Here are my notes from my session with N.T. Wright at Soularize. I was running video during the session but then Spencer fired me and had Adam Klein run the video so I was able to take some notes. The entire talk will be for sale in a while on Soularize Feedlive and in Soularize-In-A-Box via TheOoze. I hesitate to post these notes because I was tired after a long day and was busy with other things. If they reflect poorly on N.T. Wrights theology or his talk, make the assumption that is it my fault and not his. I did borrow some of this from Kyle Martin who took some excellent notes of all of the sessions.
We gathered at New Providence Community Church for a reception and a wine tasting. After the worship band warmed things up and Spencer introduced Bishop Tom Wright, things got started. Acts for Everyone
Bishop Tom spoke on Acts (his book Acts for Everyone is coming out in December) and began by saying how we need to read through Acts in large sections as opposed to a verse by verse study (Frank Viola made some of the same points the next day — I’ll blog some about his seminar tomorrow). It is a story and must be read that way to understand the whole. He also made the point that the book was probably written as a part of Paul’s legal defense.
He spoke about the nature of Acts being a riot a day influenced by the actions of believers. He also talked about how a fellow Bishop who remarked that when Paul spoke, the people rioted and when [the Bishop] spoke, people made tea. Bishop Tom talked about how the Kingdom of God is the overlying theme of Acts. It begins in Acts 1 and extends after the 28th chapter. Acts is the story of the kingdom of God breaking into the worldâ€¦living this Kingdom life will cause riots and those that will carry out this message will face persecution.
Acts 1-11 says nothing about going to heaven when you die. It is about the restoration of Israel but it looks different than the Jewish people originally thought. The Kingdom of God looks like a community hanging with people from all worlds, with God living out his promises, as God claims the world as his own. The Second Coming of Jesus is Jesus coming to earth to rule and reign and to ultimately renew it. Not us being taken away to heaven which contradicts what most evangelicals believe and partly explains the lack of a theology of earth that has played a part of global warming.
Wright then spoke on the ascension which confuses many because it is not a literal ascension upward. It reminded me a story of my brother coming home from Sunday School and learning how Jesus went to heaven on a Popsicle stick. Instead it is the place where heaven and earth intersect/overlap/interlock. Jesus didnâ€™t go up, he went into Godâ€™s space. Jesus is at home in the space we call heaven. Jesus was already transformed and this ascension leads us through Acts.
To the Jew the temple was this overlap (inside the temple was heaven, and the temple was on earth). But Jesus was a human not a building and its for the whole world.
Acts 1-13 has a Jewish focus where we have Jesus community lived out in the temple in the outer courts attracting Jews. Jesus is announced as the Messiah.
Acts 13-28 Jesus is announced as the Lord of the world and Caesar is not.
The early Christian community is the church the place where heaven and earth collide. Bishop Tom mentions 1 Kings 8 and Isaiah 6 = connected to Acts 2. It is the place where the spirit comes alive and the community is equipped to share to everyone in the culture and provided opportunities. the name of Jesus carries power.
Acts 7 has Steven preaching in the temple as a marker to Jesus and he is martyred. Acts 4-5 leads into this by sharing how we must obey God rather than men, not looking for trouble but allegiance brings trouble at times.
Jews see water, sea as dark and evil. Look at Noah, Jonah, Moses and the sea as the dark chaos of creation. In order to bring the message of hope Paul must go through the dark and evil sea.
Wright connects Luke to Acts through the crucifixion and the shipwreck Paul goes through. Jesus going to Jerusalem, Paul to Rome; climax of cross and shipwreck for the ultimate message to be declared. Lukeâ€™s theology is woven into narrative. People must go through fire and water (cross) in order to show Jesus as lord which happens over and over to Paul.
Paul utilizes Roman citizenship and political powers. It is not our job to get the right people in, it is to keep accountable the people in positions of power. Acts has been thought of as a document to help Paul on his trial at end of Acts.
Wright finished up with Luke having justification as a woven theology in his narrative. One day God will sort it out, and we should live in anticipation in the present for the the future. To be saved is to live out the Jesus way of life as heaven and earth intersecting. Jesus is powerfully present in Acts through faithful battered followers – Acts 2:42.
Again, you will be able to get the full video in a short time from Soularize Feedlive and later in Soularize In a Box II. I am looking forward to reading Acts for Everyone and hope to explore the topic more.
Here are all of my photos from the session with Bishop Wright.