N.T. Wright responds to John Piper

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SolaGratia

Puritan Board Junior
According to IVP N.T. Wright new upcoming books is also a respond to John Piper book on Justification.


About the Book
Few issues are more central to the Christian faith than the nature, scope and means of salvation. Many have thought it to be largely a transaction that gets one to heaven. In this riveting book, N. T. Wright explains that God's salvation is radically more than this.

At the heart of much vigorous debate on this topic is the term the apostle Paul uses in several of his letters to describe what happens to those in Christ--justification. Paul uses this dramatic image from the law court to declare that Christians are acquitted of the cosmic accusations against them. But justification goes beyond this in Paul's writings to offer a vision of God's future for the whole world as well as for his people.

Here in one place Wright now offers a comprehensive account and defense of his perspective on this crucial doctrine. He provides a sweeping overview of the central points in the debate before launching into a thorough explanation of the key texts in Paul's writings. While fully cognizant of tradition and controversy, the final authority for his conclusions is the letters of Paul themselves.

Along the way Wright responds to critics, such as John Piper, who have challenged what has come to be called the New Perspective. For Wright, what Paul means by justification is nothing less than God's unswerving commitment to the covenant promise he made to bless the whole world through Abraham and his family.

This irenic response is an important contribution for those on both sides of the debate--and those still in between--to consider. Whether you're a fan of Wright's work or have read his critics and would like to know the other side of the story, here is a chance to interact with Wright's views on the issues at stake and form your own conclusions.


Link: IVP - Justification
 

steven-nemes

Puritan Board Sophomore
What, in brief, is the New Perspective on Paul, according to N.T. Wright? I have a 3-lecture series from RTS by D.A. Carson on it but I haven't listened to it...
 

Scott1

Puritanboard Commissioner
I am not a theologian.

My impression of "new perspectives" is that it is an offshoot of the serious error of "federal vision" (or, I think the latter came off of the former).

It is disappointing that Inter varsity would publish this kind of material, especially in the kind of relativist tone used in its promotion.
 

wsw201

Puritan Board Senior
What, in brief, is the New Perspective on Paul, according to N.T. Wright? I have a 3-lecture series from RTS by D.A. Carson on it but I haven't listened to it...
In short, Wright takes the position that for the past 2,000 years the church has been looking at Paul and his writings the wrong way. Paul needs to be considered in the time that he lived, ie; based on what is called Second Temple Judaism. Looking at Paul through the lens of second temple judaism he comes up with a whole "new" perspective on Paul. Wright is basically following in the foot steps of Dunn and E. P Sanders, but with his own twists. I'm sure listening to the series you have from Carson will be well worth your while.
 

Prufrock

Arbitrary Moderation
What, in brief, is the New Perspective on Paul, according to N.T. Wright? I have a 3-lecture series from RTS by D.A. Carson on it but I haven't listened to it...
You may also be interested in in ordering from your local library a copy of the book, Justification and the New Perspectives on Paul, by Guy Prentiss Waters. It is a short, highly accessible work that, while avoiding both technicality and great detail, nevertheless gives a fairly thorough conceptual introduction to the topic and the reasons why the Reformed are and should be so opposed. It's also worth noting that Waters studied under Sanders for many years.
 
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SolaGratia

Puritan Board Junior
Trevin Wax: How does this robust discussion on justification between you and John Piper help the church to better fulfill its purpose in the world?

N.T. Wright: How does the robust discussion between me and Piper help the church to better fulfill its purpose in the world? Well, I hope it will, and that’s part of the main point of what I’m saying.

My anxiety about what has now been seen as the traditional Reformed view (though there are many traditional Reformed views!) is that it focuses all attention on ‘me and my salvation’ rather than on ‘God and God’s purposes’, which – as we see in the Gospels, and in e.g. Romans 8 – are much wider than just my salvation. This book, for me, thus follows from Surprised by Hope and the other things I’ve been writing in the same vein.

