Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Justification without Christ

I found this video clip interesting because N.T. Wright discusses justification, but he makes no indication of Christ! How one can talk for any length of time about justification and not mention the work of Christ is beyond me. Take a look for yourself.





(HT: Burk Parsons)

92 comments:

  1. I don't get this at all.

    First, 3 minutes 50 seconds is hardly "any length of time." Second, Wright is so incredibly focused on Christ throughout his writings (as you surely know from reading him) that whatever you may be suggesting by Wright's "silence" escapes me. Finally, if any fault is to be found with the lack of the mention of Christ, it is the editors at IVP who edited this conversation for video.

    Above the box where readers make comments you suggest, "Think hard about this: the world is watching!" It is good advice to follow all around, even with the blog posts themselves.

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  2. We've been watching too much Fox News haven't we?

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  3. Mark,

    Thank you so much for commenting on our blog. I apologies if I gave the impression that N.T. Wright does not talk about Christ. Let me go on record, as you did, and say that Wright does talk about Christ. However, the point of my post was that overall, and this video is illustrative of the fact that, Wright does not place a focus on Christ in justification.

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  4. Wright doesn’t actually say whether or not Christ is involved in Justification but he does indicate that justification is something that is more then just the atonement of Christ (without actually mentioning Christ). He indicated that justification is all of our experience in salvation. From the moment of salvation through sanctification to glorification, this takes the focus off of Christ alone and puts justification in some way being acquired by our own efforts (sanctification). He emphasized this when he talked about the main question being ‘how can I obtain enough righteousness’ indicating that this is not what Paul was talking about. He goes on to say that what Paul is asking is how can I become part of the people of God and how can my sins be forgiven. Wright seems to put becoming part of the people of God and having our sins forgiven as the same thing. In one sense I can agree. When our sins are forgiven we become the people of God. However: I would say that this applies to the ‘Invisible Church’. Wright would say that this would be true of the ‘Visible Church’. So has said elsewhere that justification is our being declared righteous based on our identification as a member of the people of God. Historical Protestantism would say that we are declared righteous based on having the righteousness of Christ placed into our account. This righteousness is based on both the active and passive obedience of Christ. True the totality of salvation is new birth, sanctification and glorification but that is all based on the work of Christ. What Josh was pointing out was that the focus of the short interview was never close to discussing Christ.

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  5. Um, "What God is doing for the world through the gospel..."

    That's not about the messiah????

    Methinks thou dost protest too much.

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  6. Steven,

    To be charitable, that is a good assumption. However, at least, this "reference" is implicit, which underscores the point made on other posts that Wright is unclear on some of the central issues.

    Let me put my original point this way. If someone asked me to speak on the issue of justification for 4 minutes, I am positive that I would mention Christ because he is central in justification. Further, if I was asked to give justification in a sentence, Christ would be mentioned. In fact, Christ is referred to, by name, in the shorter catechism's definition of justification: Justification is an act of God’s free grace wherein he pardoneth all our sins, and accepteth us as righteous in His sight, only for the righteousness of Christ imputed to us, and received by faith alone.

    Perhaps, I am being to picky, I will leave that for the readers to decide, but I think leaving Christ out of any discussion of justification, no matter how brief, is a huge oversight at best and a denial of the gospel at worst.

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  7. "From the moment of salvation through sanctification to glorification, this takes the focus off of Christ alone and puts justification in some way being acquired by our own efforts (sanctification)."

    Rob,

    I am afraid that you are not getting Wright at all here. I can't think of a more bizarre interpretation of Wright's point. He denied that justification should be used to include all those other loci, and indeed, he chided Barth and others for collapsing them into justification.

    His point is to connect justification to BT/ "Covenant Theology" (in the BT sense, of course). Wright is saying that the Pauline teaching on justification is the culmination of the covenant with Abraham. It is cosmic, including the salvation of the world, first through Israel and then through the inclusion of the Gentiles, which BTW, comes through "the work of Christ." That's Wright's entire project.

    So, register your disagreements along the way with Wright, by all means, but at least show some inkling of Wright's thesis. Gee whiz.

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  8. Josh,

    Anyone familiar with any of Wright's work (he's got two 1,000 pg books on Jesus), knows that he emphasizes Jesus Christ all the time. In fact, one big part of his project is to explain what "Christ" means, ie. the messiah and the fulfillment of Israel. There is really no way to accuse wright of failing to mention "Christ' when he speaks of justification without just looking silly.

    Now this interview that you've linked is just that, an interview. The question was clearly, "Why did you write this book?" and he answered that question with, "I wrote this book because a lot of people have said X, and that goes wrong in this direction." He didn't say, "They are completely wrong in every way and I totally disagree with their religion." Hardly. He shares a lot of ground with them and thus has no need to reinvent every wheel.

    Did they ask other questions? Will subsequent segments be released? Perhaps Wright ends the whole thing with an invitation. We don't really know.

    But to demand that every speaking occasion be used in the same way is, again, silly. It is a sound-byte gotcha game worthy of FOX news, as Faris rightly divined.

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  9. Josh,

    Thanks for this! It is interesting that N.T. Wright can break down the doctrine of justification to some music that sounds like it belongs to a Rocky soundtrack and never mention the Lord Jesus Christ, our righteousness.

    Steven,

    The Roman Catholics have 1000 page books on Jesus too, but they have another Gospel. Your argument is completely invalid. The question is whether or not Wright attributes all of justification to the Person and work of Christ alone. It seems that someone who attributes our eschatological justification to the work of Christ and the good works that we do (albeit Spirit wrought works) is actually taking glory from the Christ who justifies us apart from anything that we do. This is the point of Romans 4 by the way!

    Mark,

    Do you think Paul would have spoken on justification for 3 min. and 40 seconds without mentioning Christ? I don't! In fact, Paul's epistles demonstrate this principle. St. Paul cannot go two verses, in a context concerning justification, sanctification or glorification without giving glory to the Christ who is our "wisdom, righteousness, sanctification and redemption."

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  10. Josh's previous post says:

    "This week the great folks at Ligonier Ministries are ofering daily specials in honor of Calvin's 500th birthday. Today only the special offer is a black leather Reformation Study Bible for a donation of any amount. That is right, a leather Study Bible for a gift of any amount. That is almost insane, almost! To find out all the details on this amazing offer head to their website."

    How can you speak of the Bible without mentioning the Christ of whom it speaks about? You mention donations... you mention a guy named Calvin... but where is Christ? Do the scriptures not point to Christ? and yet the above fails to mention the one who has authored the scriptures. Just goes to show you how fast and loose people treat the Bible these days.

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  11. Faris,

    The Bible is not only about Christ. Plus Paul, Peter and all the apostles speak of scripture in contexts in which they do not mention Christ. You rhetorical slight of hand has failed.

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  12. Mark, Steven and Faris

    It would be nice to know who you are. Blogging with a first name and no access to any information is tantamount to blogging anonymously. You might have a little more credibility if you actually let people know who you are. Just some advise for future encounters.

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  13. Nicholas,

    I go to RTS with Josh. He and I are friends so it has been my duty to harass him as I see fit. I actually blog very little thus my lack of desire to put info up but your point is well taken.

    All failed rhetorical slights of hand aside, I'm fine with working through arguments about people's theology. But putting "Justification Without Christ" over a short video clip that does not at all purport "Justification without Christ" is a bit underhanded. If I made a post that said "Sanctification without Holy Spirit" and then I showed a clip of you speaking about sanctification in the life of the believer using words like "Christ in you" and "the power of the resurrection" but in 4 minutes you never referred to the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, would you not say, "Come'on now, that's not fair of you to post something like this about me."?

    I really think that this is all that Mark, Steven and I are saying. If someone is going to make a case that Wright has denied the Gospel, then make the case. Make the case all day long. But this is not the way to do it. If my lack of info in my profile is tantamount to anonymous blogging, then this post is tantamount to a sucker punch.

    Grace & Peace,
    Faris

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  14. Truth be told, Faris, I said this exact same thing to Burk when he sent it to me via email some two months ago…

    And it doesn't have anything whatsoever to do with agreeing with the guy or not; it's simply about presenting charitably another's views.

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  15. Chris,

    You weren't the only one, although I obviously didn't say anything to Mr. Parsons since I don't know him.

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  16. Nicholas,

    Josh knows me personally. I would actually rather use another screenname, with a link to my blog, but I can't seem to find that option here. It will only use my google account.

    Also, your response to me changed the state of the question and thus would change my response.

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  17. Chris,

    I agree entirely with your desire to see the views of others presented charitably. I think it is more of an issue of presenting the logical outworking of those views honestly. I do think that N.T. Wright has been clear enough that he does not believe that justification, as taught in the Pauline corpus, is the doctrine of receiving the righteousness of Christ imputed to us by faith alone. Would you agree? If so, what is he interpreting it to be? Inclusion in the visible church, right?

    I would also ask all of you one question? Wright says that the Divines get the right answer to the wrong question. This is very confusing. If Wright agrees that their definition of justification is the correct answer to the wrong question, what is the question that they are answering correctly with their definition of justification?

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  18. Nicholas,

    I have some problems with Wright's readings, but his point is that the Divines are asking a particular pastoral question: "What must I, the individual, do in order to be found just with God, and thus not be condemned but rather eternally saved?"

    Wright wants to say that Paul's theology is more about, "How is God setting the world back to rights?" which is his fancy way of saying, "How is God fixing the Fall?" or "How is God doing away with evil?" He's connecting it with what we would call eschatology.

    I think that Paul is asking both questions, and I think that Wright would eventually admit this if pressed, but he's (over)emphasizing what he sees to be a corrective, and well, he's sick with the modern academia salesmanship: "new," "fresh," "striking," "robust," ect.

    Wright's biggest problem, in my opinion, is his failure to connect "the covenant with Abraham" to the specifics of the garden of Eden and the fall of Adam. Now again, I'm sure Wright would concede this if pressed, but I can't the bridge between "the covenant with Abraham" and Adam in his books nearly at all. Now I'm not so obtuse as to therefore say that Wright denies the Fall or the reality of sin. Wright does say that God is dealing with sin on numerous occasions. He just doesn't put all of the "Biblical Theology" pieces together. There are a few gaps in there, and thus the "narrative" is weaker than it could be. I need some pre-Genesis 12 action.

