Not Always Right: Critiquing Christopher Wright’s Paradigmatic Application Of The Old Testament To The Socioeconomic Realm -- By: John A. Wind

Journal: Southern Baptist Journal of Theology
Volume: SBJT 19:2 (Summer 2015)
Article: Not Always Right: Critiquing Christopher Wright’s Paradigmatic Application Of The Old Testament To The Socioeconomic Realm
Author: John A. Wind


Not Always Right: Critiquing Christopher Wright’s Paradigmatic Application Of The Old Testament To The Socioeconomic Realm

John A. Wind

John A. Wind is Assistant Professor of Theology at Colorado Christian University, Lakewood, CO. He earned his Ph.D. in Christian Missions from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Previously, Dr. Wind served with his family in Asia for eight years.

Christopher J. H. Wright is one of the leading evangelical voices today addressing the theology of the church’s mission. Wright, an Anglican pastor and Old Testament (OT) scholar, is a key figure in the Lausanne Movement, including his role as the Chair of the Cape Town 2010 Statement Working Group, which drafted the Cape Town Commitment, the third major declaration of the movement, following the 1974 Lausanne Covenant and the 1989 Manila Manifesto. Both the Cape Town Commitment and the larger body of Wright’s publications exhibit his passion for Christians to apply Scripture, in particular the OT, to a broad range of ethical issues, including matters within the socio-economic realm of secular society. Wright notes that “the question of what authority the scriptures of the Hebrew Bible have for Christians and how they should be used for ethics is, and always has been, difficult and divisive.”1 But the complexity of the topic is met by Wright’s zeal when he describes “the great love-affair of my life with the ethical study

and relevance of the Old Testament.”2 Wright readily acknowledges that “I am not an economist, nor a politician, lawyer, or sociologist, and claim no special expertise in these areas,” but nonetheless believes that his paradigmatic approach to OT ethics provides a proper framework for considering modern economic questions.3 This article will first describe Wright’s paradigmatic method, and then both commend and critique his approach in general, and finally evaluate some of the specific applications he makes to the socio-economic realm.

Describing Wright’s Paradigmatic Approach To OT Ethical Application

When speaking of his paradigmatic approach to OT ethics, Wright uses the term “paradigm” in two senses.4 First, he employs it to refer to a “wider conceptual paradigm,” an “overall matrix of beliefs, values and assumptions,”5 what could also be labeled a ‘worldview.’ Following this first definition of paradigm, Wright sees the OT itself as ...

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