Wednesday, July 14, 2010

N.T. Wright and the Meaning of the Gospels

I listened to a couple lectures from N.T. Wright yesterday and this morning which he recently delivered at Wheaton College's 2010 theology conference.

In the talk, Wright poses a question: What are the Gospels all about? What's the primary thrust of their message about Jesus? This is not a trick question. He thinks many in the church have gotten it wrong for a number of years. He thinks many believe the Gospels are the written record which supports the deity of Christ, verified by His resurrection from the dead. Although, most emphatically true, Christ is God in the flesh, Wright believes the writers of the four Gospels had an even larger thing in mind.

Wright believes the Gospels are primarily about the inauguration of the Kingdom through the Cross. This is my paraphrase but he said, historically the church pendulum has swung in error from one extreme to another.
1. Kingdom---where the gospel becomes altogether "social" and misses the point of the cross, or
2. Cross--Where the kingdom becomes pietistic and "other-worldly,' and ignores the earthly ministry of Jesus, or at best, presents Jesus' earthly ministry as a prelude only to the cross. Most folks in my circle of Christianity seems to fall into the latter trap.
Wright says in order to understand the Gospels one must understand they are primarily about Jesus being Israel's Messiah inaugurating His Kingdom through the Cross. These points may seem ultra-nuanced but they have great and practical ramifications.

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