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The Future of Justification: A Response to N.T. Wright Paperback – 18 Jan 2008

3.3 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: IVP (18 Jan. 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1844742504
  • ISBN-13: 978-1844742509
  • Product Dimensions: 13.8 x 1.8 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 437,934 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description

From the Back Cover

"The so-called 'New Perspective on Paul' has stirred up enormous controversy. ... Certain parts of John Piper's book have quietly broken new ground ... The issues are not secondary, and, pastor that he is, John Piper will not allow believers to put their trust in anyone or anything other than the crucified and resurrected Savior."

D. A. Carson, Research Professor of New Testament, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Deerfield, Illinois

"Piper writes with the concern of a pastor, the passion of a preacher, the precision of a scholar, and the courtesy of a gentleman as he critiques N. T. Wright's grand scheme of justification. Piper both highlights exegetical weaknesses in Wright's system and demonstrates the success of reading Paul using traditional categories. All who read Wright should read Piper."

Peter J. Williams, Warden, Tyndale House, Cambridge

"This book is not a rehearsal of old dogmas, nor a polemical rant, but it is a fresh articulation of the gospel that Paul preached, and it is written with a conviction and verve that will inspire preachers to faithfully set forth the whole counsel of God to their flock."

Michael F. Bird, New Testament Lecturer, Highland Theological College, Scotland

"John Piper's challenging yet courteous book takes issue with Bishop Tom Wright's major theses regarding Paul's teaching on justification. ... This is a serious critique of one of the foremost representatives of the New Perspective on Paul and deserves to be read by all who want to understand more fully and rejoice in God's righteousness in Christ and his justifying the ungodly."

Peter T. O'Brien, Senior Research Fellow, Moore Theological College, Sydney, Australia

About the Author

John Piper is Pastor for Preaching and Vision at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and a New Testament scholar. His many books include 'Desiring God', 'The Justification of God', 'Counted Righteous in Christ', and 'What Jesus Demands from the World'. He holds a ThD degree from the University of Munich.


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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Lector TOP 500 REVIEWER on 6 Jun. 2010
Format: Paperback
In the past I've been greatly helped by books by John Piper, but I don't think the publication of this book exactly marks his finest hour.

It may be that Tom Wright has 'got it wrong' in places. It may be that a book of this nature needed to be written. Unfortunately I just don't think John Piper was the proper person to write it.

While I certainly don't doubt Piper's good intentions or sincerity, on almost every page I was made painfully aware that he was no match for the depth and breadth of Wright's learning. Sometimes he just seems to misunderstand what Wright is saying.

MUCH more worryingly, as if aware that he can't begin to match Wright's amazing grasp of the 1st Century world and its writings, Piper goes so far as to suggest that we don't NEED to know all that ancient stuff - that what was good enough for Martin Luther & co should be good enough for us, without all that tedious and confusing messing about with Dead Sea Scrolls, etc.

Frankly, this shocked me to the core, and I think less of Piper because of it.

Apart from the implication that the reformers were all in complete agreement (which they certainly weren't!), Piper's attitude would have simply appalled most of them - He is, in effect, appealing to tradition, while at the same time saying that we don't NEED to know exactly how New Testament terms were used in their 1st Century context. This is the very attitude his treasured reformers were themselves struggling to overcome!

Personally, I'm still not 100% convinced by all of Wright's arguments (though I'll confess myself about 85% convinced!). But I don't think Piper's book really adds anything to the discussion, except perhaps to demonstrate the dangers of being so locked into one theological/philosophical outlook that one simply can't understand any alternatives.
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I read this as part of a look at the New Perspectives on Paul, here looking at the first of the rejoinders. Piper angles his writing specifically as a response to N.T. (Tom) Wright. It was for that reason that I chose to read What St Paul Really Said and Paul: Fresh Perspectives before I read this. If you are considering picking up Piper's book, I would heartily recommend that you read these first; otherwise you may get lost, although Piper does quote Wright quite extensively, but only on the points which Piper disagrees with.

A word needs to be said about the book's structure & style. The main book is a little under 200 pages long, but tagged onto the end are six appendices. Piper fully admits that these appendices don't directly relate to the argument of the book, but are little essays that give some more detail to his views on the theme of justification. Most evident in these, but also present in the rest of the book, is Piper's inferior communication skills. While he criticises Wright for not always being clear (and I agree that Wright isn't always clear in communicating his views), Piper has a habit of peppering his writing with Greek. Only, he rarely includes a transliteration, making it difficult to read for anyone who can't easily read Greek. One wonders if this was done not for the purposes of making himself clearer, but for the purpose of making him look clever. Likewise, Piper uses the word `impute' and its cognates a lot, but at times he contradicts himself over what he understands this to mean.

As the title suggests, the aspect of the New Perspective which is in contention is that of `justification by faith'. Wright's contention is that justification is not that which ensures salvation, but is the "badge" by which those who are saved are identified.
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Format: Paperback
Perhaps I should start by first commended John Piper's courtesy to you all. He writes the book in such a style in which one is just heart warmed by the love and charity which Dr. Piper wrote this with, even though it was clear there was much concern on his part. This is a remark that I would usually be able to make for NT Wright, however his response (despite the commendations of his reviewers) was not up to scratch and frankly was just rude at times (e.g. 'Piper, predictably but frustratingly manages to screen out this central element of Paul's exposition' (p.232, Justication: God's Plan and Paul's Vision, 2009). Added to his credit is the clear way he has written it, trying to explain what Tom Wright actually means at times, and it is clear that much thought has gone into the book: again, something I could not say of Wright's response.

Nevertheless, all the charity in the world does not make one right. In many aspects I believe Piper hits the nail on the head. He is absolutely right to say that our primary means of knowing the author's use of the word is the author himself, and trying not to force meanings from other sources through the word is very important (it appears that some people think that he thinks we can't interpret 2nd Temple literature, but he never claims that, he only says that is generally harder since we have less familiarity with it). Also he points out well that the language of imputation is like that of a record, whereby work is considered yours though another did it, rather than an air of righteousness which one breathes in when one believes.

On the other hand, he is very specific in what he deals with- dealing with a few dozen specific issues he takes up with Wright.
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