Blogalogue

Blogalogue


N.T. Wright: What it Looks Like When God Runs the World

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Thanks, Bart, for your response and further statement. I suspect we are both going to find that we start hares running in one another’s minds which there won’t be time to chase. I think the question of the definition and description of apocalyptic had better be one of those; we could talk another time perhaps . ..
But I want to begin where you end, which is the key question of your book.


(And of course I am very much alive to the importance of the emotions within the whole debate, and don’t at all want to reduce it to cold logic; but if one is making an argument, then multiplying examples of the problem doesn’t actually add to the force of that argument.)
Your question is, How can there be all these horrors ‘if there is a good and all powerful God in charge of the world?’ My comment, in my previous posting, was that in the Gospels, Jesus’ claim is, in effect, ‘This is what it looks like when God is running the world’ (one way of saying ‘the kingdom of God is at hand’). Of course I am alive to the different emphases and nuances between the Gospels, but in their different ways they agree, I think, on this: that what was going on during Jesus’ public career actually was the inauguration of ‘God being in charge of the world’ in a new way. (In this, despite their various emphases, the canonical gospels agree over against the non-canonical, wouldn’t you say?)
Of course, it didn’t look like Jesus’ contemporaries were hoping it would (victory for Israel against her enemies; new levels of purity attained; etc.). In the same way, it doesn’t look like what we would want (God abolishing disease, war, hatred, natural disaster, etc. at a stroke). But it seems to have been Jesus’ claim that this is what Israel’s God, the world’s creator, was actually up to.
From that point of view I suppose the Gospels constituted, and still constitute, a challenge to all expectations, particularly in that they link – as readers for hundreds have years have found it difficult to do – the story of Jesus’ kingdom-inauguration with the story of his crucifixion and resurrection. Somehow, they are saying, this is what it looks like when the good, all-powerful and all-loving God is in charge of the world. You may say that if this is what they’re saying then the God of whom they speak is not ‘all-powerful’ in the way we might have imagined, and I suspect that is in a sense correct. Near the heart of Jesus’ proclamation lies a striking redefinition of power itself, which looks as though it’s pointing in the direction of God’s ‘running of the world’ (if that’s the right phrase) in what you might call a deliberately, almost studiedly, self-abnegating way, running the world through an obedient, and ultimately suffering, human being, with that obedience, and especially that suffering, somehow instrumental in the whole process. What ‘we would want God to do’ – to have God measure up to our standards of ‘how a proper, good and powerful God would be running the world’! – seems to be the very thing that Jesus was calling into question.
The mystery of Jesus himself, then, is for me near the heart of – not ‘the answer’, because I don’t think there is such a thing as ‘the answer’, but – the matrix of thought and life within which God’s people are called to continue to grapple with the problem. This is where, in Evil and the Justice of God, I try to draw together traditional discussions of ‘the atonement’ and traditional discussions of ‘the problem of evil’ and suggest that it’s odd that they should ever have been separated, since they seem to go together so closely in the Bible itself. (And can’t be reduced, I suggest, to the ‘God punishes sin’ logic; I have tended to include some elements of that within the Christus Victor motif, which, yes, involves suprahuman cosmic powers and all that. Hard though they are to describe adequately, they are even harder, in my view, to ignore.)
That’s why, in my view, the gospels are written not just to draw Israel’s story to its climax (I hear what you say about the big story and the multiple little stories, by the way; I love the little stories that cut across the seam, but I persist in thinking that it is part of the task of a Christian theologian to read the Bible as a whole and see its larger currents of thought as well as its smaller ones. This is partly a re-run of the Plato/Aristotle debate, isn’t it? I think we need both, the big picture and the little details) . . . but also to generate a story which continues, in my view, to this day and indeed to the day when God renews all things at last: the story of those who, following Jesus, make his dealing-with-evil project a reality in and through their own lives. That’s why the early church spread, not by thumping dogmas into people’s heads but by living in a way which brought healing and hope, a way rooted in the achievement of Jesus in his kingdom-inauguration and, not least, in his kingdom-establishing death and resurrection. (And of course – just in case anyone was in any doubt – all Christians who lived before modern medicine knew far more about multiple pain, suffering and apparently pointless death than most of us do, and it was close up and in the family a good deal of the time. And it didn’t shake their faith, or not too drastically. ‘The problem of evil’ as we think of it today is largely a post-Enlightenment construct.)
You see (to come back to it again), I do persist in thinking that if Jesus didn’t rise from the dead then there would be no reason to hold any form of Christian faith. A wistful Judaism, perhaps, but not a faith in one who would be, then, a failed prophet of the kingdom. It is because I believe in Jesus’ resurrection that I believe that the creator God has inaugurated his new creation in which, at the last, he will wipe away all tears from all eyes. I don’t think you can start from observation of the world and somehow reason up to Christian faith, because one meets precisely the problems you have so rightly and graphically raised. But – and I wonder if this is actually the position you held when you yourself were still a practicing Christian? – if one believes, not merely as an intellectual assent to doctrine but as a living relationship with God through Jesus Christ, then the dark mystery of suffering can be seen within the context of his suffering, and be transformed by it.
Of course, for its fullness this necessarily generates, as I said, the life of the church in and through which evil is then addressed. Part of the ‘transformation’ is that Jesus’ followers go to work as healers, reconcilers, and so on. That’s why the last two chapters of my book are a small attempt to say that the work of believing people in addressing the urgent needs of the world is actually a part of the biblical answer – if you can call it an ‘answer’ – to the problem. And, in the course of that, I explore the notion of ‘forgiveness’ as the thing which not only releases the person forgiven from the burden of their own guilt, but also releases the person who forgives from the burden of going on being angry. And I suggest that this might even apply to God himself, at the end . . . though I guess that’s a bridge too far for some people, and certainly for yourself.
I guess I do hope that I can help other people come to a view similar to mine (though, as I used to tell my students, 25% of what I say is wrong but I don’t know which 25% it is). I wasn’t implying that was a bad thing to want to persuade people, only that if you didn’t think you were mounting a potentially conclusive argument it raised the question as to whether this was the main or leading reason why you yourself stopped being a Christian. But that may be a question for another time.
I sense we’re just beginning… but even if your next post is your last one in this sequence, thanks for the fun of thinking round these complex but pressing issues.
Tom



