A Wright Wrong

May 10, 2006

This is quite surprising and saddening news. In this article, Wright comments,

"I have friends who I am quite sure are Christians who do not believe in the bodily resurrection."

This is ironic, to say the least, especially coming from a man who wrote such a massive and scholarly volume defending the bodily resurrection of Christ. In fact, he wrote it because they needed to hear it, so I've read. It saddens me, especially because Wright is something of an icon for me. I can't say I've ever read anything of his that I didn't like (except for this!). I just don't understand how he could believe such a thing when Paul clearly states otherwise. As on theologyweb member stated, to be called a "Christian" and not to believe in the bodily resurrection of Christ is a contradiction of terms.

If Christ is not raised from the dead, then our faith is in vain, Paul writes! Of course, scholars who call themselves Christians (like Borg, who is a good friend of Wright's and who is mentioned in this article) and who don't believe in the physical rez would probably say they agree with Paul's statement, but disagree with the traditional interpretation of what Paul meant by "resurrection." I think Wright has argued conclusively that resurrection in Second Temple Judaism could only mean physical reembodiment. I just don't understand how some could believe otherwise and still claim to be within the fold, and how Wright could call one like this, regardless of the sort of man he is or his intentions, a true Christian believer.

Of course, Wright believes that people like his friend Borg "are very, very muddled" on this issue. I must say, in this instance, that it is Wright who is "muddled" for calling someone who denies a foundational doctrine a believer.

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6 Responses to “A Wright Wrong”

  1. Ron Says:

    I hate to tell you this, but Wright is moving further and further left because he wants to be Archbishop of Canterbury once the other guy retires. Wright is thinking politically instead of theologically. Everything he has written or said lately has moved left.

  2. Brandon Says:

    N.O.T. Wright!


  3. Ron, do you have any other examples of his shift to the left lately? How do you know he wants the position as Archbishop? I’ve taken this sort of as a blow ’cause the guy has played a major role in the shaping of my Christian thought.

  4. GhostontheNet Says:

    Woah, he never said he himself compromised on this issue, and sticks to his guns. Frankly, even the 1 Corinthians 15 text does not advise that those who still don’t believe in the resurrection of the dead be “delivered to the satan” as is advised elsewhere, he simply issues a heartened critique of their position in which he shows their thinking on the subject to be muddled and lacking lucidity. Granted, Hymaneus and Philetus who made it their self-appointed task to teach against is were kicked out, but no sign of any such thing on a more massive level extending to even the lay naysayer. So too, if N.T. Wright says his friend’s thinking on the subject is muddled, it does not mean that he has backtracked away from belief in the bodily resurrection nor does he advise anybody else to backtrack. What he does do is acknowledge that they may in fact still be saved regardless of their error.


  5. Oh, I agree with you, Ghost, that Wright is not backtracking on his belief in a bodily rez. What I was saying that I think Wright is wrong in telling someone who is not a first-century Corinthian (who probably wouldn’t have understood enough about judaism’s view of resurrection, so they have an excuse), but a scholar who has studied these things and knows what “resurrection” means. It doesn’t just mean that the disciples were alive to Jesus in a very real way after his death, but it means that he got out of that tomb. To deny such a thing and be called a believer in Jesus is to deny his message and his mission, and I’m just really disappointed in Wright over it.

  6. Byron Says:

    Ben Myers has a very helpful discussion of these issues on his blog. Oops – can’t find the specific page right now and am in a hurry. Will have to look for it later (or you could do so yourself…). He makes a very important distinction between what it is important to affirm about the resurrection and yet what level of uncertainty there might be still about exactly what we mean. In other words, it’s very important to affirm a bodily physical resurrection, but exactly what we mean by that remains somewhat open when Jesus’ body was also transformed, and so we should beware too quickly writing off other Christians who differ, even as we try to correct what we see as their errors.

    As for Wright angling for Archbishop, since Rowan Williams is about the same age as he is, by the time he retires, Wright will be too! I don’t think there is any mystery about Wright’s ‘shift to the left’, just a growing realisation by many readers of what was there from the start – that taking the Bible seriously (as Wright does) doesn’t lead to any easy political position, least of all to the ‘Religious Right’ assumed in many American discussions.


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