Justification as inclusion

Might justification by faith end up as just another weird idea those Lutherans believe?  That teaching–that we are declared righteous because of the Cross of Jesus Christ–used to be common to all Protestants, but it is under attack today, not just by liberal theologians but by evangelicals.

I was at the Evangelical Theological Society convention very briefly to give a paper on vocation. The overall theme was justification.  The keynote speaker was N. T. Wright, the former bishop of the Church of England, who draws on “the new perspective on Paul” to put forward a new view of justification.  According to Wright, Luther got it wrong when he thought that we are justified by faith in the sense of being saved from our moral transgressions.

Rather, justification is not soteriological but ecclesiastical.  That is, it is not about salvation from sin but about the inclusion of Gentiles into the Church.  When Paul talks about the Law that Christ frees us from, he does not mean the moral law; rather, he means the Jewish ceremonial law.   Here is how Christianity Today summarized his position a while back ago:

Justification refers to God’s declaration of who is in the covenant (this worldwide family of Abraham through whom God’s purposes can now be extended into the wider world) and is made on the basis of faith in Jesus Christ alone, not the “works of the Law” (i.e., badges of ethnic identity that once kept Jews and Gentiles apart). . . .

Present justification is the announcement issued on the basis of faith and faith alone of who is part of the covenant family of God. The present verdict gives the assurance that the verdict announced on the Last Day will match it; the Holy Spirit gives the power through which that future verdict, when given, will be seen to be in accordance with the life that the believer has then lived.

My impression is that many and probably most of the papers at the ETS took the traditional stance towards justification and criticized Wright’s position, though Luther and Lutherans were largely absent from the program.  Still, I heard that Wright’s reading of Paul Epistles is becoming a settled issue in New Testament scholarship.

The Christianity Today piece linked above sets up a point/counterpoint between Wright’s position and the traditional position articulated by John Piper (again!), who wrote a book criticizing Wright’s view.  Would some of you read the whole article?  Does Piper get it right?  (His seems to be a Calvinist take on the issue, full of “God’s glory” talk, whereas Lutherans would put some of this quite differently.  Where do you note the differences?)

It seems to me that Wright’s view of justification makes salvation a matter of works.  It also seems to lead to some variety of the social gospel–that the purpose of Judaism and now Christianity is to improve the world.  As such, it eviscerates the Gospel.

The notion that Christianity is primarily about inclusion sounds like the language of the ELCA’s latest dictate on homosexuality.  Perhaps it lies behind the megachurches that want to include all the people they can, regardless of what they believe.

At any rate, if the doctrine of justification is the article upon which the Church stands or falls, as the early Reformers insisted, today’s Church is tottering.

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • Tom Hering

    Wright’s revision of Justification seems to be something secondary in his theology. His first concern seems to be with two contemporary issues: saving the Earth, and transcending ethnic divisions (reversing the trend toward balkanization, and the clash of civilizations). His revision of Justification, then, is just part of his attempt to make Christianity relevant to today’s world.

    There’s nothing new in an Anglican bishop trying to make Christianity relevant. ;-)

  • Tom Hering

    Wright’s revision of Justification seems to be something secondary in his theology. His first concern seems to be with two contemporary issues: saving the Earth, and transcending ethnic divisions (reversing the trend toward balkanization, and the clash of civilizations). His revision of Justification, then, is just part of his attempt to make Christianity relevant to today’s world.

    There’s nothing new in an Anglican bishop trying to make Christianity relevant. ;-)

  • SKPeterson

    I thought God gave His only Son so that the world might be saved, or something to that effect. ;)

  • SKPeterson

    I thought God gave His only Son so that the world might be saved, or something to that effect. ;)

  • Pete

    If this view of justification is predicated on the belief that “the Holy Spirit gives the power through which that future verdict, when given, will be seen to be in accordance with the life that the believer has then lived”, I smell a rat.

    This is trying to sneak the Law in through the back door of the Gospel.

  • Pete

    If this view of justification is predicated on the belief that “the Holy Spirit gives the power through which that future verdict, when given, will be seen to be in accordance with the life that the believer has then lived”, I smell a rat.

    This is trying to sneak the Law in through the back door of the Gospel.

  • SKPeterson

    @Pete #3 -

    If your characterization is correct, which it may very well be, then it puts Wright quite close to, if not exactly spot on, the Roman use of “grace”.

  • SKPeterson

    @Pete #3 -

    If your characterization is correct, which it may very well be, then it puts Wright quite close to, if not exactly spot on, the Roman use of “grace”.

  • Allan Schwarb

    “The “old perspective” on Paul reflected the anxiety of Martin Luther over salvation. This view heavily impacted NT studies for centuries. It says that Paul was writing because of the problem of legalism: people trying to earn salvation by their works. So he writes about “the righteousness from God” that is given “by faith in Jesus.”

    The “new perspective” goes a different direction, though–one that I think better reflects Paul’s concern in his letters. This says that those concerns about legalism were Martin Luther’s in the sixteenth century, but not Paul’s in the first century. They involve a stereotype of Jewish religion that just doesn’t fit. Of course every religion has some who
    seek to earn salvation, but that’s not the view of the Old Testament nor of the best part of the Jewish heritage.

    What Paul was primarily dealing with wasn’t legalism but inclusion of the Gentiles into the people of God. His questions (especially in Romans/Galatians) were more like these: Has God been faithful to his promises to Israel? Will Israel’s faithlessness nullify the promises? Can Gentiles be included? If they can, how can Jews and Gentiles be one? If the Jews have rejected the Messiah, is there any hope for them?

    Part of the problem comes in translations that reflect the Lutheran perspective (like the old NIV, though there are significant improvements in the Today’s NIV). E.g., rather than translating a Greek phrase as “the righteousness from God” it should likely be “the righteousness of God”–referring not to the way people become Christians but to God’s covenant faithfulness. And rather than translating another Greek phrase as “by faith in Jesus” it probably should be (at least most of the time) “by the faithfulness of Jesus.” (A good place to see the difference this makes is in Romans 3:21-25.) I.e., the Messiah is the faithful one who has made it possible through his life and obedience to death for the promises of God to be kept.

    In other words, the central issue isn’t, How does one become a Christian? (Answer: by faith rather than works.) Rather, the central theme is, How has God been faithful to his covenant in bringing together one people in the Messiah?

    Sorry, this is shorthand. The book is brilliant. If you haven’t done much work in this area, it will be slow, slow sledding. But there are pay-offs on nearly every page.

    By the way the full title is Paul: A Fresh Perspective. I doubt that the subtitle is an accident. In other words, it isn’t the “old perspective,” for sure. But not exactly the “new perspective” (as led by Sanders and Dunn). This is a “fresh perspective” in which he points to the missional impact of what God has done to bring together a people, the restored “Israel,” through the Messiah.”

    http://preachermike.com/2010/11/17/3001

  • Allan Schwarb

    “The “old perspective” on Paul reflected the anxiety of Martin Luther over salvation. This view heavily impacted NT studies for centuries. It says that Paul was writing because of the problem of legalism: people trying to earn salvation by their works. So he writes about “the righteousness from God” that is given “by faith in Jesus.”

    The “new perspective” goes a different direction, though–one that I think better reflects Paul’s concern in his letters. This says that those concerns about legalism were Martin Luther’s in the sixteenth century, but not Paul’s in the first century. They involve a stereotype of Jewish religion that just doesn’t fit. Of course every religion has some who
    seek to earn salvation, but that’s not the view of the Old Testament nor of the best part of the Jewish heritage.

    What Paul was primarily dealing with wasn’t legalism but inclusion of the Gentiles into the people of God. His questions (especially in Romans/Galatians) were more like these: Has God been faithful to his promises to Israel? Will Israel’s faithlessness nullify the promises? Can Gentiles be included? If they can, how can Jews and Gentiles be one? If the Jews have rejected the Messiah, is there any hope for them?

    Part of the problem comes in translations that reflect the Lutheran perspective (like the old NIV, though there are significant improvements in the Today’s NIV). E.g., rather than translating a Greek phrase as “the righteousness from God” it should likely be “the righteousness of God”–referring not to the way people become Christians but to God’s covenant faithfulness. And rather than translating another Greek phrase as “by faith in Jesus” it probably should be (at least most of the time) “by the faithfulness of Jesus.” (A good place to see the difference this makes is in Romans 3:21-25.) I.e., the Messiah is the faithful one who has made it possible through his life and obedience to death for the promises of God to be kept.

    In other words, the central issue isn’t, How does one become a Christian? (Answer: by faith rather than works.) Rather, the central theme is, How has God been faithful to his covenant in bringing together one people in the Messiah?

    Sorry, this is shorthand. The book is brilliant. If you haven’t done much work in this area, it will be slow, slow sledding. But there are pay-offs on nearly every page.

    By the way the full title is Paul: A Fresh Perspective. I doubt that the subtitle is an accident. In other words, it isn’t the “old perspective,” for sure. But not exactly the “new perspective” (as led by Sanders and Dunn). This is a “fresh perspective” in which he points to the missional impact of what God has done to bring together a people, the restored “Israel,” through the Messiah.”

    http://preachermike.com/2010/11/17/3001

  • http://theobservationtree.blogspot.com Louis

    I made a comment earlier, but somehow it disappeared…

    Remember, Wright writes as a “conservative”, non-Anglo-Catholic Anglican, ie, he is essential a species of Calvinist. That means he writes from the perspective of a theologian of Glory. Our (ie Lutheran) point of departure is a Theology of the Cross, which, I would argue, is the centrpoint of all of Biblical Theology, indeed, of all of history. Thus I don’t claim that the bishop’s conclusions are wrong, but that his point of departure is wrong.

    Incidentally, were I (still) a Calvinist, I would have to submit to his line of reason. It makes logical sense within that system. But I’m not.

  • http://theobservationtree.blogspot.com Louis

    I made a comment earlier, but somehow it disappeared…

    Remember, Wright writes as a “conservative”, non-Anglo-Catholic Anglican, ie, he is essential a species of Calvinist. That means he writes from the perspective of a theologian of Glory. Our (ie Lutheran) point of departure is a Theology of the Cross, which, I would argue, is the centrpoint of all of Biblical Theology, indeed, of all of history. Thus I don’t claim that the bishop’s conclusions are wrong, but that his point of departure is wrong.

    Incidentally, were I (still) a Calvinist, I would have to submit to his line of reason. It makes logical sense within that system. But I’m not.

  • Tom Hering

    From the CT article: “The Problem … Wright: God created a good world, designed to be looked after and brought to its intended purpose through his image-bearing human beings. This purpose was thwarted by the sinful choice of the first human beings. Because of human sinfulness, the world needs to be put to rights again and its original purpose taken forward to completion. God’s purpose in putting humans ‘right’ is that through them, the world can be put to rights.”

    It’s very clear that in Wright’s view, God’s primary concern is not with man, but with the world man was placed in. So the problem Christ solves is not sin per se (separation from God), but the effects of man’s sinfulness on the rest of Creation, as well as on the relations between different peoples.

    Now, as Stephen Prothero (the scholar of world religions) has rightly pointed out, what distinguishes one religion from another is the problem a religion addresses. And it’s only Christianity that sees sin (separation from God) as man’s problem. If Wright is going to argue that not sin itself, but the effects of sin on the world is the problem, then Wright is proposing a new religion – a different Gospel – that is no Gospel (Good News) at all for those who are weighed down by their sinfulness, and suffering alienation from God. This is tragic.

  • Tom Hering

    From the CT article: “The Problem … Wright: God created a good world, designed to be looked after and brought to its intended purpose through his image-bearing human beings. This purpose was thwarted by the sinful choice of the first human beings. Because of human sinfulness, the world needs to be put to rights again and its original purpose taken forward to completion. God’s purpose in putting humans ‘right’ is that through them, the world can be put to rights.”

    It’s very clear that in Wright’s view, God’s primary concern is not with man, but with the world man was placed in. So the problem Christ solves is not sin per se (separation from God), but the effects of man’s sinfulness on the rest of Creation, as well as on the relations between different peoples.

    Now, as Stephen Prothero (the scholar of world religions) has rightly pointed out, what distinguishes one religion from another is the problem a religion addresses. And it’s only Christianity that sees sin (separation from God) as man’s problem. If Wright is going to argue that not sin itself, but the effects of sin on the world is the problem, then Wright is proposing a new religion – a different Gospel – that is no Gospel (Good News) at all for those who are weighed down by their sinfulness, and suffering alienation from God. This is tragic.

  • Random Lutheran

    #5: Ah, the old canard that the Reformation was all about poor Martin’s complexes. Read the Book of Concord sometime — you’ll discover that the Reformers certainly argued against legalism, but when the Confessions as a whole are taken into account (remember that Luther’s private writings are definitely informative for Lutherans, but are not determinative for interpretation and teaching) it becomes clear that their concern is not so much hard-core legalism as it is Enthusiasm, of which hard-core legalism is but one (albeit a primary) manifestation. Consider this passage from the (Luther-penned) section of the Smalcald Articles concerning confession: “For the Papacy also is nothing but sheer enthusiasm, by which the Pope boasts that all rights exist in the shrine of his heart, and whatever he decides and commands with his church is spirit and right, even though it is above and contrary to Scripture and the spoken Word.” Enthusiasm points us to anything other than Christ for our salvation; enthusiasm directs us to listen to something other than Christ and His Word (this section of the SA goes on to identify Adam and Eve not as self-justifiers, or as turning to reliance on works, but as enthusiasts, as those who listen to something other than the external Word). Enthusiasm knows nothing of the Gospel, but only the Law, and Paul is clear about the Law and what it does: “For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin” (Rom. 3:20), and “the law came in to increase the trespass” (Rom. 5:20). The answer to this — for everyone — is not more Law, but rather the Gospel, the good news of salvation by grace through faith, for Christ’s sake, which is for all, and not just for Gentiles.