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Dale Campbell

posted April 22, 2008 at 6:43 pm


Two things I like about Wright’s reply…
1. the wisdom to know which rabbits (hares) not to chase…
2. the humility to not try and give ‘the answer’…



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Larry Parker

posted April 22, 2008 at 8:07 pm


**‘The problem of evil’ as we think of it today is largely a post-Enlightenment construct.**
Indeed. History records that the 1755 Lisbon earthquake had an enormous effect across the civilized world in shaking the faith (pardon the pun) of Europeans and others in theodicy, a.k.a. “the best of all possible worlds.”
Voltaire’s “Candide,” of course, being only the most famous example.



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Raffi Shahinian

posted April 22, 2008 at 11:12 pm


Brillian response, Dr. Wright.
I hope everyone can hear what Bishop Tom is saying here. Jesus, among the many, many other concepts He redefined from a Kingdom perspective, redefined “power” (specifically in Mark 10, and generally by His entire life, and death). And if we take that redefinition seriously, and we then look at a concept such as “an all-powerful God” from within that definition, we see that the co-existence of this all-powerful God and evil in the world stops being a paradox, and begins to look like the entire theme of cosmic history.
God bless Dr. Wright for helping us see how Jesus of Nazareth saw, and thus how God sees, so as not to “ruin our faith” in vain.
Grace and Peace,
Raffi Shahinian
Parables of a Prodigal World



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Daldianus

posted April 23, 2008 at 2:26 am


Is there any evidence in the first place that God exists and that the God from the Bible equates to that God?
And just face it, Jesus was a failed apocalyptic prophet. The Kingdom of God never came and never will.



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sarcastic

posted April 23, 2008 at 2:43 am


Thanks, Daldianus, for adding exactly nothing…
No, wait, your stellar logic is taking hold… wait… oh, there it is… Darn-it, you’re right! I’m now ready to ‘just face it’…
thanks so much for your absolute brilliance… top marks… really…



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Kyle

posted April 23, 2008 at 10:56 am


“I don’t think you can start from observation of the world and somehow reason up to Christian faith, because one meets precisely the problems you have so rightly and graphically raised. But – and I wonder if this is actually the position you held when you yourself were still a practicing Christian? – if one believes, not merely as an intellectual assent to doctrine but as a living relationship with God through Jesus Christ, then the dark mystery of suffering can be seen within the context of his suffering, and be transformed by it.”
Dr. Wright,
Are you calling “observation” and intellectual assent” two different, if not opposite starting points of faith? And if so, are you presuming that only intellectual assent can result in living relationship and tranformation? Is it possible in your mind to be transformed through an original observation faith?
I really appreciate this debate and hope the two of you might agree to see this to some sort of logical conclusion.
Kyle Turney



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Cody Parrott

posted April 23, 2008 at 11:01 am


The problem with people blaming God for all their suffering isn’t right. He puts you through that to make you a stronger christian. We will all go through trials and heartaches. Its part of our human nature.



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Banquo

posted April 23, 2008 at 11:13 am


Perhaps I could ask a question in sort of a wide angle viewpoint. And forgive me if it comes out like a statement.
Is the argument then, that God is all-powerful in that his plan includes and in many ways requires the suffering of humanity to allow for us to attempt to heal it? In that vein, we’re saying here, we must do what we can to help heal what ails our fellow man – and that is a major factor in this new kingdom, that we must follow Jesus’s example.
(and on that note, should we feel guilty for every moment we’re not out there trying to help others – Does every moment sat eating dinner and thinking about baseball count as a sinful waste of time when we should be bathing lepers?)
But if that’s the case, I run into the notion (maybe mistakenly) that the bible specifically says that its through faith we are saved, not of works (lest any man should boast.) So my question I guess is, which carries more water? Is it the synthesis of our faith and our acts that truly define us in the eternal kingdom?
And back to the original point, is the thesis then, that suffering exists so man can prove his worth by trying to alleviate it?
For those who do the suffering, how do we interpret their place in God’s plan? Is their place to suffer, bear it, and be the better for it? Many don’t recover, so can we assume, or hope, that they have some sort of eternal reward for such a crappy lot here on earth? Is the way they handle their horrible circumstance the criteria for judgment much as the way we handle ours (and attempt to alleviate their suffering) is the criteria for us?
So I guess a lot of that came out as questions. Pick the rabbits you’d like to follow I guess.



