Wilson, Wright, and Wrongs

Douglas Wilson recently took N.T. Wright to task for meddling with 1 Timothy 2:12 – a meddling which resulted (as Wilson puts it) in “extreme Pauline makeovers.”

… what I don’t get is the attempt by men like N.T. Wright to pretend that women’s ordination is a matter of biblical obedience, as opposed to floating down the Whig view of history on an inner tube, right over the falls of progress.

Predictably, Wilson’s rebuttal wasn’t well-received by some, and he was forwarded a “longer and more scholarly defense of Wright’s posish.” Wilson then wrote a follow-up post in response:

It is not really necessary to respond to the first part of his paper, which actually dithers in ways that actually reinforce aspects of the traditionalists’ case, and so let’s just leave that part be. But 1 Tim. 2:12 is the locus classicus, and that is where his grim business really begins. Of course, if you are an egalitarian farmer, 1 Tim. 2:12 is actually the locust classicus, with palmerworms, and cankerworms, and caterpillars joining in the feast, eating your whole crop of estrogen-reinforced ministry right down to the dirt. Thus far the reading of the prophet Joel (Joel 1:4).

This morning, Wilson wrote again on the issue. A discussion was raging in the comment section of his previous post, as to whether he had been “too cavalier and dismissive of Wright.” Here’s what Wilson had to say to that:

Every expositor is capable of error, obviously, but sometimes the error is of a kind that is followed immediately with a clap of thunder. When that kind of thing happens, and your children are frightened, you need to tell them that it is only the gods of exegesis laughing. When someone of Wright’s influence and stature starts telling us that blue is pink, when the apostle Paul plainly told us that pink is pink, nothing is gained by pretending that it wasn’t a howler. Not only is nothing gained, a great deal is lost if we pretend it wasn’t a howler. 

A great deal, indeed. Kudos to Pastor Wilson for pointing this out while others seem intent on looking the other way.

6 thoughts on “Wilson, Wright, and Wrongs”

  1. I appreciate your summary of what’s been going “down” with this controversy; like Wilson, I’ve been rather amazed at where N.T. Wright lands on this issue

  2. Meh. I have no objection to making fun of howlers, but perhaps after we have assured the children that it is the gods laughing, we could then explain to the adults why the gods are laughing. It is all very well and good to mock Wright, but that only goes so far. Having established that it is a howler, would it kill Wilson to briefly explain why it is a howler? Athanasius had no objection to making fun of the “wiseacres” of his day, but after assuring the children that they were wiseacres, he proceeded to explain why.

    Which is not to say that I agree with Wright, because I don’t in the least, but considering that it is common problem for the church right now, it wouldn’t hurt anyone to rehash one more time the reasons why Wright and others are wrong.

    1. You make a good point, Amy, but I think Wilson did explain. Wright’s defense of his “translation” was poor (at best). He just asserted the legitimacy of his translation, without giving us any good reasons to embrace it. And as Wilson scathingly pointed out, that is not the way to do biblical interpretation.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s