Jesus Creed

Jesus Creed


Justification and New Perspective 15

posted by Scot McKnight

NTWright.jpgOne of the stickiest points in all of this new perspective vs. old perspective discussion is what to make of Romans 2:1-16, and Wright makes it clear that he thinks Paul means exactly what he says (Justification: God’s Plan & Paul’s Vision,). [I posted the text at the bottom of this post.]

First, he says this is no charade — no pretending someone can be justified by works so we can set them up for the hammer in chp. 3.

Second, doers of the Torah will be justified. That’s what Paul says in 2:13. (It’s in your Bible too.) Wright argues that one does the Torah through the Spirit. But this is not the synergism that says “I do part” and “God does part.”

Third, the scene is the great assize — last judgment — and Jesus is the judge. The judgment is based on works — and Paul says that in Romans 2 and 2 Cor 5:10 and it is implicit in Rom 14:10-12. And Wright enters here into a clear set of lines about how important works is in the Pauline sense of judgment.

All this stuff, fourth, about pleasing God is not the logic of merit but the logic of love and relationship.

Fifth, this again makes the Holy Spirit important — more important than in the old perspective.

2
You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else,
for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself,
because you who pass judgment do the same things.  2 Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth.  3 So when you, a mere man, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment?  4 Or
do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and
patience, not realizing that God’s kindness leads you toward
repentance?

 5 But
because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are
storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when his
righteous judgment will be revealed.  6 God “will give to each person according to what he has done.”a  7 To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life.  8 But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger.  9 There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile;  10 but glory, honor and peace for everyone who does good: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.  11 For God does not show favoritism.

 12 All who sin apart from the law will also perish apart from the law, and all who sin under the law will be judged by the law.  13 For
it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but
it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous.  14 (Indeed,
when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by
the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have
the law,  15 since
they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts,
their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now
accusing, now even defending them.)  16 This will take place on the day when God will judge men’s secrets through Jesus Christ, as my gospel declares.



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Mick Porter

posted June 5, 2009 at 12:57 am


Nice summary.
I certainly find the language of v15 to be so Jeremiah-ish as to be impossible to be accidental on Paul’s behalf.
Also, I get why the OPP did it, but it seems such a stretch to try to make v13 mean almost entirely the opposite to what its face value would indicate:
“For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous.”
Then again, having been involved in some extreme legalism, I do understand the reaction against it. As you say, the Spirit then becomes the essential aspect – achieving something that the Law could not.



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MDBach

posted June 5, 2009 at 2:07 am


Verse 7 stands out to me as I read through this post, and wondering how Wright expands on this verse, if at all? Through your comments, I would assume Wright might be saying that Paul’s use of “by persistence” is also to mean doing good through or “by” the power of the Holy Spirit? V.7 can sound individually works based, however it appears to stand in sharp contrast with v.8, where Paul claims those doomed to wrath as having an identity of selfishness. (“are self-seeking” vs. “by persistence”) I’m interested in knowing how Wright treats verse 7 and 8 specifically?
Also, how ought we properly interpret the next part of verse 7…”seek glory, honor and immortality” – whose glory is Paul claiming should be sought?



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Ted M. Gossard

posted June 5, 2009 at 4:07 am


While I lean toward accepting this interpretation, I’m wondering how we can defend well against the claim of those who say we add to the Cross of Christ with this view. That Christ, and him crucified and resurrected is our salvation. Of course I believe that’s true, but that our salvation is Trinitarian so that, as Wright explains, Romans 8:1-17 explains Romans 2:6-7.
Interesting, the distinction Wright makes between present justification and future justification. I haven’t taken the time yet to check in my Greek NT to see if the texts bear that out, but I think at least interpretatively they do.
I think the old perspective’s problem is failing to see the Jewishness of the New Testament in both Jesus and Paul. Not that I think all in Wright is right and all in the old perspective is wrong. I’m not so sure of that, either.



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david yates

posted June 5, 2009 at 5:00 am


Wright seems to me to try his best to avoid saying what Witherington does in his review ‘With Justification’ that there are ‘rewards or the lack there of in the Kingdom’. But even that doesn’t go far enough. Any ‘judgment’ worthy of that name surely involves condemnation as well as praise. So, according to Wright, Christians are to expect some form of condemnation in the Kingdom, since none are perfect. Then, also, does this mean that along with the bliss of the Kingdom there will be eternal regrets?



