Monday, 18 August 2008

Wright's 'ordo salutis' - a "moralistic declension from true evangelicalism"?

I am very grateful to Mark B for posting a link to Paul Helm's online article, Bishop N.T. Wright's ordo salutis. Helm is currently a professor at Highland Theological College and teaching fellow at Regent College. Formerly he was Professor of the History and Philosophy of Religion, King's College, London, 1993-2000, so he is no academic lightweight.

Helm very helpfully sets out his understanding of Wright's ordo, based on a paper given by the latter in 2006. His conclusion is as follows (though do read the whole article):
Wright's view of the ordo salutis follows a recurring pattern in Protestantism: the rejection of the imputation of Christ's righteousness, and [, in place of that,] justification on the basis of some change or achievement in the person concerned. That justification is temporally after the beginning of these changes is vital to this view of the ordo. Different versions of this pattern can be found in Arminianism, and other movements affected by Arminianism, such as Baxterian neonomianism and Cambridge Platonism. The pattern is: justification is grounded (partly at least) in subjective states. In Wright's case, in faith and covenant membership, unmerited gifts of God, (257) and all that they imply. Justification/vindication is temporally subsequent to being in the covenant, it is an assurance of it. (261) If, as Bishop Wright says, his account of justification 'does the job' of the Reformers' imputation of an alien righteousness, (260-1) then it does that job very differently.

If Bishop Wright has a controversy with the Protestant tradition, as he says that he has, then there is little that is new about his own proposal, even though it may be founded upon a novel account of what St. Paul really said. It’s the old, old story; a moralistic declension from true evangelicalism.
This would seem to back up my suspicion, expressed here, that Wright's 'new perspective' leads to an old position on salvation which either precedes, or departs from, mainstream Evangelicalism in the tradition of the Reformers.

I would say this, though: a critique of a theology is not the same as an attack on a person. Tom Wright rejects the Reformers' doctrine of 'imputed righteousness'. I cannot imagine he has any animosity towards the Reformers as a result, (though as I indicated previously in the Comments here, it does help if someone is dead). I think there are serious problems with Tom Wright's theology. That doesn't mean I automatically think there are serious problems with Tom Wright.

John Richardson
18 August 2008

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  1. The CEEC basis of faith in Article 1.8 (see e.g. Fulcrum website), talks about Jesus returning to "vindicate His chosen" without really explaining what this statement means. I wonder if this is in fact, coincident with Wright's theology on justification.

    Chris Bishop


  2. Well, Wright is no Arminian, though, is he? Do you think he is influenced by Arminian types of thinking?

    And his preaching and writing could not be said to be moralistic, could they?

    As I understand it the Reformed Tradition is not unanimous on the imputation of the active obedience of Christ and it seems that the Westminster Divines, for example, deliberately allowed for those who did not hold to it.

    Wright seems basically to believe in the imputation of Christ’s righteousness, or at least that we are accounted righteous in him, does he not, even if he does not like the language of imputed righteousness which might imply some kind of bank-balance that can be transferred about?

    Marc Lloyd

  3. "Wright seems basically to believe in the imputation of Christ’s righteousness, or at least that we are accounted righteous in him, does he not..."

    Apparently not, if I understand him correctly, from what NHelm reports. However, if Bishop Wright reads this blog, maybe he could answer himself?

  4. Marc,

    Maybe, but if so what's new/different about it. If nothing, fine. But then where's NTW's bone with Protestantism/Reformation tradition?

    Darren Moore

  5. Mark B,

    Wright may reject the language of imputation but I think he thinks he is getting the point the Reformers were concerned to make?


    Well, in part, and I think this is a main point for Wright, he is writing about what Paul actually meant. He is a NT scholar after all. He thinks Luther didnt give the definitive reading / application of Paul.

    The imputation of Christ's active obedience is a part of the majority view Reformed approach.

    Marc Lloyd

  6. John,

    Thanks for this discussion. I agree with your assessment of Wright's ordo salutis, but I found this last bit curious: I think there are serious problems with Tom Wright's theology. That doesn't mean I automatically think there are serious problems with Tom Wright.

    Can we imagine Paul saying, "I think there are serious problems with the theology of Hymenaeus and Philetus, but that doesn't mean I think there are serious problems with Hymenaeus and Philetus"?

