View of Justification

Discussion in 'Federal Vision/New Perspectives' started by Joseph Scibbe, Nov 29, 2010.

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  1. Joseph Scibbe

    Joseph Scibbe Puritan Board Junior

    Would one be asked (forced) to leave the board if the adopted a Wrightian view of Justification?
  2. Contra_Mundum

    Contra_Mundum Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger Staff Member

    I'm not sure why the question, but those in the past who confirmed their affinity for Bishop Wright's views have generally not been a good fit for the PB, for whatever reason.

    With the issue of Justification being the article of the standing or falling of the church (Allsted, but frequently attributed to Luther), the "hinge" or "axis" on which the Faith turns (Calvin), adopting a view that redefines it as "being more about ecclesiology than soteriology" (Wright, What St. Paul Really Said) is pretty much out of accord with the Confessional stance of the board, and isn't well qualified to be an exception to those standards, "not striking at the vitals of our religion."

    A view of our Justification that postpones God's verdict of "righteous" until a review at the end of life, and on the basis of my "whole life lived" (Wright), is no hope grounded on a finished work of Christ on our behalf. The idea that God needs something of mine upon which to judge of me--and that I need to consider that fact along my way, so as to goad me inside the path of "staying true," checking my faithfulness quotient along the way--is a return to the ontological categories and the "congruent merit" (do your best) moralism of Rome. It is a way of judging of my Justification by my Sanctification--the very collapsing process that defines Rome's doctrine.

    I sincerely hope you aren't heading in that Wrong direction.
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 30, 2010
  3. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    What do you mean? Please define what you mean by Wrightian view. Can you give an account of something as input here and go against it and the Bible. Or maybe for it. I would be interested. Also, if you could summarize a Wrigtian view of justifation based upon his work as opposed to something else I would interested. A lot of books have been written Pro and Con a person named Wright. If you want to discuss the New Paul Perspective we have a lot to discuss. N. T. Wright is heretical and Roman in Perspective according to the Bible. His former views are not confessional nor Biblical.

    and here....

    What truly is your question?
  4. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    Is this something you view outside of the New Paul Perspective or something that is of the Federal Vision? Is it Arminian? Is it heretical? Tell us what you you think is Wrightian. Can you say Wright is New Paul Perspective or not?
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2010
  5. jogri17

    jogri17 Puritan Board Junior

    The rules for the Board seem to be confessional subscription. The London Baptist Confession, the 39 articles, the 3 forms of Unity, and the Westminster Standards all stand opposed to Wright's view of justification. Even Wright will say that. My question is why would anyone who hold's to NT Wright's view of justification want to be on a bored that requires a broad confessional subscription(though there is much diversity)?
  6. Andres

    Andres Puritan Board Doctor

    hey, what exactly are you trying to say here, brother? ;)

    in all seriousness, I agree with the previous posters that Wright's view of justification is not biblical, so it obviously doesn't vibe with this board and it's confessional subscription requirements. I sincerely hope that anyone who may be considering Wright's view to be correct do some more praying and studying because the ramifications are far greater than simply not being allowed to be a member on an internet forum.
  7. CharlieJ

    CharlieJ Puritan Board Junior

    Wright's view is not Roman, nor does it postpone justification for an end of life review. On the other hand, the denial of the imputation of Christ's active obedience makes it unconfessional (and unbiblical). Wright is a phenomenal thinker and exegete, but one should not feel compelled to follow his exegesis into the systematic conclusions that he draws. I think that the New Perspective is correct in many of the specific exegetical points it's made, but incorrect in several ways that it has tried to set itself up over against the Reformation perspective.
  8. Mushroom

    Mushroom Puritan Board Doctor

    Joseph asked a question. I think we should refrain from assuming that he has adopted Wright's view of justification unless he states that to be so.

    Wright's view recedes back into a works righteousness that appears akin to that of Rome mingled with perfectionist soteriology, but it seems he takes a circuitous route to get there that incorporates enough particulars of Reformed thought to tickle the ears of some within our camp. That's my unlettered take, anyway. May the Lord defend His bride against such wolves with a strong hand.
  9. CIT

    CIT Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    When it comes to Wright there is debate whether he is advocating works righteousness. When I read his book on justification, I came away with the understanding that our justification will be declared in the future on account of our works, but he had mentioned elsewhere that all good works are Spirit-wrought. So it is not my works that justify me, but the fruit of the Spirit doing work in me that God looks upon as evidence that Christ penal substitutionarily atoned my sins.

