I’m looking for a few readings for my Galatians class on justification, and I came across this excellent few paragraphs.
Who said it?
In its universal sense justification seems to underlie Paul’s argument for the universality of the gospel; there is no distinction between Jews and Gentiles. But in its more restricted sense justification is concerned with the identity of the people of God, and the basis of its membership.
Justification language appears in Paul both with reference to the inauguration of the life of faith and also its final consummation. It is a complex and all-embracing notion, that anticipates the verdict of the final judgment (Rom 8:30-34) by declaring in advance the verdict of ultimate acquittal. The believer’s present justified Christian existence is thus an anticipation and advance participation of deliverance from the wrath to come, and an assurance in the present of the final eschatological verdict of acquittal (Rom 5:9-10).
Would it pass as orthodox theology?
10 thoughts on “On Justification: Who Said It?”
Sounds like NTW at his quasi-clearest on the subject. His clearest statement (that I’ve read) was in his paper for the ETS. Your quote may be from that but I’m too lazy to verify.
Lawrence E. Garcia
Sounds Wrightian? I think it should, but sense imputation is not mentioned some circles would say “no.”
I agree that it sounds like one of my favorite authors, Mr. Wright, but I don’t remember N. T. saying much about the “wrath” of God. And as far as imputation goes, if I remember correctly, N. T. says that righteousness is not a gas which can be spread around.
Alister McGrath, “Justification” in “Dictionary of Paul and His Letters” edited by Gerald F. Hawthorne et al (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1993), 518.
Nicely done, Allen!
Previous commenters were indeed right that McGrath’s statement sounds like something Tom Wright would say (esp. viz. present and future aspects). But on this note Wright has only represented what most good Pauline scholars would have said and have said for quite some time. For some reason, when Wright says it, folks get all worked up. When others say it, it’s not such a big deal. Makes me wonder if there’s something else at work . . .
I think the difference is Wright has said some things about works in connection with final justification; this wasn’t present in the quote.
Tim, what may be at work is that N T Wright is read by those in the pew, and they get excited about what they read. Alister McGrath is read at seminary. Why I think this is so is that Piper mentioned that pastors are wondering about what to do with those in their congregations asking the questions that Wright does in the books they are reading.
I suspect Mark is on to something. This would be my hypothesis as well. Also the fact that NTW is coming from a different paradigm than most pastors and most evangelical theologians. NTW is primarily a Bible narrative guy, not a systematic theologian. Most evangelicals live in their doctrinal belief system. NTW lives in “the story.” Those living in the story are always going to be suspect to those who are looking for the correct doctrinal affirmations.
I think NTW is right in his approach, but he, Tim and a handful of others have their work cut out for them. I think that whatever educational strategy one adopts must keep this reality in mind. Tim’s handling of “Paul’s Political Gospel” is a good example of the approach to take, in my opinion. Just keep doing that over and over. And explain why you are doing it. There are a few out there with whom this approach resonates. They are tired of the simplistic answers.
What we in the churches lack is good stuff that we can point to and recommend. I can’t recommend NTPG or JVG. I can barely get anyone to read SIMPLY JESUS. But I might get someone to read THE DRAMA OF EPHESIANS and “Paul’s Political Gospel.”
I had no clue who stated that, I felt they sure were accurate though. If that isn’t Orthodox Christianity, I am not one either.