The Future of Justification: A Response to N.T. Wright Paperback – 18 Jan 2008
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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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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This book proved to be a great disappointment. There are significant differences between Wright`s views on justification and the implication of these views, when compared to a... Read morePublished 19 months ago by Chris H
Tom Wright is a good read but John Piper gives good reasons why
we should stick with the teaching of the Reformers regarding justification by faith
and the imputation of... Read more
Bishop Tom Wright has long been the darling of many evangelicals. He is praised particularly for his work on the resurrection. Read morePublished on 18 Mar. 2010 by Adrian Warnock
Wright is an exciting theologian with many helpful insights but is his new perspective on Paul good news for our understanding of justification by faith? Read morePublished on 19 Sept. 2008 by G. J. Weeks
Coming up with a review of this book has proved to be a mighty difficult task. Piper has a gift for writing an articulate, persuasive and even convincing argument. Read morePublished on 7 April 2008 by Bernard Davis
John Piper writes with such clarity that, to my mind, he provides one of the best introductions to the "new perspective" on Paul, and Wright's views on justification that I have... Read morePublished on 3 April 2008 by Retroguy
Piper sets the perfect tone for any theological debate right at the start
of this book - he points to his nearness to glory and explains he has no
desire to score cheap... Read more
I have to take the opposite review of the first reviewer - Piper has restated a long lost truth that may well now appear in many statements of faith as a result of the ongoing... Read morePublished on 14 Dec. 2007 by 9Marksfan