    Now where I see that Wright has problems though is that he believes that righteousness is merely a status. It is not a substance that can be infused or imputed. He finds the whole concept goofy. Thus when we are declared righteous, we are merely being declared "right" and are admitted membership into the covenant family. This declaration is based upon Christ's work on the cross, but absolutely no moral change occurs. We are still sinners through and through. He seemed to say that it would be impossible to have a fully corrupt nature and God's nature in us at the same time. God's nature could never be overruled by the sinful nature, thus if we had God's righteousness (as defined by Protestantism) that righteousness would overcome all evil and we would be walking around perfect. This is how he gets to the idea that all future works are solely brought about by the Spirit. If our nature has never morally changed, then everything we will do is still sinful.

    That last paragraph is contra-confessional and I would imagine not allowed.

    Just my thoughts (not even worth two cents. :lol: )
  10. CharlieJ

    CharlieJ Puritan Board Junior

    I'm not sure this a correct reading either of Wright or of Protestant theology. In Protestant theology, justification is a status, or at least a change of status. Wright believes the same, although he includes in it what Protestant orthodoxy would call adoption (membership in the covenant family). He is correct that justification is not an ontological entity. The Reformation argued the same point about grace contra Catholicism. Grace isn't a "thing" you get; it's God's power acting in you. Further, Wright is correct that justification does not in and of itself entail moral change. This is the cornerstone of sola fide. It's also the basis of the duplex gratia in Calvin's theology. The moral change is sanctification or regeneration, and justification is neither based on nor causes it.

    At the ETS annual conference a few weeks ago, Wright was absolutely clear that final justification is "in accordance with" works, not on its basis in a causal sense, and that justification is not a process. Thus, one can speak of past, present, and future justification, but present justification is in no way contingent upon future justification. Then, I believe that the denial of imputation is the only major problem in Wright's theology. Also, it's not a necessary conclusion of much of his exegesis. You can take the majority of the exegesis -- including the stuff about the exile and about God's mission through Israel -- and incorporate it into a thoroughly Reformed systematic theology.
  11. CIT

    CIT Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Hello Charlie,

    Thanks for the clarification. What do you think of Wright's view that righteousness is simply a status? On a completely personal level, I like the idea because the more I read Scripture and the more I look at myself the more that I come to the conclusion that absolutely nothing inside of me is good. So if God's righteousness was imputed into me, I can't find it.


    This is akin to us saying, that we would like to be universalists and see everyone in Heaven, but we know that it is not true.
  12. au5t1n

    au5t1n Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Boliver, I think you are confusing imputation with infusion. Imputed means accounted, credited, etc., not inserted into us. It refers to standing (status) before God and not to sanctification. As far as justification is concerned, Christ's righteousness is imputed to us, i.e. viewed as ours by God.
  13. Contra_Mundum

    Contra_Mundum Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger Staff Member

    The jury may still be out on Wright, but that's mainly because his stated position keeps morphing. He started out saying a great deal, based on a (doubtless) brilliant mind, but largely in conversation with himself--and surely heterodox, from a Confessional perspective. As he has admitted, his acquaintance with the best of Reformation and post-Reformation (orthodox) theology was extraordinarily slim, for someone who was critiquing the Reformation's "read" of Paul, etc.

    In fact, I suspect much of his analysis of "Reformation theology" was assuming a great deal more of an ordinary "development" into modern, run-of-the-mill liberal-Protestantism, than is actually the case. The longer the more current interchange between him, and the heavy-hitters on "our" side has gone on, the more (it might be nice to think) he's been forced INTO a conversation with folks who have been thinking about "covenants" and "righteousness" and "kingdom" etc. actually for a very long time. To put the best spin on things, it strikes me that in many ways, he thought (or thinks) of himself as a modern "Luther," being (rightly) quite dissatisfied with the emptiness and shallowness of the left- and right-side dominant theologies of our day. Hence, "what St. Paul really said" IS very different from what the standard theologians in the "best" universities are saying, and have been saying for quite a while now.

