Justification? Getting It Wright

Derek Ouellette —  April 12, 2010

My wife knows how much I love puns, and N.T. Wright’s name presents endless possibilities. So, in reference to the title of this post, excuse the pun.

Every time I come across someone who enjoys reading N.T. Wright I usually ask two questions. First I ask if they read his recent book on Justification and secondly, if so what are their thoughts.  In response I usually get one of two answers. Either they are not sure if they agree with Wright or they are not sure if they know what he is even saying and why it matters.

We owe John Piper a great deal of thanks in my opinion. In challenging Wright’s ambiguity N.T. wrote his most clear and present articulation of justification to date. And that is why I am so baffled over this indecisiveness.

People, for whatever reason, don’t seem to have understood what Wright is saying and why it matters. Thus the purpose of this new short series.

Friday I leave with some friends to Chicago to attend the 19th Annual Wheaton Theological Conference: Jesus, Paul and the People of God: A Theological Dialogue with N.T. Wright. I have decided in the days leading up to my departure, that I would simplify and clarify N.T. Wright’s view of Justification as best I can.

I am taking a risk here because I will be interpreting Wright, but I am confident that I do have a firm grasp of the key issues, Wright’s views on the subject and why they matter.

I hope that those who I have spoken to about this will receive clarification and understanding. So I won’t be defending Wright or his view and I am going to keep things pretty simple (like really, really simple).

The series will follow as such:

1. What is Piper Saying/What is Wright saying. In this post I want to clearly and concisely state how the views of each is different. Throughout this series I’ll be using Piper as a “type” of the Traditional Reform understanding of Justification, and Wright as a “type” of the emerging scholarship.

2. What Is At Stake. In this post I want to look at the key issues which Wright has undermined in the Traditional Reform paradigm. This post is important because we will understand why Piper (a.k.a. the Traditional Reformed scholarship) all have their underwear in knots.

3. Why It Matters. In this concluding post I want to try and briefly explain what N.T. Wright is saying when he discusses Justification. If all three posts are important for understanding the debate, this post is the most important for those who read Justification by Wright but remain indecisive. My hope is that they will come away from this series saying, “Now I get it” and either agree or disagree or even partly agree.

I don’t really care what position people take as long as they take a position based on an educated opinion.

Stay closely tuned over the next few days…

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Derek Ouellette

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a husband, new dad, speaker, writer, christian. see my profile here.