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Jesus Cursed By God For Our Capital Crimes?
This was very readable if a bit verbose, much restatement of opinions previously published at quite some length. Disappointing that little really new in Wright’s revisionary belief system was presented – neo-perspectivism, rejiggering the Gospel by neodefining key Biblical concepts like sin, righteousness, Kingdom of God, justice, faith, grace, salvation, eternal life, etc. He has a gift for freshly restating and refashioning his quasi-protestant themes for popular consumption that garners him a loyal following across a spectrum from liberal skeptics like Brian McLaren, Rob Bell, Pete Enns to compromising evangelicals like Witherington, Hurtado(?), Ortberg and Bird (even usually solid Michael Horton seems led astray in his recent review!?! – approvingly welcoming this latest book as standalone improvement from the not so glowingly reviewed ‘Justification’ that caused such an uproar. Which for Horton seems to have died down to a dull roar?) If you are looking for unconventional ecumenical christism, Wright is your friendly contemporary purveyor of Extreme Makeover of the Kingdom Gospel.
Wrightism = critical re-evaluationism. For him, Atonement (reconciliation to God, restored right relations) is “representative” not penal. It’s not so much satisfying JudgeJehovah but fulfilling God’s covenant to Abraham to “bless-the-world-thru-Jesus-as-Israel’s-archetype-agent.” Any archaic backward primitive notion of an angry God’s wrath on sinners demanding animal (Old Passover covenant) then divine/human (New Eucharist covenant) blood sacrifice is so out of date passé and just wrong (not Wright!) Jesus was our substitute only in a federal or collective sense of martyrdom for a cause, acting in the role of “God-in-sandals” or human version of God merged with the role of ‘Ultimate-Israelite’ in place of failed Israel to reconcile all estranged parties (Jehovah & Jews/Gentiles) in his Messianic Person.
As self-appointed God-endorsed Messianic Mediator, Jesus hoped his life and death would send a message to both God and his audience to inspire people out of exile from selfish choices & consequences, worshiping the One True Monotheistic God (Wright’s Jesus is NOT Supreme Being by the way!) instead of manmade idols. Since Abraham’s sacrifice of his son Isaac (stopped by God at the last second) was not punitive or judicial, how could God the Father wrathfully punish or execute His Own guiltless Son for others’ crimes? This would be tantamount to cosmic child abuse as many in support of Wright have asserted. What Jesus did on the cross was above all Exemplary, a role model for humanity to take up their cross also in selfless sacrificial love for others. It’s not about divine justice (settling some cosmic sin-score to balance the heavenly ledger), but social justice. Being better humans means being better to other humans and to the Creator means better humanity. Jesus was the Ultimate Good Samaritan. Now we are to go and do likewise. THAT’s the Gospel according to Wright (and McLaren & McKnight & Rob Bell & other emergent authors who quote Wright early and often, so quick with Amen’s to endorse Wright’s books with flowery cover blurbs.) Contrary to Jesus’ own words, the revolutionary kingdom gospel is: Christ is SuperKing of the planet, any and all who pledge loyalty to him – ‘Jesus is Lord, not Caesar/Czar/Kaiser/President/Emperor/Royalty/Ruler’ – as subjects of the Global Governor, constitute the Kingdom on earth (professing Christendom & even beyond). They are hereby recruited to regain their creational vocation as Image-bearers of God, transformers and nonviolent revolutionaries ushering in a new Golden Rule age of New Eden & New Promised Land & New return from exile & New Jerusalem & New heaven-upon-earth in a ReGenesis. Let’s get busy, Protestants-Catholics-eastern-orthodox-liberals-conservatives-nonevangelicals – all who profess Jesus is Lord (cults like JW, LDS, etc.?) and make it happen! We have our marching orders! The invasion starts here! The revolution begins now! Onward Christian Avengers (pacifist non-violent loving co-conquering heroes with Christ)!
Parable: The Kingdom of God is like a prisoner of war camp where the prisoners plotted to overpower their guards, kill the commandant and escape with the help of the underground. The plot was rejected by the senior officer who did not want to risk lives so close to a certain end to the war as allied armies approached. The escape committee overruled him and persuaded a majority of inmates to carry out the plan. It went off poorly as several guards were killed and the commandant wounded during the attempted breakout. All escaped inmates were quickly recaptured. The commandant was outraged and ordered withholding food rations, the cooler, torture, mass execution of prisoners at will to set an example of military discipline and wartime justice for the enemy. The senior officer who was innocently uninvolved in the escape petitioned for clemency if he could be punished on behalf of his men since he assumed full responsibility for their conduct. With the war nearing an end, the commandant chose to exercise leniency but insisted justice must be served and someone punished for such gross misconduct. The senior officer was executed by hanging in the center of the camp before all the guards and prisoners. The commandant announced, “Justice has been served. You all deserved what happened to your commanding officer, but now you are hereby pardoned. I also announce that the war is over as declared by my government. You are free men. Liberating forces from your army are in route to secure your safe conduct from this camp. Attention! Dismissed!”
