Thursday, November 17, 2005

The End of the World As We Know It

I was going to condense some of last night's lecture. In the process, I realized that I would not be condensing anything unless I presented a minutes of the talk. The only way to explain N.T. Wright is to break off a few pieces and start chewing. For you Wright fans, probably none of this material will be new; if I misrepresent him or his beliefs, please correct me.

  • Wright's view of apocalypse is more about his view of Easter. (Ultimately, Jesus and the gospel are apocalypse - the unveiling of the righteousness of God.) The resurrection of Jesus is the beginning, the birth, of the New Creation and the New Creation is, for Wright, what "the end of the world" is all about. As I understand it, Wright does not believe in a rapture or a literal millennial period of history (though I need to read more about his view of millennial prophecy - my guess is that he would find it either metaphorical or descriptive of the New Creation).
  • The material world is the locale of evil - it is not evil. It was and is meant to be our home. We are not bound for Heaven, more Wrightly viewed, Heaven is bound for us. And even to use the word bound creates problems because Wright believes that we create a distance between Heaven and Earth that is not revealed in the biblical record. Jewish thought viewed Heaven and Earth as two interconnecting, overlapping spheres. Thus Heaven could be peered into by Elisha and his servant (surrounded by a heavenly host) and John could pierce through the veil as well. The temple is perhaps the best example of this interconnectedness. The Israelites did not go to the temple in order for them to be in a place like Heaven. They were going into the very presence of God - into Heaven itself.
  • Apocalyptic events in our lives include (1) the preaching of the gospel, or the proclamation of Jesus as Lord, (2) Christian worship, in which we join together with all the saints and the angels, and (3) in Christian ethics - not about a set of rules, but about the fact that the New Creation has begun and we are agents of that New Creation. Each of these events is apocalyptic because they unveil God and his righteousness and they unveil the New Creation begun in us.
  • The sacraments are apocalyptic as well - unveiling more than remembrance, substance as well as symbol. The Eucharist, for instance, is apocalyptic as it reaches forward into the future and reveals our fellowship with Christ in the present. Just as the spies brought back the fruit of the Promised Land to be enjoyed in the wilderness, so the Eucharist brings back the fruits of the New Creation into the "wilderness" of our present lives.

Anyway, a few ideas. If you have thoughts, questions, additions, or corrections, please share.


ScottB said...

Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's seat at the NT Wright lecture.

Bah, it's not working - arrrgh!

Sounds like a great time. Some of this is new to me; I suspect it's in The Resurrection and the Son of God, or maybe stuff he's working on for one of the upcoming books. That piece on heaven as overlapping - that, I'm going to chew on.

Scott said...

"If only we had eyes to see! The whole earth is full of God's glory."

Scott said...

Berkhimer, I wish you could have been there. I felt privileged to hear him speak.

I also wish more of the college students would have seized upon this opportunity - there were so few of them there.

J.R. Woodward said...

Hey, thanks for posting your notes. Are you aware if audio tapes are available on the web at all?

Scott said...

J.R., unless I'm missing it, they have not yet posted the mp3's at I don't know if they will. I hope they do, however, because there was much that I missed.