Doug Wilson on NT Wright

Discussion in 'Federal Vision/New Perspectives' started by saintandsinner77, Jan 22, 2011.

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  1. Philip

    Philip Puritan Board Graduate

    Yet assurance of that salvation is almost entirely subjective. Remember that where we put emphasis on Paul, many Christians put the emphasis on James. The doctrine of sola fide, as I am continually pointing out, is that it is the fact of faith (ie that one actually has faith) not the belief in sola fide (ie that one has all their doctrine on this matter in order) by which we receive salvation and are justified.

    No, just point them back to Paul and let him take care of calling them false teachers.

    Because he does believe in Christ, the same Christ that we follow, and therefore his view is a muddling, it's a confusion. He hasn't started his soteriology with Christ and as a result has ended up in the same sort of moralizing that all Christians are prone to fall into (believe me, I've seen Wright's view practiced in quite a number of churches that professed sola fide and could express it quite well---I've also seen Catholics who practiced sola fide while intellectually denying it).

    Of course not---we should seek to continue their work by persuading people, Catholics, EO, etc of their error so that they can reform their communions. If you can show me how the rhetoric helps in that goal, then please do so.

    Naturally not. However, if we are to do this, is it not better to persuade people of their error than to dogmatically call them heretics? Might other traditions have Biblical things to say about Christ that we might not have thought of? Or has reformed theology already said everything that can be said? I ask this because I realize that no one was ever saved by good theology, no one was ever saved by dogma, everyone who is saved is saved by the sacrifice of Christ, the grace of God received in and through faith, which is itself a gift of God. We cannot boast in our works, neither can we boast in our theology, for if we have gotten anything right, then that too is by God's grace.

    If, as you admit, the RCC has its Christology right, then they worship the same Christ that we do, even if they do so wrongly. In that case, our job is to lovingly bring them to see that He is the savior and that His grace is indeed received by faith alone: that this is the means of saving grace, not confession, penance, or even Communion and Baptism. These rituals, when done for the sake of justification, show an improper emphasis on the self and a failure to realize the full import of the work of Christ. The doctrine of sola fide is not primarily about how I get grace, but about how Christ's blood covers my sin and that nothing I have done could possibly compare.

    Not the labors of my hands,
    Can fulfill thy law's demands.
    Could my zeal no respite know,
    Could my tears forever flow,
    All for sin could not atone,
    Thou must save and thou alone

    Really, the doctrine at stake here is not sola fide, but solus Christus. This is where Wright's very good theology on the inacrnation is helpful in exposing his bad theology when it comes to Paul's teaching.
  2. saintandsinner77

    saintandsinner77 Puritan Board Freshman

    Why shouldn’t we put an emphasis on Paul since he spoke in great detail about the doctrine of justification by faith alone in Romans and also in Galatians. We must steer clear of this Paul vs. James stuff. James was speaking of how our faith is justified- the ol’ “faith alone saves, but the faith that saves is not alone.” And yes, I know, it is Christ Who saves, but the quote shows the harmony between Paul and James. The only people I know of who pit James against Paul are RCC’s. I understand that belief in sola fide does not justify, but again, I will repeat myself- if you are justified, you will not deny sola fide since then you would have to deny Jesus’ teaching Luke 18, Romans, and Galatians.
    Paul is not around and the flock must know who the false teachers are, so their souls will not be captivated by false teaching.
    When you say Wright believes in Christ, the question is ok, what kind of belief? Historical belief? Belief in what the creeds teach about his Person? Justifying belief? Many “believe in Jesus,” – an intellectual assent and 100 % accuracy as to the Hypostatic union, but have never been justified by Christ. How does a Catholic practice something they don’t believe in? By living a moral life? Mormons live a moral life. Oh yes, but you’ll say, they have an unorthodox view of Christ. Well, the Judaizers had an orthodox belief of Christ, but they did not have saving faith in Christ.
    It is not about rhetoric when it comes to helping RC’s to understand the gospel. I don’t go up to RC’s and call them heretics to their face since it is their leadership and church’s false teachings that have led them astray. This conversation is about a scholar who claims to be reformed, but who is leading Christ’s flock astray and who should be openly rebuked. Sure other traditions may have things to say, but the Bible is clear on justification and I will not and cannot appeal to the RCC to get my understanding of justification. You said, “everyone who is saved is saved by the sacrifice of Christ, the grace of God received in and through faith, which is itself a gift of God.” Did you mean faith alone or faith working by love as the RCC says or covenant faithfulness as Auburn Avenue Theology states?
    The RCC has the right view of Christ as the God-Man, but remember, the Jews of the OT had a right view of God, but recall that Jesus references Isaiah, “But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” Can a person worship Christ when they venerate Mary, deny his once-for-all sacrifice, add their own teaching to his teachings, say that the pope is the head of the church?
    You stated, “Really, the doctrine at stake here is not sola fide, but solus Christus.” Wait a minute- I thought you said they worshipped Christ and had the right view of Christ, and believe He is the only Savior- i.e. Christ Alone- no, the doctrine at stake is still sola fide as it was in the Reformation since they don’t receive Christ by faith alone apart from their moral deeds and works of penance and extra biblical observances.
  3. Philip

