Thursday, January 15, 2009

N.T. Wright on Salvation

I have thought recently about wading into the fray of Piper versus NT Wright on the subject of justification. I’ve read a few articles of Wright on the “new perspective” on Paul and downloaded Piper’s book, The Future of Justification aimed at Piper’s view that not only does Wright not understand justification in Paul but that Wright is dangerously wrong. I should probably leave it alone for I am biased: I find Wright far more useful than Piper. I believe that Wright is more exegetically sound than Piper (who I believe reads everything through the eyes of [certain] Reformers). I did want to post this passage where Wright defends himself against critics who find his views somewhat “dangerous.” See what you think here:

I hope I have said enough in this short section to convince you of two things. First, my understanding of how Paul supposed someone became a Christian is, I think, basically orthodox and indeed reformed. God takes the initiative, based on his foreknowledge; the preached word, through which the Spirit is at work, is the effective agent; belief in the gospel, that is, believing submission to Jesus as the risen Lord, is the direct result. My central point is that this isn’t what Paul is referring to when he speaks of ‘justification’. But the substance of what reformed theology, unlike Paul, has referred to by means of that word remains. Faith is not something someone does as a result of which God decides to grant them a new status or privilege. Becoming a Christian, in its initial moment, is not based on anything that a person has acquired by birth or achieved by merit. Faith is itself the first fruit of the Spirit’s call. And those thus called, to return to Philippians 1.6, can be sure that the one who began a good work in them will complete it at the day of Christ.

From “New Perspectives on Paul,” found on the Wright page (

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