Across the sea and around the world 05

1. From Wrightians and the Neo-Reformed: ‘All One in Christ Jesus.’ It was a report by Brett McCracken who attended Together for the Gospel conference and Wheaton Theological Conference which were held consecutively but featured two distinctive groups, the so-called Neo-Reformed and the Wrightians (or, perhaps more accurately, those who are generally sympathetic towards Tom Wright).

The Neo-Reformed is a name designated by Scot McKnight to characterize the resurging Calvinists in the North America. A similar phenomena is covered by TIME as one of the 10 ideas changing the world right now. It is called the new Calvinism. Either way, Neo-Reformed or New Calvinism, the surge of Calvinism is well-documented. Collin Hansen, a journalist of Christianity Today, documented the phenomena in his book Young, Restless, and Reformed.

And, as it has been the case so often, whatever that you find in America, sooner or later you will see it to be exported to other parts of the world. And it includes religious phenomena. I don’t mean that we import blindly and passively. What I mean is the globalized information infrastructure supports and fuels the similar movements elsewhere. The flux of resources (e.g., talks, books) synchronizes the movements, although it doesn’t nullify the particularity of the local movements. The local movements will adapt it accordingly. The New Calvinism could be globalized, sooner or later.

Hence I believe it would not be inaccurate to say that Shalom book store, a ministry of Shalom Reformed Baptist Church, and the Reformed Evangelical Church (and other affiliates) led by Rev. Stephen Tong exemplify the new Calvinism phenomena here (the latter is also covered by TIME in its report of Christianity’s surge in Indonesia). So now perhaps you get the idea of what does the ‘Neo-Reformed’ mean.

What about the Wrightians, then? When somebody starts to add -an/-ist to your name, it testifies to your influence. Darwinist, Calvinist, Christian, Mohammedan, Lutheran, Kantian, Hegelian, Wesleyan, Thomist, Buddhist, Barthian, etc. And hence perhaps it tells us something about this figure, the Bishop of Durham, Tom Wright. But then you might ask who the heck is this guy. Indeed, unlike some local examples which I could give for the ‘Neo-Reformed’, I couldn’t give any visible local expressions for ‘the Wrightians’ in Singapore which could help you understand better what does it mean (perhaps it tells us about the difference between the Americans and the Brits, if you know what I mean).

Well, except for myself and a few others who are generally appreciative of his works and thoughts. BGST does sell a lot of his books in its bookstore, and one of my AKTBs who took a class in BGST told me that he needed to review Wright’s What Saint Paul Really Said for his assignment. A few friends from TTC are also sympathetic towards him. So I would say that his works and thoughts were being discussed in the seminary level here. Although, of course you can always look at this blog and its contents to get the idea of what does the ‘Wrightian’ mean.

2. Speaking of these two groups, one point of contention between Wright and his critics is about justification. There is even a book specifically written as a response to Wright. It was written by John Piper, which was responded back by Wright. When the news came that Piper and Wright (and Frank Thielman) would be the plenary speakers for the next Evangelical Theological Society, it was a good news to many, since it would become an opportunity for both of them to meet, drink tea (to the Brits must become like the Brits), and clarify each positions. Indeed, the theme for the whole meeting this year would be “Justification by Faith.”

But then recently another news came that Piper wouldn’t be able to attend for the session, partly due to his eight-month leave of absence from May 1 through December 31, 2010. None was lost, though. He will be replaced by Tom Schreiner (it will be Tom and Tom!), an NT Professor at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

3. To get an idea how Wright was viewed by his critics, you can read the February 2010 edition of TableTalk magazine which is fully available now.

4. The Fourth Global South to South Encounter has ended. You can listen to the sessions or read the statements from the Global South Anglicans website. This is the statement from the encounter: The Fourth Trumpet (what will happen after the seventh trumpet?). The next ten years was declared to be a Decade of Mission and Networking, with an emphasis on economic empowerment in the provinces of the South.

Meanwhile, in relation to the gay bishop controversy, the proposed Covenant will still be reviewed to find ways to strengthen it. Particularly, the need was felt for the Covenant to be in compliance with Lambeth 1.10 on human sexuality and that the Primates Meeting should be the body to oversee the Covenant in its implementation, not the Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion, as it is stated now in the Covenant (4.2.2).

Indeed, “we believe that there is a need to review the entire Anglican Communion structure; especially the Instruments of Communion and the Anglican Communion office; in order to achieve an authentic expression of the current reality of our Anglican Communion.” (The Fourth Trumpet, #22).

5. Eerdmans April-October’10 release schedule. The three volumes on John look interesting.

6. Happy birthday, John Stott!


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