    But until he got into conversation with what true Reformation-orthodoxy had been saying over against the prevailing liberal-academic trend, which sought to marginalize and discredit those who cling to a "Faith-Once-Delivered," he had no one to listen to, and to help shape his own growth. In comparison, think of what would have happened if the Reformers getting back to Scripture had not been engaged in constant communication all across Europe--and this went on for well over a hundred years. Why does our "covenant theology" look like it does, instead of there being as many "covenant theologieS" as there were theologians? Because they were checking each other, shaping one another.

    Wright has had much better insight into Scripture than the liberal partners who brought him up, and installed him into his church-office. However, until he really starts listening to what others (in our fellowship) are saying by way of critique, he's like a bush that knows no trimming, no pruning, just wild-growth; and presenting a kind of wasted potential. There's plenty there to be attracted to; however when ungoverned branches are heading in a direction that destabilizes the whole, root and stalk... well, you just hope he listens.

    Otherwise, we are going to have to continue to warn folks to mind that tree over there, with that luscious-looking fruit. While you're picking it, the tree just might fall on top of you.
  14. Phil D.

    Phil D. Puritan Board Junior

    Extremely well put, Rev. Buchanan.
  15. greenbaggins

    greenbaggins Administrator Staff Member

    Charlie, while I think you have a good grasp of the distinction between "in accordance with" and "on the basis of," I don't think Wright is nearly as clear. Several times in his writings he uses the term "on the basis of" in reference to the future aspect of justification, and several times he uses the other "in accordance with." I think he sees them as basically equivalent expressions. Of course he also argues that part of justification happens now.
  16. R. Scott Clark

    R. Scott Clark Puritan Board Senior


    Lane is right. NTW has re-defined righteous in ecclesiological terms. The "status" isn't forensic, in Wright,s view, but ecclesiological. That NTW couldn't remember using the word "basis," even though he's used it repeatedly, is telling. It means that he isn't asking the Samer questions as orthodox, Reformational Protestants. He has another paradigm and another spirit. The question is "which paradigm"? Wright can't answer that because he's a biblicist and hasn't attempted to correlate his views with any previous system or to systematize his views. He admits freely that he hasn't read the history of exegeis but that doesn't stop him from making outrageous and demonstrably false historical claims.

    As .to the quality of his exegesis, I beg to differ. I can think of a lot of NT scholars who are much more skilled at reading the Greek NT and whose exegesis is more stimulating. Anyone who has read the Barthian BT guys from the 50’s et sew and Gaffin and Herman Ridderbos (not to mention Vos!) has already read what .is valuable in NTW.

    See Mike Horton's critique in vol 3 (?) in this WJKP series or at least the responses in Justified - recently published by MR.

    Before any invites Tom Wright into his heart he should check out the NPP resource page at the Heidelblog.
  17. CIT

    CIT Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    If this is the case, then why does Wright argue against imputation by saying that righteousness is not a substance that can be infused or imputed? Is it that Wright has a faulty understanding of imputation?

    I ask out of ignorance.
  18. au5t1n

    au5t1n Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    I haven't read Wright, but your statement that "if God's righteousness was imputed to me, I can't find it" suggests that imputed righteousness would be expected to appear in the person. The reason we say "imputed" rather than "infused" with respect to justification is because we are not justified by righteousness appearing in us (or infused into us) but by Christ's righteousness accepted on our behalf (imputed to us).

    As for righteousness being a "substance," I'm not certain that would be the way to describe it either, but I'm also not sure whom Wright is arguing against here. Who says, "Righteousness is a substance"?
  19. CIT

    CIT Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    What Paul Really Saidp. 98

    Also in Justification p. 206 in reference to Romans 3:24-26 states,
    So it would seem that Wright see imputation and impartation as somehow giving God's righteousness to us.
  20. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    Has any one read N. T. Wright on 2 Corinthians 5? He totally denies the truth of the righteousness of God and imputation. This isn't just my opinion. N. T. totally redefines the Righteousness of God.

    I refer everyone to a historical text. Let us look at how St. Paul understood the understanding the Jews and Israel had. Romans 9-10.

    This isn't rocket science. It is written.

    And look at the arguments that say this is ceremonial in Galatians. This isn't just about a ceremonial washing. The whole law... is what they have to keep.

