24 Jun N.T. Wright and Eschatology
NT WrightI’d like to take a take a brief pause from working on the book that I am presently working on (When a Jew Rules the World: What the Bible Really Says about Israel in the Plan of God, due out in March of 2015) to say a few brief things about a matter that I touch on in the book. I’m speaking of the idolization of N.T. Wright among some Christians. There is no doubt that Wright is a brilliant individual, who has made some truly profound contributions to the field of resurrection studies. Outrageous intellect however does not guarantee a correct perspective. Many would agree that Rudolf Bultmann could run intellectual circles around N.T. Wright. Bultmann however is a thoroughly liberal theologian. Again, great intellect does not produce orthodox theology. Concerning the issues of supercessionism (aka., replacement theology), the millennium (he is an amillennialist), and preterism (Wright fundamentally rejects the notion of a future restored Jewish kingdom), N.T. Wright is dead wrong. And to be honest, it truly grieves me that he is not challenged more by those who call themselves theological conservatives.
N.T. Wright and His Magical Metaphors
According to Wright, all of the biblical descriptions of the coming Kingdom of God as a restored Jewish Kingdom are simply metaphors. Wright’s use of “metaphor” to justify his subversion and abrogation of the promises of God throughout the Scriptures is a clear violation of responsible hermeneutics, it is a perversion of the very definition of metaphor, and is deeply circular in its reasoning.
A metaphor by definition describes one thing by using something else that is otherwise generally different. One might say for instance, that “all the world is a stage.” One would not however conclude from the use of such a metaphor that the world was never actually the world at all, but was rather always a stage. To do so would be to use circular reasoning, essentially reversing the metaphor itself. We do not take the stage, which is the subject of the metaphor, and impose it back onto the original object itself. Yet when Wright radically “redefines” and “subverts” (his words) Jewish messianic hope, which itself is simply the substance of the very promises of God, this is precisely what he is doing. In fact, the covenant promises of God are not even metaphors at all, nor were they ever intended to be. The promised land is not a metaphor. The very specific boundaries of the promised land as defined by God Himself are not metaphors. The “throne of David” is not a metaphor. The title (which Jesus personally applied to Himself) “The King of the Jews” is not a metaphor! Ezekiel chapters 40-48 do not comprise one enormous metaphor. To assert such is to pervert the very words of God. The same could be said of several other biblical subjects that Wright distorts. Consider for example Wright’s perspective concerning the actual return of Jesus.
As Jesus ascended to heaven, the Scriptures state that, “He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight” (Acts 1:9). But as the disciples were staring at the sky, two angels interrupted and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11). It would be difficult to be more direct. In the same way that they had just watched Jesus go up into the sky and into the clouds, He is going to come back again in like manner. The angels of course were not speaking in metaphors, they were simply making a very matter of fact statement. Now hear the condescending tone and belittling words of Wright toward any who would actually believe the words of the angels. Wright speaks of:
…the never-ending speculation about future would-be ‘apocalyptic’ figures, such as the supposed ‘heavenly son of man’ who would ‘come’ – i.e. ‘return,’ downwards to earth, on a literal cloud. This monstrosity, much beloved (though for different reasons) by both fundamentalists and would-be ‘critical’ scholars, can be left behind, appropriately enough, in the center of his mythological maze…”
Thus according to Wright, those who believe that Jesus is actually going to return from heaven, believe in a “monstrosity” and are lost in a “mythological maze.” Elsewhere, Wright says, “nobody supposes that [Paul] imagined [Jesus] would make his appearance flying downward on a cloud.” Elsewhere yet again, Wright claims that after listening to Jesus’ Olivet Discourse, the disciples had:
no reason, either in their own background or in a single thing that Jesus had said up to then at that point, for it even to occur to them that the true story of the world, or of Israel, or of Jesus himself, might include either the end of the space-time universe, or Jesus or anyone else floating down to earth on a cloud.
[N]o interpreter ought to imagine that the ‘Son of Man’ can be interpreted ‘literally’ as a human figure floating on a cloud. The image speaks clearly, to anyone with ears attuned to the first century, of the vindication of the true Israel over her enemies.