    This is exactly in line with Paul’s argument in Romans, wherein he does not rest matters on adherence to the Law, and inclusion into Israel’s covenant* [see note below], but rather on Jesus, “who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.” (Rom. 4:25 ESV) — this, which follows on Paul’s lumping us all together in the same boat: “there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins.” (Romans 3:22-25 ESV). Are Gentiles grafted into Israel? You bet, but only because we are baptized into Christ’s death (Rom. 6:3), and thus have a share also in His life. Consider that Paul himself says that his work of jealousy inducement (Rom. 11) is not merely to bring the Gentiles into Israel, but to bring Israel back to itself, that they too might have faith in Christ rather than in their status as sons of Abraham: “if you were cut from what is by nature a wild olive tree, and grafted, contrary to nature, into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these, the natural branches, be grafted back into their own olive tree” (Romans 11:24 ESV).

    Thus, if, as you write, “the Messiah is the faithful one who has made it possible through his life and obedience to death for the promises of God to be kept”, then we have no good news, we do not live by faith, and we cannot take Paul as meaning what he writes (at the very least) in Romans.

    * [see * above] Indeed, in the first three chapters Paul cuts away anything we might rely upon, as well as any exceptions or loopholes to which we might appeal (including appeals to covenantal signs), and when he turns to Abraham in chapter four, he doesn’t turn to the covenant, but rather to Abraham’s faith, by which he trusted in Christ and His promises, and received all His benefits. It should also be pointed out that in this same book Paul cuts away even any appeal to faith (Abraham’s or ours) as a work in 10:14–17, for faith comes by hearing; one cannot believe without Holy Spirit’s work on us through the Word.

  • Random Lutheran

    #5: Ah, the old canard that the Reformation was all about poor Martin’s complexes. Read the Book of Concord sometime — you’ll discover that the Reformers certainly argued against legalism, but when the Confessions as a whole are taken into account (remember that Luther’s private writings are definitely informative for Lutherans, but are not determinative for interpretation and teaching) it becomes clear that their concern is not so much hard-core legalism as it is Enthusiasm, of which hard-core legalism is but one (albeit a primary) manifestation. Consider this passage from the (Luther-penned) section of the Smalcald Articles concerning confession: “For the Papacy also is nothing but sheer enthusiasm, by which the Pope boasts that all rights exist in the shrine of his heart, and whatever he decides and commands with his church is spirit and right, even though it is above and contrary to Scripture and the spoken Word.” Enthusiasm points us to anything other than Christ for our salvation; enthusiasm directs us to listen to something other than Christ and His Word (this section of the SA goes on to identify Adam and Eve not as self-justifiers, or as turning to reliance on works, but as enthusiasts, as those who listen to something other than the external Word). Enthusiasm knows nothing of the Gospel, but only the Law, and Paul is clear about the Law and what it does: “For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin” (Rom. 3:20), and “the law came in to increase the trespass” (Rom. 5:20). The answer to this — for everyone — is not more Law, but rather the Gospel, the good news of salvation by grace through faith, for Christ’s sake, which is for all, and not just for Gentiles.

    This is exactly in line with Paul’s argument in Romans, wherein he does not rest matters on adherence to the Law, and inclusion into Israel’s covenant* [see note below], but rather on Jesus, “who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.” (Rom. 4:25 ESV) — this, which follows on Paul’s lumping us all together in the same boat: “there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins.” (Romans 3:22-25 ESV). Are Gentiles grafted into Israel? You bet, but only because we are baptized into Christ’s death (Rom. 6:3), and thus have a share also in His life. Consider that Paul himself says that his work of jealousy inducement (Rom. 11) is not merely to bring the Gentiles into Israel, but to bring Israel back to itself, that they too might have faith in Christ rather than in their status as sons of Abraham: “if you were cut from what is by nature a wild olive tree, and grafted, contrary to nature, into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these, the natural branches, be grafted back into their own olive tree” (Romans 11:24 ESV).

    Thus, if, as you write, “the Messiah is the faithful one who has made it possible through his life and obedience to death for the promises of God to be kept”, then we have no good news, we do not live by faith, and we cannot take Paul as meaning what he writes (at the very least) in Romans.

    * [see * above] Indeed, in the first three chapters Paul cuts away anything we might rely upon, as well as any exceptions or loopholes to which we might appeal (including appeals to covenantal signs), and when he turns to Abraham in chapter four, he doesn’t turn to the covenant, but rather to Abraham’s faith, by which he trusted in Christ and His promises, and received all His benefits. It should also be pointed out that in this same book Paul cuts away even any appeal to faith (Abraham’s or ours) as a work in 10:14–17, for faith comes by hearing; one cannot believe without Holy Spirit’s work on us through the Word.

  • Tom Hering

    Louis @ 6, do you think the new perspective on Paul is an outgrowth of covenant theology? Do you think it attacks Luther because it’s radically Reformed?

  • Tom Hering

    Louis @ 6, do you think the new perspective on Paul is an outgrowth of covenant theology? Do you think it attacks Luther because it’s radically Reformed?

  • http://www.geneveith.com Gene Veith

    Allan Schwarb@5: Thanks for weighing in. I was hoping we could get the input of someone who has really studied Wright. What does he do with the passage about how Gentiles have the law written upon their hearts? Or the catalog of transgressions that concludes about how all have sinned and no one has an excuse? Or Paul’s own struggles about “the good that he would do” he “does not”? Surely those are referring to moral issues, which do make up a big part of the Mosaic law, which is not just about circumcision.

    Also, as a humble layman, I’m not just interested in intriguing Biblical scholarship. I want to know, am I still in my sins? If I am, I don’t really care about being included in a community or even bettering the world. I should just despair and die.

    I’m told that Wright does have a place somewhere for something resembling the Gospel of forgiveness of sins. It just isn’t in justification. If so, could you explain that?

  • http://www.geneveith.com Gene Veith

    Allan Schwarb@5: Thanks for weighing in. I was hoping we could get the input of someone who has really studied Wright. What does he do with the passage about how Gentiles have the law written upon their hearts? Or the catalog of transgressions that concludes about how all have sinned and no one has an excuse? Or Paul’s own struggles about “the good that he would do” he “does not”? Surely those are referring to moral issues, which do make up a big part of the Mosaic law, which is not just about circumcision.

    Also, as a humble layman, I’m not just interested in intriguing Biblical scholarship. I want to know, am I still in my sins? If I am, I don’t really care about being included in a community or even bettering the world. I should just despair and die.

    I’m told that Wright does have a place somewhere for something resembling the Gospel of forgiveness of sins. It just isn’t in justification. If so, could you explain that?

  • Weslie Odom

    I would recommend the recent two-part Issues, ETC. interview with Dr. Andrew Das on the New Perspective:

    http://issuesetc.org/guest/andrew-das/

    Das, incidentally, is writing the Galatians volume for the Concordia Commentary series, and has written extensively on this (cf. “Paul, the Law, and the Covenant” and “Solving the Romans Debate”)

  • Weslie Odom

    I would recommend the recent two-part Issues, ETC. interview with Dr. Andrew Das on the New Perspective:

    http://issuesetc.org/guest/andrew-das/

    Das, incidentally, is writing the Galatians volume for the Concordia Commentary series, and has written extensively on this (cf. “Paul, the Law, and the Covenant” and “Solving the Romans Debate”)

  • http://theobservationtree.blogspot.com Louis

    Tom @ 9: Yes, it represents the natural continuation of (Calvinist) Covenant Theology. Having watched the so-called Auburn Avenue Wars* for some years, I do find the attacks on Wright from within the Reformed camp quite curious. I think it illustrates the ultimate problem with Calvinism, in that it smuggles the law in through the back door.

    *this is a theological “debate” – more like mud wrestling though, inside the Reformed camp, between the Fedeal Vision Guys at one end, and the “orthodox” reformed at the other. The Federal Vision is a variation on a theme of the NPP (New Perspective on Paul, ie Wright & Co), and Norm Shepherd’s theology. Their (the FV) loudest proponent tends to be Doug Wilson over in Idaho. His fiercest critics come from in the PCA, and the Reformed Baptists (MacArthur, Piper etc).

  • http://theobservationtree.blogspot.com Louis

    Tom @ 9: Yes, it represents the natural continuation of (Calvinist) Covenant Theology. Having watched the so-called Auburn Avenue Wars* for some years, I do find the attacks on Wright from within the Reformed camp quite curious. I think it illustrates the ultimate problem with Calvinism, in that it smuggles the law in through the back door.

    *this is a theological “debate” – more like mud wrestling though, inside the Reformed camp, between the Fedeal Vision Guys at one end, and the “orthodox” reformed at the other. The Federal Vision is a variation on a theme of the NPP (New Perspective on Paul, ie Wright & Co), and Norm Shepherd’s theology. Their (the FV) loudest proponent tends to be Doug Wilson over in Idaho. His fiercest critics come from in the PCA, and the Reformed Baptists (MacArthur, Piper etc).

  • Tom Hering

    Thanks Louis. Very interesting. So could we say that the NPP is a debate within the Reformed camp, and not a problem for the rest of Christianity? Or have their views begun to influence others? Any Lutherans you know of?

  • Tom Hering

    Thanks Louis. Very interesting. So could we say that the NPP is a debate within the Reformed camp, and not a problem for the rest of Christianity? Or have their views begun to influence others? Any Lutherans you know of?

  • RomanRefugee

    When I read things like this, especially as one who has been thrown into despair and hopelessness because of works-righteousness teachings, I am inclined more than ever to just throw in the towel on Christianity. If one cannot know ANYTHING with any certainty when it comes to the primary essential such as salvation, what is the point?? Seems to me more and more that we are just flailing in the wind and engaging in nothing but self-delusion and self-deception. If Wright is right, we are all doomed. Geez…

  • RomanRefugee

    When I read things like this, especially as one who has been thrown into despair and hopelessness because of works-righteousness teachings, I am inclined more than ever to just throw in the towel on Christianity. If one cannot know ANYTHING with any certainty when it comes to the primary essential such as salvation, what is the point?? Seems to me more and more that we are just flailing in the wind and engaging in nothing but self-delusion and self-deception. If Wright is right, we are all doomed. Geez…

  • JonSLC

    Allen @ 5: I struggle to understand the distinction here. I (an “old perspectivist”, I guess) certainly note Paul’s emphasis on Jews and Gentiles becoming one in Christ. This was perhaps THE major issue in Christian congregations c. AD 30-70. Yet I also see Paul’s emphasis on how we are “righteoused” in God’s sight, whether Jew or Gentile. To Paul, Jews are justified in God’s sight through faith in the Christ; Gentiles are justified in God’s sight through faith in the Christ; therefore both are one family of God.

    “Of course every religion has some who
    seek to earn salvation, but that’s not the view of the Old Testament nor of the best part of the Jewish heritage.”

    This is true. The LORD’s intention for the Old Covenant was never to reconcile himself to people through laws. People under the Old Covenant were reconciled to God by faith in his Promise. Truly, the LORD’s “chesed,” his faithfulness, always gets the glory, both for the reconciled Jew and for the reconciled Gentile. Since both are adopted into God’s family by His faithful love, they are at one with each other. As an example of what you call “the best part of Jewish heritage,” I would cite Simeon in Luke 2: “For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared before the face of all people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.” I see this as consonant with Paul: Jews are justified in God’s sight through faith in the Christ; Gentiles are justified in God’s sight through faith in the Christ; therefore both are one family of God.

  • JonSLC

    Allen @ 5: I struggle to understand the distinction here. I (an “old perspectivist”, I guess) certainly note Paul’s emphasis on Jews and Gentiles becoming one in Christ. This was perhaps THE major issue in Christian congregations c. AD 30-70. Yet I also see Paul’s emphasis on how we are “righteoused” in God’s sight, whether Jew or Gentile. To Paul, Jews are justified in God’s sight through faith in the Christ; Gentiles are justified in God’s sight through faith in the Christ; therefore both are one family of God.

    “Of course every religion has some who
    seek to earn salvation, but that’s not the view of the Old Testament nor of the best part of the Jewish heritage.”

    This is true. The LORD’s intention for the Old Covenant was never to reconcile himself to people through laws. People under the Old Covenant were reconciled to God by faith in his Promise. Truly, the LORD’s “chesed,” his faithfulness, always gets the glory, both for the reconciled Jew and for the reconciled Gentile. Since both are adopted into God’s family by His faithful love, they are at one with each other. As an example of what you call “the best part of Jewish heritage,” I would cite Simeon in Luke 2: “For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared before the face of all people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.” I see this as consonant with Paul: Jews are justified in God’s sight through faith in the Christ; Gentiles are justified in God’s sight through faith in the Christ; therefore both are one family of God.

  • http://theobservationtree.blogspot.com Louis

    Tom, Wright has considerable influence as a theologian, being extremely productive in his outout, and also a sharp-witted, likeble man (he has even appeared on the Colbert Show). Yet, though he addresses all of Christianity, his departure point remains rooted within the reformed tradition, so I’d venture to say that other than academic, or pastoral interest, one needn’t worry over him to much (as a Lutheran).

    But I will add the following:

    His theology, liked or not, fits in very well with the culture, aim and rhetoric of the Culture Wars. In fact, I would argue, if one is a Calvinist, Culture War engagement becomes a duty, not a choice. That is one of the reasons I get very testy when folks import the culture wars into discussions, here or elsewhere, because the foundation of that approach is rooted in either Calvinism (even it the guise of Arminianism), or Romanism (especially of the post Vatican II variety). And thus it represents, at its root, a gospel of works-righteousness, even if denied. And THAT, my friend, is anathema.

