Tuesday, April 27, 2010

saying yes and no ‒ the bishop of durham goes to st andrews

I usually remember to turn my phone off when I go to sleep. I forgot to do so last night and was thus rudely roused from my slumber by an e-mail noisily shaking my phone against the nightstand before the sun had risen. Usually, I just ignore my phone and roll over, but I didn't this time. Glancing at the screen I noticed an update from Nijay Gupta's blog. What interested me was the subject of the update "Wright . . ." Since the Wheaton Theology Conference the blogosphere has been buzzing with all things Wright, but the hype has died down a little so I accessed the link and read the astonishing news. N. T. Wright, the current Bishop of Durham, is leaving his post as Bishop to teach and direct doctoral students at the University of St Andrews School of Divinity. The move is abrupt transitioning out of his role as Bishop in August and teaching in September.

You can read the announcement on the St. Andrews Website here, but it isn't much more than an announcement and laundry list of Wright's distinguished credentials. There is a more helpful announcement on the Church of England's website. The quotations from Wright below come from the latter site.

At age 62 Wright has decided to devote himself to writing and teaching forgoing some of the responsibilities of running a diocese. In describing the move Wright said, "This has been the hardest decision of my life. It has been an indescribable privilege to be Bishop of the ancient Diocese of Durham [. . .]. I have loved the people, the place, the heritage and the work. But my continuing vocation to be a writer, teacher and broadcaster, for the benefit (I hope) of the wider world and church, has been increasingly difficult to combine with the complex demands and duties of a diocesan bishop. I am very sad about this, but the choice has become increasingly clear." This is surely sad news for the Diocese of Durham, but seems to be the correct move.

Wright's enduring gift to the Church, both in England and around the world, will be his writing and the students he leaves behind. Who knows when the world will again see a scholar of his intelligence, influence and faith? To be honest, I'm also extremely excited about the prospect of actually studying under Wright. Having read his books, traced-out and wrestled with his arguments it would be a great privilege to study alongside him. Either way, the Church will be well served to have Dr. Wright writing and teaching.

My current teacher, Dr. Robert Lowery, is dying of cancer. His time, as with all of us, is limited. So what is he doing as he inches closer to the grave? He is doing the same thing he has for the last 35 years‒ teaching. Lowery recently offered some reflections on what to do with the time and resources he has left. He is asking "Do I" or "Don't I"? It is a question we must all ask, though unfortunately, we often fail to ask it thoughtfully enough.

Someone once told me, "Every time you say 'yes' to something you're also saying 'no' to something else." Wright is saying yes to teaching and no to administrating. It makes me wonder what do I need to say no to? Or in the words of Paul, how can I "redeem the time, because the days are evil" (Eph 5.16)? Thinking eschatologically how can we redeem the time with the gifts we have been given most effectively for the kingdom?


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