Kingdom Parable: A person was caught in a rip current at the beach and swept out to sea. Going under for the third time about to drown, a rider on a jet ski came up reciting First Aid procedures to the drowning person: if only one followed proper techniques of optimum swimming, handling such hazards with specialized safety measures, cooperative rescue involved a series of lessons of Swim coaching (New Perspective of Swim) which the jet ski rider was expert in. Not hearing a clear response, the rider went off looking for others in the surf zone. A deadly shark closed in to attack as the drowning person began to lose consciousness. Just then a Lifeguard grabbed hold and began towing the victim toward safety. The shark attacked the Lifeguard leaving blood in the water. With his last dying gasp, the Lifeguard heaved the helpless victim onto a surfboard pushing it toward shore. Finally, a wave surge swamped the mortally wounded Lifeguard submerging his shark-bitten body out of sight. Moments later the victim sputtered awake, opening eyes that realized what happened: the heroic selfless Lifeguard gratuitously, single-handedly sacrificed his own life to rescue the helpless victim from perishing in certain doom.
Wright’s book (actually, all The Wrightings so far) presents the Swim coach riding the jet ski, offering lessons, narratives, techniques, perspectives that will revolutionize your life. God’s Book (The Jesus Bible of the Bible Jesus) offers the Lifeguard to rescue your life from Perdition, Doom & Divine Wrath of Judgment upon death.
Wright offers Lawspel; Jesus and Paul and Peter and John and Isaiah and David and Abraham and the Prophets & Apostles offer Gospel. Wright preaches a revolutionary figure like Che Guevara (non-violent pacifist version of course) or Gandhi or M. L. King, Jr. as mankind’s ultimate utopian hope and example to emulate. Righteousness preaches a Savior Rescuer Redeemer Ransomer Passover Lamb Blood Sacrifice God demanded Justice on Sin bringing Mercy to Sinners. Jesus was given Hell’s sentence so we Barabbas convicted criminals could be pardoned with eternal life forgiveness now and heaven (God’s face-to-face existence) hereafter. Jesus the Holy One was cursed so unholy ones could be blessed. Sinless Jesus was treated as universal collective sinfulness so guilty evildoers could be treated as sin free. True believing Christians wait for God’s Son from heaven Who saves us from the coming wrath. All disbelieving will have no hope facing the Wrath of the Lamb of Revelation on that great and dreadful Judgment Day of the Lord’s fierce outrage on sinful terminal unbelief against the condemnation-bearing Cross of Christ.
Overview of fatal contrabiblical deal killers with The Wrightings (all his recent books like Surprised by Hope, How God Became King, Justification, After You Believe, Paul & Faithfulness of God, Kingdom New Testament, etc.) must be taken as a whole like the Bible itself to get a full-orbed view of his devangelical updated/upgraded Lawspel ‘Revolution: Reconsidering the Cross’. None of the controversial dogmatic iconoclastic contra-historic-confessional-evangelic positions (the devil a subpersonal entity – not a literal active fallen angel personage at all, just a representative figure for evil called ‘the Satan’; all Scripture not theopneustos God-breathing; Jesus not full-on Deity as Jehovah Jr.; righteousness = covenant faithfulness vs. acceptably right in God’s sight/heaven-approved; imputation mostly a fiction or misrepresented muddled reformational misconception; etc.) are retracted or softened or reconsidered in this book and thus must be incorporated by reference when reading as the latest re-release of his christism belief system. Caution must be used when reading Wright ply common Bible theological terms – he cleverly uses his own novel contradictionary redefinitions often without notice or warning, unfootnoted. It’s all too easy for undiscerning readers to take such terminology on one’s own terms instead of Implicit- Wright-intended (Triune God, Deity of Christ, Jesus identified with/as God, Scripture is God’s self-disclosure, Redeem, Ransom, Blood Sacrifice, Atonement, Justified by Faith, Judgment, etc.) Just reading his bibliography (here and elsewhere) is instructive. Revelation 22:18 comes to mind with heaven-sent plagues of deception, delusion, distortion, deviance inflicted on all who inflict additives upon the ‘bible-as-if-homebrew-recipe’ mixing in outside influences/ingredients to suit the taste of the month.
