N. T. Wright to Speak at Redeemer NYC (Updated)

UPDATE

A PCA Ruling Elder in NYC reviews Wright’s appearance and raises some of the same concerns that I raised about the wisdom of Redeemer inviting NTW to speak at Redeemer NYC.

Original Post 25 Mar 2010

He’s appearing under the auspices of the Center for Faith and Work (HT: Nick Batzig). This worries me in four ways. First, it seems to say, “Well, we may disagree on what the gospel is but there are other important areas where we can agree and so we should work together where we can.”

I’ve heard and read this sort of rationale. It would be applicable if a) we weren’t talking about a church-sponsored event and b) if we were talking about a matter in the common (not neutral) realm, i.e., were we talking about how we can work together with non-Christians toward a common social good, which wouldn’t regularly occur under the auspices of the visible institutional church. This doesn’t appear to be the case. The assumption here seems to be that Redeemer and Wright have a “common faith” on which we’ve agreed to disagree about the gospel and move on from there to putting to work the faith on which we do not fundamentally agree. This seems most confused and confusing.

If there is anything about which a church must be unapologetically clear and unequivocal it is the good news of Jesus Christ and the good news is not that we’re in by grace and we stay in through faith and works. The good news is not that in the resurrection of Christ God has vindicated himself and merely broken down the old ceremonial barriers between Jew and gentile. The truth is that the Rev Dr Wright has fundamentally re-defined what justification is. He has re-defined the good news such that it isn’t “the” good news any more, i.e., it’s not that Jesus has died as the substitute for elect sinners and that his suffering active obedience and his death have been imputed to all who believe in him and that he was raised on the third day for their righteousness with God.

The faith confessed by Redeemer NYC is unequivocal about what the gospel of justification is (WCF 11):

1. Those whom God effectually calleth, he also freely justifieth: not by infusing righteousness into them, but by pardoning their sins, and by accounting and accepting their persons as righteous; not for anything wrought in them, or done by them, but for Christ’s sake alone; nor by imputing faith itself, the act of believing, or any other evangelical obedience to them, as their righteousness; but by imputing the obedience and satisfaction of Christ unto them, they receiving and resting on him and his righteousness, by faith; which faith they have not of themselves, it is the gift of God.

2. Faith, thus receiving and resting on Christ and his righteousness, is the alone instrument of justification: yet is it not alone in the person justified, but is ever accompanied with all other saving graces, and is no dead faith, but worketh by love.

3. Christ, by his obedience and death, did fully discharge the debt of all those that are thus justified, and did make a proper, real, and full satisfaction to his Father’s justice in their behalf. Yet, inasmuch as he was given by the Father for them; and his obedience and satisfaction accepted in their stead; and both, freely, not for anything in them; their justification is only of free grace; that both the exact justice and rich grace of God might be glorified in the justification of sinners.

4. God did, from all eternity, decree to justify all the elect, and Christ did, in the fullness of time, die for their sins, and rise again for their justification: nevertheless, they are not justified, until the Holy Spirit doth, in due time, actually apply Christ unto them.

5. God doth continue to forgive the sins of those that are justified; and, although they can never fall from the state of justification, yet they may, by their sins, fall under God’s fatherly displeasure, and not have the light of his countenance restored unto them, until they humble themselves, confess their sins, beg pardon, and renew their faith and repentance.

6. The justification of believers under the old testament was, in all these respects, one and the same with the justification of believers under the new testament.

Second, the appearance of a notable critic of the Reformation faith seems to contradict the strong message sent from Redeemer NYC about the nature and importance of the gospel. The senior pastor of Redeemer NYC is a leading member, after all, of “the gospel coalition.” Given the uniqueness of its mission and role in bringing genuinely evangelical Christianity to arguably the most significant city in the USA, it’s been encouraging that, whatever other disagreements one might have about Redeemer’s approach to ministry, they’ve been unequivocal about the good news—at least it has seemed so to this outsider. Now, however, one has to wonder. It is not as if there haven’t been troubling signs in the past. There have been FV or NPP advocates in the Redeemer network. That fact has been hard to square with the notion that, “Well, at least Redeemer gets the gospel right” but one was willing to think that such facts were anomalies to be corrected. Perhaps they weren’t anomalies and they represent a new trend in the ministry of the Redeemer network of churches?

Third, inviting a notable, prominent, articulate advocate of a message that is not quite the gospel tends to make the the orthodox confession and proclamation of the gospel seem merely theoretical. This is how dead orthodoxy, i.e., doctrinal formalism starts. You see, the common and widespread misunderstanding persists that “dead orthodoxy” can only happen when people go through religious motions without genuine faith. This is better called “dead ritualism” and, to be sure, dead ritualism is a problem that cannot be denied. The whole history of redemption and the post-canonical history of the church reminds us of the danger of dead ritualism. There is, however, another sort of formalism: doctrinal formalism. It happens when individuals and congregations mouth the correct words but deny their substance by the way the faith is practiced. One sees this sort of dead formalism frequently in worship where the Reformed confession of the second commandment is formally honored but either ignored or actively transgressed. The subtle message is sent, “God is only friendly and kind. He’s your helper. You can do what you want in worship as long as it feels good.” That subtle message of course is powerful and a deadly lie. Reducing the biblical, orthodox, confession of the gospel to a mere theory to be disputed by prominent “evangelical” Anglican Bishops is nothing but dead formalism. I don’t care how vital and vigorous the other activities of a congregation are if the gospel is reduced to a mere theory to be held or rejected as one pleases.

Fourth, Can you imagine the Apostle Paul inviting someone, anyone, to speak at a congregation that one disagreed with Paul as to what the gospel really is? Are you kidding me? We don’t have to imagine at all. He wouldn’t even sit down to eat with his fellow Apostle, Peter who had implicitly contradicted the gospel by refusing to eat with the gentiles. He upbraided Peter for it and then recorded the event in Holy Scripture (by the inspiration of the Spirit) so that ministers would know better than to marginalize the gospel in favor of some other agenda, so that they would know the centrality of the gospel, and so that they would know to guard the its purity in their ministry.

We all err. The wonderful thing about grace is that we sinners can freely admit that we sin and err. We sinners redeemed by Christ’s unmerited favor do not have to be pretentious about being perfect. We are free, as Luther said, to “be a sinner.” Hitherto Redeemer NYC has been mostly clear about that. Here is an opportunity for Redeemer NYC to step up and demonstrate that freedom to be more than mere theory but to embody it in a corporate, institutional way and to say, “Hey, our desire to engage the culture got the better of us and we didn’t think through the implications of inviting an advocate of the NPP to speak under the auspices of the visible church with a confession of faith that is irreconcilable with Bishop Wright’s understanding of the gospel.”

    Post authored by:

  • R. Scott Clark
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    R.Scott Clark is the President of the Heidelberg Reformation Association, the author and editor of, and contributor to several books and the author of many articles. He has taught church history and historical theology since 1997 at Westminster Seminary California. He has also taught at Wheaton College, Reformed Theological Seminary, and Concordia University. He has hosted the Heidelblog since 2007.