    Philip Puritan Board Graduate

    Walter, what I am trying to say is that Wright, the RCC, and all of these are not really heretics, but inconsistent Christians who need to be brought to the understanding that if Christ is the God-man, that if this is necessary to his mission, and if that mission was the salvation of sinners and the world, and if that mission was accomplished through His death and resurrection, then nothing else is necessary than the faith in Him and in His work which God gives through the Holy Spirit. They've gotten sidetracked on (relatively) minor issues and gotten muddled. But it's not hopeless and certainly one can believe truly in the power of the death and resurrection of Christ and still get all kinds of things wrong, unless we're now going to call into question whether Arminians can be saved.

    Yes, I'll agree that the RCC is a harlot Church, but it's still God's and we should not cease to pray that He might one day buy her back, as He does so often time and again throughout the Scriptures.

    I meant faith which naturally produces love and covenant faithfulness. We receive justification by faith alone.

    At any rate, it's late over here, and I have little time in the next couple of days (papers, study, lectures, etc), so I must bid this topic farewell for now.
  4. moral necessity

    moral necessity Puritan Board Junior

    I have a few of Wright's works, but have not looked much beyond a general skim of them.

    I'll just say that, if a person will not abandon their dependence upon works for righteousness, then they have yet to experience gospel repentance. For, this involves a turning from other means of deliverance, to that which was provided for in Christ. To continue to trust in something additional to him means a non-repentance from the first trust, and basically an unbelief in the one provided. They have yet to "close with Christ", as the early writers spoke of.

    It seems to me that the Confessions would view the proclamation of a "two-confidence gospel" as nothing shy of a heretical and idolotrous message.

    That's how I tend to view it.

  5. proregno

    proregno Puritan Board Freshman

    My question would be: if 'everything' has been said and done, the church courts/denominations finally decided FV theology is against Scripture and the reformed confessions, how should we view these theologians, and work with them, or not ?

    Are they fellow-brothers who are just confused, that we can continue to work with and learn from ?
    Are they false prophets to be rejected in toto ?
    Or something else ?

    I profitted much from Wilson on marriage, family, education and culture, but do not go along with the FV direction he and other theologians took.

    If I look at how some reformed theologians have 'friendly and brotherly' discussions with 'evangelical Arminians' as fellow brothers in the faith (Horton and Olson?), then should this attitude of 'disagree in love and respect' not also be shown to these FV theologians, who are even nearer to us historically ?

    I find it strange that the same theologians that are so aggressive and non-compromising against FV, are many times the same who will be very friendly and full of understanding with the Arminians ?

    I am not talking about civility and manners, that we must always uphold against all men (Rom.12:18; Col.4:5,6), because all are created in the image of God. But, if Arminianism and FV basically both teach: righteousness by faith and works (whether Olson and/or Wilson agree with this or not), could they still be callled 'brothers' in all good concience in the light of Gal.1:1-9 ?

    Or am I wrong in this ? Thoughts ?
  6. Scott1

    Scott1 Puritanboard Commissioner

    Your post asks many questions, assuming certain premises and poses contrasts that seem to contradict one another, so it is difficult to address.

    Without focusing on the specific individuals,

    If a teaching elder is promoting false doctrine in one area, and church authority (though infallible) has spoken, he loses the authority that would otherwise come with that office. All who would otherwise be under their authority must recognize that.

    That means if one who would presume to teach God's people in an official capacity (e.g. Pastor, teacher, elder) either confuses or denies justification by faith alone so as to require works and/or sacraments, and church authority has spoken against it, you do not seek them out as biblical teaching authority because their authority has been compromised (unless and until they repent).

