Thursday, March 31, 2005

The Simple Gospel and N.T. Wright

All I can say is WOW!!! I am being very inspired by reading N.T. Wright's "The New Testament and the People of God". Admittedly, I don't understand 90% of it, but what I do think I understand is real confirmation that N.T. Wright thinks just like me. :)

I have been meaning to enter into the on again off again discussion at Adrian Warnock's blog about the "Simple Gospel". I have been meaning to say simply this: "I agree with you but it matters what you mean by the term 'Eternal Life'". The benefit of the Gospel to believers is life or eternal life so what we mean by eternal life makes all the difference as to what we have faith for.
In actuality, Adrian and David at JollyBlogger don't even use the term 'eternal life' in the dialogue, but I think that how we define terms in general is caught up in our worldview of how we see the redemptive story unfolding. N.T. Wright helps us go deep with respect to analyzing the 2000 years of history that can separate us from the New Testament worldview. This analysis is necessary if we are to liberate the people of God from a worldview captivity which undermines our understanding of the Gospel Story and, therefore, the theme of the story of redemption.

If eternal life is that I die and go to heaven, then I am a good American evangelical with a lot of dispensational influence. If eternal life is "relationship with God" then I am a pietist. If eternal life is the life of the redeemed community on earth where God is the central character of the life of the community, then I am getting more in line with the "theology of the New Testament". So the gospel is clear, Jesus died to forgive all my sins and grant me eternal life in His name, but the story that this victorious chapter of the Gospel hinges on how we define this term eternal life.

N.T. Wright, in his approach to New Testament Theology, as far as this novice can tell, is attempting to get back to the theology of the people of God and the people of the New Testament to show that, yes, indeed, eternal life is a life lived here on earth by a people, a Morally Beautiful Community if you will, who are participating in the Victory of God through Jesus, the Christ. The Gospel then must be seen as the fulfillment of the story of the people of God and the in-breaking of the Kingdom on behalf of that people through out the entire world. This worldview of this particular unfolding story is the heart of the New Testament understanding of Gospel.
God Bless,
UPDATE: Note: these are thoughts in process. Joe Kearnes makes some good balanced statements in the comments to Part 2 and tranforming sermons makes a nice simple satement about exile and return here. Another good post is Derek Meleby's Easter reading on N. T. A word from N.T. here: Jesus' resurrection is the beginning of God's new project, not to snatch people away from earth to heaven, but to colonize earth with the life of heaven. That, after all, is what the Lord's Prayer is about.

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