Is N T Wright an evangelical?[1]

NTWright071220.jpg

(N T Wright 2007, courtesy Wikipedia)

By Spencer D Gear

What is N. T. Wright’s position regarding evangelical Christianity? Rowan Williams, (hardly known for any evangelical persuasion) on the back cover of N. T. Wright’s magnificent exposition, The Resurrection of the Son of God (Fortress Press 2003) states:

No one could read this without learning something fresh about almost every verse of the Synoptics, and being provoked into new wrestling with the text … an Evangelical energy that will make it a book for prayerful meditations as well as intellectual stimulus (emphasis added).

You (ebia) may not like what Tom (N T) Wright calls his own theological perspective. He unashamedly calls himself an Anglican evangelical, but you don’t want to be identified as an evangelical, but you want to be associated with Tom Wright’s theological perspective. This is what Tom Wright says about his own view of his theological position:

I believe that to call myself an evangelical Anglican, and/or

an Anglican evangelical, is not to precipitate an identity problem, let alone a crisis, but rather to place myself at that point on the ecclesiological map where I am free to learn how to be a Bible person, a Gospel person, a Church person (emphasis added).[2]

This article associates N T Wright with the “open evangelical” movement.

Ridley Hall at Cambridge University, where Wright has taught, gives this explanation of the meaning of ‘open evangelical’:

We are unashamedly evangelical in our commitment to the authority of Scripture, the need for personal faith, the uniqueness of Christ and the free gift of eternal life for humankind only through his death on the cross. We recognize the truth of orthodox Christian belief as expressed in the early Creeds of the Church. We are open in a number of ways:

Open to the world around us. If we are to communicate the Gospel effectively we must be engaged in a process of “double listening” to the Bible and to the world, hearing the questions and the insights of others around us, and working to hear the message of the scriptures in the light of this.

Open to God’s work in other Christian traditions. Evangelicals do not have a monopoly on the truth, and through partnership and dialogue we seek to be open to learn from what God has done and is doing in other parts of His Church. This refers to other Christians in our own Western setting, but must also increasingly include the voices of our fellow believers in the Two-Thirds World.

Open to playing our full part within the Church of England. Following the lead set by the National Evangelical Anglican Congresses at Keele in 1967 and Nottingham in 1977, Open Evangelicals are committed to involvement in the structures of the Church of England and to making a significant constructive contribution to the direction of the Church’s life. And finally.

Open to God saying new things through the Bible and His Spirit. Being under the authority of scripture means we may need to be ready to change our mind as we understand more fully.

So, in identifying with the theology of Tom Wright, are you distancing yourself from identifying yourself as an Anglican evangelical when you say that you are not an evangelical. If so, you are not associating with the theology of Tom Wright as he defines his own theology.

Ebia did admit:

I don’t choose to use the label about myself [evangelical or liberal theology]. I’m not a big fan of labels.
I’m not a member of the green party either.[3]
I have been an active member, including Warden and lay-preacher, in an evangelical parish for the last few years. I’ve also been teaching Catholic RE. I’m comfortable in both contexts.[4]

Notes:


[1] This was my response (I’m OzSpen) to ebia, Christian Forums, Christian Scriptures, “Documentary Hypothesis” #36, available at: http://www.christianforums.com/t7619203-4/ (Accessed 30 December 2011). Ebia did not want to identify herself as an evangelical (Anglican) or a theological liberal.

[2] Tom Wright 1980. “Justification: The Biblical Basis and its Relevance for contemporary Evangelicalism”, available at: http://www.ntwrightpage.com/Wright_Justification_Biblical_Basis.pdf (Accessed 30 December 2011).

[3] However her icon on Christian Forums indicates that she identifies with the Australian Greens Party.

[4] Christian Forums #41, available at: http://www.christianforums.com/t7619203-5/ (Accessed 30 December 2011).

 

Copyright © 2011 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 15 October 2015.