The Second Eclectic

Technology changes how we relate to God and each other

Wheaton Theology Conference, Preliminary Notes

I was fortunate to be among the 1,100 attendees to the Wheaton Theology Conference again this year, “Jesus, Paul, and the People of God: A Theological Dialogue with N. T. Wright.” Or, as one of my friends called it, “TheoCon 10.” Nine theologians from Britain, Canada, and the US engaged critically and charitably with NT Wright’s corpus of thought.

I didn’t realize how prolific Wright is. Numerous jokes about this were recounted throughout the conference. Here’s one:

“Someone once called Wright’s office, whose secretary answered the phone. After being informed that Bishop Wright was away writing a book, the caller said, ‘Okay, I’ll hold.’”

And another:

“A theologian [Richard Hays perhaps, or Jeremy Begbie] was visiting Oxford and had gone to the bookstore. However, the theologian noticed that Bishop Tom had no new book out that week. Concerned, the theologian phoned Wright’s office: ‘Is the Bishop in poor health?’”

Friday focused on Wright’s scholarship of the historical Jesus. Thus, much of the day’s discussion centered on Jesus and the Victory of God. Saturday shifted to discussion of Wright’s Pauline theology and especially his work on justification. Paul and justification account for Wright’s more recent writings. In all, I think three books would summarize Wright’s theology for someone wanting to get acquainted with the Bishop: The Challenge of Jesus (IVP, 1999), Surprised by Hope (HarperOne, 2008), and Justification (IVP, 2009). Perhaps one might also include a fourth book: Paul (Fortress Press, 2005).

This conference provided for me a broad introduction to Wright’s theology. I also valued the critical engagement that the presenters offered. It tempered my enthusiasm just enough to recognize that Wright’s theology should not be swallowed uncritically. While the theologians generally agreed with Wright on the whole, they pointed out clear “lacunae” (that word was used more than once) in his works, gaps that would better round out his historical Jesus and his Third Quest (i.e., New Perspective).

Numerous other blogs have summarized their observations on the Conference. And they are engaging with it at multiple levels.

As culture: The Search compared and contrasted WTC with Together 4 the Gospel which occurred earlier in the week. He noted the theme of unity and the WASPy lack of diversity at both conferences.

As humor: Reading Isaiah recorded a few humorous moments of the conference.

As execution: Dr. Michael J. Gorman summarized the conference as big, stimulating, well organized and executed, doxological, and comprehensive. It lived up to its dialogical aims and presented the Bishop at his "rhetorical best."

As pastoral: Jim Vining summarized Wright's chapel message to Wheaton College, on the book of Ephesians.

As media: Wheaton has posted the audio and video of all the lectures, panel discussions, and keynotes from the Conference! I think it would only take you about 12 hours. What are you waiting for?

I will summarize a number of the lectures every Thursday for the next few weeks. I will also link to others blogs about those lectures from elsewhere around the Web.
Your mom taught you well