Saturday, 20 November 2010

Schreiner, Thielman & Wright on Justification

N. T. (Tom) Wright is famous (or infamous) for his view on justification, which many (myself included) take to be closer to a Catholic, synergistic view than the classic Protestant view - which we insist is the Biblical view.

To simplify the debate (without, hopefully, distorting it too much): Wright says "justification" refers to the church - God accepts those who identify with Christ as the mediator of the covenant. The "Lutheran" or "traditional" response is that such a view makes our act of identification with Christ meritorious - it waters down the idea that justification is an entirely gracious act of God, springing entirely from his willed generosity. The "Lutheran" view of justification is that it is a judicial declaration which sets the sinner in a perfectly right relationship with God. God is therefore the active agent in justification; humans are merely passive recipients. Wright replies that the Holy Spirit is active in empowering the believer to trust and obey. This achieves the same result as the "Lutheran" view - God is still the active agent in justification - but, Wright contends, his view is theologically and anthropologically richer, in engaging the whole Trinity in justification, and seeing faith and obedience as a whole-person response.

Both sides of course claim to be Biblical and publish books and blog posts and beat each other round the head with Bible verses (*sigh*).

Anyway... the Evangelical Theological Society just hosted a debate between Wright and two of his critics: Tom Schreiner, professor of New Testament at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and Frank Thielman, Presbyterian professor of divinity at Beeson Divinity School. Unsurprisingly, the blogosphere has promptly gone ballistic. The foll. ppl have posted summaries & comments:

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