Wright and Dogmatics

I commented on a blog yesterday that N.T. Wright is trying to say a lot of what the dogmatic tradition is trying to say – i.e Chalcedon – but using different language. By this I mean that Wright is trying to explain (for example) the relations of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit and Jesus’ self-understanding without using the same grammar. Instead of nature, substance, essence, hypostatic union, etc, Wright is using Jewish grammar – Wisdom, Word, etc, to explain the relations between the Trinity and Jesus’ humanity/divinity.

This is not an arbitrary move. Wright sees the classical grammar not as wrong per se – he’s not one of those ‘damn you and your Pagan Greek philosophy!’ types – but as unnecessary, because had the Church not strayed from (to paraphrase Wright) the secure harbours of Jewish thought, she would have seen that, though different, more subtle and more nuanced, Scripture came with Trinitarian/christological grammar built in, and not had to develop the grammar that it did.

Wright is hardly above criticism in this. He doesn’t seem to want to integrate what he’s saying with the dogmatic tradition – which is just odd. His christology leaves something to be desired. His ideas on election aren’t very fleshed out. A lot of his ideas in general aren’t spelled out with systematic rigour. These are all things he needs to reckon with.


One thought on “Wright and Dogmatics

  1. Cal February 8, 2014 / 10:41 am

    I appreciate some of Wright’s recalcitrance to be placed within a dogmatic framework. Scripture tells a dynamic story, and not necessarily amenable to a system or categories in book form. Teaching is for the purposes of preaching, so I’m curious how Wright would sound from a pulpit and not from the lecture-stand or in his text.

    And there’s nothing more trinitarian than Peter’s confession “You are the Christ, the Son of God”. That densely packed statement has a lot going for it that’s easy to skip.


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