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Banquo

posted April 23, 2008 at 11:13 am


Perhaps I could ask a question in sort of a wide angle viewpoint. And forgive me if it comes out like a statement.
Is the argument then, that God is all-powerful in that his plan includes and in many ways requires the suffering of humanity to allow for us to attempt to heal it? In that vein, we’re saying here, we must do what we can to help heal what ails our fellow man – and that is a major factor in this new kingdom, that we must follow Jesus’s example.
(and on that note, should we feel guilty for every moment we’re not out there trying to help others – Does every moment sat eating dinner and thinking about baseball count as a sinful waste of time when we should be bathing lepers?)
But if that’s the case, I run into the notion (maybe mistakenly) that the bible specifically says that its through faith we are saved, not of works (lest any man should boast.) So my question I guess is, which carries more water? Is it the synthesis of our faith and our acts that truly define us in the eternal kingdom?
And back to the original point, is the thesis then, that suffering exists so man can prove his worth by trying to alleviate it?
For those who do the suffering, how do we interpret their place in God’s plan? Is their place to suffer, bear it, and be the better for it? Many don’t recover, so can we assume, or hope, that they have some sort of eternal reward for such a crappy lot here on earth? Is the way they handle their horrible circumstance the criteria for judgment much as the way we handle ours (and attempt to alleviate their suffering) is the criteria for us?
So I guess a lot of that came out as questions. Pick the rabbits you’d like to follow I guess.



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Beow

posted April 23, 2008 at 12:22 pm


You would have to be truly blind,lived on a remote island, or been very young for the idea of suffering in the world to have destroyed your faith. Look around, it has always been thus. We live in a dark and dangerous world, and while Tom Wright really needs an editor or to learn to speak more clearly, part of what we as Christians are to do is bring light to this dark world. Nowhere in the Bible does it say that life is going to be like Disney World. If your faith is not tough enough to meet the challenges of getting your hands dirty and IMPROVING all the suffering you see, it’s not meant to last long anyway….



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Jim Rigas

posted April 23, 2008 at 2:09 pm


Dear Bishop Wright,
You are obviously a very learned person who has spent much of his life examining questions that lie in most thinking peoples’ mind. So I read again and again your response to Dr. Ehrman’s question, “How can there be all these horrors if there is a good and all powerful God in charge of the world?” trying to distill your answer. It seems to me that you are saying the following.
1. My comment, in my previous posting, was that in the Gospels, Jesus’ claim is, in effect, “This is what it looks like when God is running the world.” Although it doesn’t look like what we would want (God abolishing disease, war, hatred, natural disaster, etc. at a stroke) it seems to have been Jesus’ claim that this is what Israel’s God, the world’s creator, was actually up to.
2. God is ‘running the world’ (if that’s the right phrase) in what you might call a deliberately, almost studiedly, self-abnegating way, running the world through an obedient, and ultimately suffering, human being, with that obedience, and especially that suffering, somehow instrumental in the whole process.
3. Christians who lived before modern medicine knew far more about multiple pain, suffering and apparently pointless death than most of us do, and it was close up and in the family a good deal of the time. And it didn’t shake their faith, or not too drastically. ‘The problem of evil’ as we think of it today is largely a post-Enlightenment construct.)
4. Evil is then addressed as part of the ‘transformation’ in which Jesus’ followers go to work as healers, reconcilers, and so on.
I can summarize all this as follows: Improvement in man’s quality of life will be the result of human actions, accomplished through perseverance, suffering, and obedience; but there had been greater suffering in the past (some of it alleviated through man’s technical developments), and nobody worried about evil.
It is not clear to whom man should show obedience (presumably God), or why. Regarding evil, your response is, at best, similar to the Zoroastrian beliefs: God cannot fight evil alone, he needs man’s help. At worse, God is irrelevant; it is up to man to solve his own problems. I wonder how many people will find this to be a satisfactory reply to Dr. Ehrman’s question. Furthermore, I don’t accept for a minute your opinion that questioning the existence of evil is a new development. From the ancient Greeks and Pandora ’s Box, to the Book of Maccabbees humans have always questioned it. As an aside to this argument, you state that you anchor your beliefs in Christianity to Jesus’ resurrection, something you also mentioned in your first reply. I am questioning this belief below, in a separate note.
Jim Rigas



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dams

posted April 23, 2008 at 2:12 pm


No one is going to be able to answer the question of why there is suffering in the world and why God doesn’t end it (if they believe in God). No matter who they are, how much they’ve read or studied, etc. It is one of the many unanswerable questions in the world. Isn’t that what FAITH and BELIEF are? Unanswerable, unproven assumptions made by each individual that shapes who they are and how they live their lives?



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Jim Rigas

posted April 23, 2008 at 2:14 pm


Dear Bishop Wright,
You say, “I do persist in thinking that if Jesus didn’t rise from the dead then there would be no reason to hold any form of Christian faith. It is because I believe in Jesus’ resurrection that I believe that the creator God has inaugurated his new creation in which, at the last, he will wipe away all tears from all eyes.”
Unfortunately, nowhere do the gospels differ as much as in their resurrection stories, with each evangelist using them to validate his own personal point of view. In the original Gospel of Mark no appearances are reported; perhaps the evangelist thought that they would detract from his message. But this was “remedied” early on when somebody appended to his gospel, stories similar to those appearing in the Gospel of Luke. The second gospel, Matthew’s, ends with a tersely worded paragraph where it seems that the resurrected Jesus acknowledges the concept of Trinity and the proselytizing of pagans. This also seems to be a later addition since it clashes so much with the rest of the text.
The two appearances reported in Luke’s gospel are centered on food, and seem designed to convince us that the resurrected Jesus was not a ghost despite his propensity to appear and disappear like one. I have argued in my “Christianity without Fairy Tales,” that the story of his appearance to the eleven disciples, the only recorded case of his actual eating something, sounds very much like a later insertion. In his second book, “The Acts of the Apostles,” Luke extends the period that the resurrected Jesus spent on earth to forty days, from the one day that he reported in his gospel.
John presents two resurrection stories, both of which appear to downgrade his Christian opponents. In the first one, Thomas, his Gnostic rival, not only doubts Jesus’ resurrection but misses out on the occasion where Jesus breathes on the other ten disciples passing on to them the Holy Spirit and the power to forgive sins. In the second story, written as an addendum to the finished gospel, John downgrades Peter, the apparently favorite disciple of the synoptic gospels and the presumed founding rock of the eventual orthodox Catholic Christianity. In the original Greek text, Jesus asks Peter twice if he LOVES him and each time Peter answers “You know I LIKE you.” When the main message in John’s Gospel is love, Jesus’ chief disciple inability to say that he LOVES his master is striking. Most readers, of course, are unaware of Peter’s reported failure since the exact wording has been adulterated by the translators.
Paul’s list of the resurrection appearances differs a little from those in the gospels, and the Road to Damascus event cannot be counted as a real appearance since it consisted of only a light and a voice. One may well question the validity of all the reported stories. But it was Paul who first articulated the concept on which you are saying we must base our belief: “If there is no resurrection of the dead, then neither has Christ been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then empty is our preaching” (1 Cor. 15:13). Our gift of eternal life seems to be based on Jesus’ resurrection; first him, then us. But notice that this makes us similar to Christ. If we are human, he was human; if he was divine, we must be divine.
I am afraid that you are right: if belief in Christianity is based on the resurrection stories, then Dr. Ehrman’s “thinking” people are likely to stop being Christian.
Jim Rigas