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114 comments

  1. Hm. Interesting. So does the PCA have any jurisdiction to address this? Regardless of Redeemers network (episcopal?) structure, they are still a PCA church, right? I’ll play the devils advocate here for a minute: could they be justifying it by saying that, since Wright isn’t talking about justification per se, that it is okay for him to speak there? Which still raises questions, undoubtedly, I’m just wondering what on earth their rationale could be…

  2. I agree that it is regretable that a prominent PCA church that makes the “gospel” center would give a forum under its imprimatur to a speaker known for confusing the gospel. The usual justifications offered by churches for inviting N.T. Wright to speak at churches sound fine in theory, but don’t wash in practice: he is a famous and excellent scholar; he is a stalwart defender of the resurrection; we want to be ecumenical and hear all sides; if we don’t invite someone with whom we disagree on one point we would invite no one because we all disagree on one point or the other, etc. etc.

    Yet justification (the gospel) is not merely one point of doctrine among many on which we can agree to disagree; it’s at the center of our dictrine and should be at the center of the life of the church. A church’s highest calling is to proclaim and defend the gospel. In a day when the gospel is under attack, it seems exceedingly unwise for a church to give a forum to one of the leading critics of the gospel. When he speaks in a church at the invitation of the church, a reasonable person would draw the inference, intended or not, that the church certifies that the speaker’s teaching is within the ambit of orthodoxy and is wholesome and sound. Since that manifestly is not the case with Dr. Wright, all his other commendable scholarly achievements notwithstanding, the potential to mislead Christ’s sheep into dangerous waters is high. No perceived benefit thought to derive from this invitation justifies that risk, in my view.

  3. I live in the NYC metro area and recently saw a flyer about this lecture. It gave me a pause and makes me wonder whether there is a growing affinity between Redeemer and the NPP. I am not a member nor a regular attender, but when I attended one of their services I noticed several Wright books on display at their book tables. I don’t think any of his books on Paul were there, I just remember the volumes on the resurrection, heaven, and his “mere” Christianity (I can’ think of the title off-hand).

    This event has caused some discussion at the church I attend. Several people respect and admire the work being done at Redeemer and many have read Wright’s work on heaven. From talking with some of them, I fear that they don’t see the connection between Wright’s view of justification and the rest of his teaching. I think some of our church members are fairly open to his teaching on justification because his other books on faith and practice connects with their legitimate desire to minister to our community. I think the Redeemer connection makes Wright’s appeal even greater.

    This doesn’t mean Redeemer is embracing Wright or the NPP, but if they’re not embracing it then they need to publicly clarify their position.

    I’ve thought about attending the event to hear Wright speak in person. However, given the discussion here and the church context, I’m unsure about attending lest I look like I endorse Wright too.

  4. Wright’s book is titled, “After you believe.” However, if what he believes is fundamentally different from what Redeemer NYC confesses to believe how can he address them on how to be/live/think/practice after they believe? Puzzling…

  5. Shocking revelations about Redeemer of late with Higgins and his problems, and now this… Well, it should be said that Redeemer isn’t the only institution willing to host Wright and give him air time. Let’s not forget that Wheaton College is holding a “Dialogue” with N. T. Wright on “Jesus, Paul and the People of God” April 16 and 17… I know this was set up long ago, but I can’t imagine Phil Ryken would be pleased to have this occur under his watch, if he was president already.

  6. Well Wheaton College as an educational institution under the direct authority of no ecclesiastical body could by all means have had Anton LaVey speak at a conference and they would not be in the position Redeemer PCA in NY finds itself.

    • Agreed, Ben – but it’s not ecclesiastical concerns I have, but sheer embarrassment at the fact that they as an evangelical institution have invited someone to speak as an “premiere (sic) authority” on the New Testament who has so badly twisted the message of the Gospel as to render it incomprehensible.

  7. Could you point me to where Redeemer has actually stated “we may disagree on what the gospel is…”?

    That someone from the Gospel Coalition is hosting Wright shouldn’t be all that surprising. Just last year, Piper refused to label Wright’s views “another gospel”. I would be interested to know if Redeemer concurs with Piper.

    • Chad,
      I think you are referring to Piper’s endorsement of Douglas Wilson. Piper has been one of the most effective voice countering Wright and the NPP. I wish he had been more discerning about Wilson.

      • Todd,

        In a Q&A, I believe Piper included N.T. Wright with Wilson in his answer that neither have “another gospel”. And I think that’s been chronicled by Clark on this site.

    • Brian, where can I find Buccheri’s interaction with FV? It’s just that he was in the same dorm with me back in 2002 in WTS. Thanks.

      • Sam,

        Try Lane Keister’s site, Greenbaggins.

        Buccheri has been quite active there in the past.

        Also, his old blog Kata Matthaion has some more subtle stuff.

        Blessings,
        Brian

  8. I appreciate your work, Dr. Clark, however the paranoia about Wright in conservative Reformed circles can wear a bit thin at times. I happen to agree with Piper: Wright is not preaching another Gospel, he is confusing the Gospel. We need to be clear about the Gospel in our pulpits and not muddy it.

    That said he clearly articulates that salvation is through the life death and resurrection of Christ. He loses me with his arguments about the Reformation era definition of justification vs. Paul’s. Having read some of his work, I’d point out that he is very similar to another Anglican churchman: C.S. Lewis. Far from being a Reformation stalwart, Lewis believed in purgatory! Would Westminster Cal not allowed Lewis to speak on it’s campus had she been around in his time?
    In reading the article, Wright is speaking at the Center for Faith and Work, not preaching at a Lord’s Day service, in which case I’d be more sympathetic to your distress. In this case, however, like Lewis, his worldview insights are worthwhile and I applaud Keller & co. for understanding this.

    • Kirk,

      I’m paranoid and you’re naive.

      Have you listened to Kim Riddlebarger’s critique of NTW?

      The audio links are here:

      https://heidelblog.net/2018/08/resources-on-the-federal-vision-theology/

      Have you considered Chuck Hill’s critique of NTW?

      http://www.thirdmill.org/files/english/html/nt/NT.h.Hill.Wright.html

      Have you read Mike Horton’s extended and extensive critique of NTW?

      What about Guy Waters?

      http://www.wscal.edu/bookstore/store/details.php?id=359

      The definition of righteousness, the definition of faith, the definition of justification, and the definition of the gospel are not small things and NTW has not only rejected the Reformation definitions he mocks them.

      You say, “he clearly articulates that salvation is through the life death and resurrection of Chris.” I say: so does Rome. This nothing more than culture-war-inspired minimalism.

      As I pointed out on Nick’s blog, a school is not a church. We’ve had process theologians on campus. We would certainly have Lewis on campus but I wouldn’t have him speak at church. I’m as big a fan of Lewis as there is but, as you point out, his theology was dodgy in more than a few ways. His view of Scripture was sub-Protestant. It was downright arrogant at times.

      Our job as a school is to host diverse ideas and the debate them. It’s not the job of the church to have process theologians to instruct the congregation. It’s the call of the visible church to preach the Word, the administer the sacraments and discipline. Part of the problem is the confusion inherent in the visible church hosting this forum.

      Let Christians form a private society and they can host NTW til they are blue in the face. Part of the problem is setting.

