Is Wright Right Part 3?

Posted: May 29, 2009 in Uncategorized

Many of the 10 points I set forth as Wright’s meta-narrative reading of Scripture are widely accepted by evangelical scholars.  Many disagree that Jesus ended Israel’s exile but they are quick to point out that this is not a major point of contention. 

The real rub has to do with Wright’s definition of Justification and righteousness as well as his historical reconstruction of 1st century Judaism. 

Let’s begin with justification.  John Calvin argued that Jesus perfectly obeyed the law, took upon himself the punishment for all of his people’s sins on the cross and then imputed his own perfect moral righteousness to each of those who repent and confess their faith in Christ.  Calvin believed this view was most clearly laid out in 2 Cor. 5:21. 

Wright argues that this view is wrong.

Instead, Wright argues that Justification is a present proclamation only that an individual is “in the right” or presently a member of the community of Jesus. There is still final judgment to overcome and that verdict will be rendered “according to what each has done in the body” (e.g.,  Matt. 25:31-46; Rom. 2:6; Rev. 20:12).

Many have labeled this view semipelagian (technically it isn’t and if you don’t know what I’m talking about then you can probably Google it) but it is open to the charge of creating a works based righteousness if not a works based salvation and creating anxiety within the church (i.e., how does one know if you have performed enough works to tip the scale in your favor).

Yet, Wright counters that (1) the text says what the text says whether we like it or not; (2) the works are Spirit enabled and done out of love; and (3) the presence of the Spirit is an assurance of positive final verdict.

I must confess that I have always found the Reformed reading of Scriptures that speak of works judgment to be unconvincing.  Wright may have a point.

More on this and other points later.

Grace and peace.

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