It is too easy for an individual, a local church or a denomination to decide that they have a corner on the market of interpretation and truth and that anyone who disagrees with them is wrong. This attitude exists despite the fact that the New Testament shows us a number of situations when people in the early church had disagreements about issues that were decided by allowing a range of possibilities (e.g., the Jerusalem Council). Consequently we get easily embroiled in debates.
For Calvin, like Wright, the direction of the narrative that undergirds Paul’s gospel is eschatological. Human beings are being gifted with “power, righteousness, and life.” These are eschatological terms. As also for Wright, the nature of the story is Christological. It is a story about Christ, who has descended from heaven to bring us this power, righteousness, and life. However, the central difference from Wright is the way Calvin conceives of the role of the resurrection in this eschatological narrative. For Wright, the resurrection is not only the grand turning point of Jesus’ life, but the also hinge around which the history of the world turns, the inauguration of eschatological consummation. Christ’s resurrection is thus transformational. By contrast, according to Calvin’s comments above, Christ’s resurrection is only revelatory. In his resurrection Christ is proclaimed to be the Son of God; his public use of divine power declares who he really is. But proclamation and revelation do not introduce something new. In his resurrection, Christ is simply shown to be what he had always been.
The situation should be different with Christians. We believe the Bible is the Word of God—His divinely inspired, innerant message to us. To experience the Bible firsthand, whole people groups have learned to read, and new translations were created. Yet a recent LifeWay Research study found that only 45 percent of those who regularly attend church read the Bible more than once a week. Over 40 percent of the people attending are reading their Bibles occasionally—maybe once or twice a month, if at all. In fact, 18 percent of attenders say they never read the Bible.
The current debate in Hong Kong over who gets to select the candidates for chief executive may seem like a triviality, but it’s not. The protesters correctly see the slippery slope Beijing wants to nudge them down. It’s not about politics; it’s about the empowerment and dignity of 7.2 million people. It’s about the right to think for oneself and laugh freely; to speak truth and pursue treasures worth far more than the riches of this world; to believe in God and the goodness of others.