  9. I’ve listened to most of N.T. Wright’s audio that is online, and read much of his published material. What I find interesting is that since his debate with Piper he seems to have become more outspoken against (what he calls) the Reformed and Lutheran traditions. In spite of how many scholars have tried to correct his understanding of what the Reformed and Lutheran traditions actually teach he, amazingly, continues to characterize them as if Charles Stanley were their best representative–humanities problem is it’s headed for hell, so get saved today and wait for heaven.
    What’s most disturbing, though, is that there’s a theological duplicity coming out in some of his recent lectures. For example, I’m listening to his recent two-part series at an emergent church in the US. He paints the Reformed as about a notch more theologically sophisticated than televangelists, and the Reformation as reading a hand full of verses ignorant of the rest. Yet I just listened to some of his lectures at Fuller and an evangelical church on the west coast. He makes one or two passing criticisms of the Reformed and Lutheran, yet sharply and repeatedly critiques postmodern Christianity as a failed, misguided project and a great danger to the Christian tradition today. I wonder why he didn’t let the emergent church he only shortly before or after visits/ed know of that fact. It’s a duplicity we’ve come to expect from those committed to ecumenicism (a banner for their own theology) above truth. I wouldn’t be surprised if at Redeemer he continues his facade of unity and hospitality only to caricature the Reformed at his next, non-Reformed speaking venue.

  10. Little off topic, and I apologize in advance, but Dr. Clark what do you make out of the recent attempts claiming that Augustine was essentially a Federal Visionist in that he too believed in justification via Spirit wrought sanctity?

    I recall reading somewhere that Augustine’s use of the word “sanctify” was considerably different from modern usage, hence giving rise to a similarly modern misunderstanding, but I can’t seem to locate it.

    • Augustine was a essentially a predestinarian moralist, i.e., he taught justification through Spirit-wrought sanctity. The story is more complicated than that but yes, it’s essentially true. So what?

      If the FV want to go back to pre-Reformation moralism, let them but just not in our churches. Luther was, for a time, an Augustinian moralist, i.e., he adopted Augustine’s alter views of divine sovereignty contra Pelagianism. Where did it get him?

      This is why the FVists need to get a theological and historical education. They are children playing with very expensive toys.

      • It is interesting because Gerstner said concerning Augustine:

        “Though Augustine finds justification and sanctification inseparable, they are not indistinguishable. Augustinian justification leads into sanctification, but is not confused with it.

        According to Augustine, man’s faith in Christ justifies him. Confession of Christ is efficacious for the remission of sins. We are justified by the blood of Christ, and we have no merits which are not the gifts of God. Of course, faith is active through love (fides quae caritate operatur), but this does not imply that justification is on the basis of love.”

        In any case, it looks like I’ve got some homework of my own. Thanks again.

        • Well, there’s been an attempt by some Protestants to make Augustine and even Aquinas into proto-Protestants. It’s a difficult question because we’re asking Augustine to answer questions he’s not addressing. We’re also asking Augustine to answer questions in a framework that had, by the 5th century, been largely lost.

          Tom Oden published a book trying to show that the fathers held to Luther’s doctrine of justification. I appreciate his work but I don’t agree with all his conclusions. I discuss this a bit in /Covenant, Justification, and Pastoral Ministry/.

          http://www.wscal.edu/bookstore/store/details.php?id=917

          Because he’s so important to both traditions, Protestant and Romanist, there’s a great temptation to try to make Augustine sit up and bark. There are places in the mature Augustine on which the Protestants could legitimately capitalize. There are places in Augustine on which a Romanist could capitalize. He left a mixed legacy. He was practically Pelagian in his early ministry and so he could be quoted to that effect.

          Alister McGrath has published a large volume on this but his history is dubious in several places. See John Fesko’s book on justification

          http://www.wscal.edu/bookstore/store/details.php?id=1943

          • Well, there’s been an attempt by some Protestants to make Augustine and even Aquinas into proto-Protestants.

            What do you make of this from Augustine’s treatise on “the Merits and Forgiveness of Sins” Book 1, Chapter 18 – Only Christ Justifies:

            “Therefore as by the offense of one upon all men to condemnation, even so by the justification of One upon all men unto justification of life.” This “offense of one,” if we are bent on “imitation,” can only be the devil’s offense. Since, however, it is manifestly spoken in reference to Adam and not the devil, it follows that we have no other alternative than to understand the principle of natural propagation, and not that of imitation, to be here implied. [XIV.] Now when he says in reference to Christ, “By the justification of one,” he has more expressly stated our doctrine than if he were to say, “By the righteousness of one;” inasmuch as he mentions that justification whereby Christ justifies the ungodly, and which he did not propose as an object of imitation, for He alone is capable of effecting this. Now it was quite competent for the apostle to say, and to say rightly: “Be ye imitators of me, as I also am of Christ;” but he could never say: Be ye justified by me, as I also am by Christ; — since there may be, and indeed actually are and have been, many who were righteous and worthy of imitation; but no one is righteous and a justifier but Christ alone. Whence it is said: “To the man that believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.” Now if any man had it in his power confidently to declare,” I justify you,” it would necessarily follow that he could also say, “Believe in me.” But it has never been in the power of any of the saints of God to say this except the Saint of saints, who said: “Ye believe in God, believe also in me;” so that, inasmuch as it is He that justifies the ungodly, to the man who believes in him that justifieth the ungodly his faith is imputed for righteousness.”

            Sounds like a good proto-Prot to me. Am I missing something?

            • Also, FYI, I never said that FV men are advancing Augustine in their
              defense, but there are those those who have been arguing, and vigorously, that Leithart is properly Augustine’s proper son, not Calvin or Luther, mixed
              bags notwithstanding. Frankly, I believe those making the argument are
              PCA pastors not associated with the FV.

            • Hi Sean,

              The problem of trying to find the Reformation doctrine of justification in the fathers or Bernard (as has been attempted) is that 1) it doesn’t address the development of doctrine 2) it tends to lower the bar, as it were, in order to capitalize on formal similarities or on biblical quotations which may or may not have been understood in exactly the same way. What we have here is strong anti-Pelagianism, which is laudable, and the Reformation is certainly anti-Pelagian (and anti-semi-Pelagian!) but this isn’t Luther’s doctrine of imputation or sola fide. We might see a move toward a definition of grace which is more oriented toward the notion of divine approval rather than a medicinal substance but we can’t read our fully developed doctrine into Augustine. What we can do is to see the seeds of the later doctrine. We can see a trajectory toward later developments but we shouldn’t read those more complete developments back into the earlier sources. This is why Warfield said that Augustine’s doctrine of the church trumped his doctrine of salvation.

  11. This shouldn’t be surprising. Matt Brown, the Pastor, of one of the leading Redeemer Churches lists N.T. Wright as one of his four “theological influences”:

    Both his Assistant Pastor and Pastoral Intern were interns at Jeffrey Meyers’ Church in St. Louis.

    • I second that Wes. I’ve been to Brown’s church in Bklyn. And when I saw NT Wright as his influence on his website, that raised concern: “in what way”?

  12. Daniel alluded to this above, but why we do what we do “after we believe” is an unquestionable difference between NPP and the historic Reformed Tradition. Is what we do a means of securing or earning our salvation? Or is what we do a naturally outworking of becoming a new creation in Christ?

