Using the Gospels Like NT Wright's Computer Skills

With Jesus, it's easy to be complicated and hard to be simple. Part of the difficulty is that Jesus was and is much, much more than people imagine. Not just people in general, but practicing Christians, the churches themselves. Faced with the gospels—the four early books that give us most of our information about him—most modern Christians are in the same position I am in when I sit down in front of my computer. My computer will, I am reliably informed, do a large number of complex tasks. I only use it, however for three things: writing, e-mail, and occasional Internet searches. If my computer were a person, it would feel frustrated and grossly undervalued, its full potential nowhere near realized.

We are, I believe, in that position today when we read the stories of Jesus in the gospels. We in the churches use these stories for various obvious things: little moralizing sermons on how to behave in the coming week, aids to prayer and mediation, extra padding for a theological picture largely constructed from elsewhere. The gospels, like my computer, have every right to feel frustrated. Their full potential remains unrealized.

NT Wright, Simply Jesus, page 4