Tom Wright””Christmas from John’s Gospel

Out of the thousand things which follow directly from this reading of John, I choose three as particularly urgent.

First, John’s view of the incarnation, of the Word becoming flesh, strikes at the very root of that liberal denial which characterised mainstream theology thirty years ago and whose long-term effects are with us still. I grew up hearing lectures and sermons which declared that the idea of God becoming human was a category mistake. No human being could actually be divine; Jesus must therefore have been simply a human being, albeit no doubt (the wonderful patronizing pat on the head of the headmaster to the little boy) a very brilliant one. Phew; that’s all right then; he points to God but he isn’t actually God. And a generation later, but growing straight out of that school of thought, I have had a clergyman writing to me this week to say that the church doesn’t know anything for certain, so what’s all the fuss about? Remove the enfleshed and speaking Word from the centre of your theology, and gradually the whole thing will unravel until all you’re left with is the theological equivalent of the grin on the Cheshire Cat, a relativism whose only moral principle is that there are no moral principles; no words of judgment because nothing is really wrong except saying that things are wrong, no words of mercy because, if you’re all right as you are, you don’t need mercy, merely ”˜affirmation’….

Read it all.


Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Christmas, Christology, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, Theology, Theology: Scripture

2 comments on “Tom Wright””Christmas from John’s Gospel

  1. New Reformation Advocate says:

    Thanks, Kendall, for posting this classic Christmas sermon from +Wright’s Durham days. It’s vintage Tom Wright: full of striking insights, with theological depth wedded to remarkable clarity and accessibility. And as usual, Wright is right.

    I wish more biblical scholars and theologians published sermons. It’s one thing to write scholarly tomes that advance the frontiers of Christian scholarship (like Wright’s massive magnum opus on [b]Paul and the Faithfulness of God[/b], a whopping 1700 page analysis that is brilliant, deep, and highly original). It’s another thing entirely to be able to translate the results of such academic research into language that ordinary clergy and laity can readily understand and be edified by. Few experts can do both. The late, great Raymond Brown (died 1998) was unmatched in that way. But Tom Wright comes close. May their like increase!

    David Handy+

  2. David Keller says:

    Several years ago, I was in a men’s Bible study with a man who was very know-it-all about debunking the New Testament. I refuted many of his statements, but one that stayed with me was his assertion that the Trinity as we articulate it was a political statement , not a religious one and that it had no grounding in any thing in the scriptures. Since I am a believer I seldom dwell on the debunkers, but this last Sunday listening to John 1 it occurred to me John got it in +/- 90 AD. I always knew that, butbitbreally just jumped out at me on Sunday. So if the Council wrote it out in the 4th century, so what.? John understood merely by being in Jesus’ presence that he was God. Of course a debunker would tell me that John didn’t write the Gospel and it can’t be true because it doesn’t coorelate with the Synoptics. But that same debunker would also tell me Mark and Luke just made stuff up and Matthew wasn’t really Matthew and on and on and on.