Justification: God's Plan & Paul's Vision  -     By: N.T. Wright
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Justification: God's Plan & Paul's Vision

IVP Academic / 2009 / Hardcover

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The work of Anglican bishop N. T. Wright on the topic of justification and Paul has provoked a focused yet enthusiastic wave of controversy in certain theological circles. Reformed theologian and pastor John Piper has recently published a strong critique of his ideas. This book is Wright's gracious yet pointed response to Piper and others who would claim that his understanding of the doctrine of justification is potentially dangerous and even destructive to the integrity of Paul's message and ultimately to the meaning of the gospel.
Here Wright not only responds to his critics but also provides his most lucid explanation yet on the so-called new perspective on Paul, clarifying misunderstandings and providing a full articulation of his views.
This irenic response is an important contribution for those on both sides of the debate-and those still in between. Whether you're a fan of Wright's work or have read Piper's book and would like to know the other side of the story, here is a chance to interact with Wright's views on the issues at stake and form your own conclusions.

Product Information

Format: Hardcover
Number of Pages: 264
Vendor: IVP Academic
Publication Date: 2009
Dimensions: 9.00 X 6.00 (inches)
ISBN: 0830838635
ISBN-13: 9780830838639
Availability: In Stock

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Publisher's Description

Few issues are more central to the Christian faith than the nature, scope and means of salvation. Many have thought it to be largely a transaction that gets one to heaven. In this riveting book, N. T. Wright explains that God's salvation is radically more than this. At the heart of much vigorous debate on this topic is the term the apostle Paul uses in several of his letters to describe what happens to those in Christ-- justification. Paul uses this dramatic image from the law court to declare that Christians are acquitted of the cosmic accusations against them. But justification goes beyond this in Paul's writings to offer a vision of God's future for the whole world as well as for his people. Here in one place Wright now offers a comprehensive account and defense of his perspective on this crucial doctrine. He provides a sweeping overview of the central points in the debate before launching into a thorough explanation of the key texts in Paul's writings. While fully cognizant of tradition and controversy, the final authority for his conclusions is the letters of Paul themselves. Along the way Wright responds to critics, such as John Piper, who have challenged what has come to be called the New Perspective. For Wright, what Paul means by justification is nothing less than God's unswerving commitment to the covenant promise he made to bless the whole world through Abraham and his family. This irenic response is an important contribution for those on both sides of the debate--and those still in between--to consider. Whether you're a fan of Wright's work or have read his critics and would like to know the other side of the story, here is a chance to interact with Wright's views on the issues at stake and form your own conclusions.

Author Bio

A prolific writer of both scholarly and popular books, N.T. Wright has written over thirty books, including and His magisterial work, is widely regarded as one of the most significant contributions to contemporary New Testament studies. His includes commentaries covering the whole New Testament. Formerly bishop of Durham in England, Wright is research professor of New Testament and early Christianity at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. He was formerly canon theologian of Westminster Abbey and dean of Lichfield Cathedral. He also taught New Testament studies for twenty years at Cambridge, McGill and Oxford Universities. He has been a visiting professor at Harvard Divinity School, Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Gregorian University in Rome and many other institutions around the world. In addition to his many books, Wright reaches a broad audience through his frequent media appearances. A sought-after commentator, Wright writes frequently for newspapers in England, including the and the He has been interviewed numerous times by radio and television broadcasters on both sides of the Atlantic, including ABC, NBC, CNN, PBS and NPR.

Endorsements

"For some time now, I have watched in puzzlement as some critics, imagining themselves as defenders of Paul's gospel, have derided Tom Wright as a dangerous betrayer of the Christian faith. In fact, Paul's gospel of God's reconciling, world-transforming grace has no more ardent and eloquent exponent in our time than Tom Wright. If his detractors read this book carefully, they will find themselves engaged in close exegesis of Paul's letters, and they will be challenged to join Wright in grappling with the deepest logic of Paul's message. Beyond slogans and caricatures of 'Lutheran readings' and 'the New Perspective,' the task we all face is to interpret these difficult, theologically generative letters afresh for our time. Wright's sweeping, incisive sketch of Paul's thought, set forward in this book, will help us all in that task." —Richard B. Hays, Duke University

"Tom Wright has out-Reformed America's newest religious zealots--the neo-Reformed--by taking them back to Scripture and to its meaning in its historical context. Wright reveals that the neo-Reformed are more committed to tradition than to the sacred text. This irony is palpable on every page of this judicious, hard-hitting, respectful study." —Scot McKnight, North Park University

"Like Paul himself writing to the Galatians, in this book Bishop Tom expounds and defends his interpretation of the apostle's teaching on justification with passion and power. At the same time, he seeks to move beyond divisive categories (old perspective versus new; soteriology versus ecclesiology; justification versus participation) so that Paul can speak from within his own context and thereby to us in ours. The result is an extraordinary synthesis of the apostle's--and the Bishop's--views that should be read by the sympathetic, the suspicious and everyone else." —Michael J. Gorman, St. Mary's Seminary & University, Baltimore