  • http://theobservationtree.blogspot.com Louis

    Tom, Wright has considerable influence as a theologian, being extremely productive in his outout, and also a sharp-witted, likeble man (he has even appeared on the Colbert Show). Yet, though he addresses all of Christianity, his departure point remains rooted within the reformed tradition, so I’d venture to say that other than academic, or pastoral interest, one needn’t worry over him to much (as a Lutheran).

    But I will add the following:

    His theology, liked or not, fits in very well with the culture, aim and rhetoric of the Culture Wars. In fact, I would argue, if one is a Calvinist, Culture War engagement becomes a duty, not a choice. That is one of the reasons I get very testy when folks import the culture wars into discussions, here or elsewhere, because the foundation of that approach is rooted in either Calvinism (even it the guise of Arminianism), or Romanism (especially of the post Vatican II variety). And thus it represents, at its root, a gospel of works-righteousness, even if denied. And THAT, my friend, is anathema.

  • http://theobservationtree.blogspot.com Louis

    RomanRefugee – don’t despair. I’d liked to say read the Scriptures, but I should maybe add, read them with Luther’s Short Catechism at hand. There is no righteousness by the works of the law. As Paul writes, even if an angel of heaven comes down to counter that.

  • http://theobservationtree.blogspot.com Louis

    RomanRefugee – don’t despair. I’d liked to say read the Scriptures, but I should maybe add, read them with Luther’s Short Catechism at hand. There is no righteousness by the works of the law. As Paul writes, even if an angel of heaven comes down to counter that.

  • http://www.geneveith.com Gene Veith

    Wright’s influence is certainly not limited to Reformed circles. He is a favorite of the Emerging Church, so I understand, and evangelicals of all stripes. As for Lutherans, let me put it this way. The only Lutheran response I saw at the ETS convention was the Fortress Press table in the exhibit hall, where I saw a big banner: “Proud to be the American publisher of N. T. Wright” The ELCA publisher is Wright’s publisher! The ELCA is publishing the work that explicitly attacks Luther and that denies Luther’s understanding of justification!

    RomanRefugee, please hang in there. We do have certainty in the Gospel of God’s grace. But theologians playing around with this stuff, remember the stakes for troubled consciences like RomanRefugee’s.

  • http://www.geneveith.com Gene Veith

    Wright’s influence is certainly not limited to Reformed circles. He is a favorite of the Emerging Church, so I understand, and evangelicals of all stripes. As for Lutherans, let me put it this way. The only Lutheran response I saw at the ETS convention was the Fortress Press table in the exhibit hall, where I saw a big banner: “Proud to be the American publisher of N. T. Wright” The ELCA publisher is Wright’s publisher! The ELCA is publishing the work that explicitly attacks Luther and that denies Luther’s understanding of justification!

    RomanRefugee, please hang in there. We do have certainty in the Gospel of God’s grace. But theologians playing around with this stuff, remember the stakes for troubled consciences like RomanRefugee’s.

  • Abby

    Dr. Veith @10

    “Also, as a humble layman, I’m not just interested in intriguing Biblical scholarship. I want to know, am I still in my sins? If I am, I don’t really care about being included in a community or even bettering the world. I should just despair and die. ”

    It seeems it would be better to read the red letter words of Jesus in the Gospels. Otherwise, Pink Floyd is right (“Another Brick in the Wall). And I am trapped in nihilistic thoughts.

  • Abby

    Dr. Veith @10

    “Also, as a humble layman, I’m not just interested in intriguing Biblical scholarship. I want to know, am I still in my sins? If I am, I don’t really care about being included in a community or even bettering the world. I should just despair and die. ”

    It seeems it would be better to read the red letter words of Jesus in the Gospels. Otherwise, Pink Floyd is right (“Another Brick in the Wall). And I am trapped in nihilistic thoughts.

  • Porcell

    N.T Wright nowhere argues against the Reformation tenet of justification. I haven’t read his latest book, though his earlier books have a lot to say about Christ through the Cross justifying faithful sinners.

    He does say in The Resurrection of the Son of God that there is much in the Judeo-Christian religion besides the Cross, especially having to do with Thy Kingdom come, Thy Will be done. Sinful, though we are there is much that can be done to help build cities on a hill.

    Wright views evangelical Christians in America as too exclusively interested in individual salvation or justification; further that Luther in his time was asking fundamentally different questions of Christ than Paul in his time. He thinks that Paul was mainly interested in Christ as the Messiah who extended to Gentiles the promises that were made to the Jews. Those who argue that Wright is involved in some form of Pelagianism are mistaken.

    Whether or not one agrees with Wright, Alan Schwarb is right that he is a brilliant contemporary theologian. As to his politics, he is a man of the left with naive views about war and capitalism. His version of the city on the hill has a distinct odor of liberalism.

  • Porcell

    N.T Wright nowhere argues against the Reformation tenet of justification. I haven’t read his latest book, though his earlier books have a lot to say about Christ through the Cross justifying faithful sinners.

    He does say in The Resurrection of the Son of God that there is much in the Judeo-Christian religion besides the Cross, especially having to do with Thy Kingdom come, Thy Will be done. Sinful, though we are there is much that can be done to help build cities on a hill.

    Wright views evangelical Christians in America as too exclusively interested in individual salvation or justification; further that Luther in his time was asking fundamentally different questions of Christ than Paul in his time. He thinks that Paul was mainly interested in Christ as the Messiah who extended to Gentiles the promises that were made to the Jews. Those who argue that Wright is involved in some form of Pelagianism are mistaken.

    Whether or not one agrees with Wright, Alan Schwarb is right that he is a brilliant contemporary theologian. As to his politics, he is a man of the left with naive views about war and capitalism. His version of the city on the hill has a distinct odor of liberalism.

  • Grace

    Future Justification The Justification Debate, Christianity Today-

    Piper: Present justification is based on the substitutionary work of Christ alone, enjoyed in union with him through faith alone. Future justification is the open confirmation and declaration that in Christ Jesus we are perfectly blameless before God. This final judgment accords with our works. That is, the fruit of the Holy Spirit in our lives will be brought forward as the evidence and confirmation of true faith and union with Christ. Without that validating transformation, there will be no future salvation.

    Wright: Present justification is the announcement issued on the basis of faith and faith alone of who is part of the covenant family of God. The present verdict gives the assurance that the verdict announced on the Last Day will match it; the Holy Spirit gives the power through which that future verdict, when given, will be seen to be in accordance with the life that the believer has then lived.

    For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also. James 2:26

    Faith – Works

    Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation.
    1 Peter 2:12

    They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate. Titus 1:16

    We are saved by grace through faith,…. we don’t receive Salvation by works. However, once we are saved, the Word of God tells us that “faith without works is dead. For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also. James 2:26

    What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? James 2:14

    Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. James 2:17

    Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. James 2:18

    But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? James 2:20

    Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? James 2:22

    Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.
    James 2:24

  • Grace

    Future Justification The Justification Debate, Christianity Today-

    Piper: Present justification is based on the substitutionary work of Christ alone, enjoyed in union with him through faith alone. Future justification is the open confirmation and declaration that in Christ Jesus we are perfectly blameless before God. This final judgment accords with our works. That is, the fruit of the Holy Spirit in our lives will be brought forward as the evidence and confirmation of true faith and union with Christ. Without that validating transformation, there will be no future salvation.

    Wright: Present justification is the announcement issued on the basis of faith and faith alone of who is part of the covenant family of God. The present verdict gives the assurance that the verdict announced on the Last Day will match it; the Holy Spirit gives the power through which that future verdict, when given, will be seen to be in accordance with the life that the believer has then lived.

    For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also. James 2:26

    Faith – Works

    Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation.
    1 Peter 2:12

    They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate. Titus 1:16

    We are saved by grace through faith,…. we don’t receive Salvation by works. However, once we are saved, the Word of God tells us that “faith without works is dead. For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also. James 2:26

    What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? James 2:14

    Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. James 2:17

    Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. James 2:18

    But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? James 2:20

    Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? James 2:22

    Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.
    James 2:24

  • Tom Hering

    RomanRefugee @ 14,

    “‘But the seed in the good soil, these are the ones who have heard the word in an honest and good heart, and hold it fast …’” (Luke 8:15.)

    “Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you …” (1st Corinthians 15:1-2.)

    “… God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth. It was for this He called you through our gospel, that you may gain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught …” (2nd Thessalonians 2:13-15.)

    “… Christ was faithful as a Son over His house – whose house we are, if we hold fast our confidence and the boast of our hope firm until the end.” (Hebrews 3:6.)

    “… we have become partakers of Christ, if we hold fast the beginning of our assurance firm until the end …” (Hebrews 3:14.)

    “… God, desiring even more to show to the heirs of the promise the unchangeableness of His purpose, interposed with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have taken refuge would have strong encouragement to take hold of the hope set before us. This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil, where Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us …” (Hebrews 6:17-20.)

    “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful …” (Hebrews 10:23.)

    “‘… what you have, hold fast until I come.’” (Revelation 2:25.)

    “‘… remember what you have received and heard; and keep it …’” (Revelation 3:3.)

    “‘I am coming quickly; hold fast what you have, so that no one will take your crown.’” (Revelation 3:11.)

  • Tom Hering

    RomanRefugee @ 14,

    “‘But the seed in the good soil, these are the ones who have heard the word in an honest and good heart, and hold it fast …’” (Luke 8:15.)

    “Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you …” (1st Corinthians 15:1-2.)

    “… God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth. It was for this He called you through our gospel, that you may gain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught …” (2nd Thessalonians 2:13-15.)

    “… Christ was faithful as a Son over His house – whose house we are, if we hold fast our confidence and the boast of our hope firm until the end.” (Hebrews 3:6.)

    “… we have become partakers of Christ, if we hold fast the beginning of our assurance firm until the end …” (Hebrews 3:14.)

    “… God, desiring even more to show to the heirs of the promise the unchangeableness of His purpose, interposed with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have taken refuge would have strong encouragement to take hold of the hope set before us. This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil, where Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us …” (Hebrews 6:17-20.)

    “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful …” (Hebrews 10:23.)

    “‘… what you have, hold fast until I come.’” (Revelation 2:25.)

    “‘… remember what you have received and heard; and keep it …’” (Revelation 3:3.)

    “‘I am coming quickly; hold fast what you have, so that no one will take your crown.’” (Revelation 3:11.)

  • Tom Hering

    “… we don’t receive Salvation by works. However, once we are saved, the Word of God tells us that “faith without works is dead …”

    Grace, insofar as we are New Creations, we naturally and spontaneously do those works that God requires of us. It’s a lie of Satan that we don’t. And of course our Old Adam, who still clings to us, refuses to believe these natural and spontaneous works are good enough – or great enough, or pure enough, or religious enough. But then, our Old Adam is a self-righteous ass, and ought to be put to death every day – through our confession that we do indeed sin and fall short, and through our simple trust that God is faithful to us, regardless. ;-)

  • Tom Hering

    “… we don’t receive Salvation by works. However, once we are saved, the Word of God tells us that “faith without works is dead …”

    Grace, insofar as we are New Creations, we naturally and spontaneously do those works that God requires of us. It’s a lie of Satan that we don’t. And of course our Old Adam, who still clings to us, refuses to believe these natural and spontaneous works are good enough – or great enough, or pure enough, or religious enough. But then, our Old Adam is a self-righteous ass, and ought to be put to death every day – through our confession that we do indeed sin and fall short, and through our simple trust that God is faithful to us, regardless. ;-)

  • Grace

    I don’t believe it is a matter of who takes a Calvinist view, or who takes another view – the only IMPORTANT view is that of which the Bible states.

    Again, and many find fault with what I state – it isn’t what Luther, or Calvin, or any other individual believed, it is whether their beliefs line up with the Bible, and that would include their lives, the fruit and works as stated clearly in James 2.

  • Grace

    I don’t believe it is a matter of who takes a Calvinist view, or who takes another view – the only IMPORTANT view is that of which the Bible states.

    Again, and many find fault with what I state – it isn’t what Luther, or Calvin, or any other individual believed, it is whether their beliefs line up with the Bible, and that would include their lives, the fruit and works as stated clearly in James 2.

  • Grace

    Tom – 23

    “Grace, insofar as we are New Creations, we naturally and spontaneously do those works that God requires of us.”

    If that were true Tom, then James never needed to write chapter 2, he could have thrown it in the trash.

  • Grace

    Tom – 23

    “Grace, insofar as we are New Creations, we naturally and spontaneously do those works that God requires of us.”

    If that were true Tom, then James never needed to write chapter 2, he could have thrown it in the trash.

  • Tom Hering

    “But someone may well say, ‘You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works.’ You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder. But are you willing to recognize, you foolish fellow, that faith without works is useless? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up Isaac his son on the altar? You see that faith was working with his works, and as a result of the works, faith was perfected; and the Scripture was fulfilled which says, ‘AND ABRAHAM BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS RECKONED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS,’ and he was called the friend of God. You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone.” (James 2:18-24.)

    All James is saying is that the works which we do naturally and spontaneously as New Creations are visible evidence of our invisible faith in Christ alone. No matter how much we doubt that our natural and spontaneous works are good enough, or great enough, or pure enough, or religious enough. Of course you can’t see, by his faith alone, that a man is justified – his faith is an invisible thing. Duh. :-)

  • Tom Hering

    “But someone may well say, ‘You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works.’ You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder. But are you willing to recognize, you foolish fellow, that faith without works is useless? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up Isaac his son on the altar? You see that faith was working with his works, and as a result of the works, faith was perfected; and the Scripture was fulfilled which says, ‘AND ABRAHAM BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS RECKONED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS,’ and he was called the friend of God. You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone.” (James 2:18-24.)

