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N.T. Wright on Getting It Wrong

No one will miss that when it comes to patristics I am an amateur, both in the sense that I am not academically trained in this field, and in the etymological sense that I write as a lover (amator). Doubtless, much of what I write about the fathers will therefore be amateurish, so let me adopt this paragraph from N. T. Wright as my own:

I frequently tell my students that quite a high proportion of what I say is probably wrong, or at least flawed or skewed in some way which I do not at the moment realize. The only problem is that I do not know which bits are wrong; if I did I might do something about it. The analogy with other areas of life is salutary: I make many mistakes in moral and practical matters, so why should I imagine my thinking to be mysteriously exempt? But, whereas if I hurt someone, or take a wrong turn in the road, I am usually confronted quite soon with my error, if I expound erratic views within the world of academic theology I am less likely to be convinced by contradiction. … We all have ways of coping with adverse comment without changing our minds; but, since I am aware of the virtual certainty of error in some of what I write, I hope I shall pay proper attention to the comments of those—and no doubt there will be many—who wish to draw my attention to the places where they find my statement of the evidence inadequate, my arguments weak, or my conclusions unwarranted. Serious debate and confrontation is the stuff of academic life, and I look forward, not of course without some trepidation, to more of it as a result of this project.1

  1. N. T. Wright, The New Testament and the People of God, vol. 1 of Christian Origins and the Question of God (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1992), xvii–xviii.

1 Comment

  1. As an Elder in the Church I live this daily…praying that we all keep our hearts and mind open to growth.

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