Friday, July 21, 2006

Winner of the Best Recent Evangelical Book Poll

Poll Winner, N. T. Wright for his The Resurrection of the Son of God
6% The Drama of Doctrine (WJK 2005) by Kevin Vanhoozer
24% The Gagging of God (Zonervan/Apollos 1996) by D A Carson
18% God in the Wasteland (IVP 1994) by David Wells
12% The Old Evangelicalism (Banner of Truth Trust 2005) by Iain Murray
41% The Resurrection of the Son of God (SPCK 2003) by N. T. Wright
Even if (like me) you are not convinced by Wright's espousal of the 'New Perspective on Paul', you will be impressed by his book on the resurrection of Christ. It is a masterly defence of the bodily resurrection of Christ as an historical event. This work is packed full of historical scholarship, detailed Scriptural exegesis and deeply Biblical theology.
The resurrection constitutes Jesus as the world's true sovereign, the 'son of god' who claims absolute allegiance from everyone and everything within creation. He is the start of the creator's new world: its pilot project, indeed its pilot. (p. 731)


Brian said...

I agree not everything Wright writes is troublesome. Just the stuff on the NPP. I hear the one on the resurrection is unparalleled.

David Shedden said...

I'm not so sure - is Wright an evangelical at all, or is he just outstanding proof that the label doesn't mean much (in theological terms at least) anymore?

It is, indeed, a great book. But, Pannenberg has written some great stuff on the resurrection and history. Does that make him a potential winner of this award?

Love your blog, by the way - so, don't take my post as critical - I'm just amazed that Wright's book won, and that so many of your readers consider it an evangelical book.

Guy Davies said...

Hi David,

I disagree with Wright on the New Perspective and on his view that a person who denies the bodily resurrection of Christ can still be regarded as a Christian. I was dismayed to see NTW's commendation of Steve Chalke's The Lost Message of Jesus. Your piccy suggests that you bear more than a passing resemblance to the great B. B. Warfield! NTW's doctrine of Scripture is not as sound as good old BBW's.

The inclusion of his book in the Poll was not a wholesale acceptance of all that NTW stands for. I thought that Carson or Wells might get the prize. My vote went to the Don.

Having said that, The Resurrection of the Son of God is a major work of recent evangelical scholarship. It is among the best books on the resurrection of Christ to my knowledge.

I'm no expert on Pannenberg, but from what I know he seems to be a lot less conservative than NTW. For example, he regards the virgin birth of Christ as a legend, while NTW accepts the Biblical testimony.

Hi Brian,

If you want an in-depth and thorough exposition of the resurrection of Christ, Wright's book is the one to read. Its horses for courses really isn't it? We may not look to NTW for a sound exposition of justification by faith (although we should be aware of what he's saying). But on many other matters we can find much help in his writings.

Steven Carr said...

NT Wright on Christians who don't believe God can work miracles
On page 343 of the Bishop of Durham's book 'The Resurrection of the Son of God', NT Wright examines these two questions that Paul says the Corinthians are asking about the resurrection of the dead, which they denied.

1 Corinthians 15:35 'But someone may ask, "How are the dead raised? With what kind of body will they come?"'

Wright ignores the fact that Paul takes for granted that the Corinthians believed God could breathe life into dead matter, and tells us that the most natural way of reading the first question is that the Corinthians were wondering who could perform a resurrection.

Wright wants people to believe the Corinthians denied that resurrections were possible, because they could not work out who had the power to do it.

These people had converted to Jesus-worship, accepted the story of Adam being created , and believed in God, and Wright wants people to believe they did not know of any agent who could raise the dead.

Surely, this is way too much too swallow. Has Wright really thought it through?

Surely, the most natural way of reading the two questions is just how they do read - the Corinthians were wondering how a corpse could be reformed after it had been destroyed, burnt to ash, or dissolved into dust. Would still born babies be formed as adult people? Would old, senile people, who had perhaps lost a leg or an arm in an accident, would they be formed whole?

And Paul chides them for not realising that what goes into the ground dies. Those questions are foolish , because you will not get your old body back. The old body is just a seed which dies, and God gives it a body. Just as an oak tree bears no resemblence to an acorn, our new bodies will be nothing like the old.