*NT (re)Wright Version of the Bible (NTrWV) is not so humbly quoted as near sole source contrary to all generally accepted versions like NIV, NASB, NRSV, NKJV. His Kingdom New Testament is not so much a translation as a transplantation, similar to Watchtower reversion/distortion New World Translation (NWT) of Jehovah Witnesses cult. Extra discernment required when an expert scholastic self-authority figure pulls rank and overrides established Bible version precedent with his own personal ‘peer unreviewed’ self-presumed most accurate interpretations baked in. See internet review of his reversion called “Tom’s Targum”.
*Wright claims Paul invented Christian Theology / Church Gospel / Messianic Kingdom Evangel of Justified by covenant faithfulness via God’s Saving Project for the World thru Israel (Jesus as representative ideal Israelite). Whoa! Just read Book of Acts, Galatians, Peter’s epistles, Revelation to fact-check this outrageous claim. Last time we checked, Newton discovered gravity but didn’t invent it; Einstein postulated relativity/E=mc2, didn’t create the reality. Beware of what Wright is claiming to invent or discover that Paul invented or discovered or …see varied versions of his lectures How Paul Invented Christian Theology describing the church as his prime image symbol of the Christian faith vs. the Cross! Jesus’ gospel was just an enacted dramatized raw drafted undeveloped announcement: God has become king! Paul’s invention was to cast, stage, develop the gospel ‘Jesus is Lord not Caesar’ into full blown production and create a new worldview for churches to think out all of life via this messiah monotheism mindset so the vocationally restored (i.e. sin neutralized nullified by Christ’s ideal example for us to emulate) people of God in ecumenical transdenominational unity can usher in revolutionary end time Golden Rule age of love and peace on earth.
*Wright is a huge proponent of quasi-dominionism, kingdom-here-and-now, pseudo-postmillennialism hybrid. Sadly, he is mixed up because he doesn’t really know all the Scriptures or the power of God a la Sadducees on one side and Gamaliel/Nicodemus on the other with Brian McLaren (’emergent church has a non-violent God’)-Rob Bell (anti-hell)-Pete Enns (‘Noah’s global flood? Nah!’) in the middle.
The Lord Jesus said clearly and often: My Kingdom is not of this world. God’s Kingdom does not manifest in earthbound conventional ways that get publicity’s attention front page headline news politically-socially-ecologically-culturally-imperially as a geo-territorial regional or global conquering or elected force whether ballots or bullets for regime change as a historic manmade movement (name your -ism).God’s Kingdom is within/inside a person – internal regulation governance by the Spirit of His Majesty King Jesus in the true believer’s heart where inner faith manifests in outer love meeting people’s needs in Jesus’ Name to Heaven’s Glory, not transfer of power/revolution against established societal order. The Kingdom of God is Righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit, per Paul in Romans. Seek first the Kingdom of God including God’s Righteousness, per the Lord Jesus in Sermon on the Mount.
When thief on the cross cried out, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your Kingdom”, the Lord replied, “I tell you truly, Today you will be with Me in Paradise.”
The Kingdom of God is like leavening yeast…is like a mustard seed…like a farmer sowing seeds…like five wise and five foolish bridesmaids…Pharisee & Tax Collector…study carefully all Kingdom of Heaven parables for spiritual scale/scope of Jesus’ dominion.
*Wright is the supreme latter day eisegete impressing so many with his brilliant scholastic expertise a premier theologian (see gushing 5star reviews of his recent works & cover endorsements). What surefire optimum Swim coach hermeneutic technique sets him above & apart from competition now or ever in Church History as interpreter par excellence? Brace yourself. He selectively picks New Testament texts as raw material for his grand neonarrative and processes them with his unique brand of reperspectivized filtration system (finally-put-to-rights-Perspective-on-Paul as corrective antidote to all those prior) which is a hybrid of assorted Old Testament plus targumic texts plus second temple rabbinic literature plus Dead Sea Scrolls plus favored 20th-century liberal skeptic authorities Albert Schweitzer, EP Sanders, CH Dodd, James Dunn & Co. Et Voila! Eisegesis, Impure Untruth just the opposite of how Jesus himself in the Holy Spirit taught genuine disciples how to do Bible: use Old Testament texts as raw material processing them with error free filtration system of New Testament Gospels Acts Epistles Revelation. Miracle! ExeJesus, Pure Truth, Heaven’s Official Position, Gospel not Lawspel, Evangelical not Devangelical.
