Thursday, 6 August 2009

Is Wright right?

I've started reading Tom Wright's latest book on Justification alongside John Piper's critique of Wright 'The Future of Justification'. (Wright's book is his response to Piper's response to his teaching on the 'new perspective on Paul'!)

A few initial thoughts on Wright's position:
- Wright is at great pains to emphasise the overarching story of the people of Israel as terribly important. Agreed. But just because Wright emphasises this doesn't mean that everyone who holds to what is now the 'old perspective' is only interested in 'me and my salvation'. That may be true of some, but certainly not all - I'd heard of biblical theology from Reformed sources long before I'd heard of the new perspective!

- Wright alleges that, since the above is true (that we traditional Reformed types are only interested in individual salvation), for all our loud claims to the contrary we're actually being man-centred. Wright's position, however, is God-centred - focusing on God's grand plan rather than little old me. This raises two questions: (i) why should the grand story of the Bible be incompatible with the traditional teaching on justification? No one is suggesting that justification is the be-all-and-end-all of the Christian life or the biblical worldview! (ii) for all his claims, is Wright going to smuggle man-centredness in through the back door later through changing the categories in which we think of justification? Will the new perspective turn out to be leaning down the slippery slope that logically leads to salvation by works?

- One thing certainly seems lacking thus far in his discussion. (Let's be fair - he may come to it later.) But I distinctly remember him bemoaning in the early pages of the book the lack of consideration of the 'in Christ' language of the NT by the traditional camp. That may be a fair complaint. But, as Mike Reeves brilliantly shows in talks you can buy here, that very 'in Christ' language offers the solution to Wright's big problem with the idea of the imputation of Christ's righteousness...


  1. Tell me that wasn't your honeymoon reading.

  2. Fear not, I took Jasper Fforde on honeymoon with me... oh and C.J. Mahaney (it is, after all 'what every Christian husband needs to know'!) and Calvin... of whom I read a mere 5 pages or so!!! We also found some amazing secondhand bookshops... but that's another tale :-)

  3. Ah good, sounds wonderful, book-wise! :)

  4. Hi Peter

    Have replied to your comment on my blog

    Take care


  5. I admire your commitment to furnishing yourself with the latest trends in theological academia. I saw a 10-page precis of these issues once, but sleep got the better of me before I could finish even that. Tell you what, you read both books and then sumarise in 200 words in your blog!

  6. Ha ha! If only that was the case that I managed to keep up with all these things! I'm interested in this one because of its popularity, but also the implications for people on the ground.

    I've read a little further and have a few more thoughts I'd like to post... I'd even like to think that I'll get round to it before the weekend, but as you can see by the frequency of posts I'm not that great at finding the time for such things!