there have been times in my life when I've looked at what was going on in the Church of England and I've just thought, 'Do I really belong there?' And in world-wide Anglicanism as well. In a sense it's like a family, and you can't leave your - well you can and you can't leave your family - I mean you can turn your back on them but they're still around somewhere, as it were. But it's more than that. I do think that the Anglican Church worldwide has a peculiar vocation at the moment, that we are within touching distance of Catholicism and Orthodoxy, even though we have some unresolved issues with them. We are within touching distance of Methodism and Presbyterianism and so on, and Anglicanism is often seen both from inside and from outside, as a place where people can come and get to know each other and actually work together. I was at a colloquium recently in the north of England where we had Anglicans, Romans, Orthodox, Methodist, Reformed etc., and there was a strong sense that actually the Anglican ministry within the worldwide larger church is one of providing a place where people can meet, a place where people can pray, and that's an uncomfortable place. It's like living in the middle of Piccadilly Circus. But it's a place which has a certain integrity and which I hope and pray still has a mission to perform within the purposes of God.

Yes, but also no. Maybe, but now that I think about it, never. Thin, but just a wee bit fat, too.

And all with a great dollop of "as it were."

Hold me back.

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Comments

Tim, that's how Anglicans talk, except for those in the Third World. They did that when I was young, which, as you know, is a long time ago. It's a very good reason for not being one. But, in spite of that, there may be things they contribute--a hearing for the truth by those who are disarmed by their tentativeness, maybe? I wouldn't be one. It's not preaching. But maybe God uses them in addressing the cultured despisers?

Dear Tim:

"Thin, but just a wee bit fat, too." I'm still laughing.

Cake or Death? http://mongrelhorde.blogspot.com/2006/03/cake-or-death.html

Anglican foppery knows no shame, except perhaps for being ashamed of Jesus.

I was wondering if there was a forum or some other way to enter into a discussion with you about the interpretation of scripture this site takes.

Here is a thought to start conversation: Above you criticized N.T. Wright for being tuned to "western political culture." Do you believe that as 21st century Christians we should not be tuned to western culture? Was Paul not tuned to the Greco-Roman culture of his time? Did Paul write in a bubble? Do we live in a bubble?

One final question: Why are you so critical of Christian intellectuals and academics? Are not all Christians not called to reason out their faith for themselves?

skeptic

>Are not all Christians not called to reason out their faith for themselves?

Well we are instructed to work out our faith with fear and trembling. I'm not sure that is what you had in mind though.

Skeptic,

I hold you responsible for my allergic reaction to this thread.
There were so many "straw-men" in your post, the debris caused me sneezing for hours

That's one of the most ridiculous posts I've ever read. There is some good critique of Wright on the web but this is nonsense.

NT Wright is both a shepherd and an academic - you can be both.

"Jesus and the Apostle Paul "believed"? What insipid trash!"

Well didn't they 'believe'? What's the problem?

I'm sorry but this post just sounds poisonous and bitter or perhaps something was lost in translation. Wright is a middle class Anglican Bishop and that's kind of language he uses. I just don't see what your point is.

Well didn't they 'believe'? What's the problem?

They didn't just believe, they knew. There's an enormous difference.

It's like saying I believe I'm a human - there's an element of uncertainty in that statement; surely you know whether you're human or not.

N.T Wright's statements inject that element of uncertainty into everything.

The general trend of the responses to your interpretation of Wright and the language used to express it only confirms why I left the Reformed Baptist Movment here in the Northeast. I may not agree with all that Dr. Wright believes, after all, he is an Anglican and I am a Baptist. But I have found him to challange my thinking and force me to look at the text in order to evaluate the message and content of biblical theology. How different this is when compared to the average "reformed" theologian who seems to think that the test of orthodoxy is committment to the Westminster Confession or Catechisms as opposed to the Word of God. Whether one agrees with Wright or not, at least excercise the Christian virtues by examining what he has written and not picking an "interview" where he answers questions in the context of whatever issues are being discussed in that time and place. I find the posts from Paul, Steve, Jeff, David and "Skeptic" to express some of the same reaction I had when I first read your article.

Highlander

Dan, It's not just the Anglicans. Every denomination has men who preach and teach this way, and it's spreading. We need to see it as a part of the feminization of discourse, and therefore the loss of manliness.

This is the reason I find myself increasingly pointing not only to the substance of Scripture's arguments, but also the way those arguments are communicated and applied. That, too, is part of the "all Scripture is inspired by God, and is profitable..."

