Liam is concerned that the works of these theologians [advocates of the New Perspective on Paul, e.g. NT Wright] are overly complex, and that it seems it simply isn’t possible to popularise their teaching. To him, theology should be capable of a simple explanation that even a child can understand, whilst, of course, it can also be explored and discussed at much greater levels of complexity.
I don’t know this man, and have no idea about what his credentials may or may not be (though I did see at another site that he uses the title Dr.). That being said this sentence is absurd and dangerous.
It’s absurd because theology has always been difficult and complex. The writings of the OT prophets and poets, the theology of James and Paul and Peter and the author of Hebrews, the teachings of Christ himself…they’re all complex. There is a reason why there is so much disagreement concerning the teachings of Scripture. Those teachings are sometimes very dense and require prolonged analysis and consideration, and developing a systematic theology from the Bible necessarily involves some intellectual heavy lifting.
It’s dangerous because it suggests that anyone speaking in complex sentences and using polysyllabic words is somehow a less able or devout Christian. NT Wright is a great man, a great thinker and as far as I can tell a great Christian. He even writes some great devotional material that I think more Christians should read. Goligher’s opinions above don’t make me second guess Wright’s faith or theology, they only make me think that Goligher is in over his head when he’s reading Wright’s academic works.
There are a great many academics in the world who believe that complex discussion about hermeneutics, the Historical Jesus, the Historical Paul, textual criticism, literary theory, etc., is important and are also devout Christians. This world doesn’t need fewer people critically engaging complex issues, it needs more. This isn’t intellectual snobbery. I don’t think that you need to read Greek and Hebrew in order to be a thoughtful Christian, but being able to read ancient languages and complex theology doesn’t preclude faith either.
Having faith like a child isn’t the same thing as thinking like one.