To say that the work of N.T. Wright is a phenomenon is an understatement. Not since Karl Barth has a theologian so excited, frustrated, created controversy and provided so much hope to the Christian community. His writings inspire and infuriate, they are debated with, agreed with and refuted in equal measure. In my opinion there is currently no other Christian writer with as great an influence as Wright (for better or worse). However, unlike Barth, Wright’s theology has predominately the internet to thank for the proliferation of his teaching and the energy for ongoing debate.
I first heard of Wright in 2006 when a friend handed me a flyer to his lectures here in Adelaide. As strange as it might sound I had never heard of him. I was drawn to the blurb on the flyer and went and paid my money to hear him speak. I sat in the lecture hall with a couple of hundred other people. He was funny, charismatic, engaging and very well spoken. I had no idea what he was saying but he spoke with such passion and conviction I was convinced and immediately bought one of his books (Scripture and the Authority of God I believe).
Over the years I have agreed with and disagreed with Wright. So much of what he says, both historically and theologically, sounds correct me yet I lack the knowledge to debate him. I see myself as a student simply learning. I will forever be grateful for his helping me re-engage scripture and provide with a way through the fog when I doubted the authority of Scripture.
If I can pick one flaw in Wright’s work (and it is not his fault) it is his lack of “so what does this mean practically for the people of God?” I have heard this complaint from others as well. I once heard someone say that he lacked Bultmann’s or Barth’s grand vision of the Christian life lived. As a pastor I am interested in the Christian life lived. As interesting as the history and theology might be my main interest is helping people believe in God and then live like they believe in him. As I said this is not Wright’s fault. He is a historian/theologian and to this vocation he is utterly faithful! If only, I have often thought, there was a book which introduced me to Wright’s way of thinking and how his theology might help the local church. Well now there is, Stephen Kurht’s “Tom Wright for Everyone: Putting the theology of N.T. Wright into practice in the local church”