Monday, November 29, 2010

Wilson on Wright on Justification

Doug Wilson has weighed in on the justification debate at this year's meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society (ETS). Wilson makes some important points that I have been wondering about. Not least of Wilson's concerns is Wrights recent remarks about his lack of knowledge concerning the theology of the Reformers. Is it just me, then, or is it outrageous for a scholar as influential as Wright to make definitive pronouncements about the doctrine of justification articulated by the Reformers?

Wilson writes:

He consistently has set his views over against the "traditional" Reformation view, and adherents of that view may be pardoned for thinking that he knew what he was talking about which, as it turns out, he didn't. His area of expertise is not historical theology of the Reformation era, and it shows. And he managed to write an entire book responding to John Piper without really responding to him, which, let's face it, looks fishy.
Wilson spends the bulk of his time however pointing out some of the deficiencies of Wright's understanding of "the righteousness of God." As you may already know, Wright maintains that "righteousness" means covenant membership thus making justification more about ecclesiology than soteriology. But this is two-dimensional at best.

As Wilson points out:

Great. Righteousness, when applied to a human being, refers to his covenant membership. This view is not Romanist, but there are more ways to be wrong than that. There are numerous ways to show the faultiness of Wright's position here, but let us just take one.

Suppose someone made a historical claim, saying that whenever John Adams used the word patriotic, he was referring to a man's willingness to pay his taxes, and that's all. If that were the claim being made, it would be relevant to the discussion to bring in all the times when John Adams used the word unpatriotic. And if the claim were correct, unpatriotic would need to refer to an unwillingness to pay taxes. If it turns out that the word unpatriotic applies to a bunch of other things, then the claim would necessarily fall.
Read the entire post HERE.

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