Jonathan Merritt Interview with NT Wright

NTWright

This is a two part interview. Here are just a few quotes.

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On inerantism

I don’t think I’ve ever said “I am not an inerrantist.” But the controversies which gave rise to that label were strongly conditioned by a shrunken post-enlightenment rationalism, and I would hate to perpetuate that. It’s possible that “inerrancy” is, so to speak, the right answer to the wrong question. It’s a bit like “transubstantiation” in the Middle Ages: if someone asks, “Is Jesus really present in the breaking of the bread?” you have to say “Yes,” but if the only philosophical framework you have for doing so is Aristotle’s metaphysics you will come out with an answer which sends the wrong signals.

So I don’t call myself an “inerrantist” (a) because that word means what it means within a modernist rationalism, which I reject and (b) because it seems to me to have failed in delivering a full-blooded reading and living of what the Bible actually says. It may have had a limited usefulness as a label against certain types of “modernist” denial, but it buys into at least half of the rationalist worldview which was the real problem all along.

On Adam

The way I see it is that there were many hominids or similar creatures, part of the long slow process of God’s good creation. And at a particular time God called a particular pair for a particular task:  to look after his creation and make it flourish in a whole new way. Actually, this fits with the scientific evidence according to which there were some significant changes in the hominid population and lifestyle around 6000 years ago, though I wouldn’t myself put too much weight on that.

I don’t think I’ve ever said “I am not an inerrantist.” But the controversies which gave rise to that label were strongly conditioned by a shrunken post-enlightenment rationalism, and I would hate to perpetuate that. It’s possible that “inerrancy” is, so to speak, the right answer to the wrong question. It’s a bit like “transubstantiation” in the Middle Ages: if someone asks, “Is Jesus really present in the breaking of the bread?” you have to say “Yes,” but if the only philosophical framework you have for doing so is Aristotle’s metaphysics you will come out with an answer which sends the wrong signals. – See more at: http://jonathanmerritt.religionnews.com/2014/06/02/n-t-wright-bible-isnt-inerrantist/#sthash.YHlfRTMm.dpu…

On natural disasters

The way in which God “causes” things in the world is a complicated and difficult issue. It’s important that we resist the temptation to think of God as the kind of celestial CEO, sitting in an office upstairs and pressing buttons to make some things happen and stop other things. Apart from anything else, God has said from the start that he wants to work in the world through human agency. It isn’t a zero-sum game—either God causes things or they happen by “natural causes”, whatever that means.

God is sovereign; but the world is out of joint, and God’s solution to this, to work from within through the death and resurrection of Jesus and the power of the Spirit, is not that he will then wave a magic wand and automatically stop everything bad happening, but that he will go on groaning from within the heart of the painful world until the new creation is born (Romans 8.18-27).

On same-sex marriage and homosexuality

Monogamous, lifelong same-sex relationships were known in the ancient world as well as in the modern—there is plenty of evidence, despite what people sometimes say. When Jesus reaffirms the traditional Jewish standards of sexual behavior (he was talking in a Jews-only context where people would know what his shorthand sayings meant), and when Paul, speaking in a largely Gentile context, spells out a bit more clearly what is and what isn’t part of the new-creation lifestyle for those “in Christ,” this way of life was always counter-intuitive in that world, as it is again today.

We must ask, with Paul, “This new creation God has launched in Jesus—what does it look like, and how can we live well as genuine humans, as both a sign and a means of that renewal?” We need to remind ourselves that the entire biblical sexual ethic is deeply counter-intuitive. All human beings some of the time, and some human beings most of the time, have deep heartfelt longings for kinds of sexual intimacy or gratification (multiple partners, pornography, whatever) which do not reflect the creator’s best intentions for his human creatures, intentions through which new wisdom and flourishing will come to birth. Sexual restraint is mandatory for all, difficult for most, extremely challenging for some. God is gracious and merciful but this never means “so his creational standards don’t really matter after all.”

* * *

You may read HERE and HERE the entire interview.

Author: DanutM

Anglican theologian. Former Director for Faith and Development Middle East and Eastern Europe Region of World Vision International

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