Trevin Wax, a student of
Asbury Theological Seminary Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, interviews NT Wright. The audio can be heard here. The Bishop does a good job of briefly presenting his various positions and defending himself of the different charges that have been leveled at him by some Reformed christians. Very fun to listen to, and worth your time.
A few gems include:
The New Perspective starts with Ephesians. I actually think Ephesians was written between Romans and Galatians, but whenever you think it’s written, it’s in Ephesians that you get this close correlation between “by grace you are saved through faith, and this not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works” and therefore, “you Gentiles are part of the same family with the Jews.” That’s Ephesians chapter 2. I didn’t invent that. I merely sort of observed. […] Because Ephesians and Colossians have a very high view of the Church, which many evangelicals have been suspicious of, and it’s actually often ecclesiology which is driving evangelicals to be suspicious of the New Perspective. That’s why there are questions about Roman Catholicism that sort of bubble up on the edge of all this. If we go this New Perspective way, either we become liberals or we become Catholics, and either way – that’s dire, so we don’t want to do it. And I say, lighten up, guys! This stuff is actually in Scripture! If you believe in the Bible, you’ve got to do business with it and not just screen it out.
I’ve been speaking from and to a tradition which has traditionally ignored social justice, ecological issues and the plight of the poor, etc. So I’ve banged on about them, but there they are in the Bible! Again, I didn’t invent this stuff! I’ve taken evangelism sometimes for granted, although on other occasions, I’ve been the first up there to say “Come on! We’ve got to do this!”
The new book of mine which is about to appear which is the sequel to Simply Christian called Surprised by Hope– the first main chunk of it is about eschatology: new heavens, new earth, resurrection, etc. But then the last section is about mission. And it’s the missiology which flows from this eschatology.
And I have a chapter there where I’ve done my best to show the full integration of evangelism and what we’ve pleased to call “social action” (that’s a rather clunky term; it’s not a rather good way of saying it). And it goes like this…
As I’ve said before, God is going to fix the whole world. He’s going to put the whole world to rights. But actually, the advance plan for that is to put human beings to rights in advance. And when that happens, which is what happens through the gospel, it isn’t just, Phew! I’m okay now so I’m going to heaven! It’s I am actually being put right, in order that I can be part of that ongoing purpose.In other words, it’s both conversion and call, which as it was for Paul… converted to see that Jesus is the Messiah, which he’d never dreamt of before, called simultaneously ipso facto to be the apostle to the Gentiles. And in the same way, when the gospel reaches an individual, it is so that they can take part in God’s larger kingdom project.
Again, if we’d had the Gospels as our basis rather than simply Paul (and I hope no one will accuse me of downgrading Paul by putting it like that, me of all people), then I think we would not have had this difficulty. But it’s because we’ve shrunk the New Testament to fit these particular, much, much later models that we’ve then allowed ourselves to collapse into the Enlightenment “either-or” of either spirituality or social justice, but not both… and I know the damage that has happened by that division. That’s how I would put it together.
When you announce that Jesus Christ is the Lord of the world, crucified and risen, you are simultaneously saying, “And you need to believe in him for your own present and eternal justification and salvation,” but also “this means that he is claiming the whole creation as his own and wants to renew and restore it and flood it with his justice and his love, and if you’re signing on to believe in him, you’ve got to be part of that project.” If he is not Lord of all, he is not Lord at all.