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T

posted June 5, 2009 at 8:42 am


MDBach,
“Wright might be saying that Paul’s use of “by persistence” is also to mean doing good through or “by” the power of the Holy Spirit.” Yes, I would also tend to think that is the implication to be stated later in the argument in plain terms: That those who “through the Spirit put to death the misdeeds of the body” will live.



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John W Frye

posted June 5, 2009 at 8:47 am


I am puzzled by the OPP Reformed types who espouse “the perseverance of the saints” who can’t get what NT Wright is getting at. The above comments nibble at crumbs and miss the feast of Tom Wright’s astounding integration of this particular Romans text into the sweep of Paul’s Perspective on final justification. I notice that no one is getting near this phrase “it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous” (v 13). Is Paul writing a lie under the guidance of the Holy Spirit or not? The old Lutheran dread of “faith versus works” raises its ugly head again.



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John W Frye

posted June 5, 2009 at 9:35 am


I apologize if the above comment (#5) came across as snarky. I am so amazed at NT Wright’s contribution to the ongoing “reformation” of the church that I find it hard that so many can’t see it. Sometimes nibbling at crumbs is very necessary.



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T

posted June 5, 2009 at 10:01 am


David,
I don’t know about ‘eternal regrets’, as I see nowhere such an idea is espoused in the scriptures for those who are finally declared justified. But Paul does seem to think there are some who will be saved with flying colors, so to speak, or at least others who are saved as one narrowly escaping through the flames. I doubt it feels entirely good to do go through judgment in such a way, but I imagine fear turns to relief and relief to joy soon enough, and that the joy stays put with the danger finally removed.



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EricG

posted June 5, 2009 at 10:29 am


I have not been able to find an old perspective writer who can make sense of this passage without twisting what it says. Wright’s version is the only one I have come across that makes any sense. And agreed with John Frye above. This is Wright’s clearest departure from the old reformed perspective, and the place where they can’t be reconciled.



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ChrisB

posted June 5, 2009 at 11:11 am


“doers of the Torah will be justified”
Let me know if you find someone who manages that.
That one can read this passage through his view does not prove his view.



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Scot McKnight

posted June 5, 2009 at 11:24 am


ChrisB, are you saying Paul is being sarcastic or that he means something else or…?



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Joey

posted June 5, 2009 at 11:50 am


ChrisB, I think you’re emphasis might be where the confusion is coming here. I don’t know think Wright is espousing a merit based justification:
if you do enough of the right things, you’ll be justified.
I think it is more an issue of being and identity:
If you are a being a person of God, you’ll be justified.
It isn’t that we can “work” or “earn” our way, it is that we will either be the people of God and that will look like [insert example] or we will be persons who do not do the will of God. We will be known by our fruit – and we will be known by our lack thereof. Jesus never once said that how we live had nothing to do with eternity. To the contrary, Jesus said that if we don’t live in his way he will say that he never knew us. It is more an issue of being than doing – it just so happens that being involves doing and not being involves not doing.



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MatthewS

posted June 5, 2009 at 12:03 pm


I have not read Wright yet and only know the NPP from the outside, so pardon an ignorant question. Is Wright saying that Paul is saying here that there will be two paths to heaven: one through Jesus and the other through Torah?
I guess I have never given these verses their due attention. There are many passages that in isolation would seem to say something but then in tension with the rest of Scripture our understanding becomes nuanced. Paul asks in Gal 3 Did you receive the Spirit by doing the works of the law or by believing what you heard? and Although you began with the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by human effort? and Does God then give you the Spirit and work miracles among you by your doing the works of the law or by your believing what you heard?
I heard so many times growing up “I just believe what it says” and the person would then take the “plain meaning” of a favorite proof text to prove some position. One would not want to commit the same error by saying “I believe Paul means exactly what he says” and then construe a “plain meaning” that is uninformed by the tension of the rest of Scripture.
Of course, sometimes the “plain meaning” is exactly what the author intended. Anyway, does Wright’s NPP envision people receiving eternal life based upon Torah obedience, apart from Jesus? I know my question will sound clumsy and ignorant but it is an honest question.



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Dru

posted June 5, 2009 at 12:06 pm


I’m wondering about the link between “those who obey the law will be declared righteous” v.13 and Abraham, who will be brought up in chap 4. In Gen 26:5 God declares to Isaac that his father Abraham “obeyed me and kept my requirements, my commands, my decrees, my laws.(!!!)” This of course long before any of those were engraved on tablets or recorded in Torah. So Abraham was a doer of Torah.
I haven’t read this book by Wright, does/how does he bring in Abraham?