    Like I said at Feeding on Christ, “Could not this ministry of Redeemer be considered under the same category as a school?” Just a thought, not an opinion.

    Cheers, Jesse

      • Dr. Clark,

        Tim Keller’s church has actually used Scazerro’s book, which teaches exactly what I quoted from my personal copy of it.

        And I quoted Dr. Keller’s exact endorsement of the female pastor’s excyclopedia of contemplative spirituality, which is anti-thetical to sola Scriptura.

        My brother, I am most certainly not out to “get” Tim Keller; that said, I would politely argue, rather, that this is association with guilt. 🙂

  13. We might see a move toward a definition of grace which is more oriented toward the notion of divine approval rather than a medicinal substance but we can’t read our fully developed doctrine into Augustine.

    Fair enough, which is why I also think those who would use Augustine to defend Leithart’s soteriological scheme of justification initiated by faith and completed by works (the FV scheme of initial and final justification) is simply off base. Thanks.

    • We can appeal to the later Augustine against the two-stage scheme inasmuch as most two-stage schemes rely on our cooperation with grace toward sanctification and final justification. The later Augustine was a monergist through and through. We can certainly appeal to him re the FV doctrine of apostasy. The later Augustine doesn’t know anything about two kinds of election. The mature Augustine would have had no sympathy whatever for the FV doctrine of temporary election, temporary union with Christ etc.

      • Dr. Clark,

        I wish I had more exposure to Augustine, but my reading has been limited to the Confessions. Your discussion with Sean raises some interesting questions for me in how we view those in the past who held to an under developed doctrine of justification. How should we look at the church fathers in light of our reformed doctrines? Do we approach them with a spirit of catholicity, or in some other way?

        A related question is for FV and NPP advocates: If these adherent’s are outside the bounds of the Reformed Confessions, are we, in the case of the FV, simply asking that they quit maintaining that they are Reformed? Is there a sense of catholicity that we extend to those who do not hold fast to the confessional doctrines of justification? Is there a hard line where these men are heretics promoting a false gospel, or is a less distinct line where we are (or should be) out of communion with brothers who we believe are in profound error?

        BTW – I am on my second read through RRC, what a mind-bender! It was a categorical shock to the system to my YRR affinities. Thanks for your work in writing it.

        • Jed,

          Every post-medieval strand of the W. church, speaking historically, is selective with and critical of the past. There’s no way to reconcile Trent and Thomas on election and reprobation, but they won’t tell you that. There’s no way to reconcile much of the Apostolic Fathers with Tridentine Romanism, but they won’t tell you that. Confessional Protestants are also selective and critical in their appropriation of the fathers and medievals.

          As William Perkins argued, we are the truth catholics. At Trent, Rome cut herself off from much of the great W. tradition. We embrace the whole church but we do so in light of Scripture. We understand that doctrine develops in response to stimuli internal and external. The doctrine of the Trinity is latent in Scripture but Scripture has to be interpreted and organized and its doctrine articulated and defended against denial of biblical truth. For a variety of reasons, the resolution on soteriology didn’t occur for a very long time, but at the same time, much of what became what we know as “Roman” theology, piety, and practice was still developing into the 16th century (and beyond). So, it’s not as if everything was static and then came unglued in the 16th century.

          it’s challenging question to sort out. It takes about 12 class hours or so to do in the Med-Ref course (and more if we add in the Patristics course).

          • Dr. Clark,

            Thanks, this is helpful, and of course it creates a lot of questions that probably are too exhaustive for a blog.

            I am a bit of a latecomer to the NPP and FV discussions, and it sounds like you and others have been in the unenviable position of having to be critical and selective in dealing with these issues without the luxury of much history to make these evaluations. Your battle has been helpful for those of us who are grappling with what it means to be Reformed, so again thank you.

  14. Dr. Clark and Wes,

    Are there WSC alumni, men like Jason Stellman and Lane Keister, who are in Metro NYC presbytery? Can we contact men there to urge them to resist Keller, Higgins, and Buccher? I would love to personally encourage pastors to press charges against these pro-FV heretics. If there aren’t men there, we need to support men to get them there to cleanse the PCA of these heretics.

    Jeremy

    • Jeremy –

      Criticizing Redeemer and Tim Keller for inviting Wright to speak is fine – I disagree, but I respect that view as voiced by Dr. Clark and others.

      But calling Keller, Higgins, and Buccheri “pro-FV heretics” is wrong. Not only are they all explicitly non-FV, but there is nothing in their writing or speaking that would be considered heretical. Keller and Buccheri are both pastors at my church – I sit under their teaching weekly, and have a pretty good idea of their beliefs. Unless you can prove they are heretical (or even “pro-FV”), you should retract your statement and apologize.

      • Some of Rev Buccheri’s comments, in 2007, could be interpreted charitably as pro-FV. Certainly he did not come out strongly and unequivocally in favor of the confessional doctrine of justification nor did he come out squarely against the FV.

        In one of the sillier historical comments I’ve read, he has also describe the Westminster Confession’s account of justification as “modernistic.” He says:

        “3. There is little doubt in my mind that some of the doctrines of the later confessions were affected by modernistic categories. For example, the modern banking system as we know it was conceived of and implemented by the Medici family in the 15th century. That’s the same era that Luther speaks of justification in terms of accounting. [Hmmmm, interesting.] Maybe our non-Western sisters and brothers will help to see that our confessions recapture a filial aspect of redemption instead of all the modernistic legalese that hijacked it “

        The WCF said what it said because it was influenced by modern banking system invented by the Medicis? Really? So, there were no commercial categories available in the 1st century? Was the Apostle Paul anticipating the Medicis by 1500 years? Does Scripture juxtapose the legal with the personal?

        This fellow may or may not be a Federal Visionist (perhaps he’s just another evangelical latitudinarian) but he deserves watching making such silly statements.

        • Buccheri denies being Federal Vision in this post on his blog:

          http://katamatthaion.blogspot.com/search?q=two+sides+coin

          Here is a section of the article:

          “So where do both camps find alignment? In my humble opinion, both camps fail to live in the tension that the Bible presents us with. FV proponents insist on highlighting the efficacy of the sacraments: that the Christian life begins with baptism. The FV opponents on the other hand are insisting that faith is the only necessary means to be called a Christian: that baptism means next to nothing. The apostle Paul could never tear the two realities apart. Moreover, the Reformed standards make clear that a “Christian” is one who believes in the person and work of Jesus Christ by the Spirit AND one who is baptized (cf. Mark 16:16. passim)! Remove one from the equation and you don’t have a “Christian.” So…

          – Faith in the person and work of Jesus + No baptism ≠ Christan
          – No faith in the person and work of Jesus + Baptism ≠ Christian
          – Faith in the person and work of Jesus + Baptism = Christian”

  15. I saw this N.T. Wright talk advertised about a month ago and decided to email Redeemer. My email is available to read at the blog link http://theworldsruined.blogspot.com/2010/02/nt-wright-and-redeemer-church-in-nyc.html … or just click my name above and go the the Feb. 26th post. Any way, I was and am concerned at the implicit endorsement to be taken by Redeemer’s sponsoring of Wright’s talk. I had several back and forth emails and won’t make available their responses. Suffice to say, by doing this through their CFW they seem to think that separates the event from Redeemer and in no way endorses Wright’s (as they put it) controversial views.