More generally, I hope that the book will alert people to the fact that the underlying discussion is really about taking Scripture seriously – (a) the whole Scripture, not just selected parts, and (b) Scripture as the final arbiter, over against all human traditions including our own! That cannot but help the church in its purpose in the world .


Here is the full interview link: Interview with N.T. Wright - Responding to Piper on Justification Kingdom People
 

discipulo

Puritan Board Junior
Sorry Wright, I won't follow you back to the RC "church"!
Right on the issue, Manley!

Wright has been, with more or less discretion, pushing the Anglican Church back to Rome.


The Catholic Herald - 16 January 2009 - Title of the Article

N T Wright on how we can make the quest for unity exciting again

The Bible can put new zest into ecumenism - Catholic Herald Online

quote

Three months ago I had the privilege of being the Anglican Fraternal Delegate at the Synod of Bishops in Rome.
The topic was "the word of God", and it quickly became clear that it carried enormous ecumenical implications.
N. T. Wright
 

DMcFadden

Puritanboard Commissioner
Because of Wright's stature among believing scholars, many have been led down the primrose path of NPP through his writing. I am concerned that his work ends up revoking the Reformation, denying imputation, and turning justification into little more than a plea "can't we just get along" with others. If the use of "Dike Dikaios Dikaiosyne" is NOT about justification in our salvation and standing at the bar of God's justice, I'll eat my hat.
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
If the use of "Dike Dikaios Dikaiosyne" is NOT about justification in our salvation and standing at the bar of God's justice, I'll eat my hat.
I think Wright would eat his hat too: "Those who believe the gospel are declared to be 'in the right.'"
 

AndyS

Puritan Board Freshman
Sad thing is, I'm probably gonna just have to buy it now. :book2:
I feel uneasy buying these kinds of books, but I feel like I have to do so in order to keep up with the issues. I try to buy used copies on Amazon, but often it's more cost-effective to buy them new.

I hate putting more money in their pockets, though. I feel like I'm supporting the enemy, in a sense.
 

CharlieJ

Puritan Board Junior
Sad thing is, I'm probably gonna just have to buy it now. :book2:
I feel uneasy buying these kinds of books, but I feel like I have to do so in order to keep up with the issues. I try to buy used copies on Amazon, but often it's more cost-effective to buy them new.

I hate putting more money in their pockets, though. I feel like I'm supporting the enemy, in a sense.
Or, try inter-library loan. I can usually get a book for $1 that way. A lot of times I don't even want to keep the book.
 

chbrooking

Puritan Board Junior
Sad thing is, I'm probably gonna just have to buy it now. :book2:
I feel uneasy buying these kinds of books, but I feel like I have to do so in order to keep up with the issues. I try to buy used copies on Amazon, but often it's more cost-effective to buy them new.

I hate putting more money in their pockets, though. I feel like I'm supporting the enemy, in a sense.
That's what libraries are for.
 

AndyS

Puritan Board Freshman
Sad thing is, I'm probably gonna just have to buy it now. :book2:
I feel uneasy buying these kinds of books, but I feel like I have to do so in order to keep up with the issues. I try to buy used copies on Amazon, but often it's more cost-effective to buy them new.

I hate putting more money in their pockets, though. I feel like I'm supporting the enemy, in a sense.
That's what libraries are for.
I guess I have an irrational desire to keep a copy on-hand for reference. And I tend to mark them up (highlighting, notes in margins, etc.).
 

Rich Koster

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
I used to try to keep up on the cults and the latest "heresy of the week". I have found out, there are not enough hours in the day for me to do so. Now I try to unpack a chunk of scripture per week for my Sunday School lesson and keep it in line with the Reformed tradition as per LBC1689. :2cents:
 
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Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
It's worth going through e.g. the talks by Don Carson here

http://www.monergism.com/directory/...&search_kind=and&phrase=new+perspective&B1=Go

or some other material by a sound guide.

I'll probably also get round to reading Cornelis Venema's material.

