The last talk for today was on the importance of historical Jesus studies, especially for the life of the church. Wright spoke at breakneck speed which made taking notes difficult and following him a little tricky at times so I am absolutely certain that my report here will be woefully inadequate. Please listen to this talk (and all of the others too) when the audio becomes available.
Wright began by talking about how we got to where we were in the 1960s with a Christ of faith that had little rooting in the Jesus of history. He pinned it squarely on a Lutheran two kingdoms approach that had a split level view of reality with earth and heaven in separate compartments. This two kingdom approach kept Jesus out of the messiness of politics. The model for this approach was Bultmann.
This created a major pastoral concern. If scholarship says that the gospels are unreliable what does the pastor do? Does he ignore scholarship or does he tell his parishioners that the gospels are unreliable? Either solution is disastrous.
Wright then went on to defend that we must have historicity. If Jesus didn't do what the gospels said then how can you know your subjective experience is real? History also prevents false idols that we call Jesus - projections of our selves and our values onto the Christ of faith.
Wright believes that this false imposition has happened again and again, especially by the church. He affirms the Chalcedonian Creed, but believes that we need to say more than that if we are to have the real Jesus. The purpose of the gospels wasn't only to tell us that Jesus is God and died for us personally. The gospels are primarily about Jesus inauguration of the kingdom of God. Western theology has been completely unable to keep together a kingdom ethic with the cross (we see errors swinging both ways).
The questions we need to ask now are these (unfortunately they're paraphrases of powerful originals). How did Jesus keep both purposes, the inauguration of the kingdom and his sacrificial death together in his own mind? What sort of kingdom is it that climaxes in the cross? What sort of atonement establishes the kingdom of God?
Let's not forget the resurrection. The resurrection wasn't primarily meant to be a proof of Jesus divinity. It was first meant to be proof of Messiahship, and that his death was the messianic death that defeated the powers. Second, Jesus resurrection means that the new creation has been launched and now we have a job to do (isn't that how the gospels end and Acts begins?). Part of that is telling the story of Jesus as Israel's God.
So what? Among other points he made, here are three.Practically, we need to try to be for the world what Jesus was for Israel. To do that we need to understand who Jesus was in history, the Jesus of the canonical gospels. Also, our atonement theology can't be derived from Paul alone. We need to incorporate the gospels into our atonement theology. Lastly, we need to see that the pre-easter Jesus is the same as the risen Jesus. We know that the risen one was the crucified kingdom bringer. If we don't the resurrection will shrink to a detached spirituality.