And All God’s People Said, “Wut?”

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Donn R Arms's picture

We all have our differences with Wilson, but you have to admit, he can write a blog!

Donn R Arms

Jay's picture

I received the book yesterday, read Wright’s contribution, was suitably appalled, and have come here to tell you about it.

Not to rain on his parade, but...why did he feel the need to write this post?

Is anyone out there really shocked that NT Wright has not only gone off the rails, but has taken the rails with him and is working on digging up the track bed as well? 

Is there nothing else going on in the world that Dr. Wilson had to 'come here to tell you about' how 'suitably appalled' he was?

I'm just not following him here.  I don't read NT Wright because I expect him to regurgitate theological liberalism.  That's who he is and that's what he does.  So I'm not really sure why Wilson feels the need to share with us just how badly he's flaming out.  This would be like P&D running an article on the shocking fact that water is wet, in my opinion, or that Fuller Theological Seminary has liberalism in it.  It's not news nor is it 'shocking'.  It's another liberal defending his liberalism and his redefinition of God to suit what he wants.  People all over the world do that every day.

Am I the only one who feels this way?  For all the sturm un drang on Mark Driscoll, at least I knew that there were a lot of Christians that were following or reading or watching Driscoll, so there was a point to talking about his mess.  But I doubt highly that anyone in our churches is reading NT Wright.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

Donn R Arms's picture

Jay wrote:

Is there nothing else going on in the world that Dr. Wilson had to 'come here to tell you about' how 'suitably appalled' he was?

Is there nothing else going on in Jay's world that he had to take to SI and tell us how unimportant it is for Wilson to write?

I was entertained. Good enough reason for me.

Donn R Arms

Shaynus's picture

Jay, 

It's Mr. Wilson, not Dr. Wink

I suspect he feels the need because N.T. Wright is very good on things like the Resurrection, brilliant even, so people read him, and not just liberal evangelicals. A good many conservative evangelicals and fundamentalists read Wright (and do rithmitic, ha). I've watched Wright's lectures on that subject and learned a great deal about how to answer objections to the resurrection from secular people.

Different pastors have different flocks and feel the need to call out different false teachings at different times and ways. 

BTW, you should all read Doug's novel "Evangellyfish." I've read it three times and it's fantastic writing, storytelling and is scathing against pop evangelicalism. Really if you didn't know when it was written, you'd think it was about Mark Driscoll's demise, but it was written a few years before. 

alex o.'s picture

Someone commented that Wright had not written 60 odd books but that he had written 1 book 60 times. He does repeat himself much.

I think Wright needs interacting with by others because he is writing both technical and popular works and is 'out there'. Christians are going to read this scholar and be wowed by his great communication and confident style along with his brilliance and historical acuity.

One problem that needs pointing out concerning Wright is that he locates much in Jewish History. I do not believe that is how God's disclosure works. I tend to separate Jewish History from 'revealed history'. I see Jesus' incarnation in the context of the scriptures not in the wider context of historical Jewish existence. Its not about humanity, its God's incursion to redeem it.

I think it was Dan Wallace who said recently that one's reading the bible enables a lot of insight on commentaries. Walk with God and read His word, then read the specialists.

"Our faith itself... is not our saviour. We have but one Saviour; and that one Saviour is Jesus Christ our Lord.  B.B. Warfield

http://beliefspeak2.net

WallyMorris's picture

Many Evangelicals would and do call Wright an Evangelical. The definition is so broad and "plastic" that you almost have to be an atheist to not be Evangelical.

Some try to make Bonhoeffer an Evangelical, which shows how "plastic" the term is.

I don't think Wright is an ETS member. You have to be a member to see the membership list. One way I have found out who is a member is to go to the person's academic website and see if he lists ETS membership or to email and ask.

His faculty page at the University of St. Andrews lists several academic memberships, but not ETS.

 

Wally Morris

Charity Baptist Church

Huntington, IN

amomentofcharity.blogspot.com

WallyMorris's picture

The connection/interest is that many Evangelicals refer to Wright as an Evangelical, and part of my article discusses the fluid/plastic definitions of what Evangelical is. More than a few ETS members would not have any problem with Wright joining ETS. Some in upper ETS leadership even want Gundry reinstated into ETS. The problems in ETS run very deep, reflecting the problems in Evangelicalism.

