Friday, February 13, 2009
Doug Wilson on Wright's New Book
Doug Wilson (of Federal Vision fame) has a series of reviews on Wright's new book on justification. It is a rather amusing review at several points. You can read posts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and what I found notable were his comments:
Post # 5: "I believe that Wright is actually kicking against a particular form of the imputation calculus -- the idea that somewhere there is a reservoir of merit, and that withdrawals are made from it from time to time in order that we may pay our debts. But let's forget about merit. Suppose for a moment that we are not talking about the imputation of merit, but rather the imputation of obedience. The former is medieval; the latter is Hebraic and covenantal. Not only do I believe it is fully consistent with what Wright is saying, I believe that it is what he (in essence) is saying."
Post # 6: "And so contra Wright, the picture is more like this. Adam is in the dock, and lined up behind him (in the billions) are all his descendants, condemned because of his disobedience. He was a federal, covenantal head of the human race, and so his sin was reckoned to all of us, considered as ours, imputed to us. And so Jesus was born into our race as the last Adam, and the same kind of thing happened. Jesus stood in the dock, received the penalty that was due to Adam, rose from the dead, and was vindicated or justified by God. And so everyone who lines up behind Him is therefore justified as well. His payment of the penalty, and His perfect obedience in its own right, are now credited to us who believe in Jesus. The obedience of Jesus is imputed to us in just the same way that the disobedience of Adam was."
1. Wilson is correct that we need to dump this idea of merit and focus on the covenantal aspects of Jesus' obedience as the true Israel and second Adam.
2. As long as we believe that Adam is the federal representative of humanity and Jesus is the federal representative of the new humanity, then something akin to imputation will aways enter into the equation in terms of switching persons from condemnation in Adam to justification in Christ.
3. I'm still not sure if the NT allows for a distinction between active and passive obedience (usually what is emphasized is his passive obedience, e.g. Phil. 2.6-11).
4. What is missing in this discussion by Wilson is reference to "union with Christ" as the mechanism that communications righteousness since we are only justified in Christ. There is no imputation without participation and incorporation into Christ.