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N.T. Wright vs. John Piper ::: Ding Ding Ding

A few excerpts from N.T. Wright on his exchange with Piper from Kingdom People.    

My anxiety about what has now been seen as the traditional Reformed view (though there are many traditional Reformed views!) is that it focuses all attention on ‘me and my salvation’ rather than on ‘God and God’s purposes’, which – as we see in the Gospels, and in e.g. Romans 8 – are much wider than just my salvation. 

… in line with many Reformed readers of scripture, including Calvin, I understand Paul’s doctrine of justification to be of those who are ‘in Christ’, whereas Piper and others don’t make that a central element in justification itself. Conversely, for Piper the center of justification is the ‘imputation’ of ‘the righteousness of Christ’, seen in terms of ‘righteousness’ as a kind of moral achievement earned by Jesus and then reckoned to those who believe. I believe that this is an attempt to say something close to what Paul actually says in Romans 6, namely that the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is ‘reckoned’ to those who are ‘in him’. Putting it the way Piper (and one part of the Reformation tradition) puts it is a pointer to something which is truly there in Paul, but one which gives off misleading signals as well.

Finally, for Piper justification through Christ alone is the same in the future (on the last day) as in the present, whereas for Paul, whom I am following very closely at this point, the future justification is given on the basis of the Spirit-generated life that the justified-by-faith-in-the-present person then lives. In fact, the omission of the Spirit from many contemporary Reformed statements of justification is one of their major weaknesses.

… the ‘new perspective’ which I embrace and expound (there are as many quite different versions of the so-called NP as there are expositors of it) is not at all inimical to the real concerns, including personal salvation, substitutionary atonement, and so forth, of the ‘traditionalists’.

I think there’s a danger in ‘old perspective’ supporters still trying to run an implicit ‘conservative versus liberal’ debate on this one, trying to accuse NP folk of some of the failings of an older liberalism.

What’s missing [from Piper’s view] is the key work of the Holy Spirit in enabling the already-justified believers to live with moral energy and will so that they really do ‘please God’ as Paul says again and again (but as Reformed theology is shy of lest it smack of smuggling in works-righteousness again).

What’s missing is an insistence on Scripture itself rather than tradition . . .

—————————HT: Kingdom People

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