N.T. Wright and Deathbed Counsel: Exposing a Fable
Recently a friend of mine retold a story he had heard in a lecture (precise date unknown) by Don Carson in which Carson alleged that when Dr. Wright was asked what he would say to a person on their deathbed, Wright said that he didn't know or would have to think about it. The implication, of course, is that Wright has no gospel left to preach to a dying person. That account struck me initially as highly implausible. If you know anything about Wright it's that he's rarely at a loss for words. Wright might say some wrong things occasionally, but he always has something to say!
As an admirer of Dr. Wright, I fired off an email to him asking about the origin of this story. Wright responded almost immediately and assured me that though he couldn't remember the exchange it was obvious that he would not have given such an equivocal answer, since as a long-time pastor he has plenty of experience of speaking with people near the point of death and has never had any hesitation in talking to them about the love of God revealed in Jesus and encouraging them to put their whole trust in that saving gift. He said that he had confronted Don Carson, some years ago, about telling and retelling such a slanted and slanderous tale, and that so far as he knows Carson no longer does so.
I'm posting this on my blog to help put this fable to rest. If you want to critique Wright or any scholar, do so in light of their published works and not anecdotes which may or may not be true.