My complaint is that Sewanee has recognized Wright as a scholar in my discipline, when in fact he is little more than a book-a-year apologist. Wright comes to the evidence not with honest questions but with ideologically generated answers that he seeks to defend. I know of no critical scholar in the field who trusts his work. He contradicts what I stand for professionally as well as the kind of hard-won intellectual integrity I hope to instill in my students. I feel like the professor of biology who has had to sit by and watch a Biblical creationist receive an honorary degree in science.
Of course Paul Holloway is suffering under the weighty disadvantage of being right. Wright is an apologist (and has himself admitted that apologetics was the motivation behind his entry into the field). To call him a book-a-year apologist may be unkind, but inescapably accurate. Wright is a nuanced, articulate and occasionally inspirational apologist - if you're looking for that kind of thing. But apologist is what he is.
But it seems we can't say these things out loud. Plain speaking has never been a virtue in the theological community. Offend nobody, not the sheep in the pews, not the Sunday morning idiots who whine, strut and pout on television, and not ever those perceived to be fellow members of the inner circle of the semi-enlightened. Theology is all too often about dancing around a discussion by a series of feints, subtle pirouettes, and studied ambiguities. You may think Tom Wright's apologetics is garbage, but you may merely hint at that opinion, having wrapped it carefully first in a tissue of polite deference.
And so the evangelical posse has been unleashed, dogs baying. One can only hope Paul Holloway sticks to his guns. We need more people like him.
(See the follow up entry: Theology, hairdressing and Huns)