    Or perhaps, "I do have certain problems with the theology of the circumcision party, and their view does represent a declension from evangelicalism, but I haven't got anything against them personally, and I'm not saying that there's necessarily anything wrong with them"?

    I don't think we can so easily separate someone's teaching from who they are and how we should relate to them. The words of people like Hymenaeus and Philetus are gangrenous, says Paul. They spread throughout the body, first weakening it, and finally incapacitating it, until people's faith is overturned.

    The actions Paul exhorts Timothy to make are worth noting (in 2 Tim):
    1. Do your best to rightly handle the word of truth (2:15); continue in the truth of the Scriptures (3:10-16)
    2. Avoid irreverent babble, pointless arguments and quarrels (2:16,23).
    3. Correct opponents with gentleness (2:24) in the hope that they will escape the snare of the devil.
    4. With the real bad guys (the religious hypocrites etc), just don't go near them. (3:1-9)

    What do you think the NT says about how we should relate to someone who teaches an aberrant doctrine of justification?


  7. "Wright may reject the language of imputation but I think he thinks he is getting the point the Reformers were concerned to make?"

    I'm starting to doubt this. Imputed righteousness was central to Luther's understanding (simul justus et peccator). It's not just the language (the meaning of logizomai and dikaioo) but also the conceptuality. I'll have to read Wright carefully for myself, but I'm beginning to suspect he's teaching a works-righteousness ('whole life lived'). I hope not.

  8. Mark B

    Let's distinguish initial and final justification. As Marc has pointed out in a comment on another post in this series on Wright, it's not at all unusual for Reformed authors to affirm the place of works in final justification. Not that these works are meritorious, but that they evidence a genuine saving faith. Calvin, Bucer, Turretin, Pictet, Witsius are good examples of C16 and C17 theologians who affirm the evidential place of works in final justification. So, Calvin (Institutes 3.17.8:

    "Forgiveness of sins being previously given, the good works which follow have a value different from their merit, because whatever is imperfect in them is covered by the perfection of Christ, and all their blemishes and pollutions are wiped away by his purity, so as never to come under the cognizance of the divine tribunal. The guilt of all transgressions, by which men are prevented from offering God an acceptable service, being thus effaced, and the imperfection which is wont to sully even good works being buried, the good works which are done by believers are deemed righteous, or; which is the same thing, are imputed for righteousness."

    Note: in final justification, Calvin is unafraid to say that believers' good works are imputed for righteousness!! But they are not the meritorious cause of justification, since, (precisely because of jbfa), God wipes away their blemishes and pollutions.

    Now, I don't have the expertise in Wright's theology to say whether or not he remains orthodox on jbfa, but simply pulling a phrase out of his writings, 'the whole life lived', doesn't help very much.

    As to the substance of Wright's views on initial justification, he's pretty clear in Fresh Perspectives and the Romans Commentary that justification is forensic and declaratory, that we are justified when we are united to Christ by faith. I disagree with his (exegetical) claim that justification in Paul isn't entry language (Rom 5.1, e.g., seems to undermine that claim). And I can understand his reluctance to use imputation language, given that he doesn't think it's exegetically warranted (I don't happen to agree with his concern - we can surely distinguish exegesis from theological uses of a word). But it seems to me that the substance of his doctrine is basically Protestant.

    John, can you point me in the direction of any theologians of the via moderna who taught that justification is forensic, declaratory and involves God reckoning us righteous by faith in Christ?

  9. Sorry - I forgot to put a location in that last comment.

    Matthew Mason
    Tunbridge Wells

  10. Thank you Matthew - I don't have Wright's Romans commentary, but if he does say 'justification is declaratory and forensic', then isn't that what is actually denoted by 'imputation' (as opposed to 'impartation')? But the Helms quotation has him denying that God's own righteousness is 'imputed' to us (which is the Lutheran view); how does W. understand Rom 3.21-25?
    I have no problem with what you cite from Calvin about works; but surely this isn't what Wright is saying?

  11. To all,

    I have to apologize for not joining in properly with this discussion at the moment. I am speaking at the Lowestoft Living Word convention in two weeks time and have seven talks to prepare on top of everything else.

    I would like just to say a quick word, though, about judgement on the basis of 'works as evidence for faith'.