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MDBach

posted June 5, 2009 at 12:12 pm


#5 John Frye
I think v.7, and namely “seek glory, honor and immortality” are mighty close to v.13 which you have vitally reminded us of. Paul’s use of “glory”, for instance, in the scope of his writings is a healthy portion of his feast, not just a crumb in my opinion. (Paul’s interplay with the word doxa in Philippians 2, for example, is quite a feast)
My initial post, however was investigating whether verse 7 makes Piper and his cohorts uneasy in light of Piper’s revisionist definition of God’s righteousness as God’s concern for His own glory. Or, perhaps it is fuel for Piper’s perpective? How does Wright treat this, if at all, since verse 7 ties a person’s persistence with the quest for glory, honor and immortality? Whose glory and honor is Paul referring?
Also, what do we know about Paul’s use of “immortality” in a culture with a very different view of life after death than our own. Are saints to persevere seeking the glory and honor solely of Israel’s representative who has been raised and lives eternally; or, do I seek my own personal immortality? Three loaded words in v.7 are, in my opinion, worthy of feasting upon.



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J. R. Daniel Kirk

posted June 5, 2009 at 12:22 pm


Matthew: He is definitely NOT saying that there are two ways to salvation, one by Torah one by Christ.
I would like to broaden the perspective on this text by pointing out that every time the NT talks about the basis of final judgment that basis is articulated as the believer’s works.
One of the reasons why the NPP is important is that it ties both faith and works to particulars: faith in/of Christ and works of Torah. When these are left as abstract principles, we can only say “justification by faith not by works” by ignoring passages that talk about works, ignoring passages where Paul affirms that he does, in fact have boasting based on his works, where the NT affirms that justification is by works and not faith alone (James 2).
Justification in Christ allows for an entry into the people of God based on faith, as God by grace alone justifies the ungodly; but it also means we are united to the dead-and-raised one so that our lives will (must!) show evidence of participating in the newness of the age to come.
Our works are acceptable and “justifiable” before God because they are done in Christ and under his Lordship rather than in Adam and thus under the sway of sin and death and even the Torah that they coopt for their purposes.
Romans 8 depicts believers as living by the power of the same Spirit who gave Jesus life from the dead–and this is intimately tied to their averting condemnation, participating in the restoration of the cosmos, and coming through the final judgment.



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T

posted June 5, 2009 at 12:55 pm


This is similar to the obvious issues in I John. On the one hand, John says that anyone that says they have no sin is a liar and has called God a liar. On the other hand, he says in the same short letter that we know we belong to Christ because we “do what he commands”, “walk as he walked”, and “don’t sin.” Either John is an idiot or he means the latter the way that Joey (11) described, and the way that Paul talks about those that “practice” greed or other sins. We are all guilty of sinning and still do, but we are all called to become slaves of righteousness through faith in Christ and put off our old way of life. In the end, “God knows those who are his” and “all who call upon the name of the Lord must turn away from all unrighteousness.”



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MatthewS

posted June 5, 2009 at 1:01 pm


I know I’m late to the party to be asking these questions. What benefit is Jesus to the Torah-following Jew? If a person could be in the people of God by following the Torah, and I assume a lot of people did so in good faith, what do they need Jesus for?
It seems to me that one long-standing understanding of Galatians by evangelicals is that Paul’s opponents were Judaizers who were preaching a Jesus + Moses gospel, a new-and-improved gospel that had Jesus, yes, but it also had Moses (making it better). Does the NPP reject this view of Paul’s opponents?



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ChrisB

posted June 5, 2009 at 1:06 pm


Scot said: “are you saying Paul is being sarcastic or that he means something else or…?”
I think you’re right — Paul is saying exactly what he means, namely that if you follow God’s law perfectly, you are righteous before Him.
Then Paul will show that no one follow’s God’s law perfectly, that all have sinned and all are condemned, but can receive justification by the atonement of Christ through faith.
I guess you would call that the old perspective.



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J. R. Daniel Kirk

posted June 5, 2009 at 1:10 pm


Matthew–I think you’re onto one of the most crucial questions: What is the benefit of Jesus to the Torah-keeping Jew? In fact, Paul ups the ante: what is the benefit of Jesus to someone who, like Paul, had blameless Torah righteousness (Phil 3)? Paul had that, but when he came face-to-face with Jesus he realized he needed an altogether different kind of righteousness–one that comes from union with Jesus in his death and resurrection.
The Christ-event transformed Paul’s vision of what it means to be numbered as part of the faithful people of God: not keeping the Law, but participation in Jesus’ death and resurrection. I think this is how Paul envisions a faithful life playing out as well: union with Christ in his death so as to lay hold of resurrection (Rom 8:17, for example).