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MH

posted April 23, 2008 at 2:23 pm


Jim, your summation is exactly how I read the essay as well.
This strikes me as adjusting expectations downward along the lines of the Millerite movement leading to the Jehovah’s Witnesses in the wake of the Great Disappointment.
I also totally disagree that the problem of evil is a new concern. Epicurus was the first person to write about it around 300 BC, so it is a long running concern.



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jlk

posted April 23, 2008 at 6:21 pm


Well, I agree with Jim Rigas that the bishop would benefit from an editor, but the rest of his analysis is a bit slipshod.
Jim, your four-point summary seems designed to set up a straw man, as it either misses or ignores the point at the center of Wright’s argument: “if one believes, not merely as an intellectual assent to doctrine but as a living relationship with God through Jesus Christ, then the dark mystery of suffering can be seen within the context of his suffering, and be transformed by it.”
That sort of destroys your concluding point that “It is not clear to whom man should show obedience (presumably God), or why” and your contention that Wright’s argument leads one to conclude that God is, “at worst, irrelevant.”
Let me propose an alternative three-point summary:
1. A beaten, humiliated and crucified man provides the best glimpse we have into into the heart of an all-powerful God… and this forces us to radically redefine our definitions of both power and suffering. (This, I propose, is what’s catching you up. Understandably so… it’s difficult stuff.)
2. The suffering Christ – God incarnate – thus creates a window through which we must see all human suffering.
3. The incarnation continues, only now WE are the flesh, called to live in the way Christ lived – and to be willing ourselves to suffer as we look to relieve suffering in others. (The Christian, of course, believes that this is only possible when it is not we who live, but Christ who lives within us.)



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Anonymous

posted April 24, 2008 at 3:28 am


As Bishop Wright points out, the central element of both this specific issue and the crux upon which all of Christianity stands is the resurrection of Jesus Christ in a physical/metaphysical manner, whereby the tomb was emptied and Jesus was made alive again after suffering a genuine death (not a suspension of consciousness or a coma of some sort). The Resurrection of the Son of God is probably the foremost work on the issue, and presents quite a burden for the contemporary skeptic seeking to dismiss the claims of the gospels as myth or hallucination.
Concerning the problem of evil itself, I genuinely appreciate Dr. Ehrman’s agnosticism concerning the god of the Bible due to the fact that he is a man honestly wrestling with a question that the Bible does treat in a very confusing and difficult way. But I think, as Bishop Wright already replied in the first post, this sort of confused muddle the Bible seems to offer is exactly the sort of answer we should expect from a book like the Bible. Given that the Bible is the text in which the people of God document their travelings, their troubles, their deepest pains and deepest hopes, it is no surprise that the problem of evil is viewed and dealt with from multiple points of view.
I certainly do not think that the implication concerning Dr. Wright that he is trying to simply deal with the problem of evil in a distant, ivory-tower, mathematical sense is true at all. In fact, quite the opposite. The problem of evil is not something to be “solved”, as he said; it is something to be felt deep within our souls. And the answer that those who profess faith in Jesus are to give is the same one God gave to us. The answer is to become incarnational in our approach to the issue, learning how to bear the pain of the world and re-enact the story of the resurrection for the world to see. For that is God’s response to the problem of evil. He sends His Chosen One, His Son, into the world to allow evil to do its worst to Him, and then, when all seems lost, He comes back from the dead to shatter the powers of evil forever and call all people to himself to follow Him in the death-and-resurrection way of life.
And, in the end, I will certainly concede, this point is one that must be grasped onto in faith. I do think that the issue of this resurrection presents COMPELLING evidence to believe in Christ and His message, but nevertheless, no amount of evidence can convince anyone of anything unless they are willing to make a step to learn how to see through a new worldview. And that is a difficult step, especially for those who have grown up in a culture where the church has not offered any serious reply to issues of gravity, as it seems Dr. Ehrman’s church (like most evangelical churches of the late modern era) did not do. The church in many ways has grown into a fraternity or a country club or a pseudo-spiritual gathering or a grouping together of morbid individuals simply looking to escape this evil, evil world (a dissertation should be done if it has not yet been done on the neo-gnosticism of late evangelicalism) through death or the rapture.
Those who name the name of Christ need to learn how to be incarnational in our approach to this issue. Perhaps the long amounts of time many people spend in intellectual torment over this issue could be better spent by simply trying to “get in the trenches” with people and feel their pain and tell them of a God who cares in Jesus Christ (though I suppose whether or not God cares is exactly what is being debated here). Instead of trying to sway someones intellect over to a different side of the fence, we can show them the message of the Gospel by doing what we can to bear the pain with them.
Alas, so many questions have been begged in this debate. So many people think of the problems associated with death (especially abrupt, young death) as the worst evils in the world. Yet, is death not an inevitable door we all must open and walk through, whether young or old? Additionally, if we remove the moral foundation for the value of life that the Christian worldview provides, from where do we then derive the idea that life is inherently valuable anyway? For those who deny the Christian message yet cling to the thorny issues that are only made relevant because of a Christian worldview, is that not an inherent philosophical contradiction? Without belief in a God actively concerned about the problem of evil in the world, the problem of evil in the sense it is being debate here simply disappears. Evil is simply a point of view, as is good. What stops one from adopting a Nietzschan/Darwinian worldview, whereby the “survival of the fittest” is the only true moral good? Mind you, I think that the problems presented by Dr. Ehrman are pressing, grave, and demand serious reflection. But I only do so because I believe that Jesus cares about these problems and is actively involved in trying to right these wrongs. Apart from that worldview, none of those issues remain relevant (of course, one could offer an alternative spiritual worldview wherein these issues still possess meaning, but I would argue that all of those worldviews collapse apart from a foundational belief in some form of involved Diety; agnosticism or atheism cannot answer these problems).
P.S. Given that critique, I of course am very pleased by all who get involved in helping to resolve the problems in the world, whatever their spiritual beliefs. I don’t think anyone would say “your agnostic, so you should just let the starving kids die” (as it seems some people have thought of Bishop Wright as seeming to say by accusing him of his “ivory-tower” and cold intellectualism). These intellectual debates about really sticky issues can be misconstrued so as to imply this sort of calloused response. The only way any of us can provide a concerned response is if we are all in some manner attemtping to be involved in healing the world.



