Tuesday, February 02, 2010
Justification - Publications and Conferences
The recent issue of Table Talk is entitled, What N.T. Wright Really Said, with contributions from who's who of American Reformed circles (HT Scott Clarke). The editorial by Burk Parsons includes a lengthy quotation from John Piper about the positive elements of N.T. Wright's ministry which is a polite opener to an issue dedicated to criticism of him. However, R.C. Sproul Sr. reflects on N.T. Wright's dictum that "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". Sproul objects to that statement because it makes a strawman of Protestant orthodoxy. Perhaps so! But Jonathan Edwards made a similar warning as N.T. Wright does (see Compete Works 1.654 - sadly my books are en route from Inverness to Brisbane [if the Somali pirates haven't got their filthy hands on them] and I don't have that book on hand to cite it). I found that reference to Edwards in Timothy George's essay in Justification and Variegated Nomism vol. 2 (p. 461n.68), I included it in my Saving Righteousness of God (p. 8n.8), and I passed the reference on to John Piper who also mentioned Edwards and Owen making a similar point in Piper's Future of Justification (pp. 24-25n.30). The danger that people talk as if we are justified by assent to a doctrine rather than by believing and trusting in Jesus Christ and his work is thus a real danger for Protestant orthodoxy which has always had a temptation of retreating into a cerebral scholasticism. Even if you don't agree with Wright's formulation of justification (and who does at every aspect!), his point here is valid.
In other news, the Annual Evangelical Theological Society Meeting in Atlanta, Georgia has as its main theme "justification by faith" and invited speakers include John Piper, N.T. Wright, and Frank Thielman which will include a panel discussion! I picked a real stupid time to take a year off from ETS/SBL!!! In the words of the great American philosopher, Homer Simpson, "Doh!".