Top 24 Quotes & Sayings by Christopher J. H. Wright

Explore popular quotes and sayings by Christopher J. H. Wright.
Christopher J. H. Wright

Christopher J. H. Wright is a missiologist, an Anglican clergyman and an Old Testament scholar. He is currently the International Ministries Director of Langham Partnership International. He was the principal of All Nations Christian College. He is an honorary member of All Souls Church, Langham Place in London, UK.

Born: 1947

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The trouble today is that many Christians live in a kind of bubble of assumptions about what their Christianity means, especially if it places them comfortably among "the good guys," - assumptions that are likely to be drawn as much from folk-Christianity, surrounding political culture, popular pulp-books about the "End Times," or their favourite guru writer or therapist, than from sober and comprehensive reading of the Bible as a whole. Prophets and preachers have the unwelcome task of pricking that bubble with the sharpness of actual texts and teachings of the Bible itself.
Mission means inviting all the peoples of the earth to hear the music of God's future and dance to it today.
The church was made for mission-God's mission — © Christopher J. H. Wright
The church was made for mission-God's mission
Old Testament Israel had some foundational pillars of faith. They were true and robust and God given. The trouble was that people had come to trust in them merely by repeating them, without paying any attention to the ethical implications of what their faith should mean in how they lived. They believed God had given them their land. He had. But they had not lived in it in either gratitude or obedience. They had not fulfilled any of the conditions that Deuteronomy had made so clear.
It's important, though, that there are not "four gospels." There is only one gospel: the good news of what God has done through Christ to save the world. But we read that one gospel in four complementary accounts: The gospel, according to Matthew, according to Mark, according to Luke, according to John.
We may legitimately see in the [Old Testament] event, or in the record of it, additional levels of significance in the light of the end of the story – i.e. in the light of Christ
I think Jeremiah is for our times. But whether the church in the west will listen to the Word of God today any more than in the chaos of 7th century BC middle east... Only God knows.
God cannot suffer - at least not as we do. It has some roots in Greek philosophy: if God is a perfect being, suffering would reduce that perfection, so God cannot suffer. More thoughtful theologians take the phrase in the sense of one of the confessions of faith that talks of God as being "without parts or passions" - he is not physical as we are, and not subject to "passions" in the sense of uncontrollable emotions that can take charge of us at times. God is not "emotional," if that word is used as some kind of weakness.
We tend to speak of sin in very personal and individual terms. Jeremiah does not downplay that, but he also sees how a whole society can be bound up in the tentacles of sin, in the assumptions that everybody around you makes, about how it becomes easier to sin than not to, and how we can become so confused and contradictory in our reactions, when sin is pointed out.
I agree that we should regard all books of the Bible as equally inspired - and important. But some come into sharp focus at certain times, as particularly relevant and sharp in what they have to say to our culture at any given moment of history. And Jeremiah is a book for our times.
What is so striking in the book of Jeremiah is how many times it is impossible to distinguish between the words of Jeremiah and the words of God, when deep feelings are being expressed. That is probably intentional. The prophet not only speaks what God says, he also feels what God feels. The tears of the prophet are the tears of God.
"It is finished" means that Jesus had accomplished all that God's mission had sent him to do. It did not merely mean that his life was over like, "I'm finished". It was a statement of achievement of purpose - God's purpose to deal with sin and guilt, to defeat all the powers of evil, to bring about the reconciliation of enemies, to defeat death itself, and to accomplish the reconciliation and liberation of the whole creation.
If "gospel" means good news, then Jeremiah had some for sure. He saw the judgment coming, in horrifying technicolour. But he saw beyond it to the redeeming, restoring grace of God, and indeed he speaks of the "new covenant", which takes us to the heart of the gospel in Christ.
The issue in the Bible is not just "Do you believe in God or not?" Everybody believed in gods of some sort. The question was, "Who is truly the only living God?" And if that God is indeed Yahweh the God of Israel, then there are consequences in real life - as shown in the Torah.
Yahweh demanded justice for the poor, compassion and equality for foreigners and refugees, systemic redress for poverty, structural mechanisms to protect the homeless and family-less from abuse and destitution, fair and equitable distribution of land, integrity in the judicial system, humility, simplicity and morality in the government (as opposed to wealth, women and weapons), etc. etc. If you want that kind of society, you need to be faithful to the living God.
God has made us humans in God's own image. So therefore the highest way to talk about God is by some kind of analogy with ourselves. So, naturally, if we who are finite and sinful suffer in multiple ways because of sin and evil and the horrible things that happen in our world, how much more does God, who is infinite, sinless, and knows the totality of all that happens to everybody, suffer pain and heartache at the suffering of his human and non-human creation - and be angry at all that causes it?
Only the gospel exposes the cancer of idolatry.
Perhaps preachers today need to think about the assumptions that are common in their congregation - the plausibilities and comforting assurances - which may in themselves have biblical truth, but can easily become insurance policies waved around as immunity from any kind of serious evaluation of how we are living, whether we are truly following the Lord Jesus in the way he walked, whether we are doing righteousness and justice as God commanded.
The Jews believed they were the nation God had chosen among all the nations. And they were. But that did not give them immunity to God's judgment. Like the nations, they too would feel God's wrath if they refused to live in God's ways. Furthermore, God could deal with other nations in mercy as well as judgment. Jeremiah was full of surprises, as against the popular religious assumptions of his day. That's perhaps why some people, when they encountered Jesus, thought he was very like Jeremiah. He turned things upside down.
It is not so much the case that God has a mission for his church in the world, as that God has a church for his mission in the world. Mission was not made for the church; the church was made for mission - God’s mission.
The Bible itself does not seem too bothered by the idea that talking of God suffering might in any way diminish God, or detract from his perfection. On the contrary, the Bible seems to revel in the richness of describing God in ways that reflect our own human realities.
As Paul says, even though we as human beings know God, we refuse to acknowledge him. That's what Peter did. He refused even to "know" Jesus! Peter's failure reflects all our failure. It forces us to face the reality about ourselves. But the point of the story is that Jesus foretold this - he knew it was coming. And Jesus forgave Peter, when Peter confessed his love for Jesus. So the story illustrates both the horrible nature of sin, and the amazing reality of grace. That's essential to the whole meaning of the gospel.
The whole earth, then, belongs to Jesus. It belongs to him by right of creation, by right of redemption and by right of future inheritance - as Paul affirms in the magnificent cosmic declaration of Colossians 1:15-20. So wherever we go in his name, we are walking on his property. There is not an inch of the planet that does not belong to Christ. Mission then is an authorized activity carried out by tenants on the instructions of the owner of the property.
There are four accounts of the gospel itself! The momentous events of the conception, birth, life, teaching, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus of Nazareth are too vast to be adequately viewed from one angle alone. Just as we need several points of view to "see" a person's face, so we need these varied emphases and angles to gain the full perspective of all God wants us to understand.
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