Jesus Creed

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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