N.T. Wright and new labels for the 5 columns

Russell Minick 2 Comments

Creation – Fall – Redemption – Transformation – Completion

Those were some of the earliest headings for my diagram of trying to tell the broad story of life revealed in the Bible.   While studying for a sermon on the baptism of Jesus, I came across something from Tom Wright that offers new headings:

Jesus’s own baptism and his carefully planned Last Supper both point back to the original exodus (the coming-through-the-water moment), point behind that to the original creation itself, and finally point on to Jesus s death and resurrection as the new defining reality, the moment of new covenant, new creation. And to achieve that renewal it was necessary to go, not just through the water and out the other side, but through a deeper flood altogether. All the multiple layers of meaning that were already present in baptism were now to be recentered on the event of Jesus’s death and resurrection. Through the water into God’s new world…  The point is that the story which baptism tells is God’s own story, from creation and covenant to new covenant and new creation, with Jesus in the middle of it and the Spirit brooding over it. In baptism, you are brought into that story… Through the water to become part of God’s purpose for the world.  http://ntwrightpage.com/Wright_Believing_Belonging.htm

Creation  >  Covenant  –  JESUS  –  New Covenant  <  New Creation
A significant launching point for this project for me has been the missionary message to pagan idolatry, particularly Acts 17 on Mars Hill.  The primary issue to be framed is CREATION VS CREATOR.  In animistic settings it is explicit.  Don’t worship a thing you create, even if it is inhabited by a spirit, which is also created.  In materialistic post-spiritual communities it is more implicit.  It comes off as labored to explain the idolatry of living to your own appetites (though it is just as true an expression of idolatry as worshipping a decorated rock).  
The issue that has bugged me is the lack of attention given to the massive story of Israel.  I can draw it out in column 2, but it takes some doing.  The diagram shows human hearts upside down, pressed down under an upside down world.  Arrows point up, representing our souls gasping for life.  The created desire to worship our God gets intercepted by the oppressively present fallen creation.  Ruled by the ‘powers and principalities’ we have a million and one forms of idolatry, but it is all to ‘ha satan’ the adversary of the One True God.
What is implicit in column 2 is that the Creator is not without a witness.  In creation, yes, but particularly in the covenant people of Israel.  The arrow descending from column 2 to column 3 represents the incarnation of Jesus (John 1, Philippians 2, etc).  BUT, the arrow is amplified by Hebrews 1:

In the past God spoke <sup class="crossreference" style="font-size: 0.65em; font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(A)”>to our ancestors through the prophets <sup class="crossreference" style="font-size: 0.65em; font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(B)”>at many times and in various ways, but in these last days <sup class="crossreference" style="font-size: 0.65em; font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(D)”>he has spoken to us by his Son 

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Comments 2

  1. My friend, I just found your blog through Facebook…totally on board with this post. The two biggest influences on my dissertation were Piper and Wright. As a consequence, people think I'm a closet “liberal.” In actual fact, I want people to read ALL the text, including those parts between Gen 3 and Rom 3, which are so lacking in most evangelical articulations of the gospel…I'll stop now before I rehash my first major chapter here on your blog. –Brad Vaughn

  2. hey, i'm looking forward to your dissertation. As for the Right Reverend Bishop Tom Wright… I remember him going on once about the principle of the reformation being more important than the principals of the reformation (actually, the phrasing is mine… hmm, I should write that!). Essentially arguing that some of the critique of his reading of justification is based on the canon of reformation, not the canon of Scripture. And that just like the great reformers, if we see that something has been read less than best, let the text reform your thinking! (nothing too liberal about that!!!)

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