Friday, December 16, 2005

The Bishop is Coming, the Bishop is Coming

We may be in the early stages of the most significant internal change in Christianity since the 16th century--an exciting prospect. --John Wilson, from last week's WSJ article.

This is frightening to me. Here's a guy who is editor of a bimonthly book review magazine (affiliated with Christianity Today, BTW), saying that this man, the Bishop of Durham, is a true reformer, in the process trying to undo 500 years of Reformation History.

Here are some quotes from the article:

This scholar contends that the leaders of the Protestant Reformation--Martin Luther especially--misread St. Paul on the subject of justification by faith. A self-described Reformed theologian, he proposes nothing less than a reformation of the Reformation, 500 years on--and he does so by appealing to the Reformers' own motto, sola scriptura, "going back to scripture over against all human tradition."

"The Reformed emphasis on justification appeared to diminish the meaning of a life lived in obedience to Christ. Didn't James write--in a letter Luther wanted to drop from the New Testament--that faith without works is dead? And sure enough, one perennial problem of evangelical culture has been an overwhelming attention to "getting saved," while another has been a rigid legalism (don't dance, don't drink, don't play cards), smuggling works-righteousness in via the back door."

"Dr. Wright's work is part of a larger corrective enterprise"

Centuri0n asked a good question awhile back on Triablogue. If we do not deny that the Reformation "meant something," what did it mean?

Wright's answer is, apparently, not much. And to hear John Wilson tell it, it's Wright who is loosing the Bible from centuries of anti-Scriptural doctrines (the very thing that actually happened during the Reformation, when Luther & Tyndale translated Scripture into the vernacular).

Was Luther right? Is justification "the doctrine by which the church stands or falls?" Or have we misunderstood for half a millenium and caused needless strife between ourselves and others (such as Catholics)?

I'm worried, and you should be too. This type of thing, repeated often enough in various corridors, threatens to erode the essence of what we hold dear--the Gospel.

I'm sure there are some readers (I know of at least one) who have never heard of N.T. Wright. I'll try to link up some articles so that you can get a feel for the coming thing--the next big heresy to hit.


Jeremy Weaver said...

Actually, Luther did not want to drop James from the New Testament.
Timothy George has written an excellent article concerning the Reformers perspectives on James.
Read here.

Chris Pixley said...

Good link, Matt. I read the article last week when it appeared in the WSJonline edition (Reformation21 blog linked to it). Very interesting take on NT Wright's influence among evangelicals. Thanks for alerting your audience to this.