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#20523 Sat Jan 01, 2005 5:21 PM
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I was just curious of your opinions on nt wright. I have read some things written by him including something on the new perspective of paul. At a conference I heard sinclair ferguson speak about wrights error on the new perspective of paul but it did not seem adequate. I think i take issue with wright on his belief about justification. Anyone know much about Wright? like wright? hate wright. disagree with wright? I would be interested to hear.

#20524 Sat Jan 01, 2005 5:38 PM
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N.T. Wright denies the historic doctrine of "Sola Fide" (justification by faith alone). You would benefit from reading "Part Three: Modern Revision" of Philip Eveson's excellent book which you can find here, The Great Exchange.

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Pilgrim #20525 Sat Jan 01, 2005 6:46 PM
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Thanks pilgrim. I read the first half of part 3 called "Justification: the Wright Position." While much of his logic is quite persuasive i would agree that he has moved away from sola fide. Looks like i was correct in taking issue with his beliefs about justification. I will have to read the second half and see how philip eveson disproves wright.

#20526 Sun Jan 02, 2005 10:00 AM
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A great book on this matter is Peter Stuhlmacher's Revisting Paul's Doctrine of Justification.


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J_Edwards #20527 Tue Jan 04, 2005 12:31 PM
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This short discussion of Wright's view of justification by a PCA pastor in St. Louis, which references Wright's commentary on Romans, is worth considering.

Clay

onefear #20528 Tue Jan 04, 2005 3:10 PM
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Thanks onefear, i will definitely read it because i actually had particular questions concerning his commentary on Romans.

#20529 Tue Jan 04, 2005 3:44 PM
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Wright's not an easy nut to crack. It's hard to be discerning and judge rightly and avoid inferring what he may not state or imply or caricaturing his views. Another helpful little article is Levels of Theological Discourse and the New Perspective, by Jon Barlow, which posits that in order to interact with Wright it is important to be conscious of how he and we are using theological language. In the short piece he discusses four levels of theological discourse:

1. The natural language of the biblical passages
2. The 'theologies' of the Bible
3. The highly rarified language of systematic theology
4. Popular usage of language from level 3

It's probably worth a read too, though it references only some of Wright's older pieces on the subject. It was posted on the old PCA News site, which apparently is still being hosted.

Clay

onefear #20530 Tue Jan 04, 2005 5:39 PM
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If anyone really feels the need to read Wright's or Dunn's (Word Biblical Commentary), please for the sake of truth compare it with Murray's commentary (or some other reliable commentary) so the errors may be recognized and dealt with quickly.

RTS offers a class specifically on this issue and here is their reading list for a more thorough examination:

Required readings will include:

N. T. Wright, What St. Paul Really Said (Eerdmans, 1997)
Guy Prentiss Waters, Justification and the New Perspectives on Paul (P&R, 2004)
James D.G. Dunn, Christian Liberty: A New Testament Perspective (Eerdmans, 1993)

"New Perspective" Commentaries:

N.T. Wright, in New Interpreter's Bible, Vol. 10 (Abingdon, 2002)
J.D.G. Dunn (Word Biblical Commentary, 2 vols.; 1988)
Luke Timothy Johnson, Reading Romans (Smyth & Helwys, 2001)
Krister Stendahl, Final Account: Paul's Letter to the Romans (Fortress, 1995)

Non- or Pre-"New Perspective" Commentaries:

John Murray (New International Commentary on the NT, 1968)
C.E.B. Cranfield (either the original International Critical Commentary in 2 vols. [1975, 1979] or the single volume abridgment published by Eerdmans, 1986)
Douglas Moo (New International Commentary on the NT, 1996)
Thomas Schreiner (Baker Exegetical Commentary on the NT, 1998)

"Of Interest" -- Important Monographs or Collections:

Karl Donfried (ed.), The Romans Debate, rev. & expanded ed. (Hendrickson, 1977, 1991)
Philip Esler, Conflict and Identity in Romans: The Social Setting of Paul's Letter (Fortress, 2003)
Richard Hays, Echoes of Scripture in the Letters of Paul (Yale, 1989)
Peter Stuhlmacher, Revisiting Paul's Doctrine of Justification: A Challenge to the New Perspective (IVP, 2001)
Stephen Westerholm, Perspectives Old and New on Paul: The "Lutheran" Paul and His Critics (Eerdmans, 2004)
N.T. Wright, The Climax of the Covenant: Christ and the Law in Pauline Theology (Fortress, 1991, 1993)

IMO though many can save allot of time, effort, and money by reading the article The Great Exchange which I believe someone else already linked.


Reformed and Always Reforming,
J_Edwards #20531 Wed Jan 05, 2005 1:20 AM
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Thanks for the excellent list. There's much good to read on the topic. Also useful might be Doug Green's N.T. Wright - A Westminster Seminary Perspective (a .pdf file) and Covenant Theological Seminary's symposium on the New Perspecive in General (I think that the last segment is devoted to justification). Hasn't Wright sought to distance himself from Dunn and Sanders by referring to his viewpoint as a "fresh perspective" or something similar?

Clay

#20532 Thu Jan 06, 2005 1:48 PM
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Something of help is also James White's 3 audio lectures, available on-line for free. White first reads various sections from Wright's book, "What St. Paul Really Said", and then responds to it.
Dr. James White - The New Perspective on Justification

grace & peace,
Carlos


"Let all that mind...the peace and comfort of their own souls, wholly apply themselves to the study of Jesus Christ, and him crucified"(Flavel)
carlos #20533 Thu Jan 06, 2005 3:18 PM
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onefear, i take it you like NT Wright. Am i correct?

onefear #20534 Thu Jan 06, 2005 3:38 PM
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Yes, he is attempting some distancing. However no matter the distance he attempts he is causing many problems and embracing a false theology as the New Perspective has issues (if carried to it logical ends) with forensic justification, embracing baptismal regeneration, and destroying the Perseverance of the saints, etc.


