The Key to NT Wright’s storyline

Many people are fascinated by the writing of Prof. Wright – and have trouble putting into own words what Tom Wright is giving to the world. That is why I wrote The Marriage of Heaven and Earth. It helps digest his thoughts and draws out the main story lines.

This week, a lecture by Tom was transcribed and circulated that captures the key turning points in NT Wright vs. current evangelical thought. Again, his thoughts are elaborate, nuanced and connecting many things. This might be the most pointed sentence how NT Wright changes the perspective on what the Bible says and what Jesus means:

As I have argued in The Day the Revolution Began, the essentially Platonic eschatology of ‘going to heaven’ has been coupled with an essentially moralizing anthropology in which keeping (or not keeping) the moral law is the clue to ‘going to heaven’ – so that those who don’t keep it need some other way, namely to be ‘justified in the Messiah’ and/or ‘by faith’. But this does no justice to Paul’s arguments. For Paul, as for all serious Jews of the period, the primary human failure was not ‘sin’ but idolatry, and the primary result was not simply not ‘going to heaven’ but the failure of the whole human project, including the divine mandate to look after creation. ‘Sin’ still matters, of course; it is what happens when humans worship idols, thence distorting their own humanity and that of others with them. Ultimate ‘eternal life’ still matters, of course; only it will be resurrection life in God’s new creation, with responsibilities (‘the royal priesthood’) not simply disembodied bliss
I also found the Udemy course on his new book relevant – The Day the Revolution Began. In session 10 and 11, Tom spends about 30 minutes to give a run-through on Romans. Some of the best insights into his reading of the New Testament you can get.
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NT Wright on the Visual Guide

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The other week I got an email from Tom Wright about the book. He had read it and expressed his appreciation. He seemed to enjoy the summary and endorsed the ideas in it. Tom offered a few words of clarification which have been included in the book. Great news for the book!!

A sneak peak at some pics

Counting the days to October and the release of “The Marriage of Heaven and Earth”. To share my excitement: here are some pictures as they are used in the book.

An overview of Tom Wright’s career

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The first section traces the life of NT Wright. From the positions he held through his body or work, his recognition in the public spotlight to the research questions that drive him. This picture shows his academic and church career.

How to read the Bible

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The second section points to four areas that Tom Wright puts as a challenge to modern Christians. How to handle the Bible is one of those. In his book “Scripture and the Authority of God”, he goes into great detail and lays out fine arguments. Here is the core idea – we press the Bible through a filter and want to come out with principles and concepts. This is what Tom says about that:

The problem with all such solutions as to how to use the Bible is that they belittle the Bible and exalt something else.  Basically they imply that God has, after all, given us the wrong sort of book and it is our job to turn it into the right sort of book by engaging in these hermeneutical moves, translation procedures or whatever.  They imply that the real place where God has revealed himself—the real locus of authority and revelation—is, in fact, somewhere else.

 

From personal to private religion

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The modern world likes to keep religion out of the public sphere. We might honor buildings and ideas in religions, but basically outside of business, politics and public opinion. Jesus had a different idea – he came to announce the “King” over all the world. He came to set up a kingdom that covers all of life.

Ready for more? No problem. 50 pictures await you in “The Marriage of Heaven and Earth – a visual guide to NT Wright”. Order it now and get massive inspiration in a short time!

Choosing the Cover

Text and pictures have been done now for a few weeks, and I decided to do direct-publishing in early October. Time to put some wrapping around the project. The title is set (“The Marriage of Heaven and Earth – a Visual Guide to NT Wright”) and the tagline is in place (“50 picture to explain the rock star theologian of our day”).

Here were  some of the early versions of the cover.

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I came out with this one. We decided to go with the “new perspective” idea, which drives us at Spark. The landscape is fresh, windy, beautiful and probably difficult to travel. My book will make that accessible so that the beauty can be enjoyed and the meeting of earth and sea enjoyed.

Like it? Get it!

First reviews are in

The book is ready for some serious challenges. I finished the storyline and rework of the pictures and was able to share the manuscript with two NT-Wright-insiders.

Prof. Dave Seemuth runs the ntwrightonline site and courses on Udemy. They have been fantastic and brought serious content to ipads and laptops anywhere. I was able to take most of the courses and summarize them in little drawings (if you take the courses you might notice my sketches; they are free). Dave gave some encouraging feedback and pushed me to shorten even more.

Then, I was able to talk to Derek Vreeland. He himself has written an summary on NT Wright, on his big book (Paul and the Faithfulness of God). Derek’s book is titled “Through the Eyes of NT Wright” and gives a wonderful overview of the key ideas in PFG. He is a theologian and pastor himself, and gave some good insights on wording and connotations with some ideas.

Another round of work ahead of me. Overall, very encouraging though that both supported the idea and did feel that I was able to capture the essence of Tom Wright.

Workshop in Frankfurt

Early April, I was invited in to a café in Frankfurt with some 40 people to teach a course on NT Wright. What a fun opportunity! I could grab my pictures, whip up a PowerPoint and share and discuss for 4 hours. The setting was excellent and Kirche in Aktion did a wonderful job setting it up.

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Sharing the NT Wright’s key ideas was wonderful, especially with people who did not have contact with him before. The pictures really allowed me to paint the big picture and take people on a journey.

There were three big impacts for the group. Initially, people really were stunned about the idea that the earth will be renewed. Most Christians assume a destruction of the world, and us playing harps on clouds all day long. Secondly, reading the Bible as story struck many as something fresh and intruiging. Funny how that is. Most people have an approach to distill principles and concepts from the Bible – but to take it as a story is new.

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Finally, the piece on worldview hit home. I laid out how a worldview is constructed – like stories and symbols etc. Then, I shared a 1939 Nazi worldview. Then, a 2016 ISIS worldview. Finally, we talked about the worldview of today in the West (mainly consuming and self-realization). And then, I shared NT Wright’s take on the worldview of the New Testament. People were stunned about the clarity and radical nature of the Bible.

This was a milestone and showed how well the pictures and storyline work. I cannot wait to get more feedback on the content and share it with the wider world.