Bonhoeffer uses a similar phrase 'worldly Christianity'. It's J Gresham Machen that I want to line up most closely with. See his Christianity and culture here. Having done commentaries on Proverbs (Heavenly Wisdom) and Song of Songs (Heavenly Love), a matching title for Ecclesiastes would be Heavenly Worldliness. For my stance on worldliness, see 3 posts here.

Simply Good News

We had another session of the Theological Study Group at the John Owen Centre on Monday. The book was Tom Wright's Simply Good News (not to be confused with another work of his with the word simple in the title). I have read very little N T Wright but know enough to have approached the book cautiously. 
Apparently this work is a good introduction. Ideas such as that "the kingdom of God is for earth now," "the gospel is the key moment in a story," "resurrection is about bodies," "something has happened," and "fundamentalists and liberals are both missing the point" are well known themes. The book has many good features - nicely written, broad brush strokes opposed to over-simplification. However, there were one or two oddities in there and a tendency to caricature those he attacks (chiefly fundamentalists but evangelicals too). The style leads to unsustainable generalisations and is rather light on sin.
It is not a book one could recommend to most people. It was interesting in our group that the more people had read of Wright the more against him they appeared to be. We could not really think of an alternative book doing the same sort of thing.
Next time we are going for something by another Tom - Tom Schreiner's Faith Alone - The Doctrine of Justification: What the Reformers Taught ... and Why It Still Matters in The Five Solas series. Do think about coming along if you can.

2 comments:

Paul Burgess said...

What is your caution re NT Wright? Have you read Paul and the Faithfulness of God? I remember many years ago you saying that some had critiqued much systematic theology in that it structures theology along largely pagan Greek lines. I don't think I fully understood but think I now. We don't start with arguments for the existence of God etc or attempt to reduce him to abstract attributes. For me NT Wright is incredibly helpful in understanding the NT and particularly Paul in the historical context of the various strands of second temple Judaism. I haven't read Simply Good News but if it is light on sin that is a very serious concern.

Gary Brady said...

I've not read P & TFOG but one of the main problems with Wright is his commitment to the new perspective on Paul, which is ultimately unreliable. As you observe, he is well up on his second temple Judaism but that is not the same as the NT itself.
On the systematics/biblical theology divide, although I would stand by my previous comments there has probably been an over reaction to dogmatics. We do need a systematic presentation of the faith (indeed it is inevitable we will form one - so best be aware of that and work on it).
I did hear a story that when asked a systematics question Wright refused to answer pleading that he was a NT scholar not a sytematician, which is fair enough for an academic but not for a pastor.