"N. T. Wright provides yet again another fresh and exciting exposition of the apostle Paul. Here Wright shows how Paul proclaimed justification by faith as part of the Bible's theodramatic story of salvation, a story that stretches from creation to Abraham to Israel and all the way through to Jesus the Messiah. Wright responds to many criticisms including those of John Piper, and regardless of whether one gravitates toward Wright's or Piper's unpacking of Paul, you cannot help but enjoy the sparks that fly when these two great modern pastor-scholars cross swords over the apostle. Moreover, Wright artfully brings readers into the narrative world of Paul, and he sets before us a stirring portrait of the apostle to the Gentiles and his gospel." —Michael F. Bird, Highland Theological College, Scotland

"Frank theological table talk is sometimes a necessary endeavor. Tom Wright's Justification is his substantive reply to critical work by many, including John Piper, on the New Perspective. Wright correctly reminds us that this approach should be better called New or Fresh Perspectives. The goal is to open up the text concerning what it originally said in the first century, not change it. This book sets up a meaningful and significant conversation between the camps in this debate through its direct interaction with the critique. It should be read and reflected on, just as work on the other side should be. So I recommend this book and say, pull up a chair to the table and pay careful attention to the conversation. In the dialogue, all of us will learn more about what Paul and Scripture say about justification (and a few other things as well)." —Darrell Bock, Research Professor of New Testament Studies, Dallas Theological Seminary

"I find it quite stunning that a book dealing with the subject of justification could be this compelling of a read. Along the way you find yourself getting caught up in the momentum and energy of the book which pulls you into the momentum and energy of THE BOOK--which is, of course, Tom's point." —Rob Bell, author Velvet Elvis

"John Piper, it turns out, has done us all a wonderful favor. In writing the critique that invited this response, he has given Bishop Wright the opportunity to clearly, directly, passionately and concisely summarize many of the key themes of his still-in-process yet already historic scholarly and pastoral project. Wright shows--convincingly--how the comprehensive view of Paul, Romans, justification, Jesus, and the Christian life and mission that he has helped articulate embraces 'both the truths the Reformers were eager to set forth and also the truths which, in their eagerness, they sidelined.' Eavesdropping on this conversation will help readers who are new to Wright get into the main themes of his work and the important conversation of which it is a part. And it will give Wright's critics a clearer sense than ever of what they are rejecting when they cling to their cherished old wineskins of conventional thought." —Brian McLaren, author A Generous Orthodoxy

"This is a sharply polemical book, and N. T. Wright occasionally rises to Pauline heights of exasperation at his opponents. At bottom, though, it is about Pauline basics--about Abraham and Israel, eschatology and covenant, courtroom and Christology. With debates about perspectives old and new swirling around him like a cyclone, Wright does what he always does--he leads us carefully through the text. Some will doubtless remain skeptical about the Copernican revolution Wright proposes, but we are all indebted to him for reminding us once again of the breadth of the gospel of God and the majesty of the God of the gospel." —Peter Leithart, author of Solomon Among the Postmoderns

"This sprightly and gracious yet robust work is Tom Wright's carefully argued and scripturally based response to those who think that he has deeply misunderstood Paul's doctrine of justification. Although it is intended especially for those familiar with the debate between the various scholarly perspectives on Paul, it is in fact a straightforward and reasonably succinct exposition of Tom's interpretation that incorporates a defense of his approach to Paul in general and his exegesis of specific passages in Galatians and Romans in particular. This is definitely one of the most exciting and significant books that I have read this year. Like all of the author's work, I found it hard to set down once I had started to read it. Strongly commended!" —I. Howard Marshall, University of Aberdeen

Author Bio

N.T. Wright is Bishop of Durham and was formerly Canon Theologian of Westminster Abbey and dean of Lichfield Cathedral. He taught New Testament studies for twenty years at Cambridge, McGill and Oxford Universities. Wright's full-scale works The New Testament and the People of God, Jesus and the Victory of God, and The Resurrection of the Son of God are part of a projected six-volume series entitled Christian Origins and the Question of God. Among his many other published works are The Original Jesus, What Saint Paul Really Saidand The Climax of the Covenant. He is also coauthor with Marcus Borg of The Meaning of Jesus: Two Visions and the volume on Colossians and Philemon in The Tyndale New Testament Commentary series.

Publisher Description

Few issues are more central to the Christian faith than the nature, scope and means of salvation. Many have thought it to be largely a transaction that gets one to heaven. In this riveting book, N. T. Wright explains that God's salvation is radically more than this.