Thus, according to Wright, the words of the angels who said that Jesus will return in the clouds from the sky should not be taken literally. Wright interprets all of the Son of man coming on the clouds of heaven” texts to refer to Jesus judgment against Jerusalem in 70 A.D. Essentially an invisible return to vindicate “true Israel” (the Church) against the fake Israel, (the actual Jewish nation). Again, to think otherwise is to embrace a “monstrosity” and a “myth.” From a Pauline Jewish perspective, Wright’s words here are outright disgustingly perverted.
When I consider the Islamic perspective concerning the return of Jesus, he is said to return to “break the cross” and abolish the Jizyah tax (the option of subjected Christians to pay a tax and live as subjected peoples). Elsewhere within Islamic apocalyptic prophecy, the Muslim Jesus will return to kill the Dajjal, false Jewish King. In essence, according to the Islamic narrative, Jesus returns to eliminate Christianity and Judaism. Its hard to describe how perverted this is. Yet when we consider Wright’s perspective on the return of Jesus, it is quite similar in its perversion. According to Wright, the various passages which speak of the son of man coming on the clouds actually refer to the destruction of Jerusalem and Israel in 70 A.D. According to Wright:
It is from Jerusalem that the true Israel must now flee, lest they partake in her destruction. It is Jerusalem whose destruction will be the sign that the God whom Jesus has proclaimed is now indeed manifestly the king of the whole earth. According to Jesus, therefore, the real referent of Daniel 7 is the destruction of Jerusalem: the Son of Man will be vindicated but the fourth beast (Jerusalem) will be destroyed.
Both Wright’s perspective and the Muslim perspective of the return of Jesus, “Our Blessed Hope,” are simply perverted supercessionist fantasies having no connection to actual Biblical hope whatsoever.
Perhaps it is due to sheer intimidation, perhaps it is out of general ignorance, but for some reason, rarely is Wright called out either for his arrogant and condescending demeanor towards those who embrace an orthodox eschatology, or for his fundamental distortion of the biblical testimony on these foundational and crucial matters. My appeal here, for whatever it is worth, is for all those who consider themselves to be genuine students of the Scriptures, who value humility, who value orthodoxy, to reject the admittedly “subversive” hermeneutic of N.T Wright, specifically as it pertains to the promises of God, the people of God, the Kingdom of God, and our mutual Blessed Hope.
David W. LincolnPosted at 22:18h, 24 June
Words mean what some folk want them to mean. Norman Tebbit has been around the block, and his words are apropos: http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/normantebbit/100277441/for-our-masters-in-brussels-and-westminster-words-mean-whatever-they-want-them-to-mean/
There are times when there is subtext to scripture, but the return of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, this is not one of them.
Peter HartgerinkPosted at 23:08h, 24 June
Thanks Joel. I have not read any of N.T. Wright’s works but recently a Messianic Jewish friend has become quite enamored of his writing, and I was a trifle concerned. I have shared your blog with her. Will be interested to hear her response.
Troy GeddesPosted at 00:01h, 25 June
N.T. Wrong would be a better name…
I highly recommend this book for anybody who wants to see how the church has committed “Identity Theft”. This is probably the best studies done on this subject of replacement theology. The major take away from this book is tied to your post. This is an in depth look at the subject and is scholarly.
ISRAEL RONALD E. DIPROSE ISRAEL THE ORIGINS AND EFFECTS OF REPLACEMENT THEOLOGY Ronald E.Diprose Copyright © 2000 Istituto Biblico Evangelico Italiano, Rome, Italy
Diprose, Ronald E. (2012-01-23). Israel and the Church: The Origins and Effects of Replacement Theology . InterVarsity Press. Kindle Edition.
JoelPosted at 00:04h, 25 June
Agreed. Diprose’s book is excellent. Dalton Thomas lent it to me a few weeks back. It’s an easy read. I would also highly recommend Barry Horner’s Future Israel, as well as Dr. Michael Brown’s Our Hands are Stained With Blood, a much more popular read.