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timspong

posted April 24, 2008 at 6:26 am


You cannot grieve over shocking third world statistics, you can only grieve over the ones you know and love. Only God is able to grieve adequately and discern the real cost of sin.



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Dolores Schultz Lear

posted April 24, 2008 at 6:53 am


We have the High Tech Science Knowledge of how to Colonize a Planet, as it was ‘in the beginning’, since the 1960s. But it is on the back burner, because all our resources were put into the Nuclear Bomb. We also reproducea fetus’ in the lab without the sex act, correct a few genetic diseases, and put it back into the female womb.
Instead of making a High Tech Womb today, to reproduce Pure-bred Humans like the Adam and Eve Colony, we made the Atom and Nuclear Bomb. The Human Astronaughts that Colonized Earth were our High Tech Science Ancestors from Space, translated without High Tech as Human Gods, Goddesses and Angels that flew up in the air and out into Space.
The Perfect Human Adams, and Eves, the Female Clone Helpmeets, were made from the Male rib; there were more than two Human Clones. They became Mates, and began reproducing Inbred/Misbred Humans like Cain, Abel, Seth, and Females; they lost their High Tech Science. Cain did start the Killing of Human Brothers/Sisters, and did go out and marry a female, with some of the other second generation Body Birth Children of the First Perfect Generation, and started another City/Nation. Seth also carried on with Adam and Eve, married and had Children. They multiplied, by Body Birth, like we have ever since.
We did have a Planetary High Tech Noah/Atlantis Society that also misused their High Tech like we are today. It caused the Planetary Flood; that Civilizaiton was wiped out, and Humans had to start over Reproducing a new Killer Species and we will again do away with with this Second Chance. Science, Religion and Evolution do not have a complete break in our History with a Planetary Flood that destroyed most of the Life before the Planetary Flood. I describe this on my web site.
We are destroying the Ozone Canopy and then Life as we Know it cannot continue on our Planet. We are also setting up the Planetary Judgement Day Fire with our massive Pollution and Nuclear Waste. All this was done by Fallen Humans, not Lord God our Human Ancestors.
The Original Colony had the opportunity to have Eternal Physical Life After Brith, like our High Tech Ancestors. After Physical Death began, Life After Death became the practice, for Relligious hope for that High Tech Eternal Life After Birth that was lost. The Adam and Eve Original Colony also died, without the High Tech ‘regeneration’ that we use today to correct many of our defective body parts.
Our Ancestors/Lord God and Jesus, will return to Rescue/Rapture those that are left in the End Times of Life on our Planet, and ‘regenerate’ them like they did Jesus to Perfect Genetics, and take them to a new Planet, Colonized like they did Earth ‘in the beginning. Hope they have enought History of Earth, to keep their Eternal High Tech Physical Life After Birth, or they will have to go through another Killing Earth experience. With High Tech Reproduction, Humans do not make more Humans then they can Physically Share the Earth’s Resources Equally. All this Striving and Death is for Body Birth Humans.
Life as we Know it is for the Living Humans, not the Dead.
I explain High Tech Colonization and High Tech Reproduction on my web site: http:/home.kc.rr.com/hightech/home.html