What struck me in my limited exploration of this is that some of the stuff that Wright has come up with when properly understood will strengthen and further confirm the Reformed understanding of justification as being by faith alone.
 

puritanpilgrim

Puritan Board Junior
Because of Wright's stature among believing scholars, many have been led down the primrose path of NPP through his writing. I am concerned that his work ends up revoking the Reformation, denying imputation, and turning justification into little more than a plea "can't we just get along" with others. If the use of "Dike Dikaios Dikaiosyne" is NOT about justification in our salvation and standing at the bar of God's justice, I'll eat my hat.
I think he's the Karl Barth of our time.

-----Added 5/13/2009 at 05:32:25 EST-----

I used to try to keep up on the cults and the latest "heresy of the week". I have found out, there are not enough hours in the day for me to do so. Now I try to unpack a chunk of scripture per week for my Sunday School lesson and keep it in line with the Reformed tradition as per LBC1689.
That's good advice. He's not the heresy of the week. He has great influence, and he is very intelligent.
 

PuritanCovenanter

Moderator
Staff member
For Wright, what Paul means by justification is nothing less than God's unswerving commitment to the covenant promise he made to bless the whole world through Abraham and his family.
This comment alone should show us this man is out of accord with God's word.
 

pepper

Puritan Board Freshman
NT Wright either fails to see the unfolding history of redemption and covenant theology or he purposely desires to lead protestants back to Rome. This is not new. William Pemble took on Robert Bellarmine in the early 1600's on the matter of justification. His work on the subject was reprinted by Soli Deo Gloria "The Justification of a Sinner" A treatise on justification by faith alone:book2:
 

dr_parsley

Puritan Board Freshman
:luther:NT Wright's main problem is that he rejects imputed righteousness.
It's well known that NT Wright is seen as "one of the enemy" by both sides of the argument (or maybe "all sides"!). I have a strong feeling that he would roll his eyes and chuckle at most of the summaries given about his work, because they tend to reveal far more about the commentator than about Wright's ideas.

I respect Wright because he successfully avoids bitter sniping at his opponents, which is a thing that seems to infest this area of scholarship. So as well as appearing to be godly, he's extremely intelligent, in the top rank of genuine Pauline scholarship and so deserves to be read seriously. I would summarise Wright's contribution as "Yes, justification is what you think it is, but it's also so much more, so much richer than we have previously recognised and here's how..." I don't agree with all his ideas (I don't know enough to do so!) but they are certainly good food for thought.
 

Archlute

Puritan Board Senior
:luther:NT Wright's main problem is that he rejects imputed righteousness.
It's well known that NT Wright is seen as "one of the enemy" by both sides of the argument (or maybe "all sides"!). I have a strong feeling that he would roll his eyes and chuckle at most of the summaries given about his work, because they tend to reveal far more about the commentator than about Wright's ideas.

I respect Wright because he successfully avoids bitter sniping at his opponents, which is a thing that seems to infest this area of scholarship. So as well as appearing to be godly, he's extremely intelligent, in the top rank of genuine Pauline scholarship and so deserves to be read seriously. I would summarise Wright's contribution as "Yes, justification is what you think it is, but it's also so much more, so much richer than we have previously recognised and here's how..." I don't agree with all his ideas (I don't know enough to do so!) but they are certainly good food for thought.
Paul,

Having read Wright, and having had lectures on NPP from a good seminary faculty, I am not certain that your remarks are either accurate or helpful. One can be well-tempered and still be quite in error on an important point(s) of doctrine. One can appear to be godly, can be intelligent in an academic sense, and can be a top rank scholar in within the eyes of many in the field of biblical scholarship, and still be quite in error. In fact, all of those characteristics can be said to have been true about many, many liberal scholars of the past who also denied the virgin birth, the divinity of the Scriptures, etc, etc.

You should be aware that Wright's views are not actually "well, yes, justification is 'all that', but it is also so much more". Wright is a subtle writer, but he clearly is attempting to overturn (through downplay/belittling, and other ways) the historic Protestant doctrine of justification and imputation when he is read as a whole.