    This, it seems to me, confuses two things - evidence, and 'condition' (for want of a better word). In a trial, we consider the evidence, and we indeed judge someone on the basis of the evidence, but the verdict is on the basis of their condition: whether they are guilty or innocent of a crime.

    Thus the evidence may point to guilt: they were seen coming out of the house, their fingerprints are on the stolen goods, etc. But the verdict is not that they exited a certain house on a certain day, or that they handled certain goods. The verdict is that they are guilty of theft.

    Indeed, we consider 'evidence' because we cannot, as it were, cut to the chase and know for sure what the person did or did not do.

    God, however, does not need evidence, and does not judge us 'on the evidence'. God sees the heart - indeed sees it better than even we can - and judges what we really are.

    The mistake of classic legalism (which I believe is found in all major religions) is to see actions not, first and foremost, as 'evidence' of something else, but as meritorious in themselves and able to be weighed (as in Islam) against one another. A good act may 'outweigh' an evil act, but when we take all the acts together, the person is found to be good or evil on balance, determined by the proportion of good to evil acts. This, I think, is one popular understanding of a 'whole of life' judgement, and in Islam finds formal theological expression.

    Judaism and Christianity have a different view: a person is 'just' or 'unjust', good or evil, in themselves, and their acts reflect this: a good tree brings forth good fruit and so on.

    As judge, however, whilst God may refer to the evidence to explain his verdict, he does not need the evidence to arrive at that verdict. He does not need to judge us 'on the basis of the evidence', but can judge simply on the basis of the truth of what we are - what he knows us to be - and what he knows our works to be in the light of what we are: "‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’"

    This brings me back to one of my key questions: "What is the relevance, in Wright's scheme, of the 'whole of life'?" To put it another way round, would not his verdict of final vindication be applicable at any and every stage of the Christian's life following initial vindication/justification?

    If the answer is 'Yes,' then the concept of the 'whole of life' is functionally tautologous - the verdict is the same, whatever life's duration may be, because we are what we are (in God's sight) at every stage. This, I think, is classical Protestantism.

    If the answer is, however, 'No', then we have introduced an element which is not there in traditional Reformed Evangelical understandings - and one which is not at all clear, at least to me! Something is embedded in 'life', between initial and final justification, which affects the verdict - and it cannot just be 'works as the evidence of faith'.

    One last observation - now that there are several posts on the same topic, people will need to read all the comments on all the posts if they are to keep up!

  12. Hi Mark

    On the imputation of God's righteousness point, I myself think Luther's exegesis of Rom 1:17 is wrong. I don't think God's righteousness is imputed to us; rather I think it's more biblical to say that Christ's righteousness is imputed to us, or, better yet, that we are counted (imputed as) righteous in Christ. Wright has argued strongly (e.g., in The Climax of the Covenant for what he calls an incorporative Christology, whereby the Messiah represents and 'sums up' his people, so that what is true of him is true of them. Thus, union with Christ (and the consequent receipt of benefits such as justification, adoption, etc is pretty central to his understanding).

    As far as Wright's view of justification goes, forgive the lengthy quotations below, but I hope they're helpful.

    On Rom 3:24, Wright writes,

    'This "justification" takes place in the present time, rather than in the future as in 2:1-11. This particular "justification" is the surprising anticipation of the final verdict spoken of in that passage, and carries both the lawcourt meaning...and the covenantal meaning...these two, being, as we have already explained, dovetailed together in Paul. It is God's declaration that those who believe are in the right; their sins have been dealt with; they are God's true covenant people, God's renewed humanity.' (Romans, 471)

    Or, on 3:25f,

    'The first question at issue, then - the aspect of God's righteousness that might seem to have been called into question and is now demonstrated after all - is God's proper dealing with sins - i.e., punishment. Whatever Paul is saying in the first half of v. 25, it must be such as to lead to the conclusion that now, at last, God has punished sins as they deserved....[Then, on God as being both just and the justifier:] God, as both the covenant God and the "righteous judge" of the lawcourt metaphor, displays "righteousness," not simply through dealing with sins as they deserved, but also, in his summing up of the case, through finding in favor of this category of people. We must remind ourselves again that this declaration, this decision of the judge, is what constitutes these people as "righteous." The word is primarily forensic/covenantal and only secondarily (what we would call) "ethical." God's justifying activity is the declaration that his people are "in the right," in other words, announcing the verdict in their favor. Calling them "righteous," as one must on this basis, should not be misunderstood to mean that God has after all recognized that they possess ethical characteristics that have commended themselves, caused their sins to be overlooked, and persuaded the judge that they deserved a favorable verdict. To say that they are "righteous" means that the judge has found in their favor; or, translating back into covenantal categories, that the covenant God has declared them to be the covenant people.