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Jim Rigas

posted April 24, 2008 at 11:33 am


Some contributors to this discussion have been arguing that suffering is a natural part of this life, perhaps necessary for our salvation, since Jesus showed us the way. This is not a new idea in Christianity. In his Letter to the Romans, written around 57 AD, Paul says:
“The Spirit itself serves witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, [b]if only we suffer with him[/b] so that we may be glorified with him” (Romans 8:16-17).
Fifty years later, while being taken to Rome to be executed in the arena, Ignatius, Bishop of Antioch, wrote a letter to the Romans asking them to not interfere with his martyrdom:
“…I implore you, do not be ‘unseasonably kind’ to me. Let me be food for the wild beasts, through whom I can reach God. I am God’s wheat, and I am being ground by the teeth of the wild beasts…[b]If I suffer[/b], I will be a freedman of Jesus Christ, and will rise up free in him…Fire and cross and battles with wild beasts, mutilation, mangling, wrenching of bones, the hacking of limb, the crushing of my whole body, cruel tortures of the devil—let these come upon me, only let me reach Jesus Christ!…[b]Allow me to be an imitator of the suffering of my God[/b].”
It is obvious that people with such beliefs would not think that any evil exists in this world. What some of us call evil, they would just see as the necessary path to salvation. Perhaps they are right. I possess no independent knowledge of the Christian God. Perhaps he is all good, omnipotent, and omniscient. But if Paul and Ignatius properly describe the manner of his invitation then, by my standards, he is also inhumane; not someone I would want to worship.
Jim Rigas



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Jeff Young

posted April 24, 2008 at 11:56 am


Jim Rigas – basically, you are committing the straw man fallacy. Keep propping them up and knocking them down and I’m sure you’ll remain content in your own cubby hole. I say that with no maliciousness – but that’s what you are doing – failing to see the full sense of the Biblical message.
The salient point revolves around the resurrection, as Wright notes, and but there is also a secondary one that is very important (which I will expand upon below this quote):
NTW: “I do persist in thinking that if Jesus didn’t rise from the dead then there would be no reason to hold any form of Christian faith… It is because I believe in Jesus’ resurrection that I believe that the creator God has inaugurated his new creation in which, at the last, he will wipe away all tears from all eyes. I don’t think you can start from observation of the world and somehow reason up to Christian faith, because one meets precisely the problems you have so rightly and graphically raised.”
One has to deal with the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. Not just to say, “See, God suffers with us” though that is part of it; but to deal with the evidence of the testimony of the eyewitnesses. If, in fact, this event is true – it changes the game and the approach. if it is not true – we are wasting our time with any discussion whatsoever. It is the crux of the matter.
Having arrived at that point, the answer that the Bible gives is hinted at in Wright’s comments about God running the world and what it should look like. I don’t know what NTW believes about this but I fully believe that the point of the Bible is this: God is not running the world. He is allowing it to go its natural course – so that humanity can see what life is like without God (both in terms of our harming one another and in terms of nature’s disasters). But, when Jesus came with healing, he was revealing what God wants to do for all men – but only if we will turn to him and seek him. If we declare, “I want nothing of your ways, but, please do put a fence about me so I can both live in my rebellion and have your protective hand all about” – that simply won’t do. Sorry, that’s not how it works. And, it is a very childish thing we are asking. Like a 20 year old saying, “Daddy, give me all I want; don’t stop giving me everything; but, I’m still going to act like a spoiled brat … If you stop … I’ll know you don’t love me.” The reality is, that young man needs a dose of reality – of life without dad – to recognize his rebellion gets him nowhere.
Indeed, we all receive some blessings from the Creator. To be sure, God has instituted some limits on the evil so that the world and humanity do not destroy itself (e.g., Romans 13 and governments). But, the reality is, we all have chosen to go our own way and God has said – “That’s how you want it .. this is the world as it would be without my presence.” And, that’s what we have.
When Jesus came, then, he was declaring, this is what God seeks to do – to love, serve, heal, and even die for you. And, one day, God will recreate the world through Jesus. Yet, if we choose to ignore Jesus, to go our own way – well, then, we won’t participate in that rejuvenated, remade world. Since he came, we see glimpses of that healing through those who genuinely (not just those who profess, but those who do) follow Jesus as his disciples.



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Rebecca in Tucson, AZ

posted April 24, 2008 at 1:55 pm


Response to Jim’s post: I’m VERY worried that you would perpetuate the fallacy of the “rapture” theory. This is something that was thought up by a mentally unstable women living in the 1800′s. She printed it up and started a cult of people thinking that “God” was going to whisk them away so they wouldn’t have to go through “Revelations” Not so, twill not be God giving them that ride, but the enemy, who will be giving them who believe in that junk the ride from hell they will only discover too late to correct their mistakes. So everyone needs to wake up, this is not what the bible is talking about. Again, this is the weak minded rambling of a insane person! Remember, we do not listen to man, only to GOD!!!*** So may God have Mercy on our souls, and we’d all be better off checking out the Divine Mercy of Jesus, which can be found on the Divine Mercy.com website. God Bless, a Catholic from Tucson, AZ



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Jim Rigas

posted April 24, 2008 at 2:42 pm


Jeff Young,
I will accept your explanation. God is not taking an active part in this world, but only watching. So although our sufferings may pain him, he says: “This is what you wanted, this is what you get.”
Rebecca,
I don’t believe in the rapture. As I explain in my last book, I believe in a smooth continuation of life, from the material to the spiritual; in much the same way that an ugly caterpillar turns into a beautiful butterfly. As far as God’s inteference in this life, I don’t believe that he interferes not because he does not want to, but because he can’t. He is not omnipotent and he has to abide by nature’s laws which he himself may, or may not, have instituted.
Jim Rigas



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Lope

posted April 24, 2008 at 3:24 pm


It seems the message of Job and the parable of the rich man and Lazarus was we do not suffer only because of our unrighteousness. We also suffer because we are born into a world of pain and suffering. Our first gift of life is a limited one. We are mortal and we all experience death. The ultimate question is will we be given the second gift of eternal existence with our Creator. Jesus said the Kingdom was here and is coming. Paul said we are in the process of becoming a Kingdom. I believe in a loving Creator. I understand the suffering of people does not support that belief, but the love people have for each other does support that belief and it supports the possibility this world is not the life that is important. This life is for the purpose, perhaps, of preparing us for the next life. As we become loving beings, we become citizens of the Kingdom of God. It has come for some of us. It will come for some of us, and it is coming for some of us. If we do not love others, perhaps the Kingdom of God will never come.