    It's not like debating opinions of men, because the Word of God MUST be handled carefully by church officers, charged to protect it. That's requirement for the office.

    In a sense, no one man's ideas are indispensable in the Kingdom of God, no matter how seemingly intelligent, clever, witty or persuasive their presentation may be. Not even though they are seemingly right on other things.

    In fact, Scripture would counsel us more not to be "respecters of persons." That is, to know, by faith that God will appoint faithful biblical teachers so His Word is carefully handled by those qualified to do so because it is His Word that is settled forever in heaven (Psalm 119:89).

    To defy and impugn lawful church authority, placed by God, compromises the professed authority to teach God's people all the more.

    Regarding them as a brother, though in error, is another matter.
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2011
  7. Joseph Scibbe

    Joseph Scibbe Puritan Board Junior

    I think it is funny that he has a set of Wright books directly behind him on the shelf.
  8. proregno

    proregno Puritan Board Freshman

    Thanks Scot, I think it is an important distinction to make:

    a) allowing someone to teach in a official capacity who has unorthodox views, and
    b) struggling with the question when someone is our brother in the faith or not

    a) is clear, b) is not so clear.
  9. saintandsinner77

    saintandsinner77 Puritan Board Freshman

    The reason why I have more in common with my Arminian brothers than the FV is that any Arminian brother I ask concerning justification by faith alone does not deny it. FV proponents, on the other hand confuse and meddle with that precious doctrine. Shame on FV's for they should know better... They have a rich history of Reformed pastors and theologians who have expounded on sola fide from Scripture and yet feel the need to redefine it and confuse the flock by trying to create something new under the sun. Justification is by faith alone, not by "covenant faithfulness," or "faith working by love," or "an initial justification followed by a final justification," or any other man-made invention which resembles Rome.
  10. kvanlaan

    kvanlaan Puritan Board Doctor

    Part of the reason that the reaction to Wright is so visceral is that the most damaging and devastating lies contain portions of truth. His heterodoxy is so insidious precisely because he puts a scholarly veneer on it and leads one by the hand saying "dear brother in Christ, this is what the Bible is really saying, come sit a while and listen..."
  11. TimV

    TimV Puritanboard Botanist

    Very nice, Kevin
  12. saintandsinner77

    saintandsinner77 Puritan Board Freshman

    Kevin, reformed people who are taken in by Wright, lack spiritual discernment and do not have a love for the truth as they ought. Just read his denials of essential doctrines using scholarly sophistry:

    "Is there then no 'reckoning of righteousness' in, for instance, Romans 5:14-21? Yes, there is; but my case is that this is not God's own righteousness, or Christ's own righteousness, that is reckoned to God's redeemed people, but rather the fresh status of 'covenant member', and/or 'justified sinner', which is accredited to those who are in Christ, who have heard the gospel and responded with 'the obedience of faith'." Rutherford House Conference 2003 [6] (pdf, p. 8)

    "In theology, therefore, justification is not the means whereby it becomes possible to declare someone in the right. It is simply that declaration itself. It is not how someone becomes a Christian, but simply the declaration that someone is a Christian. It is not the exercise of mercy, but the just declaration concerning one who has already received mercy. This is a crucial distinction, without which it is impossible to understand the biblical material." The Great Acquittal: Justification by Faith and Current Christian Thought, Ed. Gavin Reid, London:
    Collins, 1980
  13. Scott1

    Scott1 Puritanboard Commissioner

    Yes, you've got a key distinction.

    We might say that one who would profess to teach God's people, particularly from a public platform, ought be regarded as having lost that credibility and authority once lawful church authority has spoken in accountability and they have rejected that.

    We are not to follow men, or personalities, or "factions" as we oft are prone to do (follow men rather than God, especially the Holy Spirit speaking through Scripture).

    It's important to understand that many believers are particularly vulnerable to the harm of the person's erroneous teaching or practice and often can not distinguish between areas where he might be "right" and those in which he is "wrong."

    Graciously, we can be "wrong" about many things and still be a Christian.

    But being qualified to the much higher standard of office, particularly teaching Bible doctrine is quite a different thing.

    Also, no one person is so indispensable in His teaching that the Kingdom of God cannot go without it if he descends into major error or bad morals. In fact, Scripture would tell us, once there is witness of that among church authority God has established, the authority of his position is compromised.

    We are, at minimum, not to seek that person out as authority on Christian doctrine and practice generally, unless and until they repent and are restored.:)
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