A parting gift
from Phil Johnson
Here's a letter I wrote to the iMonk a year ago this very week, before I ever even considered entering the blogosphere. (As a matter of fact, the episode that precipitated the following letter, closely followed by a campaign of terror at the Boar's Head Tavern, is the biggest factor that finally provoked me to start blogging. I made that decision last year, a couple of weeks after this letter was written.)
Some background: Last March, the iMonk stumbled across a critical review of an NT Wright book from a lecture I gave in London more than a year before that. (I also gave a completely different review of the same book last year at the Shepherds' Conference, a couple of weeks before Michael Spencer's diatribe. The two reviews were for completely different audiences. They complement, but don't contradict one another, andjust to be clearit was the earlier one that was the object of so much derision from Michael Spencer last April.)
It's putting it mildly to say that the iMonk hated my critique. He dashed off an angry post about it at the Boar's Head Tavern Blog. He didn't bother interacting with the substance of what I actually said, but he took quite a bit of liberty misrepresenting what I said. For example, here's how he paraphrased the thrust of my message: "Just keep reading those Macarthur commentaries, and all will be well. Consider us warned."
Of course, I hadn't mentioned MacArthur or anyone's commentaries anywhere in my critique. I had described Wright's book and disagreed with four points, all related to his view of justification.
Anyway, the following letter was my response to Michael's suggestion that Wright should be off limits to lesser beings like me:
I am surprised to see how well the letter works a year later. I am even trying to finish another major editing project. (I wish this stuff would come up in August, when my schedule isn't so hectic.)
Anyway, what made me think of this letter was a comment by "Dr Thomas" (an imaginary character with an imaginary degree) in the mega-thread of comments under Dan's post. Several of us had taken pains to explain why we think nothingno academic credentials, and no philosophical sophistrycould possibly justify Wright's endorsement of Marcus Borg's "passionate" love for "Jesus." (Especially given the fact that Borg's actual idea of Jesus is that He was a mere human who is now dead.)
Then "Dr. Thomas" wanted to know if I was familiar with Wright's epistemological framework as explained in Wright's 550-page tome, The New Testament and the People of God. I gotta admit: That's one of Wright's books I haven't read yet. (Though I did finally finish with Jesus and the Victory of God.)
But I still think what Wright said about Borg is unjustifiable, no matter how much "academic respectability"-capital it may have earned for Wright.