Reformed and Always Reforming,
J_Edwards #20535 Thu Jan 06, 2005 4:38 PM
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J Edwards, could you explain how it leads to "embracing baptismal regeneration, and destroying the Perseverance of the saints, etc." Not that i disagree but i definitly do not know how it does.

#20536 Thu Jan 06, 2005 4:45 PM
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Im not sure how relevant this is but here is an email i received from someone who i am debating NT Wright with.



"“As for me, my justification is with God. In His hand are the perfection of my way and the uprightness of my heart. He will wipe out my transgression through his righteousness.”



“From the source of His righteousness (here righteousness means His covenant faithfulness) is my justification and from His marvelous mysteries is the light in my heart.”



“As for me, if I stumble, the mercies of God shall be my eternal salvation. If I stagger because of the sin of flesh, my justification shall be by the righteousness of God which endures forever.”



- (1 QS 11.2-3, 5, 11-12)



If you asked a Jew in Christ’s day, “What is your great hope?” They would likely have answered, “When God comes to restore His people from exile.” (Deut. 30). For Jews, it wasn’t a matter of going to heaven when you die. The OT doesn’t even really talk about salvation in the NT sort of way. Everything is wrapped up in the idea that God would one day come and restore His people. And so the question is, how would they know that they would be a part of that restoration, or how do they know they’d experience that salvation. I can almost guarantee you that if you asked that question to a Jew today, their answer would NOT be because they keep Torah. It would be because they are a part of God’s chosen people. They belong to Abraham. And God made promises and covenants with Abraham and His offspring. NT Wright is suggesting that you’d get a similar answer from Jews in Christ’s day. “How do I know I will be restored? Because I belong to God’s true chosen people. I belong to Abraham. I belong to the covenant. And God is a righteous God, He is a covenant faithful God.” Now, you ask them, well how do you know you belong to God’s people? “Because I’m circumcised and I keep Torah.”



So when you get to Galatians, you wonder why Paul has this big ol’ section about his acceptance with the apostles and his confrontation with Peter (1:11-2:14). The law isn’t mentioned once in that passage. If Galatians is all about going after legalists, why take up 20% of the book on something that has nothing to do with law? Because the issue is not so much the law, but that God’s grace has been given to someone outside the people of Israel. National Israel is the not the center of God’s redemptive activities. So first he goes after the centrality of Israel (1:11-2:14), then he goes after the law (2:15-4:7), then he goes after circumcision (5:1-12). The flip side for Paul is that the promises belong to Christ (3:16) and all those who are IN CHRIST through faith (3:26-29). It’s not a matter of being in Israel through circumcision and the law, it’s a matter of being in Christ through faith."


Any comments on this particular email?
I sent him a link to the book pilgrim recommended, The Great Exchange.

#20537 Thu Jan 06, 2005 6:52 PM
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Soli Deo Gloria said:
J Edwards, could you explain how it leads to "embracing baptismal regeneration, and destroying the Perseverance of the saints, etc." Not that i disagree but i definitly do not know how it does.
I would suggest reading the books refuting the New Perspective movement as: (1) this is a difficult subject, and (2) it takes a lot of discussing to get anywhere. Briefly, when we come to “justification” Wright contends that it is not the central focus of the Romans, etc.

Wright’s asserts that “the works of the law” were not the effort of the Jewish people to earn their salvation. Here Wright accuses many Protestant exegetes as having imported the Augustine-Pelagius debate into their interpretation of Galatians, Romans, etc. He and others contend Paul sets forth the doctrine of justification which demonstrates “the covenant faithfulness of God” and “the identity of His covenant people.” In his theology we have the supplanting of soteriolgy with ecclesiology. However, let us let them speak for themselves:

Quote
'Justification' in the first century was not about how someone might establish a relationship with God. It was about God's eschatological definition, both future and present of who was, in fact, a member of his people. In Sanders' terms, it was not so much about 'getting in', or indeed about 'staying in', as about 'how you could tell who was in. In standard Christian theological language, it wasn't so much about soteriology as about ecclesiology; not so much about salvation as about the church. (What Saint Paul Really Said).

What Paul means by justification in this context should therefore be clear. It is not how you become a Christian, so much as how you can tell who is a member of the covenant family." (What Saint Paul Really Said.)
Another way of saying this that may be clearer is—“I am right with God because I am in the church.” In this statement, the New Perspective view believes that we enter into a saving relationship with God through entry into the Church. Since baptism is the sacrament of entrance into the church it also becomes the means into all of salvation's blessings. Rich Lusk states:

Quote
Baptism is the means through which the Spirit unites us to Christ. No other means is said to have this function; it is the peculiar grace attached to baptism... Since baptism is the instrumental means of union with Christ, it is sometimes said to be the instrument of forgiveness and regeneration (Acts 2:38, 22:16; Tit. 3:5). These are the chief blessings of union with Christ; they are offered in baptism and received by faith. In other words, baptism is simply the gospel in aqueous form. (Rich Lusk, "Some Thoughts on the Means of Grace).
However, salvation is by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone (Eph. 2:8-9). According to WCF XIV.1, baptismal grace does not create faith but strengthens existing faith. From here I am sure you can see that without forensic justification the Perseverance of the Saints in Wright’s exegesis would depend on his ecclesiological argument and thus there is no assurance, et. al.

(various sources)


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