Sunday, August 06, 2006

Report from Piper

I took a quick gander around the blogosphere and hadn't seen this on anyone elses blog (At least not locally, [HT: Between Two Worlds]). Since all of us love and appreciate Pastor John's ministry I thought it might be worthwhile posting this link to this report on how he's been using his time on sabbatical. Particularly intriguing is his engaging N.T. Wright's view on Justification. I can hardly wait to read it and will pay top dollar to anyone who can provide a bootleg edition:-)
Two of my favorite authors going at it over one of my favorite topics to study!


Luther's Stein said...

Did you see that Sovereign Grace is going to produce a Worship CD based on the prayers in The Valley of Vision. It sounds pretty cool -- that was right under the Piper news on Taylor's blog.

NWMihelis said...

yeah that does look sweet.

Pitchford said...


Before I say anything, let me confess that I am a theologically-inept ignoramus, and am thus eminently unqualified to make any bold assertions, let alone suggestions. But having admitted that up front, I have a question:

Are you really at a loss as to whose view of justification (Piper's or Wright's) is biblical -- indeed is that which does not utterly overturn the gospel? Piper is clearly and emphatically in support of the true imputation of a perfect, alien righteousness, which was won by Christ and is freely applied to the sinner's account by grace through faith. I am not well-acquainted with Wright, but I know that he has customarily made statements such as the following:

"Is there then no 'reckoning of righteousness' in, for instance, Romans 5:14-21? Yes, there is; but my case is that this is not God's own righteousness, or Christ's own righteousness, that is reckoned to God's redeemed people, but rather the fresh status of 'covenant member', and/or 'justified sinner', which is accredited to those who are in Christ, who have heard the gospel and responded with 'the obedience of faith'." - Rutherford House Conference 2003

This blatant denial of imputation (regardless of the context or of the larger scope of his writings, however profitable they may be in other respects) is not only unscriptural -- it is a positive denial of the gospel. I know you haven't definitively sided with Wright on this one -- but let me at least encourage you to think long and hard on what Piper has to say, when his book comes out.

Once again, I admit that I am an idiot, so feel free to disregard anything I am saying -- but please do so only with much consideration of what the clear testimony of the scriptures would teach us on this all-important issue.

Blessings in Christ,

NWMihelis said...


While I adhere to the traditional reformed view of justification on the basis the imputed righteousness of Christ (theologically speaking)and am even more comfortable speaking in terms of incorporated righteousness on the basis of union (exegetically speaking - see especially Mike Bird's excellent esssay by a similar title in JETS, probably also accesible on his blog). However I am also not so naive as to settle so comfortably into the articulation of a theological concept that I am not willing to listen to other perspectives. Doing so enables one to sharpen and contextualize said articulation for a new generation that is informed by additional research (into 2nd temple judaism for example) and culturaly relevant (again I'm refering to the articulation here and not necessarily the essence - in other words contextualization). The questions must be answered again and afresh for every generation if we are to be faithful stewards of the truth. It's dangerous to stick your head in the ground and avoid the issues. The 2 volume Justification and Variegated Nomism is a prime example of such faithfulness.

My guess is that Piper probably has the same desire, or else I'm not sure why he would bother writing another book, when he has already offered an excellent defense of imputation in his last volume on the topic.

Furthermore, I'm guessing we have different 'perspectives' on Wright (pardon terrible and overused pun)based on the tone of your comments. If you haven't gathered from many of my previous comments, I consider Tom to be an excellent (broad) evangelical scholar. He's a good historian and a phenomenal writer. Of course, to offer the classic fundy caveat (though I hope it's not necessary), I don't agree with everything the man says, nor do I agree with everything that Piper says (there must be something he's written I disagree with SOMEWHERE). However, I think that both men have a geniuine and compelling love for Jesus and are trying to grapple with the text in order to read it correctly for the good of the church. In such a case, somebody HAS to be right and somebody HAS to be wrong. Above all, I am confident that ultimately the church of Jesus Christ will be stregnthed all the more by the conversation according to His sovereign plan.

Since you mentioned you are not well accquainted with Wright, you might find it profitable to check out this link:

It's an explanation as to why evangelicals tend to react to him. I think the author raises some excellent points. Be assured I plan to think long and hard about Piper's book; in fact, I anticipate being in agreement with what he says and prizing it. Your statement that a blatant denial of imputation, regardless of the context, being a positive denial of the Gospel deserves some serioius consideration also. While I would not personally deny it (imputation, that is), to say that if someone else DOES they have positively denied the Gospel, and ESPECIALLY to qualify it by saying regardless of the context, seems to me to be a bit of an overstatement. I would personally be a little more concerned of the context. While the larger context of Tom Wright's writings may or may not justify (another terrible pun) such a denial (and I'm not in to debating or proof texting Wright, though I think I could), this may not hold true for others. If, for example, one denies imputation on exegetical grounds, in favor of speaking in terms of incorporated righteousness on the basis of Union with Jesus, I wouldn't have a problem at all. Anyway, this is certainly one of the chief issues of the day and without question one of the most crucial issues facing the church and that's exactly why I am eagerly anticipating Piper's new book (the point of my original post).

Sorry for the lengthy response!

Pitchford said...

No need to apologize for length -- I certainly confess that, in that arena I have a beam in my eye, and you but a speck!

You are right that I should read more of Wright, in order to be fair, unbiased, contextual, etc. But I will not budge an inch on saying that, if Christ's alien righteousness is not imputed to me, then I am destined for hell, and the gospel is no longer good news.

I do admit the need to interact with the issue, and do all we can to ensure a generationally-fresh appropriation of truth. I believe you are right in that Piper as well is motivated by the same concern. And I heartily commend your efforts to do just that -- but I reiterate, agree or disagree, that the imputation of Christ's righteousness is integral to the gospel.

Anyway, thanks for your theological labors -- I certainly do not want to alienate you as a co-laborer for Christ, and I am confident that your conclusions will continue to be Christ-honoring and insightful.


NWMihelis said...

Thanks buddy!

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