The seven billion inhabitants of planet earth took center stage at Fuller Theological Seminary May 1–3 as N.T. Wright, Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity at University of St. Andrews in Scotland, presented some of the main threads of thought from his epic new work Paul and the Faithfulness of God.
His conference, "Interpreting Paul for the Future of the World," was part of Theology Week at Fuller, which also included related workshops led by Fuller faculty and the Payton Lectures with Yale Divinity School professor Miroslav Volf on globalization and world religions.
Dr. Wright challenged the 1,300-plus conference attendees with the proposal that Paul "invented Christian theology as a practice of a new way of thinking and a new way of acting for all of God's followers, not just elite academics. It was meant to sustain and unify the new reconciliation community that the resurrected Messiah, Jesus, began."
Wright traced Paul's thinking about this new theology through the classic Jewish threefold division of thought: monotheism, election, and eschatology.
"Paul's theology," argued Wright, "can be summarized by speaking about the faithfulness of this one God. God did not forget this promise to Abraham, but fulfilled it in a totally unexpected way in Jesus who is the example of a restored world."
"In our time," concluded Wright, "the age that is and the age to come overlap. Eventually the new heaven and earth will come to this world which will be restored by God in the same way he restored Jesus."
Jongjin Park, a Korean pastor, former missionary to Egypt, and student in Fuller's MA in Intercultural Studies program, shared some thoughts on the conference.
"As Dr. Wright spoke, I was impressed with the way that he explains justification by faith by taking the whole Bible into account," shared Park.
"Already for me in my work in Egypt, and in Coptic Christianity, the concept of unity he holds -- such as 'Forgive us our debts' being more than individual sin -- is important. His eschatology could be really important too. I have to do the work now of asking myself how I might reshape my definition of eschatology and ecclesiology in light of it, taking these new ideas from my mind and working them out in my heart."
Fuller President Mark Labberton ended the conference by thanking Wright and sharing, "You are a great person of grace and truth to us and we have been enormously enhanced by your presence here."
Check back Monday, May 19, at http://fuller.edu/theologyweek14/ for information on accessing videos, audio recordings, and curriculum resources from the conference.