    But my guess is that most folks in Wright's circles don't really believe in anything prior to Genesis 12, and thus he, whether intentionally or just by zeitgeist contagion, tends to neglect those chapters.

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  19. Steven,

    Thank you for trying to defend Wright's Eschatological welatanshauung. I don't want to sound snide so please take this comment the right way. I am not asking you to explain Wright's biblical theology to me. I understand what eschatology is. I write at a site called Historia Salutis. I really do understand what he is saying. You have misunderstood my question. I understand that Wright is reacting to what he sees as a Western individualistic reading of Paul. I have read Stendahl's article on Paul and the introspective conscience of the West. I also understand that Wright is saying that justification is about God's making everything in the fallen world right (which is incidentally universalism if you do not have a robust doctrine of hell, which Wright does not have). Wright believes that he is the only theologian who has adequately focused on the idea of the "New Heavens and New Earth." Has he read any of the theologians of the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. I could produce a list of hundreds of sermons and works that deal with this all important biblical doctrine. What Wright has done is taken the idea of the New Heavens and the New Earth and redefined justification with it.

    Now, the question I asked has to do with with Wright's statement about the Divine's assertion on the imputation of Christ's righteousness. Wright denies imputation in 'What Saint Paul Really Said,' as well as in other writings. How can he then say that they get the right answer to the wrong question. If the Divines are wrong to say that justification is "an act of God's free grace whereby He pardoneth all of our sins, and accepteth us as righteous in His sight, only for the righteousness of Christ imputed to us and received by grace alone," then in what particular aspect of the ordo salutis would their answer be the correct answer to? Do you understand what I am asking now? Where in Wright's teaching does the bible ask the question "How can a man be right before God?" if not in justification? That is the question for which I am seeking an answer.

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  20. Steven,


    I am not sure that you understand what I am saying about what Wright is saying. My point was that when it comes to Justification Wright sees it as those who are identified with the people of God. (visible church). I do understand Wright’s teaching on the Redemption of the whole creation but I didn’t think that that needed to be commented on. Josh has taken a lot of grief for pointing out that Wright didn’t mention Christ in the three minutes that he had. If Wright were someone that didn’t have anything published or a whole lot of MP3’s then it would be a correct chastening. The main point that was being pointed out by Josh was why didn’t Wright mention Christ when discussing his views on Justification. The answer that I was giving was based on Wright’s writings and the MP3’s, as well as the lectures that I heard him give last Christmas. He doesn’t believe that it is Christ alone that justifies us. He has said that God will declare us righteous based on our righteous works. He also says that these works that we do are not meritorious, although I think that that is contradictory. When he said that the WCF gives the right answer to the wrong question he indicated that his definition of justification would be different then the divines answer. The question was concerning justification. The answer is through Christ. So it isn’t a surprise that he didn’t mention Christ when talking about what justification is to him.

    For a riveting discussion on the book ‘Justification’ by N.T. Wright please listen to:
    http://reformedforum.org/ctc58/

    http://reformedforum.org/ctc59/

    P.S. I am sorry but ‘Gee whiz’ is not a very good rebutting argument.

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  21. Faris,

    As to my title of the post, it was meant to be provocative. The point of the title is to get you to want to read the post. Now, does Wright think that justification has nothing to do with Christ and that Christ is completely left out of justification, no! But he did leave him out of the video, which I thought was telling. If my title offended, I apologize. I was trying to be quick and grab your attention. Based on the amount of comments here, I think my goal was reached. Although the title was not "even handed," I hope the post itself was.

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  22. Nicholas,

    Wright has said that the common understanding of justification better applies to "call." I believe that is in WSPRS as well as the book titled Paul. He also made the statement at the Auburn Ave. Conference with Gaffin.

    And for Wright's "denial" of imputation, he really only manages that by attacking a strained caricature of the doctrine. He actually affirms the concept, even if he tries to resist, in his understanding of union with Christ; see for instance pg. 104 of the new Justification book: "'The Messiah' is therefore the one- this is clearest in Paul, but there are significant antecedents- in whom God's people are summed up, so that what is true of him is true of them."

    Now Wright is going to continue and try to make a big deal about "de-Judaized" systematics, but that's all hooey that I can easily brush aside. Wright is, in many ways, better than he wants to allow himself to be and expresses the substance of imputation- "what is true of him is true of them"- even while trying to resist the nomenclature.

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  23. Steven,

    Thanks. I suppose Paul should have been as charitable with the Judaizers in Galatians. It seems that you are teaching me that I should assume that people are not really saying what they are actually saying!

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  24. Rob,

    You continue to miss Wright's point. You say, "He doesn’t believe that it is Christ alone that justifies us."

    But even if you want to take offense at Wright's teaching on final justification (which is pretty easily fixable by the way; see Michael Bird, as well as Reformed Orthodoxy's teaching on final justification "according to works"), you're still missing the fact that this is, for Wright, still Christ, through the Spirit of Christ. Wright would no doubt say that the "life in the Spirit" is that of Paul's words in Galatians: "I no longer live, but Christ lives in me."

    Life outside of Christ would be a competitor to "Christ alone," but live "in Christ" is not. I'm reminded of Richard Pratt's criticisms of what he calls "Neo-Calvinism" (not the same neo-Calvinism as the Kuyperians), which fails to note that theocentrism and Christocentrism also require anthropocentrism. Again this is all tied into Wright's eschatology.

    Again, I certainly believe you can critique Wright. I myself find his biblical theology lacking, showing rather big gaps, his knowledge of "Reformed" and "Lutheran" dogmatics dreadful, and even his interaction with 2nd Temple Judaism a bit light when it comes to "temple theology" (Barker, Segal, Chilton, Nuesner, etc).

    But a good critique must take note of Wright's intent and context. You can't just continue with these pop-platitudes.

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  25. Nick, I completely agree with you. The question you ask is indeed the question with which we're all left hanging.

    As has been already pointed out, Wright's views on justification do not leave Christ in absentia; rather, it's the solus he leaves out. And that may be tantamount to "justification without Christ."

    Could it be that Wright thinks the divines were answering better the question how one perseveres in the faith? Wright has a strong theology of definitive sanctification. Maybe he sees, e.g., the clear meaning behind 2 Cor. 5:21 as referring to sanctification, not justification? Just a thought. I haven't seen this said anywhere by anybody important.

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  26. Wright unpacks his views on the 2 Cor 5:21 pericope here.

    I wasn't too far off the mark, but see for yourself. It still doesn't clarify what question he thinks the divines' answer was a more appropriate response to (syntax?).

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  27. Steven, I would love it if you had actually interacted with what I said instead of making pop shots at me. Let me make a statement and ask you a question. Wright believes that only through our union with Christ can we do good works and these good works will in some way justify us. That is the point. Wright denies the imputation of the Righteousness of Christ and he denies the active obedience of Christ being applied to our account. Do you deny that N.T. Wright believes these things?

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  28. Chris,

    I think you are right when you suggest that Wright is most probably referring to the doctrine of perseverance (and assurance for that matter) but it still doesn't fit in the order salutis at any point. This is problematic to say the least. Paul Helm had an interesting observation on Wright's ordo here. I read it a while ago so I forget all the nuances but I thought it was fairly accurate. Let me know what you think.

    By the way, I owe you my thoughts on the Muller piece.

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  29. I cannot believe that Chris Danato has blessed Bring the Books which his presence!

    All kidding aside, thanks Chris for joining the conversation.

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  30. Rob,

    I actually am interacting with you and trying to bring you into the same level of discourse as N T Wright so that you can provide a cogent critique rather than a superficial one. We are discussing figures and theological issues that are couched in stipulated meaning, and thus we have to do some justice to the prolegomena before we can make real progress.

    Imagine a pipe smoker and a cigar smoker arguing over which has the better smoke. Surely there is such a thing as a "good smoke" which transcends the particular tastes of the pipe smoker and the cigar smoker, and to resolve their dispute we would need to begin touching on that rather than contenting ourselves to bouncing back and forth between the two disputants. They are both limiting the conversation in one direction or another, and we need to get beyond that to settle things. Is there a real contradiction or only an apparent one? Are the two positions mortal enemies, or can they be pulled into some sort of rapprochement?

    This sort of self-reflection is absolutely crucial when entering a discussion of orthodoxy and even Pauline anathemas. Have we gone the extra mile yet, or are we actually enjoying the possibility of blasting someone and speeding that end goal along?

    You write:

    Wright believes that only through our union with Christ can we do good works and these good works will in some way justify us.

    Yes, but he also makes distinctions here, and as I said above, Reformed theologians can make further distinctions to clean Wright up. I don't think such distinctions will sink Wright's project, because I can distinguish between the essence of it and its accidents.

    What is the "some way" you mention? For Wright he means on the final day there will be a justification "based on works" or "according to works." I've seen Wright use these phrases interchangeably, which signifies confusion rather than malice. Would Wright allow some scholasticism (distinguishing the ground and various types of causes) to pull him into orthodoxy? Judging by his latest book, I would say yes. And even if he personally wanted to resist (out of either pride or marketing), could his project allow for such modification? I would say definitely yes, and I would rely on the work of scholars like Michael Bird for support on this.

    You also write:

    That is the point. Wright denies the imputation of the Righteousness of Christ and he denies the active obedience of Christ being applied to our account.

    Well, I've already said there's reason to question this, since Wright clearly affirms the notion that Jesus Christ is what the scholastics called a maxima persona "in whom God's people are summed up, so that what is true of him is true of them."

    Isn't that getting at the substance of our doctrine of imputation?

    You see, Wright attacks one presentation of imputation, and a vulgar one at that (the infamous gas transfer). In fact, it could be said that Wright's use of a transfer metaphor is not the Reformed doctrine of imputation at all, and that Wright's "alternative" approximates the Reformed teaching much more closely.

    Once properly translated, Wright does not commit the particular errors that your comments are after.

    (cont).

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  31. Now, you can question the propriety of allowing such translation. I allow it and would hope that any of my opponents would do the same with me. If we're talking past one another, surely reality is more important than either of us winning. The war takes precedent over the battle. And it is the substance of the ideas that we're after, isn't it?

