Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Piper vs. Wright on Justification

Many of you who frequent my blog (if "many" can be said of such a small plurality!) or have ties to it are probably becoming aware of the differences emerging within Protestantism over the traditional view on justification and that of the so-called "New Perspective on Paul" espoused by James Dunn, E. P. Sanders, and, most notably, N. T. Wright. There has been much controversy over this, because it appears that Wright challenges traditional theology in two ways: (1) He sees references to the "law" in Romans and Galatians as exclusively referring to God's covenant with Israel at Sinai and not also a universal moral law given to all nations. (2) He denies the imputation of Christ's righteousness to the believer, instead saying that though present justification is by faith, there will be a future justification upon the basis of our Spirit-wrought works. Many evangelicals claim this is a slip back into Rome, but I'm not so sure that that's really at stake (or at least not the degree some people think it is). In fact, I think there are ways that both perspectives fit together.

Christianity Today magazine has put together a very helpful table comparing Wright's view and the traditional Reformed view of John Piper (although I think Michael Horton or Douglas Moo would have been a much better representative of the confessional Reformed position than John Piper). The accompanying essay about pastoral implications quotes Kevin DeYoung, my former pastor at University Reformed Church in East Lansing, Michigan.

1 comment:

Ted M. Gossard said...

Yes, Andrew. I just saw that today at work- the table. Actually from what I've read of Moo his take would definitely embrace something of the new perspective.

I'm afraid though that such a table can be a little misleading; in this case the old wine is better, because that's what we have always drank. There's no substitute for reading the books themselves.

At the same time, I think from my glance of it it's a pretty good summary, but not good enough for me- because you just have to do the reading, if you're really going to understand. (I do share your view that Piper is not the best one to defend the old perspective, though I most appreciate his spirit)

Good post, and I need to read further on it. I need to turn on my classical music again, with my reading, because as much as I'm finding N.T. Wright's new book on justification fascinating, I keep falling asleep (because I'm tired!).

Interesting that your former pastor has an essay there. I liked a few words I picked up from it today.