Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Interview of NT Wright



Trevin Wax interviews N.T. Wright on his upcoming book, After You Believe: Why Christian Character Matters. This is similar to the lecture I heard from him at Fuller which I blogged about recently. An excerpt of this interview:

Trevin Wax: You write that “working on virtue is like learning a language.” How does this understanding of virtue help us rethink the concept of “rewards” in the new heavens and new earth?

N.T. Wright: When you learn a language, your brain literally changes: new connections are made, new possibilities emerge, new habits of mind, tongue, and even sometimes body language emerge and are formed. The result is not, though, that you can speak it for the fun of it, but that you can communicate with people in that language, and perhaps even be able to go and live in the country where that language is spoken, and feel at home there.

This illustration helps to explain one part at least of the well known problem about how “what we do here and now” is umbilically connected to “who we will be in God’s new world”.

The point is that in the new heavens and new earth there is an entire way of life awaiting us, and we have the chance to learn, here and now, the character-skills we shall need for that new way of life – particularly the great three which Paul says will “abide” into God’s future, namely faith, hope and especially love. (All this depends of course on the Spirit, and on the transformative renewal of the mind which Paul speaks about in Romans 12:1-2.)

There is a sense in which being able to live totally by love in God’s new world will be the “reward” for learning the painful lessons of love here and now, but the word “reward” is so often connected with very different kinds of transaction (say, a $1000 reward for information leading to the arrest of a criminal!) that the very word “reward”, though obviously used by Jesus himself, is sometimes hard for us to “hear” in its more positive sense.

Head on over to his blog and read the rest of the interview.

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