    So again, I would say that given Wright's stated intent and his own context, his project possesses a certain flexibility and is in fact capable of being spun in the right direction. That doesn't free him up from other critique, and indeed I think he needs some good critique for his own good and ours. Bad critique, however, will serve the opposite goal and cause what that beloved saint Dr. Ron Paul warned of as "blowback."

    We want to take the high ground and be better than all the rest. Only with that methodology will the best dogmatic art prevail.

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  32. Josh, you're providing a wonderful venue so to do. Thank you.

    @Nick: I read that piece a while ago as well, but I remember being duly impressed with his exactitude and charity (as is typical). When I read What St. Paul… back in 2001, the one thing that kept hitting me in the face time and again (given my previous studies in 17th cent. Brit. theo.) were the parallels between what he was saying and what the neonomians had said so long ago.

    Looking forward to your thoughts on Muller…

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  33. Chris,

    There does seem to be a similarity to neonomianism and the new perspective on certain levels. It seems that Baxter and Wright are not all that far off in regard to their definition of faith, and then in its relation to justification. I remember sensing these similarities when I first heard about NPP. I will reread the Helm piece in light of your comments. Thanks brother.

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  34. This blog post might be of interest to those of us in this discussion.

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  35. Here's a quote from the same article that Nick posted:

    "First, Paul’s doctrine of what is true of those who are in the Messiah does the job, within his scheme of thought, that the traditional protestant emphasis on the imputation of Christ’s righteousness did within that scheme. In other words, that which imputed righteousness was trying to insist upon is, I think, fully taken care of in (for instance) Romans 6, where Paul declares that what is true of the Messiah is true of all his people. Jesus was vindicated by God as Messiah after his penal death; I am in the Messiah; therefore I too have died and been raised. According to Romans 6, when God looks at the baptised Christian he sees him or her in Christ. But Paul does not say that he sees us clothed with the earned merits of Christ. That would of course be the wrong meaning of ‘righteous’ or ‘righteousness’. He sees us within the vindication of Christ, that is, as having died with Christ and risen again with him. I suspect that it was the mediaeval over-concentration on righteousness, on iustitia, that caused the protestant reformers to push for imputed righteousness to do the job they rightly saw was needed."

    This is what is meant that Wright does not deny the essence of what Imputed Righteousness teaches.

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  36. Faris (or anyone really),

    Where does NT Wright affirm the imputation of the active and passive obedience of Christ? This is after all the "essence of what Imputed Righteousness teaches."

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  37. Again, Mr. Batzig fails to consider Wright's context and intention and thus is blind to Wright's own conclusions (which Faris has helpfully posed). I am not a particular fan of the whole dikaiosune theou debate (though Wright isn't its fount), believing the various scholarly offerings to be more confusing than enlightening, but what is going on with that selection of the essay is that Wright is setting up the contrast of two characters: God and Israel.

    In Wright's system, Jesus is coming to do the Israel part of the equation, which, incidentally, one would expect the promoter of the traditional "active obedience" to also maintain, given the second Adam concern.

    For Wright, God's righteousness sends Jesus, and then Jesus' obedience provides the righteousness which Israel was expected to have presented to the world and to God the Father. Again, Jesus is fulfilling Israel, and God's people are considered as the new Israel, that is, as the messiah Jesus. God's people are considered to be (dare I say "reckoned to be"?) Jesus, hence's Wright's union with Christ emphasis.

    So for Wright to make the noise about "God's righteousness" is, for him, a step along the way to make the case of Jesus-as-Israel-righteousness. It is not, as the assumption seems to be here, in order to open up a vacuum to which our own extra-Christi works may substitute.

    Now again, the "judgment based on the life-lived" which Wright proposes for the last day is itself founded up (based on!) the Jesus Christ work which is apprehended by faith.

    In short, the two theological points are serving different functions.

    Now I will fully grant that Wright traffics in the false dichotomies of the academy and tries to work with theological buzz-words rather than solid reason and basic principles. That is certainly his greatest weakness. But at the end of the day, his project is not the bare antinomy that some fear, and is in fact easily fixed by traditional thinkers.

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  39. Josh,

    The Reformed doctrine of justification by faith alone in Christ alone is built on the idea of the imputation of a righteousness that belongs to another. We are justified by the perfect life and atoning death of Jesus Christ. His active and passive obedience forms the grounds of our justification. YOu asked for an example in the writings of N.T. Wright where he teaches this idea (while at the same time denying it). Faris, Steven and others have challenged this by asserting that we have misread Wright. Steven has suggested that the substance of the Reformed doctrine of justification is found in Wright. He has called me blind, stating that Wright teaches that God keeps the law for His people. How can he say this when Wright explicitly states:

    "...this status of righteousness has nothing to do with the righteousness of the judge. For the judge to be righteous, it is necessary that he try the case fairly, refuse bribes or other
    favouritism, uphold the law, and take special note for the helpless, the widows, and so on. When either the plaintiff or the defendant is declared ‘righteous’ at the end of the case, there is no sense that in either case the judge’s own righteousness has been passed on to them, by imputation, impartation, or any other process. What they have is a status of ‘righteous’ which comes from the judge. Let me stress, in particular, that when the judge finds in favour of one party or the other, he quite literally makes the righteous; because ‘righteous’ at this point is not a word denoting moral character, but only and precisely the status that you have when the court has found in your favour. If this had been kept in mind in earlier centuries a great deal of heartache and puzzle might have been avoided."

    The above quote comes from the article I first mentioned. This is the same lecture that Faris and Steven say that Wright affirm's the substance of the imputation of Christ's righteousness.

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  40. Just an aside to the discussion at hand. I think that in Piper's book on Wright, the chapter entitled, Does Wright Say with Different Words what the Reformed Tradition Means(of particular interest pages 123-125), address the questions Steven is asking.

    Two things should be pointed out after reading Piper:

    1. He comes to the same conclusion Nick and Josh are coming to, namely, Wright does not affirm in his system everything Reformed theology affirms in imputation (though Wright thinks he does).

    2. Wright is confusing and not as clear as Piper would like. This should temper ones language of being "blinded" and "faulty reasoning." When you read Piper you can tell that he thinks Wright is at points paradoxical or looks contradictory (i.e. Piper seems confused at times).

    I found Piper's chapter persuasive, charitable, and honest. More than that, Piper seems to get behind the "Wright language" and ascertain the substance of Wright, which in the end is still found wanting.

    Steven I do think it would be helpful, if you think that Wright affirms in substance what the Reformed have in their doctrine of imputation, to interact with Piper.

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  41. Unfortunately the confusion only continues, and I see that I have also been misquoted pretty glaringly (further supporting my evaluation that nuance and context are being passed over). There is also the unfortunate posturing, as Mr. Batzig questions my abilities of reason and, on his own blog, (humbly) suggests that Faris take a logic class.

    But this is precisely what Faris and I are offering: dialectic! The trouble is that the criticisms of Wright are stuck in the grammar stage. A good classicist knows that you cannot stop there. We are not to remain poll-parrots, but have to move on to logic and rhetoric.

    My first point in addressing critiques of Wright is that we've got to define terms. That's chapter one of the logic book I use: definitions. There are stipulated definitions at work here and an apparent contradiction is not an actual one. Aristotle is just alright with me. We want to talk about the res, the thing itself.

    Now a few easy points. Mr Batzig seems hurt by my use of the term "blind." But I did not simply "call [him] blind" (as in, "You blind man!" or "You are blind!", in which case he would have a right to be hurt). I said that his failure to consider Wright's intention and context has "blinded him" to "Wright's conclusions." This is a hermeneutical point. I show the problem, and I show why the problem occurred. It is not a bare insult. It was also retorted that I am "blind to obvious facts." I disagree as to who is missing the obvious, but I am not terribly upset by the rough-housing. I can, as it is said somewhere else on this site, take my licks. I hope the same is true of others.

    Mr. Batzig also errs in paraphrasing me as "stating that Wright teaches that God keeps the law for His people."

    This is precisely what I did not do. I said that Wright sets up two characters, God and Israel, and understands Jesus to be fulfilling the role of Israel in that equation.

    Now, it is understandable that one immediately translates "Jesus" as "God." I happen to be an Athanasian myself. But within the specified parameters of this discussion, Jesus is fulfilling the role of Israel/second-Adam, and, at least according to Wright, not the courtroom-judge, which Wright is, I assume, reserving for God the Father.

    And as I said, attributing Jesus's obedience to his humanity actually prepares one quite well for an "active obedience" theology. I am not saying that Wright shares this articulation of the doctrine himself, indeed he questions the theological model behind the active/passive distinctions (most notably in his denial of the term "merit"), but my point is that he's still left us with the humanity of Jesus fulfilling Israel's covenant. He questions the signum, not the res.

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  42. Now this business about the "substance of the Reformed doctrine" is also quite easy to understand. Wright is disputing names, (in the scholastic sense of that term) and theological or philosophical "models" or apparatuses, when he "denies" imputation.

    But I say that Wright has actually got his characters all wrong. His rejection of the "transfer" of attributes does not stick to the Reformed doctrine, and it would, in fact, stick to the Romanist doctrine which they combated.

    Wright's proposed alternative is a corporate Christology or maxima persona view of the messiah: "the one... in whom God's people are summed up, so that what is true of him is true of them."

    This is actually closer to the Reformed expression than the caricatured "transfer" illustration by far.

    And Wright himself says, in several places, that he can affirm what the "imputation" doctrine "was getting at." Faris gave you one such Wright quote. Wright says it again in his Romans commentary when it comes to second Adam, and he also makes this gesture of accommodation in his latest book on justification.

    The substance is the thing itself, the essential elements, and Wright does indeed say that believers are summed up in another, namely Jesus Christ. That's hardly vain speculation. That is deduction.

    Critique him plenty in all the right places. Wright's got prolegomena problems across the board and is anything but a historical theologian. In many ways, he is from a different planet, and it isn't a planet to which I much desire to immigrate.

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  43. Michael,

    I'll give Piper a re-read. Do you have a particular pericope or page number where Piper hits at Wright's works?

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  44. Steven,

    Yes, you should read pages 121-125.