Adam N.Posted at 05:07h, 25 June
AtHisFeetPosted at 05:53h, 25 June
I fear many of these scholars have become so enamored with their own intellect that they have smothered the simple quality of child-like faith.
DanPosted at 12:27h, 25 June
NT Wright is wrong when it comes to eschatology and supercessionism, though one must understand that most of European Christianity and High Church Anglicanism believe in amillenialism.
NT Wright’s Resurrection of the Son of God is an amazing work though. He thoroughly destroyed the Jesus Seminar and placed a mortal wound in the hearts of those that claimed that the NT was speaking of Spiritual Resurrection instead of bodily resurrection. Incredible apologists like Gary Habermas and William Lane Craig have used his material very successfully in academia and on the debate stage against the likes of Bart Erhman and Marcus Borg. In fact, NT Wright’s work held significant sway over the conversion of Anthony Flew from aggressive atheism to a strong deist. This may not seem like a big deal in Christian circles, but in the witnessing field, it was a monumental. It would be like Richard Dawkins becoming a believer in God (Dawkins is a poor man’s Flew as Flew was far more intelligent and his arguments were among the most widely quoted of 20th century atheists).
Therefore, he should be taken to task for his eschatology but one should recognize other areas where his scholarship has made a huge paradigm shift in resurrection studies.
Philip BrownPosted at 13:08h, 25 June
Does this mean that NT Wright is a Full-Preterist? I’ve never heard of any group that denounced the future and literal return of Christ except for full-preterists.
(Preterism means “past fulfillment”. Full-Preterists believe everything in Scripture has already been fulfilled including the return of Christ, and the new heavens and the new earth – which becomes the new covenant.)
DaudPosted at 15:55h, 25 June
Satan’s a decent theologian don’t you know full of wisdom and beauty too
his IQ must be immense. He disenfranchised man in the garden of Eden in 50 words or less but add to all that some pride and you now have the father of lies. So intelligence alone is no gaurantor of truth.
I hold my head in my hands and cringe when the name of mr wright is trotted out in Church as a respected christian thinker. We have become so suckered into the culture of academia little realizing that university’s are shot through with the miasma of humanism, Academia produces this same pride because knowledge puffs up but love builds up. knowing stuff and gaining degrees or even a phd does is not pre-cedent over knowing Jesus personally and revelation through the Holy spirit produces humility. I work with a young lady fresh out of a “good”university she calls herself a christian but confesses that Jesus is not the only way homosexuality is OK within a faithful relationship and we don’t have to take seriously the book of genesis. She looked at me agog today as if I had just killed a holy cow when I said I did not believe in evolution.She has a degree in theology. would I be alone in thinking that people like this are self deceived?
JoelPosted at 17:50h, 25 June
I actually agree with Dan’s comments above. Wright has made some genuinely positive contributions in some fields of biblical study. But as I said above, beyond all other things, his supercessionism and eschatology in general is simply horrendous.
No, he affirms the literal future resurrection. Though he certainly shares many perspectives with full-preterists. He believes that the fourth beast of Daniel 7 was referring to the apostate Jerusalem/Israel of the 1st century. He denies a literal return of Jesus.
VernonPosted at 19:56h, 25 June
This was a good read Joel. The Lord bless you for your diligence and commitment to truth.
DanPosted at 20:40h, 25 June
Thanks Joel. I agree wholeheartedly about his eschatology. I actually have studied his eschatology closely and have talked to Gary Habermas about NT Wright’s view. Here is the deal:
First, he equates non-amillenial views to dispensationalism. I saw him talk about the short comings of dispensationalism at length. He said that there are many amazing American apologists and thinkers, but then turned around and said their eschatology is messed up due to dispensationalism. He was asked about historical premillenialism and said it was legitimate, but rare.
Second, NT Wright is an Anglo-Catholic. This helps explain why he is amillenial. Basically, the Catholic and Anglo-Catholics buy into Augustine’s amil eschatology. They also tend to be the subject of attack since most dispensationalists are looking for the Pope to be the anti-Christ or at least the anti-Christ will come from Europe.
