Drinking Deeply

Tuesday, September 12, 2006 at 9:24 PM

New Perspectives and Douglas Wilson

**edit - please see this post first. It's a retraction. The below post remains up as a reminder that I, of course, am not infallible.

If you didn't read Douglas Wilson's post I linked to earlier, you should read it. It was really good.

Well, I was sharing that post with a friend and was reminded that a lot of people were very concerned with the whole New Perspective on Paul. Since Douglas Wilson distances himself from that group, but other people lump him in with them (or in with another group, the Auburn Avenue, which is ... related?), I was reminded of an email from a friend which asked me what I found objectional in NT Wright's formulations of justification.

Admittedly, I haven't read enough Wright to have a comprehensive view of everything. But the few articles I have read, one of them was clear enough on the affirmations and denials to leave me rather concerned. My (edited) email response is below. A lot of people are also very concerned.

My opinion on Douglas Wilson is far more positive. I don't seem him in the same group with NT Wright and the New Perspective at all. Wilson's views seem completely orthodox (of course, that's my opinion), but there are some beliefs on the side that I wonder about. I have read large amounts of his blog as well as his answers to a written exam from his presbytery. He is very clear with his words, what he affirms and what he denies, and why. w00t w00t for that man I say. His blog is always a delight to read, though he does post so much sometimes I lose hope and just hit "mark all as read" if I miss a week. His views on the covenant and the sacrament are much higher than mine, though I do see where he's coming from (at least in that "I'm only twenty but think I know everything" sense). I think Luther would like him.

If anyone has anything to add regarding why people are so concerned about Douglas Wilson's views I'd really appreciate it. Much of the criticism I've read that are leveled at the AA group don't seem applicable. If anything, I guess we could level the guilt by association charge.

Well, here's the email regarding NT Wright. The friend also sent me this link. A commentor on my blog also left this comment
If you are interested I heard him give an interview on the subject of that book to a Lutheran pastor on the radio. You'll find it here:

I found the interview very helpful. Heh, enough digressions. The email!
I just read the article you sent to me. There is much I agree with there, and I think he makes an excellent point that the Gospel isn't primarily about justification, but it's primarily about Christ. Upon a cursory reading of relevant passages, I think he caught something there that I've missed. That said, I do think that justification by faith alone is still at the heart of the Gospel, and that's something NT Wright doesn't quite agree with. he's kind of iffy on it, and if I'm allowed to take a cheap shot at him, I wish he were not as "scholarly" qualifying everything so much that I no longer know what he's saying. It definitely took 2 readings to understand why he didn't agree with imputation, though I do commend his adherance to his conscience in faithful exegesis of Scripture. I still think he's wrong though.

I just started reading a little bit on Wright, but one article I did read (attached) is what causes me to question his views on justification. The issue I have with NT Wright is specifically with his view of "imputation," which he leaves off in the article you sent me. He nuances it a great deal, but from my understanding, he doesn't believe that Christ earned righteousness (and salvation) from God (or if Christ did, we don't share in it through faith). Namely, he denies the "double" aspect of imputation.

I think biblically, Scripture speaks not only of our sins imputed (placed upon) Christ, but also of his righteousness imputed onto us. Christ is spoken of as the Second Adam, and as our representative head, He earned righteousness, and we, in Him and by His works, share in that through faith.

What concerns me when NT Wright leaves out the second half of that equation (and thankfully, he affirms the first), is that the question is "where does righteousness come from?" Is it Christ's works or mine that are the grounds for righteousness now? I haven't done a lot of reading, but my first impression (especially from how evasive he seems about the topic) is that NT Wright would say "well, mine, worked out
in faith by the Spirit."

That's what concerns me a bit, and that's what I'm reading up on now. Let me know what you think.

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