N.T. Wright on Worldviews

From Volume 1 of his planned 5 volume work–vol. 1 entitled The New Testament and the People of God. p.123

On the four aspects of a worldview (what a worldview does):

1)Worldviews provide the stories through human beings view reality.
2)From these stories one can in principle discover how to answer the basic questions that determine human existence.
3)The stories that express the worldview, and the answers which it provides to the questions of identity, environment, evil, and eschatology, are expressed in cultural symbols.
4)Worldviews, provide a praxis, a way-of-being-in-the-world.

Story, Questions, Symbol, Praxis.

Symbol involves ritual.  Story is a cosmology.  Praxis is ethics.  And questions are deep inquiry.

I think this paragraph alone places Wright as a real clarion voice/seer for the future of Christian theology.  Though I disagree almost completely with his historical Jesus and historical Paul, his views on the resurrection, and his overall evangelical (historicizing) faith, I think this call to return to story, symbol, and praxis is a guiding light.

Wright possesses no “religious criticism”, which is why I think he is forced to return to his self-described critical realist (more realist at times than critical imo) position, trying to prove a historical Jesus, his teaching, and movement, historical Paul, his teaching–and how remarkably in his analysis the two line up quite nicely.  Not to mention leaving out the rest of the NT, but nevermind that.

What I mean is, following Heidegger, worldviews are about clearings that are opened with a communal body through story telling, through ritual, activity, and meaning-making.  Wright tries to prove the final validity the Christian worldview (which I actually think he describes beautifully) through a historical argument.

Rather, if there were a religious criticism, as I’m beginning to think is absolutely vital, then the question of the judgment of worldviews (relatively) could come from a different source and not make, what I think to be, a series of unforced errors in the rest of Wright’s though.  Not to mention his complete lack (as a non-experiential evangelical) of any description of the Christian mystical tradition.

Story, Questions, Symbol, and Praxis, shaved of any idea to “prove” via historical events/reconstruction, could then be unleashed.

Wright has a very smart analogy to elucidate what a worldview is (and isn’t).

Worldviews are like the foundations of a house: vital, but invisible.  They are that through which, not at which, a society or an individual normally looks; they form the grid according to which humans organize reality, not bits of reality which offer themselves up for organization.  p.125 (italics in original)

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Published in: on December 12, 2007 at 10:03 pm  Leave a Comment  

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