    You write, "The trouble is that the criticisms of Wright are stuck in the grammar stage."

    I agree, although Piper does try to get behind the grammar or "Wright language" and deal with Wright's theological substance. I say that Piper tries because you may not be convinced. I was.

    The very fact that he can write, "I do not believe in imputation" and at the same time write, "I agree substantially [with imputation]" is confusing at best and contradictory at worst.

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  45. To NTW and dogmatic clarity- Yes, he is a regular mess. I'll only stick up for him so long...

    I'd certainly prefer Bavinck or even Dabney, and if one is interested in NPP, then Michael Bird is the best stop.

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  46. I certainly will go somewhere else for theological precision.

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  47. Steven,

    This is, I think, at least, the second time this point has been made: "And Wright himself says, in several places, that he can affirm what the 'imputation" doctrine "was getting at.'" I ask you, as I asked Faris, where in Wright is the concept of the imputation of Christ's active and passive obedience? I would like a quote from Wright (with reference) please.

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  48. Steven you have declared that you are seeking to interact with me and I am sure that you believe that you are. As you have said you are merely trying to elevate my level of discussion with that of Bishop Wright. I will be the first to admit that N.T. Wright is brilliant and that it would be impossible for me to be elevated to that level.
    However I still don’t believe that you are interacting with me. I have asked you to please show me where N.T. Wright affirms the imputation of the active and passive obedience of Christ to the believer. Josh Walker has posed the same question and it still is not being answered.
    I am not asking ‘how does Bishop Wright come to his understanding of imputation or the active and passive obedience of Christ’. I know that he gets there by his Eschatology seeing Jesus as fulfilling what Israel was always to be. That isn’t the point. The point is that he is in disagreement with the Reformation and is rather in agreement with Trent.
    I am not sure why you wish to avoid questions and pontificate on other matters. You have said that you want us to start out basic and define our terms. Wonderful, that is exact ally what I am trying to do. What are N.T. Wright’s definitions of Justification, Union with Christ, as well as the active and passive obedience of Christ?
    Wright has declared that the Reformers answered the question regarding Justification incorrectly, fine, what is the right answer then. That is all I am asking. I am not in any way sorry that this is too basic for you I am trying to be basic. It seems that you have had the same problem with Josh and Nick.
    Wright is very good at affirming and then denying the same doctrine. As I have said I have not the intellect that N.T. Wright has and knowing this I have read his books and listened to his lectures. I have studied the Scriptures seeking with what he is teaching in mind attempting to see if what he is saying is so. But, I have also read the standards and other books by other men who also have greater intellects then my own. What I have found is that he denies the Reformed doctrine of Imputation as well as salvation by faith through grace alone.
    The time of being able to claim that the New Perspective is being misunderstood is over. It has been examined inside and out. I was present when the OPC declared it out of accord with the standards and other denominations have followed suit. The New Perspective is Old Rome. You said; “Once properly translated, Wright does not commit the particular errors that your comments are after.” Please understand that this isn’t just my opinion but also NAPARCs.
    I know that you will say that that is just a smoke filled platitude so let me explain. Rome says that we are brought into salvation by grace through faith but that it is then the works of righteousness that we do in the flesh that in the end will fully justify us. The usual rebuttal from the New Perspective is that these works that we do in the flesh are non-meritorious. If the work that we do results in our justification, in any way whatsoever (such as being declared righteous), then that work is meritorious.
    You have said in your pipe smoking analogy that I am limiting the conversation. All I ask is that you answer the pertinent questions after that you may pontificate to your heart’s content. You have said that Wright needs to be cleaned up. Why is this so I thought he was brilliant. Wait, it was me who said that he was brilliant and he is. Why then do his defenders need to clean him up? The truth is that all the rhetoric in the world cannot take away the fact that he does not believe in the Protestant Reformation’s definition of Justification, Imputation and Sanctification. After 15 years of examination of Bishop Wright he can no longer use the defense of being misunderstood.

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  49. Steven,

    I will give serious attention to your Hegelian synthesis.

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  50. Please read this in the spirit in which is intended. And that spirit is that I do not doubt anyone's salvation or anything, but I seriously question the wisdom and rational acumen of several people in this thread, based on their comments IN this thread. Just so we're clear.

    "Steven,

    I will give serious attention to your Hegelian synthesis."


    Wow. What?

    The general tenor of this conversation has been Girardian in the extreme. Those who put up detailed expositions and interpretations of an author's writings are characterized as not using logic, as using "vain speculations," etc. See, we don't want no detailed discussions of what somebody's writings actually mean around here! We want to brign books, but we don't want to discuss them rationally. Instead, we want to simply pronounce what Wright's view "obviously" is, claim that any effort to read him differently is just a bunch of hogwash, all while offering very little positive argumentation for our own reading mind you, and then top it off with bizarre claims that no academic person can seriously believe, such as the gem that if Wright says in one place that he rejects imputation, but then later says he affirms the substance of it, then this is just a hopeless mess and who can understand it? Well, people who are interested in trying to understand it can do so, as is apparent from many people who do just that. But, of course, if it is easier to just say "Wright is self-contradictory" so that we can score some sort of points against him, then so be it. Do as you will. But don't further sully your decision to insist on such an unreflective reading with a claim so silly as that such readings are always appropriate. Why, if the Bible says justificaiton is by faith, but also that it is not by faith, then I guess God is just awful confused! Obviously there is NO OTHER WAY to read this, no further thinking that needs to be done, no law of charity that says I should operate on the assumption that I as the reader am the one with the problem and that I need to try harder to understand what the author might mean...

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  51. And so, in case my annoyance at reading a discussion to which I was not invited seems a bit much, how about a recap? First, the blog's operator deliberately puts up a misleading title above a video. He then, seemingly without any sense of embarrassment, admits that he did this simply to be provocative, and to get people to discuss his post. Well, that mission is indeed accomplished, but I would think that people would want their blog posts discussed because they provoke thoughtful conversation, not because they are built upon blatant misrepresentation.

    Likewise, Josh hopes that his post was fair and even-handed, even though his provocative title was not. Well, no actually, it's not any more even-handed than the title was. The post consisted of a link to the excerpt of Wright's interview followed by a comment to the effect that "He talks about justification but doesn't mention Christ!" This, again, is just a silly point to make, in any context about any person. It would be silly and shallow argumentation to try to argue against Hitler in this way. (Did you know that he once talked for five minutes in a row about proper government and he never mentioned peace? Well, obviously he is a war-monger! The fact that Hitler WAS a war-monger doesn't mean that this is a very, very bad argument for that conclusion.) This silliness (for that is what it was) was pointed out immediately by several commenters. Only a person already jumpy at Wright would even consider making hay out of such lackluster evidence as an excerpted bit of an interview in which he fails to mention Y directly while discussing X. This is clear and indisputable, and can be found in any basic textbook treatment of logic.

    But, hey, it's a big world and silly blog posts happen all the time. But in this case the further method of discussion in the wake of this foolishness is much worse than the initial offense. The provocateur has brought forth a mess that he probably did not intend (such is always the risk for provocateurs).

    The goalposts are moved repeatedly and without notice or any concern for justifying the change. "Oh, see, it's not that Wright doesn't think Christ is INVOLVED in justification, it's that he doesn't believe in imputed righteousness..."

    After a few rounds on whether Wright's own comments can be seen as consistent with the proper Reformed doctrine of imputation, the goalposts are moved again. Now the conversation is supposed to be about, not just imputation, but the imputation of the active obedience of Christ. Well, at this point, we're in la la land if we think we're doing anything other than myopic polemicizing. Imputation of active obedience is hardly a standard of Christian orthodoxy. (It is not even a standard of being historically Reformed.) So now we are to believe that all people who deny the imputation of Christ's active obedience are in fact deserving of having "provocative" posts written about them in which they are accused of "talking about justification without mentioning Christ?" How did we get here?

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  52. Oh, but there are still more questions. People "keep waiting" for Steven or someone to "respond" (though, of course, this is not really what is wanted. We've already seen how an actual complex response to a complex question is treated) to a request to provide positive proof that Wright affirms this or that. But this is entirely beside the point, and beside every conceivable point. First, the initial post had nothing to do with this now highly particularized point. We have now gone from "Wright discusses justification without mentioning Christ!11!!" to "I've never seen any place where Wright explicitly and positively asserts a particularly technical point of (much) Reformed systematic theology." Well, you won't see that from Lutherans either, so I suppose they also "discuss justification without mentioning Christ?" Or are you ready to admit that this whole thing was silly from the get-go?

    This is one long chain of inferential horrors, all built on the back of trying to justify a bad joke. Just say, "Yeah, I overreached with this post, and I wasn't really fair. But, I do think that Wright makes some serious mistakes. Maybe I'll put those in another post." Then we would have about five comments in this thread, and perhaps a more direct conversation under another better-conceived post. But then what would become of being provocative?

    -----------------

    Posting a comment like this opens me up to a lot of bad thoughts of the "who does he think he is?" variety. But that really would be a mistake in this case. I am not special, but that's actually the point. I hope I have people who are willing to pull me aside and tell me when I am acting or reasoning like a fool. Sometimes it just needs done.

    For identification purposes, I know Steven but nobody else involved in this thread. I have commented on this blog before but a good while ago. I am a pastor in Kentucky. I have a PhD in Philosophy and have taught LOGIC for several years to both high school and college-aged students.

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  53. Xon said
    “Instead, we want to simply pronounce what Wright's view "obviously" is, claim that any effort to read him differently is just a bunch of hogwash, all while offering very little positive argumentation for our own reading mind you, and then top it off with bizarre claims that no academic person can seriously believe, such as the gem that if Wright says in one place that he rejects imputation, but then later says he affirms the substance of it, then this is just a hopeless mess and who can understand it?”