Third, Christians have to be very careful about being anti-intellectual. We should be engaging academia while being orthodox just like Paul in Greece. I disagree that we should attack someone because they appeal to the academy. NT Wright is a scholar and is one of the few who proclaim the death and resurrection of Christ on a University setting. I work as an apologist on campuses and the spiritual attacks one gets is outrageous. Part of the reason this has happened is because Christians have retreated from the University. We can disagree with those like NT Wright on specific issues, but he is a brother in Christ in the Lion’s Den every day. How many folks do that for a living? One reason I love Joel is that he is that type of guy…most are internet warriors and talkers ready to rip someone down.
Fourth, he denies his eschatology is replacement theology (though it is). He believes when the Bible says “There are those of you here that will see Christ come into his kingdom” he is talking about Pentecost where Christ went to His Kingdom in Heaven. He does not believe Jesus is going to set up an Earthly Kingdom. Here, he needs to be taken to task because he is wrong. I do not believe he has evil motivations, he is just simply wrong. Someone needs to try to reach him and correct him. It can be done as my pastor held to this type of conviction. I confronted him with Joel’s book and he changed his view (he was a Mennonite).
JoelPosted at 20:53h, 25 June
Well said Dan,
I also have a difficult time with his polemical style. His eloquence somehow allows him to use language that I would be excoriated for using when describing those he disagrees with. “Monstrosity” and such. He juxtaposes for instance those who take a metaphorical view of the promises of God with those who embrace “crass literalism.” Obviously this gets my hackles up. We’re talking about basic credal Christianity and calling it a monstrosity. I have also just finished writing a historical survey of Christian hatred of Jews. Its difficult to read Wright’s supercessionist arguments cast again in polemical language and not hear the screams and cries of millions of God’s covenant people echoing down through history. I use strong language myself here, (“perverted” etc.) for this reason much more than anything else.
StevePosted at 23:42h, 25 June
It seems to me when you deny a literal return of Jesus, you are walking on thin ice, no matter what else you say. Last I read the Spirit reveals to us the truth, and if we don’t have the Spirit the Bible becomes a closed book- it becomes and says whatever we want it to. There are many hard sayings in the Bible, but the big picture is pretty easy. I only made it through the 9th grade, but thank God I understand and hold to all the major doctrines as well as PHDs, and Joel, and a lot of you other guys that are educated. This is a God thing, for sure! Looking forward to the book Joel! 🙂 Keep up the good work.
GregPosted at 02:03h, 26 June
This evening I was working on my session notes for the upcoming Las Vegas Prophetic Conference in August. I wrote:
“We will bear a stigma for declaring the end time prophecies. We will be labeled kooks and nuts by those outside the Church, and liberal intellectuals within will ridicule us for insisting on the literal fulfillment of all the prophets have spoken concerning the end of this age and the Day of the Lord.”
JoelPosted at 02:44h, 26 June
good4uPosted at 03:17h, 26 June
Annnd…may I add humbly, Greg, that those within the Church will not believe us, if at all, until it is maybe too late. Or in the case of my Bible teacher-Elder who sees talk on news about an Islamic Caliphate being formed like a super-terrorist state in the Mideast.
I guess the nightly cable news shows hold more truth that the Word of God? You just gotta wonder…
DanPosted at 14:38h, 26 June
A final word about NT Wright…interestingly, his scholarly work has opened the door to examining Jesus through Jewish eyes. This is true of Richard Bauckham as well (not as well known but equally important as a scholar). Part of the reason Messianic Jews love NT Wright is because he helped defeat the Second Quest for the Historical Jesus. This quest started in the 1960’s and matured in the 1980’s with the JEsus Seminar. Basically, the second quest tried to paint Jesus as a sage or a hippie (reflected the worldview of the scholars that created this fictional Jesus). By turning the focus to the Jewishness of Jesus, a revolution has occurred in NT studies. Interestingly, this impacts my good friend Joel. Instead of reading the NT as a Greek tragedy, scholars are reading the NT as a Jewish movement…a true second temple movement. This is part of the reason we are seeing fresh eyes visiting eschatology like Joel and many others. NT Wright has maintained the old school eschatology from the Anglo Catholic school of thought, but his contributions to NT will ultimately undermine his position. When one reads the Bible from a Jewish perspective, you can’t get amillenialism/idealism. You just can’t. Ironically, his total view of scripture will cut the throat of his eschatology.