    All James is saying is that the works which we do naturally and spontaneously as New Creations are visible evidence of our invisible faith in Christ alone. No matter how much we doubt that our natural and spontaneous works are good enough, or great enough, or pure enough, or religious enough. Of course you can’t see, by his faith alone, that a man is justified – his faith is an invisible thing. Duh. :-)

  • http://theobservationtree.blogspot.com Louis

    Grace:

    Romans 6:

    14 For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. 15 For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. 16 Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. 17 So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. 18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.

    21 So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. 22 For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, 23 but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.

    I would read James in the light of Romans (and 1 John), knowing that there are none without sin. Thus it makes sense to understand James and similar texts in the way Tom is suggesting.

    As to your quip regarding Calvinists, Lutheran etc – indeed, but we all come to Scriptures not with a blank sheet, but with some sort of interpretive framework. Thus it helps to understand from which direction someone is coming, which would then help you in evaluating their language and statements. Of course, one should see which framework corresponds closely to the Scriptures, and which not. This is a perilous exercise, because I think most groups would clamour for their own approach. Thus I like to underline the fact that it is reasonable to say thatLuther is known as the theologian of the cross, and Calvin the theologian of glory. The former is correct, because the cross is the centrepoint of history. Without the Cross, we have no concept of glory. Without the Cross, we are dead. Thus a framework that doesn’t start at the foot of the cross, is bound to lead to a theology that will eventually go awry.

  • http://theobservationtree.blogspot.com Louis

    Grace:

    Romans 6:

    14 For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. 15 For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. 16 Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. 17 So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. 18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.

    21 So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. 22 For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, 23 but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.

    I would read James in the light of Romans (and 1 John), knowing that there are none without sin. Thus it makes sense to understand James and similar texts in the way Tom is suggesting.

    As to your quip regarding Calvinists, Lutheran etc – indeed, but we all come to Scriptures not with a blank sheet, but with some sort of interpretive framework. Thus it helps to understand from which direction someone is coming, which would then help you in evaluating their language and statements. Of course, one should see which framework corresponds closely to the Scriptures, and which not. This is a perilous exercise, because I think most groups would clamour for their own approach. Thus I like to underline the fact that it is reasonable to say thatLuther is known as the theologian of the cross, and Calvin the theologian of glory. The former is correct, because the cross is the centrepoint of history. Without the Cross, we have no concept of glory. Without the Cross, we are dead. Thus a framework that doesn’t start at the foot of the cross, is bound to lead to a theology that will eventually go awry.

  • Grace

    Tom – 26 “All James is saying is that the works which we do naturally and spontaneously as New Creations are visible evidence of our invisible faith in Christ alone. No matter how much we doubt that our natural and spontaneous works are good enough, or great enough, or pure enough, or religious enough. Of course you can’t see, by his faith alone, that a man is justified – his faith is an invisible thing. Duh.”

    No that isn’t what James is saying:

    Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
    Matthew 5:16

    When people truly have faith in Christ, it is evident to others around them – it isn’t hidden.

  • Grace

    Tom – 26 “All James is saying is that the works which we do naturally and spontaneously as New Creations are visible evidence of our invisible faith in Christ alone. No matter how much we doubt that our natural and spontaneous works are good enough, or great enough, or pure enough, or religious enough. Of course you can’t see, by his faith alone, that a man is justified – his faith is an invisible thing. Duh.”

    No that isn’t what James is saying:

    Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
    Matthew 5:16

    When people truly have faith in Christ, it is evident to others around them – it isn’t hidden.

  • Grace

    Louis

    I am not a fan of Calvin or Luther – As for these two individuals, I have stated my beliefs about both of them. I learned a long time ago to rely on Scripture.

  • Grace

    Louis

    I am not a fan of Calvin or Luther – As for these two individuals, I have stated my beliefs about both of them. I learned a long time ago to rely on Scripture.

  • http://theobservationtree.blogspot.com Louis

    Grace @ 29 – you don’t say, I never would have guessed ;)

    But what I’m trying to point out was my approach, when confronted with a theology, how to go about analysing it.

  • http://theobservationtree.blogspot.com Louis

    Grace @ 29 – you don’t say, I never would have guessed ;)

    But what I’m trying to point out was my approach, when confronted with a theology, how to go about analysing it.

  • Tom Hering

    “When people truly have faith in Christ, it is evident to others around them – it isn’t hidden.”

    In no way does my interpretation @ 26, of James 2:18-24, contradict this. I only caution that (A.) the works which cannot help but arise from our faith may only be apparent to those closest to us, and (B.) we ourselves may fail to recognize them because our old, doubting nature still clings to us. But I’m glad you agree, by your reference to Matthew 5:16, that James is talking about visible evidence of invisible faith. Now if only I could get you to the point where you no longer think that our conscious good works are necessary to guarantee our salvation.
    “Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?”

  • Tom Hering

    “When people truly have faith in Christ, it is evident to others around them – it isn’t hidden.”

    In no way does my interpretation @ 26, of James 2:18-24, contradict this. I only caution that (A.) the works which cannot help but arise from our faith may only be apparent to those closest to us, and (B.) we ourselves may fail to recognize them because our old, doubting nature still clings to us. But I’m glad you agree, by your reference to Matthew 5:16, that James is talking about visible evidence of invisible faith. Now if only I could get you to the point where you no longer think that our conscious good works are necessary to guarantee our salvation.
    “Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?”

  • http://www.geneveith.com Gene Veith

    So, Grace, what do you think of N. T. Wright, the subject of the original post? Do you accept his view of justification or do you accept the traditional one, as articulated by Luther and most evangelicals up until now? Which do you think is most faithful to the Bible?

  • http://www.geneveith.com Gene Veith

    So, Grace, what do you think of N. T. Wright, the subject of the original post? Do you accept his view of justification or do you accept the traditional one, as articulated by Luther and most evangelicals up until now? Which do you think is most faithful to the Bible?

  • Grace

    Tom – 31 “Now if only I could get you to the point where you no longer think that our conscious good works are necessary to guarantee our salvation.”

    Enduring to the end? – works? – justification?

    And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved. Matthew 10:22

    11 And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.

    12 And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.

    13 But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. Matthew 24

    “Endure unto the end” – Christ makes this statement, which means we have to continue to endure to the end to be saved.

    Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him. James 11:12

    endureth Strong’s Greek

    hupomeno – hoop-om-en’-o

    figuratively, to undergo, i.e. bear (trials), have fortitude, persevere:-abide, endure, (take) patient(-ly), suffer, tarry behind.

    crown Strong’s Greek

    stephanos – stef’-an-os

    primary stepho (to twine or wreathe); a chaplet (as a badge of royalty, a prize in the public games or a symbol of honor generally; but more conspicuous and elaborate than the simple fillet, 1238), literally or figuratively:-crown.

    Tom, do you believe “enduring” is a work? And what of those who do not “endureth temptation” – but continue to sin willfully, – are they justified – if so, why did Jesus make it clear when He said ” But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.” Matthew 24

  • Grace

    Tom – 31 “Now if only I could get you to the point where you no longer think that our conscious good works are necessary to guarantee our salvation.”

    Enduring to the end? – works? – justification?

    And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved. Matthew 10:22

    11 And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.

    12 And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.

    13 But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. Matthew 24

    “Endure unto the end” – Christ makes this statement, which means we have to continue to endure to the end to be saved.

    Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him. James 11:12

    endureth Strong’s Greek

    hupomeno – hoop-om-en’-o

    figuratively, to undergo, i.e. bear (trials), have fortitude, persevere:-abide, endure, (take) patient(-ly), suffer, tarry behind.

    crown Strong’s Greek

    stephanos – stef’-an-os

    primary stepho (to twine or wreathe); a chaplet (as a badge of royalty, a prize in the public games or a symbol of honor generally; but more conspicuous and elaborate than the simple fillet, 1238), literally or figuratively:-crown.

    Tom, do you believe “enduring” is a work? And what of those who do not “endureth temptation” – but continue to sin willfully, – are they justified – if so, why did Jesus make it clear when He said ” But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.” Matthew 24

  • Grace

    Dr. Veith -

    Justification by faith is a plain doctrine – I believe in justification – One cannot ignore those who fall away, those who willfully go back into the pig pen and live as though they have a license to sin, because they are justified by faith. That is often the case. Justification by some, yet others believe in Eternal Salvation/Security (OSAS) no matter how they live or what they do.
    I am no fan of either Wright or Luther – Wright has yet to answer the questions posed to him regarding homosexuality, he dances around the question then states he would need to do so much research, it would end up to be a book the length of “The Resurrection of the Son of God.” – - – - Dr. Veith, this may appear at first glance to be off subject, but in essence, this sort of dancing about on such a serious subject, which inflicts itself today, not only in secular society, but the church as well. Then we have Luther, whom I have spoken of often. I do not believe in Luther’s idea of “Justification” – (this too I have posted often) Luther stated emphatically:

    “If you are a preacher of grace, then preach a true and not a fictitious grace; if grace is true, you must bear a true [p. 282] and not a fictitious sin. God does not save people who are only fictitious sinners. Be a sinner and sin boldly, but believe and rejoice in Christ even more boldly. . . . as long as we are here [in this world] we have to sin. . . . No sin will separate us from the Lamb, even though we commit fornication and murder a thousand times a day.” Martin Luther
    Epistle of August 1, 1521 to Melanchthon (This translation is taken from the official Lutheran American Edition of his complete works, vol. 42, pp. 281-82:

    That is justification according to Martin Luther -

    It has been stated earlier on this thread, and other times on your blog, that I have been led (in so many words) to what I believe now. To a small degree yes, in the very beginning. When I found errors in some pastors and teachers, I began to study, I don’t mean an hour or two a day, but 6 to 10 hours, going over Scripture that others tried to twist into doctrine. I am still at this today, and will be until the day I go to be with the LORD. As you most certainly understand, as a professor and Provost of PHC, study of God’s Word takes time,….. in many ways I am driven to understand His Word.

  • Grace

    Dr. Veith -

    Justification by faith is a plain doctrine – I believe in justification – One cannot ignore those who fall away, those who willfully go back into the pig pen and live as though they have a license to sin, because they are justified by faith. That is often the case. Justification by some, yet others believe in Eternal Salvation/Security (OSAS) no matter how they live or what they do.
    I am no fan of either Wright or Luther – Wright has yet to answer the questions posed to him regarding homosexuality, he dances around the question then states he would need to do so much research, it would end up to be a book the length of “The Resurrection of the Son of God.” – - – - Dr. Veith, this may appear at first glance to be off subject, but in essence, this sort of dancing about on such a serious subject, which inflicts itself today, not only in secular society, but the church as well. Then we have Luther, whom I have spoken of often. I do not believe in Luther’s idea of “Justification” – (this too I have posted often) Luther stated emphatically:

    “If you are a preacher of grace, then preach a true and not a fictitious grace; if grace is true, you must bear a true [p. 282] and not a fictitious sin. God does not save people who are only fictitious sinners. Be a sinner and sin boldly, but believe and rejoice in Christ even more boldly. . . . as long as we are here [in this world] we have to sin. . . . No sin will separate us from the Lamb, even though we commit fornication and murder a thousand times a day.” Martin Luther
    Epistle of August 1, 1521 to Melanchthon (This translation is taken from the official Lutheran American Edition of his complete works, vol. 42, pp. 281-82:

    That is justification according to Martin Luther -

    It has been stated earlier on this thread, and other times on your blog, that I have been led (in so many words) to what I believe now. To a small degree yes, in the very beginning. When I found errors in some pastors and teachers, I began to study, I don’t mean an hour or two a day, but 6 to 10 hours, going over Scripture that others tried to twist into doctrine. I am still at this today, and will be until the day I go to be with the LORD. As you most certainly understand, as a professor and Provost of PHC, study of God’s Word takes time,….. in many ways I am driven to understand His Word.

  • Tom Hering

    “Tom, do you believe ‘enduring’ is a work?”

    Absolutely. Just not mine.

    “Now may the God who gives endurance/perseverance …” (Romans 15:5.)

    “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6.)

  • Tom Hering

    “Tom, do you believe ‘enduring’ is a work?”

    Absolutely. Just not mine.

    “Now may the God who gives endurance/perseverance …” (Romans 15:5.)

    “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6.)

  • Ross

    I think it’s important to look at what the Lutheran Confessions also say about this in order to understand what Lutherans (not just Luther’s idea, but one that he staunchly upheld) believe about justification and how the central message of the New Perspective is different.

    “75 Even our opponents will grant, we suppose, that the forgiveness of sins is supremely necessary in justification. For we are all under sin. Therefore we argue this way: 76 First, forgiveness of sins is the same as justification according to Ps. 32:1, “Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven.” 77 We obtain the forgiveness of sins only by faith in Christ, not through love, or because of love or works, though love does follow faith. 78 Therefore we are justified by faith alone, justification being understood as making an unrighteous man righteous or effecting his regeneration” (Apology of the Augsburg Confession, Art. 1, part II, par. 75-78).

    Note that here, the Apology of the Augsburg Confesssion states forgiveness of sins= justification=”making an unrighteous man righteous.” Could part of the problem be that so often justification is so often narrowed to forensic justification (declaring righteous) at the expense of a fuller meaning of the Greek, dikaiosune? While inclusion into the people of God does take place, isn’t the way that it takes place only by the forgiveness of sins, i.e. justification by faith alone?

    Also, I could have easily misunderstood Wright’s position, but does anyone know if his view is a little more similar to Eastern Orthodoxy’s understanding of theosis as the central doctrine over Western Christianity’s general understanding of justification?

