This really is a great book. I think Wright has been given a very bad press about his views on Imputed righteousness – and while there are a great many people whom I respect and know who think Wright is close to abandoning orthodox belief, this book shows no signs of this. It is sound – well argued and thorough. Wright affirms and stands on the theology of both Calvin and Luther on this issue and upholds the law-court metaphor of justification and righteousness. In reading this I saw very little difference in John Piper and Wright’s overall theology (something which wright says in the book – the gap between them is really very small). What separates them then? Why does Piper get all hot and bothered about Wright? Well, contrary to popular opinion wright does not deny imputation. He accepts that we are declared righteous by faith in Christ. However he does reject an imputation which says that Christ’s ‘active’ obedience (instead of his ‘passive’ obedience) could replace our sinful status in God’s eyes. In other words, for Piper, we are imputed ‘moral’ righteousness – for Wright, the righteous is never ‘ours’ – its always God’s righteousness – but he DECLARES us righteous through Christ.
I read an AWESOME review of Wright’s book by a great theologian, Craig Bloomberg – you can check it out HERE.
He articulates Wright’s book very well (better than i could). But he raises two great points – the first is that this debate is such that ‘few can accurately describe just exactly what is being debated’. Many know that Piper disagrees with Wright but few could actually explain the issues. People are calling Wright a ‘heretic’ on an issue they could not articulate. Mmmmm!
Secondly, Bloomberg writes (at Piper) “Those who find sixteenth century formulations of theology the best ever produced in Christian history and not to be tampered with in any fashion even on the basis of scripture itself, will struggle with Paul’s repeated references to the Christians being judged according their works.” I find that with Piper he s0metimes upholds the Reformation and it’s theological position, rather than the text itself.
On this occasion, Wright has clearly trounced Piper’s argument to the ground, using scripture and very sound exegesis. I’ll end with a somewhat damning quote from Bloomberg re Piper:
Paradoxically, for all Piper’s stated desire to center on God’s glory, his preoccupation with individuals’ salvation at the expense of the larger social, ecological and eschatological dimensions of Paul’s doctrine leaves him with a much more human-centered gospel than Wright’s.