At the heart of much vigorous debate on this topic is the term the apostle Paul uses in several of his letters to describe what happens to those in Christ--justification. Paul uses this dramatic image from the law court to declare that Christians are acquitted of the cosmic accusations against them. But justification goes beyond this in Paul's writings to offer a vision of God's future for the whole world as well as for his people.

Here in one place Wright now offers a comprehensive account and defense of his perspective on this crucial doctrine. He provides a sweeping overview of the central points in the debate before launching into a thorough explanation of the key texts in Paul's writings. While fully cognizant of tradition and controversy, the final authority for his conclusions is the letters of Paul themselves.

Along the way Wright responds to critics, such as John Piper, who have challenged what has come to be called the New Perspective. For Wright, what Paul means by justification is nothing less than God's unswerving commitment to the covenant promise he made to bless the whole world through Abraham and his family.

This irenic response is an important contribution for those on both sides of the debate--and those still in between--to consider. Whether you're a fan of Wright's work or have read his critics and would like to know the other side of the story, here is a chance to interact with Wright's views on the issues at stake and form your own conclusions.

Editorial Reviews

"Frank theological table talk is sometimes a necessary endeavor. Tom Wright's Justification is his substantive reply to critical work by many, including John Piper, on the New Perspective. Wright correctly reminds us that this approach should be better called New or Fresh Perspectives. The goal is to open up the text concerning what it originally said in the first century, not change it. This book sets up a meaningful and significant conversation between the camps in this debate through its direct interaction with the critique. It should be read and reflected on, just as work on the other side should be. So I recommend this book and say, pull up a chair to the table and pay careful attention to the conversation. In the dialogue, all of us will learn more about what Paul and Scripture say about justification (and a few other things as well)."
"This is a sharply polemical book, and N. T. Wright occasionally rises to Pauline heights of exasperation at his opponents. At bottom, though, it is about Pauline basics—about Abraham and Israel, eschatology and covenant, courtroom and Christology. With debates about perspectives old and new swirling around him like a cyclone, Wright does what he always does—he leads us carefully through the text. Some will doubtless remain skeptical about the Copernican revolution Wright proposes, but we are all indebted to him for reminding us once again of the breadth of the gospel of God and the majesty of the God of the gospel."
"John Piper, it turns out, has done us all a wonderful favor. In writing the critique that invited this response, he has given Bishop Wright the opportunity to clearly, directly, passionately and concisely summarize many of the key themes of his still-in-process yet already historic scholarly and pastoral project. Wright shows—convincingly—how the comprehensive view of Paul, Romans, justification, Jesus, and the Christian life and mission that he has helped articulate embraces 'both the truths the Reformers were eager to set forth and also the truths which, in their eagerness, they sidelined.' Eavesdropping on this conversation will help readers who are new to Wright get into the main themes of his work and the important conversation of which it is a part. And it will give Wright's critics a clearer sense than ever of what they are rejecting when they cling to their cherished old wineskins of conventional thought."
"I find it quite stunning that a book dealing with the subject of justification could be this compelling of a read. Along the way you find yourself getting caught up in the momentum and energy of the book which pulls you into the momentum and energy of THE BOOK—which is, of course, Tom's point."
"Tom Wright has out-Reformed America's newest religious zealots—the neo-Reformed—by taking them back to Scripture and to its meaning in its historical context. Wright reveals that the neo-Reformed are more committed to tradition than to the sacred text. This irony is palpable on every page of this judicious, hard-hitting, respectful study."
"For some time now, I have watched in puzzlement as some critics, imagining themselves as defenders of Paul's gospel, have derided Tom Wright as a dangerous betrayer of the Christian faith. In fact, Paul's gospel of God's reconciling, world-transforming grace has no more ardent and eloquent exponent in our time than Tom Wright. If his detractors read this book carefully, they will find themselves engaged in close exegesis of Paul's letters, and they will be challenged to join Wright in grappling with the deepest logic of Paul's message. Beyond slogans and caricatures of 'Lutheran readings' and 'the New Perspective,' the task we all face is to interpret these difficult, theologically generative letters afresh for our time. Wright's sweeping, incisive sketch of Paul's thought, set forward in this book, will help us all in that task."
"N. T. Wright provides yet again another fresh and exciting exposition of the apostle Paul. Here Wright shows how Paul proclaimed justification by faith as part of the Bible's theodramatic story of salvation, a story that stretches from creation to Abraham to Israel and all the way through to Jesus the Messiah. Wright responds to many criticisms including those of John Piper, and regardless of whether one gravitates toward Wright's or Piper's unpacking of Paul, you cannot help but enjoy the sparks that fly when these two great modern pastor-scholars cross swords over the apostle. Moreover, Wright artfully brings readers into the narrative world of Paul, and he sets before us a stirring portrait of the apostle to the Gentiles and his gospel."
"Like Paul himself writing to the Galatians, in this book Bishop Tom expounds and defends his interpretation of the apostle's teaching on justification with passion and power. At the same time, he seeks to move beyond divisive categories (old perspective versus new; soteriology versus ecclesiology; justification versus participation) so that Paul can speak from within his own context and thereby to us in ours. The result is an extraordinary synthesis of the apostle's—and the Bishop's—views that should be read by the sympathetic, the suspicious and everyone else."
"This sprightly and gracious yet robust work is Tom Wright's carefully argued and scripturally based response to those who think that he has deeply misunderstood Paul's doctrine of justification. Although it is intended especially for those familiar with the debate between the various scholarly perspectives on Paul, it is in fact a straightforward and reasonably succinct exposition of Tom's interpretation that incorporates a defense of his approach to Paul in general and his exegesis of specific passages in Galatians and Romans in particular. This is definitely one of the most exciting and significant books that I have read this year. Like all of the author's work, I found it hard to set down once I had started to read it. Strongly commended!"