That is not to say that he does not write well on other topics, but his ecumenical Anglican temperament, and liberal-leaning scholarship, taints too much of what he writes far too often to for him to be of use as a reliable theological source.
 

greenbaggins

Administrator
Staff member
The New Perspective on Paul is not an offshoot of the Federal Vision, as it has been around far longer. Some say it had its beginnings with Krister Stendahl's article "The Apostle Paul and the Introspective Conscience of the West," published in the Harvard Theological Review in 1963. There were other forerunners of Sanders as well. One might point to W.D. Davies' book Paul and Rabbinic Judaism, as well as the much older three volume history of Judaism by George Foote Moore. But undoubtedly, the watershed was the publication of Sanders's book Paul and Palestinian Judaism in 1977.

The basic idea of the New Perspective on Paul is that the Judaism of the first century against which Paul was arguing was not a legalistic religion, but rather an exclusivistic religion. In other words, according to the NPP, Judaism's problem (according to Paul) was not legalism, but rather the fact that they could not tell what time it was (that the promises to Abraham were being fulfilled in Jesus Christ, and thus the promise could now go out to the Gentiles). They have several ways of saying this. One is "Paul's problem with Judaism is that it is not Christianity" (Sanders). Or, one could talk about faith as the now-appropriate badge of the true community of God (Dunn and Wright), that replaces circumcision (as if faith didn't always mark out the true Israel, even in the OT!).

This view of things means that Paul's problem was not a wrestling with his conscience as to whether he had done enough good works, and then coming to the realization that he needed an alien righteousness imputed to him (as Luther thought; NPP advocates claim that Luther was reading into Paul his own agonized conscience), but rather that the primary issue was how the promise made to Abraham about all the nations of the earth would be fulfilled in the Messiah, Jesus Christ. All NPP advocates reject the imputation of Christ's righteousness to the believer, even if some say they are not. This is because they do not eliminate all works from justification. Whenever Paul says that one is not justified by the works of the law, NPP advocates say that he is rejecting primarily (not exclusively) the badges of circumcision, dietary laws, things that marked out Jews as Jews. Paul was not rejecting all works from justification, but only some.

Justification itself is also redefined, especially in Wright. In his recent book (I'm about halfway through) on justification, Wright argues that there is a way past the impasse between old and new perspectives on Paul. That is to argue that justification is the solution both to the problem of Genesis 3 and the problem of Genesis 11, and that justification refers to a person being included in the family of Israel as headed up in Christ for the fulfillment of the promise made to Abraham. He does not (any longer!) deny that our sin problem is taken care of in justification, but how that happens is different. It is not clear, for instance, whether Wright holds to penal substitutionary atonement in the same way that the Reformed faith has always formulated it. He would definitely say, for instance, that the guilt of our sin is laid on Christ as our substitute. But he does not like the word "imputation." And he certainly does not advocate the imputation of Christ's righteousness to us in any way, shape or form, although he claims that what imputation was designed to say is something you get in his theology, just in another way. I do not agree with his assessment, and I also have trouble believing his descriptions of the old perspective when they are manifestly out in left field. This is something that Doug Wilson has actually showed pretty well in his review of Wright's book, and it comes out even more clearly in Guy Waters's review over on Reformation 21.
 

dr_parsley

Puritan Board Freshman
I respect Wright because he successfully avoids bitter sniping at his opponents, which is a thing that seems to infest this area of scholarship. So as well as appearing to be godly, he's extremely intelligent, in the top rank of genuine Pauline scholarship and so deserves to be read seriously. I would summarise Wright's contribution as "Yes, justification is what you think it is, but it's also so much more, so much richer than we have previously recognised and here's how..." I don't agree with all his ideas (I don't know enough to do so!) but they are certainly good food for thought.
Wright is a subtle writer, but he clearly is attempting to overturn (through downplay/belittling, and other ways) the historic Protestant doctrine of justification and imputation when he is read as a whole.
I agree with that. This area is all about ones array of emphases and their strengths. Wright advocates a different set of emphases than Luther, but I'm not aware that he contradicts Luther. In Westerholme's "Perspectives Old and New on Paul" he describes NT Wright's position: "Justication by faith is not itself Paul's gospel, though it is implied by that gospel." (page 182) That's why I said that for NT Wright, "What you think is right, but Paul's doctrine is much richer than that..." i.e. Justification by faith is a subset of Paul's doctrine of justification.