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Jim

posted April 24, 2008 at 9:57 pm


Dr. Rigas,
Which part is inhumane in the quotes you present? That God asks humans to join his mission of spreading his message of love at the risk of suffering, or that humans would find it a privilege to join this mission? Graduate students, doctors in training, firefighters et al. are regularly asked to make sacrifices that could compromise their marriages, relationships with children, occasionally their lives. Does anyone stop believing in chemistry, because his Ph.D. cost him his marriage? Does a soldier stop believing in the US, because her service caused her grievous injury?
A lot pettier human powers regularly ask for sacrifices under compulsion, the Christian God only asks that the faithful follow his example freely. If you have freely sacrificed your interests for your students, workers, etc. like Christ, then I admire you. If you have asked sacrifices of underlings at any lower cost, I wonder how you judge Christ inhumane.



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Pamm

posted April 25, 2008 at 11:28 am


I’m eager to hear Dr. Wright’s comments on Dr. Ehrman’s last post (God’s Kingdom Has Not Come). When I listen to many people it is primarily the Old Testament destruction which is greatly disturbing to them. A dear friend asked, “How can we trust a God who advocates genocide, such as what was described in the book of Joshua.” I think we need a good foundation here to answer that question and I sometimes feel a bit wobbly. Perhaps Dr. Wright in answering could also include some references which address that question.



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Jim Rigas

posted April 25, 2008 at 12:08 pm


Jim,
It is true that when a fireman rushes into a burning building he is consciously aware of the dangers he faces, but I don’t think that it ever occurs to him that getting burned will make him a better fireman. There is a difference between accepting adversity and embracing adversity as Christianity seems to ask of us (Paul, Ignatius, etc.).



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andy d

posted April 29, 2008 at 6:28 pm


To Jim Rigas: A response to your second April 23 post.
(1) The resurrection may have been added later on to Mark’s Gospel, but your analyses of the other gospels’ contradictory reports of the resurrection is completely opinionated—you cannot simply say that two other evangelists SEEM to have not written about the Resurrection themselves;
(2) Luke does NOT extend Jesus’ stay from 40 days in his gospel to 1 day in his Acts of the Apostles, for he doesn’t even tell us Jesus was around for 40 days in the former;
(3) How could John the evangelist have sought to sabotage Thomas’ reputation so as to diminish the support for his Gnostic gospel if Thomas wrote it over 100 years later!? Though you didn’t state this directly, I found that in one statement you were implying that John wrote his gospel as a competitor with that of the Gnostic writer named Thomas;
(4) How did you translate Peter’s response to Jesus in John 21 as “You know I LIKE you”? That’s really a horrible translation, for the only words in the chapter that could possibly translate as “love” from the Greek are “phileo” and “agape”—NEITHER of which can be considered “to like” more so than “to love”, no matter how much of a stretch you make with it. In addition to your obvious mistranslation, wouldn’t Jesus have made John leader of the Church if the evangelist was out to make himself look so nice?;
(5) How can you say the centrality of the Resurrection originated with Paul and his epistles when they were written not significantly long before the Gospels (if some were even written before the Gospels at all—the dates still have not been verified!) to the point where the source of the Resurrection’s centrality must be in its oral circulation throughout the Church community?;
(6) And finally, let me quote Tom: “…The problem of evil’ AS WE THINK OF IT TODAY is largely a post-Enlightenment construct…” I emphasized those six words to show that Tom did NOT mean what you folks are interpreting him to have meant. Of course the problem of evil has been addressed for hundreds upon hundreds of years. This is even implied in Tom’s explanation about “pre-modern medicine” Christians’ attitudes toward the problem of evil. Tom is saying that the problem of evil WAS a problem back then, for how else could they consciously diminish its importance—it’s just that we stumble over it MUCH more frequently today (post-Enlightenment).
(7) I could use an editor as well!



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Scott

posted May 7, 2008 at 10:41 pm


Tom wrote: “Christians who lived before modern medicine knew far more about multiple pain, suffering and apparently pointless death than most of us do, and it was close up and in the family a good deal of the time. And it didn’t shake their faith, or not too drastically. ‘The problem of evil’ as we think of it today is largely a post-Enlightenment construct.)”
Their suffering may appear pointless to us, but this is because modern medicine reveals the pointlessness of their suffering.
However, in the time of early Christianity, disease and natural disasters were often thought to be caused by supernatural beings. Such events would not have been viewed as pointless since – just like we intentionally cause things to occur – disease and natural disasters were assumed to be the intentional work of sentient, supernatural beings. One might suggest the proposed existence of supernatural beings was part of an attempt to make sense of out suffering and disasters in the absence of modern medicine, physics, etc.
The post-Enlightenment appearance of ‘The problem of evil’, which coincides with discovery of natural reasons for these events, seems to lend support this conclusion.



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Nathan

posted May 26, 2008 at 2:15 pm


Dr. Wright:
Greg Boyd has been reflecting a bit on Ehrman’s latest work on is blog. I believe the rules regarding posting comments preclude my posting a link here to his blogspot. You can simply google it I suppose.
He has written extensively on the Christus Victor motif in many of his works and hints at it in some of his recent postings regard this theme. I believe it would be worth a glance.



