Notable and Quotable (II)–You need to Guess who it Is

Q. Could you give us a brief definition of “the gospel”?

A. I could try taking a Pauline angle. When Paul talks about “the gospel,” he means “the good news that the crucified and risen Jesus is the Messiah of Israel and therefore the Lord of the world.” Now, that’s about as brief as you can do it.

The reason that’s good news”¦ In the Roman Empire, when a new emperor came to the throne, there’d obviously been a time of uncertainty. Somebody’s just died. Is there going to be chaos? Is society going to collapse? Are we going to have pirates ruling the seas? Are we going to have no food to eat? And the good news is, we have an emperor and his name is such and such. So, we’re going to have justice and peace and prosperity, and isn’t that great?!

Now, of course, most people in the Roman Empire knew that was rubbish because it was just another old jumped-up aristocrat who was going to do the same as the other ones had done. But that was the rhetoric.

Paul slices straight in with the Isaianic message: Good news! God is becoming King and he is doing it through Jesus! And therefore, phew! God’s justice, God’s peace, God’s world is going to be renewed.

And in the middle of that, of course, it’s good news for you and me. But that’s the derivative from, or the corollary of the good news which is a message about Jesus that has a second-order effect on me and you and us. But the gospel is not itself about you are this sort of a person and this can happen to you. That’s the result of the gospel rather than the gospel itself.

It’s very clear in Romans. Romans 1:3-4: This is the gospel. It’s the message about Jesus Christ descended from David, designated Son of God in power, and then Romans 1:16-17 which says very clearly: “I am not ashamed of the gospel because it is the power of God unto salvation.” That is, salvation is the result of the gospel, not the center of the gospel itself.

Please guess who is speaking before you look and find the answer.


Posted in * General Interest, Notable & Quotable

15 comments on “Notable and Quotable (II)–You need to Guess who it Is

  1. D. C. Toedt says:

    I was (W)right!

  2. libraryjim says:

    Well, I knew it couldn’t be many choices from TEc, too clear, concise and Biblical. I’m not surprised at the answer, however, as it is totally in character.

    Jim (Employed again) Elliott <><

  3. RedHatRob says:

    But of course, it’s Bishop NT Wright!
    A paraphrase from his masterpiece, [url= ][b]What Saint Paul Really Said[/b][/url]
    Best line from the book:
    “The gospel is not a set of techniques for making people Christians. The gospel is the announcement that Jesus is Lord!”

  4. Chris Jones says:

    Of course one can tell that it is +Durham right away, because it’s +Durham’s rather truncated “Gospel” that treats the forgiveness of sins as a sort of afterthought. You can treat it that way, I suppose, if you focus on Ro 1.3-4 to the exclusion of what St Paul himself described as being “of first importance”: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures. (1 Co 15.3) — or to the exclusion of what our Lord Himself commanded to be the substance of the Apostles’ preaching: that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations.

  5. Kevin Maney+ says:

    Chris Jones, I think you are setting up a false dichotomy regarding +Wright’s view of the Gospel. He goes to great lengths in[i] Evil and the Justice of God [/i]to make the point that he is a “both-and” kinda guy, not an “either-or” one.

  6. Philip Snyder says:

    Chris Jones,
    I would invite you to read [u]Evil and the Justice of God[/u], [u]Surprised by Hope[/u], and [u]Justification[/u] (recently published). They are full of classical +Wright where he says that Jesus is the fulfillment of God’s plan to deal with sin and death and evil in the world by both defeating it and by paying the penalty for sin and death on the cross. In [u]Surprised by Hope[/u] he mentioned the idea that Substitutionary Atonement and [i]Christus Victor[/i] are answers to two different questions. The first is personally based – how can I have union with God when I am so sinful? The second is systemically based – how can the world be put to rights when it is so full of evil?
    The answer is God paying the penalty for individual sin and defeating the power of sin and death by submitting to them and triumphantly defeating them in the Resurrection.

    Phil Snyder

  7. Grandmother says:

    Thank you so much Br. Phil, this old evangelical heart can only stand so many palpations. I’ve calmed down now.
    However, the dichotomy mentioned above did serve a purpose. I’ve often wondered what “Good News” TEC, et al was giving folks. I guess “the kingdom of heaven is at hand, and you don’t have to do a thing to be in it”????
    Is that about right?
    Grandmother in SC

  8. Grandmother says:

    My husband just declared a new motto:
    “The Kingdom of Heaven Welcomes you”
    Grandmother in SC

  9. samh says:

    I submit that what +Wright is saying is not a truncated gospel but one in which the emphasis is rightly placed on [i]God[/i] instead of [i]me[/i].

  10. Calvin says:

    Bishop NT Wright is THE EVANGELICAL theologian of our day (so says the current president of Fuller Seminary). His writings are 100% faithful to the Bible. I think he is totally uninterested in making people happy – he doesn’t care if “conservatives” are upset or “liberals.” He refuses to give you “old time religion” / “pie in the sky when you die” when it is out of step with the Bible. Wright is involved in the proclamation that Jesus is Lord, and by Jesus’ mighty work on the cross and his mighty resurrection, God is reclaiming and transforming creation. Wright has been abundantly clear (unlike many TEC bishops) that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life (not “a” way).

    No faithful re-asserter Anglican should disparage Wright’s truly Bible-centered ministry.

  11. ExPagan says:

    This just shouldn’t be that easy! Is he the only bishop and theologian in the communion who talks this way?

  12. Katherine says:

    Perhaps this quote might serve as an example of how easy it could be to take a snippet and build a view of the person’s theology out of context. By itself, standing entirely alone, this sounded vaguely wrong somehow. As explained by commenters above, Wright is totally orthodox in his teaching about Christ. We might want to remember the lesson when looking at pronouncements from liberal sources, and be sure we understand the context before we begin firing away.

  13. Iohannes says:

    Chris Jones, who I doubt is unacquainted with Bishop Wright’s wider work, makes a fair enough point. My sincere esteem for Bp Wright notwithstanding, I think he sometimes does risk jumping the gun in the application of his insights. Surprised by Hope is an excellent book, one I have happily given as a gift to family members. At points, however, e.g. in finding fault with traditional hymns, it carries a valid argument needlessly far. We can regain a proper focus on the resurrection without knocking down so much. It is a common danger to overcompensate; few are immune. Wright, I fear, comes off doing the same here. The cosmic dimension of the gospel is a message that needs to be heard, not least as a counterweight to the lopsided focus on individuals associated with modern evangelical Christianity. Yet Wright, as it were, seems to invert the biases and preoccupations of his critics. The result is that his proclamation looks as truncated as theirs. This may well be deliberate, a kind of effort rhetorically to offset an imbalance by putting front and center what was unjustly relegated to the side. But the center is big enough that what was rightly there already need not be pushed away to make room. Once past the marketing and slogans and at the level of substance, Wright of course is better. But then again, so are his critics. As stalwart an old evangelical as J. G. Machen argued that the various theories of atonement were essentially complementary. What troubled Machen was when other sides of redemption were made to undercut substitution. Wright doesn’t exactly do that, but he tends to shift the personal aspect down a step, as here when he speaks of a “second-order effect.”

  14. driver8 says:

    Sounds like Tom Wright. I really love the way that evangelism is so important to him. “Jesus is Lord” – not a bad summary of the Gospel and it could hardly be more biblical.

  15. Mad Padre says:

    Recognized Tom Wright a mile away. His style and his Christ-centered thought are unmistakable. Bishop Tom’s Romans in a Week changed my life. The rest of his work sustains my life.