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  1. JasonS
    4 Stars Out Of 5
    November 5, 2009
    JasonS
    There's much to be said about Justification that cannot be said in a book review. Let it be said that the New Perspective on Paul is under fire. John Piper fired a huge round when he wrote Counted Righteous in Christ & The Future of Justification. Piper is no light-weight expositor, but should be taken seriously. Wright has done so in many ways. This is Wright's response.First,the good. There is much good in this book. Wright has much knowledge and experience as an exegete. This is obvious as one reads Justification. Wright also seeks to be true to the Scripture. Even those who disagree with him must admit the fact of Wright's seriousness when he approaches God's Word. What impresses me the most is the fact that behind the disagreement, Piper and Wright have two huge things in common. They both believe that God is working in this world to manifest His glory. They also both believe in the unity of the Bible.It is the commitment to the unity of the Bible that most impresses me about Wright. He simply seeks to relate everything. Indeed, everything in the Bible is related. Wright has worked hard to harmonize the various texts that are relevant to the discussion of justification.The not so good: Wright is not always as charitable to those with whom he disagrees as one should be. His opening comparison between Old Perspective believers and geocentrists was not wise. It could serve to alienate many whom he desires to reach.Wright also at times does not seem to quite get the point of Piper. While he states that Piper misses his points (and I think that is indeed possible), he misses Piper's points, too.In the end, it's simply an amazing work. What saddens me the most is that Piper and Wright both could probably sit down together and work through much of this issue. Piper is right that imputed righteousness cannot be diminished. Wright is correct in seeking to bring the writings of Paul into their covenantal perspective.
  2. Mike Justice
    4 Stars Out Of 5
    October 9, 2009
    Mike Justice
    Well written and very interesting though sometimes hard to understand. I have not read Piper's book yet but will after I finish this one.
  3. Robert Horne- Jr.
    San Antonio, Texas
    Age: Over 65
    Gender: male
    5 Stars Out Of 5
    October 8, 2009
    Robert Horne- Jr.
    San Antonio, Texas
    Age: Over 65
    Gender: male
    This is a must read for those who are willing to look for truth rather than accept dogma without thought. If we are serious about our faith then we must be willing to regularly return to the springs of our faith. Wright is leading us to do that
  4. Jeremy Myers
    5 Stars Out Of 5
    May 30, 2009
    Jeremy Myers
    This book is N.T. Wrights attempt to explain once again his view on Pauls use of justification. The most amazing feature is the Biblical paradigm shift that Wright presents to his readers regarding justification. His basic view is that justification is Gods law-court declaration that a person is in right standing (so far, so good) with Gods covenant. Its that covenant part that raises questions, particularly since Wrights definition of justification does away with the doctrine of imputed righteousness. Wright does not believe that through justification we receive the righteousness of Christ (p. 135). And yet, what Wright takes away with one hand, he gives back with another. Wright argues that issues related to deliverance from the penalty and power of sin in our lives come through resurrection, not through justification (pp. 231-235). This, however, though a major doctrine, is a minor point in Wrights book. His main concern is to show how his view of justification makes more sense of the Pauline passages that speak of it. And with this, he is more than a conqueror. If, for example, youve ever struggled with what Romans 9-11 has to do with the rest of the letter, Wrights view makes these chapters not only fit within the flow of Pauls argument, but actually become the pinnacle and the climax of Romans. Wrights strength in this is due to his insistence on reading the biblical text, not with twenty-first century eyes and sixteenth-century questions, but with first-century eyes and first-century questions. This, it seems to me, is the best way to read and study Scripture, and Wright does an excellent job leading the way.If you want to understand some of the nuances to the current debate on justification, I recommend this book. If, however, you want to understand the thought flow of some of Pauls letters (like Galatians, Ephesians, and Romans), this book must not be ignored. Take it up, and read.
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