Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Here are some notes from our meeting on 3/6/07 in which we discussed the first part of Chapter 3 (Jesus and the Crucified God)

In this chapter, making heavy use of the synoptic gospels, Wright begins to explore how God resolves the problem of evil within the person, ministry and death of Jesus. His goal is to locate the problem of evil where he believes it properly belongs, within the theology of the atonement, which he feels has become excessively individualistic. Hitting some notes familiar to Wright fans he laments the inadequacy of a “Christian faith that “has the role of rescuing people from the evil world, ensuring them forgiveness in the present and heaven thereafter” for a post-Holocaust, 9/11 world. I commented that while this might be theologically thin many do find it sufficient. In fact the worse the world seems to become the more appealing ‘left-behind’ theology seems to be.

Wright asks us to reread the Gospels for what they are, not as what they are not. He argues that that whole of the (synoptic) gospels contain atonement theology and not just Mark 10 (the son of man came not to be served but to serve and give his life as a ransom for many). They “tell the story of how the evil in the world –political, social, moral, emotional-reached its height and how God’s long term plan for Israel…finally came to its climax. They tell both of these stories in-and as-the story of how Jesus of Nazareth announced God’s kingdom and went to his violent death.”

Wright says they tell this story in five ways. First they tell the story of the evil of political powers being confronted by an alternative ruler, Jesus the king of the Jews, hanging on a Roman cross. Second they tell the story of “corruption within Israel itself” where neither the Pharisees, the Priests nor the Zealots are faithful to their God given vocations. Third, there is the suprapersonal, demonic power of “deeper, darker forces” which includes death itself. Fourth, there is the double mindedness of the disciples who doubt, attempt to exploit, deny and betray Jesus. Finally, there is the “downward spiral of evil.” We had to most difficulty understanding what Wright meant by this though I wondered if perhaps he meant a Girardian cycle of violence.

Next Wright talks about how Jesus “solves” the problem of evil. This is a summary of chapters 5-10 in Jesus and the Victory of God. God has an apparently risky and ambiguous plan which in Jesus will come to fruition. It comes to fruition in Jesus’ ministry of healing in which he absorbs others uncleaness rather then be contaminated by it himself. The cross is an ultimate example of this. Secondly it comes to fruition when Jesus has table fellowship with sinners. Jesus deliberately embraces the lost, finally sharing the shame of rebellious criminals. Finally, Jesus ‘articulates and models the call to Israel to be Israel.” He himself fulfills the Sermon on the Mount which is the fulfillment of the law given on Sinai.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

read, mark, inwardly digest

Just as at sea those who are carried away from the direction of the harbor bring themselves back on course by a clear sign, so Scripture may guide those adrift on the sea of life back into the harbor of the divine will.

-- St. Gregory of Nyssa

I grabbed this quote off another website, but I'm not sure of the original citation.

One of the traditional church counsels on keeping a holy Lent calls for deepening our meditation upon the scriptures. I invite responses on how each of us has found ourself tethered again to God's loving will through reading scripture.

Monday, March 5, 2007

conference on the cape

There is a conference this summer on the Cape on the topic of our book. The presenter is David Bentley Hart who also spoke at the Barth Society meeting this past November. See for more info.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Meeting on Tuesday

Greetings everyone:
The N.T. Wright reading group will meet at 7 p.m. this Tuesday (Feb. 13) at the Blue Wall in the UMass campus center. If you have not done so already and are able, please try to get a hold of the book we are reading, Evil and the Justice of God. We'll be discussing chapter one. Leah and I have a copy we probably could lend on a short-term basis. But if you aren't able to get the book or don't have time to do the reading, please come anyway!

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

maybe I did learn something in UCC Sunday School

Scott took the quiz too and got a 55.

a passing grade

You rank 63% on the biblical comprehension scale.

Good work. You obviously know your Bible well. However, there remains plenty of room for improvement. Close attention to the details of Scripture can result in great rewards over time. Perhaps a more focused Bible study plan would help you improve your level of biblical comprehension.

How Well Do You Know Your Bible?
Quizzes for MySpace

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

An Invitation

Welcome! This blog serves as a sounding board and source of conversation and information for a small group of us who have begun meeting biweekly in the University of Massachusetts Campus Center to explore implications of N.T. Wright's work for contemporary Christian theology and the practice of faith.

We have begun reading Wright's recent book, Evil and the Justice of God (Downer's Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2006). If you happen to be in this geographical area, we would be delighted for you to join us. Currently, we are meeting on the second and fourth Tuesday's of each month (unless announced otherwise) at the Blue Wall cafeteria.

I hope this will not be just another book-of-the-month club, but that this group will be a context for intentional spiritual and community formation through critical engagement with the rich resources of Christian theology.

In the next few days, I hope to get posted some helpful links on Wright's work and some of our friends involved in similar endeavors.

"Wright On Theology" is sponsored by Jakob's Well, an Ecumenical Christian Community for the Pioneer Valley region of Western Massachusetts. For more information, see