Bishop and Scholar Tom Wright: Homelessness is an apt metaphor for our troubled world

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The regular suggestion that baling out countries will lead them to misbehave again won’t work, either. That might be true of some banks and businesses. It isn’t true of countries like Tanzania, who, after debt remission, have experienced the joy of developing education, medicine and other essentials – in fact, of building a new home.

We don’t just need, in other words, to ‘turn the economy round’, and get it back to where it was before. We need to turn it inside out. The Christmas message suggests that it’s time for a major, global rethink about the multiple, interlocking problems we can no longer ignore. And about the many-sided, but essentially coherent, proposals that flow directly from the Baby at Bethlehem, demanding to be worked out at street level.

The God who became homeless at Christmas longs to transform this muddled old world into a place where all can be at home at last. That’s what Jesus taught us to pray for.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsChristmas* TheologyTheology: Scripture

Posted December 29, 2011 at 7:24 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

1. Yebonoma wrote:

Preachers point out that Jesus was born to a homeless couple

The Western economic systems have provided riches for the few and poverty for the many, locally and especially globally.

Both of the above assertions made in this article are untrue.  Jesus was born to a couple without confirmed reservations at the inn, who could not find a room for a few nights.  The “Western economic systems” have provide untold improvements in the general standard of living, until corrupt government officials and their corporate cronies conspire to take more and more from the people who earn it and then they waste it, use it to buy votes, and line their own pockets, all the while proclaiming that if they just had more money they could make the lives of the impoverished they helped create, so much better.

People like Wright long for governments to implement heaven on earth.  We’ve been there and done that, and it always ends badly; e.g. any communist or socialist regime.  It’s governments of greedy, corrupt, sinful bureaucrats implementing things, not Jesus.

Perhaps the mantra should be “more Jesus, less government.”  None of these supposedly learned theologians is doing any thinking about the proper role of government and the commensurate role of individual responsibility coupled with individual holiness.

I have never read any of Wright’s works, and given this article, I am not inclined to in the future.

December 29, 3:24 pm | [comment link]
2. Mark Baddeley wrote:

I don’t see why Wright should get a pass on identifying the gospel with the economic theory of his preference. This is about as daft (and daft in a damaging way) as theonomy or trying to argue that the gospel requires capitalism (or feudalism). He complains about the strange modern idea that the gospel has nothing to say about politics - and then happily jumps off the cliff in the other direction and turns to the gospel into the ‘socialist party at prayer’.

How about something genuinely different - some attempt to articulate what the gospel has to say about politics and economics for the world, and that doesn’t try and micromanage questions that are more rightly the purview of other domains of knowledge.

As it stands, this is on a par with someone saying that the sun revolves around the earth because the Bible says that the sun stood still. None of us think the Bible should dictate to science in that kind of manner, why is it so hard to see that a similar relationship must exist with government and economics - they too have their own integrity and authority, and while theology is the queen of the sciences, it doesn’t micromanage at that level.

And as #1 said, if you can look at Western economies and seriously say the words: have enriched a few and left everyone else poor, then you have lost credibility with anyone other than socialists. Whatever structural faults capitalism has (and I’m happy to say it has some), that’s not one of them. In the long term it has proven to produce more wealth for more people than any alternative humanity has so far come up with. By comparison to capitalism, every other system leaves ‘everyone else’ poor.

December 29, 4:16 pm | [comment link]
3. francis wrote:

Boy, great when he sticks to Scripture, but really bad on politics.

December 29, 7:34 pm | [comment link]
4. billqs wrote:

#3 You’re right, except in this calling Mary and Joseph a homeless couple, he’s bad at scripture, too.  You’d never know from that quote that he is one of the foremost New Testament scholars in the world.

Which begs the question… since there’s no doubt that NT Wright knows that Mary and Joseph weren’t a homeless couple, why has he said something he knows isn’t true?  The politest explanation is that he was speaking “Evangelistically”.

(All this is odd because actually I am a huge fan Dr. Wright’s many books, research and lectures.)

December 29, 11:31 pm | [comment link]
5. Br. Michael wrote:

The Presiding Bishop has said exactly the same thing in the past and people correctly called her on it.  AS brilliant as he is Wright doesn’t get a pass on this one.

December 30, 9:20 am | [comment link]
6. MichaelA wrote:

Fair comments.

December 31, 9:01 pm | [comment link]
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