The Virtue of Digital Distancing, Especially in Times of Crisis – Seedbed

But while social distancing is necessary, it’s clear that we need to also increase the distance between ourselves and our digital devices. We’ll stay six feet away from people, no problem, but that 16 inches between your face and your phone or computer screen may be the most dangerous distance in all of this. The constant hum of bad news, false information, anecdotal evidence, wild speculation, poor behavior, and wringing of hands has made social media (and even the regular news) a vast dumpster fire that threatens to burn out of control. People are anxious beyond the capacity of reason. Every moment, it seems, there’s another story, rumor, statistic, or meme that vacillates between predicting a genuine apocalypse or dismissing this crisis as hysteria.
— Read on

Wright on Christians Living in Community

The New Testament’s appeal to people for a new way of relating to one another, a way of kindness, a way that accepts the fact of anger but refuses to allow it to dictate the terms of engagement, is based four-square on the achievement of Jesus. His death has accomplished our forgiveness; very well, we must then pass that on to one another. We must become, must be known as, the people who don’t hold grudges, who don’t sulk. We must be the people who know how to say ‘Sorry’, and who know what to do when other people say it to us. It is remarkable, once more, how difficult this still seems, considering how much time the Christian church has had to think about it and how much energy has been spent on expounding the New Testament where it is all so clear. Perhaps it is because we have tried, if at all, to do it as though it were just a matter of obeying an artificial command—and then, finding it difficult, have stopped trying because nobody else seems to be very good at it either. Perhaps it might be different if we reminded ourselves frequently that we are preparing for life in God’s new world, and that the death and resurrection of Jesus, which by baptism constitute our own new identity, offer us both the motivation and the energy to try again in a new way.

N. T. Wright, Simply Christian, 196.

Fee: Who Owns the Church?

The gospel is God’s thing, and his alone, and so too, therefore, is the church. The church, he argues strenuously, belongs neither to himself, nor to Apollos, nor to them. The church belongs to God through Christ, and all of its ministers, including the founders (!), are merely servants.

Gordon D. Fee, The First Epistle to the Corinthians, The New International Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1987), 825.

Another thing we have largely lost sight of.

Wright and Bird on the Nature of First Century Christian Meetings

Though we do indeed sometimes think of the movement as a ‘religion’, a first-century observer, blundering in to a meeting of Christians, would almost certainly have seen it first and foremost as some kind of educational institution, a kind of philosophical school in which prayer and worship happened to be central but didn’t displace the sense of eager learning. This is the more remarkable in that education in that world was mostly reserved for the rich, for the elite.

N. T. Wright and Michael F. Bird, The New Testament in Its World: An Introduction to the History, Literature, and Theology of the First Christians (London; Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Academic; SPCK, 2019), 849.

Too bad we left that behind. We have given it all over to selling fire insurance.

Paul: A Biography, NT Wright

I just finished reading Wright’s biography of Paul. Wright has written thousands and thousands of pages, and many of them about Paul and his writings, and I have read nearly all of those pages over the years.

But this book is different.

Not only do I feel like I know Paul better from reading this book, but I also feel like I know Tom Wright better. Or maybe I should say that I see a pastoral side to Wright that is often overpowered by the scholarly Wright.

I can say it’s my favorite Tom Wright book of them all. So far. And that’s saying a lot, since they are all my favorites.

The last chapter on why Paul was successful is worth the price of the whole book. I recommend this book to anyone in ministry, especially to pastors. And I recommend it to serious laymen like myself who care about the church and who aren’t willing to accept the status quo without question.