When a man called by God to speak for Him employs rhetoric expressing tentativeness about things that have been absolute since God created Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden before the Fall, that man lies. There is much that we may properly be tentative about due to Scripture's own lack of evidence or explicit command, but not s*d*my. Scripture is exhaustively clear that it is directly contrary to God's created order, and therefore an abomination before God. Similarly the order of the s*xes. As the Apostle Paul points out with absolute clarity, God's creation of Adam first, and then Eve, means it's contrary to God's created order for woman to exercise authority over man.

But Wright goes beyond tentativeness on these matters, making our Lord and Master Jesus Christ, very God of very God, tentative also. "Jesus believed that he was offering a critique"? Then Wright turns to the Apostle Paul and speaks of Paul's doctrine in a way precisely opposite to the way Paul himself speaks of it.

Really, preachers and pastors and bishops are much like other men. They must choose between the fear of God or the fear of man. They may not have both. They'll always face one direction or the other, and those watching will always know which direction they've chosen.

Our good readers will notice that after a couple days of being unable to post any comments--my comments were consistently rejected by Moveable Type's spam detection plugin--I'm finally able to comment, again. What was the culprit that set off the filters?

The use of three periods in a row, instead of a true ellipsis. Go figure.

Anyhow, I'm happy to again be able to join the discussion. Meanwhile, beware of three periods in a row--it's the kiss of death!

On the Pyromaniacs blog hosted, particularly, by Phil Johnson, an excellent statement by the great reformed baptist preacher of the nineteenth century, Charles Spurgeon, was posted concerning lack of clarity in the pulpit. (The Moveable Type spam filter employed by World's servers will not allow me to put a link to the Pyromaniacs blog, so let me use a circumlocution saying that you can go there by typing "teampyro dot blogspot dot com" into your browser.)

Anyhow, following Phil Johnson's post, a good exchange of comments followed in which my post here on Bishop Wright was cited. One reader accused Phil Johnson and me of not "getting it" while the illustrious fellows Wilson and Kostenberger and Green and Blomberg and Bock do "get it." Here's how he put it:

***Bayly's article and your critiques continue to ignore the contexts in which (Wright) speaks (but) these aren't sermons. They're not supposed to be. They aren't trying to be. Expecting them to sound like sermons and carry the conviction of preaching is like reaching for a jar of peanut butter to quench your thirst and being alarmed and disappointed at it's lack of thirst-busting potential.

Disagreement can be reasonably coupled with appreciation, and academic work has its place in the church even if its not "preaching".

Anyway, perhaps you'll someday get the point as many of Wright's other evangelical opponents have (Doug Wilson, Andreas Kostenberger, Doug Green, Craig Blomberg, Darrel Bock etc).***

All that as a preface to this, the response I posted at Pyromaniac and am now posting here because it's pertinent to several of the questions asked above:

* * *

We don't get it? Get real. We get it fine. In fact, we invented it. But since then we've repented.

What's there to "get" anyway? Is there anything difficult about understanding why a man would be tempted to trim God's truth and authority in speaking to our decadent world, defending his trimming by claiming that trimming is a more effective method of communication to our gelded age?

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn got it--quite easily. The February 14, 1994, "New Yorker" did a profile on him right before he left the U.S. to return to his native Russia. Here's how this hero of the twentieth century explained his rejection of the very posture habitually copped by men such as N. T. Wright:

***Back in the study, I asked Solzhenitsyn about his relations with the West. He knew that things had gone wrong, but had no intention of making any apologies. "Instead of secluding myself here and writing 'The Big Wheel', I suppose I could have spent time making myself likable to the West," he said. "The only problem is that I would have had to drop my way of life and my work. And, yes, it is true, when I fought the dragon of Communist power I fought it at the highest pitch of expression. The people in the West were not accustomed to this tone of voice. In the West, one must have a balanced, calm, soft voice; one ought to make sure to doubt oneself, to suggest that one may, of course, be completely wrong. But I didn't have the time to busy myself with this. This was not my main goal."***

If Solzhenitsyn didn't have time to busy himself with being liked because it was not his main goal, how is it that servants of Christ today seem to have time for nothing but making themselves likeable? If we claim Solzhenitsyn has mistook our motivation and that we're not focused on being likeable, but simply on being the most effective messenger possible, can it really be that a man who ordinarily had such perfect pitch is so far off pitch here?

No, he still has perfect pitch. We have balanced, calm, and soft voices, and we're careful to doubt ourselves and to suggest that we may, of course, be completely wrong. And it's because, unlike Solzhenitsyn, we believe neither in fighting dragons nor in a high pitch of expression.

