Guest Blogger Frank Viola: N.T. Wright & Beyond Evangelical   1 comment

I’m pleased to offer a post by Frank Viola. OccupyEvangelicals.org is obviously very much about “Evangelicals.” This article offers a discussion between these two scholars/writer’s about what “Evangelical” should mean today. (I should mention that I’m still using the term “Evangelical”, and that Mr. Viola has moved “beyond” that.) This is of value to my Evangelical readers as we attempt to keep up with the evolving meaning of the label, and wrestle to continue to critique our own movement by Scripture. I offer the article to my “Occupy” readers, as assistance in understanding Evangelicals. It’s admittedly an “inside baseball” type discussion (!), but from it hopefully you will see that the portrayal of “Evangelicals” in the media is often skewed. Here it is:

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Today, I’m featuring N.T. Wright on the blog. This interview fits in nicely with our series on Beyond Evangelical. But first, a little context.

My favorite New Testament scholar of the 20th century was the British scholar F.F. Bruce. Bruce was a “bright and shining light” in 20th century evangelicalism. He was prolific, churning out high quality work year after year. He had the rare ability to write academic books as well as popular (accessible) books. Bruce’s specialty was Jesus and Paul.

F.F. Bruce also understood the importance of chronology in New Testament studies. Consequently, he published a translation of the New Testament that put all of Paul’s letters in chronological order. (Yes – cough — F.F. Bruce was a major inspiration for me. Hence, I credit him in my Untold Story of the New Testament Church.)

In addition, Bruce was a powerful apologist, substantiating the historicity of the Gospels in the face of 20th century liberalism. To top it off, F.F. Bruce was a capable theologian as well as a New Testament exegete (a rare combination).

Enter N.T. Wright. Another British evangelical scholar.

N.T. Wright is the 21st century equivalent to F.F. Bruce. What Bruce did for evangelicalism in the modern world, Wright is doing for evangelicalism in the postmodern world.

Like F.F. Bruce, N.T. Wright is remarkably prolific, he has the rare ability to write academically as well as popularly, he specializes in Jesus and Paul, and he is an effective and compelling apologist. (Wright has brilliantly excoriated the arguments of liberal scholars who traffic in historical Jesus studies.)

Like Bruce, Wright is both a theologian and an exegete, and he wrote his own translation of the New Testament (though not in chronological sequence).

To my mind, N.T. Wright is the new F.F. Bruce.

Meeting N.T. Wright

I had the privilege of spending time with Wright in 2007 when we were both featured speakers at a conference in the (cough) . . . Bahamas. (Yes, it was a notable hardship to accept the invitation. But some people must suffer for the kingdom.)

All jesting aside, Wright and I spent several hours talking about various and sundry topics of mutual interest. During the event, we shared a boat ride that lasted one hour each way. We sat together on both legs of the trip and filled our time schmoozing about the New Testament and theology.

All told: I was pleased to discover that Wright and I had a lot more in common than I expected. For instance, we agreed that Paul was the author of Ephesians, that Galatians was Paul’s first epistle (i.e., the South Galatian theory), and other views that are in the minority among New Testament scholars today. We talked about the eternal purpose, the work of C.H. Dodd, the role of the Old Testament narrative on the New Testament story, etc.

In getting to know Tom (N.T.) Wright, and in reading much of his work, he has become my favorite contemporary New Testament scholar. You can find many of my favorite titles by Bruce and Wright in my Best 100 Christian Books Ever Written and my Best 100 Academic Christian Books & Commentaries pages.

Unfortunately, I never had the pleasure of meeting F.F. Bruce. But I am happy to have met and befriended Tom Wright.

With that as a background, what follows is my interview with N.T. Wright on his latest book, Simply Jesus. I own virtually all of Wright’s works in my study, and Simply Jesus has quickly become my favorite “N.T. Wright book.”

Every follower of Jesus should get a copy and read it. Especially those of you who are moving beyond evangelical.

One final note. N.T. Wright is someone who is not afraid to challenge the status quo. In this regard, I both resonate with and support him. And I’ve intentionally played “devil’s advocate” on some of the questions as I wanted Tom to have a safe platform in which to respond to “the gainsayers.”

Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers. (Titus 1:9, KJV)

What follows is the uncut, unedited, and unrated version of the interview. :) It’s meaty, so you may want to do this with it. But because of the uniqueness of the interview, I’d encourage you to share it with others by clicking the “share buttons” at the bottom (Twitter, Facebook, Google+, StumbleUpon, etc.). Enjoy!

Click here to read the unedited interview

Click here to order Simply Jesus by N.T. Wright in hardcover

Click here to order Simply Jesus by N.T. Wright in Kindle

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One response to “Guest Blogger Frank Viola: N.T. Wright & Beyond Evangelical

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  1. Pingback: ” Where People Get Scripture Wrong” Or Nuances of the Faith? « ConnectingthaDots

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