In fact, Paul goes on to tell the Corinthians that resurrected bodies will be made from a different material - a heavenly material.

Wright, of course, cannot allow Paul to be Paul - hence his belief that converted Christians didn't believe God could work miracles.

Guy Davies said...


As I have said before, I think that you have misunderstood both Paul and N T Wright.

'Spiritual body' in 1 Cor 15 does not mean "a body composed of spirit" any more than the present 'natural body'(literally in Greek soulish body)is composed of soul. A spiritual body is a body that has been transformed and empowered by the Holy Spirit. Jesus' resurrection body is the model of the believer's spiritual body.

See also Romans 8:11, where Paul describes the believer's resurrection as the activity of the Spirit giving life to their mortal bodies. Resurrection does not mean the abandonment of the body or the continuation of physical life as it is in the present. It is the transformation of bodily life by the power of the risen Lord Jesus Christ.

You may not be able to ask Paul what he meant, but if you write to Wright (sorry for the pun), I'm sure that he would be willing to discuss your questions further. He wrote the book that you disagree with so much, not me! When you write to NTW about his book, while you're at it, why don't you congratulate him for winning my little Poll? I'm sure that you will be pleased to pass on the good news. ;-)

I must say that it is so very kind of you to take so much interest in what is going to happen to Christians at the resurrection. It is going to be a wonderful event and I'm really looking forward to it. I praise God that I won't have to face the resurrection of condemnation and judgement because Jesus is my Saviour. What hope do you have for the future?

3:04 PM

Steven Carr said...

It is intriguing that the main discussion of a resurrection by Paul is in 1 Corinthians 15, and yet Christians always have to fall back on Romans 8:11 and Romans 8:23, rather than dare to take on the main body of Paul's thought.

Romans 8:11 has nothing to do with a resurrection (a word not used in Romans 8). As far as Paul is concerned, without Jesus we are just dead men walking.

Other Jews of the first century (notably Philo) also referred to our present (still alive) bodies as 'corpses'. Paul thinks that we are rescued by Christ from our 'body of death' (Romans 7), and are no longer living corpses if we have Christ.

Romans 8:11 does not mean that our mortal bodies are no longer mortal. It just means we are no longer dead men walking.

As for writing to Wright, I have already done so, pointing out a TLS review of a book which refutes his views. Months later, Wright has not been able to produce a defense.

Nor will he.

G-blog said...

Well I am obviously a few paces behind in my book reading list, i have yet to read any of those books. Hence no vote on my part.

I had never even heard of Wright up until this point, my studies don't let me dig to deep in theological books. Yet i am quite keen to get my hand on some of those, mostly Carson but that is becasuse his the only one who's books I have read, well among your list.

Guy Davies said...


I don't know which commentaries you have been reading, but Romans 8:11 is about the resurrection. The Spirit gives life to our mortal bodies. This is the culmination of the Spirit's present work in the life of the believer.

For an atheist you do seem very interested in Christian theology. Why are you so obsessed with the subject if you don't believe in God? Could it be that God is really the object of your fascination and that your life would be rather empty if you just concentrated on atheism? I asked you at the end of my last comments addressed to you, "What is your hope for the future?" Have you got one? Please do share with us your atheistic eschatology.

You spend a lot of time trying to criticize Christian beliefs, which is fair enough. Have you read some Christian critiques of atheism? Are you willing to have your views challenged?

Have you or will you read:

The Twilight of Atheism Alister McGrath, 2004, Rider.

Dawkins' God Alister McGrath, 2005, Blackwell

Does God Believe in Atheists John Blanchard, 2000, Evangelical Press

If you have not read these books, why not? Are you scared or something?

Judy Callarman, Scrabble Has-Been said...

I can't vote in your poll,either, as I have not read these books. However, I did buy Wright's book on the new perspective of Paul, on the recommendation of Preacher Mike of, a while back. It sits, waiting for me, in my bookcase!

I have very much enjoyed reading this discussion about the books, nonetheless. the way, about ten years ago, I broke my wrist while vacationing in Wales; I fell off a small rock into a small hole while trying to take a picture of my sons near a river in the Breckon Beacons. The doctor told me I was fortunate that there were no dragons in that hole, as most Welsh holes have a dragon living in them.