    The point, anyway, is that the display of God's righteousness in the death of Jesus is the basis for God's justifying declaration of this category of people.' (Romans, 473)

    Interestingly, although Wright thinks that the final phrase in v. 26 doesn't denote our faith in Christ, his comments on this make clear his adherence to justification by faith alone, as well as his adherence to Jesus' death as the ground of our justification:

    'In other words, is Paul referring to the Christ's "faith in Jesus" (as NIV), or, as in v. 22, to Jesus' own "faith(fulness)"?

    It could in principle be the former. Paul has already referred to Christian faith in 3:22...He is about to mount an argument in 3:27-31 in which the faith of Christians is central. But he normally speaks of the object of Christian faith not as Jesus, but as God....Granted the importance of Jesus' faithfulness in the argument of this passage, stated proleptically in 3:22, it is more likely that what he means here, stated still in condensed form, is that God justifies the one whose status rests on the faithful death of Jesus. Even there, of course, the notion of the believer's own faith is not absent, since it is this faith that precipitates God's announcement of the verdict in the present time. But the basis for this faith is precisely the faithfulness of Jesus seen as the manifestation of the covenant faithfulness of God.' (Romans, 473f)

    Or, on Romans 5:19:
    'With audible overtones of Isa 53:11, [Paul] declares that, as Adam's disobedience gave "the many" the status of being "sinners" Christ's obedience has given "the many" the status of being "righteous." Jesus, whisper the Isaianic echoes, is the servant of YHWH, whose obedient death has accomplished YHWH's saving purpose. He has "established" or "set up" his people with a new status.

    To be a "sinner" is, to be sure, more than a mere status. It involves committing actual sins. but it is the status that interests Paul here. Likewise, to be "righteous," as will be apparent in the next chapter, is more than simply status, but again it is the status that matters here. Justification, rooted in the cross and anticipating the verdict of the last day, gives people a new status, ahead of the performance of appropriate deeds.' (Romans, 529)

    Best wishes

    Matthew Mason
    Tunbridge Wells

  13. Matthew,

    Still no time to respond properly, but I would just point out that an "incorporative Christology, whereby the Messiah represents and 'sums up' his people, so that what is true of him is true of them," based on "union with Christ" is also central to Luther's theology and, I think, his understanding of 'imputation'.

    This is from The Freedom of a Christian (1520):

    "The third incomparable benefit of faith is that it unites the soul with Christ as a bride is united with her bridegroom. By this mystery, as the Apostle teaches, Christ and the soul become one flesh [Eph. 5:31–32]. And if they are one flesh and there is between them a true marriage — indeed the most perfect of all marriages, since human marriages are but poor examples of this one true marriage — it follows that everything they have they hold in common, the good as well as the evil. Accordingly the believing soul can boast of and glory in whatever Christ has as though it were its own, and whatever the soul has Christ claims as his own. Let us compare these and we shall see inestimable benefits. Christ is full of grace, life, and salvation. The soul is full of sins, death, and damnation. Now let faith come between them and sins, death, and damnation will be Christ’s, while grace, life, and salvation will be the soul’s; for if Christ is a bridegroom, he must take upon himself the things which are his bride’s and bestow upon her the things that are his. If he gives her his body and very self, how shall he not give her all that is his? And if he takes the body of the bride, how shall he not take all that is hers?" (LW 31:351)

    Interestingly, in his work on eschatology, Wright makes the marriage one between heaven and earth. This, I think, is mistaken and overlooks the role of 'marital union' in redemption, and its reflection in human relationships.

  14. John,

    I agree that our works are the fruit of our hearts. But it's striking isn't it that the repeated testimony of Scripture is that in the final judgment, God judges us according to our works?

    "By your words you will be justified and by your words you will be condemned" (Matt 12:37)

    "Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty...etc..."Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, etc..." (Matt 25:34-46 - a good 'future justification by works passage, this one!)

