N.T. Wright is a world-renowned New Testament scholarauthor of Jesus and the Victory of God, The Resurrection of the Son of Godand bishop of Durham in the Church of England. He is also a keen observer of culture. ct senior writer Tim Stafford caught up with Wright as he drove from meetings at Windsor Castle to his diocese in Durham. They talked about communicating the gospel in a post-Christian society.
Your book Simply Christian speaks to people outside the faith, in what must be a conscious imitation of C.S. Lewis's Mere Christianity. What made you want to write to that audience?
I suppose I've always wanted to say to my contemporaries in the wider world, "This stuff matters; it's life transforming; it's world transforming." Much of my academic life has been spent exploring underlying issues, particularly about the central events in the gospel. But now it really is time to say, "So what does it mean?"
Because I've done all that historical work, my view of the gospel and how it works out in the real world has been deepened and enriched in all kinds of ways that I would never have guessed 25 years ago when I was starting out writing about Jesus. So in Simply Christian there's a lot about justice, what it means to be human in the mandate to work, the putting to rights of God's world, generating beauty, alleviating poverty, working with ecology. Thirty years ago I would have said those were secondary issues.
There's an old evangelical saying, "If he's not Lord of all, he's not Lord at all." That was always applied personally and pietistically. I want to say exactly the same thing but apply it to the world. We're talking about Jesus as the Lord of the worldnot the Lord of people's private spiritual interiority ...