Wally Morris

Charity Baptist Church

Huntington, IN

amomentofcharity.blogspot.com

Greg Long's picture

Love his writing, and the picture with the caption "Adam and Eve finding out they get to be people" made me LLOL (Literally Laugh Out Loud).
 

-------
Greg Long, Ed.D. (SBTS)

Pastor of Adult Ministries
Grace Church, Des Moines, IA

Adjunct Instructor
School of Divinity
Liberty University

Bert Perry's picture

Enjoyed.  And regarding "Doctor", yes, no earned doctorate--all of us fundamentalists ought to be observing the difference between an earned doctorate and an honorary or meaningless one (e.g. Dr. Dino's "doctorate" from a diploma mill), but it's worth noting that the Italian root word simply means "teacher", which Wilson emphatically is.  You could call him "Rabbi" for the same reason, really, ....except for that reality that Christ warns us about promiscuously using the title.

The same logic also applies, I guess, to calling someone "Dr.", eh?

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

alex o.'s picture

Though I disagree with both at several points, at least they attempt to to treat the text in an understandable way. What I mean is they are prominent scholars and have reputations within scholarly communities and they are publishing. They are out there digging deeper than you or I. They are probably exploring the bounds of theological possibilities with the tools at their disposal. I have already stated that I disagree with them at points, but the are transparent and publish. They at least venture to present a coherent whole and take a stand. Wright will also debate top theologians on what he has written. He does this all the time, he has guts and is scholarly.

Not so Doug Wilson. Sit back and take pot shots, snide remarks and innuendo. In my own opinion, Wilson is far more slippery than Wright.

"Our faith itself... is not our saviour. We have but one Saviour; and that one Saviour is Jesus Christ our Lord.  B.B. Warfield

http://beliefspeak2.net

Greg Long's picture

Alex, that is just absurd. Someone who points out the ridiculous nature of the attack on the historicity of Adam and Eve is more slippery that the person who actually denies the historicity of Adam and Eve?

I don't care who Wright debates or how many books or journal articles he has written. When you become so intellectual that you deny the clear teachings of Scripture, you are puffed up with (so-called) knowledge.

-------
Greg Long, Ed.D. (SBTS)

Pastor of Adult Ministries
Grace Church, Des Moines, IA

Adjunct Instructor
School of Divinity
Liberty University

Bert Perry's picture

Alec, Wright has made a couple of howlers in his book which I think might belie the contention that he's consistently a great scholar--the idea that taking Genesis literally makes one somehow a gnostic (the NT gnostics were of course doing the opposite of what Wright claims--they were denying the physical reality of Christ. YECs, on the other hand, argue for the physical reality of Creation.....really bad move on Wright's part here ).  Same thing with arguing that it's a new discovery that Jews thought the Temple was central to their religion--I would hope that this would have come as no surprise to any first-time reader of the books of Ezra or Nehemiah.

Now I will agree that WIlson can be slippery, and that he can throw bombs around.  Not what he's doing now; he's just pointing out the bombs that Wright has himself thrown.  

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

alex o.'s picture

Bert Perry wrote:

Alec, Wright has made a couple of howlers in his book which I think might belie the contention that he's consistently a great scholar--the idea that taking Genesis literally makes one somehow a gnostic (the NT gnostics were of course doing the opposite of what Wright claims--they were denying the physical reality of Christ. YECs, on the other hand, argue for the physical reality of Creation.....really bad move on Wright's part here ).  Same thing with arguing that it's a new discovery that Jews thought the Temple was central to their religion--I would hope that this would have come as no surprise to any first-time reader of the books of Ezra or Nehemiah.

Now I will agree that WIlson can be slippery, and that he can throw bombs around.  Not what he's doing now; he's just pointing out the bombs that Wright has himself thrown.  

 

With all due respect Bert, I think Wright can identify gnosticism better than you. Gnosticism clings to to many superficial Christians and Wright is correctly calling attention to it. Also, how is Wright or OEC denying "the physical reality of creation?" Bert, I think you should more fully study Gnosticism, or better how Christian scriptures contrast with it.

Wright's critics can criticize all they want, but how cognizant are they of all the issues involved in coming to a conclusion on the matters at hand? Yes, sometimes one needs to say: 'thus saith the Lord,' and take a stand. However, the tendency (of many critics and Fundamentalists in general) is to define without examination and refuse to interact with conflicting data (science). Walton and Wright are at least dealing with it and trying to work out the conundrum. They are 'out there' and defend what they say. This is more than the armchair theologians.

