Justin Taylor|10:00 am CT

Justification at ETS

Collin Hansen and Mike Wittmer — among others — have provided some helpful summaries of the Wright-Schreiner-Thielman discussion on justification at ETS.

Thanks to Robbie Sagers for pointing out these links from Patrick (Son of Thomas) Schreiner: Schreiner’s response to Thielman’s paper and Schreiner’s response to Wright’s paper. To my knowledge these are the only plenaries publicly available.

One of the more interesting moments in the discussions came during Wright’s paper, where he said that he doesn’t think he has used “basis” terminology with regard to works and the final judgment/vindication/justification. This was surprising to anyone familiar with Wright’s work, since he has used this language repeatedly, and it was something that John Piper challenged Wright on and invited him to clarify. Wright said that if he had used that terminology he would have it removed in subsequent editions of his book.

Denny Burk has some helpful interaction here on Wright’s walk back, including some blog comments by Wright on Burk’s blog.

Continuing on the issue of “basis” language I appreciated A. B. Caneday’s lament—shared by many—concerning Wright’s penchant for tirelessly complaining about being misunderstood and never acknowledging that it might just be partially his fault:

. . . one disappointment that I heard many times was that attendees wished that Wright had presented the needed correction as a full and clear acknowledgment of his error of writing rather than present it as a needed correction of his readers’ failure to read his written words correctly or of his hearer’s failure to hear his spoken words correctly. Alas! How difficult it is to acknowledge wrong, especially to do so publicly and especially to do so when the wrong is so widely published in one’s own words. Is it unreasonable to think that N. T. Wright owes all his readers a brief published statement to acknowledge his error and to correct his error?

Young scholars, may I paraphrase James’ admonition, “Be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger” (James 1:19)?

“Be quick to listen and to learn.”

“Be slow to speak, to present, and to publish.”

For, if you do these things, then obedience of the third imperative will come more readily, “Be slow to give way to anger,” especially to defend yourself when others point out your misstatements.

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