Friday, 18 March 2011

John Calvin, mediator between "Old" and "New" Perspectives on Paul? N.T. Wright and Kevin Vanhoozer

I will never forget the question I asked N.T. Wright on 8 January 2009, and his somewhat agnostic reply. My question was in response to a statement he made during one of the sessions of a module he taught at St’ John’s College, Durham University. His statement went something like this: “Luther got it wrong about justification.” (Nothing new about this – we all know Wright has said and written this before). My question went something like this: “But what about Calvin?” He did not really answer the question, though to be fare, there were several questions from others he had to answer as well. I can of course be wrong (and I do have enormous respect for Wright!), but after the session I wondered whether he has ever read Calvin’s Institutes.

With this as background I was quite surprised and delighted when Kevin Vanhoozer, an erudite Reformed systematic theologian from Wheaton College made the following statement at the Jesus, Paul, and the People of God: A Theological Dialogue with N.T. Wright conference, held at Wheaton College on 16-17 April 2010:

“What Calvin does with Paul’s union with Christ provides fertile ground for a meeting of 'Old' and 'New' Perspective minds.”

I really enjoyed listening to Vanhoozer’s paper and wonder whether Wright will dialogue with Calvin in his forthcoming volume on Paul? I believe it is fair to say that Vanhoozer was nuanced in his approach and that his insights contributed to a fruitful discussion. (cf. he also said: “My aim is to encourage peace-talks between New Perspectives and old protestants”).

Video’s and Audio’s of all the papers delivered at the conference can be downloaded here:

I would encourage Reformed Christians to listen to Vanhoozer’s paper in particular. (He started dealing with Calvin at round about 25 minutes in his presentation).

The conference papers have now also been published by IVP under the title Jesus, Paul, and the People of God: A Theological Dialogue with N.T. Wright. To order (in Europe) click here:

No comments: