You are living between the original “good news” delivered by Jesus and future good news awaiting believers, a world renowned Bible scholar told local college students Monday.
N.T. Wright, a prolific author and research professor of New Testament and early Christianity at the University of St. Andrew’s in Scotland, has a doctorate in divinity and a doctorate in philosophy from Oxford University.
During Monday’s chapel service, Wright spoke to Oklahoma Christian University students about some of the challenges faced with sharing God’s “good news,” the glad tidings of salvation delivered 2,000 years ago by Jesus, with today’s pluralistic world.
Wright spoke about when Paul preached in Athens (Acts 17:16-34), a city full of deities and idols.
Paul challenged their notions with preaching about the Christian God and the resurrection of Jesus. Locals invited Paul to the Areopagus, an aristocratic council which met on a low hill near the Acropolis, and inquired about his new teaching that was strange to their Greek ears.
Paul stood among them and acknowledged their religious traditions, which included honoring Caesar as “Lord.” Paul said, “The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by men.”
Some of the Athenians mocked Paul when they heard about the preposterous sounding resurrection of the dead. Others wanted to hear more. Some believed.
Wright said the historical resurrection is being downplayed by some today.
“Something happened in history,” Wright said. “When Jesus of Nazareth rose from the dead, the world was called into account and God’s new world was born. And we are living, by the Spirit, out of the energy of that.”
The future good news includes the time when God’s shattered creation will be gloriously restored in a way humanity can only glimpse at the moment, Wright said, referring to the promised new heaven and new earth.
“But we see it most fully, of course, in Jesus himself,” Wright said. “The challenge then is to live between the news that happened then, the news that will happen at the end and for us to be the good news in the present so that people ... will see there is a different way to be human. And it’s the way that happens when people are worshipping the God we see in Jesus.”
For people who long for justice, they can see through Christian acts of generosity and kindness the good news about who God really is, Wright said. God has brought justice to the world and will bring it to the world, Wright said.
Wright said his prayer for the students is for wisdom in choosing their vocation, for where they’ll be able to fit. Wright said God has thousands of different things he wants to do in the world suited for their gifts, training and talents.
In his introductory remarks, OC President John deSteiguer said Wright is possibly one of the best-known theologians in the entire Christian world, a devoted man of Christ and a devoted husband, father and grandfather.
“We’re honored that you’re here,” deSteiguer said.
Wright came as part of OC’s McGaw Lectures for a Monday night sold-out message on “The Strange Challenge of Truth.” Tuesday morning, beginning at 10 a.m. in OC’s Hardeman Auditorium, he will lead a panel discussion titled “Paul and the Faithfulness of God.”
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