  • Ross

    I think it’s important to look at what the Lutheran Confessions also say about this in order to understand what Lutherans (not just Luther’s idea, but one that he staunchly upheld) believe about justification and how the central message of the New Perspective is different.

    “75 Even our opponents will grant, we suppose, that the forgiveness of sins is supremely necessary in justification. For we are all under sin. Therefore we argue this way: 76 First, forgiveness of sins is the same as justification according to Ps. 32:1, “Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven.” 77 We obtain the forgiveness of sins only by faith in Christ, not through love, or because of love or works, though love does follow faith. 78 Therefore we are justified by faith alone, justification being understood as making an unrighteous man righteous or effecting his regeneration” (Apology of the Augsburg Confession, Art. 1, part II, par. 75-78).

    Note that here, the Apology of the Augsburg Confesssion states forgiveness of sins= justification=”making an unrighteous man righteous.” Could part of the problem be that so often justification is so often narrowed to forensic justification (declaring righteous) at the expense of a fuller meaning of the Greek, dikaiosune? While inclusion into the people of God does take place, isn’t the way that it takes place only by the forgiveness of sins, i.e. justification by faith alone?

    Also, I could have easily misunderstood Wright’s position, but does anyone know if his view is a little more similar to Eastern Orthodoxy’s understanding of theosis as the central doctrine over Western Christianity’s general understanding of justification?

  • Grace

    Tom the two passages you post. #35

    Now may the God who gives perseverance and encouragement grant you to be of the same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus, Romans 15:5 NAS

    —- This verse does not correspond to “endure” – but rather “encouragement” —-

    Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ
    Philippians 1:6

    The passage in Philippians by Paul as you present it would contradict other passages. Most OSAS Believers have a difficult time understanding that some fall back into sin and apostasy. Paul makes a statement to Believers below.

    One being Ephesians 5:

    Paul speaks to Believers. Verse five – there is no inheritance when a Believer continues to sin willfully. These are Christian Believers that Paul is addressing, they were not un-Believers. Verse three clearly states they are Believers by calling them “saints” but then read verse five.

    1 Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children;

    2 And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour.

    3 But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints;

    4 Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks.

    5 For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.

    6 Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience.

    7 Be not ye therefore partakers with them.

    8 For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light:. Ephesians 5

    Obviously they are Believers, they were once in darkness.

  • Grace

    Tom the two passages you post. #35

    Now may the God who gives perseverance and encouragement grant you to be of the same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus, Romans 15:5 NAS

    —- This verse does not correspond to “endure” – but rather “encouragement” —-

    Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ
    Philippians 1:6

    The passage in Philippians by Paul as you present it would contradict other passages. Most OSAS Believers have a difficult time understanding that some fall back into sin and apostasy. Paul makes a statement to Believers below.

    One being Ephesians 5:

    Paul speaks to Believers. Verse five – there is no inheritance when a Believer continues to sin willfully. These are Christian Believers that Paul is addressing, they were not un-Believers. Verse three clearly states they are Believers by calling them “saints” but then read verse five.

    1 Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children;

    2 And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour.

    3 But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints;

    4 Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks.

    5 For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.

    6 Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience.

    7 Be not ye therefore partakers with them.

    8 For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light:. Ephesians 5

    Obviously they are Believers, they were once in darkness.

  • Tom Hering

    “This verse does not correspond to ‘endure’ – but rather ‘encouragement’” – Grace @ 37.

    Romans 15:5 (NASB): “Now may the God who gives perseverance …” Strong’s 5281: “Perseverance, hupomoneendurance, patient enduring, perseverance, steadfastness.”

    “The passage in Philippians by Paul as you present it would contradict other passages.” – Grace @ 37.

    Not at all – not one bit. I’m not a proponent of OSAS (once saved, always saved). I’m a Lutheran, and we teach – from Scripture – both the truth that some Christians fall away from the faith, and the truth that God preserves the elect to eternal life. (The elect can fall away, but not unto the moment of death, otherwise they would not be elect.) We don’t try to reconcile these seemingly contradictory Scriptures using human reason. We just warn the wayward Christian his soul is in real danger, and assure the troubled Christian that Christ will safely shepherd him all the way home. (The doctrine of election is never employed except as a comfort for the troubled Christian.)

  • Tom Hering

    “This verse does not correspond to ‘endure’ – but rather ‘encouragement’” – Grace @ 37.

    Romans 15:5 (NASB): “Now may the God who gives perseverance …” Strong’s 5281: “Perseverance, hupomoneendurance, patient enduring, perseverance, steadfastness.”

    “The passage in Philippians by Paul as you present it would contradict other passages.” – Grace @ 37.

    Not at all – not one bit. I’m not a proponent of OSAS (once saved, always saved). I’m a Lutheran, and we teach – from Scripture – both the truth that some Christians fall away from the faith, and the truth that God preserves the elect to eternal life. (The elect can fall away, but not unto the moment of death, otherwise they would not be elect.) We don’t try to reconcile these seemingly contradictory Scriptures using human reason. We just warn the wayward Christian his soul is in real danger, and assure the troubled Christian that Christ will safely shepherd him all the way home. (The doctrine of election is never employed except as a comfort for the troubled Christian.)

  • Grace

    Tom

    You last paragraph contradicts itself.

    “both the truth that some Christians fall away from the faith, and the truth that God preserves the elect to eternal life. “

  • Grace

    Tom

    You last paragraph contradicts itself.

    “both the truth that some Christians fall away from the faith, and the truth that God preserves the elect to eternal life. “

  • Grace

    He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.
    Revelation 3:5

    overcometh Strongs Greek – nikaw – nikao -nik-ah’-o

    conquer, overcome, prevail, get the victory.

    “He that overcometh” – is this a work? is everything justified? – is one justified, which then makes them immune to “overcoming” ? The passage of Scripture above makes it plain one can have their name blotted out of the book of life. This would mean they were once Believers.

  • Grace

    He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.
    Revelation 3:5

    overcometh Strongs Greek – nikaw – nikao -nik-ah’-o

    conquer, overcome, prevail, get the victory.

    “He that overcometh” – is this a work? is everything justified? – is one justified, which then makes them immune to “overcoming” ? The passage of Scripture above makes it plain one can have their name blotted out of the book of life. This would mean they were once Believers.

  • Tom Hering

    “Your last paragraph contradicts itself.”

    According to human reason, yes. But according to Scripture, which teaches both seemingly contradictory truths, no. So why does Scripture appear contradictory to our reason, Grace? Because all the hows and whys of both election and falling away haven’t been revealed to us. Because they’re entirely God’s business, and none of ours. And we don’t try to reconcile these seeming contradictions in Scripture by insisting that some verses don’t mean what they plainly say. We just accept both truths as true. End of story. :-)

  • Tom Hering

    “Your last paragraph contradicts itself.”

    According to human reason, yes. But according to Scripture, which teaches both seemingly contradictory truths, no. So why does Scripture appear contradictory to our reason, Grace? Because all the hows and whys of both election and falling away haven’t been revealed to us. Because they’re entirely God’s business, and none of ours. And we don’t try to reconcile these seeming contradictions in Scripture by insisting that some verses don’t mean what they plainly say. We just accept both truths as true. End of story. :-)

  • Tom Hering

    Grace @ 40, yes, they were once believers.

  • Tom Hering

    Grace @ 40, yes, they were once believers.

  • Grace

    For Jacob my servant’s sake, and Israel mine elect, I have even called thee by thy name: I have surnamed thee, though thou hast not known me.
    Isaiah 45:4

    elect Strongs Greek – bachiyr – baw-kheer’

    select:–choose, chosen one, elect.

  • Grace

    For Jacob my servant’s sake, and Israel mine elect, I have even called thee by thy name: I have surnamed thee, though thou hast not known me.
    Isaiah 45:4

    elect Strongs Greek – bachiyr – baw-kheer’

    select:–choose, chosen one, elect.

  • Tom Hering

    Grace @ 43, Yah, and your point is …?

  • Tom Hering

    Grace @ 43, Yah, and your point is …?

  • Grace

    Tom – 44

    “Grace @ 43, Yah, and your point is …?

    “Yah” ?

    Who are the elect? The “elect” are mentioned first in Isaiah, they are Israel – All of Christ’s Apostles were Jews, and so was Paul, not one Gentile.

  • Grace

    Tom – 44

    “Grace @ 43, Yah, and your point is …?

    “Yah” ?

    Who are the elect? The “elect” are mentioned first in Isaiah, they are Israel – All of Christ’s Apostles were Jews, and so was Paul, not one Gentile.

  • Tom Hering

    Not limited to the Jews.

    “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus … If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us< all things? Who will bring a charge against God’s elect?” (Romans 8:1,31-33.)

  • Tom Hering

    Not limited to the Jews.

    “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus … If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us< all things? Who will bring a charge against God’s elect?” (Romans 8:1,31-33.)

  • Grace

    Tom

    Salvation is not limited to the Jews, however they are His CHOSEN people – this has been a problem for the world, – WW2 stands out as one of the most hideous atrocities against God’s chosen people.

  • Grace

    Tom

    Salvation is not limited to the Jews, however they are His CHOSEN people – this has been a problem for the world, – WW2 stands out as one of the most hideous atrocities against God’s chosen people.

  • Tom Hering

    “For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh. But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter; and his praise is not from men, but from God.” (Romans 2:28-29.)

    Well, we’re getting pretty far from our original topic, which was the relation of good works to justification – not to mention how far we’ve strayed from Dr. Veith’s original topic, which was that fellow named Wright. But I’m willing to follow wherever you want to take this, Grace, and to keep reminding you that your good works do nothing to insure your salvation. Indeed, they may endanger it.

  • Tom Hering

    “For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh. But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter; and his praise is not from men, but from God.” (Romans 2:28-29.)

    Well, we’re getting pretty far from our original topic, which was the relation of good works to justification – not to mention how far we’ve strayed from Dr. Veith’s original topic, which was that fellow named Wright. But I’m willing to follow wherever you want to take this, Grace, and to keep reminding you that your good works do nothing to insure your salvation. Indeed, they may endanger it.

  • Tom Hering

    “Salvation is not limited to the Jews …”

    Then neither is election.

  • Tom Hering

    “Salvation is not limited to the Jews …”

    Then neither is election.

  • Tom Hering

    I have to say goodnight. I’m having a tryptophan flashback.

  • Tom Hering

    I have to say goodnight. I’m having a tryptophan flashback.

  • Grace

    Tom,

    The Christian world can downplay God’s chosen people, however that doesn’t change the fact that they are His chosen people.

  • Grace

    Tom,

    The Christian world can downplay God’s chosen people, however that doesn’t change the fact that they are His chosen people.

  • http://www.newreformationpress.com Patrick Kyle

    Grace @40, you quoted,

    “He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.
    Revelation 3:5 ”

    To which I answer with 1 John 5:5 “Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?”

    And Eph. 2:8 -9 “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast.”

  • http://www.newreformationpress.com Patrick Kyle

    Grace @40, you quoted,

    “He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.
    Revelation 3:5 ”

    To which I answer with 1 John 5:5 “Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?”

    And Eph. 2:8 -9 “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast.”

  • Booklover

    The problem with those I have known who tie their works into their justification is that they selectively choose their good works and ignore their own chaff. They believe they are on their way to heaven because they deny the use of, say, tobacco, alcohol, illicit sex, and Democratic party ties. Yet their self-righteousness is a stench. Or perhaps their habit of gossip or of bearing false witness against their neighbor is ignored by themselves.

    I’ve also known those from the other side of the spectrum who claim the name of Christ, who are for “alternate families” and “alternate lifestyles,” yet who burn with covetousness over those blessed with big, happy families.

    This problem is only with those people whom I have known. I don’t know Wright or any posters to this blog.

    Thanks be to Christ, who covers our sin.

  • Booklover

    The problem with those I have known who tie their works into their justification is that they selectively choose their good works and ignore their own chaff. They believe they are on their way to heaven because they deny the use of, say, tobacco, alcohol, illicit sex, and Democratic party ties. Yet their self-righteousness is a stench. Or perhaps their habit of gossip or of bearing false witness against their neighbor is ignored by themselves.

    I’ve also known those from the other side of the spectrum who claim the name of Christ, who are for “alternate families” and “alternate lifestyles,” yet who burn with covetousness over those blessed with big, happy families.

    This problem is only with those people whom I have known. I don’t know Wright or any posters to this blog.

    Thanks be to Christ, who covers our sin.

  • Tom Hering

    Grace, will anyone receive eternal life who doesn’t have faith in Jesus Christ? And if not, what good does it do those Jews – the ones who don’t have faith in Jesus Christ – to be chosen?

    The Jews were chosen by God to receive His revelations, all of which pointed forward to Jesus Christ. And so they were chosen to be a light to the ancient world. Then Jesus Christ came to the Jews, to fulfill the promise God had made to them. And through them, to all the peoples of the world (“salvation is from the Jews”).

    Now, there is neither Jew nor Gentile, but all are one in Jesus Christ. The Church is now the chosen people, which – from an eternal perspective – is composed of all those whose faith looked forward to the Christ, and all those whose faith has looked back to Jesus. The Church has the completed revelations that are a light to the world.

    Has God abandoned the Jews? No. He doesn’t wish that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance through faith in Jesus Christ. So He continues to have Jesus Christ preached to the Jews. As He continues to have Jesus Christ preached to all people.

  • Tom Hering

    Grace, will anyone receive eternal life who doesn’t have faith in Jesus Christ? And if not, what good does it do those Jews – the ones who don’t have faith in Jesus Christ – to be chosen?

