‘Paul, A Biography,’ by N.T. Wright, and The State of Theology Report 2022 – The Garrett Ashley Mullet Show
Finishing ‘Paul: A Biography’ by N.T. Wright last week, I want to tell you all about it. Rest assured, I have more to say than just that it was “so good and super convicting.”
As far as biographies go, I thought this was a particularly well-written and interesting one.
Yes, I do admit to knowing there has been quite a lot of controversy concerning Tom Wright and his perspective on the Apostle Paul over the past two decades, particularly among the Reformed. Yet still needing to read and research more to get at what his perspective actually is, I either did not catch anything untoward in his work from 2018, or else there was nothing untoward in said title. And both are entirely plausible, if I may be entirely honest with you.
But what is as much or more interesting to me today is the recent article at Christianity Today by Stefani McDade. Published ‘September 19th’ with the title ‘Top 5 Heresies Among American Evangelicals,’ the recent findings of the annual joint-venture by Ligonier and Lifeway titled ‘The State of Theology’ is jarring.
For starters, 26% of self-identified American Evangelicals agree with the following statement: “the Bible, like all sacred writings, contains helpful accounts of ancient myths but is not literally true.” And what follows in the other statistics cited might only be surprising in the sense that you would expect that stat to be significantly higher than one quarter.
More than half of evangelicals – 56% – agree with the statement that “God accepts the worship of all religions, including Christianity, Judaism, and Islam.”
Similarly disturbing, 73% resonate with the sentiment that “Jesus is the first and greatest being created by God,” and over 40% agree that “Jesus was a great teacher, but he was not God,” while 60% believe “The Holy Spirit is a force but is not a personal being.”
All the more glad am I that our local church is going to start working through courses offered for free at BiblicalTraining.org the first week of October. As should now be apparent, the church in America is sorely in need of returning again to what historically would be considered “the basics” of Christianity, but which increasingly in our day are seen as negotiables.
These, dear friends, are not to be negotiated down in the interest of inflating stats or gaining rapid acquisition of folks who will think themselves Christians. Everyone indeed is a theologian. The only real question is whether we are good ones, and have the right idea according to God’s Word about who God says He is on His own terms.
What would Paul say about the whole business? We have the surest guide in the Scriptures, in what the Holy Spirit inspired him to write down in his own hand or else have dictated by those who accompanied him on his missionary journeys.
Not to take anything away from his New Testament epistles, or to water down or lessen to any degree what Acts records of how God used him, Wright’s portrait in this work gave me a newfound appreciation for the fact that Paul was truly a man who lived in a particular context, being born in a particular part of the known world at a rather unique time, and both acted and was interacted with others differently based on what was going on in the world right then and there. And for this, I appreciate ‘Paul: A Biography,’ and enjoyed reading it.
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