*His ‘gospel’ is extreme makeover Lawspel, with final justification (sin forgiveness = eternal life = treated deemed considered righteous in God’s sight gratis for Jesus’ blood’s sake) based also on one’s life lived. Instead of the Bible’s eternal retirement plan of employer-only contribution with absolute zero employee matching, Wright gives the world a better surer guaranteed hope of a shared co-op plan with employer’s contribution matched by the employee’s life lived/conduct/moral virtues/behavior after one believes, etc. It used to be Just Faith, Period. Now it’s Faith Plus. Formerly Just Jesus, Period. Now it’s Jesus and (fill in the blank ________). You have heard it said that Jesus is sole soul Lifeguard/Safeguard as afterlife insurance hell-protection. But Wright says unto you that Jesus according to what Paul really said and meant is Swim coach, kingdom-now life assurance earth-restoration revolutionary agent recruiting as many earthlings as possible to the utopian project of vocational recovery for renovation of this time/space here & now, don’t worry about the pros or cons of traditional heaven/hell Rich Man & Lazarus scenarios of the hereafter which is entirely beside the point (as McLaren & Rob Bell insist!)
The Bible is clear: our Justification comes NOT by Sanctification (Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, liberalism, semi-pelagian protestants, cults) but the reverse is true: Sanctification flows from our Justification (otherwise as James warns it is mere justi-fiction – professed faith vs. possessed faith all form no substance, a body with no breathing/pulse.)
*Wright writes on and on of ‘return from exile’, ‘revolution’, bringing God’s Kingdom to bear on earth is the gospel, NOT going to heaven when we die or avoiding hell from a sin-hating righteously indignant wrathful Being with anger management issues ready to exterminate his enemies, etc. Trouble is: where is ‘return from exile’ theme clearly discussed by Jesus in Gospels? Peter in Acts sermons? Paul in epistles? John in Revelation’s visions? What does this ‘exile’ have to do with Gentiles since it involves Jews only?? Where is this ‘revolution’ described by the Lord or the apostles as their true life purpose? Not really in any texts of New Testament. But PLENTY of texts of people seeking how to obtain eternal life, get saved, avoid hell’s permanent perpetual perdition, gaining Paradise and heaven’s victory crown in afterlife. Wright foregrounds what is background and sidelights what Scripture spotlights.
Who is Jesus? Lifeguard or Swim coach? Why did he suffer separation from God under divine condemnation and a butchered lamb’s bloodletting? What is the Whole Bible’s Good News for humankind headed to its grave? What is this life all about right now? What is the afterlife, heaven or hell? What really happens when you die? What happens when you really start to live the Jesus Life? How can anyone know for certain if and how they have Eternal Life in cross-fastened-Lamb King-crowned-with-thorns? Why the Bloodbath?
What do Christ’s nail prints on His resurrected hands and the spear scar on His risen body truly mean? Your eternal life or eternal death depend on the answer Wright fails to provide with all his revolutionary reconsidering and reperspectiving.
Do you identify with guilty convicted sentenced condemned worthy of capital punishment Barabbas? With the thief on the cross who admitted, “We are punished justly for our criminal offenses, but this crucified man Jesus has done nothing deserving execution”?
Jesus on the Cross is God’s Ultimate Prisoner Exchange, His life swapped for ours, the righteous for the unrighteous wicked ungodly sinner to bring the hell bound guilty to God by sheer undeserved comped MERCY.
- WITHOUT THE SHEDDING OF BLOOD THERE IS NO SIN FORGIVENESS.
- LOOK! THE LAMB OF GOD WHO TAKES AWAY THE SIN OF THE WORLD!
- THE BLOOD OF JESUS GOD’S SON CLEANSES US FROM ALL SIN.
- CHRIST OUR PASSOVER LAMB HAS BEEN SACRIFICED.
- TO HIM WHO LOVES US AND HAS RELEASED US FROM OUR SINS BY HIS BLOOD…BE SAVED FROM THIS CROOKED CORRUPT GENERATION!
- THE KINGDOM OF GOD IS AT HAND, REPENT AND BELIEVE IN THE GOSPEL.
- I AM NOT ASHAMED OF THE GOSPEL, FOR IT IS GOD’S POWER FOR SALVATION TO ALL BELIEVING JEWS & GENTILES.
- FOR IN THE GOSPEL GOD’S RIGHTEOUSNESS IS REVEALED WHICH IS BY FAITH FOR BELIEVING (by repenting faith, period, so it may be believed, period, not achieved at all), AS IT IS WRITTEN – THE RIGHTEOUSED (comped gratis) WILL LIVE (eternal life) BY FAITH (period).