For decades I have believed that Christ gives each member of His body a unique portion. For decades I have believed that if we separate ourselves from any true believers in Christ because of doctrinal differences on disputable matters, we will separate ourselves from the blessings of those portions meant to benefit Christ’s body as a whole.
In spite of my belief, I have systematically chosen Christian speakers and authors (and maybe even friends) in an obvious pattern of bias confirmation, avoiding believers who disagree with me on points that I consider non-negotiable. Praise be to the God who used The Veritas Forum to demolish the wall I had unwittingly built around myself in more areas than just the age of the earth.
In the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas my knowledge of the Lord was expanded by Ian Hutchinson (who uncritically accepts evolution), by Tim Keller (whose political views border on socialism), by Peter Kreeft (who converted from Reformed to Roman Catholic), and even by John Polkinghorne (who doesn’t know when a human zygote becomes a human person). However, the deepest impact on my life came through an Anglican bishop, N.T. Wright. His books Simply Christian, Simply Jesus, and How God Became King have the aroma of heaven about them. Often while reading his books or listening to him speak, I am reminded of the difference between one who knows the Bible well and one who walks with the Living Word of God. Tom Wright is definitely the latter.
Alas at every turn, whenever I have attempted to share the riches I found in N.T.Wright’s wonderful retelling of the old, old story of Jesus and His love, I am warned against him. With few exceptions, the warning has come from one who has never read his books, but who has simply accepted another’s opinion of what Wright is teaching.
That is how our blind spots and our biases perpetuate the divisions in the body of Christ. Our personal understanding of doctrine (in this case the meaning of justification) becomes the basis of our fellowship rather our mutual relationship with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Like the eye speaking to the hand in I Corinthians 12:21, members of Christ’s body say “because N.T. Wright questions the tradition of the reformation, we have no need of him.”
According to my personal understanding of doctrine, I disagree with Tom Wright in at least three significant areas: creation, gender roles, and purpose of government. However, his books and talks paint a portrait of the Lord, high and lifted up and rightfully adored. I can only thank a teacher who expands my vision of Jesus, even if he challenges my personal biases. That is the only way my blind spots will be exposed, and I thank God for the sometimes painful but always enlightening process.
We are blessed to live in a century when a debate over justification does not result in the bloody wars that ravaged Europe during the Reformation. Yet the spiritual battle is just as real now as it was then, and our enemy is just as determined as ever to divide and conquer the body of Christ. We all need to understand How God Became King, how God is our King now, and how He rules and reigns through His people on Earth.
If we come together in the sure knowledge of Jesus Christ and Him crucified, (1 Corinthians 2:2) we can trust the Spirit to lead us in all truth. Whether or not you have been warned about N.T.Wright, I would recommend that you read him for yourself and, like the fair-minded Bereans, search the scriptures to discover whether or not what he says is so.