Jesus Creed

Jesus Creed


Justification and New Perspective 20

posted by Scot McKnight

NTWright.jpgWe finish this series on Tom Wright, in Justification: God’s Plan & Paul’s Vision . We will look into his treatment of Romans 6 and then offer his summary of what is being said:

“Paul does not, ‘I am in Christ; Christ has obeyed the Torah; therefore God regards me as though I had obeyed the Torah.’ He says: ‘I am in Christ; Christ has died and been raised; therefore God regards me — and I must learn to regard myself — as someone who has died to sin and been raised to newness of life.”

And: “To know that one has died and been raised is far, far more pastorally significant than than to know that one has, vicariously, fulfilled the Torah” (233).

Wright goes on about Romans 5–8 and then 9–11, and you can fill in those lines of thinking by reading his book — but his major ideas are already on the table and have been emphasized often. With one exception: Wright’s theology of Paul is robustly filled with the Spirit, and this is not always done in those who focus on justification. Wright gives plenty of space to the Spirit at work in us now.

The Story of the Bible is the Story of Jesus Christ. This Story goes through Abraham and into Jesus Christ and through the Spirit and for the whole of creation. The creator God called Abraham to bless the whole world and to do this by forgiving its sins and the curse of death and find blessing and the promise of life. The metaphor at work here is the law court and God has brought forward his judgment into history in Christ — those in Christ are in the right. The sign here is faith.



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Kurt Willems

posted June 19, 2009 at 3:55 am


This quote counteracts the idea that God cares about humanity’s ability to carry out a list of rules (Torah). What God’s dream is for his broken image bearers to be restored to their rightful place as caretakers of this world. Christian spirituality then, is not about living under the law of performance, but living as fully human for the sake of the broken people and places of the cosmos! Living in light of the hope of resurrection and the power of the Spirit who raised Jesus, is far more pastorally significant because being raised to new life means that we now know what it is to truly live life as God intended. Anytime the lives of people do not match up with the reality of resurrection, we can pastorally help them see that they are not allowing the Spirit to energize their daily experience. They have not failed to hold up the standard of arbitrary rules, but have failed to live in light of the newness of life. Great insights on this post and the quote from the book!



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John W Frye

posted June 19, 2009 at 9:13 am


Amen! to Kurt’s comment (#1). Embedded in these thoughts is an observation by NT Wright on the OPP. The OPP reacting to meritorious righteousness emphasized by the 16th century Catholic Church ironically read the need for the same thing into the Pauline texts. Paul does not emphasize that Jesus’ righteous merit has been put in my spiritual bank account, but says: ‘I am in Christ; Christ has died and been raised; therefore God regards me — and I must learn to regard myself — as someone who has died to sin and been raised to newness of life.” As a pastor, I have seen the dark side of “positional righteousness”, i.e., that concept being used as an excuse for all manner of sin. “Hey, God sees me as righteous as Jesus Himself. Let’s live it up in the meantime.” Some call this grace; Paul calls it sin. The second emphatic pastoral dimension of Wright’s biblical theology is the supremacy of the Spirit on the journey toward final justification. Again, Calvin had it more correctly than Luther. Union with Christ trumps the alleged “position in Christ.”



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T

posted June 19, 2009 at 9:33 am


Wow. That quote from Wright is one of the best things I’ve ever heard toward understanding Paul, and how best, practically speaking, to work the message of God into real life [which is what pastors rightly care so much about]. I’m still thinking “Wow.”
And I second John’s “Amen” to Kurt’s beautiful addition: “God’s dream is for his broken image bearers to be restored to their rightful place as caretakers of this world. Christian spirituality then [as people who are learning to see themselves, as God does, dead to sin and alive to newness of life], is not about living under the law of performance, but living as fully human for the sake of the broken people and places of the cosmos!”
Amen and amen again.



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Michelle Van Loon

posted June 19, 2009 at 9:53 am


Just a quick note of thanks for this series. For a non-academic lurker like me, this discussion has been precisely what I’ve needed to begin to understand these issues.



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Paul

posted June 19, 2009 at 12:42 pm


Thanks much for posting this thread, Scot! Sincerely appreciate you and this Blog!



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Charlie

posted June 19, 2009 at 1:47 pm


Scot,
I too appreciate the series of posts on Wright’s NP. I have to say however, at the risk of sounding immensely stupid, that I still do not fully grasp the essential difference between Wright’s and Piper’s positions. I know they are different, but how to clearly and sensibly articulate this difference has so far eluded me. Admittedly I haven’t followed this “debate” since it’s beginning, but I consider it important enough that I will continue to keep up with it.
Grace and Peace.



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Jim Martin

posted June 19, 2009 at 2:37 pm


Scot,
A great quote to close a very good series. I have enjoyed these posts very much. These have been very, very helpful not only in my understanding of Wright but in my thinking overall.



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Dave Leigh

posted June 19, 2009 at 3:16 pm


“Paul does not [say], ‘I am in Christ; Christ has obeyed the Torah; therefore God regards me as though I had obeyed the Torah.’ He says: ‘I am in Christ; Christ has died and been raised; therefore God regards me — and I must learn to regard myself — as someone who has died to sin and been raised to newness of life.”
And: “To know that one has died and been raised is far, far more pastorally significant than than to know that one has, vicariously, fulfilled the Torah” (233).
How refreshing this discussion has been! And a great note to end on! Thank you!
(Perhaps with time we can stop calling “The New Perspective” and start calling it “The Refreshing Perspective”! Ha!)



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Jeremy Berg

posted June 20, 2009 at 12:21 am


Very clarifying and thought-provoking series. Thanks, Scot, for extending your classroom to all of us.
For those who share Charlie’s (#6) desire for more clarity, I would recommend the comparison chart in the June edition of Christianity Today if you haven’t already.
Thanks again for the great conversation everyone. Peace.



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ron newberry

posted June 21, 2009 at 8:28 am


was there a post 19?



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Brian from NZ

posted June 21, 2009 at 8:56 pm


My all-time favourite book on Romans 6,7 & 8 is Brithright: Christian do you know who you are? by David Needham. It liberated me from the standard “we are trapped in sin” theology so often taught in churches



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peter pan

posted July 29, 2009 at 5:50 pm


so amazed by brian who comments “It liberated me from the standard ‘we are trapped in sin’ theology.” Are we NOT trapped in sin? the NPP is a great mental exercise, but, unfortunately it is so out of touch with real world. It does not take the fallen human nature seriously



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