    "to those who by patience in well-doing see for glory and honour and immmortality, he will give eternal life" (Rom 2:7)

    "The dead were judged by what was written in the books according to what they had done" (Rev 20:12)

    Even the verse you quote demonstrates this, at least in part: "Get away from me you evildoers [ergazomenoi ten anomian]."

    This, of course, doesn't mean that God puts our good and evil works in a balance, although you're right that one form of legalism does view it like that. But it does suggest that works are the basis for the judgment.

    On the 'whole of life' thing, I'm not quite sure what point you're trying to make. Wright, it seems to me, (in a way that fits with the Calvin I quoted in an earlier post) is saying that God's final verdict will take into account our Spirit-wrought works, such that those works will be (to use Calvin's language) imputed to us for righteousness, though not because they're meritorious of themselves.

    So, in one sense, the answer to your question is "Yes and No". If I were to die aged 40, then God's verdict will be passed "righteous in Christ", on the evidence of my works carried out between the ages of 20 (my conversion) and 40. If I die at 50, then the same verdict will be passed, although the supporting evidence will be somewhat different, and the reward in glory presumably somewhat different.

    I wonder if 'the whole of life lived' isn't a way of describing a narrative ontology? Who I am, my life, is not just me at the moment I type this, but it is me, spread out over the narrative of my life: at death, "I", the identity of Matthew Mason, will be the sum of my life lived in the body. And so God will judge me not simply on the basis of what I was in the time-slice of death, but rather taking into account my works throughout my life as a man in Christ.

  15. John,

    Hah! Thank you for the Luther quote - I nearly quoted it myself - it's a favourite of mine. I think it shows quite neatly that Wright's view is far closer to Luther's than Helm would admit.

  16. Yes, I think God's verdict on the whole life would be applicable at any moment after conversion before death provided there were no final apostasy. I'm sure Wright would admit that too. He doesnt think justification by works is a matter of percentages. The thief on the cross, of course, had very few good works to show for his faith.

    Of course we run the risk of absurdity when we begin to ask questions about what would God do if he had not decreed it this way etc.

    Marc Lloyd

  17. Thank you Matthew,

    My question back to your presentation of God's judgement within Wright's framework is this: what if God had had to judge you "on the evidence of ... works carried out between the ages of 20 ... and, well, 20 and a tiny little bit?" What if, in other words, you had simply died suddenly after conversion?

    Would Wright's schema still hold that the verdict was "Righteous in Christ"?

    Let me say that my guess is he would say it did (as I'm quite sure you would).

    What this raises, then, is the significance of the 'whole of life' concept. (It is really a question of the coherence of the scheme at this point.) What are we looking for in the 'gap' between conversion, and death which brings down the curtain on that life by the 'whole' of which we will be judged?

    Are we looking for evidence of righteousness (or, as I suspect Wright would prefer, 'evidence of being a covenant person')? It may seem that this scheme suggests we are. But 'evidence' can only show what is the case: in this instance that we are (or are not) a covenant person (or, to put it another way, 'righteous in Christ').

    If we are, then, de facto by conversion, righteous, covenant people, the judgement of God is the verdict on that condition. God, in Wright's schema, says 'justly' that we are, in fact, 'justified'.

    However, mention of the 'whole of life' is then a red-herring. Or rather it is in danger of being a false trail, which starts the Christian thinking about their own 'performance', when they should be resting confidently in what Christ has done.

    It seems to me that traditional Reformed schemes have always allowed a place for works, and recognized that works can be judged: "Well done, good and faithful servant."

    But this is quite different from vindication, which is based entirely on what Christ has done. I think the 'two books' image in Revelation 20:12-15 is reflection of this.

  18. Well, I still think we just have to say "in what sense?".

    It still seems to me that to say that we are (in a sense) justified by our works is the same as saying we are vindicated by our works, even though they are the evidential basis of our vindication not the meritorious basis of it.

  19. Thanks John - this is interesting, and helpful to me at least. This will have to be my last comment today, but...

    I think Wright's schema would hold that the verdict would be righteous (not least because it's not a matter, as far as I can tell, of totting up merit/demerit, but is one of covenant faithfulness), and, even the youngest believer is faithful/obedience however faltering and flawed that might be, because justifying faith is a lively faith that always and immediately issues in good works.

