Monday, April 23, 2007

Carson Review of Wright on "Evil and the Justice of God"

Andy Naselli: "Today the Review of Biblical Literature published D. A. Carson's review of N. T. Wright's Evil and the Justice of God. Carson's penetrating review is available as a 10-page PDF."

I highly recommend it. Here are the closing, insightful paragraphs:
I do not detail these things because I have not benefited from Wright’s book. Far from it. But it appears that Wright’s powerful and imaginative mind is stronger in the domain of constructive systematic theology than in the domain of exegesis. He is stronger in understanding what the resurrection is about than in understanding what the cross is about. Or, otherwise put (as Douglas J. Moo once suggested), where Wright is right (and he often is), he tends to background what the biblical texts put in the foreground and foreground what they put in the background.

Finally, a few merely annoying things. (1) Why is it that everyone else’s understanding of the atonement can be repeatedly dismissed as mere abstract theories of the atonement, while his own presentation escapes the rubric? Are not the (other) “theories of the atonement” grounded, in their writers’ minds, in what actually happened, in what God actually accomplished? And does not Wright’s own understanding of what God actually accomplished constitute another “theory of the atonement”? The shift in terminology is merely a way of dismissing the views of others and sanctifying his own. (2) More broadly, Wright has a penchant for replicating the Elijah syndrome: “And I, even I only, am left.” To offer but one of many examples: “The trouble with imagining the future world is that we’ve all been given the wrong impression” (114). Well, I suppose we should be grateful that we have now been given the Wright impression.
See also Adrian Warnock's interaction with a new Wright article. And Jim Hamilton offers some measured thoughts and asks some good questions.