Jesus Creed

Jesus Creed


Coming Conversations

posted by Scot McKnight

We will begin this Friday and then next week two new conversations. One will be about Andrew Marin’s new book about homosexuality and the Church, called Love Is an Orientation: Elevating the Conversation With the Gay Community
.

And the second will be about Tom Wright’s new book, Justification: God’s Plan and Paul’s Vision
. Last week’s post about the New Perspective sets some of the context of Tom Wright’s debate with John Piper, who has been interviewed about it here. Here is how John Piper defines justification in that interview: “In the New Testament, justification is the moment or the event when you
put your faith in Jesus Christ and at that moment God is no longer
against you–he’s for you, and he counts you as acceptable, forgiven,
righteous, obedient because of your union with Christ. You are
perfectly acceptable to God and he is totally on your side.”


Piper goes on: “Justification, I believe, is the way the Bible describes that moment..
Justification is the act by which God says, “I no longer count you
guilty. I count you as righteous with the righteousness of my son.”
That’s a saving moment, clustered with the call. Wright sees our call
as the only decisive saving moment. And I want to put with the call the
work of God in justifying me.”

And: “I think the New Perspective on Paul and other kinds of theologies
flowing from it are giving God only part of the glory he deserves. They
are missing the glory of Christ as our substitute obedience and our
substitute sacrifice and punishment, and the glory that on the basis of
those two things, we have God totally on our side.” [I quibble here
with the tacit implication that NT Wright's version of the New
Perspective is "the" New Perspective, but double imputation is central
to how Piper understands the gospel and justification. Tom doesn't
think the NT teaches either gospel or justification in those terms.]

And one more concluding comment by Piper: “I want to prevent the reality of justification from moving off of
the point where I become a Christian. I want to keep it right there,
because that’s where I believe the Bible locates it. I become a
Christian by what happens in the event of justification. That’s the
first thing. I want to keep justification from moving off of the basis of Christ’s
death and obedience. And I want to keep the doctrine of justification
from moving off of the imputation of that obedience to me by faith
alone in union with Jesus Christ, so that my confidence in God being
totally for me is resting not in what I do, but in what Christ did.”

For Piper, justification refers to the moment of conversion/becoming a Christian. It comes by way of double imputation. Wright does not see things that way. Join us next Monday as we dip into this conversation.

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Eric

posted April 29, 2009 at 3:56 pm


I’m looking forward to this. I’ve read Piper’s and Wright’s books, and my high level, overall reaction was that Piper didn’t seem to understand Wright on some key points, and that Wright’s response was very effective. (I came into this with no bias either way).
But before I “convert” to the *full* Wright perspective, I’d like to see a more balanced perspective than Piper’s. It will be great to hear your views, Scot.



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Theresa Seeber

posted April 29, 2009 at 4:28 pm


I am reading Marin’s book right now! Can’t wait!



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Jeff

posted April 29, 2009 at 5:36 pm


Glad you are doing this important debate, I just ordered the book.
Does anyone else think the phrase “god was against you” is at best poorly choosen, and at worst an insult to a supremely loving God?



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Darren King

posted April 29, 2009 at 5:43 pm


Jeff,
I totally agree. The fact that Piper utters such words, without even stopping to think of the implications, demonstrates to me just how far he is from me in terms of his understanding of the nature of God.
I honestly tire a little of these debates. If one side of the debate looks to a God who “was against you”, then to me the point is mute. There is no debate. I don’t believe in that God. Period. End of story.



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Joel Haas

posted April 29, 2009 at 6:29 pm


I didn’t like Piper’s comment suggesting that Wright denies penal substitutionary atonement. Because he does not. He says so himself. He sees Isaiah 53 as the key text for Jesus’ understanding of his own vocation.



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Dan S.

posted April 29, 2009 at 6:29 pm


I’m really looking forward to the discussion about Marin’s book.
Maybe it will give me some direction on how to de-escalate the heated discussion on gay marriage/civil unions that’s been going on in my local community (and on my blog).
Right now I’m drowning in comments attacking me for my moderate views on the issue.



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Joseph

posted April 29, 2009 at 7:00 pm


Hang in there, Dan. I read your blog and the guy who won’t stop attacking you seems to have been born angry as well as gay. Gay marriage could be legal tomorrow and he’d still have hate directed at something, Christians most likely. I was going to post there but it seemed like teaching pigs to sing – a waste of my time and irritating to the pig.
Anyway, “the God who is against us”??
Suppose as I raised my child, she never told me she loved me. I provided for her and met her needs, but other than that I reciprocated her lack of feelings.
Then one day, when she reaches adulthood, she says “I love you, Dad” and I answer “Well, I finally love you, too.”
Nothing can separate us from God’s love. We may turn our backs on Him but He never turns his back on us.



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Glen

posted April 29, 2009 at 8:01 pm


Is this a brand new book from Wright? Or is it an updated and renamed version of What Saint Paul Really Said? They sound very similar in contents, from what I can dig up.



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Scot McKnight

posted April 29, 2009 at 8:38 pm


Glen, a brand new book and one that draws together so much of his thinking on justification and the new perspective debates. This book responds to his critics.



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Glen

posted April 29, 2009 at 8:42 pm


Thanks Scot, I’ll add it to the list!



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Theresa Seeber

posted April 29, 2009 at 10:45 pm


Dan S. hello! I will stop by your blog again next. Your post about how to continue in the conversation rocked! I shared it on facebook and elsewhere and highly admire you. I am sorry you are taking heat! I get heat over this subject as well, and I know there has to be a better way. I think that better way looks like your post.



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John W Frye

posted April 30, 2009 at 7:09 am


Scot,
Two excellent choices. I’m looking forward to the Jesus Creed virtual discussions.



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John Byron

posted April 30, 2009 at 8:45 am


I find Piper’s statement “at that moment God is no longer against you?he?s for you” to be very odd. I am not sure the witness of the scriptures is that God was ever “against” us. In fact, the focus of Paul’s statments in Romans 1:16-17 is that God has always been for us and that the Christ event is one more demonstaration (albeit a very important one) of how God has always be for us. I can’t see why some insist on the judical view of Romans and Justification when such an understanding of Righteousness was NOT a part of Early Jewish perceptions of God.



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dcp

posted April 30, 2009 at 2:18 pm


Looking forward to the discussion on justification. I can’t help wondering if Piper and Wright have ever sat down together to dialogue? Would be interesting.



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