    The Jews were chosen by God to receive His revelations, all of which pointed forward to Jesus Christ. And so they were chosen to be a light to the ancient world. Then Jesus Christ came to the Jews, to fulfill the promise God had made to them. And through them, to all the peoples of the world (“salvation is from the Jews”).

    Now, there is neither Jew nor Gentile, but all are one in Jesus Christ. The Church is now the chosen people, which – from an eternal perspective – is composed of all those whose faith looked forward to the Christ, and all those whose faith has looked back to Jesus. The Church has the completed revelations that are a light to the world.

    Has God abandoned the Jews? No. He doesn’t wish that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance through faith in Jesus Christ. So He continues to have Jesus Christ preached to the Jews. As He continues to have Jesus Christ preached to all people.

  • http://theobservationtree.blogspot.com Louis

    Grace, what I miss in your explanations here, and in your understanding of righeousness, works and the relationship between them, is how you would deal with the text I quoted at #26 – Romans 6:14-25.

  • http://theobservationtree.blogspot.com Louis

    Grace, what I miss in your explanations here, and in your understanding of righeousness, works and the relationship between them, is how you would deal with the text I quoted at #26 – Romans 6:14-25.

  • Tom Hering

    I love Romans 6, 7, and 8, Louis. We were once entirely slaves to sin, but now are also slaves to righteousness. The two natures. The bondage of the will. The Old Adam can’t help but to doubt and sin, and the New Creation can’t help but to believe and love – both God and neighbor. And the New Creation is God’s work in us, from beginning to end.

    Ezekiel 36:25-27, “‘I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.’”

    John 6:65, “‘For this reason I have said to you, that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted him from the Father.’”

    John 6:37, “‘All that the Father gives Me will come to Me …’”

  • Tom Hering

    I love Romans 6, 7, and 8, Louis. We were once entirely slaves to sin, but now are also slaves to righteousness. The two natures. The bondage of the will. The Old Adam can’t help but to doubt and sin, and the New Creation can’t help but to believe and love – both God and neighbor. And the New Creation is God’s work in us, from beginning to end.

    Ezekiel 36:25-27, “‘I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.’”

    John 6:65, “‘For this reason I have said to you, that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted him from the Father.’”

    John 6:37, “‘All that the Father gives Me will come to Me …’”

  • Grace

    Tom – 54 – “Has God abandoned the Jews? No. He doesn’t wish that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance through faith in Jesus Christ. So He continues to have Jesus Christ preached to the Jews. As He continues to have Jesus Christ preached to all people.” -

    No God has not forgotten or abandoned the children of Israel – Revelation makes clear the 12 tribes of Israel.

    3 Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads.
    4 And I heard the number of them which were sealed: and there were sealed an hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel. Revelation 7

    These men from the 12 tribes of Israel are all virgins:

    4These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb. Revelation 14

  • Grace

    Tom – 54 – “Has God abandoned the Jews? No. He doesn’t wish that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance through faith in Jesus Christ. So He continues to have Jesus Christ preached to the Jews. As He continues to have Jesus Christ preached to all people.” -

    No God has not forgotten or abandoned the children of Israel – Revelation makes clear the 12 tribes of Israel.

    3 Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads.
    4 And I heard the number of them which were sealed: and there were sealed an hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel. Revelation 7

    These men from the 12 tribes of Israel are all virgins:

    4These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb. Revelation 14

  • JonSLC

    Grace @57: Just curious — what do you make of the listing of the twelve tribes in Revelation 7:5-8 being different from the listing in the Old Testament? (Joseph and Levi in Rev. 7, instead of Ephraim and Manasseh)

  • JonSLC

    Grace @57: Just curious — what do you make of the listing of the twelve tribes in Revelation 7:5-8 being different from the listing in the Old Testament? (Joseph and Levi in Rev. 7, instead of Ephraim and Manasseh)

  • Grace

    The twelve (12) tribes of Israel – 144,000

    The passage in Revelation 7:5-8 which clearly number 12 TRIBES SEALED Revelation 7:5-8

    5 Of the tribe of Juda were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Reuben were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Gad were sealed twelve thousand.

    6 Of the tribe of Aser were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Nephthalim were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Manasses were sealed twelve thousand.

    7 Of the tribe of Simeon were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Levi were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Issachar were sealed twelve thousand.

    8 Of the tribe of Zabulon were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Joseph were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Benjamin were sealed twelve thousand.

    The tribes of Dan and Ephraim are not there. Both tribes were guilty of leading the nation into idolatry. In history you will find that Dan was the first tribe that fell into idolatry (see Jud. 18:30) The tribe of Dan later on became the headquarters for calf worship “Jeroboam made Israel to sin” see 1 Kings 12:28-30 – Dan is given priority in the Millennium – see Ezekiel 48 this reveals that grace of GOD can reach down and meet the needs of any sinner. The tribe of Dan is in the Millennium, but they are not sealed for the purpose of witnessing during the time of THE GREAT TRIBULATION.

    Ephraim was also guilty of idolatry. In Hosea 4:17 “Ephraim is joined to idols:let him alone.” That has reference to the entire northern kingdom of Israel, but remember that Ephraim was the leader there.

    In the list of the 144,000 who will be sealed, Joseph takes the place of Ephraim, and to take the place of Dan is Levi. Levi was the priestly tribe, and they are going to be witnesses in The GREAT TRIBULATION.

  • Grace

    The twelve (12) tribes of Israel – 144,000

    The passage in Revelation 7:5-8 which clearly number 12 TRIBES SEALED Revelation 7:5-8

    5 Of the tribe of Juda were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Reuben were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Gad were sealed twelve thousand.

    6 Of the tribe of Aser were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Nephthalim were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Manasses were sealed twelve thousand.

    7 Of the tribe of Simeon were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Levi were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Issachar were sealed twelve thousand.

    8 Of the tribe of Zabulon were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Joseph were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Benjamin were sealed twelve thousand.

    The tribes of Dan and Ephraim are not there. Both tribes were guilty of leading the nation into idolatry. In history you will find that Dan was the first tribe that fell into idolatry (see Jud. 18:30) The tribe of Dan later on became the headquarters for calf worship “Jeroboam made Israel to sin” see 1 Kings 12:28-30 – Dan is given priority in the Millennium – see Ezekiel 48 this reveals that grace of GOD can reach down and meet the needs of any sinner. The tribe of Dan is in the Millennium, but they are not sealed for the purpose of witnessing during the time of THE GREAT TRIBULATION.

    Ephraim was also guilty of idolatry. In Hosea 4:17 “Ephraim is joined to idols:let him alone.” That has reference to the entire northern kingdom of Israel, but remember that Ephraim was the leader there.

    In the list of the 144,000 who will be sealed, Joseph takes the place of Ephraim, and to take the place of Dan is Levi. Levi was the priestly tribe, and they are going to be witnesses in The GREAT TRIBULATION.

  • Grace

    58 – JonSLC

    Grace @57: Just curious — what do you make of the listing of the twelve tribes in Revelation 7:5-8 being different from the listing in the Old Testament? (Joseph and Levi in Rev. 7, instead of Ephraim and Manasseh)

    The tribe of Manasses/Manasseh is there – see Revelation 7:6

    Joseph is mentioned in the Old Testament Genesis 49:26 “The blessings of thy father have prevailed above the blessings of my progenitors unto the utmost bound of the everlasting hills: they shall be on the head of Joseph, and on the crown of the head of him that was separate from his brethren.

  • Grace

    58 – JonSLC

    Grace @57: Just curious — what do you make of the listing of the twelve tribes in Revelation 7:5-8 being different from the listing in the Old Testament? (Joseph and Levi in Rev. 7, instead of Ephraim and Manasseh)

    The tribe of Manasses/Manasseh is there – see Revelation 7:6

    Joseph is mentioned in the Old Testament Genesis 49:26 “The blessings of thy father have prevailed above the blessings of my progenitors unto the utmost bound of the everlasting hills: they shall be on the head of Joseph, and on the crown of the head of him that was separate from his brethren.

  • Tom Hering

    Grace, are you a Pre-Trib Millennialist?

  • Tom Hering

    Grace, are you a Pre-Trib Millennialist?

  • Porcell

    Thus, another potentially interesting thread descends into a form of religious babble.

  • Porcell

    Thus, another potentially interesting thread descends into a form of religious babble.

  • Tom Hering

    Porcell, I asked because I want to understand Grace.

  • Tom Hering

    Porcell, I asked because I want to understand Grace.

  • Grace

    Porcell – what seems to be the problem. You have only posted on this thread one other time #20.

    I have always enjoyed your comments, but I don’t understand the snide remark “Thus, another potentially interesting thread descends into a form of religious babble.”

    On what plane would the “babble” make you happy, or come up to your standard?

  • Grace

    Porcell – what seems to be the problem. You have only posted on this thread one other time #20.

    I have always enjoyed your comments, but I don’t understand the snide remark “Thus, another potentially interesting thread descends into a form of religious babble.”

    On what plane would the “babble” make you happy, or come up to your standard?

  • Grace

    Tom

    I am Pre-Trib to Mid-Trib -

  • Grace

    Tom

    I am Pre-Trib to Mid-Trib -

  • Tom Hering

    Thanks Grace. That helps me to understand some of your positions.

  • Tom Hering

    Thanks Grace. That helps me to understand some of your positions.

  • Grace

    Thank you for asking Tom. Discussing some of these subjects isn’t difficult, but when it is only by written communication it doesn’t always come across as smothly as one would like.

    I have enjoyed getting to know you, Stephen, Louis and Frank, without the heated arguments, even though we disagree often.

  • Grace

    Thank you for asking Tom. Discussing some of these subjects isn’t difficult, but when it is only by written communication it doesn’t always come across as smothly as one would like.

    I have enjoyed getting to know you, Stephen, Louis and Frank, without the heated arguments, even though we disagree often.

  • Porcell

    The subject of this thread happens to be N.T. Wright’s view of justification as opposed to the classic Lutheran view. As often happens on this blog, the topic gets lost in a miasma of irrelevant babble.

  • Porcell

    The subject of this thread happens to be N.T. Wright’s view of justification as opposed to the classic Lutheran view. As often happens on this blog, the topic gets lost in a miasma of irrelevant babble.

  • http://theoldadam.wordpress.com Steve Martin

    Christ is never quite enough, is He?

    These folks, who would lead many to the nether regions, are NEVER satisfied with Christ and His cross.

    So, we must do our part.

    It is sickening.

  • http://theoldadam.wordpress.com Steve Martin

    Christ is never quite enough, is He?

    These folks, who would lead many to the nether regions, are NEVER satisfied with Christ and His cross.

    So, we must do our part.

    It is sickening.

  • http://carolmsblog.blogspot.com/ Carol-Christian Soldier

    Are we looking at the tenet of “follow the $$$$$$$$”?
    more people more money-
    Just asking….
    C-CS

  • http://carolmsblog.blogspot.com/ Carol-Christian Soldier

    Are we looking at the tenet of “follow the $$$$$$$$”?
    more people more money-
    Just asking….
    C-CS

  • http://theobservationtree.blogspot.com Louis

    Grace @ 67 – it is a pleasure indeed.

    Porcell – irrelevant babble to some, important to others. I might disagree (strongly) with Grace, but it is important to mutually respect each other by trying to understand each others viewpoints. Something you could try one day, maybe?

  • http://theobservationtree.blogspot.com Louis

    Grace @ 67 – it is a pleasure indeed.

    Porcell – irrelevant babble to some, important to others. I might disagree (strongly) with Grace, but it is important to mutually respect each other by trying to understand each others viewpoints. Something you could try one day, maybe?

  • http://theobservationtree.blogspot.com Louis

    Porcell, let me explain. Grace’s eschatology factors strongly in her understanding of justification, works etc., as it heavily impacts the place of the Jews, which intimately connects with the aforementioned subjects. For us Lutherans, our eschatology (Amillenial) is not such a key element in understanding our view of justification etc. Hence it was important for Tom to see where Grace is coming from.

    These questions are important. For instance it seems to me that in Grace’s approach, she read Romans 6, for instance, in the light of James 2 (and Revelations), where as I tend to go the opposite way.

  • http://theobservationtree.blogspot.com Louis

    Porcell, let me explain. Grace’s eschatology factors strongly in her understanding of justification, works etc., as it heavily impacts the place of the Jews, which intimately connects with the aforementioned subjects. For us Lutherans, our eschatology (Amillenial) is not such a key element in understanding our view of justification etc. Hence it was important for Tom to see where Grace is coming from.

    These questions are important. For instance it seems to me that in Grace’s approach, she read Romans 6, for instance, in the light of James 2 (and Revelations), where as I tend to go the opposite way.

  • Rob

    My frustration is that, once again, a topic that was a fun and informative read has devolved into two or three people trying (fruitlessly) to educate Grace as to Lutheran doctrine. I have seen this happen at least three other times. The first time, I fell for it myself.

    Grace is a deeply convinced baptistic (though not Baptist) believer who values Scripture highly and does not value Lutheran tradition much at all. She engages in these skirmishes about once a fortnight for reasons I am completely baffled to ascertain. Perhaps her goal is to convert Lutheran believers to her own convictions? Regardless, a fruitful discussion turns into overhearing people talking loudly at the next table.

    Anybody out there still interested in talking about N.T. Wright, or are we only interested in theories on the millennium at this point?

  • Rob

    My frustration is that, once again, a topic that was a fun and informative read has devolved into two or three people trying (fruitlessly) to educate Grace as to Lutheran doctrine. I have seen this happen at least three other times. The first time, I fell for it myself.

    Grace is a deeply convinced baptistic (though not Baptist) believer who values Scripture highly and does not value Lutheran tradition much at all. She engages in these skirmishes about once a fortnight for reasons I am completely baffled to ascertain. Perhaps her goal is to convert Lutheran believers to her own convictions? Regardless, a fruitful discussion turns into overhearing people talking loudly at the next table.

