N.T. Wright on Justification in PFG

N.T. Wright on Justification in PFG October 14, 2013

Here’s a quote from PFG about what N.T. Wright says about justification in relation to eschatology and transformation:

[E]ven though Romans 3.21–31 is part of the same flow of argument as Romans 5—8, and Galatians 2.15–21 is part of the same flow of argument as Galatians 4—6, and even though these two larger arguments do develop a view of the spirit’s work in the transformation of character which can properly be seen both as virtue and as theōsis, this does not take away from the fact that when Paul speaks of initial justification by faith he means it as a very particular, specific claim. This ‘justification’ means that, ahead of any transformation of character other than the bare, initial pistis whose whole nature character is by definition to look helplessly away from itself and gratefully towards the saving work of the Messiah, this person is welcomed into the family on the basis of that confession of faith and nothing else. The inaugurated-eschatological assurance which this welcome provides is thus both forensic (the verdict of ‘not guilty’ in the present will be repeated in the future) and covenantal (full membership in Abraham’s family is granted at once and will be reaffirmed in the resurrection). The two dimensions join up in practical ecclesiology: the mutual welcome which Paul urges in Romans 14 and 15 is the concrete, bodily form which ‘forgiveness’ is supposed to take in the present time.

Here’s my questions:

1. Does this statement assuage Reformed critics that Wright confuses “law” and “gospel”?

2. Does this statement imply that that Wright sees justification as both social and soteric?

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Brian

    If you ask me, seems like he’s come a long way since what Saint Paul really said…

  • Jesse Reese

    Why the separation between “social” and “soteric?” You may have a good rationale, but I think Wright would take issue with the assumptions preceding that division.

  • Jon Weatherly

    Yes and yes.

  • Jason

    1. Many of his reformed critics (not Mike) use the word ‘gospel’ as a shorthand for justification by faith or individual salvation rather than an announcement about Jesus so there is still confusion in this area since they are demonstrably wrong. 🙂

    2. Yes. Reading this article made me ponder whether the whole controversy is fuelled by a deficient view of the church. It is well documented that this doctrine has been an afterthought in Protestantism since the Reformation. Drawing these two elements (soteric and social) into one is helpful in noting that we are a saved community and not merely a group of ‘saved’ individuals.