Future of Justification 13: Justification by Works
In Chapter 7, John Piper points out N.T. Wright’s words on future justification. Piper’s main contention with Wright in this chapter is that Wright’s theology is unclear as to whether our good works are meritorious and serve as the basis for our justification on the Last Day.
Piper notes how Wright points to Romans 2 as evidence of his belief in a future justification that is according to works (105). He offers a different interpretation of Romans 2 that avoids Wright’s perplexing language (106-108).
Piper also believes Wright is off-base in claiming that Protestants haven’t adequately dealt with Paul’s language relating justification and works and he trots out sections from all the great Protestant Confessions as proof (111-115). I would assume that Wright knows of the thoughtful reflection between faith and works in the Protestant confessions. The “conspiracy of silence” that Wright mentions probably refers to the lack of thoughtful application and preaching of what is in fact contained within those confessions.
I agree with Piper that Protestants have done more reflection on this subject than is often argued. I agree with Wright that many Protestant teachers and preachers have not followed the example of the great Protestant thinkers because they are scared to death of affirming anything that even remotely resembles justification “by works.”
“There is a good deal of overlap between Wright and Gaffin (and me) in that we all want to put full and proper stress on the importance of real, ethical obedience in accordance with the mind of the apostle Paul (as well as the rest of the New Testament writers).”
But Piper and Wright part ways when it comes to Wright’s terminology of “basis.” For Piper, only Christ’s righteousness can be the basis for justification. That is why in the next chapter, he turns to the question: Does Wright say with different words what the Reformed tradition means by “imputed righteousness”?
written by Trevin Wax © 2007 Kingdom People blog