Simply Jesus: An Interview with N.T. Wright

“But just to say it now, I think for many ordinary Christians in the Western world it would have been quite sufficient if Jesus of Nazareth had been born of a virgin and died on a cross some years later and never done anything at all, except probably lived a blameless life, in between whiles. So if that is so, and I think that does describes the faith of many people I know, then there’s a big vacuum in the middle, and you look at Matthew and Mark, Luke and John and you think, “Well, if that is so why did they bother to say all that stuff?” And then people say, “Oh, well Jesus was just teaching us about how to go to heaven” or “He was just teaching us the true moral code” or “He was giving us a great example of how we should live our lives” or something like that.

And I want to say, those in a sense are alright as far as they go, but they’re just scratching the surface, or to change the metaphor, they’re just wandering around in the foothills when there’s an enormous great mountain to be climbed and the mountain is the Kingdom of God.

That Jesus is launching this project, which God has had up his sleeve all these years – to rescue and renew the whole world and human beings with it. And unless we read the gospels like that, then we are just missing out what Matthew, Mark, Luke and John are trying to tell us. The joke about this is that some of the people who got this most wrong are the people who proclaim loudly that they are the “biblical” ones. And yet here are Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, and they’ve often almost entirely ignored them. So many people have come to the New Testament looking for theories about how we get saved and so naturally they go to Paul—Hebrews or whatever. Now, in a sense that’s fine, but if your theories about how we get saved manage to ignore the great bulk of the four gospels then clearly, as a biblical theologian, something has gone very radically wrong. But on the positive side this is a project about learning to look hard at the Jesus that the Bible actually gives us as opposed to the rather thin and shrunken Jesus that many of our traditions, including sadly, those that call themselves biblical, have given us.”

Taken from the Hillhurst Review.



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