    Anybody out there still interested in talking about N.T. Wright, or are we only interested in theories on the millennium at this point?

  • Tom Hering

    “… our eschatology (Amillenial) …”

    Louis, it’s true that most Lutherans have been Amillennial, but I don’t think it can be said that Lutheranism is officially Amillennial. Our Confessions only deal with eschatology briefly (AC XVII), first to state a few beliefs held in common by most Christians, and then to reject the errors of the Anabaptists as well as those of some revived Jewish teachings. This can hardly be called an Amillennial system – or an eschatological system of any kind! And Luther himself was a sort of Post-Millennialist, who developed a deep and wide eschatology in his Supputatio Annorum Mundi (1540/41). You can read a translation of the “Introduction” here.

  • Tom Hering

    “… our eschatology (Amillenial) …”

    Louis, it’s true that most Lutherans have been Amillennial, but I don’t think it can be said that Lutheranism is officially Amillennial. Our Confessions only deal with eschatology briefly (AC XVII), first to state a few beliefs held in common by most Christians, and then to reject the errors of the Anabaptists as well as those of some revived Jewish teachings. This can hardly be called an Amillennial system – or an eschatological system of any kind! And Luther himself was a sort of Post-Millennialist, who developed a deep and wide eschatology in his Supputatio Annorum Mundi (1540/41). You can read a translation of the “Introduction” here.

  • Tom Hering

    Rob, there’s no reason there can’t be more than one conversation going on at the same time. It’s not as if anyone is stopping that! As for Grace, I’ve actually come to enjoy discussing the Scriptures in depth with her – especially as no one else much wants to. :-)

  • Tom Hering

    Rob, there’s no reason there can’t be more than one conversation going on at the same time. It’s not as if anyone is stopping that! As for Grace, I’ve actually come to enjoy discussing the Scriptures in depth with her – especially as no one else much wants to. :-)

  • Tom Hering

    … much wants to discuss the Scriptures in depth, that is. :-)

  • Tom Hering

    … much wants to discuss the Scriptures in depth, that is. :-)

  • http://www.thirduse.com fws

    tom Hering @74

    http://www.krisandsusanna.com/Documents/Millennialism%20and%20Open%20Questions.pdf

    This is a very good article Tom. They mention but could be more explicit and develop the idea more in saying that the two kingdoms doctrine is not the churchly estate vs the civil estate, it is law and gospel: this puts EVERYTHING into the earthly kingdom or man´s kingdom , so that alone. alone. alone. in The Kingdom of God is Christ alone, and faith, alone, in him.

    I think they made an error btw in Luke 17:21. Earlier they quote the catechism and Luther as saying that the Kingdom of God= Christ. Period. Luke 17:21 is better translated “The Kingdom of God is now right here among you (meaning Christ himself!).

    Please consider what they say at the end about what is the “confessional principle. We must never read the Confessions as a catalog of beliefs or a book of systematic theology. It is not that.:

    “We should always examine the historical context in which the Lutheran Confessions were written. We should not, however make the mistake of Dr. O. Hallesby and assume the Lutheran Confessions are only relevant to the particular historic situation in which they were written. To do so undermines the confessional principle itself. We also must not make the mistake of thinking the Lutheran Confessions are a dogmatics text in which every article of doctrine has its own article, and in which each article of doctrine is discussed exhaustively. Instead, as we have demonstrated above, the particular article of doctrine concerning Last Things is dealt with in a variety of ways. We have shown, for example, that the articles of doctrine concerning the church, divine election, vocation and the two realms also have relevance to the issue before us. Thus it cannot be said that Article XVII of the Augustana is restricted to the specific heresies extant at the time of the Reformation. Nor can it be said that millennialism is consistent with a quia subscription, or that the issue of the millennium is an open question. Millennialism—including its modern variants known dispensationalism and dominionism—is and remains a gross error.”

    Please also note dear Tom, that someone really has to read the Confessions and tie together the various parts. For example FC art VI titled “3rd use of the law” states that there is no “third use”, and the article can only be understood when one looks for law and gospel and sanctification there. But note that law and gospel and sanctification are never mentioned in that article! instead you get those two things with the terms New man or regenerated man, vs old adam.

    People read art VI looking for a calvinistic 3rd use. they “find ” it. And they miss the entire point of art VI.

  • http://www.thirduse.com fws

    tom Hering @74

    http://www.krisandsusanna.com/Documents/Millennialism%20and%20Open%20Questions.pdf

    This is a very good article Tom. They mention but could be more explicit and develop the idea more in saying that the two kingdoms doctrine is not the churchly estate vs the civil estate, it is law and gospel: this puts EVERYTHING into the earthly kingdom or man´s kingdom , so that alone. alone. alone. in The Kingdom of God is Christ alone, and faith, alone, in him.

    I think they made an error btw in Luke 17:21. Earlier they quote the catechism and Luther as saying that the Kingdom of God= Christ. Period. Luke 17:21 is better translated “The Kingdom of God is now right here among you (meaning Christ himself!).

    Please consider what they say at the end about what is the “confessional principle. We must never read the Confessions as a catalog of beliefs or a book of systematic theology. It is not that.:

    “We should always examine the historical context in which the Lutheran Confessions were written. We should not, however make the mistake of Dr. O. Hallesby and assume the Lutheran Confessions are only relevant to the particular historic situation in which they were written. To do so undermines the confessional principle itself. We also must not make the mistake of thinking the Lutheran Confessions are a dogmatics text in which every article of doctrine has its own article, and in which each article of doctrine is discussed exhaustively. Instead, as we have demonstrated above, the particular article of doctrine concerning Last Things is dealt with in a variety of ways. We have shown, for example, that the articles of doctrine concerning the church, divine election, vocation and the two realms also have relevance to the issue before us. Thus it cannot be said that Article XVII of the Augustana is restricted to the specific heresies extant at the time of the Reformation. Nor can it be said that millennialism is consistent with a quia subscription, or that the issue of the millennium is an open question. Millennialism—including its modern variants known dispensationalism and dominionism—is and remains a gross error.”

    Please also note dear Tom, that someone really has to read the Confessions and tie together the various parts. For example FC art VI titled “3rd use of the law” states that there is no “third use”, and the article can only be understood when one looks for law and gospel and sanctification there. But note that law and gospel and sanctification are never mentioned in that article! instead you get those two things with the terms New man or regenerated man, vs old adam.

    People read art VI looking for a calvinistic 3rd use. they “find ” it. And they miss the entire point of art VI.

  • Ross

    It actually can be said that Lutherans are amillennialists, and this is what you will find confessional Lutherans teaching in line with the majority of Christianity throughout history. The AC does refer to this, but does not go into greater detail because this wasn’t an issue between Lutherans and Roman Catholics since they both officially teach (and always taught) amillennialism. Here is a very good study from the Missouri Synod’s Commission on Theology and Church Relations about the End Times: http://www.lcms.org/graphics/assets/media/CTCR/endtme-11.pdf

  • Ross

    It actually can be said that Lutherans are amillennialists, and this is what you will find confessional Lutherans teaching in line with the majority of Christianity throughout history. The AC does refer to this, but does not go into greater detail because this wasn’t an issue between Lutherans and Roman Catholics since they both officially teach (and always taught) amillennialism. Here is a very good study from the Missouri Synod’s Commission on Theology and Church Relations about the End Times: http://www.lcms.org/graphics/assets/media/CTCR/endtme-11.pdf

  • Tom Hering

    Frank, read carefully what sort of Millennialism AC XVII rejects – very exactly: “that before the resurrection of the dead” [obviously future] “saints and righteous people alone will posses a secular” [not spiritual] “kingdom and will annihilate all the ungodly.” In contrast, Luther’s Millennium involved a period that (A.) had already passed, (B.) involved the first thousand years of the Church, and (C.) saw the spread of the Gospel among the ungodly – and this in relative peace. There’s nothing in AC XVII that rejects all literal understandings of the Millennium – which is what Amillennialism does. Keep in mind: Luther’s Supputatio Annorum Mundi was published ten years after the AC – largely to check the spread of the sort of Millennialism that the AC rejects.

  • Tom Hering

    Frank, read carefully what sort of Millennialism AC XVII rejects – very exactly: “that before the resurrection of the dead” [obviously future] “saints and righteous people alone will posses a secular” [not spiritual] “kingdom and will annihilate all the ungodly.” In contrast, Luther’s Millennium involved a period that (A.) had already passed, (B.) involved the first thousand years of the Church, and (C.) saw the spread of the Gospel among the ungodly – and this in relative peace. There’s nothing in AC XVII that rejects all literal understandings of the Millennium – which is what Amillennialism does. Keep in mind: Luther’s Supputatio Annorum Mundi was published ten years after the AC – largely to check the spread of the sort of Millennialism that the AC rejects.

  • http://www.thirduse.com fws
  • http://www.thirduse.com fws
  • Porcell

    Rob: Anybody out there still interested in talking about N.T. Wright, or are we only interested in theories on the millennium at this point?

    I’m still interested, though one notes that when these threads get taken over by the babblers, however well meant, the air goes out of the main topic. Earlier, we had an excellent discussion going on the
    topic, mainly with John Piper’s relation to N.T. Wright. Dr. Veith at one point [at 32] attempted to get us back on track; it appears that, as the saying goes, one can never go home again.

  • Porcell

    Rob: Anybody out there still interested in talking about N.T. Wright, or are we only interested in theories on the millennium at this point?

    I’m still interested, though one notes that when these threads get taken over by the babblers, however well meant, the air goes out of the main topic. Earlier, we had an excellent discussion going on the
    topic, mainly with John Piper’s relation to N.T. Wright. Dr. Veith at one point [at 32] attempted to get us back on track; it appears that, as the saying goes, one can never go home again.

  • Tom Hering

    Porcell, if you were so very interested in the discussion of Wright, then why didn’t you, yourself, help to keep it going? You only contributed one comment @ 20, which no one responded to. Is that what’s really got your undies in a bundle?

  • Tom Hering

    Porcell, if you were so very interested in the discussion of Wright, then why didn’t you, yourself, help to keep it going? You only contributed one comment @ 20, which no one responded to. Is that what’s really got your undies in a bundle?

  • Porcell

    Not really, Tom, though that comment at 20 didn’t get a response, I had followed the discussion closely and learned from it. The fact that you and Grace at about that point changed the topic of the discussion is coincidental. I’m secure enough to understand that not all of one’s comments deserve a response.

    To use your crude term, my undies at that point were perfectly cool, though as the discussion ended up with a back and forth about millennialism, I was reminded of the way Dr. Veith’s interesting topics often devolve into cat fights between, you, others, and Grace, though the one on this thread was uncharacteristically less fevered.

  • Porcell

    Not really, Tom, though that comment at 20 didn’t get a response, I had followed the discussion closely and learned from it. The fact that you and Grace at about that point changed the topic of the discussion is coincidental. I’m secure enough to understand that not all of one’s comments deserve a response.

    To use your crude term, my undies at that point were perfectly cool, though as the discussion ended up with a back and forth about millennialism, I was reminded of the way Dr. Veith’s interesting topics often devolve into cat fights between, you, others, and Grace, though the one on this thread was uncharacteristically less fevered.

  • Tom Hering

    Porcell, if you look at Dr. Veith’s reading assignment for this discussion, the CT article, you’ll find Piper and Wright discussing – among other things – righteousness. So it’s hardly surprising that righteousness would become a topic of discussion here.

    Further, Wright begins his part of the CT article this way, “Because of human sinfulness, the world needs to be put to rights again and its original purpose taken forward to completion.” And he ends it this way, “The present verdict gives the assurance that the verdict announced on the Last Day will match it; the Holy Spirit gives the power through which that future verdict, when given, will be seen to be in accordance with the life that the believer has then lived.” So it’s not surprising both righteousness AND eschatology would become topics of discussion here.

  • Tom Hering

    Porcell, if you look at Dr. Veith’s reading assignment for this discussion, the CT article, you’ll find Piper and Wright discussing – among other things – righteousness. So it’s hardly surprising that righteousness would become a topic of discussion here.

    Further, Wright begins his part of the CT article this way, “Because of human sinfulness, the world needs to be put to rights again and its original purpose taken forward to completion.” And he ends it this way, “The present verdict gives the assurance that the verdict announced on the Last Day will match it; the Holy Spirit gives the power through which that future verdict, when given, will be seen to be in accordance with the life that the believer has then lived.” So it’s not surprising both righteousness AND eschatology would become topics of discussion here.

  • Porcell

    Tom, I understand that Wright is interested in both righteousness and eschatology, though note when you and Grace got going on your personal interpretations of these topics most of the others involved in the discussion up to that point trailed off. N. T Wright and Piper became essentially history on the thread.

  • Porcell

    Tom, I understand that Wright is interested in both righteousness and eschatology, though note when you and Grace got going on your personal interpretations of these topics most of the others involved in the discussion up to that point trailed off. N. T Wright and Piper became essentially history on the thread.

  • Tom Hering

    Porcell, do you honestly expect an orderly progression in the discussions here? I mean, that would be a reasonable expectation to have of some scholarly subscription-only listserve. But open blogs aren’t like that. Their threads resemble real-world conversations, which – as we all know – go off on all sorts of tangents. Tangents directly related to the participants’ personal concerns and interests.

    You mentioned our “cat fights.” Do you honestly think cats can be herded? :-)

  • Tom Hering

    Porcell, do you honestly expect an orderly progression in the discussions here? I mean, that would be a reasonable expectation to have of some scholarly subscription-only listserve. But open blogs aren’t like that. Their threads resemble real-world conversations, which – as we all know – go off on all sorts of tangents. Tangents directly related to the participants’ personal concerns and interests.

