A lil’ over a week ago, I posted my intention to read a book by someone who disagreed with NT Wright. I’ve read about a third of John Pipers’ “The Future of Justification: A Response to NT Wright“.
So far, it’s mostly been him justifying how writing such a book entirely against one person is justified. Although he continues to defend that he’s not slamming Wright so much as he is “cautioning” those who read Wrights’ books of the slippery slope NT takes people down. You can tell Piper is pretty intelligent, more than me at least. I’m committed to reading all the way through, even though he continues to repeat himself. Here’s what his book boils down to:
Beware of NT Wrights’ concepts on Justification, in regards to: (he lists them as sarcastic questions, the way you might ask your 2 year old child “Oh, the clouds are made of cotton candy?” )
1. The Gospel is NOT about how to get saved? It seems to Piper, that the gospel is ONLY “good news” IF it refers to me being saved from hell. If I live against God, it becomes bad news simply because of what will happen to me.
2. Justification is not how you become a Christian? Very connected to the first issue.
3. Justification is not the gospel? Very connected to the first issue. Again.
4. We are not Justified by believing in Justification? I don’t get his disagreement here. The quote from NT Wright that he is against says, “We are not justified by faith by believing in justification by faith. We are justified by faith by believing in the gospel itself – in other words, that Jesus is Lord and that God raised Him from the dead.” Um….I don’t get his problem…even after he explains it.
5. The Imputation of God’s Own Righteousness Makes No Sense At All? While Piper would like to believe we are given God’s OWN righteousness, Wright has stated he doesn’t believe Righteousness is a substance that can be “passed across the courtroom” as opposed to actually changing our identity/how we are viewed in Christ.
6. Future Justification is on the basis of the complete life lived? Piper takes a statement of Wright that talks about what an entire life says towards God (yes or no), and reduces what he is saying to accuse Wright of a “works based” justification.
7. First-century Judaism had nothing of the alleged self-righteous and boastful legalism? Throughout Wright’s works, he says things like “Judaism in Paul’s day….” leading to a lens to view things. Piper reminds readers that there may have been just as many views within Judaism as there are evangelical crowds today. I can get down with this one, even if I wouldn’t share his accusatory tone.
8. God’s righteousness is the same as his covenant faithfulness? For Piper, Wright focuses too much on what God’s righteousness DOES, instead of what his righteousness IS. (although it could be debated that his later explanation of this simply calls something God’s righteousness is doing, something that it IS)
Whew. That should do it for now. Looking forward to his repetition of each of these points, with only slightly better explanations. Err…kinda. At least, looking forward to hearing NT Wright’s words in response to many of these accusations. Not allowing myself to read them, until I finish this one though.