    What this thread has turned into is trying to pin down what N.T. Wright believes by those who are acquainted with his teaching. And it has been asked of his defenders what his definition of, Imputation, Justification as well as the active and passive obedience of Christ. His defenders spend more time telling the people who are asking the questions that they are either confused, asking the wrong questions, silly, unloving, close-minded or have a subpar I.Q.
    You said:
    “Why, if the Bible says justification is by faith, but also that it is not by faith, then I guess God is just awful confused.”
    Really? So the Bible teaches both? We hold to the tradition of the Reformers (who looked back to the early church fathers), the Puritans all the way through today. They didn’t see this contradiction. They didn’t see the need to hold to both. All that we have been trying to ask several times now is ‘what does N.T. Wright believe on… ‘and yet his defenders don’t answer. I think they don’t answer either because they know that the answers would put him much more on the side of Trent than on the Reformation or they themselves don’t know what his answers are. After fifteen years of examination the problem is not that we don’t understand him the problem is we do. He teaches that we are not imputed with the righteousness of Christ with either His active or his passive obedience. He does not believe that our salvation is by Christ alone but also by our own works of righteousness that he would say are non-meritorious even though they gain us something. He would say that we are not made righteous in Christ but that we are declared righteous in Christ because of our union with Him. All of those teachings are out of accord with the Reformation. There has been condemnation by the conservative Reformed denominations as well as many books published against what he teaches. So after years of study by some very well equipped theologian to say that everyone that disagrees with him misunderstands him is to bring us to a level of believability that borders on ridiculous.
    You said. “Imputation of active obedience is hardly a standard of Christian orthodoxy. (It is not even a standard of being historically Reformed.)” First off I would say absolutely it is a standard of the historically Reformed. But more to the point. All we want to know is whether or not N.T. Wright believes this and if he says he does what is his definition of it. You may not like the question you may think it’s silly. If that is the case then don’t comment. If you answer the question and then want to go on and tells us how unfair we are for asking the question then fine do that but please humor us and answer the questions that we keep asking.
    You said”
    “So now we are to believe that all people who deny the imputation of Christ's active obedience are in fact deserving of having "provocative" posts written about them in which they are accused of "talking about justification without mentioning Christ?"
    That is a ridiculous straw man argument. No one has said or is saying that.
    You said
    “We've already seen how an actual complex response to a complex question is treated”
    The problem wasn’t that they were giving a complex response to a complex question the problem was they were not actually answering the questions posed but instead changing the question to something related and then answering that.

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  54. Josh has taken a lot of heat for his post title. Yes it was provocative but Wright has one of the sharpest tongues that I have ever heard. Even when he insults those who disagree with him I admire the clever sharpness of how he puts it. Josh’ title was child splay to comments made by Wright in every sermon he gives. How bout the passing gas comment. Not a very nice way to represent what the Reformed have believed. But I don't want to get trapped into discussing his provocative rhetoric I would rather discuss the disagreements on the subject.

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  58. Xon,

    Furthermore, it was actually N.T. Wright who opened the door for the comments on this post. Wright said that the Divines got the right answer to the wrong question. The answer he was alluding to was their definition of justification which includes a very clear statement on the imputation of Christ's righteousness. So you can retract everything you have charged now. Thanks.

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  60. Xon,

    You have charged me with not engaging in exposition and interpretation, but of only drawing conclusions. This is completely untrue. I have provided exposition directly from Wright's own lecture. YOu have made a multitude of assertions without any first source evidence. You have suggested that imputation was not "a standard of being historically Reformed." Could you support that from our historic Reformed confessions? How about any historic Reformed document?

    Even your own beloved Peter Liethart has explained the internal self-contradiction of N.T. Wright in the very article I cited. Perhaps you will listen to him. You can read it here (see point #3). While I would certainly not agree with everything that Leithart concludes, he only backs my initial conclusion.

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  61. Xon,

    I find it interesting that you think my original post is "silly" and not "even-handed" (Although I am not even sure what it means to be even-handed in this context. Should I have also posted something Wright did say?). While at the same time you, along with others, defend Wright who has misunderstood and mischaracterized our faith, the Reformed faith.

    The man you are defending has made a career out of destroying our "old" perspective on Paul and yet you can defend him. You can read him with charity. I only ask that you use the same standard that you are judging me (and others) with on Wright. If this post is silly (which it is not!) then, Wright is silly for referring to imputation as a gas passing from one person to another. No one, and that is no one, has ever referred to imputation in this way. Yet Wright can refer to imputation this way and he gets a free pass. Not only a free pass, but he gets defended! The double standard is glaring.

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  62. Gentlemen,

    I'm afraid that things are falling apart here at too rapid a speed for me to continue much more. I will try to recap what has been said, show where critiques failed, attempt to answer Josh's important question, and then I must be done.

    1) The state of the question here has indeed changed several times, and these changes were not always above water. Certain terms and theological models seem to be assumed as identical when they actually are not, and thus when one point is addressed, the rebuttal seeks to draw us into another point without noting the transition.

    Initially the question was whether N T Wright mentions Christ in his view of justification. This was silly, and I think everyone agrees that best reading of that move is to call it marketing and move along.

    Secondly then, was whether or not Wright could affirm imputation, or the substance thereof, to which Faris and myself supplied quotes from Wright saying that he could. I even tried to reconcile the apparent contradiction within Wright's work, showing that through the use of stipulated definitions there was no abosolute antimony.

    (Now a brief side-note is in order, for the reaction here was quite telling. "Dialectic" is a basic component of philosophy going back at least to Aristotle and Plato. To employ the term dialectic, which in my initial context was actually being used to describe the second stage of the trivium, by no means makes one Hegelian. Such an assertion is, by anyone's measure, silly, and the follow-up suggestion to do a Wiki search made me wonder if we weren't moving from Fox News to the Colbert Report. But for the sake of going the extra mile, I did read the Wiki page on dialectic, and as expected, Hegel is but a footnote to the larger concept which is an obviously valid tool of reasoning.)

    Thirdly, the state of the question moved to whether or not Wright will affirm the imputation of Christ's active and passive obedience to individual believer's accounts. But this is, of course, much farther beyond the bounds of anyone's claims. As Xon pointed out, that model is particular to Reformed federalism, and it is by no means equivalent with the notion of "imputation" as seems to be the rhetorical move going on.

    We know that even within the "Reformed" camp, there were many notable divines who denied the active/passive formula. Richard Baxter, in his book On the Imputation of Christ's Righteousness, lists the names of Olevian, Ursinus, Paraeus, Scultetus, Piscator, Alstedius, Wendeline, Beckman, John Cameron and the French Divines, Lubbertus, Forbes, Wotton, and Gataker all as respected Reformed theologians who denied that Christ's active obedience served as the ground for justification.

    I can also list, from my own studies, Robert Rollock, William Twisse, and Edward Vines. Twisse and Vines are well-known from their debate at Westminster (on this you can see Chad Van Dixhoorn's work on the Assembly). I've copied out Rollock's work here: http://wedgewords.wordpress.com/2007/08/28/robert-rollock-on-the-ground-of-justification/.

    So, if such a model cannot even be used to define the boundaries of "Reformed Orthodoxy," then much less can it be used as a synonym for the even broader "imputation."

    (cont.)

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  63. 2) I will state once more that I am not seeking to agree with Wright across the board, nor to even join in his larger project. I have my own interests and am quite satisfied with them. Wright is not a major plank for me in any way. Thus to say that on any given point Wright is fuzzy or unclear is no problem at all. I join in such observations.

    My concern here has been to get to the first principles however, and from within such a context, examine what Wright is really "up to." What are his actual conclusions and their necessary implications? This is why I mentioned dialectic as a needed tool of reasoning.

    3) Leithart's point about Wright's contradiction is a bit different than the one we've been talking about, having to do with the expression "makes righteous" viz a viz Wright's other insistences that the term "justify" is forensic declarative language about those already righteous. Leithart, of course, ends with the question of "How does NTW resolve it?"

    The answer, I believe, is that Wright is something of an nominalist, or at least a "non-realist", metaphysically speaking, and so he is saying that once God speaks, then that just is the case. There is no more "real" standing apart from the declaration. This is the same thing Kevin Vanhoozer proposes in First Theology on pg. 118. It is a riff on the idea of speech-act, which while appreciating some of what it has to offer, is a theory that I register my own disagreements with. In short, I think that in this context it would necessitate something of an over-realized eschatology. The best solution is Luther's old simul justus et peccator, nos and extra nos. But you see, that is my view here. Regardless, Leithart's comment, while interesting, is not germane to our particular point here.

    (cont.)

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  64. 4) Now, as to the sources in Wright which would lead Faris and I to say that he can maintain the substance of the imputation theory, even while he (wrongly) rejects the nomenclature we've already provided two: the one from the very paper Mr. Batzig posted and the one from the new book, Justification. That latest book is a good example of just how many concessions Wright is willing to make. I think he comes the closest to the traditional view in that book, and he also speaks quite well of the traditional view, contrary to Josh's latest assertions that the man has built his career on destroying our faith.

    One of the clearer "quotes" from Wright in support of an imputation theory is in his Romans commentary on pg. 529. He states, "With audible overtones of Isa. 53:11, he declares that, as Adam's disobedience gave 'the many' the status of being 'sinners' so Christ's obedience has given 'the many' the status of being 'righteous."

    When he comes to Romans 7, Wright will also give his view of the purpose of Torah, to draw sin all into one place so that it might be condemned at the cross, in the death of Christ.

    The concept of giving a new status follows the general Augustinian understanding of judicial satisfaction, to which our divines all followed. On this you can see Charles Hodge and R. L. Dabney especially.

    On pgs. 105 and 106 of Wright's newest book he also affirms that the messiah represents the people, and that the people receive their status because of the messiah is a substitute.

    5) I have made my point, and I will have to leave things at that. I suppose that the same sorts of rhetorical moves could continue after I resign, but to do so only gives further reason to believe that actual dialogue was never a shared goal. Many of the retorts posted have betrayed a disposition of pugnacity rather than spirited intellectual debate, and I can only say that such will get us nowhere.

    I would recommend Nicholas Wolterstorff's wonderful essay "Resuscitating the Author", in the collection of essays entitled, Hermeneutics at the Crossroads, for the an examination of the prerequisites of dialogue. Much of what our participants here need could be gotten from Wolterstorff.

    pax

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  65. Brothers,

    I have removed any comments that I thought fell into the category of "not answering a fool according to his folly lest I be like him." The study committee of the OPC (which included the work of Richard Gaffin) has suitably answered your objections.

