It has been said a coincidence is God’s way of winking at us.
If so, I got a wink during the recent general conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints when Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles quoted N.T. Wright, a former Anglican bishop.
That morning I’d been reading “Paul,” a biography of the ancient apostle written by Wright.
Wright is considered the go-to guy in New Testament studies these days. He has been compared to C.S. Lewis. And his book, “Simply Christian,” is seen as the gold standard for a concise explanation of what it means to be Christian in 2019.
I was impressed that Elder Christofferson would not only quote Wright, but would mention his position and denomination.
For readers like me, it’s always “good news” when someone scouts abroad and returns with riches to share.
Thank you, Elder Christofferson, for doing that.
In the “Journal of Discourses,” President Brigham Young tells the departing elders they should not only preach the gospel, but they should keep an eye out for anything worthwhile that they can bring back and share with the Saints.
Brother Brigham may have been trading on Joseph Smith’s remark, “If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praise worthy, we seek after these things.”
And Joseph himself may well have been thinking of Paul’s advice in 1 Thessalonians 5:21: “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.”
And in the case of Wright, there's a lot of good to hold on to.
To my mind, Wright seems to find the “sweet spot” in Christianity where sincere believers all meet, as if at the hub of a wheel. He often speaks in a universal voice that all Christians can take to heart.
Mother Teresa often found that sweet spot.
So did Lewis, Catholic writer Henri Nouwen and the Protestant sage Dallas Willard.
In my own faith, the late Sister Chieko Okazaki, Emma Lou Thayne and Lowell Bennion could sound that universal tuning fork with the best, along with current writers like Sister Virginia H. Pearce, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland and Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf.
There are many others.
As for N.T. “Tom” Wright, he also offers us a bonus with his universal voice, he’s very quotable. Elder Christofferson isn’t the only one who has found his observations worth a mention.
Here are some other things that Wright has said:
“(Arguments about God) are like pointing a flashlight toward the sky to see if the sun is shining.”
“Virtue is what happens when wise and courageous choices become second nature.”
“If you’re a Christian, you’re just a shadow of your future self.”
And perhaps my favorite quote:
“Made for spirituality, we wallow in introspection.
"Made for joy, we settle for pleasure.
"Made for justice, we clamor for vengeance.
"Made for relationship, we insist on our own way.
"Made for beauty, we are satisfied with sentiment.
"But new creation has already begun.
"The sun has begun to rise.”
Now go back and read the Wright quote shared by Elder Christofferson in his conference talk. It was not only fresh for members of the church but likely for avid Wright readers as well, since it came from a rather obscure sermon.
I won’t bother to write the quote out here.
Seek and ye shall find.