I’m sure I’m not alone in thinking that N.T. Wright is one of the most important theologians and Christian scholars alive today. I started “getting into” him because of his work on the Resurrection, and later discovered his work on Paul, which I find to be absolutely fascinating and rings true to me at every word (though that doesn’t mean much given my deep ignorance of all things biblical and theological).
Wright’s work on Paul stretches out over many thousands of pages, so it was a bit of a challenge to find a summary on his thesis on Paul, until I found this document (PDF) on the unofficial N.T. Wright Page (a great resource). Again, I find this to be absolutely fascinating and true, and worth reading for anybody interested about Paul and the question of justification (and if you aren’t, what are you doing here?).
The reason I point this out is not just because it’s interesting, but because it seems to me to confirm what I wrote about earlier, which is that, after hacking through many weeds, we find that the New Testament, the Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox Church, and most Protestant accounts, or accounts that most Protestants wouldn’t disagree with, actually agree on justification. Again, I am an ignoramus (I really mean that), so I may be wrong. But I really do increasingly believe that, at its heart, the Reformation was all one big misunderstanding. (How can a simple misunderstanding lead to such a dramatic event? Well, the prince of this world is the father of lies and division.)
EDIT: While googling around I found this dashed-off answer by N.T. Wright to the “Why not Catholic?” question. He has a lot of good shots at us, which we should take with joy and humility (yes, we’ve been behind on this whole Bible stuff). I particularly appreciated this:
To say “Wow, I want that stuff, I’d better go to Rome” is like someone suddenly discovering (as I’m told Americans occasionally do — sorry, cheap shot) that there are other countries in the world and so getting the first big boat he finds in New York to take him there . . . when there were plenty of planes lined up and waiting at JFK. Rome is a big, splendid, dusty old ocean liner, with lots of grand cabins, and, at present, quite a fine captain and some excellent officers — but also quite a few rooms in need of repair. Yes, it may take you places, but it’s slow and you might get seasick from time to time.
Boy, that weird, big, half-broken, dusty ocean liner, why, that sounds a lot like….the Body of Christ. I think of Francis’ description of the Church as a field hospital and I think of how in World War II all of the “good” ships were repurposed for military purposes and so the hospital ships were these barely-seaworthy clanking wrecks. Yep, that’s the barque of Peter alright.
Also I want to read more Wright on Mary.