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Definitely a challenge theologically, though in non-technical words. I thought this was deja vu: riding on my mountain bike on San Juan trail and listening to Tom Wright instead of Dallas Willard's "The Divine Conspiracy: Rediscovering Our Hidden Life In God." They both reinterpret the beatitudes from the Sermon on the Mount to move from legalism to grace. They both are intellectuals, theological and devoted to correct thinking as a key to transformation. They have both transformed my life, my spirituality, my understanding of Agape. But Wright's theology is broader and more significant than Willard's. He integrates so many themes that neatly weave together: Kingdom ethics vs legalism, eschatology (study of end times) as Hope, and Love.
Wright's most profound theological explication is that we are not to become moral, but to empty ourselves as Jesus did--to live for the purpose of God's Kingdom only--not our own desires. Even Jesus had to "learn" to do this as he was fully human, and felt the temptation for self satisfaction, but continuously and "perfectly" (telos) resisted. He was not an example of moral virtue primarily (though he was), but an example of one fully yielded to God. And now we too, through his resurrection, by the Holy Spirit (holiness & prayer), can participate not only in the Kingdom to Come (telos), but now, in the Kingdom that has now Come in Jesus' life, death and resurrection. Wish this theme had predominated, because it is the basis of spiritual transformation.
Another motivation for living spiritually and not legalistically is because of the Hope we have in the renewal and transformation of this present world, where we will participate with holiness and power. Looking forward to reading his book on Hope next.
While Wright and Willard are strong theologically, they both lack the everyday relational wisdom that properly integrates the intellectual, spiritual, social, emotional, "imaginational," and behavioral dimensions into a whole.
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A Wonderful exploration of why Christian Character and Virtue is so very important to us
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