Anyone interested in a biblical method of communicating with decadent intellectuals would profit from studying the Apostle Paul's sermon to the Areopagus. And I defy them to show any similarity between the mollycoddling equivocations of the Anglican or submerged churches and the Apostle Paul's proclamation of God's authority and judgment:

***"In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead."

When they heard about the resurrection of the dead, some of them sneered, but others said, "We want to hear you again on this subject." At that, Paul left the Council.***

A Christian preacher is a herald. He has a known and distinct message given by God, which he is solemnly charged to pass on, and is warned of dreadful judgment if he fails to do so.

Either that paragraph I just wrote is correct, or N T Wright's approach to ministry is correct. But they cannot both be correct unless black and white are the same shade.

Highlander;
The man is a prominent leader in the Anglican church and whether it be in writing or interview, he had a clear opening to stand for clear scriptural proclamation to his interviewer, and subsequent readers. What he did, however, was him-haw, equivocate, and ramble, almost incoherently at times, as it were. Contrast was then made with the biblical examples of faithful shepherds like Paul. I found the content of Tim's post spot on.
"Virtuous" language used to call someone out, does not mean emasculated language. Was Paul using Christian virtue when he told the Galatian church he wished those trying to deceive the church in Galatia would emasculate themselves(Gal 5:12)? I believe, today, Paul would be pilloried for being so passionate about the souls for which he had been given oversight.

On an unrelated matter that you related to the thread;
your assertion that reformed theologians refer to the confessional works "OVER" the scripture to be a large straw man. That, with your other statements of leaving a reformed chruch, lead me to believe there may be a bias against reformed churches? The same crowd who proclaims Sola Scriptura?
C'mon Highlander. The traditional backbone of reformed churches has been the dogged adherence to the word. To that end, the confessional standards were made in the first place.
I will not try to claim nobody has ever made the error you noted. We are all sinful, imperfect men. I will just say your assertion was pretty broad,sweeping and incorrect.

Jeff

Dear Tim:

Thanks for bringing attention to the interview. I've now read it and think you're right to be concerned about this. Of course, there are more charitable ways of construing some of his remarks. For example, when you take him to task for identifying himself as an academic, his only point seems to be that people are wrong to think that intellectual or academic respectability requires rejecting the "fundamentalism" of the African churches. When he praises Bauckham's book, the point is that people have greater reason than was supposed, just on grounds of historical/textual criticism, to take the gospel accounts of the resurrection as credible eye witness reports, which is pretty important for people interested in doing apologetics.

But having said all that, even though there are ways to be more charitable than you were about specific points, after reading the interview I did get an overall sense from both the content of his remarks, and the way he made them, that he's unduly soft on some pretty important issues. I think the clearest example of this is one of his comments on the "homosexuality question":

Tom Wright: [dot-dot-dot] And in the meantime, in June, the American church, ECUSA, are going to be meeting for their general convention, and they will have before them the question as to whether they will endorse the Windsor Report, which would mean if they did, that they would have to apologise to the rest of the communion, not specifically on the issue of homosexuality, though many would want them to do that as well, but on the issue which is the presenting issue. It isn't what to do about homosexuality, it's what to do when one province, or one diocese says 'I understand the rest of you don't want to do this, but we're going to do it anyway', and the fact of a province claiming the right to act unilaterally when the other provinces have said 'We don't want you to do that'.

Stephen Crittenden: And homosexuality of course isn't the only issue.

Tom Wright: There are lots of issues which are bubbling up under the surface.

Seriously? The church is ordaining homosexuals and the main cause for concern is the unilateral implementation of the policy? Yikes. Tim, your critics above misunderstand when they assume that you're upset just because you disagree with Wright. It's more that even when you do agree with him (Wright does think homosexuality is wrong after all) he's almost embarrassingly weak and ineffectual.

Bishop Wright used to be an evangelical, too! He's one of the better Bishops. I give up. Honestly, I do. I was brought up an Anglican, although my father converted to Anglicanism from Methodism. I believe the creed, and agree with every one of the 39 Articles, yet I no longer feel comfortable in Anglican services and am currently attending an independent evangelical church in Cardiff, Wales. The sort of drivel here makes me want to leave the Anglcan Church!

Again, I despair of these people! False shepherds and dumb dogs the lot!

Tim, et al.,

If you handle the Bible with the same concern for context as you do with Bishop Wright's interview your certainty is not a virtue.

The more one loves the truth, more one realizes that one's articulation of the truth and the Truth are never exactly the same. It has been said above that some are more committed to certain expressions of doctrine than they are to the Scripture (and to God himself). This charge was dismissed as a straw man.