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Anonymous

posted July 12, 2008 at 4:33 pm


There is community and there is community. The Planet-wide community is divided into many races and groups. For awhile Humans were divided into races and genetic countries, as all European White Genetics, as Black genetics in Africa, as Oriental Yellow Genetics in the Far-East, Mid-East Brown Genetics, and the American Indians Red Genetics.
Where did all these divisions come from? Adam and Eve, when they started reproducing Humans by Body Birth? What Color were Adam and Eve?
Now many colors are mixed up, since world travel? Has Human Divisions, caused the Genetics to gain community, or religious divisions, or both?
Is it Time to have a World-wide Community? Or Blow Up our Home Planet, with all the Unequal Community Divisions, with Hate, Greed, and Weapons of Massive Destruction for our Brothers/Sisters of LIFE?



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Dolores Lear

posted August 20, 2008 at 2:13 pm


John 8: 44. KJV. “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.”
2 Peter 1:4. “Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust,”
1 John 3:9. “Whosoever is born of God doeth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.”
Romans 3:20. “Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.”
Many verses like this prove Jesus had a Celibate movement.
In Psalms 51:5, this sex lust is also recorded. “Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.”
The Bible has retained many verses to explain that the Original Sin of the Adam and Eve Clones, in Genesis, was Heterosexual Body Birth. Especially in the New Testament.
But we needed the High Tech Science Knowledge of Humans that can Colonize a Planet and Reproduce another Way, than Heterosexual Body Birth.
We have this Knowledge today, and a High Tech Science Translation of all Scriptures and Myth, will Prove this Truth, of Eternal Human Asexual Equal Male and Female Clone Physical Life After Birth.



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Dolores Lear

posted August 20, 2008 at 2:28 pm


A High Tech view of the Black Holes in Science today, was the Hell in the Bible. Similar descriptions.
With High Tech Science, when a Sun gets out of Balance of Elements it Dies, and so does it’s Solar System. When a Galaxy of Solar Systems get out of Balance they Die.
When a Universe of Galaxies gets out of Balance, it Collapses into a Black Hole, regenerates and explodes into a new Big Bang, and makes a new Universe.
This is how High Tech Science Humans have Eternal Physical Life After Birth. With their High Tech they can escape their Planet, Solar System, Galaxy, and Universe, and travel to another Universe.
This also proves there is more than One Universe, for all the Black Holes our Science can find today.



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Dolores Lear

posted August 21, 2008 at 11:48 am


Why do all the Charitable Organizations Keep struggling to feed the poor? The Poor keep growing, as the Population skyrockets. Did God Create Humans for Dying, ‘in the beginning’?
Does God hold our Human Sin against us? Why do Human Brothers/Sisters Hate each other? What is a God Sin, a Brother/Sister Sin? Unequal Sharing of the Resources, for All Life on Earth?
Adam and Eve had Equal Birth ‘in the beginning’. They become Unequal, when the Male and the Female lost and their Equality and Virginity. Why is the Female blamed for the Original Sin?
Why did the Male make the Female Reproduce Humans, when God made Humans Supernaturally? Today Our High Tech Science ‘does Know how’ to Reproduce Humans supernaturally, besides in the Female Womb.
Instead, Fallen Humans made Nuclear Bombs, to Kill all this Fallen Life they Reproduced. Why?
We do make thrones up in the air, airplanes, etc., and fiery chariots, shuttles, and Spaceships like God. God, a person was seen, sitting upon thrones in the air, and coming out of fiery pillars of cloud and fire, when they landed on a mountain.
God also walked, and talked with Humans, face to face, like Abraham and Moses. God was not a Spirit ‘Being’, but a Living Human Being. The Living Peace God, was our High Tech Science Colonizing Human Ancestors. The Living Killer God was the High Tech Noah/Atlantis Society.
Until we Accept who God is, Human or Spirit, Humans will keep on Killing and Starving our Over-Reproduced Body Birth Brothers/Sisters of Life on Earth. Fallen Humans will destroy All Life on Earth, with our Pollution and Nuclear Bombs.
Charity on Earth ‘is’ the Crumbs from the Rich Man’s Table. Our Starving Human Brothers/Sisters are still dying. Is this for Love of God, and our Brothers/Sisters of Life? Or for Greed?



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Dolores Lear

posted August 21, 2008 at 7:41 pm


Consistent Awareness, is necessary, for Peace in all phases of Life on Earth, and in Spaceships.
Once Humans, again accept our Planet is our Spaceship. The Crew Aboard should All be Equal, to the Resources and Caretaker Work Aboard, and then we will start Controlling our Runaway Population and Greed, as a Start to our High Tech Science Equal ‘Living’ again, instead of our Unequal Dying.
Eternal Physical Life After Birth, is Possible with High Tech Science Equal Human Reproduction, and Equal Sharing of all God’s Resources with All Life on our Earth Home.



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macroman

posted April 28, 2010 at 4:09 am


I note that Wright does not explain why Ehrman is outdated on apocalytic thought. Looks exactly like Wright said that as a baseless put-down to reassure his (Wright’s) fans that they can safely ignore Ehrman.



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macroman

posted April 28, 2010 at 4:18 am


“because I don’t think there is such a thing as ‘the answer’”
This would explain why Wright gives no answer – according to him there is no answer that he can explain. Obviously he won’t accept the obvious answer: there is no all-powerful, all-knowing, all-loving God who exists. At least one of these qualities of the putative God must be dropped.



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posted January 11, 2011 at 10:11 pm


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Susan E Davis

posted July 8, 2013 at 7:34 am


As usual, I can’t understand what N.T. Wright is saying. I can understand most writers. I’m having no problems understanding Bart Erhman. But Dr. Wright just sounds like he’s talking round and round using big words in long sentences that add up to about nothing. It’s frustrating. Maybe my brain doesn’t process information the same way his does?



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