JoelPosted at 20:27h, 26 June
The irony Dan is that liberal scholars have been doing this for eons. In fact, it is almost exclusively the liberals who rightly see Jesus as an one immersed in the world of second Temple apocalyptic Judaism. They simply do not believe any of it.
I should add that Wright’s radical ideas are not only his. There are other well respected scholars within evangelicalism who also see the “motif” of the son of man as something entirely other than a reference to the traditional return of Jesus in the clouds. I just went after Wright, because he is the most seemingly celebrated. He’s a also a big boy and could care less about what I think, I’m sure.
DanPosted at 22:26h, 26 June
Agreed. Also, to make it clear, I totally agree with your take on him. I was moreso reacting to some comments. Look me up when you are in town!
Michael McCulloughPosted at 23:39h, 26 June
I may have to buy one of Wright’s works to see what is wrong, though I’ll put it at the back of my reading list. I confess that I’ve never heard of him before today.
I’m looking forward to your next book. THAT is something I’m looking forward to reading.
Alan KPosted at 02:50h, 28 June
Just a quick comment. To understand Wright’s bad eschatology one must understand his ax-grinding against American capitalism in general and his aversion to American conservative Christianity specifically. He refuses to be corrected on his skewed view of identifying premillennialism with left-behind theology. He is arrogant and ignorant in his analysis of dispensational theology and premillennialism. It is a blind spot for him because of his hatred for it. (Dan, I am saying this as an academic and not as a non-academic).
gilesPosted at 07:03h, 28 June
Im supposed to be studying theology (though have not been able to bring myself to it for a few months now). I remember one topic i wrote an assignment on, I referenced a book by John Hagee. I was told on the feedback not to use such books, but only keep to the academics, such as NT Wright.
I asked what makes the distinction, but got no real answer.
It seems to me that academic circles, simply put, are a bunch of people with a string of letters behind their names, and if you want to have some letters behind your name as well, you need to read their books. Then maybe they’ll give you one of those letters.
Jay RossPosted at 17:15h, 28 June
A number of years ago, the “Christian” Bookstore I regularly frequented had quite a number of books on eschatology. At least a shelf or two but now, the number of books on the self on this topic are difficult to spot because there are so few. Perhaps the market has moved to Ebooks where self publishing is prolific and encouraged.
Back then, I would devour books, but quickly realised that I needed to be able to quickly evaluate the books on the shelf and decide whether or not they were actually worth buying to read.
As such I developed a number of proof texts to search for within the respective books as my guide.
One such proof text guide was Genesis 15:16. If the book author equated this verse with the Exodus from Egypt the Book went back onto the shelf. If the book author did not link the verse with the return of some of Abraham’s descendants to the land, which came true in 1948, I would also put the book down.
Another proof text concerned God’s promise of the “earth/land” to Abraham’s descendants. If the author focused on the land as described in Genesis 15:17ff as being what God meant, then I would put the book back on the shelf.
If the author spoke of Jesus ruling an earthly kingdom during this present age, then I understood that they did not understand what had been written in the Hebrew Text of Psalm 45:17 and again would put the book down.
The author’s views on the parables of the Mina and the Talents was another proof test for me along with the Judgement of the Nations, the sheep and the Goats.
Sadly, the scholarship of the authors had to be beyond reproach, from my perspective, before I would even consider buying a book on End Times prophecy.
With that being said, I too cannot put my views up there and say, “Listen to me, I have a full comprehension of how things will pan out during the end times.” as I also have flaws in my understanding of end times prophecy.
What I will say is that in every book on this subject matter, they will probably contain a gem of wisdom here or there that should be taken onboard and considered. It is my view that what holds us back in our understanding of prophecy, is the tradition that is held onto and acts like a millstone as it holds us back from running too far ahead of the pack in our understanding. Sadly the millstone is gaining more weight than it is losing at present.
