An Interview with N.T. Wright
This is an interview with Professor N.T. Wright one of the worlds leading NT scholars of our day and age. Wright has written over 70 books and still counting. Wright is a Professor at St. Andrews University in Scotland, for more information on Him check out his website http://www.ntwrightonline.org/ - Casey Dayton
1) What is the kingdom of God?
Israel’s scriptures, especially the Psalms and Daniel, promise that one day the creator of the world will ‘become’ king in a new way, bringing the whole world into proper order at last so that the seas, the fields, the trees and the animals will celebrate. This is focused particularly on the deliverance of Israel from pagan oppression and the coming of non-Jewish nations to worship the one God (Isaiah 52 etc.). This hope was spoken of in Jesus’ day in terms, particularly, of the revolutionary expectation that ‘only God will be king’ – i.e., no humans involved; but others connected it with a possible Messiah. Jesus of Nazareth made this the main theme of his public career, that God was at last becoming king in the way he had promised, with the evidence being the healings and celebrations which showed that God’s rescuing and restorative power was indeed at work. Following Jesus’ own lead, the four evangelists in their different ways tell the story of Jesus’ death and resurrection as the story of how this ‘kingdom’ was accomplished, in the defeat of the dark powers that had enslaved the world in sin and death and the launch of the promised new creation . . . see below!
2) Does God intend to renew His creation?
Absolutely yes. The Psalms and Isaiah promised it; Jesus embodied it; Paul explains it (Romans 8.18-30).
3) How does the resurrection of Jesus change everything?
Among the Jewish people, some had hoped for resurrection (especially the Pharisees), but this was seen as the resurrection of all God’s people at the end of time. Jesus’ resurrection is the raising of one person in the middle of time, indicating that God has begun his new-creation plan close up and personal, so that Jesus’ followers now live with the sure and certain hope of the new world in which God will do for the whole creation at the end what he did for Jesus at Easter. Instead of waiting for new creation, this means that by the power of the Spirit the followers of Jesus are now to share in it in advance. New hope; new energy; new possibilities.
4) What does Paul mean when he says,"if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation?"
What he actually says is that ‘if anyone in Messiah – new creation!’. There isn’t a verb in the Greek; nor does he say that ‘we’ are new creations, plural – rather, it seems, that when someone is in Christ (in Messiah, better; for Paul, the Greek word ‘Christ’ indicates the Jewish idea ‘Messiah’, not simply a name), that person becomes a living part of the new creation which was launched at Easter, or if you like a living window on to that new reality. Of course, any and every Christian, himself or herself, is indeed a new creation, but for Paul this truth is part of the still larger whole.
5) What does hope in its biblical context mean?
Hope is a virtue, which means you have to practice it – it doesn’t just happen automatically. Like the other aspects of the ‘fruit of the spirit’, you have to pray for the Spirit and then work at living the reality. So ‘hope’ itself denotes the virtue which Christians have when they look to the future and realise that it’s God’s future and that Jesus has already opened it up before us. We sometimes also use the word, as in ‘the hope’, to denote the reality for which we hope, which I’ve briefly described above.
6) How does resurrection theology impact the church in the face of suffering?
From the very early days, the followers of Jesus knew that his resurrection gave them a hope which would sustain them through suffering, even through martyrdom. In fact, it was one of the things that the pagan world found most astonishing about the early Christians – that they had a completely different attitude to suffering and death. Since they belonged to Jesus the Messiah, and since he had suffered and been raised, the resurrection shed a flood of new light on their experience. Of course, believing in the resurrection doesn’t make it any easier when you (or someone you love) is going through horrible pain or deprivation or facing large-scale tragedy. But the testimony of Christians down the years is that this belief enables you to hold on and come through.
Here is a list of Wright's recent books that you could buy.