N.T. Wright Interview

Last Wednesday night, Dave, Scott, Plev, and I had the privilege of driving to Asbury Seminary to hear N.T. Wright lecture on the book of Acts. It was phenomenal. Turns out, we were not the only Southern students who made the trip. Trevin Wax and Tony Kummer also went and interviewed the bishop. The audio can be found here at the Said at Southern blog and the full transcript can be found here. Here are some interesting excerpts from the interview:

On future Justification: People have often said, "Your idea…" (pointing to me) "…that future salvation will be based on the whole life led." I say, Excuse me. I didn't write Romans 2:1-16! Romans 2:1-16 is Romans 2:1-16. The evangelical tradition has screened out Romans 2 because it didn't know what it was there for.

It's interesting that many evangelicals have done implicitly what liberal scholarship has done explicitly and put Ephesians and Colossians in a kind of sub-category and elevated their reading of Romans and Galatians to a primacy.

On his critics: I think [D.A.] Carson has misunderstood it. The big book, the first volume that he edited, Justification and Variegated Nomism,
a collection of fine essays by fine scholars. But I have to say, in the bit at the end, where Carson sums it up, he actually goes way beyond what those essays actually say. And it's interesting… he takes a few swipes at me there without even footnoting. It's as though I'm sort of hovering in the background as a big boogeyman who's going to come and pounce on people and so, he's got to ward him off.

On penal substitution and the book 'Pierced for Our Transgressions': Fancy writing a book, a big fat book, on what the atonement is really about and giving no space at all to Jesus' own understanding of his own death. But that's because the whole evangelical tradition has been Paul-based rather than Gospels-based, and it's been a shrunken Paul-base which has insisted on reading some bits of Paul, privileging them, and simply missing out what the Gospels are really all about. . . . . If you expound Isaiah 53 so that it isn't about the kingdom, it isn't about covenant renewal, it isn't about the renewal of creation, then you have simply taken a little bit of Scripture to suit a scheme of your own, rather than the great Scriptural scheme. Jesus didn't do that. You can see he's got the whole agenda present to his mind.

On Evangelism: 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.

I simply told him (he didn't know the story) that there was this man who was a Jew. He believed that God's purposes to rescue the whole world were coming to fulfillment. He died to take the weight of evil upon himself. He rose to launch God's project and to invite the whole world to join in with it and find it for themselves.