Jesus did tell us that Israel will attempt to build a third temple but that they would fall short in their attempt and be ridiculed because they failed to accomplish their goal. The fact that other people will rise up and stop them is immaterial to the parable that Jesus told, but their attempt to do so, will be added to the charges against Israel and used by the nations of the world as justification in the imminent rebellion against God.
Also in the gospel accounts is a time stamp for when the end of this present age will occur but the traditions of our scholarship does not allow us to unpack this one verse parable out from the surrounding verses so that its message can be revealed for everyone to understand.
Does not the bible tell us that the first fruits of Jesus’ Kingdom reign will be all of Israel, when they accept God’s terms for their redemption in our near future.
Now, concerning the Anti-christ, speaking great things against God and His Son and man’s salvation; he is present at this very time and manifested through the people who inhabit the dominion associated with him. Shortly his ability to act will be impeded for a time but his servants will continue the oppression of the saints and the people of the earth until he is able to return once more to continue speaking out against God.
Sadly many people, except the diehards, have “moved on” and their interest in this aspect of their belief system is fading from their view as being important or relevant for them to have a working relationship with God, be it, the God that they worship.
Having so many views and understanding of what God is about is weakening the present “western” perspective as to what is important within a person’s life. This sadly is reflected in the health of the “church” within our society. Perhaps a willowing is occurring at this present time.
Doug HanleyPosted at 23:36h, 28 June
Check out this article about Apostasy Rising
4 Denominations this week
PCUSA, Methodist, UCC and 1 other
DanPosted at 23:47h, 28 June
Alan…I completely agree. In fact, when one looks at someone’s worldview, we can often see how their theology is devised. Like many European’s, he is a socialist. He is virulently anti-gun (second amendment). He is also anti-Israel and a fierce critic of the USA’s involvement in the Middle East (though the UK helped build their empire by subjugating the Middle East and leaving it a mess). Therefore, I totally agree with you. My points are restricted to the long view of his positive contributions which may have gotten overlooked or lost due to his negative points. I appreciate your post because you were sticking to facts. In fact, I totally agreed with Joel’s points. That being said, there has been no more effective apologist for “Bodily Resurrection” than NT Wright in a century.
JohannesPosted at 10:13h, 29 June
From where did you quote these passages? Would be interested to know.
JoelPosted at 10:26h, 29 June
N.T. Wright, Jesus and the Victory of God, Volume 2, (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 1997), 517
N.T. Wright, The New Testament and the People of God, (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 1992), 463
N.T. Wright, JERUSALEM IN THE NEW TESTAMENT
JohannesPosted at 20:52h, 29 June
KendallPosted at 04:11h, 30 June
I was wondering how you responded to this quote from NT Wright’s book “Surprised by Hope” regarding the second coming?
“These two historical moves, about the ‘son of man’ sayings and about the parables of the returning master or king, have left me open to the attack, particularly from American readers, that I have thereby given up believing in the second coming. This is absurd, as the present chapter will make clear. The fact that Jesus didn’t teach it doesn’t mean it isn’t true. (Similarly, the fact that I have written books about Jesus without mentioning it doesn’t mean that I don’t believe in it; when a football commentator goes through a whole game without mentioning baseball, that doesn’t mean he doesn’t believe it exists or that he doesn’t rate it highly as a sport.)… if the texts that speak of ‘the son of man coming on the clouds’ refer to A.D. 70, as I have argued that (in part) they do, this doesn’t mean that A.D. 70 was the ‘second coming’ because the ‘son of man’ texts aren’t ‘second coming’ texts at all, despite their frequent misreading that way. They are about Jesus’ vindication. And Jesus’ vindication—in his resurrection, ascension, and judgment on Jerusalem—requires a still fuller event for everything to be complete. Let me say it emphatically for the sake of those who are confused on the point (and to the amusement, no doubt, of those who are not): the second coming has not yet occurred.” – N. T. Wright, Surprised by Hope, p. 126 (the whole chapter is about the second coming)
JoelPosted at 05:16h, 30 June
(This comment has been edited)
Thanks for your comment. A few folks sent me the link to the conversation that you all are enjoying on Matthew’s Facebook page. As I said to Matthew in an e-mail I sent him yesterday, with five kids, three jobs and virtually no time, I generally do not have time or the energy to interact with folks deeply on the internet. But to your question, I hope the following is helpful.