There is no doubt that this charge is accurate. The only question is whether it applies to specific individuals. Making fun of the charge does not render it invalid.

This raises the issue of ridicule in general. I notice a tendency among the cock-sure Reformed camp to ridicule everyone they disagree with. I ask this question: Who demonstrates a Christlike attitude more clearly, the aforementioned individuals or Bishop Wright?

Even if the charges against Wright were correct (which they are not), the manner in which they are made is inappropriate and embarrassing to the Kingdom of God.

Rod

P.S. I tried to leave a URL, but blogspot-dot-com was flagged as possible spam. If you want to find my blog, it's at pastorrod-dot-blogspot-dot-com.

Mr. Bayly,

This post of yours is incredibly misguided.

1. You apparently are not even capable of looking at ethical questions from Wright's Anglican frame of reference. You complain because Wright says that ECUSA is getting "further and further away" from where most of the Anglican communion stands on the issue of homosexuality. What you apparently cannot appreciate is the nature of Anglican theological method. Anglicans do not just read the Bible individualistically. They aren't congregationalist Baptists who insist that the Bible is their only Creed. Anglican theology is expressed in the context of dialogue, mutual accountability, and communal consensus. He is simply pointing out that in rejecting the Anglican consensus on these questions, ECUSA is adopting a theological method that is foreign to Anglicanism itself. That's hardly an irrelevant point for self-professed members of the Anglican communion. But yet you nit pick here and complain about the way Wright states his point.

2. Likewise, you complain about Wright calling himself an "academic." Please! He is simply pointing out that in rejecting ECUSA's view, he is not advocating that the Church abandon all concern for academic rigor and integrity. In other words, it does not mean that you have to accept a thoughtless, anti-intellectual fundamentalism. Are you really so incapable of reading Wright charitably that you would jump on this wording?

3. You also distort Wright's point when he says, "Jesus believed I think, that he was offering a critique from within Judaism." His point is simply that in his opinion, Jesus placed himself and his movement within the trajectory of Judaism itself, and not as something "other than" Judaism, which critiqued the Jewish religion from the outside. His point is that Christianity fulfills, rather than replaces Judaism. He says, "I think" because he is aware that some (both Jews and Christians) might see a more radical discontinuity between Judaism and Christianity. The guy states a point modestly, and you jump on him for it! I can only shake my head.

4. Likewise, when he refers to what Jesus and Paul "believed," he is not expressing some doubt about their authority, but merely expressing himself with a consciousness of the fact that there are those with whom he desires to carry on a conversation who would contest their authority. The Jews themselves for instance. Your inability to see how a person who is used to actually talking to people who hold a differing view with a bit of modesty, can express himself, without begging the question, is indicative of the problem with fundamentalism. It's why fundamentalists can talk to no one but themselves with any kind of serious intellectual depth. All they can do is argue in circles, when in fact historians and people who actually engage in historical scholarship are not given the privilege of assuming that their own view is the only way to look at evidence.

5. Likewise with your objection to Wright's reference to Bauckham making a "very strong case" for the fact that the resurrection stories go back to eye witnesses. That's the way real scholars talk, because they actually talk with other learned people about the historical evidence, in a way that you are apparently not able to appreciate. You can't even tell the difference between a profession of faith, and a summary of historical evidence. Wright is dealing with the latter, not the former.

Your post was very disappointing.

I like this line a lot: "carefully wrong, and therefore decadent."

I'm not sure it applies to anything in this particular interview, where he seems more to be over-carefully right, but that's probably a form of decadence also.

It might not be possible for a self-critical, theologically-minded person to remain Anglican without developing these kinds of thought patterns. That church has been an unwieldy heap of compromises and contradictions right from day one.

For a response to Mr. Owen, please see my recent post, "N. T. Wright, again."

As an Anglican (very traditional and conservative, btw) reading this, I take great exception to the way Bishop Wright is taken to task for his manner of speaking. Seems like many Reformed folks forget that Dr. Wright actually has the ear of academia and culture at large, unlike much of the Reformed Baptist community; he responsibly interacts with them, and not with the sort of impatience that is part and parcel of the Anabaptist/Radical Reformed agenda.

I find that any man can have his words irresponsibly picked apart by uncharitable spirits. Dr. Wright said nothing wrong in substance. The rudimentary problem here isn't that the good doctor said anything wrong, per se, he just didn't lash out with the vitriol and venom that unfortunately some in the TR world are accustomed to.

I also suspect if we could compile a list of "harsh" and "demanding" language from Dr. Wright's own pen, it wouldn't suffice for some folks anyway-- he's an Anglican not of the WCF stripe, and that's enough to keep in hot water no matter what.