I believe Wilson takes Wright out of context when he quotes the Temple bit. Most scholars think religious life was the law commands towards God and man in the 10 Commandments. There was the Law of the Temple however that implicitly pointed toward Christ. The Law of the Temple was the Law also. The explicit commands to be righteously perfect had an implicit component to show that God accomplishes the redemption and enables righteous performance.

 

"Our faith itself... is not our saviour. We have but one Saviour; and that one Saviour is Jesus Christ our Lord.  B.B. Warfield

http://beliefspeak2.net

Bert Perry's picture

You could clarify what is wrong with my understanding of Gnosticism, or how Wright actually makes the case.  Or perhaps it is secret knowledge?

Seriously, Alex, the core value of the gnostic religions is a rejection of materiality and an affirmation of spiritual realities--and the ugly reality in Wright's comment about YECs is that his statement, if not strictly speaking gnostic, bears an uncanny resemblance to gnostic principles.  He is clearly downplaying the physical reality of Adam in favor of a spiritual reality of one of many early hominids.  

Same thing with his comment about the Temple.  Jews have been observing Tisha b'av on the anniversary of the destruction of the Temples for two millenia, and we're only becoming aware of this now?  Ezra and Nehemia have been in the Scriptures for 2500 years, plus or minus, and we're figuring this out now?  Sorry, I've got study Bibles from longer ago than Wright is speaking of that belie this assertion.  He said it, he owns it.

I know you're trying to prepare an "out" for Wright, but sorry.  These are major unforced errors on his part, and it's the classic example of hubris on the part of an influential scholar.  

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

alex o.'s picture

Bert Perry wrote:

You could clarify what is wrong with my understanding of Gnosticism, or how Wright actually makes the case.  Or perhaps it is secret knowledge?

Seriously, Alex, the core value of the gnostic religions is a rejection of materiality and an affirmation of spiritual realities--and the ugly reality in Wright's comment about YECs is that his statement, if not strictly speaking gnostic, bears an uncanny resemblance to gnostic principles.  He is clearly downplaying the physical reality of Adam in favor of a spiritual reality of one of many early hominids.  

Same thing with his comment about the Temple.  Jews have been observing Tisha b'av on the anniversary of the destruction of the Temples for two millenia, and we're only becoming aware of this now?  Ezra and Nehemia have been in the Scriptures for 2500 years, plus or minus, and we're figuring this out now?  Sorry, I've got study Bibles from longer ago than Wright is speaking of that belie this assertion.  He said it, he owns it.

I know you're trying to prepare an "out" for Wright, but sorry.  These are major unforced errors on his part, and it's the classic example of hubris on the part of an influential scholar.  

Bert, to label Wright as having Gnostic principles only shows your lack of understanding of Gnosticism itself. I am sorry if you expect me to continue this discussion.

"Our faith itself... is not our saviour. We have but one Saviour; and that one Saviour is Jesus Christ our Lord.  B.B. Warfield

http://beliefspeak2.net

Bert Perry's picture

Alex, you're trying to fiat your argument.  That's a basic rhetorical fallacy, and if you're going to claim to be an arbitrator of what is, and is not, an academic argument, you've got to do better than that.  You want to interact, fine, but let's stop the nonsense of throwing insults like "lack of understanding" and offer a real argument.

Now to be fair to you, I did indeed look up a number of sources, and I stand by my characterization of gnosticism (it is not complete, but it gets the basic feel of it), and of Wright's argument.  And in that light--as 1 John notes, some denied that Christ had come in the flesh but affirmed Him as a spiritual being--Wright's argument that: 

God chose one pair from the rest of early hominids for a special, strange, demanding vocation. This pair (call them Adam and Eve if you like) were to be the representatives of the whole human race 

is, ahem, something of a "special knowledge" that concentrates not on the physical reality of the Creation, but rather on a hidden spiritual reality of Lucy and her beau being given the position of unique humanity....sorry, if ya can't see the parallel, you're not looking.

Really, this is all quite breathtaking in its abandonment of the principle of Sola Scriptura and the first Fundamental in the same way--ahem--as we would also infer from his comment that Marcus Borg was a Christian (he died January 21) despite Borg's taking form criticism to new levels (more or less writing the miracles out of the Gospels) and denying the virgin birth, bodily resurrection, and even Jesus' claim to be Messiah.

Exactly what is left of the New Testament, or the Old Testament for that matter, without the "Anointed One" is beyond me, but apparently it was enough for Wright to affirm Borg's faith.  Having read one of Borg's books, I am incredulous at this judgment on Wright's part, as well as this one.

