I kept hearing and seeing this name pop up in theological discussions: N.T. Wright. When someone is that interesting, I always figure it’s time to make up my own mind and read a book he’s written. And so I did. N.T, Wright is a well-known scholar on the New Testament and a bishop in the Anglican Church.
I can’t even remember why I chose How God Became King, it may have been on sale on Amazon. But I’m so happy I did buy it and read it, because it has not only impacted my theology in a broader sense, but it has really changed how I see Jesus.
In How God Became King: The Forgotten Story of the Gospels N.T. Wright challenges how many Christians view the central message of the four Gospels. He does that very convincingly, for instance by citing the best-known creeds. What’s interesting, he notices, is that the creeds don’t mention anything between Jesus being born and Him dying on the cross. But the four Gospels are actually filled with describing everything in between.
Therefore he states that we have gotten the central messages of the gospels wrong. They’re not about atonement or salvation. They are, but it’s not their core message. Their core message is how Jesus, the promised Jewish Messiah, became King. Not in the future, not when He returns, but right then and there when He lived.
He illustrates his point with many examples from the gospels, again and again pointing out Kingdom references and themes. In between, he argues for a different way of proving Jesus’ divinity (and he doesn’t deny Jesus is the son of God – the people who claim this clearly haven’t understood what he wrote on this topic!. He also stresses the importance of the story of Israel in the gospels. Jesus was the promised Messiah, first and foremost for Israel.
The Kingdom theology as described in the four gospels was a concept that was new to me. Obviously, I knew of the Kingdom of God, but I didn’t have a very clear picture of what that meant exactly. As I’ve shared a couple of months ago, I have been thinking a lot about what the Gospel actually is. There was a dissatisfaction in me about the too easy message I’d so often heard. Maybe that’s why this new insight into the key message of the gospels impacted me and challenged me so much.
That doesn’t mean I agreed with everything he said. Some of his arguments, for instance for the Christology as presented in the gospel of John, weren’t persuasive enough for me. But it did challenge me and help me come to new viewpoints on some important issues.
For a theology book, it’s quite an easy read. There’s not much theology mumbo-jumbo here, a welcome relief from some other books who seem to revel in using as many difficult words as they can. So even if you’re not that well-versed in theology, I’d whole-heartedly recommend this book. I’m not exactly a theology buff myself and I loved it!