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Friday, January 05, 2007

Bishop N.T. Wright Interviewed by Christianity Today

If you haven't read Simply Christian, I highly recommend you do so! Here is a portion of an interview recently given from CT of Bishop Tom. Give it a close read!

Lewis's Mere Christianity presents itself as inescapably rational. It's an apologetic that traps you in its logic, a very modern approach. But you present a different kind of rationality that seems more attuned to a postmodern world.

I'm quite sure that Lewis would be rather cross at being told that he was some kind of modernist, because his self-description was that he was the last surviving dinosaur from the pre-Enlightenment period. But he was an Oxford-trained philosopher from the early years of the 20th century, and he was conscious of the need to explain things to people who thought in a certain way.

I'm sure Lewis would say he was talking about something that would blow apart the assumptions of modernity, nevertheless addressing people who were within those assumptions. In the same way, I wouldn't want to be thought of as a postmodern writer, but I'm addressing people who live in that world.

And if the argument has a compelling force, it's not the force of A plus B equals C, where there's no escape. I want you to try seeing yourself as part of the picture that we've painted. Or try humming one of the parts of this symphony that we're writing, and see if it doesn't make an awful lot of sense while nonetheless being very challenging. And that's the apologist's dilemma, that if you simply address the God-shaped blank that people think they've got, the God you end up with is the God shaped by the blank. The real God specializes in taking the blanks in people's lives and pulling and tugging and turning them into a new shape.

3 Comments:

Anonymous john scholasticus said...

I never understand why people think that NTW is so good. The enemy is not postmodernism - it's atheism. Postmodernism is largely discredited - it's as if NTW has this need to show that he's up with the latest intellectual thing without realising that it isn't at all the latest intellectual thing. Oddly, it's the same when he attacks the Enlightenment, as if that great and necessary movement's only contribution was denial of Jesus. Nor does one have to start babbling immediately in terms of writing symphonies, conducting them, or whatever. There are perfectly decent traditional argments for the existence of God and in favour of Christianity and one talk easily and comprehensibly of the need to construct cumulative arguments. There's always far too much flatulence in NTW writings - and - I'm afraid - far too much ego.

6:39 am  
Blogger Jeffrey said...

John

For what substantial reasons do you think he is so theologically bad or deficient? Why so much hostility against him? What in particular do you find not so good?

7:50 pm  
Anonymous john scholasticus said...

Jeff,

We're talking here in the first instance about his abilities as a Christian apologist. We're not talking about his general theology. I have made very specific criticisms.

We're also talking - necessarily - about his ability to harmonise the Christian narrative (however one puts it) with other narratives which we know to be true (or as near as dammit - evolution is the crucial case). He has to do this (a) because the people he's seeking to convert aren't familiar with the Christian narrative but are familiar with some of those other narratives (again - above all - evolution); (b) some of those other narratives pose difficulties for the Christian narrative. I don't myself think they are insuperable but I do think it is intellectually inadequate not even to acknowledge the problem(s). There are Anglican theologians who grapple with these things (Ward, Peacock, Polkinghorne, etc.). Wright doesn't. Perhaps he doesn't see the need to do so. All he ever seems to me to do is to argue in favour of a particularly conservative form of Christianity without facing these problems and to do so in undisciplined ways - ways that I have spelled out in my previous comment. Those are my criticisms and they are radical. I make them because I think it is important that Christianity should be defended in intellectually able ways.

9:03 pm  

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