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  66. Steven,

    If it is the case that you "think everyone agrees that best reading of that move [not mentioning Christ] is to call it marketing and move along." Why didn't you?

    Now to the substance of your post. It has been your (and others) claim from the beginning (or soon after) that Wright can, and does, affirm the substance of the Reformed doctrine of the imputation of Christ's righteousness. You then showed that he has a concept of imputation (one that has been termed the "imputation of infused righteousness"). Then, when we changeling that his concept of imputation is not the Reformed concept, the protest comes that we are shifting the debate.

    However, this is not the case. The debate over Wright's view of imputation has not shifted, not above the water or under it. The Reformed confessional doctrine of imputation is the imputation of Christ's active and passive obedience. Thus, to refer to the Reformed doctrine of imputation, when I first asked my question, is to refer to the imputation of Christ's active and passive obedience. Just because men, as you refer to them, "within the 'Reformed' camp" deny that the active and passive obedience of Christ is imputed to believers does not mean that view is not the Reformed view. Jacob Arminius was "within the 'Reformed' camp" but no one, that I am aware of, would argue that someone who hold his views today is still Reformed. Reformed Theology is defined by our confessions and creeds. As far as I know, Wright does not, in word or substance, agree with the imputation of Christ's active and passive obedience. This is the heart of the great exchange. My sin to Christ and all his work, active and passive, to me. Without this, it is hard to see where the good news is.

    I think your conclusion to your final comment is correct. "Many of the retorts posted have betrayed a disposition of pugnacity rather than spirited intellectual debate, and I can only say that such will get us nowhere." But I fear that this charge is liable to you as much, if not more, than me. I have not refereed to others comments and arguments as "silly." Rather, I have tried to be as far and balanced as possible, even apologizing at point. Nor have I refereed to others arguments as "pop-platitudes." Rather, I have tried to read every post careful and respond to the substance of the comment with clear rational thought. I hope and pray that the gospel of Christ will be made clearer though our interaction; for without Christ, there is no justification!

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  67. Gentlemen, with the greatest of respect, I think we all need to admit one thing:

    Xon has spoken, and his words are sufficient in and of themselves.

    I have a hard time arguing with anyone with a name like Xon.

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  68. Adam, you are mostly right. I have found that nobody wants to argue WITH someone named Xon. But, many people have made fun of the name Xon, especially during those notorious years of cruelty, 5th-6th grades, when (on my own timeline) the Exxon Valdez oil spill was fresh news. But, other than this prepubescent mockery, I have gotten along all right.

    I also will check out in a few moments, as there is simply not much more to say. But first, certain patterns of argumentation persist that ought not. Josh, in your latest you say that (I have added numbers for ease of reference)

    "However, this is not the case. (1)The debate over Wright's view of imputation has not shifted, not above the water or under it. (2)The Reformed confessional doctrine of imputation is the imputation of Christ's active and passive obedience. Thus, to refer to the Reformed doctrine of imputation, when I first asked my question, is to refer to the imputation of Christ's active and passive obedience. (3)Just because men, as you refer to them, "within the 'Reformed' camp" deny that the active and passive obedience of Christ is imputed to believers does not mean that view is not the Reformed view. Jacob Arminius was "within the 'Reformed' camp" but no one, that I am aware of, would argue that someone who hold his views today is still Reformed. (4)Reformed Theology is defined by our confessions and creeds. (5)As far as I know, Wright does not, in word or substance, agree with the imputation of Christ's active and passive obedience. This is the heart of the great exchange. My sin to Christ and all his work, active and passive, to me. Without this, it is hard to see where the good news is."

    (3) and (4) are about as narrow-minded of a historical analysis as can be imagined. Men from before and some even during Westminster, and men who Reformed thinkers after Westminster continued to treat with respect as fellow Reformed thinkers, are defined out of "being Reformed" by a blogger in 2009 because they didn't hold to "imputation of active obedience." Even if it were true that Westminster requires imputation of active obedience (though actually it's NOT true), this would hardly make Westminster the sole arbiter of who is and is not truly Reformed. It is just a bizarre way to argue about such things, no matter what particular doctrine is being discussed. (And no, in fact it is also not true to say that nobody "today" allows these non-subscribers to active obedience imputation to be considered Reformed. My own best estimate would be that in fact most historical theologians in the Reformed camp would allow them, even if they disagreed with them on this particular point of doctrine. Every debate is not a debate about who is "in" and who is "out," even for Reformed-Presbyterian types who love doctrinal debates.)

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  69. Furthermore, your initial post had nothing to do with "the Reformed confessional doctrine of imputation" (2). That simply was not your point, and the reason we know this is because it would have been an utterly silly point to make. Wright takes Christ out of justification because...he doesn't hold to the Reformed confessional doctrine of imputation. Is that really your belief, that all who fail to hold to this Reformed confessional doctrine have essentially removed Christ from justification? That is just crazy, and I don't believe you ever meant that in your initial post.

    (5) is fine as a criticism of Wright, perhaps. But it is not the point. Nobody is saying that you as a guy who believes in imputation of active obedience cannot critique people who do not hold to it. But that's not what this conversation has ever been about. The reason that Wright's "defenders" (even though that's not really what any of us are; Steven has already made some of his criticisms of Wright clear, and I probably agree with Wright less than Steven does) in this thread have not answered your direct questions about where he teaches imputation OF ACTIVE OBEDIENCE OF CHRIST (note that entire phrase modifying "imputation;") is because that question is simply beside the point. Certainly, we can START talking about whatever new topic we wish, but that requires mutual desire to do so by both sides of the discussion. But this particular discussion did not start out having ANYTHING to do with imputation, and certainly not with imputation OF CHRIST'S ACTIVE OBEDIENCE. You guys asked these "direct questions" and kept moving the discussion to these other topics as a way of deflecting the initial criticisms you were receiving. But the end result is just as unavoidable: you have provided no reason to think that there is anything problematic in Wright's failure to use the word "Christ" in one short segment of an interview. What you have instead done is clalimed that, somehow, unless you hold to the Reformed doctrine of imputation, then you are not properly giving place to Christ in justification. This is already a change of subject, as initially you said nothing about imputation. But very well, the conversation moved on from there. Steven offered reasons to think that Wright holds to the substance of imputation. But still you were not satisfied. Now you wanted evidence that Wright holds to imputation OF CHRIST'S ACTIVE OBEDIENCE. Well, at this point, if you think you are offering a penetrating criticism of Wright by simply saying that he is not a Reformed stalwart, then what else is there to say? A completely trivial (logically) point to make. If this is not clear (since nothing seems to be), imputation as such is a MORE GENERAL notion than the imputation of the active obedience of Christ. Lutherans, for instance, hold to imputation, but hardly even discuss "active vs. passive obedience" issues. Many formative and important men in the Reformed tradition, as Steven pointed out, (NOT analogous to Arminius, as you wrongly indicate; we are talking about men who were still respected well after Westminter by other Reformed thinkers as fellow Reformed thinkers) also did not hold to an imputation of Christ's active obedience, but they did hold to imputation. The two things are simply not the same. Yet when Steven defended Wright on the more general point (a substantive notion of imputation as held by classical Reformed and Protestant thought), you asked him for a quote from Wright pertaining to the more specific point (the imputation of Christ's active obedience). This is simply an illegitimate question, logically-speaking, and it implies at best that you are simply not following the conversation, your best efforts to do so notwithstanding.

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  70. THIS is why nobody has bothered answering your question. People can make Christ central to justification, and can even do so in a way that affirms imputation, without affirming imputation of active obedience. Your original claim that Wright guts Christ out of justification had nothing to do with active obedience (unless this is honestly what you were thinking in your head, in which case, again, you were engaging in a trivial waste of time. Why not point out every other thinker who does not hold to imputation of active obedience?) This is not a controversial claim; it is simply a fact of logic: the two affirmations are not in any way contradictory, and so a person could hold them both (i.e., a person could affirm imputation in general, but deny imputation of Christ's active obedience). And so your insistence that a conversation about the former also deal with the latter, when neither had anything to do with your original post, is an insistence that can be safely and politely ignored (and it WAS politely ignored, for a while. But you have insisted that it be spelled out for you).

    And this is all obvious just from looking at the end result of what you ended up arguing. Obviously, your post was claiming to locate some sort of fault with Wright. But what is that fault? That he doesn't hold to a particular articulation of the Reformed doctrine of imputation? But lots of people don't hold to that. Do they also get to be accused of taking Jesus out of justification? This is the proof that you changed the subject; you ended up finding fault with Wright on a point that never would have made sense, even on its face, in your initial post. Go back up and read your initial post and think "the reason I am making hay out of whether he mentions Christ or not is b/c I don't like the fact that he doesn't hold to the imputation of Christ's active obedience." If you had such a thing explicitly in your post, nobody would have taken you seriously at all. You are not dumb, so you know this. Yet then when pressed you resorted to this kind of "he's not like us" fault-finding.

    Look, nobody says that N.T. Wright is an orthodox stalwart of Reformed theology. That is not the point. If your blog is honestly devoted to the notion that all people who do not fit tightly into what you take to be Westminsterian nuances of imputation (even though Westminster does NOT weigh in officially on active obedience, either; and besides, when did Wright ever claim to subscribe to Westminster?) are thereby worthy of criticism simply for that fact, then so be it. But that sheds an entirely different light on your "provocative" post; namely, that it is provocation simply for provocation's sake, and has nothing substantive to say at all. It would be akin to Sid Vicious writing a post titled "Does Metallica not know how to rock?", and then arguing that, since he is defining "rock" as "punk rock," that clearly Metallica does in fact NOT know how to rock. The entire claim amounts to this: A non-punk band is a non-punk band. Completely trivial and unsubstantive. Critical just for the sake of being critical. Unimpressive at best.)

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  71. Meanwhile, Mr. Batzig,

    You obviously remember learning about Hegel in an intro to Philosophy course, but have apparently never learned what the word "dialectic" actually means. Sorry to have to explain a joke to you like that, but it is a microcosm of this entire conversation: people saying patently ridiculous things who have no idea that they are supposed to be embarrassed by what they are saying. And, even when challenged on the point, continue to obstinately insist on their initial claim and imply that the questioner is the one who is uneducated on the subject. Again, take a step back, and consider the possibility that you have overreached. It happens; might it have happened to you in this case?

