Patternism? (off-base and yet on-track)

N.T. “Tom” Wright, as I suggested in the last post, is not always right.  He seems to be a decent fellow, often has much to offer, and is a gifted communicator — or at least his style communicates well to me.  He is not always right, but on the other hand, he often has something insightful to say.  Since I’m only almost-through with Vol. 1 of his two-volume Acts commentary, I imagine I’ll have more Wright stuff to write about in the future.

Anyway, I would like to comment briefly on this sentence, which was contained in the passage I shared yesterday:

[S]ince there is in fact no single, identical pattern of Christian initiation running right across our earliest documents, the church has, in my view wisely, developed patterns which broadly correspond to what seems to have been done by the first apostles themselves, as much by decisions taken as they went along as by carefully thought-out regulation.

I would first of all agree with the implication that patternism in the sense of blueprints and legal codes do not run rampant through the pages of the New Covenant documents.  There is, though, in point of fact, quite a distinct, common thread related to “Christian initiation,” and it is seen

  • unmistakably, throughout the historical-narrative pages of Acts (chapters 2, 8, 9, 10, 16, & 19) … but, it might be pointed out, not at the ends of chapters 3 and 13)
  • notably, in theological, explanatory contexts Galatians, Romans, Colossians, and 1 Peter
  • practically, in today’s churches that are more text-based than history-based

Mr.¹ Wright, your denomination does not appear to be on a valid track with its practice of “confirmation,” but I greatly appreciate that you find connections between authentic Christian practice today and what the apostles did and taught in the first century!


¹ I didn’t take time to look up how Anglican bishops are properly addressed in-house, because not only do I not care, but I suspect that Tom Wright has long ago moved beyond caring about titles and formalities!


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