 

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

alex o.'s picture

You can delete what you have written, or not.

Yes, I would call your understanding of Gnosticism very basic. Your application toward Wright: completely wrong, but I can't correct everyone who is wrong on the internet. 

"Our faith itself... is not our saviour. We have but one Saviour; and that one Saviour is Jesus Christ our Lord.  B.B. Warfield

http://beliefspeak2.net

Greg Long's picture

Please everyone, you must understand that Alex's decrees of what is or is not Gnosticism, or what Wright truly means, are the final standard of accuracy, and so he does not need to explain his reasoning to us. He possesses knowledge of Gnosticism that the rest of us can only hope to obtain.

-------
Greg Long, Ed.D. (SBTS)

Pastor of Adult Ministries
Grace Church, Des Moines, IA

Adjunct Instructor
School of Divinity
Liberty University

Bert Perry's picture

Alex, if you've got the time to make the same claim three times, you've got the time to flesh it out once.  I've had the decency to point out your basic rhetorical fallacy and why it is wrong, now if you truly believe what you're saying, it's time to--as we'd say on the playground--put up or.....

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Jay's picture

Follow up blog from Wilson that hits many of the same points in the comments. 

http://dougwils.com/s16-theology/excommunicated-gnats-ordained-camels.html

Thanks for sharing that, Shaynus.  I really appreciated his incisive [and clear] conclusion on Wright:

Because [NT Wright] has identified young earth creationists as gnostics — a deadly heresy — and as those who collude with evil because of their concern with otherworldly salvation, and has affirmed the bonds of his fellowship with deniers of the resurrection, we may therefore conclude that something is, to use the technical parlance, screwed up somewhere. He is willing to drum faithful believers out, and welcome unbelievers in. This is not Mere Christianity; it is Mere Unbelief. Christians who affirm that God made Adam, a material being, out of the dust of the ground, and Eve from his physical rib, are called gnostics, for pity’s sake, and a man who believes that the body of Jesus rotted in the ground but who somehow continued His existence as a Giant Sky Vapor, is well within the pale.

As for the "Dr." bit from my earlier post - I thought that Douglas Wilson did have an earned doctorate from somewhere.  Obviously, I was mistaken, and for that I apologize.  I did not mean to impugn him in any way, as I think a few may have taken.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

alex o.'s picture

Greg Long wrote:

Please everyone, you must understand that Alex's decrees of what is or is not Gnosticism, or what Wright truly means, are the final standard of accuracy, and so he does not need to explain his reasoning to us. He possesses knowledge of Gnosticism that the rest of us can only hope to obtain.

You are an instructor at Liberty? You must be going for your PhD to be at this level, or have you completed it? I've wasted time thinking about what I wrote as well as Bert and others' writings (it was ultimately not wasted time because I am continuing to learn about what Christians currently think). 

I am just not getting it (Bert's identifying Wright as ironically having Gnostic tendencies by identifying a historic Adam from hominoids). So, you see Bert's characterization as valid, yes? Could you lay out for me exactly how you see this.

The burden of proof lies with those who make the claim and not from the objecting party. 

Wright is out there. He has written voluminously for all to see. I've disagreed with him substantially at points and I don't need Wilson to parse Wright for me.

I have not read texts of Gnosticism in their original languages or studied all the Jewish materials that shed light on proto-Gnosticism in their original languages. Neither have I read primary sources in their original languages. Tom Wright does so, and he interacts with scholars on the forefront of these issues globally. He is a competent scholar, so, it would be the height of irony if he locates Gnosticism as a current threat and yet falls into it himself. I don't see him doing that at all.

Doug Wilson, I suspect, is feeling the heat of Wright's pen. It is getting too close to where Wilson is. Wright is merciless toward imprecise scholars. Wilson's comeback: pot shots, innuendo, snide comments. I don't think Wright loses a minute's sleep over Wilson's words. Wilson is not someone who academics go to for anything. He called himself a cornpone and it seems fitting enough. 

"Our faith itself... is not our saviour. We have but one Saviour; and that one Saviour is Jesus Christ our Lord.  B.B. Warfield

http://beliefspeak2.net

Bert Perry's picture

The burden of proof lies with those who make the claim and not from the objecting party. 

Exactly, Alex.  Now speak to this.