    This argument has way too many inferences and proclamations for a law / grace dichotomy. It also has a lot to dispel in the argument of Jew and Gentile. Even from the Old Covenant. God always revealed He would save all his elect as individuals and as His total Church. Jew and Gentile.

    If you can find it read Wright's paper on 2 Cor. 5. It is horrific. The Righteousness Paul speaks about in the end of the chapter is not Bishop Wright's.
  21. Phil D.

    Phil D. Puritan Board Junior

    Just a couple of ancillary thoughts here.

    First, while we know that the Triune God is one undivided (and certainly unexplainable in many senses) deity, scripture nevertheless distinguishes between various roles that each person of the Trinity performs in our salvation. Formally speaking, God the Father is portrayed as the righteous judge, before whom sinners must give an account. Since they have no righteousness of their own to show, the are wholly reliant on a mediator, the Son, whose righteousness is produced on behalf of all those who have been truly united with him in salvation.

    In the scriptural motif then, the judge is not, strictly speaking, the one who imputes his righteousness to the defendant. Rather there is a distinct mediatorial party whose merit is accepted as sufficient payment for (imputed to) the offending party. As such, I think Wright's particular version of a courtroom analogy falls flat, and certainly so in terms of how it stacks up against the plain biblical version.

    Of course the Son executes a somewhat distinct judicial role at the end of the age - but then those those who are united with Him at that time will also have a certain role in administering this judgment.

    Wright is a real mess on this issue.
  22. CIT

    CIT Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    As I am going through my notes I came across this

    Justification P. 184

    This book came out last year. What makes Wright's statement from ETS any different from this one? It would seem that "judgment according to works" has been Wright's view for over a year at least. This quote also implies that Wright thinks has had this view for some time. This isn't something new.

    So do we think Wright was vague in his writings or have we missed the main thrust of the writings all along?
  23. au5t1n

    au5t1n Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Well, he's certainly missed the main thrust of Paul's writing all along. :p

    Check out [KJV]Philippians 3:9[/KJV], [KJV]Jeremiah 23:6[/KJV], and [KJV]Jeremiah 33:16[/KJV]. There are a lot more (like, say, all of Romans) that make Wright look like a fool, but those are the ones that come straight to mind. The Parable of the Pharisee and the Publican is also relevant since both men were Jews and it can hardly be argued Jesus was only concerned with Jewish boundary markers and not the Pharisee's confidence in his own obedience for justification in the sight of God.
  24. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    Okay. The OP has been answered.
  25. CIT

    CIT Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Wright says that the righteousness in Phil 3:9 is not God's righteousness that He passes over to the believer, but it is the righteousness from God that is the status which God gives us. p. 150 of Justification

    Just adding to the discussion.
  26. Contra_Mundum

    Contra_Mundum Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger Staff Member

    Respecting the simple exegetical decision, whether to read "tou pisteuo (tou Theou)" as an objective or subjective Genitive construction, Wright takes the subjective view: that the topic is God's faith(fulness). Whereas, Reformation theology and orthodoxy has consistently confessed that God is the Object of our faith. Thus the phrase (so common to Paul, and so also expressed in parallel and reinforcing ways) is rightly rendered, "faith in God."

    Likewise, Wright has taken "righteousness of God" in a similar way, purely as an attribute (and incommunicable at that, at least in that vital sense we need for salvation), and does not admit that this is a God-righteousness that is from God, because (to use Luther's great phrase), God calls things "what they are," and that's what makes them so. In Wright's view, God can't call someone righteous if they aren't righteous; why, that just doesn't make any sense to the rational mind. I'm sure there's some other explanation he's got for Paul's "God, who justifies the ungodly," but in any case, Wright is back to a view of God's Judgment that has to have an ontological basis inside of me.

    Wright's conception of this , I believe, is so fundamental to his view, that he simply cannot part with it, without tremendous cost to his (un)systematic edifice. He would have to restructure so much, it might take him razing the whole to the foundation and starting over.

