NT Wright at Wheaton Conference Notes Post 1

As mentioned on my here and on my Facebook page, i have the good fortune of being at the Wheaton Theology Conference. This year’s focus is the theology of NT Wright and he has been joined by his friends (llike Richard Hays, Syliva Keesmat, Brian Walsjh and many more) to share, add, critique and discuss on great theological matters. It would take an enormous amount of time to summarize all of today’s comments so this post will just focus on tonight’s session which was entitled: “Jesus and the People of God: Whence and Whither Historical Jesus Studies and the Life of the Church”

He began by picking up from an earlier conversation that stated it is better to engage in the historic theological study of Jesus than not to. He then added that we as a church have been content to live with a split level of reality and that has led to a split level view of Jesus. He mentioned the work of Rudolf Bultmann and while he sharply disagreed, he enjoyed reading him. But one thing was for sure it is/was time to get back to genuine history.

What so many people like about the great theolgians is that they can inspire and discuss great theology and the great ones can make it pastoral. He mentioned that it used to be said, that it is not enough that we know who Jesus is the Savior but is he the Savior for you and me? Tonight he wanted to reverse that thought and say that it wasn’t enough that Jesus was the savior for you and me but further, who is Jesus and what he really come here to do.

Recalling his undergraduate and seminary days, he mentioned that he studied under numerous theologians who were on the one extreme and really did not believe in the historical Jesus.
They taight their students/seminarianas that Jesus could not have said this or that. Many clergy either turned off their mind and just preached a very simple gospel (which is better than nothing) and others conveyed these dangerous and terrible ideas to their congregations and asked them to help reconstruct bits and pieces of Jesus. Quoting Gazeman(?), he said, We must do the history of theology otherwise the church can be deceived.” Even more brilliant was the line from Calvin – “The human mind is a constant machine of creating idols.” This also led to the result of the Nazi’s Jesus. German theologians started creating a theology for the state, created a non-Jewish Jesus, and the bible represented their ideologies.

Oddly enough, he revaled that one of the biggest things that got him interested in the Historical Jesus literature was Jesus Christ Superstar – 1971. He was fascinated and everone in the room (like 1500) tried to picture Tom Wright not just watching JCS but loving it!! Who would have thought but it’s a good story. But this eld to the first time that he asked the question what was Jesus actually thinking about? Before considering that, he saw Jesus more like a super-natual root.

It’s a false dichotomy to go behind the text and reconstruct it and assemble a Jesus that

Not a private individual who hid away from the world. It’s not a form of gnosticism. It’s creational theology – God is coming to rescue and create it!

More later.


  1. I think “Gazeman” = Kasemann.

    Wright made a similar comment in Friday’s panel, one that intrigued me: “Jesus outside his historical context can float free and become an idol.”

  2. Thanks Adam.

    Indeed. I know I’ve heard several times over the years that we have created a domesticated Jesus. But I usually attach it to “safe Jesus” or “Genie in the Bottle Waiting to Answer My Prayers” Jesus, but Wright is chasing after a deeper version, a more intentional version of Jesus. True, when we take it form his historical context, we are at risk of many things.

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