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Deyo

posted June 5, 2009 at 1:17 pm


I think context is important here as well.
2.25 Circumcision has value if you observe the law, but if you break the law, you have become as though you had not been circumcised. 26If those who are not circumcised keep the law’s requirements, will they not be regarded as though they were circumcised? 27The one who is not circumcised physically and yet obeys the law will condemn you who, even though you have the[c] written code and circumcision, are a lawbreaker.
28A man is not a Jew if he is only one outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical. 29No, a man is a Jew if he is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a man’s praise is not from men, but from God.
In other words, the criterion of acceptability before God has always been obedience toward the law….but true obedience of the law starts with the heart not from observance of outward rituals.
Paul is thus showing continuity between the time before Christ and time now. This is how God has always justified: through faith, which entails obedience of Torah through Spirit(as Wright calls it). This justification is readily available through Jesus (3.21-26). No?



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david yates

posted June 5, 2009 at 3:15 pm


I think I am right to say that Wright has never clearly said what he thinks was the situation of OT Jews. I think that may be because it introduces difficulties for a too literally historical account of things (as I think Wright’s is), like who is saved and how. If salvation has always been by faith, then Jews have never all been saved and those Jews saved never by Torah, nor have gentiles ever been excluded from salvation. So, what to make of faith only coming with Christ (Gal 3.25), or the Spirit only being given after the resurrection? I think these things are not historically bound statements. There have always been those with faith and those with faith have necessarily always had the Spirit, but, of course, the presence before Christ of faith and Spirit was contingent on Christ.



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david yates

posted June 5, 2009 at 3:18 pm


I’m sorry, I preceded #22 with the following, but it got lost in copy/paste:
Gal 3.21: “if a law had been given which was able to make alive indeed by law would have been righteousness”.



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Dana Ames

posted June 5, 2009 at 8:32 pm


Dru @14,
Wright does indeed bring in Abraham; that’s where “salvation history” gets ramped up, because that is where the “God’s-single-plan-to-rescue-the-world-through-Abraham’s-family” (covenant) begins.
MDBach @15,
Here is a quote from the book, page 192: “…Paul never says Christians *earn* the final verdict, or that their “works” must be complete and perfect. He says, ‘Those who by patience in well-doing’ (echoes here of Romans 5:3-4) ‘seek for glory and honor and immortality.’ They are seeking it, not earning it. And they are seeking it through that patient, Spirit-driven Christian living…” Do get the book and read it.
MatthewS @13,
Wright doesn’t believe that Paul is answering the question, “How does one get to heaven?” From p.235: “‘Salvation’ does not mean ‘dying and going to heaven,’ as so many Western Christians have supposed for so long. If your body dies and your soul goes into disembodied immortality, you have not been *rescued from* death; you have, quite simply, died. That is why resurrection means what it means: it is not a bizarre miracle, but the very center of God’s plan and purpose. God will renew the whole creation, and raise his people to new bodily life to share his rule over his world. That is ‘what the whole world’s waiting for’ (Rom 8:19).” Daniel Kirk #20 and Deyo #21 have it.
Of what advantage is Jesus to a Torah-keeping Jew? Union with Jesus brings that Jew into a Spirit-sourced life, which is fulfillment of Torah. God brought Israel out of Egypt and gave them the law as the major part of their identity. Jesus rescued mankind from death through the cross and resurrection and gave us who trust Him His Spirit, as the major part of our identity. We are forgiven and free to do good because of who we are as part of the People of God, participating with Jesus in His death and resurrection, being transformed into beings who can participate in his glory, honor and immortality.
Wright says the question of Galatians is “Who can sit down at table with whom?” IOW, Who is really a part of the People of God?
In another place (can’t remember where right now, this is from a note in my bible) Wright says that dikaiosune in Paul can mean any of these: 1) God’s faithfulness to his covenant promises to Abraham; 2)God’s impartiality; 3) God’s proper dealing with sin; 4) God’s helping of the helpless. Let’s give Paul- and Wright- permission to speak with any one, or more, of these definitions. (I think a case could be made that all these definitions are all interconnected.) This would only make sense as we do the work to try to understand someone as brilliant as Paul, trying to discern the “wiki-story” of each of Paul’s letters.
Dana