    Wright blurs the gospel (to be generous?) and by having him speak via Redeemer and the tacit approval that bestows on him and his teachings regarding justification only makes it more difficult for pastors and elders, in churches that hold to a reformed confession, to shepherd their people in the truth.

  16. I wonder if anyone posting comments here has actually intereacted with Dr. Tim Keller on this matter. Seems like it would be the right thing to do in light of Matthew 18.

    • Funny how this is becoming a theme around the blogosphere. Any time you wish to interact an event promoted publicly by someone, in order to make any critique of it you need to discuss it with them privately first? That is utterly insane. To suggest that discussion of such things without private conversation with the sponsor is a violation of the principles laid out in Matthew 18 is to misunderstand Matthew 18 badly.

      What’s publicly promoted is available for public discussion. For us to question the propriety of such an event is NO violation of any principle of Matthew 18, which has to do with an entirely different set of affairs.

      • Well, I think your comment is totally off base.

        It has everything to do with it. People thing that because they can sit comfortbaly behind a computer and say whatever they like that it is justified because it’s a blog. Phew.

        What you said reminds me of something Theodore Roosevelt said,

        “The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotion, spends himself in a worthy cause; who at best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement; and who at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who have never tasted victory or defeat.”

        • Ridiculous, Jesse. It’s a public event.

          How do you feel about Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama ram-rodding through their health care program? Have you EVER complained to ANYONE about it?

          Did you go to them personally first?

          If not, why not?

          • Todd you perplex me. On one hand, you come out like a thief in the night, throw a sucker punch, and chide me for using Matt. 18 out of context.

            Now, on the other hand, talking about context you arguably fall victim to the same error by blurring church discipline with the Democratic process. If I were to speak-out against healthcare my intent is not to bring them before the church so that they can be either restored to fellowship or excommunicated.

            Does that suffice?

            • If you intended to talk about people who called for discipline of Keller et al, then you should have said so. Instead, you merely suggested that it was incorrect for “anyone commenting” to do so without contacting Keller first. You said this is what Matthew 18 requires. That (as you wrote it) IS taking Matthew 18 out of context. If you intended to address people calling for Keller’s discipline, then you should have simply said so.

              I reacted as I did both because I could not disagree more strongly with what you said (as you actually wrote it, not as you apparently intended it). A large amount of heat is being expended in the blog arena by people who argue that whenever one disagrees with someone who has published something erroneous (usually these people are trying to defend FV writers) one must first talk with the author before talking about it on the web.

              You could be clearer if in fact you were saying something different.

  17. By the way, Jesse, you seem to have thought it appropriate to take commenters to task publicly for complaining about the Wright events. I didn’t get a private contact from you first. Shouldn’t you have done so in order to follow your own advice?

    • Could you please enlighten me, the blogosphere dolt, in exactly how my remarks above could be interpreted as “taking to task” commentators? Besidse, what’s your beef with me? I’m having a hard time hearing what you’re saying because the sound of the gong in the background is drowning out your voice.

  18. Was not your comment a “shame on you” to Dr. Clark and others for complaining about the events at Redeemer? That’s what I mean by “taking to task” the commenters. If you didn’t mean to say “shame on you” then “shame on me”.

    • Todd, seriously (perhaps not so seriously?) relax. You’ve taken such a minute comment and mined it for depth that’s not even there. It seems like you’re assuming quite a bit and we know what that does to the both of us 😉

  19. Though Wright’s theology is suspect especially in his most recent thought, I think it must be noted that Redeemer and Keller consider the imputation of Christ’s righteousness as the bedrock foundation of nearly all their ministries. It’s the Gospel preached clearly in all of Keller’s sermons.

    As I read Wright’s Surprised by Hope a few months ago, I kept thinking of Redeemer. It’s as if they’ve taken the best elements of Wright’s plea for the church to be involved in all aspects of the world and transferred it to a context where a very Reformed vision of salvation and justification prevails — separating wheat from chaff, if you will.

    As has been said, if Wright were speaking in the Sunday service, I would be quite worried. But he’s lecturing on character (a lecture that’s probably quite similar to his Fuller talk on iTunes called “Learning the Language of Life”).

  20. Wright speaking at Redeemer makes me think of Harry Emerson Fosdick. When we fail to bar the gate tightly, but let the barbarians come visit us as friends, it will not be long before they’ve taken over the whole place

  21. I’m not even surprised by this. This is part of Kellerism’s contextualization of the gospel. Who knows where this would end? Probably all the way back to papism.

  22. Dr. Clark:

    Have you considered that N.T. Wright isn’t as far afield as many make him out to be?

    Consider this:

    “Wright: Would you agree with the following analysis of how all this happened? The mainstream of New Testament studies from the Reformation until very recently – certainly in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries – was being led by German Lutherans who had a very definite law-gospel antithesis. Had it instead been led by people in the Reformed as opposed to the Lutheran tradition, the new perspective would never have been necessary. If you take the theology of someone like Ridderbos or Charles Cranfield, you find exactly the same idea in principle, which is that the law was never given as a ladder of good works up which people ought to climb to save themselves; if anyone ever thought that, that was an abuse of the law, because grace and particularly the covenant precedes obedience.

    I find this very ironic, because if you were to go on to Google and were to type in “Tom Wright” +”justification by faith,” you would turn up many American web sites from the Presbyterian Church of America and various other strongly Reformed centers like Westminster Seminary which are extremely rude about the two people sitting on this platform tonight for having sold Paul down the river and given up the genuine Reformed doctrine of justification by faith. This is really quite bizarre, because I think that what we have both done in taking forward Sanders’ proposal theologically – Sanders is really not a theologian, he’s more of an historian – I see what we’re doing as actually much more on a Reformed map than a Lutheran map, precisely because of the emphasis on the covenant and grace as basic, and on the Law from the start as being the way of life for the redeemed people. This corresponds to Luther’s tertiary use of it, if you like, but it’s much easier to do it in a Reformed or Calvinist framework. Would you be happy with that?”

    For the rest of the interview go to:
    http://www.thepaulpage.com/an-evening-conversation-on-paul-with-james-d-g-dunn-and-n-t-wright/

    I see no problem with Redeemer hosting a fellow brother in the Lord, especially one with whom we agree so much.

    Blessings!

    • Timothy,

      This doesn’t save him. Read Horton’s WJKP vol on the NPP contra NTW. See also Guy Waters. Further, his juxtaposition of the Lutherans v Reformed re Law/Gospel is historically quite untenable.

      Tom may have antecedents in some contemporary Reformed exegetes but that say more about their relative unorthodox views than it does for NTW’s orthodoxy. Ridderbos is not the fellow to follow on Romans.

      • Scott:

        I will take a look at Horton’s volume on the NPP, thanks for the recommendation. I have read Water’s book on the NPP and I found it less than satisfying. I find Bird’s book “the Saving Righteousness of God” a much better study of the NPP. There are some aspects of Wright’s theology that give me pause (i.e. his stance on the imputation of Christ’s righteousness). However, Wright is a British Anglican and not a North American Reformed Theologian so there will be areas in which we do not agree. My question is: “Do the areas Wright disagrees with North American Reformed Theology constitute a denial of the Gospel?” I would have a very difficult time saying the good Bishop is outside the Covenant. Especially given that his doctrine of Justification is very similar to Martin Bucer’s.