    And, finally, Mr. Batzig, I find it fascinating that, on a blog called "bring the books," when all is said and done you want to ground your position on naked authority claims. "NAPARC has already settled this." Ah yes, Aliander, spoken like a true counter-Reformation Catholic. Let us not discuss; let us simply proclaim who is right and who is wrong based on a higher human authority's judgment. Not to mention that, again, NAPARC has nothing to do with N.T. Wright, who last time I checked is not a minister in a NAPARC denomination (nor am I). Is this supposed to be a conversation thread for NAPARC-members to debate what NAPARC's official view is? Didn't seem like it. Or are you just grabbing any stick you can find to take a swing with? Do you stay up at night worrying what the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod thinks of your view of baptismal regeneration?

    Ah, but you don't claim to be Lutheran while I do claim to be Reformed. Ah, true, but again, NAPARC is hardly the sole papal authority on who is and is not Reformed. And even if she somehow were, what does it say about you as an arguer if that is your argument?

    You are correct, though, Mr. Batzig, that I have not provided substantive interpretation of primary source material in Wright. There is a very good reason for this, though: my topic of conversation has not been whether Wright does or does not hold to this or that. My chosen conversation topic has been the fact that you and Josh and Rob are arguing illogically. To show that, I need to focus on your own statements and reasoning, not the primary source materials from Wright that you are refusing to understand. I do appreciate the opportunity to clarify that (though, again, I would have thought it was already clear). It is a problem for you when you say that Wright "clearly" denies imputation, but then when Steven presents an interpretation of him that shows he might not, you respond dismissively by treating Steven like a sophist. I.e., "I suppose Paul should have been as charitable with the Judaizers in Galatians. It seems that you are teaching me that I should assume that people are not really saying what they are actually saying!" Comments such as this are nothing if not inane, and reveal no desire on your part to think dialectically about the issues at hand at all (there I go again, quick tell me your opinion of Hegel!). Good luck getting through graduate school at even a third-rate (but still accredited) program with those kinds of dismissive responses to nuanced interpretations of primary texts.

    Now, I close with a plea that I have not earned. If you consider my wider writings in internet theology discussions, you will see that I'm usually rather collegial. Why am I so in-your-face here, then? There are two plausible interpretations: either I am just in a cranky mood, or something about this thread was just THAT ridiculous that it brought such a swift response out of me. I assure you that I am not feeling cranky, but you may believe what you like.

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  72. But Xon you didn't answer any of the questions.

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  73. Josh,

    RE: "So?"

    As I said, people can switch topics to whatever they like, so long as the switch is mutual. But the original post was not about that, and THAT is what your critics were responding to. Period. Then, after two distinct rounds of "no, that's not the problem with Wright, THIS is the actual problem with Wright", the critics stopped answering your questions. Why? B/c the conversation had now moved to something irrelevant to their original concern. The original concern was that you made a silly and superficial critcism of Wright by insinuating that he has a Christless view of justification. The fact that you NOW want to talk about whether or not Wright holds to imputation of active obedience doesn't mean that the original criticisms weren't valid.

    Rob,

    What questions did I not answer? Pointing out a logical flaw in the question is a kind of answer, though perhaps not what you would prefer. But, certainly, I may have missed some things.

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  74. The questions that we have wanted to answer were
    What is N.T.Wrights answer to the question What is the definition of Justification?
    What are N.T. Wrights definitions of the Active and Passive obedience of Christ?

    Regardless of how the discussion was started these are the questions that we have asked several times and waited for the answers to. You may rightly believe that we are illogical and poor Nick is going to have to go to community college but that still doesn't mean you couldn't answer these questions. Even if the answer is that you don't know, at least that would be an answer.

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  75. Rob, here's one thing maybe that I didn't respond to (or that Steven hasn't already responded to):

    I had written:

    “So now we are to believe that all people who deny the imputation of Christ's active obedience are in fact deserving of having "provocative" posts written about them in which they are accused of "talking about justification without mentioning Christ?"

    To which you retorted:

    That is a ridiculous straw man argument. No one has said or is saying that.

    Great. Then remind me again why people were saying that Wright takes Christ out of justification?

    If you're saying "Hey, we've simply moved on." My response is "No, WE haven't. You have, perhaps." Steven (who is the one more directly "defending" Wright here) is not interested in arguing about active obedience imputation. When you brought that up, he was done. It has nothing to do with his original criticism of the post. You want to talk about active obedience imputation, go ahead.

    But, of course, in actual context of the conversation, this wasn't just some innocent move from one topic to another. The two were directly connected. It was in trying to explain WHAT his problem actually is with Wright (such that he was prompted to write his post in the first place) that Josh brought up active obedience imputation. So it was not just a disconnected new topic, about which I am stubbornly trying to tie in something old and unrelated. It was brought up with the intention to be related. And that argument fails miserably for reasons I have spelled out.

    Why is Wright wrong in a way that makes it more than simply base provocation to claim that he takes Christ out of justification? If that way of presenting Wright makes any sense at all, then how does it make sense? If your answer is "b/c Wright denies the imputation of the active obedience of Christ," then the entire point is a triviality with which no more time be wasted (again, as I already spelled out above). If that is not your actual answer, but simply unrelated topic you are bringing up for some odd reason, then I guess I get to be the one asking this question now: why won't you answer the question?

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  76. But you still didn't answer my questions and unless you actually answer the aforementioned then please don't respond with more insults about my motives or anything else. If you don't or can't answer the questions then please just don't respond. Thanks

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  77. Rob,

    Okay, here are the two questions you have put forth:

    "The questions that we have wanted to answer were
    What is N.T.Wrights answer to the question What is the definition of Justification?
    What are N.T. Wrights definitions of the Active and Passive obedience of Christ?
    "

    The first question was brought up long before I even entered the conversation, and again I remind you that my goal in this conversation (uninvited though it may be) has not been to deal with Wright's primary texts. I am frankly not a Wright scholar. Steven handles "what does Wright say about X?" questions much better than I do. I do think, actually, that Steven's expositions provided a pretty good hint of an answer here, though he never did spell it out in direct response to your question.

    Consider:

    "Wright has said that the common understanding of justification better applies to "call." I believe that is in WSPRS as well as the book titled Paul. He also made the statement at the Auburn Ave. Conference with Gaffin."

    This is not a claim about the meaning of the biblical concept of "justification," but a claim about what the orthodox Reformed concept of justification is really referring to (i.e., Wright is saying that what Reformed people mean by "justification" is pretty much what Paul means by "call") But for a more positive statement of what Wright thinks "justification" means in Scripture, how about this offering from one of Steven's first comments?:

    "I have some problems with Wright's readings, but his point is that the Divines are asking a particular pastoral question: "What must I, the individual, do in order to be found just with God, and thus not be condemned but rather eternally saved?"

    Wright wants to say that Paul's theology is more about, "How is God setting the world back to rights?" which is his fancy way of saying, "How is God fixing the Fall?" or "How is God doing away with evil?" He's connecting it with what we would call eschatology."


    In context, this is pretty clearly a comparison of the "Divines'" view of salvation with Wright's view of what salvation means in Scripture. And, reasoning from the more general to the more specific, the clear implication is about "justification." So Wright thinks that the biblical concept of justification is something like "how the world gets set to rights by God."

    The odd thing is that Nick at least (but also you, Rob, if I remember correctly) impatiently told Steven that you already knew all of this. You already know what Wright's view is. But then why the demand that Steven tell you what you already say you know?

    In any case, I have no idea. I'm not a Wright scholar, like I said. I'm a philosopher and a logician. I'm interested in how the ideas are being fit together and interacted with.

    As to the second question, I DID give you a direct answer to that question already. Again, I suspect you just don't like what it is. The answer, very briefly this time, is this: the question is itself irrelevant to the claim that Steven is making against Josh's reading of Wright. He does not need to come up with a text where Wright defends active obedience imputation because nothing that Steven has said in this conversation, to be true, depends upon Wright defending active obedience imputation. It is as simple as that. If you ask Steven to tell you the price of tea in China, he is logically free to ignore that question as well.

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  78. Xon,

    You have made many points; I will try to answer all of them. In the future, if you want a response please try to cover less ground in each comment.

    This has been a conversation. Conversations ebb and flow. If you, or anyone else, does not like the direction I take the conversation, please feel free to not post. If you want, start a blog and take the conversation any direction you want. The author of a blog has the right to do that.

    Where do I state "Wright guts Christ out of justification?"

    You stated that, the imputation of Christ’s active and passive obedience is “a particular articulation of the Reformed doctrine of imputation.” Let me make this as clear as possible for the final time, I hope, the doctrine of the imputation of Christ’s active and passive obedience is not a formulation of the Reformed doctrine. Rather it is the Reformed doctrine.

    This is what all the major Reformed denominations have stated in one form or another. This is why it is not I, a 2009 blogger, who is defining what it is to be Reformed. Rather all the major Reformed bodies have define it and they have stated that Wright (and the FV for that matter) are not within the Reformed faith. This is not some private bloggers opinion, but it is the opinion of the OPC, PCA and other ecclesiastical authorities.

    You think it is narrow-minded to define Reformed this way. Well, we define Christianity by the early Christian creeds and confession (as least on the person of Christ). An Arian might think this is narrow-minded. They might want me to define a Christian in a broader way. But I wont! So to, I will not be broad in the way I define Reformed. I am sorry if you do not like that, take it up with my denomination.

    The problem is that you, and others, have claimed that Wright holds to the substance of the Reformed doctrine. Let me make this as clear as I can, if Wright does not hold to the active and passive obedience of Christ imputed to believers, he does not hold to the Reformed doctrine. It is that simple. Wright himself in the video says the the Reformers were asking the wrong question. Wright himself does not claim to hold to the Reformed faith. Where does this strong desire come from to bring someone into our camp that does not claim to be, nor is he here in substance.

    If I missed anything that you want me to respond to please let me know.

    For the recorded it is not Mr. Batzig, it is Rev. Batzig.

