Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Herein Is Love

Confessing Evangelical, a Lutheran blogger across the pond, has written about Dr. Tim Keller's relationship between love and self-sacrifice/self-substitution, that is, true love is substitutionary. Check it out here; it's definititely worth reading.


Ted M. Gossard said...

Good thoughts over there, for sure, Andrew!

I believe in double imputation and substiutionary atonement (of course, on that substitutionary atomenment), and though it was not worked out evidently as a full blown theory or view of atonement in early church history, you find substitution in sayings of the early church fathers- I've been told (and perhaps have seen), in reading.

You would immensely enjoy and find this book interesting. The atonement of Christ is so rich in Scripture. He goes over, and well, Recapitulation, Ransom/Christus Victor, Satisfaction, Substitution, Representation, Penal Substitution, and maybe (understood correctly) example (Abelard). I need to keep working on these. That book comes across to me as Bonhoefferian, and I find McKnight a good, clear and engaging writer.

Ted M. Gossard said...

I was just glancing at that book again this morning. I should say it reminds me of Bonhoeffer in its theme and creativity. Hate to compare people and gifts from God. Bonhoeffer is Bonhoeffer for sure, just as we all are unique.

I do look forward to N.T. Wright's soon to be released book on justification in response to John Piper. Though the older I get, the less I really seem to be interested in theological controversies (and the more I'll be glad to see that day ended) except where the faith and the gospel is at stake. Although I guess some (Piper?) seem to think the gospel and the faith is undermined by the New Perspective. I don't believe that, even though I don't agree, or at least track with everything in it (from my limited perspective).

Andrew said...


I think the gospel is at stake with the new perspective. Granted, I think it is more of a shift in emphasis or semantics than anything else, but that makes a difference. What is bad is that it denies the imputation of Christ's righteousness to sinners and denies the reality of being "in Christ," our union with him. Union with Christ is a pervasive theme (if not the theme) in Pauline theology--that we are united to Christ by faith, and we share in objective reality and (increasingly) in personal experience all that is Christ's. All that was once mine is now his (my sin), and all that he earned becomes mine by grace (his righteousness and eternal resurrection life). The NPP implicitly denies this by refusing that we possess Christ's own righteousness, that we are "adopted in the Beloved," or anything else like that. In the NPP we never become righteous servants of the covenant Lord; we're merely forgiven of our debts and morally neutral. In the NPP we have no positive righteousness except that which we gain and demonstrate by our own works and covenant fidelity, whereby we will be finally/eschatologically justified. I think this is what is the real danger of the NPP.

The NPP and the Federal Vision aren't exactly repackaged Catholicism, but they're too close for comfort, hence their ecumenical appeal. Ecumenism can be good, but not at the expense of the gospel. I do, however, think that NPP advocates are trying to reintegrate passages that don't fit well under the Reformation's theology, and they're sensitive to that. But they too create a caricature of Judaism, that it had no earned works-righteousness component. That's simply not true. Just look at Jesus' lambasting of the Pharisees throughout the gospel and you'll see quickly that the self-earned righteousness by which we are finally justified is no leg to stand on at all.


Ted M. Gossard said...
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Ted M. Gossard said...
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Ted M. Gossard said...

I agree with your thought about the New Perspective being insensitive to works righteousness within Judaism. Though I think on the other side the view from Piper would seem to deny the truth within the New Perspective. Most Jews then did not think they had to perfectly obey the law and that they were saved by their works. Some unwittingly fell into that perhaps, and some certainly did as we see from Scripture. But they were "in the flesh" simply by insisting in holding to a covenant that was no longer in service: an adherence to the system of faith now fulfilled in Christ, including sacrifices for sin, etc.

In my case since I buy into double imputation and really all kinds of imputation, so that what is true of me Christ took up, so that what is true of Christ I receive as a gift- then I'm not fully with N.T. Wright and would side more with Piper in that way.

If you isolate certain ones within the New Perspective, I'd agree with what you say. But I probably will find myself more with Wright in his thinking on justification, than with Piper. I have some serious problems with Piper's theology. And I believe that Wright is often misunderstood.

As to you saying that N.T. Wright denies that we are accepted in Christ, I don't believe that's the case. Have you read N.T. Wright on Paul? And not just what others say about it.

You do make me think that I need to do some more serious reading on this myself. I did read Wright's book on Paul released some years back. I do believe Wright is misunderstood.

And I think you would find Scot McKnight's book, A Community Called Atonement, an interesting read. I would love to hear your thoughts on it. In some ways it was an eye opener for me. Scot helped me because I was ready to abandon the theological revolution which helped me see the church as the New Israel, etc, through N.T. Wright some eight years ago now. But along came Scot and he seemed to have more of a balanced approach which I track more with, which sees problems in the New Perspective, and sees Luther and the Reformation as holding to important truths (which actually I believe to a significant, basic extent, N.T. Wright does as well). But seeing the good we can receive from both. In other words not strictly a case of either/or.

Part of my problem with Piper is the way he relegates Christians like me as watering down the gospel. Yet I see him as not really theologically astute in some directions, not biblical enough.....

Sounds like more reading for me, but in this case I welcome it.

Thanks for your good forthright reply.