In the latest 9Marks newsletter Schreiner reviews several recent Wright books. Both reviews contain appreciation for aspects of Wright’s work (see also this post by Mark Ward), but Schreiner also includes several critiques of Wright.
His critiques of Wright’s collection of sermons, Christians at the Cross, really apply to Wright’s work as a whole and are worth noting here.
First, one of the central themes in Jesus’ preaching was the call to repentance and faith. Wright rightly offers comfort to the church, but Jesus also emphasized the sins of those in Israel (yes, even when speaking to those who were already religious). Hence, he called on Israel to repent, to take up their cross and follow him, to turn away from all other gods, and to believe in the gospel. That theme is quite muted in Wright’s sermons.
The second weakness is related to the first. Wright pays much more attention to our responsibility to further God’s work in this world than he does to the need to put one’s faith in Jesus. He agrees that the latter is necessary, but he stresses the former. Of course the Christian life is about more than “getting saved.” We have work to do in this world after we believe. Nevertheless, it would seem that Easter week sermons would be a prime occasion to call upon one’s hearers to believe in the gospel; and yet a strong call to faith is lacking from this book. Wright seems to assume that all his hearers are already Christians. Wright should emphasize conversion more and call his readers (and hearers) to repentance and faith, especially since the church in England is shrinking and evangelism is such a crying need in Britain.
Third, Wright clearly believes that Jesus bore our sins as our substitute. Still, he scarcely emphasizes the awful judgment and wrath that we deserve as sinners—a wrath that is turned away by the cross of Jesus Christ (Rom 3:25-26; 1 Thess 1:10; 5:9). Wright focuses on the love of God, but he does not say much about his holiness. Yet it is when we see God’s dazzling holiness that his love shines all the brighter.