N.T. Wright on the Enlightenment Attitude Towards Jesus


The larger dreams of the Enlightenment have, in recent years, been challenged on all kinds of levels. In some cases [ … ] they have been shown to be politically, economically and culturally self-serving on a massive scale. What if the moratorium on speaking of Jesus’ bodily resurrection, which has been kept in place until recently more by the critics’ tone of voice than by sustained historical argument [ … ], should itself turn out to be part of that intellectual and cultural hegemony against which much of the world is now doing its best to react?

What if the resurrection, instead of [ … ] legitimating a cosy, comfortable, socially and culturally conservative form of Christianity, should turn out to be, in the twenty-first century as in the first, the most socially, culturally and politically explosive force imaginable, blasting its way through the sealed tombs and locked doors of modernist epistemology and the (now) deeply conservative social and political structure which it sustains?

When I said there was no neutral ground at this point, I was not only referring to patterns of thought and belief. Indeed, the holding apart of the mental and spiritual on the one hand form the social, cultural and political on the other, one of the most important planks in the Enlightenment platform, is itself challenged by the question of Jesus’ resurrection.

from N.T. Wright’s The Resurrection of the Son of God, Christian Origins and the Question of God, vol. 3 (Fortress Press: 2003) p. 713


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