Why we like Ben Witherington III and N.T. Wright even if we disagree with them

Mark Stevens writes,

Brian LePort has been posting a series entitled  ‘Educating the Local Church‘. From what I can tell the series was born out of his frustration with the churches’ attitude towards academic; especially theology and Biblical studies.

Mark goes on to write,

The job of an academic is to teach truth via facts. An academic teaches information and equips the mind. The job of the pastor, and dare I say it the church as a whole, is to teach people how to live the faithfully as the people of God.

I would disagree with Mark but only in a very small way and not enough to really get into at the moment.

But, ironically, I’ve been thinking about this today before I saw Stevens’ post.

BW3 and N.T. Wright get a lot of flack from scholars, but many of us still like them for a variety of reasons. The shine I had taken to N.T. Wright has not worn off — I still like his tomes, although I think he has gone too far into the popular medium with his latest works; however, I have come to disagree with him more. Yet, I still like N.T. Wright for much the same reasons I like Ben Witherington III with whom I disagree with about a variety of issues concerning the Gospel of Mark(‘s ending).

Because they are critical scholars who engage critical issues and bring the academy into the Church. Yes, I disagree with them on many things, but I do not disagree with them on is their conviction that critical theology and scholarship is not for the average lay person.

Granted, with the recent spate of terminations for being too critical, it may be a long time before we see more Wrights and Witheringtons emerge.

Anyway, both Mark and Brian’s posts are worth reading even if this title has made Jim’s head explode.

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4 Replies to “Why we like Ben Witherington III and N.T. Wright even if we disagree with them”

  1. I think what makes Wright and Witherington great scholars is that they are of and for the church. When I say church I mean the local parish and not the wider church. In that context I absolutely think it is the job of the church to do these things. For too long we have left it to the Universities. Maybe that is where Brian’s role could be developed as part of a denominational training body or seminary.

  2. Irony police – it’s a coincidence you were are ready thinking about it.

    I don’t think I understand the paragraph beginning “Because…” Maybe they bring the academy into the church without the critical theology and scholarship? If so, do they bring the apologetic theology and scholarship?

  3. I truly feel that there needs to be more people in the academic world that help bridge the gap between biblical studies and the church. I guess I can see the point of critical scholarship not for the average lay person. But I don’t know if you can but that cat back in the bag, critical scholarship is out there and easily accessible. I think Christians in biblical studies need to help bridge the gap, or at least help those with questions.

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