    I think Wright would be happy to speak of being righteous, being a covenant person - one of the things he objects to is separating those things. justification/righteousness language for him is covenant language.

    As to your last point, it's well taken, and i wouldn't want to take people away from resting wholly on Christ. But the great strength of what Wright is doing, imo (even if in the end the way he synthesises things isn't satisfactory), is that he's seeking to take seriously the language of Scripture which, whatever it means by this, does use the language of justification/vindication on the last day in relation to our works.

  20. Hi John

    Hope you are well.

    "It seems to me that traditional Reformed schemes have always allowed a place for works, and recognized that works can be judged: "Well done, good and faithful servant."

    How is this view reconciled with the below passages quoted by Matthew Mason(which imply much more than a "well done" form of affirmation):

    "Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty...etc..."Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, etc..." (Matt 25:34-46 - a good 'future justification by works passage, this one!)

    "to those who by patience in well-doing see for glory and honour and immmortality, he will give eternal life" (Rom 2:7)

    "The dead were judged by what was written in the books according to what they had done" (Rev 20:12).

    In addition, with reference to the following:

    "Or rather it is in danger of being a false trail, which starts the Christian thinking about their own 'performance', when they should be resting confidently in what Christ has done."

    Should not a Christian being doing both the above things (the former flowing from the latter)?!

    Interesting debate!

    Best wishes

    Iain McColl


  21. I'm no expert, but I do remember Wright once distinguishing his view from the via moderna in terms of assurance. In VM, if I understand correctly, you don't get assurance. In Wright's view, once you are united with Christ you can have full confidence a) that you will be declared right with God on the last day and b) that God will so work in you that the rest of your life, while not perfect, will on balance genuinely be part of God's putting-right of the world.

    Andy Griffiths, Galleywood, Essex

  22. Andy, that's interesting. I'd love to know where he said that. In his Edinburgh Dogmatics Conference lecture (which has a certain relevance to this thread) Wright seems happy to call himself a Calvinist, so I guess it shdn't be too surprising. I suppose, also, that it stems from the fact that, on Wright's view, the verdict 'justified' now is the verdict of the Last Day already declared in the present. But I'd love to know if he's said it in print.

    Matthew Mason
    Tunbridge Wells

  23. Please forgive this being a little OT on this particular thread, but Richard Wilkins unleashes a little zinger - on 'Fulcrum' no less! - on Wright's overarching modus operandi in theological controversy, which has something to say about his critiques of traditional positions and conservative evangelicals in particular:

    '[Wright] invariably takes readers into summaries of his academic specialisms, Christian origins in 1st century Judaism and the preceding developments of Jewish messianic hopes. That is valuable in itself. But having reignited in himself the fire-spitting arguments he has had about Hebrew words in old earthenware, or Greek terms in ancient papyri, he pours forth hot lava on his modern readers whose priorities are not those of Palestine two millennia ago.

    If his expertise simply informed us, that would be fine. Instead, he uses it to lambast with special vigour the 'orthodox', 'traditional' Protestant evangelicals whom he particularly needs to disown. His irrascible self-distancing from conservative evangelicals makes it seem that he regards them as perverters of the gospel; a gospel that, it seems, can only be understood by the person in the pew, the reader on the bus or the drunk in the gutter if these adapt their minds to the hopes of 1st century Jews longing most to be free from military occupation. He seems to say that unless we actually share the contemporary experiences that forged Romano-Palestinian theology, or come with him through a lifetime in academia his academic conclusions, the meaning of the Kingdom of God will be closed to us. Many of his efforts to show how his most intricate rabbinic enthusiasms are relevant to our times and places seem to leave the gulf between that world and ours unbridged.

    I, like thousands of others, am very grateful for his solid researches and brilliant popularisations. The best of the popularisations seem not to follow from his most personally characteristic intellectual positions. His writing is best appreciated by discounting his routinely scornful diatribes against the benighted conservatives, his differences from whom excite his public thanksgiving to God. I am not saying that any of us should be uncritical of every Gafconnade and knee-jerk shibboleth. I am saying that a bishop who too evidently feels better for slagging off his old friends and patrons is not a focus of unity."

    I wonder if something similar is going on here?