Justification Under Attack: Again

Thanks to Dr. Gene Edward Veith for posting the following alert:

N. T. Wright is an Anglican bishop in England. Evangelicals and
other theological conservatives like him because, among other things,
he wrote a stirring scholarly defense of the historicity of the
resurrection of Christ. But he believed that Luther had it wrong with
this justification by grace through faith stuff. This is because Luther
misunderstood the writings of St. Paul, who, according to Wright, was
just talking about freedom from the Jewish ceremonial law, not the
moral law. Actually, according to Wright, we are saved by good works
after all.

Though this is being called the “new perspective on Paul,” this is
not particularly new. This is basically the Roman Catholic take on what
Paul says. Anglicans have never been particularly strong on
justification. But what is remarkable to me is how so many evangelicals
are seizing on this. Both liberal evangelicals and conservative
evangelicals (including some otherwise hard-core Calvinists).

The Wall Street Journal
has a column praising Wright from John Wilson, editor of “Books and
Culture.” I think many
evangelicals have been wanting to make salvation a function of good
works for a long time, and this gives them a good excuse. Salvation
comes from living like Jesus did. That usually gets translated into
either conservative or liberal politics, or trivial lifestyle choices
like not driving SUVs, recycling, affirming gays, or–on the
complementary side–not drinking, smoking, or going to movies. I have
yet to see the person who lives with the moral purity of Christ. But go
ahead and try. And then when you fail, perhaps you will appreciate how
Jesus really chose to live His life. By dying for you.

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