        I’m a senior student at Westminster Philadelphia, I stand in the Calvin/Vos/Ridderbos/early Gaffin tradition. Why would you say Ridderbos is not the fellow to follow on Romans?

        Blessing!

        • Timothy,

          Well, if you don’t find Waters persuasive, I’m not sure there’s much I can do for you. Have you read the other critiques of Wright? I posted several here:

          http://heidelblog.wordpress.com/2009/05/15/blomberg-on-wright-christs-obedience/

          On NTW’s misappropriation of the tradition: don’t believe anything NTW says about the history of doctrine. He’s simply making up things. Full stop. He admits he hasn’t read much beyond Calvin and it shows. He doesn’t understand Calvin. If you don’t believe me go talk to Carl Trueman:

          http://www.wscal.edu/clark/truemanpp.php

          His definition of justification has been woefully deficient for decades as Chuck Hill noted years ago:

          http://www.thirdmill.org/files/english/html/nt/NT.h.Hill.Wright.html

          See other resources here:

          https://heidelblog.net/2018/08/resources-on-the-federal-vision-theology/

          On Ridderbos, well reading him didn’t prepare you to see the fundamental flaws in NTW did it? Doesn’t that say something about him? His account of ch 7 is quite deficient. There are at least two Ridderbos’ — the Ridderbos of the Coming of the Kingdom and the Ridderbos of the Paul volume. I know a lot of people like it but I think he makes a hash of Paul.

          If the gospel is what we confess that it is, then yes, NTW denies the gospel. Yes, he affirms the death and resurrection of Jesus, but so did the Judaizers. He’s selling semi-Pelagianism and calling it “good news.” It isn’t good news! “Jesus made ‘justification’ possible for those who do their part” is not the gospel!

  23. Scott:

    Thanks for the resources to read, I’ll take a look at them. Ultimately, I’ll reserve judgement on NT until his COQG volume on Paul comes out which will represent his most current and complete thinking on the subject. Yes it is true semi-Pelagianism is not good news. The gospel is God saves sinners. He saves sinners by grace alone, through faith in Christ alone, to the glory of God alone. I’m just not sure NT denies this. It was good interacting with you.

    Blessings!

    • Timothy,

      You’re not sure that NTW denies any of this? Really? Is there another NTW about which I don’t know?

      So, we can’t really know what NTW believes or has said until his next book?

  24. Scott:

    NT has been writing on Paul for the better part of 30 years. In some places he does sound semi-Pelagian or covenantal nomistic, in other places he sounds very much in line with Reformed Theology. No where has he really treated Paul systematically (with the possible exception of his Romans commentary). Earlier this year while at Princeton NT said his views on Paul have been evolving as he has been preparing “Paul and the Justice of God”. Vol. 4 COQG will be NT’s definitive statement on what he believes Paul is saying. So I want to reserve judgement until that volume comes out and I can read his most recent and mature thinking on the subject.

    Also, I think many of my North American Reformed brethren don’t always give NT a fair reading. Now, it could be that I am utterly naive (which is possible) or that I am reading Reformed Theology into Wright’s writings (which is possible as well). But, I suspect many get all up in arms about Wright because he doesn’t speak our theological language. I think Michael Bird in his “Saving Righteousness of God” does a nice job placing NT within the broad Reformed tradition (when I say broad I mean beyond the WCF or Heidelberg, specifically I think there is a lot of affinity between Wright, Bucer, and Bullinger; also there’s Calvin’s discussion of Covenantal Conditionality to muddy the waters too).

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m no apologist for Wright. I am committed to the system of doctrine contained in the WCF. I just think there is much in Wright that is sound and helpful and while he is not North American Reformed theologian I think he’s a brother in the Lord and has served the Church of Jesus Christ well in many respects.

    Blessings!

    • Timothy,

      It has nothing to do with NTW being a Brit and my being a Yank. It has to do with the fact that NTW doesn’t like what he thinks Reformed theology is and further he evidently doesn’t have much of a clue as to what Reformed theology is!

      Sometimes a covenantal nomist? Really.

      Bucer and Bullinger would be horrified to be identified with Wright. This is more evidence that perhaps NT types ought to stay away from historical theology. Bucer was a Protestant. He learned his doctrine of justification from Luther. He wouldn’t touch NTW with a ten-foot pole. The same is even more true of Bullinger. I wouldn’t let Mike Bird do your historical theology for you, especially when you have Carl Trueman

      • Scott:

        I don’t let Bird do my historical theology for me, I leave that to Trueman (2 reasons for that: 1. Bird is a New Testament scholar and not a Historical Theologian and 2. Trueman is the man when it comes to Reformation history).

        I agree that I don’t think NT really understands North American Reformed Theology. Specifically I think he believes that all we’re concerned with is the ordo salutis and not the historia. I think Wright looks at justification from the historia angle and doesn’t say much about the ordo.

        Yes Bucer was a Protestant (and the last time I checked NT was too) and yes Bucer learned from Luther, but he was not a carbon copy of Luther. His doctrine of justification was more eclectic than his. Moreover, neither myself, nor the WCF, nor Calvin, nor Gaffin, etc. would have carbon copies of Luther’s doctrine of Justification. I’m not sure if you all out West view Justification as we do here on the East coast. We view justification (and it’s relationship to sanctification) through Calvin’s “Union with Christ Dual Grace of God” model. We are saved by union with Christ and the dual graces that flow from this union are justification (declarative and forensic) and sanctification (transformative and renovative). They are distinct yet inseparable.

        I like you Scott, you don’t pull punches.

        Blessings!

        • This nonsense about Bucer having an “eclectic” doctrine of justification is just that: nonsense. This attempt to drive a wedge between Luther and the Reformed on justification is historical poppycock.

          As to union, that’s another kettle of fish but we’ll let John Fesko sort that out. My reading of the 16th and 17th-century sources shows no distinctly Reformed doctrine of justification or union.

          Have you read Covenant, Justification, and Pastoral Ministry? Have you read my book on Olevianus? Take a look at them.

  25. Scott:

    So Bucer does not teach a doctrine of double justification?

    It’s not so much a wedge between Luther and the Reformed, but that the Reformed took Luther’s ideas and developed and matured them. Let’s face it, Luther read his spiritual struggles and his struggles with the church into his exposition of Paul which colored they way he developed his doctrine of justification. Reformed theologians like Calvin did not bring this baggage into their reading of Paul (as far as I know). Also, there are wedges, that’s why the Lutherans and Reformed remained separate.

    I’m not familiar with Fesko’s views on union. Also, I haven’t read any of your books, but I’ll give the two you mentioned a look.

    Blessings!

      • Scott:

        I have read Trueman’s critique. I also read James Dunn’s response. I think Jimmy won the day on that one.

        Blessings!

  26. Chad:

    I detect a bit of disapproval here. Much has been written about Luther doing this. It’s something that we all do to one extent or another. My point simply is Luther doesn’t view the Jewish context of Paul as well as Calvin does. Again all part of why I’m Reformed and not Lutheran.