Yes, I would call your understanding of Gnosticism very basic. Your application toward Wright: completely wrong, but I can't correct everyone who is wrong on the internet. 

 Like you said, the burden of proof lies with those who make the claim and not from the objecting party.No weaseling out by saying "I don't get it".  I explained it no less than three times.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

T Howard's picture

Can we agree with the below definition of gnosticism taken from The Dictionary of New Testament Background?

Gnosticism is a term that designates a variety of religious movements that stressed salvation through gnōsis, or “knowledge,” that is, of one’s origins. Most scholars would identify as an essential of Gnosticism the element of cosmological dualism—an opposition between the spiritual world and the evil, material world....

Because of the variegated nature of Gnosticism, it is difficult to fit every gnostic teacher into a common framework. Marcion, who advocated the concept of two gods, the god of the OT and the god of the NT, has many affinities with the Gnostics, yet he lacked their mythology and emphasized faith rather than saving gnōsis. A major branch of Gnosticism, which followed the teachings of Valentinus, was heavily influenced by Platonism. Scholars have recognized another branch of Gnosticism, which has been termed Sethianism, a more mythological system that exalted the OT figure Seth as a key revealer (see Layton)....

Because there was no central authority or canon of scriptures, the Gnostics taught a bewildering variety of views. Fundamental to clearly gnostic systems was a dualism that opposed the transcendent God and an ignorant demiurge (often a caricature of the OT Jehovah). In some systems the creation of the world resulted from the presumption of Sophia (Wisdom). The material creation, including the body, was regarded as inherently evil. Sparks of divinity, however, had been encapsuled in the bodies of certain pneumatic or spiritual individuals, who were ignorant of their celestial origins. The transcendent God sent down a redeemer, who brought them salvation in the form of secret gnōsis. Gnostics hoped to escape from the prison of their bodies at death and to traverse the planetary spheres of hostile demons to be reunited with God. There was for them, of course, no reason to believe in the resurrection of the body.

T Howard's picture

Perhaps, Wright's claim that YEC are practicing Gnostics comes from the fact that they seem almost obsessed with linking one's view of origins with one's view of salvation. This speaks to the definition above: "Gnosticism is a term that designates a variety of religious movements that stressed salvation through gnōsis, or “knowledge,” that is, of one’s origins."

Bert Perry's picture

T Howard wrote:

Perhaps, Wright's claim that YEC are practicing Gnostics comes from the fact that they seem almost obsessed with linking one's view of origins with one's view of salvation. This speaks to the definition above: "Gnosticism is a term that designates a variety of religious movements that stressed salvation through gnōsis, or “knowledge,” that is, of one’s origins."

The trick is that precisely this is where Wright's analogy falls apart.  Gnosticism was primarily speaking of secret knowledge of emanations and the like from a pure, spiritual "god".  What is secret about the first eleven chapters about Genesis?  Besides, it's making claims about the material world and calling that original created world "good", another set of significant deviations from Gnostic philosophy.

So if this is indeed Wright's argument, I must congratulate him on an excellent straw man.  It doesn't do due justice to gnosticism, and it isn't the argument of mainstream young earth creationists, either--here is AIG's answer to whether one can be an evolutionist and be saved.  Their clear answer is YES.  The usual argument Ham makes--and it's at least plausible--is that evangelism will be hindered if we start by arguing that God wasn't being honest in the first eleven chapters of Genesis.

To call arguments like those of Ham and Morris "gnostic" really only proves that Wright's reputation for careful scholarship is in danger, if it wasn't already overstated--again, as one would infer from his praise of Marcus Borg.  For the sake of Borg's soul, I hope that Wright is correct that he was indeed a Christian, but the fact of the matter is that Borg was anything but orthodox in his theology.  

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Joel Shaffer's picture

I just began reading the debate over Wright and Gnosticism on this post.  Let me say that the charge of Gnosticism by Wright against the YEC's as well as against Wright for his theological evolution is quite the stretch.  As much as Wright was right in pointing out the Gnostic/dualistic tendencies of Western Christianity (including evangelicals and fundamentalists) in his book, "Surprised by Hope,"  he definitely overstates his case by charging YEC's with Gnosticism.  I am beginning to think he is fallen into the trap of Mazlow's hammer (if the only tool you have is a hammer, then you end up treating everything as if it were a nail) when dealing with conservative evangelicals and fundamentalists.  By the way, I say this as an Old Earth Creationist that believes in a literal Adam and Eve.      

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