It seems to me that people have a healthy paranoia about the agenda of liberal theology and they group liberals together to make it easier. I'm not convinced that N.T. Wright belongs in the category "should be paranoid about their agenda even though we can't pinpoint grave explicit error". To put him on the "heresy shelf" suggests to me an unhealthy paranoia rather than a healthy one.

That is not to say that he does not write well on other topics, but his ecumenical Anglican temperament, and liberal-leaning scholarship, taints too much of what he writes far too often to for him to be of use as a reliable theological source.
It goes without saying for me, that there is only one reliable theological source... Parts of other sources are interesting and inspiring to different degrees but they are all works of men.
 
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tellville

Puritan Board Junior
The New Perspective on Paul is not an offshoot of the Federal Vision, as it has been around far longer. Some say it had its beginnings with Krister Stendahl's article "The Apostle Paul and the Introspective Conscience of the West," published in the Harvard Theological Review in 1963. There were other forerunners of Sanders as well. One might point to W.D. Davies' book Paul and Rabbinic Judaism, as well as the much older three volume history of Judaism by George Foote Moore. But undoubtedly, the watershed was the publication of Sanders's book Paul and Palestinian Judaism in 1977.

The basic idea of the New Perspective on Paul is that the Judaism of the first century against which Paul was arguing was not a legalistic religion, but rather an exclusivistic religion. In other words, according to the NPP, Judaism's problem (according to Paul) was not legalism, but rather the fact that they could not tell what time it was (that the promises to Abraham were being fulfilled in Jesus Christ, and thus the promise could now go out to the Gentiles). They have several ways of saying this. One is "Paul's problem with Judaism is that it is not Christianity" (Sanders). Or, one could talk about faith as the now-appropriate badge of the true community of God (Dunn and Wright), that replaces circumcision (as if faith didn't always mark out the true Israel, even in the OT!).

This view of things means that Paul's problem was not a wrestling with his conscience as to whether he had done enough good works, and then coming to the realization that he needed an alien righteousness imputed to him (as Luther thought; NPP advocates claim that Luther was reading into Paul his own agonized conscience), but rather that the primary issue was how the promise made to Abraham about all the nations of the earth would be fulfilled in the Messiah, Jesus Christ. All NPP advocates reject the imputation of Christ's righteousness to the believer, even if some say they are not. This is because they do not eliminate all works from justification. Whenever Paul says that one is not justified by the works of the law, NPP advocates say that he is rejecting primarily (not exclusively) the badges of circumcision, dietary laws, things that marked out Jews as Jews. Paul was not rejecting all works from justification, but only some.

Justification itself is also redefined, especially in Wright. In his recent book (I'm about halfway through) on justification, Wright argues that there is a way past the impasse between old and new perspectives on Paul. That is to argue that justification is the solution both to the problem of Genesis 3 and the problem of Genesis 11, and that justification refers to a person being included in the family of Israel as headed up in Christ for the fulfillment of the promise made to Abraham. He does not (any longer!) deny that our sin problem is taken care of in justification, but how that happens is different. It is not clear, for instance, whether Wright holds to penal substitutionary atonement in the same way that the Reformed faith has always formulated it. He would definitely say, for instance, that the guilt of our sin is laid on Christ as our substitute. But he does not like the word "imputation." And he certainly does not advocate the imputation of Christ's righteousness to us in any way, shape or form, although he claims that what imputation was designed to say is something you get in his theology, just in another way. I do not agree with his assessment, and I also have trouble believing his descriptions of the old perspective when they are manifestly out in left field. This is something that Doug Wilson has actually showed pretty well in his review of Wright's book, and it comes out even more clearly in Guy Waters's review over on Reformation 21.
I just have to say this was an excellent concise summary of the NPP. :scholar: :up:
 
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