Thursday, September 16, 2010
Review of Introducing Paul by Guy Waters
Over at Reformation21, Guy Waters of RTS has a review of my book Introducing Paul. I think it is a very fair review but with expected points of contention over "incorporated righteousness" vis-a-vis "imputed righteousness". There were some pointed questions by Waters and I appreciate that he has taken the time to understand what I was trying to say. He observes correctly that what I'm putting forward is not quite the standard Reformed view, but nor am I in the N.T. Wright camp. Waters raises a good question about what is the "righteousness" that believers are incorporated into or have imputed to them. Now I'm 100% convinced that it is not the merit of Jesus or his entire life of obedience. I've just gone and read again over Romans 5 and I see how people can think that, but it is clear that this is not explicitly said in the text. Jesus' "one act of righteousness" results in justification, but the one act of righteousness is not something that is imputed as the grounds of justification (Rom 5.18-19). My advice here is to look at the meaning of "righteousness" in 5.17 and 21 before going into 5.18-17. In Rom. 5.17, 21, righteousness refers to a salvific status not to a substance or merits that can be infused/imputed (delete as preferred). It is thereafter that we see in Rom. 5.18-19 that Jesus' act of righteousness (i.e., his sacrificial death) leads to justification and by his obedience believers will (note future tense) be righteous at the final day. Yet there is no explicit statement of imputation here and the righteousness in 5.19 might be transformative as well as forensic (see Schreiner's Romans commentary on this which is particularly helpful). I have a little rhyme: "No matter how much may people try, kathistemi does not mean logizomai." So Depending on the context of Romans 3-5, I think "righteousness" can refer to (1) The status of being righteous, (2) Deemed to have fulfilled a covenant relationship, or (3) Salvation generally. I think we are incorporated into the status that the Father gives to his Son in the resurrection (i.e., a verdict of righteous). Then by virtue of union with him we also share by implication in his faithfulness that was the basis of his vindication. So what is true of the Messiah is now reckoned to be true of the people of God. It is this implication that I think makes imputation legitimate. If we are in Christ than what is true of him is true of us, including the faithful execution of his messianic vocation as the second Adam, Son of God, and true Israel.