I had the privilege of spending the last 3 days in a small circle with Bishop N.T. Wright. The goal was to bring some leading thinkers from both the academy and practicioner circles and have Bishop Wright lead the conversation and then respond to the thoughts that came up through the course of the day.
N. T. Wright is the Anglican Bishop of Durham, England. Previously, he was Canon Theologian at Westminster Abbey. He taught New Testament studies for twenty years at Cambridge, McGill and Oxford Universities. He has been a visiting professor at Harvard Divinity School, Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Gregorian University in Rome and many other institutions around the world. He is also the author of over 30 books.
Over the next few blogs I am going to include some of the most memorable quotes that I was able to capture real time. Round 1:
“The difference in redemption from creation and redemption of creation with human beings makes all the difference. As image bearers we are to be saved not so that we can hide but so that we can be people through whom God does what he wants to do for the whole world.”
“How do you understand the difference between Jesus and Paul as they describe the Gospel? Achiever vs. Implementor ; Medical researcher vs. Doctor who finds the people who need the cure; Composer /vs. conductor; If Paul would have tried to re-write it, it would assume that the composition of Jesus was not complete.”
“What was the central icon of Paul’s worldview after conversion: The united church of Christ coming together along lines that they should never come along socially. The unity of the church is the central metaphor of Paul.”
“Must be very careful when there is excitement with God moving, because people can easily be misled. That is why the intellectual context and thought through context to make sure that when the winds of the Spirit is moving we are doing so coherently and a way that honors God. The church has been shipwrecked in many previous generations because of not thinking it out.”
“The Passover is not just about God’s provision for freedom spiritually, but freedom actually from the forces of evil. The Passover points back to the liberation from captivity and evil systems.”
“How is evil defeated? Jesus himself went to where darkness was worst and took it upon himself. Now he moves those who are part of his family to move to where darkness is greatest and to be used as image bearers to defeat the forces of evil.”
I am a lifelong Chicagoan, a pastor at River City Community Church, and an author who writes a lot about resisting and confronting white supremacy from a faith lens.
Our church was founded in January of 2003 in the west Humboldt Park neighborhood of Chicago, and is centered on the core values of worship, reconciliation, and neighborhood development. We long to see increased spiritual renewal as well as social and economic justice in the Humboldt Park neighborhood and entire city, demonstrating compassion and alleviating poverty as tangible expressions of the Kingdom of God. It is also through the gift of this faith community that I have learned to see the profound historical and spiritual impact of the stronghold of white supremacy, and where I have been challenged to broaden and deepen my understanding of discipleship in the hopes of becoming a serious enough Christ follower who is able to meaningfully participate with those who have risen up in defiance of this evil principality.
The lessons learned in this journey have been captured in a pair of books on race. The first, White Awake, explores the barriers that white people tend to face – white Christians specifically – when we attempt to awaken to and understand white supremacy through a faith lens. I spend a lot of time here addressing the internal defenses that are bound to go off when this journey is taken seriously, and I chart out a path for developing a resilient spirit that steadfastly moves towards truth, justice, and equity. The second, White Lies, further builds out the path for the white Christian who longs to actively participate in the resistance and confrontation of white supremacy. I spend a lot of time here exploring why it is so hard to tell the truth about race, as well as expose the lies that sustain it, within white, Christian, Bible-believing environments. I then propose nine practices that position us for engaging in this task.
On the personal front, my career started in the marketplace, as I was part of three dot.com startups in the 90’s. My vocational path shifted when I joined the staff of Willow Creek Community Church in 1998, and I spent five years working there. I started River City Community Church in January 2003 and have been happily serving here ever since. On the education front, my undergrad was in Business (Purdue University), my graduate degree in theology (Moody Bible Institute), and my doctoral degree in community development (Northern Seminary). On the family front, my wife is a Professor of Psychology, and we have two amazing children (Xander and Gabriella).
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