    You mentioned our “cat fights.” Do you honestly think cats can be herded? :-)

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Last year I decided I needed to research Wright a little, so I ordered his book “justification” which seemed be not about justification but trying to justify his new perspective to Piper. He took a lot of shots at Luther, but seemed to not understand Luther or to have read Luther much at all. He took shots at what he perceived to be Luther’s view. I did not find him to be very insightful. The book was more of a debate with Piper than anything. And both of them are so far off base that the book was frustrating for a Lutheran to read.
    But to think that you have a couple documents for an obscure sect of second temple Judaism and some how those become that by which the rest of mainstream Jewish society of that time should be interpreted is more than a little ludicrous. The position seems to assume, furthermore, that the Biblical texts themselves should not be taken as primary, first source texts with which to draw a picture of what first century Judaism was like. Yet these texts were all written in the first century by contemporaries, indeed, by Jews! So when Paul, who was a pharisee of Pharisees, and went to school to be a rabbi, interprets the Jewish society of his day, well, I’ll take his word for it over that of N.T. Wright. The same goes for the rest of the New Testament texts. I think Jesus and his disciples understood Jewish society quite well enough.
    Someone here mentioned that Luther’s view of the first century of Judaism as legalist doesn’t reflect the best of what Judaism had to offer at that time. This is indeed what Wright maintains, and it is maybe true. But then first century popular Judaism, Pharisees and Sadducees, crucified the best of what first century Judaism had to offer, which is the whole point. And even the most Grace filled texts of the Old Testament still require that “The lamb of God” be crucified for the sins of the world before the grace they proclaim is possible.
    What I think wright argues against isn’t so much the Lutheran view, but a Calvinist interpretation of the Lutheran view of Justification. That is what I ascertained a year ago.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Last year I decided I needed to research Wright a little, so I ordered his book “justification” which seemed be not about justification but trying to justify his new perspective to Piper. He took a lot of shots at Luther, but seemed to not understand Luther or to have read Luther much at all. He took shots at what he perceived to be Luther’s view. I did not find him to be very insightful. The book was more of a debate with Piper than anything. And both of them are so far off base that the book was frustrating for a Lutheran to read.
    But to think that you have a couple documents for an obscure sect of second temple Judaism and some how those become that by which the rest of mainstream Jewish society of that time should be interpreted is more than a little ludicrous. The position seems to assume, furthermore, that the Biblical texts themselves should not be taken as primary, first source texts with which to draw a picture of what first century Judaism was like. Yet these texts were all written in the first century by contemporaries, indeed, by Jews! So when Paul, who was a pharisee of Pharisees, and went to school to be a rabbi, interprets the Jewish society of his day, well, I’ll take his word for it over that of N.T. Wright. The same goes for the rest of the New Testament texts. I think Jesus and his disciples understood Jewish society quite well enough.
    Someone here mentioned that Luther’s view of the first century of Judaism as legalist doesn’t reflect the best of what Judaism had to offer at that time. This is indeed what Wright maintains, and it is maybe true. But then first century popular Judaism, Pharisees and Sadducees, crucified the best of what first century Judaism had to offer, which is the whole point. And even the most Grace filled texts of the Old Testament still require that “The lamb of God” be crucified for the sins of the world before the grace they proclaim is possible.
    What I think wright argues against isn’t so much the Lutheran view, but a Calvinist interpretation of the Lutheran view of Justification. That is what I ascertained a year ago.

  • http://www.thirduse.com fws

    tom @79

    my point is that article XVII is not the only or even main place one needs to look to find a confessional view on eschatology and the end times. The art I linked to in 77 is a great illustration of what I think is the right approach, even if I am not certain I agree with every conclusion of the article.

    I would be interested to hear what you think about that particular point I was trying to make, and, granted, made rather poorly! ;)

  • http://www.thirduse.com fws

    tom @79

    my point is that article XVII is not the only or even main place one needs to look to find a confessional view on eschatology and the end times. The art I linked to in 77 is a great illustration of what I think is the right approach, even if I am not certain I agree with every conclusion of the article.

    I would be interested to hear what you think about that particular point I was trying to make, and, granted, made rather poorly! ;)

  • Porcell

    Thanks, Bror. Having read some Luther, Melanchthon, Braaten, and Piepkorn over the last year, I agree that Wright doesn’t seem to really understand the Lutheran view. He seems mostly to criticize the evangelicals for a narrow emphasis on individual justification and lacks an understanding of the breadth of Lutheran communal liturgy and sacraments.

    Wright, though brilliant, has a very English, not really subtle, way of caricaturing his opponents.

  • Porcell

    Thanks, Bror. Having read some Luther, Melanchthon, Braaten, and Piepkorn over the last year, I agree that Wright doesn’t seem to really understand the Lutheran view. He seems mostly to criticize the evangelicals for a narrow emphasis on individual justification and lacks an understanding of the breadth of Lutheran communal liturgy and sacraments.

    Wright, though brilliant, has a very English, not really subtle, way of caricaturing his opponents.

  • http://www.thirduse.com fws

    Porcell @ 89

    The real deal is to read the Book of Concord Peter http://www.bookofconcord.com

    As a lifelong lutheran, I am finding that reading the sections on original sin II of the apology, and on good works and love IV are informing me almost more about the Lutheran view of Justification than the actual section on Justification. You might give those sections a looksee.

    The think I like about the Confessions are their irenic nature. If you read the sections on original sin and good works and love for example, the Old Lutherans have alot more to say about the need to do good works than you would get from most modern Lutherans.

    I am learning Peter , that they seem actually intent on yielding EVERY point they can on good works except for the single fact that good works and love cannot justify us. They would therefore agree with all of what St James has to say about works. You would not get that impression from most modern Lutherans would you?

  • http://www.thirduse.com fws

    Porcell @ 89

    The real deal is to read the Book of Concord Peter http://www.bookofconcord.com

    As a lifelong lutheran, I am finding that reading the sections on original sin II of the apology, and on good works and love IV are informing me almost more about the Lutheran view of Justification than the actual section on Justification. You might give those sections a looksee.

    The think I like about the Confessions are their irenic nature. If you read the sections on original sin and good works and love for example, the Old Lutherans have alot more to say about the need to do good works than you would get from most modern Lutherans.

    I am learning Peter , that they seem actually intent on yielding EVERY point they can on good works except for the single fact that good works and love cannot justify us. They would therefore agree with all of what St James has to say about works. You would not get that impression from most modern Lutherans would you?

  • Tom Hering

    Frank @ 87, I think it’s better we continue when Amillennialism is the topic of one of Dr. Veith’s posts. I don’t want our brother Porcell to be irked any more than he already is. :-)

  • Tom Hering

    Frank @ 87, I think it’s better we continue when Amillennialism is the topic of one of Dr. Veith’s posts. I don’t want our brother Porcell to be irked any more than he already is. :-)

  • Grace

    Porcell,

    It is unfortunate you were incapable of requesting in a kind way, this thread return to what you wished it to be. Instead your tantrumized position, which included blustering “babble” as your excuse.

    If you were following this thread, why didn’t you post something of value to the subject you believed to have gone astray? Instead you delay your re-entry on this thread, then bouncing “babble” as an angry observer. Babble might very well define your outburst.

    I am sorry this happened Peter, I have always enjoyed your posts, not always agreeing, but certainly not feeling the need to chastise you, as you have done to me and others lately.

    I am disappointed!

  • Grace

    Porcell,

    It is unfortunate you were incapable of requesting in a kind way, this thread return to what you wished it to be. Instead your tantrumized position, which included blustering “babble” as your excuse.

    If you were following this thread, why didn’t you post something of value to the subject you believed to have gone astray? Instead you delay your re-entry on this thread, then bouncing “babble” as an angry observer. Babble might very well define your outburst.

    I am sorry this happened Peter, I have always enjoyed your posts, not always agreeing, but certainly not feeling the need to chastise you, as you have done to me and others lately.

    I am disappointed!

  • Grace

    Peter

    Your remarks were harsh, I was taken back, however I don’t want to carry any animosity towards you. Let’s just forget it and move on.

    I hope everyone can once again enjoy this thread. :)

    Sincerely, Grace

  • Grace

    Peter

    Your remarks were harsh, I was taken back, however I don’t want to carry any animosity towards you. Let’s just forget it and move on.

    I hope everyone can once again enjoy this thread. :)

    Sincerely, Grace

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Porcell,
    I don’t know that that is a particularly English trait, as I have known many with it. However, I think it would do Wright a great amount of good to read Luther before he criticizes him. I might try to read Wright again, but honestly I was lost reading him. He writes a book called Justification, and he really couldn’t seem to get around to the point he was trying to make, or articulate it clearly. He wrote elegantly enough, but I was at a loss for the most part as to what his point was. He talks a lot about community etc, I think I remember at one point thinking, He isn’t writing about justification but the communion of saints. but that isn’t even very accurate.
    What makes us a saint if not Justification by faith alone? What makes us part of God’s family if it isn’t being declared righteous despite our sin? How does God claim us if it isn’t in this manner, that he justifies us and forgives our sins, if I may be redundant and repeat myself.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Porcell,
    I don’t know that that is a particularly English trait, as I have known many with it. However, I think it would do Wright a great amount of good to read Luther before he criticizes him. I might try to read Wright again, but honestly I was lost reading him. He writes a book called Justification, and he really couldn’t seem to get around to the point he was trying to make, or articulate it clearly. He wrote elegantly enough, but I was at a loss for the most part as to what his point was. He talks a lot about community etc, I think I remember at one point thinking, He isn’t writing about justification but the communion of saints. but that isn’t even very accurate.
    What makes us a saint if not Justification by faith alone? What makes us part of God’s family if it isn’t being declared righteous despite our sin? How does God claim us if it isn’t in this manner, that he justifies us and forgives our sins, if I may be redundant and repeat myself.

  • JonSLC

    Bror @94: “What makes us part of God’s family if it isn’t being declared righteous despite our sin? How does God claim us if it isn’t in this manner, that he justifies us and forgives our sins…”

    That’s what I was getting at back in comment 15. Of course, justification is related to the inclusion of Gentiles in the community of the New Covenant. But it seems to me that Wright is saying that justification is ONLY about inclusion in the community.

    What does Wright do with Abraham being “considered righteous” in Romans 4?

  • JonSLC

    Bror @94: “What makes us part of God’s family if it isn’t being declared righteous despite our sin? How does God claim us if it isn’t in this manner, that he justifies us and forgives our sins…”

    That’s what I was getting at back in comment 15. Of course, justification is related to the inclusion of Gentiles in the community of the New Covenant. But it seems to me that Wright is saying that justification is ONLY about inclusion in the community.

    What does Wright do with Abraham being “considered righteous” in Romans 4?

  • Stephen

    For lack of a better way to put it, N.T. Wright’s problem is that he’s Anglican. The theology and liturgy of the Anglican (and consequently Episcopalian) communion is decidedly focused on the resurrection. If you’ve ever worshiped in an Episcopal church you will notice striking similarities in the service except that all the language of liturgy leans heavily into the Easter proclamation whereas Lutheranism is heavily Good Friday. Take a look in the Book of Common Prayer some time. It’s very beautiful, but also very different.

    Well, that’s kind of a crude way to spell it out from a sort of cultural anthropology standpoint, but Lutheranism is more Christo-centric (yeah!!!) and Anglicanism focuses much more on the new creation and the Holy Spirit. It’s theological outlook is more interested in all those things listed that have to do with the Communion of Saints, Second Coming and it can even get kind of New Agey some times. So, consequently, N. T. Wright’s theological, exegetical and hermeneutical perspective is all tangled up in that.

    For what it’s worth, I think here he makes what might be seen as some kind of “side benefit” of justification into the main thing – Gentiles are included – which works well if you think it through given the perspective I just mentioned. But it’s kind of lame in my book and does nothing for the human person. However, I will say that I did read one of his books on the resurrection and I very much enjoyed parts of it, probably for the very reason that Lutheranism does not spend very much energy on imagining this. Otherwise, I think knows how I feel about Piper, and I think they both display a bit of creeping works righteousness here.

  • Stephen

    For lack of a better way to put it, N.T. Wright’s problem is that he’s Anglican. The theology and liturgy of the Anglican (and consequently Episcopalian) communion is decidedly focused on the resurrection. If you’ve ever worshiped in an Episcopal church you will notice striking similarities in the service except that all the language of liturgy leans heavily into the Easter proclamation whereas Lutheranism is heavily Good Friday. Take a look in the Book of Common Prayer some time. It’s very beautiful, but also very different.

    Well, that’s kind of a crude way to spell it out from a sort of cultural anthropology standpoint, but Lutheranism is more Christo-centric (yeah!!!) and Anglicanism focuses much more on the new creation and the Holy Spirit. It’s theological outlook is more interested in all those things listed that have to do with the Communion of Saints, Second Coming and it can even get kind of New Agey some times. So, consequently, N. T. Wright’s theological, exegetical and hermeneutical perspective is all tangled up in that.

    For what it’s worth, I think here he makes what might be seen as some kind of “side benefit” of justification into the main thing – Gentiles are included – which works well if you think it through given the perspective I just mentioned. But it’s kind of lame in my book and does nothing for the human person. However, I will say that I did read one of his books on the resurrection and I very much enjoyed parts of it, probably for the very reason that Lutheranism does not spend very much energy on imagining this. Otherwise, I think knows how I feel about Piper, and I think they both display a bit of creeping works righteousness here.

  • http://www.thirduse.com fws

    stephen @96

    very helpful

  • http://www.thirduse.com fws

    stephen @96

    very helpful


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