What’s NT Wright All About?

Frankly, if you can tell me what N.T. Wright is all about after reading these quotes, please do…

From a BBC interview:

Q How are you on the Virgin Birth?

A Well let me first say David has routinely been misquoted, and I don’t want to sign up to the various legends that surround him, and he’s an enormously gifted man who gave a huge amount to the diocese where I’m now serving and, and I’m proud to be one of his successors. I have come to see the stories in Matthew and Luke about the Virgin Birth as stories which are as historians often find, so strange in themselves, that if you tried to figure out how those stories could’ve come about unless there was substantial truth at the heart of it, it’s actually harder to do that then to see them as I do, as people saying ‘This is really very odd. We know there are lots of stories like this out there in the pagan world.’ I mean Augustus – there were stories about a miraculous birth and so on, and round the same time. And the Christians were standing over against that sort of pagan belief, so they wouldn’t have pushed in that route and risked Mary’s reputation being sullied – you know as you find in Matthew’s Gospel and so on – unless it actually was so. But I have to say my belief about Jesus does not as somebody said recently, rest on the Virgin Birth, because John’s Gospel doesn’t mention it or maybe one hint, but that’s very controversial. The Letter to the Hebrews which has this wonderfully high view of Jesus doesn’t mention it. And particularly St Paul doesn’t mention it – and it’s Paul who is our earliest writer and has the most fantastic view of Jesus as the Incarnate Word etc, etc. , and he doesn’t mention the Virgin Birth at all.

Q Do you think that Christianity is in any way a more exclusive or truer religion than the others?

A It’s interesting to say ‘more exclusive’ and ‘truer’ because of course, the word ‘exclusive’ is a ‘boo word’ at the moment. So saying it’s both exclusive and true might be a little tricky. I want to say that Jesus matters supremely. Nobody says that Mohammed rose again from the dead. Nobody said that Krishna died to save them from evil and sin and so on. And these claims are not simply on all fours with claims made in other world views, other religious traditions. They’re different in kind as well as in content. And it’s my belief partly because I am captivated by this person Jesus, and delighted to be so, and also because as a scholar I’ve had the privilege of looking at the evidence extremely thoroughly, and I find those two strands of history and faith simply coming together and questioning each other, challenging each other, but always coming back with more depth and more passion and more power actually to change lives.

Q So we won’t all be saved?

A According to the New Testament there is a real possibility…

Q No according to you … I want you to tell me.

A … I’m sorry – I’m a Christian theologian – therefore the New Testament is where I must start. And yes I’m affirming this. That there is a real possibility of loss but just at the point where we think the New Testament is going to say ‘Bang – there it is. We’re going to tell you who’s in, who’s out,’ there are hints and vague suggestions, that actually yes, there will be those who will look God in the face and say ‘Sorry that’s not for me and I’m going to go the other way,’ and that God will ratify that decision, because we are human beings with the dignity of making those decisions – that there are many others who are being drawn towards the light, many others who are being wooed into the love of God. And that it’s not up to me to say exactly where that line is drawn on a page. I do believe that there is a real possibility and actuality of final loss, but that immortality is this strange, new gift. It’s not that, as Plato said, we’ve all got an immortal soul and we’re all just going to carry on. No, that’s not the Christian belief. The Christian belief is that God promises this as a fresh gift to be received gratefully. And that means, as I think it was John Polkinghorn who said that when we die, God will ‘download our software onto His hardware until the time when He gives us new hardware to run the software again for ourselves.’ Now…

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