Friday, April 16, 2010
The theological dialogue with N.T. Wright has begun! The morning began with the five of us (Derek, Jon, Greg, Tim, and me) finding seats in Wheaton’s auditorium directly behind Tom Wright. Yes, we picked these seats on purpose…more “eye time” with the Bishop.
Before the conference, I was somewhat skeptical of the purpose of the conference, believing that this would simply be a bunch of theologians having a love affair with Jesus and the Victory of God or everything Wright has done. I am a huge fan of Wright, and I have adopted much of his theology so I wasn’t too worried about it. However, I was a little skeptical.
The first session squashed any thoughts on that. Richard Hays, who is a very good friend of Wright, opened the conference with a critique of Wright’s lack of appreciation for Karl Barth. Hays considers himself a Barthian, and Wright does not follow the same line of thought and disagrees with much of Barth’s writing. It was a cordial critique, and, as one sitting behind Wright, you can tell he took it lightly.
I don’t want to reflect on every session here, but I wanted to point this out — dialoguing with a theologian must be true dialogue. It involves times of agreeing and disagreeing. There are times where I shout “Amen!” and others where I reject what someone has to offer. I remember someone telling me that scholars have a “code” that they don’t critique one another, but something like the first (and I emphasize “first”) session of the conference was the complete opposite. When I engage theology, I must really be engaged, and, at times, this will mean disagreeing. In fact, if I don’t disagree with some things, perhaps, I am simply being lazy.
Yes, Hays could have come up to the stage (and after losing his father-in-law earlier this week now one would have blamed him), and he could have said some really nice things about Wright’s books, the castle he lives in, or the new, pin-striped shoot he was wearing. But he didn’t. He disagreed (and did so lovingly) with some items in Wright’s proposals, and he took them on. He didn’t run from confrontation. He engaged in it.
Do you run from confrontation or do you engage in it? Do you do it kindly or are you pretentious when participating in it?
I took notes on all the sessions on Friday. The speakers were Richard Hays (Duke), Marianne Meye Thompson (Fuller), Brian Walsh & Sylvia Keesmaat (Toronto), Nicholas Perrin (Wheaton), and N.T. Wright. You can view them here here [link corrected].