Sunday, June 8, 2008

Could Wright be Wrong?

Not that Bishop Tom Wright of Durham, UK is a protestant pope (cf. my last post) but, arguably, he is as bright a theologian as Benedict XVI. Some evangelicals view +Tom with incredible suspicion because of his 'perspective' on Paul which is at variance with Luther's perspective. +Tom's point is that he thinks his perspective is Paul's and that must count for something!

If you have a moment you might be interested in this letter by +Tom commenting on this review of a book on +Tom's approach by noted US preacher and scholar John Piper.

Personally I find it difficult to understand what the fuss is about since Wright and Luther and co seem to be agreed in believing in (a) the necessity of Jesus' death on the cross for our salvation (b) the necessity of faith in Jesus Christ. If it be proposed that +Tom's theology means its more important to be baptised than to have faith I would simply say that those with faith should be baptised, so if we are all faith+baptism then we are all on the same page.

If it be proposed that Paul's actual theology was 'imputation' and false variants are 'impartation' I would say that Paul should have been clearer, and in particular should have used one word rather than the other. The fact that he used neither might mean that (a) there is legitimate room for variance in our understanding of Paul (i.e. between Wright/Luther, Protestantism/Catholicism), and (b) we should not be attacking true brothers and sisters in Christ over the matter with 'imputations' of false teaching being 'imparted'!?!


Anonymous said...

You can read Piper's book online. I've read about 70 pp so far this way. The issue does have to do with the declarative meaning of dikaio, among other things, as well as Wright's ecclesiology.
Listen to the White Horse Inn discussion online, which strives to be fair and supportive to Wright, esp. over his Gospels work. I'm pretty sure Wright now thinks Luther's understanding of justification was wrong (and thus most Protestantism after him), but I'll await his written reply to Piper. Do you recall his reply to the criticisms of Steve Chalke over PSA?
Actually quite a few evangelcial commentators have now being taking issue with Wright, incl. Stephen Westerholm, D A Carson, Packer, and Simon Gathercole of Cambridge, as well as Piper.

Anonymous said...

peter, here's the book online:

You can read or hear an interview with Piper about the book on the same website.


Peter Carrell said...

Hello Brian

Thank you for the helpful steer towards the White Horse Inn discussion (not previously come across by me) and to the online version of Piper's book (sounds like a brave decision of Piper or his publisher!).

I am aware of discussion surrounding his and Steve Chalke's views re penal subtitutionary atonement.

Best wishes

Anonymous said...

Peter, I should add that I've been very appreciative of the contribution Wright has made in answering the 'Jesus Seminar' folk in his earlier books, challenging some of the older historical-critical assumptions and arguing for the historicity of the Resurrection and for the Gospels generally.
I note that William Lane Craig is currently in NZ, and I wonder if the new edition of his 'Reasonable Faith' references Wright's work here.
Wright has himself said he *does support PSA, locating this in Jesus' own self-referential use of Isa. 53, as Wright argues in 'Jesus & the Victory of God', so his dispute with the authors of 'Pierced for our Transgressions' was a little hard to follow. Unfortunately, it looked more like a political argument than an exegetical one. John Richardson of 'The Ugley Vicar' fame has mused on this.
Evangelicals, like everyone else, have their heroes, but we should seek to avoid hero worship. Our loyalty must be to the Word of God, not its human interpreters (and occasional misinterpreters).
Best wishes & prayers in the exacting work of teaching - & teaching preachers!