  27. Yes, “much has been written”, but the “much” giving rise to the revisionism of Luther either is firmly entrenched in the Second Temple Judaism school (see NPP), or unduly influenced by STJ.

  28. True, there is much writing from those areas. But I have read similar critiques in biographies of Luther as well. Are you a Lutheran? Since I’m Presbyterian Calvin is my theological hero, not Luther.

  29. Also, what’s wrong with STJ? I mean you speak of STJ as if it is not part of the historical context in which the Septuagint was translated and the NT was written.

  30. 1. I’m not Lutheran; nor am I Presbyterian. However, as I have watched from the outside the ping-ponging back and forth between Westminster-East vs. Westminster West over the past 10 years, I have come to believe that “W-CA” both the text of Scripture AND Calvin/Luther more accurately… and as such, have come to consider the “Lutheran” accusation typically thrown my direction in these discussions to be a badge of honor. i.e. IMHO, the “wedge” between Calvin and Luther’s soteriology isn’t what W-PA claims it is.

    2. As to what is wrong with STJ, see Westerholm, Carson, O’Brien, Seigfrid, et al… IOW, while the STJ was certainly the historical context for the NT and LXX, the relationship between the NT and STJ (and at times, the *content* of all things STJ) simply isn’t what the STJ school (typically) says it is. So yes, the STJ school (and for this discussion, esp. its take on Paul…and Moses) should be viewed with much suspicion.

  31. Well Chad I’m glad you know where you stand. I think it’s important to plant our roots deep in a tradition, that produces depth in one’s theology. Yes, it’s true that there has been “ping-ponging” back and forth between East and West and yes we do have different visions of what Reformed theology is (East is typically Calvin/Vos/Ridderbos/Gaffin style WCF Calvinism). As a student at WTS-PA I find the difference between East and West interesting. Hmmm, your statement about the wedge between Luther and Calvin is difficult to make because Luther never produced a “systematic” work like Calvin’s Institutes. Luther’s doctrine has to be taken from many different sources. Thankfully, Melanchthon produced the Loci but there is debate how much of the Loci is Luther and how much is Melanchthon.

    With regard to STJ, you find STJ tradition in the text of the New Testament itself (1 Cor. “moveable well” and Jude). So while STJ may not be all that some STJers say it is, it is also true that it is extremely important for Biblical studies. This cannot be denied.

    Blessings to you!

  32. That Luther never produced a systematic is precisely *why* one can just as easily say that the supposed dichotomy between Calvin and Luther is a false one. That sword cuts both ways.

  33. I think you may have misuderstood me (I may not have been clear), in the text of the NT Second Temple Traditions appear: the “moveable well” in 1 Cor.,and in Jude: angel’s leaving their place, the archangel Michael disputing with Satan over Moses’ body, the content of Enoch’s preaching. These are all examples of Second Temple Jewish traditions being made part of the text of the NT. How do you deal with this?

  34. What is the center of Luther’s theology as far as we can tell? Justification by faith alone.
    What is the center of Calvin’s theology as far as we can tell? Union with Christ.
    There are differences, at least in perspective, between Calvin and Luther.

    • Timothy,

      As Carl Trueman will tell you, the search for Luther’s “Zentraldogma” is a failed quest. Ditto for Calvin. That’s a 19th-century endeavor not supported by modern historians.

      • Scott:

        A failed quest? I didn’t get that in seminary. Maybe I was sick that day. So, justification by faith alone wasn’t central to Luther’s thinking? Union with Christ doesn’t stand at the heart of Calvin’s theology? I’d like proof of that.

        Blessings!

        • Once, more ask Dr Trueman.

          Are you aware of Richard Muller’s critique of the Zentraldogma? Steinmetz? Oberman? I can’t think of a serious historian from the last 30 years who still uses the Zentraldogma analysis.

          • Scott:

            I will ask Carl and I’ll report back. It will be the perfect question to ask over a couple of good beers. Alas, too bad we can’t have our conversation together over beer.

            Blessings!

            • Tom Wenger has a critique somewhere online of the New Perspective on Calvin, i.e., that union with Christ overshadows justification by faith.

              • Tom earned his MA in Hist Theology at WSC. His MA thesis was on Calvin. The essay was published in JETS a few years back and has garnered an unusual amount of response. I’ve seen at least three published responses to it over the last couple of years.

                Here’s the bibliog data:

                Wenger, Thomas. “The New Perspective on Calvin: Responding to the Recent Calvin Interpretations.”/JETS/ 50 (2007) : 311-328.

                Johnson, Marcus. “New or Nuanced Perspective on Calvin? Reply to Thomas Wenger.” /JETS/51 (2008) : 543-558.

                Wenger, Thomas. “Theological Spectacles and a Paradigm of Centrality: A Reply to Marcus Johnson. /JETS/ 51 (2008) : 559-572.

                Here it is:

                http://www.etsjets.org/files/JETS-PDFs/50/50-2/JETS_50-2_311-328_Wenger.pdf

  35. The better question is how do the relatively rare instances of STJ traditions appearing in the NT justify the STJ school’s interpretation of the NT? The short is: they don’t.

  36. As a Lutheran, I would say any sort of charge that Luther misread Paul or read too much into Paul is silly. Paul’s writings in the NT are hard enough on STJ.

    • Brett:

      Well you should say that, you’re Lutheran. I’d say the same thing if the shoe were on the other foot and we were talking about Calvin.

      I’m not sure what you mean by: “Paul’s writings in the NT are hard enough on STJ.” Paul was a Second Temple Jew before his conversion to Christ. Elements of STJ are present in the NT. I’m not saying Paul remained a Second Temple Jew, after all he became a Christian, just that STJ is an important part of the hermeneutical world in which the NT was written.

      Blessings!

      • Let’s all be a little more precise – there is no unified, monolithic, “Second Temple Judaism.” E.P. Sanders leveled out the differences among the differing groups and opinions of the Second Temple ERA in order to put forward his construction and comparative patterns. Sanders constructed a homogenized STJ pattern in order to set it off against Paul’s pattern.
        Thus vol. 1 of Justification & Variegated Nomism.

  37. >What is the center of Luther’s theology as far as we can tell? Justification by faith >alone. What is the center of Calvin’s theology as far as we can tell? Union with >Christ.

    Again, you make my point. This is simply parroting one of the party lines in this debate, as if these two assertions are beyond debate.

  38. Chad:

    It’s always easier to ask a “better question” rather than answering the one asked. So, let us not move on from my question until you have answered it. I’m sure you have a high view of Scripture so simply dismissing Second Temple traditions in the text of the NT is not an option. It must be dealt with.

    Also, I don’t think you can speak of a STJ school. Virtually all scholars agree that STJ has value for our study of the Bible, but many disagree on how much or little value STJ has.

    I am not parroting anything. I read both Calvin and Luther. The center of their theology is pretty clear. Also, why is it bad to say that Calvin and Luther view certain things differently? Calvin is not Luther, Luther is not Calvin. No my assertions are not beyond debate. Show me where I’m wrong.

    Blessings to you!