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John W Frye

posted June 5, 2009 at 9:59 pm


I note that those grounded primarily in systematic theology categories choke on NT Wright’s exegesis. Unless one has read Wright’s book or listened to his teachings (mp3), Wright will seem to be innovating–something truly anathema to the (Reformed) systematic theology crowd. As has been mentioned before, Wright not only leaves in place most of the OPP, he expands its with biblical, narrative theology, making of whole cloth the systematic snippets cobbled together over the centuries.
Romans 2 is NOT about how you get saved (not Paul’s concern); its about the final assessment that shows those who are saved…who persevered, who persisted…justification for Paul is not a salvation issue, it is an identity and eschatological issue. The Gospel announces Christ’s lordship; God saves through that gospel; and those who believe it will be shown to be “put to rights” in the end as they persist in doing the works of Torah (summarized by Jesus as LOVE GOD, LOVE PEOPLE or The Jesus Creed) in the power of the Spirit.
This is carefully and painstakingly taught by NT Wright. It’s really not that big of a deal. Piper et al are so committed to Reformed tradition that he and they will not let the Scriptures do their work of reforming MAN MADE categories.



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EricG

posted June 5, 2009 at 10:24 pm


ChrisB (#19),
Your interpretation — “if you follow God’s law perfectly, you are righteous before Him,” but “no one follow’s God’s law perfectly . . . ” is all well and good, but it doesn’t deal with the problem Romans 2 — and many other passages — present for the old perspective: Paul says over and over and over again that the final judgment will be based on what we do, full stop. That is the problem with the old perspective understanding. OP folks try to change Paul’s words, but that’s not very good exegesis IMO.
David (# 22) — you say “I think I am right to say that Wright has never clearly said what he thinks was the situation of OT Jews.” Its not clear what you mean; Wright’s books on this subject go to great lengths about “the sitation of OT Jews.” That is key to his entire understanding of the story line; one of his main points is that the OP is wrong because it fails to address “the situation of OT Jews.” You also refer to salvation, but as John Frye and Dana point out, Wright makes a good argument that justification and salvation are two different things.



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david yates

posted June 6, 2009 at 5:02 am


Dana Ames #24 (& EricG #26)
“Of what advantage is Jesus to a Torah-keeping Jew? Union with Jesus brings that Jew into a Spirit-sourced life, which is fulfillment of Torah.”
Would you want to say that Abraham, Moses, Simeon (Luke 2.25) and other righteous Jews didn’t have the Spirit? How else might they be saved? Wright never addresses this issue (as far as I know).



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Taylor Marshall

posted June 6, 2009 at 9:38 am


Well that sets up what I see to be a difficulty in interpretting Paul’s Romans, especially as it relates to Romans 6 and Romans 7.
Contemporary scholars, especially in light of the New Perspective on Paul, have sought to show that Romans chapter seven is a description “pre-Christian Paul” despite the Apostle’s use of the present tense: “I am carnal, sold under sin.” In other words, they say, “Romans six is the Gospel truth about emancipation from sin, and Romans seven is a description of Paul’s spiritual state prior to his conversion to Christ.”
The more traditional, historical interpretation is that Christians are somehow “no longer slaves to sin” and that we are also somehow “sold under sin”. In other words Saint Paul is saying: “I am liberated from sin, but I am also still sold under sin.” Martin Luther’s simul iustus et peccator is one way to harmonize the passage.
Obviously, we Catholics do not follow Luther’s interpretation. There has been another strong (and persuasive) tradition in the Catholic Church of reconciling these two teachings in Romans as found in the writings of Saint Augustine and flowing into the decrees of Council of Trent.
The Catholic key to these passages are found in and understanding covenant (Greek: diatheke) and the Catholic doctrine of concupiscence.



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EricG

posted June 6, 2009 at 3:07 pm


David # 27 — that is an interesting question; I’m not sure that I would agree with the way Dana put the point. And I think you are correct that Wright does not addresses that specific question (although I think Dana has read more of his stuff than I have, based on her prior comments; maybe she has come across something). My question for you is: How does this specific question relate to the debate folks are having with Wright, about Romans 2 (or otherwise)?



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david yates

posted June 6, 2009 at 5:55 pm


EricG #29: I was hoping I was taking up themes introduced by others and advancing the argument! One point of contact with Romans 2 is: if some OT Jews were managing to maintain endurance in good work etc, how were they doing it? NT Christians have the Spirit, did OT Jews? Wright’s historical approach might be liable to say they didn’t because the Spirit was part of the promise everybody was waiting for, but Wright never says anything about it (as far as I know).



