N.T. Wright: a rule keeping gospel

Here is a thought provoking quote by N.T. Wright in his latest book, After You Believe:  Why Christian Character Matters (2010):

And, tellingly, people often suggested, or even simply assumed, that one of the main things Jesus came to do was to tell us more clearly what the rules were and to give us a wonderful example of how to keep them. . . .

. . . Which then runs into difficulties, because people quickly discover that they can’t keep them, and so a different mode breaks in:  Jesus came to bring forgiveness for one’s rule breaking; but once we’ve grasped that, we have to go back to rule keeping again.  That is the broad framework within which many people in today’s Western world have come to think of the gospel of Jesus Christ” (44).

Do you feel trapped in this kind of gospel?


  1. This is especially relevant since Mormonism teaches that “Celestial law” is harder and harder and deeper than the Mosaic law.

  2. I get that by connecting the following dots:

    – The Law of Moses is a preparatory law to higher laws.

    – The Celestial Law is a higher law.

    I’ll get some quotes for you asap.

  3. Aaron,

    First – James 1:25

    Second – i thought Todd was asking for a quote justifying your claim of “harder” “deeper”, etc… you seem to infer that from the phrase “lower spiritual capacity”, but i believe, with your provided reference, you have no basis.
    Read the scripture helps or bible dictionary for “Law”. Maybe that will clarify your mind on this topic.
    To think, or promote, that Jesus did not come to show us by example is spiritually obtuse.

  4. I’ve seen those things, subgenius. You’ll have to be more specific.

    And I have no idea where you got it that I don’t think Jesus didn’t live the Law perfectly by example.

  5. i retract my original post.
    i agree that the spiritual progression is clear, the NT Wright quote seems to infer that the majority view is to regress in the Law rather than progress. I would need a clarification on “we have to go back to rule keeping again” in order to understand what sort of “trap” is being implied.

  6. subgenius, is it your view that the law of the gospel is stricter than the Law of Moses?

  7. aaron
    you pose an interesting question. It would seem that if one considers these 2 laws as “distinct” or separate spiritual conditions then the notion that the Gospel is a state of progress or advancement beyond the law of Moses would mean that it is “stricter” or rather more demanding. But we are also more capable, right?
    But is this a linear law? Is there a certain tandem nature to the OT and NT? Or is one to be discarded as the other takes it place?

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