An Evening with N.T. Wright

27 02 2009
N.T. Wright

N.T. Wright

Bishop N.T. Wright has been at Fuller Seminary this week teaching a DMin class, and last night he spoke at an event that was open to the public.  In case you don’t know who he is… he’s a leading New Testament scholar, theologian, Bishop in the Church of England, and author of some forty books.  Being the huge N.T. Wright “fan” that I am (how could you not be?), I went to hear what he had to say.

And yes, this is exactly what he was wearing last night ————————>

(On a side note, I’m pretty sure I saw Phyllis Tickle last night too… but I don’t know what she’d be doing here).

Here are some of my thoughts from Wright’s talk… most of this is coming from memory, because I forgot to take a note pad with me!  Sadly there is much that I will miss saying.  (If you were there and find that I have something wrong, please correct me.  Also, if you were there and blogged about it, please include a link to your blog).

The topic centered on the idea of “virtue.”  Not virtue as doing something good once or twice, but virtue as something that is learned, and so comes as second nature.  He illustrated the point by pointing to Flight 1549 which crash-landed on the Hudson River on January 15th.  While many people call the incident a miracle, perhaps it was something more – perhaps it points to the virtue of the pilots.  They had prepared for such an incident a thousand times, so that when it happened for real, what they had to do came as second nature.  (They didn’t have time to flip through a book to find out what to do in such a situation).

Again, virtue is practicing something a thousand times, so on the thousand and first time – when it is for real – it comes as second nature.  It is doing a thousand little things over and over.  The cardinal virtues (which come from Aristotle) are courage, temperance, prudence, and justice.  The theological virtues are faith, hope, and love.

Virtue is something that must be learned; it doesn’t come naturally.  As Wright said, “Working on virtue is like learning a language.  Indeed, it is learning the language of life.”  More specifically, it’s like learning a new language as an adult (not learning your first language as a child).

The Church needs to re-learn and practice virtue.  The purpose of the Church is not to save souls for eternity.  The purpose of the Church is not to build the Kingdom of God.  Both of these understanding are desperately inadequate.  Rather, the Church is to build for the Kingdom.  Thus the things we do now, will in some way show up in the new heavens and the new earth, but we can’t say exactly how.  Those things will be infinitely magnified by God at the resurrection.

…so, those are some of the things I remember… but I admit that much is missing!!!  (Maybe the audio will be available… I can only wish).  Here are a few quotes I jotted down on a 3″x5″ card I happened to have in my  back pocket:

  • “Working on virtue is like learning a language.  Indeed, it is learning the language of life.”
  • “The point of being human is not to perfect yourself for your own good, but to be like an angled mirror that reflects God’s wise order into his new creation.”
  • “Image-bearing is a vocation.”
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One response

5 03 2009
mlbeck

Nice purple shirt. And the last quote, “image-bearing is a vocation.” Love it.

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