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Rod

posted June 6, 2009 at 11:33 pm


I just posted a response to Scot’s series on justification and the NPP, with a different view of justification.
http://tinyurl.com/qge4xw



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david yates

posted June 7, 2009 at 11:10 am


In their reviewing of Wright’s ‘Justification’ we get:
Jonathan Mason: “even if Rom 2:13 were referring to a hypothetical situation (as I am inclined to think), the idea of a great assize,
at which we must all appear and at which our works will be taken into account, remains stubbornly pervasive in Paul?s teaching
generally (2 Cor 5:10; Rom 14:10; Eph 6:8; Col 3:22-4:1)”. But Mason says he finds ‘interesting’ Blomberg’s comments:
Craig Blomberg: “Of course, no one is justified by works, in the sense of God?s legal declaration of right standing with him. But the
Spirit (note, e.g., his crucial role in Romans 8 and Galatians 5) proceeds to indwell the justified person, enabling one to obey God?s
righteous standards, not perfectly or anything close to it, but in a way that one could never have done before. The justified are thus
marked out as living to some degree in morally virtuous ways that demonstrate the reality of their experience with Christ. To this
degree they can be said, in the final analysis, to be judged favorably on the basis of their works”.
These comments seem to me not to close with Wright. He seems to me to be wanting to refer to actual loss of things by Christians who sin (as all do!).



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Scot McKnight

posted June 7, 2009 at 11:27 am


David, that comment of Blomberg’s sounds very much like Wright’s view.



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david yates

posted June 7, 2009 at 5:09 pm


Scot (#33) I think we’ll have to agree to disagree on that! But, are you really sure that in those pages in Justification Wright doesn’t begin by saying what I say he does (#4), and then he (I would say) doesn’t try to confront that for what it might mean, but only develops the positive side, which, I agree, is like what Blomberg says, without integrating the two positions?!



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EricG

posted June 7, 2009 at 10:57 pm


David (#34) — Wright does discuss the negative side (the passage that talks about coming through fire), but there isn’t really a negative side beyond that description, in his view, because there is the assurance that the Holy Spirit will complete the required work in us. (So the end result for Wright isn’t that different from Piper, in some respects; they both agree re: assurance.)



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david yates

posted June 8, 2009 at 5:33 am


I’ve had another read of the relevant bits in ‘Justification’ (though I might be a poor reader). I don’t think Wright manages to say the following:
If you don’t have faith, whatever you do, even if some of it looks like good things, those apparently good things won’t count in your favour, and you will do at least one bad thing, and you will be condemned. If you do have faith, you will do some things that both look good and count as good, and the bad things you do won’t count against you then being not condemned.
If that’s what Wright was trying to say, then I have two main comments:
This doesn’t look to me like something that can illuminatingly be called judgment according to works.
A bit more needs to be said about if there are rewards and punishments for relative amounts of good and bad things those with faith do (and maybe about degrees of condemnation for those without faith).



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Scot McKnight

posted June 8, 2009 at 7:24 am


david,
It seems you are fixed on this issue for Wright, and my reading of Wright is that he really doesn’t say that much about it, and neither does he spell out what he says, which tends to be summary statements. If you stick to what Wright actually says, on texts he is summarizing, what does he say that you don’t agree with?



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david yates

posted June 8, 2009 at 5:59 pm


Scot (#37) My problem with Wright is that he doesn’t spell out here what a responsible exegete should. Waffling won’t do. If you are engaged (as Wright is) in making a very big point of Christians also being judged according to works, then something substantial needs to be said not only about the judgment of Christians’ good works but about the judgment of Christians’ bad ones. One issue is that if, in effect, Christians’ bad works are not judged, then the notion of ‘judgment by works’ empties of meaning.



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Scot McKnight

posted June 8, 2009 at 6:07 pm


David,
OK, but you are presuming that what you think should be discussed in fact should be discussed. The plain evidence is that every judgment scene where the criteria for that judgment comes up says the criteria are works … that is not disputable. What is there to spell out? Doesn’t 1 Cor say our bad works will be burned up by fire?
In my estimation, you want him to address the theological problems you think he has, but you have them because of a tradition of interpretation that is not the interpretation Tom has. So, there is no need for him to address issues that are not even on the table.
Anyway, I hope this makes sense brother. I’m trying to see things as a mediator here.
Scot



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