    Wright also has completely botched his courtroom analogy. The way he structures everything, there's Christ on one side, and his (amorphous) enemies on the other side. We are all just sort of spectators to the drama, but coming down to identifying with one side or the other. Maybe our default setting is in the enemy-camp? Whatever. In any case, he has a thoroughly Arminian, decisional place for us. If we see that God is (or has) Justified Christ (judged for him in the "dispute") well, then we need to switch seats in the gallery. We need to agree with the "righteousness of God" in justifying Christ, and by taking Him as our rightful king, we are now "justified" in him.

    The problem with his court-analogy should be obvious to any catechized child. WE are in the dock, WE put Christ on the Cross, WE are sinners all along, WE are condemned already. WE don't get to decide that we see the decision going against us, and can simply get up and walk across the courtroom. This is Arminian theology. WE don't ever want to "switch sides" unless God changes out hearts. Nor is it even possible for us to "decide" that we wish we could go to Jesus' side. What it takes is God, electing out of the condemned some guilty sinners, that he then unites to Christ, in the process giving them the new heart that really wants to be with him.

    Righteousness ISN'T "passed like a gas" across the courtroom. (what a dull and insipid analogy). We are "found" in Christ! THAT's how we are "clothed" in his righteousness. Wright doesn't have honest room for Reformed Soteriology in his setup. Or if he claims he does, it's not because he has any sort of systematic and necessary relation of one set of spiritual ideas that he happens to like, with others. I think RSC has hit the true note above. Wright is a "biblicist," and isn't (or hasn't shown much) interested in conversations with other theologians who value true coherence in theology, over protecting their pet ideas born in their own private study.

    The real judgment on any man's theology is whether he's willing to jettison a portion of his former view--no matter how darling--for the superior virtue of holding to a more consistent statement of the truth, though it might have seemed an unlikely concession on his part initially.
  27. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    Plus, you have to remember if that is a righteousness that gets you in and then you must contribute after.....

    Yeah, He is good at obfuscation. As I mentioned before. Read him on 2 Cor. 5. He is good at speaking out of both sides of his mouth. Why do you think there is such confusion? Sounds like the devil to me. I speak some truth to allow my lies, is the motive of the devil. Just my humble opinion. That is demonic.

    I am trying to find a quote right now. Will be back later.
  28. DMcFadden

    DMcFadden Puritanboard Commissioner

    Remember that Wright started out as a thoroughly Reformed Christian of Anglican persuasion. In his earlier days he even contributed to a Banner of Truth book, The Grace of God in the Gospel, which he tends to dismiss as youthful exuberance (Wright opines, that it was "fun at the time, but I wouldn't do it quite like that now.")

    Dr. Clark nailed it. He pontificates as if he were an historical theologian, yet makes numerous rudimentary errors when trying to handle Reformation materials. Wright is a gifted writer, promoter, and has been in several of the "right places at the right times" to make a major impact on current scholarly thought. Many of the younger evangelicals have swooned under his teaching as the latest, nextest, bestest thing since the invention of the internet.

    Piper was overly deferential to him (in my opinion) and was too much the gentlemen and too little the polemicist for truth. However, although I'm sure that he is wrong (or at least "unconfessional"), I am not sure that Wright is as "bad" as he sounds or as some make him out to be. His indifference to systematics causes him to use, abuse, and misuse words in ways that promote misunderstanding. His "forgetting" how often he used basis in his discussions of justification is "telling" as Clark noted. Those who read him "literally" will doubtless keep coming to conclusions that Wright will disavow with indignation. Yet, when you are so caviler with your words, even after being challenged so often by others, the excuse wears pretty thin.

    He is a doyen of the Christianity Today crowd. His unpopular stance on homosexuality, for instance, and willingness to sound far more conservative than the typical Anglican bishop have endeared him to conservatives. So, for all the good he has done (in their minds), broad evangelicals and some Reformed folks like Keller speak of him highly and appreciatively.

    At this stage of life, I see Wright as part of the faddishness of our times. My guess is that he is neither as important as he thinks nor as enduring as he hopes to be.
  29. DMcFadden

    DMcFadden Puritanboard Commissioner

    BTW, no offense Scott. I didn't mean that historical theologians typically, habitually, or customarily "pontificate." My point was that Wright tends to speak rather . . . er . . . ah . . . um . . . "confidently" of what the Reformers said and meant without actually seeming to bother reading what they actually said or meant.
  30. KMK

    KMK Administrator Staff Member

    Plus, he has a cool British accent!
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