Friday, June 20, 2008

Rapport with Colbert on the Report

Bishop N.T. Wright on The Colbert Report.

Not only do we get our news on Comedy Central, but our theology as well.

What do think of this statement in response to the question of whether what Wright says is "Anglican theology?" Wright says: "The great thing is that Anglicans have no theology but if something is true then Anglicans believe it."

How about Wrights essential thesis? He says that the New Testament view of life after death is that Christians go to heaven, but that it is in effect "the place of the dead" (my words). The resurrection is when we will rise in Christ and be joined with him in a new, completed creation. The implication is that the OT place of the dead, sheol, is cracked open and that in the resurrection of Jesus, the entirety of creation is already being made new. We particpate in that renewal now, in this life, and in the next. Wright says that the ultimate goal is not just bodily resurrection but a redeemed, completed creation.

This is very different than the standard, popular view that when we die our souls, which are commonly thought separate entities from our physical bodies, go to immediately and that's it.

It is also very different than pre-millennial view, especially as popularized in the Left Behind series. This view says that Christ will snatch away all Christians in the blink of an eye, the living and the dead in a general resurrection called the "rapture" leaving the world to fend for itself for a thousand years which will then culminate in a final battle between heaven and earth, and where Christ will triumph and put the creation under judgment. This view errs in that it assumes that the cross does not represent Christ's ultimate and final victory over sin and death.

The pop-culture view then vacillates between a benign meeting of amorphous souls and violent clash between good and evil. Wright takes the classical Christian view that the ultimate clash between good and evil has already taken place in the passion and the cross, and that the resurrected Jesus is the first fruits of redeemed, rescued creation.

Both Wright and the millennialists are, secondarily, trying to answer the question of "why is there still evil" after the cross and resurrection. LaHaye and Lindsay say that there is a final battle over sin and death yet to be waged and it could begin to happen at any time with the rapture. Wright says that God had defeated sin and death on the cross and is renewing creation as we speak. He says that, as the Body of Christ, are part and parcel of God's action to bring about a new, renewed, restored creation. We don't just watch, we aren't taken away, we are part of the action! In that context, any manifestations of evil are rear-guard actions in a war that is already won by God through Jesus Christ.

What do you think?

Still, I go back to the fact that Tom Wright showed up on Comedy Central and did a good job of dialogging with Stephen Colbert. And I think that's terrific. Another example of evangelism as taking the message to where it will be heard.

See earlier post on this book here.

1 comment:

Dan said...

Great summary. I have linked to it from