The debate over Justification is far reaching, stretching its tentacles into all things soteriology and ecclesiology including such doctrines such as Union with Christ, Imputation and so on.
I apologize for this untimely post. The Wheaton Conference crept up on me by near surprise, I did not anticipate how swift the past days would be. But rest assured I had this post, Why does the Justification Debate Matter?, in my mind through the whole conference. It’s a good thing too because as I have been anticipating or rather trying to think Wright’s thoughts after him, to the answer why this debate matters I had the honor of hearing Wright answer the question himself.
“If you read the text as though that were there you will miss what is really there.”
What is Wright saying? If you read the biblical text as though that thing you always believed it said were actually there, you will miss what the biblical text really does say. I gather from this two principle matters as to why this debate matters:
1. Personal integrity
2. Biblical integrity
Galatians 2:16, to use a key example, does not read “Justified by faith in Jesus Christ” (despite poor translation choices) but rather, “Justified by the faithfulness of Christ” a translations difference of significant proportions. Luther’s reading of the biblical text in this case was highly and emotively conditioned by his times. He made a mistake. Personal integrity says that we should accept the roots of our misreading (“our” because we read through the lens of our traditions, and in the Protestant tradition, Luther’s reading of Galatians 2:16 is fundamental).
Biblical integrity says that if this is what the text reads, well then be gone with our mistaken categories. N.T. Wright’s quote above challenges us who claim to be biblical to actually be biblical. As long as we read the text wrongly, we will forever miss what its author (not to mention its Divine Author) is actually saying.
To me that really makes this debate matter.