First, Wright makes precisely the same protest concerning supercessionism. He denies it vigorously, calling any who would say he is a supercessionist names such as “stupid” or “absurd,” etc. He resorts to bullying. (I would hope that the younger generation of thinking Christians who are desiring to live out a more humble faith would not stand with bullying as a theological tactic.) But in Wright’s denials, he is simply being flat out dishonest and many far more qualified individuals beside myself have called him on this. Anyone who reads his multitude of other comments on the subject of God’s dissolution of the Jewish people can see that he is a supercessionist.
The same is absolutely true with regard to the issue of the return of Jesus. He plays both sides. This is typical Wright in fact. He usually plays three and a half sides, all while mocking those little minded American conservatives who hold to a more traditional perspective. So for example, you quote him in Surprised by Hope denying that he rejects a literal future return of Jesus, but in just the same chapter, (only a few paragraphs prior) he says the following:
This is typical Wright. He’s the prince of doublespeak and dissimulation. One one hand he protests and laments any who would “misunderstand” him by claiming that he doesn’t actually believe in the literal “return” of Jesus, all the while denying and even mocking precisely that. He compares (the operative phrase is, “In the same way…”) the idea that Jesus will literally return, to our wrong use of the expression that the sun rises or sets. It is only perceived so from our perspective, but it isn’t really so. He even admits that Jesus’ own words and the creeds express it, though wrongly. For those who take Jesus’ words literally, they believe a “monstrosity.” And yet I am the one who is challenged…
Wright speaks out both sides of his mouth vaguely about our future hope in terms such as, “a bright mist” and is praised and idolized for it. The chapter concludes with Wright finally getting around to his vaguely defined vision of the return of Jesus:
According to Wright, Jesus never actually “returns.” It only “appears” to us as such. In truth, Jesus simply reveals His presence to us from right where He has been all along. Heaven and earth merge.
The bottom line is Wright believes in the return of Jesus like Muslims believe that Jesus is the Messiah. (In a nebulous and profoundly unbiblical way). I repeat that I am saddened by the fact that more conservatives do not call Wright out for his nonsensical views on these matters. What is so “misty” about the words of the angel:
Imagine that you go on a missions trip to minister to and proclaim the Gospel among the poor of the earth and imagine yourself trying to explain Wright’s position to them.
Finally, I will simply say that it is both sad and ironic that Wright is far more abusive in his language than I even encroach upon being in my article here, and yet he is adored for his rhetoric and polemics, while I am accused of all sort of character deficiencies for simply posting his own comments, (quite in context I would add).
I hope this was helpful.
Jill SchreiberPosted at 20:45h, 24 February
Joel- I don’t envy you the task of writing a historical survey of Christian hatred of Jews. It is a deeply painful topic, and writing about it must have been grievous at times. Thank you for your sacrifice. Also, thank you for your clear and restrained writing about N. T. Wright. I checked out his views on God’s promises to Israel before I signed up for an online course, and your contributions to the blog were of much assistance.
If we could lose God’s promises because of our disobedience, all of us would drown in boiling water, so to speak.
Jim FossumPosted at 22:43h, 18 September
What are your thoughts on Dr Michael Heisers outlooks on scripture?
Mainly around already-not yet.
I know you have interviewed him and stayed in areas you both agree on but he has a unique outlook on many things
If you have a minute we’d love to hear your breakdown on him.
