Justification:God’s Plan and Paul’s Vision is a very stimulating and enjoyable read. Wright, in the best tradition of academic debate, takes on Piper;
It is worrying to find Piper encouraging readers to go back not to the first century, but to the ‘Christian renewal movements of the sixteenth-century Europe.’ To describe that period as offering the ‘historic roots’ of evangelicalism is profoundly disturbing. Proper evangelicals are rooted in scripture, and above all in the Jesus Christ to whom scripture witnesses, and nowhere else.
Regarding God’s Righteousness and the Law court image, Wright says:
It makes no sense to suggest, with Piper, that for both defendant and judge ‘righteousness’ means ‘an unwavering allegiance to treasure and uphold the glory of God’, and that ‘in this law court it is indeed conceivable for the judge’s righteousness to be shared by the defendant’. Anticipating his later argument for the imputation of God’s/Christ’s righteousness (why else would he want to make this strange argument?), Piper suggests that ‘it may be that when the defendant lacks moral righteousness’ (where did moral righteousness come from all of a sudden?), ‘the judge, who is also creator and redeemer, may find a way to make his righteousness count for the defendant, since it is exactly the righteousness he needs – namely, an unwavering and flawless and acted -out allegiance to the glory of the judge.’ This, to be frank, looks suspiciously like a deus ex machina kind of theological exegesis: ‘I know this is impossible and illogical, but because God is God he can do it!’ The trouble is that this, as we shall see, is not how the language actually works. The result piper is really after – or rather, its proper Pauline equivalent – can be obtained without recourse to such tortuous argumentation.
This is what I meant in my previous post about Wright exposing Piper’s scholarship. Piper may win the argument (although that remains to be seen for me – I have not finished the book!) but Wright is exposing a ton of weaknesses in Piper’s book. Hence, it must be a little frightening to have a guy like Wright critique your work.