Silver Serf

Defending Wright's rhetoric as an anglicanism is incredibly misguided. Wright's method of communication--what I've referred to in my two earlier posts as his rhetoric--has absolutely nothing to do with the culture of anglicanism as opposed to the culture of presbyterianism, congregationalism, or radical reformationalism. Rather, it's simply the feminized discourse of the western world, particularly notable among the chattering classes.

Note carefully: Wright's method of speaking is precisely the same method of speaking that Solzhenitsyn (in the quote I posted earlier) attributed to "the West"--not to Anglicans or Episcopalians--or even gentlemen and ladies, but to "the West:"In the West, one must have a balanced, calm, soft voice; one ought to make sure to doubt oneself, to suggest that one may, of course, be completely wrong."

I grew up on this sort of language within the sophisticated world of evangelicalism where fundamentalists were hated and one's academic reputation was everything. The men of IVCF, Wheaton, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, and the Evangelical Theological Society all spoke like this regardless of their country of origin or denominational affiliation, and among all of them the most important thing was that they not make asses of themselves in front of their academic colleagues.

As one wag put it, evangelicals say to liberals, "If you'll call me an intellectual, I'll call you a Christian."

But beyond the rather small world of elite evangelicals, this method of discourse is the principal characteristic of the academy itself, and evangelicals, whether Brits or Americans, talk this way because it's required by their peer group of choice. You (or "one", if I was a bounder and wanted to gain entry myself) can enter any Indiana University classroom a couple miles from where I sit typing and listen to a steady stream, hour after hour, day after day, month after month, year after year, of every single mannerism I complained about Bishop Wright using coming out of the mouths of professors, administrators, graduate students, and undergraduates who are on the move.

But beyond the fact that this way of talking is academyspeak, not anglicanspeak, one aspect of this discussion has been studiously avoided by my opponents: namely, can a man say the truth in a lying way? I say "Yes," but my opponents seem to be blind to the question, and therefore incapable of engaging it.

My argument is that Scripture does not simply contain objective truths, but that it is also a repository of methods appropriate to serve as vessels for that truth. That when the Apostle Paul spoke to the men of the Areopagus in Athens, his sermon or discourse is a model for us not only of *what* to say to decadent intellectuals, but also of *how* to say it to them. And I'd make a similar point all through Scripture. When we fight against heresy in a particular congregation, the Apostle Paul's method of dealing with the Galatians is profitable to teach us just as the substance of his arguments are.

I don't mean (or, if one is an academic, "This is not to say") that the Apostle Paul's method with the Galatians is a straitjacket into which all future confrontation of heresy must be bound. And yet, if no analogous style or intensity or sarcasm or berating or threatening and damning ever crosses our lips or pages, we really believe it should not have crossed the Apostle Paul's lips and pages either.

Deny it all you want, but Wright was given a bully pulpit much like the Areopagus and he failed both in his content and in his method of communication. We're left thinking what a smart and calm and balanced and smooth academic he is--not what a holy God he speaks for.

I'm tired of the nativism that has characterized men's responses to my criticism of Wright. What I wrote I never attributed to his being a Brit or Anglican, but to his being one more quite boring example of the feminized discourse characteristic of the academy across the western world. And I believe one must choose, not just between God and mammon but between God and the academy. (After all, it's the academy that is the center of the western world's wealth--not banks or the Pentagon. And certainly not the Vatican.)

So, does that make me an anti-intellectual? Well yes, assuming the Apostle Paul was also an anti-intellectual. But then the Holy Spirit must be an anti-intellectual, too, since He was the One who inspired the Apostle Paul to write:

***Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you thinks that he is wise in this age, he must become foolish, so that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness before God. For it is written, "He is the one who catches the wise in their craftiness"; and again, "the Lord knows the reasonings of the wise, that they are useless. (1 Corinthians 3:18-20)***

Tim,
You are spot on. To speak with any fervor of voice and gestures, to be animated (the way the critics put it you are being vitriolic) is to be out of control and thus a way to void the validity of your argument. Spot on about the gelded, emasculated society in which we are living. Everything must be presented with an absence of passion. This I believe is why Solzhenitsyn left the USA. It is no longer acceptable to be passionate about Truth. You (one) can be passionate about sports, movies, or music but not about Truth. Since God is Truth, it is no longer acceptable to passionate about God. How far modern Christianity has fallen.

If I were Emergent I would say that Wright is just trying to emphasize the Jesus of the Gospels instead of the Jesus of Pauls writings. However, since I am not I will just say good post. You really help me put some thoughts about Wright into perspective.

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