Culture At Large

N.T. Wright's Retirement: Can you be both a Professor and a Priest?

Nathan Bierma

N.T. Wright's announcement that he will step down as Bishop of Durham in part to devote more time to his writing and lecturing took few by surprise; Wright is one of the most active and most-traveled Christian thinkers alive, and doing the duties of a bishop while writing and traveling could only be sustained for so long. A couple bloggers regretted this announcement, saying that it shows that the pastoral life can't co-exist with the intellectual life, and that Wright chose his books over his people. I confess I'm biased; I love Wright's work and am inclined to cheer anything that results in more to read and listen to from him. I'm also tempted to say that Wright's ultimate parish is Christians around the world who crave his level of scholarship, passion, and teaching. But maybe I would feel different if I were in Wright's diocese (if that's the right term; I'm not an Anglican.)

So is Wright rejecting the role of the thinking and teaching pastor, in the mold of Chrysostom and Ambrose? Is he just trying to catch more of a breather? Is he just hoping to sell more books? Is he choosing the field where he can reap the most harvest? Or isn't it our job to judge his personal decisions in the first place?

Topics: Culture At Large, Theology & The Church, Faith, Theology