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  79. "You think it is narrow-minded to define Reformed this way. Well, we define Christianity by the early Christian creeds and confession (as least on the person of Christ). An Arian might think this is narrow-minded. They might want me to define a Christian in a broader way. But I wont! So to, I will not be broad in the way I define Reformed. I am sorry if you do not like that, take it up with my denomination."

    No, I think it is narrow-minded to say that Wright is wrong simply because he is not Reformed. I actually care very little about how you or anyone else wants to define some theology club called "Reformed." (Although I do think, for the record, that your particular understanding of this club's membership is pretty obviously wrong. Steven already provided examples, and you simply waved them away by claiming that somehow they are out of accord with Westminster, as though Westminster exhaustively defines what "Reformed" is and as though the people after Westminster didn't continue calling these guys brothers. And you bring FV into a conversation where it has no place, as there is no standard FV position on the active obedience of Christ. Wilson and Mark Horne, at the very least, both affirm it enthusiastically. So you muddy the waters with vague associations and you define an entire theological tradition based on one confessional document that was written over a hundred years after the theological tradition came into existence, and based on a reading of that particular document that is far from certain even in our own day. This strikes me as a pretty blinkered way to try to define what is and isn't "Reforemd," but like I said I really don't care about your particular definition.) My point is that, when criticizing the ideas, arguments, or writings of others, it is really radically insufficient to just say "Well, he ain't Reformed/Lutheran/Baptist/Quaker/Opus Dei Roman Catholic/Antiochean Orthodox, so he is wrong by definition." Now you will no doubt accuse me of a strawman. But if this is not your claim, then pleae tell me again what is your claim about why Wright is wrong? Why is he wrong, in your opinion, aside from the simple fact that you think that Reformed theology is right (granting for the sake of argument that Reformed theology really does have only ONE doctrine of imputation, and that it includes active obedience of Christ) and you don't think Wright holds the Reformed position? I mean, I hold to the Protestant doctrine of justification sola fide, for instance. Thus, it is unsurprising that I think most Eastern Orthodox theologians are wrong when they talk about how a sinner is made right with God. But, I don't pick out individual EO theologians, post short videos of them, and then nitpick what words they do or don't use, either. I don't say, "Folks, this is hard to believe, but this EO dude actually talks about sinners being reconciled to God for five minutes and he never says the words "It's by faith alone"! I mean, can you guys believe that?" Such a statement would be pretty silly and trivial, wouldn't it?

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  80. Quickly, just to beat the long-dead horse, it's silly and trivial for two reasons (I'm not just calling names; I'm making a point about the logical structure of the argument). First, it is trivial because, yeah, everyone already knows that non-Protestants hold to non-Protestants doctrines on things like justification sola fide. What causes your fingers to hit those keys and point this out? But second, it is actually an invalid form of reasoning anyway. In other words, I haven't even proven that this EO guy does indeed deny the Protestant doctrine of justification. Surely he does so, since he is after all EO. But THIS PARTICULAR argument I have given does not establish that fact. It is a very poor argument indeed to say that, because on occasion X so-and-so gave a speech of so many minutes duration on topic Y in which he never mentioned topic Z, therefore so-and-so does not in fact have a proper view of the relationship between Y and Z. It is just a bad argument, formally speaking. Always, about any topic. Plug in whatever you like for X Y and Z.

    "Where do I state "Wright guts Christ out of justification?"

    This is hypersensitive given that I have summarized your point several times now. But, no, you never used the word "gut." Now I suppose only a direct quotation will do. You said that it is "beyond you" "How one can talk for any length of time about justification and not mention the work of Christ." If you object to "gut" as a summary of this, very well. But you clearly think that Wright somehow gets Christ out of his proper pride of place in justification. Why do you think that? Is your ONLY point here that Wright doesn't hold to active obedience imputation? That's all you're trying to say? That's what prompted you to post this in the first place? This is what is "beyond you," that certain people who do not claim to be orthodox stalwarts of Reformed theology in the first place don't believe in active obedience imputation? This is hard to believe, Josh.

    Finally, you are imputing a rationale to Steven and Faris (and myself) for which you have no evidence, as when you say:

    "The problem is that you, and others, have claimed that Wright holds to the substance of the Reformed doctrine."

    No, actually I have only claimed that your and others' responses to Steven's claim that Wright can be read as holding to the Reformed doctrine have been fallacious and embarrassing. I haven't personally weighed in on Wright's view re: imputation.

    "Let me make this as clear as I can, if Wright does not hold to the active and passive obedience of Christ imputed to believers, he does not hold to the Reformed doctrine. It is that simple."

    This is really, really wrong for historical reasons I have already pushed, but like I also already said I don't particularly care about who is in some particular club called "Reformed" or not. If you want to say that anyone (which would include that "Reformer" Luther, of course) who doesn't hold, not only to imputation, but to active obedience imputation, is simply not Reformed, then you may have that definition all day long. I simply do not care.

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  81. "Wright himself in the video says the the Reformers were asking the wrong question. Wright himself does not claim to hold to the Reformed faith. Where does this strong desire come from to bring someone into our camp that does not claim to be, nor is he here in substance."

    Nobody here has claimed at any point that Wright is in "our" camp. The claim has simply been that it is possible to read Wright as affirming the substance of imputation as a general concept (though the more specific doctrine of imputation of active obedience is another matter), even despite his own sometimes rather bad caricatures of that position. That is what Steven has argued. He isn't saying "Rah, rah, Wright should be beloved by all Reformed people." Nobody has said "N.T. Wright is a Reformed theologian." You are stumped by a "strong desire" that doesn't exist.

    My point in all of this is that your arguments are bad. That's really about it.

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  82. But now I've definitely stretched the meaning of "a few moments and then I'm checking out." So, true to my word, I'm checking out.

    Pax in Christo

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  83. Xon,
    First thank you for trying to answering the first question. I know it was sincere. Perhaps I needed to be more specific.Wright says that God is justifying the world to Himself or setting it to rights. Which of course is what Steven was pointing out. I do understand that Wright says this, the heart of what I wanted to know was 'how' is God doing this? The Reformed Confessions would say by the atonement of Christ in the act of imputing His people with his active and passive obedience and atoning for their sin. Ultimately the world will be recreated into perfection. What I really wanted to know was what does Wright say about 'how' God is setting the world to rights? As to the second question saying that it is irrelevant doesn't answer it. If the answer is Wright doesn't believe in it then just say that. Thank you for the sincere attempt.

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  84. Xon,

    For all your ranting and raving about how illogical and silly I have been, you sure do spend an inordinate amount of time writing lengthy posts on this blog.

    No one ever mentioned NAPARC.

    The Bible teaches the active imputed righteousness of Christ (e.g. Genesis 3:21; Jeremiah 33:16; Zech 3:5; Romans 3:21-26; 4:5-6, 2 Cor. 5:21).

    You know absolutely nothing about how much philosophy I have studies. That is beside the point anyway. You are arrogant in your criticisms. No amount of trying to weasel your way out of your own failure to understand what I was saying will suffice at this point.

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  85. Josh and I have mention NAPARC but with all of the words flying on this blog I understand how easily it could have been to miss it. Nick is correct though it is the Bible that we have to look at for our understanding of any doctrine. Thanks for the reminder
    Pastor Batzig

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  86. Hey, guys,

    I know I said I was checking out, but I do have to set something right. Pastor Batzig, I apologize for inaccurately attributing that NAPARC comment to you. It was Rob and Josh who went that direction, not you. My sincerest apologies for the misrepresentation.

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  87. I would like to point out to the readers of these comments that Xon has flatly contradicted himself.

    He said, "(3) and (4) are about as narrow-minded of a historical analysis as can be imagined. Men from before and some even during Westminster, and men who Reformed thinkers after Westminster continued to treat with respect as fellow Reformed thinkers, are defined out of 'being Reformed' by a blogger in 2009 because they didn't hold to 'imputation of active obedience.'"

    When challenged on this point he says, "No, I think it is narrow-minded to say that Wright is wrong simply because he is not Reformed."

    First, he completely changes his argument, and denies ever making it in the first place. And, his second point was never made before this comment. Second, this second point has never been made by me or anyone on this post. The agreement has been with those who claim that Wright agrees with the Reformed view in substance.

    Also, I had no idea what the NAPARC was until I just googled it, so I for sure did not bring it up.

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  88. I see where I was unclear, but I actually did not contradict myself. When I said "No, I think that..." in my later comment, I was explaining the issue that is more important to me. I was not denying the earlier argument I made, and in fact in my later comment I virtually repeated it in a parentheses. See, look, I'll say it again now: I do think that your way of saying that anyone who does not affirm imputation of active obedience is, by definition, "not Reformed" is an entirely implausible argument. But, I also don't really care. I am fine with letting you make blinkered narrow-minded definitions of who gets to play in the "Reformed" treehouse all you want (though, again, I really do think that they are blinkered and narrow-minded). What is more important to me, and the way in which I REALLY think you are being narrow-minded in a bad sense is, back to the main topic at hand, in your treatment of Wright. I care more about the initial claims about Wright, who NOBODY says is "Reformed." This issue of what defines Reformed is a side trail, which is I tried to distance myself from it in more recent comments.

    In other words, I understand why my "No, I think..." read like a contradiction to you, but I assure you that was not what I intended by the phrase. What I was saying was, "No, the real thing that bothers me here is..." That was a lack of clarity on my part, though.

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  89. Xon,

    You said, “I am fine with letting you make blinkered narrow-minded definitions of who gets to play in the "Reformed" treehouse all you want.”

    I have clarified this sentiment before, but in the hope of being charitable, I will clarify it again. I am not the one with this narrow-minded definition of “who gets to play in the ‘Reformed’ treehouse.” Rather, it is all the Reformed denominations that have spoken on this issue who have made this definition.

    Further, you made this point “I think it is narrow-minded to say that Wright is wrong simply because he is not Reformed.” I, nor anyone in here, has made this point and to clear the record I will make this point clear, I do not think Wright is wrong simply because he is not Reformed. This is two different points. 1) Wright is not Reformed, which I am glad to see that we both agree. 2) Wright is wrong because he is not biblical on the issues of imputation. These are two different claims. I have been arguing the first point. But, if you would like we can discuss the second point.

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  90. For those who think that I blindly hate everything N.T. Wright has to say. I wanted to point out this post.

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