Remixing N.T. Wright with Frank Viola (Wright’s opponents greatest misrepresentations)

As you know if you read this blog regularly, NT Wright is the theologian that I’ve been influenced by most. Here, I give an excerpt of an interview he did with my friend Frank Viola. Frank is a voice in the church that trancends our left – right divide. He is a teacher that I highly respect. Sure I nuance certain things differently on some issues, but he is a voice the church so desperately needs.

He has a new book out with Lenard Sweet called  Jesus: A Theography. I’m looking forward to thumbing through it when I get the chance. Frank also just started a new blog here at Patheos. Check it out and subscribe!

Here’s an excerpt from an interview he posted with NT Wright:

Frank: What are the three main objections (or misrepresentations) of your work among evangelical Christians, and what are your responses to those objections or misrepresentations?

N.T. Wright: People have sometimes said, ridiculously, that I don’t believe in the second coming, because I insist that in the New Testament a reference to ‘the son of man coming on the clouds’ is to Jesus’ vindication (in resurrection, ascension, and not least in the destruction of the Jerusalem that had opposed and rejected him) rather than to his return. The second coming is taught all over the place, and I have expounded it, I hope biblically, in Surprised by Hope.

Second, people have sometimes said that I downplay the divinity of Jesus (someone once accused me even of denying the virginal conception). This is a serious misunderstanding. I have done my best, rather, to oppose modern forms of Docetism (the view that Jesus wasn’t really human, but only ‘seemed’ to be). Some modern Docetists, not surprisingly, see this as a denial of Jesus’ divinity. I hope the present book (Simply Jesus), and its sequel How God Became King, will put the record straight on this one.

Third, many have been puzzled at my embrace of (one form of) what has been called the ‘New Perspective’ on Paul. Actually, one of the key things about the NP, at its best, is that it take seriously the larger vision of God’s purposes for his people and for the whole creation that we find precisely in the four gospels. Often evangelicals have offered a would-be ‘Pauline’ gospel which not only doesn’t do justice to Paul but leaves no room for the four gospels. That has to be wrong, and I’ve tried to show how.

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  • N.T. Wright is my favorite author/scholar and has been for some time now. I only learned of Frank Viola earlier this year (January, maybe?) but the more I read from him, the more I connected with what he has to say. I’ve only read 2 of his books, “Beyond Evangelical” and “Jesus: A Theography” but someday, if time ever permits, I’d like to read some of his previous books too.

  • Fascinating to read Wright’s concerns about Docetism, because in popular Evangelical circles (especially the Charistmatic) Hyper-Kenoticism is my main concern – underplaying Christ’s Divinity.

  • Wright’s good, but my favourite theologian is John Wimber. He not only has a Kingdom theology but also a lot of Kingdom experience, healing the sick, prophecying, working for social justice etc. Even though Wright also has experience as well, he is not as Charismatic as Wimber.