Tom WoodsPosted at 23:01h, 30 June
I here you, Joel, in your frustration at how Wright claims that “all of the biblical descriptions of the coming Kingdom of God as a restored Jewish Kingdom are simply metaphors.” And his condescending way of saying that unless you’re a Biblical scholar focused on 2nd Temple research, etc., etc., you just can’t understand. That is also frustrating. That being said, I want to first say I very much appreciate your work, Joel, as well do I appreciate Michael Heiser’s work….. However, the way you feel about Wright on this issue is precisely how I, and many, many others who have seriously considered both the Biblical text and the scientific evidence regarding the flat Earth feel about how Michael Heiser and yourself claim all the numerous Biblical references pointing towards a flat, enclosed Earth as viewed by the early Jews (and depicted in Heiser’s work as how they viewed the world) is ALL simply POETIC language.
Now that I’ve mentioned the flat Earth this is likely where you tune out and stop taking this post seriously, which is pretty much what N.T. Wright would do if he read your complaints that he is going way too far in calling all the scripture you point to for your eschatological views as just metaphorical is going way too far. Is the Earth flat? I don’t know, I’ll never see it in this life time to be sure. But are the roughly 200, give or take, verses that make the case for a flat Earth all just poetry? I don’t think so. The early Jews didn’t think so, either. Is the scientific research being done in earnest now about the flat Earth all just nonsense? No, there are some serious issues with the globe model, which has had 500 years to get a head start and the flat Earth science needs a chance to catch up.
I, like yourself, Michael Heiser and everyone first confronted with the flat Earth topic, scoffed and laughed hard at the idea. But once you start really looking into it—and are willing to do so fairly and with an open mind—there’s a reason so many people (many intelligent people) are saying, “Wait a minute, could we be misinformed on this issue?” Does the issue make the church look stupid as you say, sure it does. But if, after truly looking into something, if it’s the truth it’s the truth and it doesn’t matter what others think. Just like with creationism vs evolution. They scoff at the church for its young Earth, divinely crated everything view over evolution. So what? Scoff all they/you want at unconventional views, but don’t claim all the Biblical language is just poetry when it’s no more ALL poetry than is ALL that doesn’t fit with Wrights’s views all just metaphor.
Truly look into it (the flat Earth). Frankly, the flat Earth cosmology fits well with Michael Heiser’s divine counsel work, yet he won’t embrace it. It’s ironic: he is used to being scoffed at for his divine counsel work, but will turn around and scoff at an idea like the flat Earth and explain it away as poetry, while the flat Earth actually fits his arguments. Just like Heiser’s work would fit N.T. Wright’s work and make it stronger if N.T. Wright had more of an understanding of (and willingness to take seriously) Heiser’s divine counsel work.
JoelPosted at 04:09h, 01 July
Your comparison is apples and oranges. I have researched it, watched dozens upon dozens of videos, and its pure nonsense. The earth is demonstrably spherical. I issued the challenge to the any of the world’s leading flat-earthers to fly with me from Sydney to Santiago and put this issue to rest and none has taken me up on my challenge. The challenge is simple. If it takes what we would expect it to take time wise if the earth is spherical (roughly 14 hours or less), then they owe the price of the tickets and $10,000. If it takes the 30 or so hours that it would require on a flat earth, I pay. Simple. Where are your champions?
Likewise, if the earth were flat there would be no southern celestial sphere. If three people were to stands on the southern tips of Australia, Argentina and South Africa, if it were dark, they all could see the Southern Cross at the same time. The earth is spherical.
Time to put these childish things behind.
Stephen McPhersonPosted at 23:39h, 03 May
It’s funny. I came to Christ as a teen and believed the Bible, word-for-word.
I’m really glad that I had little formal Christian education and allowed the Holy Spirit and Scripture to be my Teacher versus a school or education program.
Even so, I remember praying almost every night that the Church would experience a revival that would one day resemble what I would read about in Acts and the Epistles–that we would live the Book of Acts, etc.
In the same way some people are now beginning to perceive a literal view of Scripture in areas of eschatology (where appropriate), perhaps people will abandon their man-made concepts of Western “church” in preference to the relationship-based, house church model of Christianity as seen throughout the New Testament.
Using God’s original blueprint from Scripture–and forsaking man’s designs–perhaps the Church can function once again with the power and witness it was originally intended (but in our modern day).