26 April 2007

Carson on Wright

I have learned so much from N. T. Wright! It was he who eight years ago first gave me a passion for understanding the history of New Testament interpretation with a book that reads like a novel (this one). I've also been helped to understand the critical theological importance of the resurrection. But D. A. Carson's recent RBL review of Wright's Evil and the Justice of God is right on, and succinctly encapsulates what are, I think, the key problems with Wright's work, most of the main distinctives of which can be seen in EJG. Here are a few statements from the best portion, discussing the atonement:

More broadly, one of the reasons, I think, why Wright prefers the Christus Victor theme, elevating it to controlling status, lies in his narrow reading of the Old Testament story. If his understanding of sin included not only sustained reflection on the nature of the structures of evil but on the nature of idolatry (a major Old Testament theme) and how offensive such idolatry is to God, and how central the theme of the wrath of God is to the plot line itself, then it might be clearer how central the penal emphases of the atonement are among New Testament writers.


When the biblical writers say that Christ's death saves us, from what does it save us? We could say it saves us from death, from the consequences of our sin, from our lostness, but centrally it saves us from the wrath to come. Death, the consequences of our sin, and lostness are nothing other than preliminary manifestations of the wrath of God.


ErinOrtlund said...

I'm reading Simply Christian right now by NT Wright. I really like it! Have you read it? I couldn't open a PDF file to read Carson's review of the other book--can you say more about his critique?

Dane Ortlund said...

Try this Erin.


If that doesn't work, it would be hard for me to encapsulate the review briefly - it's 10 pp. The crux of it is that DAC appreciates the many places that W is accurate and balanced, which are many, and which are often said in new and fresh ways. Yet he found several things either doubtful, mistaken, or "just plain annoying," revolving around atonement, the biblical essence of evil, and W's noting the good and evil in everyone w/out duly acknowleedging the biblical diff. b/n the righteous and the unrighteous. The section I've cited is in the doubtful camp.

ErinOrtlund said...

Thanks Dane! I can't open PDF files at all due to lack of a word processing program! But I can have Eric print that link out for me at the office. Of course, I don't know if I want to hear too many negative things about someone whose book I find so inspiring!