Yesterday the venerable N.T. Wright concluded the 2012 January Series of Calvin College with a message on Christ's kingship, and its import for the daily life of his followers. I couldn't attend the event, but Press reporter Matt Vande Bunte offers a pithy recap of Wright's presentation.
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In one of his more provocative points, Wright suggests that Christians inadvertently water down the gospel if they fixate on the death-and-resurrection part of the story. Here Vande Bunte quotes Wright:
*While some [secular thinkers] downplay Christ's divinity [by imagining] Jesus as a great social worker "being kind to old ladies, small dogs and little children," orthodox Christianity "has not wanted Jesus to have a political message." Christians have turned off parts of the gospel, like turning down the volume on a song. But the biblical gospels must be listened to in symphony, "like a musical score that demands to be played."
*Heard in full sound, the gospels tell about the establishment of a theocracy, and portray what theocracy looks like with Jesus as king. The body of the texts – the parts between Jesus' birth and death – present "an entire agenda for renewed humanity. When God wants to reign, he doesn't send in the tanks. He sends in the meek, the broken-hearted, the crushed in spirit. We've all got it horribly wrong in all sorts of ways."
In other words, Wright says that to limit our gospel proclamation to the death-and-resurrection story would be like fast-forwarding through Handel's Messiah to the Hallelujah Chorus, then playing that part over, and over, and over again. As we limit our study and consumption of the gospel in this way, we truncate the gospel's power in our lives and in our world.
Wright's call to a more full, symphonic view of the gospel reminds me of Scot McKnight's latest book, The King Jesus Gospel, to which Wright actually contributed a foreword. You can read Wright's foreword in this excerpt of The King Jesus Gospel.
If you read Matt Van Bunte's full report of Wright's January Series appearance, I would be very interested in hearing your reaction to Wright's message. Leave your comments on this post.
Also of Interest
1. Watch Session One from Wright's Surprised by Hope DVD Study. Discussed: The source of Christian hope; Jesus as king; the church as people of hope.
2. Watch N.T. Wright's presentation How God Became King at Moody Bible Institute in November 2011.
3. Interested in Scot McKnight's The King Jesus Gospel? Read this unconventional yet appropriate review, Interview with a Christian Vampire. (Full disclosure: I wrote the review.)
- Adam Forrest, Zondervan
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