  39. Timothy,

    See the essay cited above on double justification. Bucer learned his doctrine of double justification from Luther in 1518. The Bucer v Luther analysis doesn’t work. It doesn’t account for the facts. See the Luther essay I linked above.

    On the duplex beneficium, see the Olevian book. On Calvin see Cornel Venema’s recent book. He doesn’t teach at WSC. See also also Todd Billing’s book on Calvin. He doesn’t teach at WSC.

    Where one works doesn’t necessarily determine the meaning of texts.

    • Scott:

      I will take a look.

      How about Mark Gracia’s “Life in Christ”?

      Blessings!

      • Chad:

        Also, I’m not so sure how familiar you are with STJ, some sections of STJ believed they were saved by grace and the law guided those who were already saved by grace. Not quite salvation by works. Of course there were legalistic elements of STJ too. It was multifaceted not monolithic.

        Blessings!

  40. but I *have* answered your question (it’s a rare occurrence; it doesn’t justify the STJ school’s interpretation of the NT; and yes, there’s an identifiable STJ “school”, a “school” which gave rise to Sanders, Dunn, & Wright). And I’m a bit leery of hijacking Scott’s blog to explain it further (not to mention I’m on the East coast and headed for the Sand man’s induced dreamland).

    • Chad:

      Not so sure biblical studies scholars would be satisfied with your answer, neither am I. At any rate, it was fun interacting with you and hope you sleep well.

      I’m sorry if Chad and I bored the rest of you with discussions of Second Temple Judaism.

      Blessings!

  41. While that may have been “some sections” of STJ, it is *not* the STJ that dominates the NT argument. Per the NT witness, the STJ with which Christ and Paul interacted was salvation-by-works legalism (the NPP’s revisionism of Paul and the Pharisees notwithstanding).

  42. It’s a sad day when the PCA welcomes NTW. Unfortunately, the PCA (or, at least, certain elements in it) want to be seen as “relevant” and ecumenical, even when that means leaving the reformed confession of justification by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone.

    The same thing happened with presbyterians following DW because of his early work in classical education; it’s now happening when they look to Keller et al as their “stars”. This is deeply troubling. The average presbyterian does not understand the implications of NTW and FV: rejecting the gospel of Jesus Christ.

  43. WOW…. guys – chill out LOL – I was there – i didn’t hear any NPP red flags – Wright went out of his way to say he was talking about justification by faith by grace alone. (“for any of you paranoid reformers out there”) lol – When a guys says and writes as much as N.T. Wright there’s a lot to learn without even getting close to the controversial stuff.

  44. comment from the pew,

    I was greatly disturbed by this news, however am not completely surprised.
    In Tim Keller’s book, “The Reason For God.” he is pretty indistinct in the chapter where he discusses the different religions, namely Catholic vs. Christianity.

    I am an avid listener to Tim Keller. I was caught off guard when I read that chapter in his book as well.

    This is a reminder that we need always to be discerning. Thank you again for posting the unvarnished truth.

  45. Samuel,

    Would you mind defining for us what the “controversial stuff” is in Wright’s theology? You say that he went out of his way to say that he was talking about justification by faith by grace alone. That is a bit different from saying you believe in justification by faith alone through grace alone. Rome says they believe in justification by faith by grace alone. How they define faith is where the problem arises. Have you ever studied the medieval Romans Catholic distinction between condign and congruous merit? I suppose if you do not know this it is easy to tag anyone who raises thoughtful and concerned criticisms as being “paranoid reformed folks.” I am interested in know where you heard that phrase in the first place. It is easy to parrot something that sounds good when in reality it has absolutely no substance. N.T. Wright does not teach a doctrine of justification by faith alone, grounded on the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ.

  46. I’m sorry, the “paranoid reformed folks” – is Wright’s words. (i hope i have his phrasing right.) I think he meant the kind of reformed person who gets upset anytime there is an encouragement to work.

    I’m not dismissing the various problems with N.T. Wright – I’m just saying that I was there, and 1) I suspect that it’d be difficult for even the most thoughtful critic to find a huge problem with what he actually said there. & 2) I don’t think him speaking is an endorsement of everything he may or may not believe. I got a follow-up email from the Center for Faith and Work – their next two speakers are well-qualified (executives at Apple, and writer for The Economist) but I’m not sure if they’re even Christians – but even if they’re not, there are things to be learned from them (common grace I suppose?) and I think that’s ok.

  47. In my opinion it is both reckless and irresponsible for Redeemer PCA to boost N. T. Wright’s credibility by inviting him to speak, and sell his books, without even a warning about his dangerous views. Just three years ago the General Assembly of the PCA overwhelmingly adopted a report which stated that with regard to justification N. T. Wright holds “a position that contradicts our Standards and strikes at the system of doctrine contained in them?”

    The report also stated that “Because Wright bases justification on ‘the whole life led,’ perseverance must of necessity be viewed in the context of a person persevering in faithfulness until the final day of judgment and then being declared justified. Wright’s view is not grounded on the imputation of the righteousness of Christ or in the alone instrument of faith (i.e., receiving and resting on Christ alone), but on the Spirit-produced works of the believer. Indeed, it shifts the basis for justification from the finished work of Christ to the faithful works produced by the believer.”

    In the midst of an extremely divisive controversy involving the FV and the NPP, Redeemer PCA decides to bring in one of (or maybe THE!) chief architect of the divisive teachings fueling the controversy, to instruct the congregation on the importance of the development of Christian character. This Christian character, according to the PCA GA, is what the speaker, N. T. Wright, teaches is the “basis for justification.” Yet nobody should be alarmed by that, say the N. T. Wright supporters, because the GA report also acknowledges that Wright has written some good things which we can learn from.

  48. It’s time to let the skeleton out of the closet. Many Reformed folks love NT Wright and think he’s doing a good thing to the Reformed Church. It’s time for them to come out and say it, and it’s time for the PCA (and any other Reformed denomination) to openly debate it and pronounce once and for all whether Wright is really onto something or he is someone preaching, at the end of the day, a different Gospel as Machen would say.

  49. @ http://www.feedingonchrist.com/ Nicholas Batzig has posted the following:

    “Kenneth Kang-Hui, a ruling elder in the PCA in New York City, has given us a very helpful analysis of N.T. Wright’s recent lecture at Redeemer Presbyterian Church’s Center for Faith and Work.”

    “N.T. Wright made a splash Tuesday night in New York City as the guest lecturer at an event sponsored by the Center for Faith and Work (CFW), the marketplace ministry of Redeemer Presbyterian Church (RPC). Speaking to a packed house of over 500 New Yorkers, most of them young Christian professionals, Bishop Wright spoke engagingly on the topic of Christian character.

    “Bishop Wright’s appearance has been the subject of both great anticipation and great consternation on the part of many in the Reformed camp. In particular, the blogosphere has been buzzing with questions on the propriety of a well respected Presbyterian church sponsoring a lecture by one of the leading proponent of the New Perspective on Paul (NPP).

    “Having attended the event, I want to share my notes on the lecture itself and my own thoughts on the appropriateness of having one of RPC’s ministries invite N.T. Wright to speak at their event…”

    READ the rest from Kang-Hui @ http://www.feedingonchrist.com/n-t-wrights-redeemer-prebyterian-church-lecture/

    Hugh

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