Wednesday, August 09, 2006

FAKE Interview with John Piper and N.T. Wright Part 2

Interviewer to Piper: To my understanding, you do not believe that Romans 2 is a "hypothetical" statement, so what does works have to do with the last judgment?

Piper: "In the last day there will be a judgment. It will settle finally and publicly who enters eternal life and who doesn't. The verdict, "not guilty," at this judgment will be based on the work of Christ on the cross. The guilt of all true believers was carried by Jesus: "the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all" (Isaiah 53:6). But that verdict will "accord with our deeds" - our daily lives will give evidence that we trusted Christ more than money and that we loved him more than the praise of men. [1]

Interviewer to Wright: If works are the necessary evidences for Christian in the final judgment, where can we find our assurance for salvation?

Wright: As God's true people, they are therefore assured of eternal life. Chapters 5-8 are one long argument for assurance, based on the new covenant blessings of forgiveness and the Spirit. The same Spirit who inspired justifying faith is at work in believers to do 'what the law could not do' (8:3)—to complete, in other words, the renewal of the covenant. He will give life in place of death (8: 1-11), holiness in place of sin (8: 12-13), sonship in place of slavery (8:14-17), the new creation in place of the old, and therefore hope in the midst of sufferings (8:18-27).Chapter 8 thus rounds off the train of thought that began in 2:1-16, and proves that the present verdict of 'righteous' will indeed be reaffirmed on the last day. Christians are those who 'by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honour and immortality' (they seek for it, even now they do not earn it, those to whom God 'will give eternal life'. [3]

Interviewer to both: If someone is struggling with their salvation, what would you say to them?

Wright: [It would depend on the situation, but one of the things I would say is that], "the doctrine of justification by faith is that all this is even now certain for those who believe in the Gospel; the experience of justification by faith is the steadfast looking away from oneself at the objective facts of incarnation and atonement, revealing as they do the unchanging and unshakeable love of God for his people. This is justification: because of the work of the Son and the Spirit, God pronounces in the present the future verdict of 'righteous' over all who believe. Irrespective of moral or racial background, believers are declared to belong for all eternity to the true people of Abraham, the family of the renewed covenant, the people whose sins are forgiven. [3]

Piper: [Firstly], we should look to Christ and the glory of his finished work on the cross for sinners… Justification and eternal life are not earned by our deeds. They are freely given to those who look to Christ in faith. So if we are going to obtain the glory of God and be glorified we must trust Christ. [5]. Secondly, we should continually pray for God to "enlighten the eyes of our hearts" (Ephesians 1:18). Thirdly, we should love each other; because, as John said, "We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren." In the end, assurance is a precious gift of God. Let us pray for each other that it will abound among us. [6]

Interviewer to Wright: Why are you against the idea of imputation of Christ's righteousness?

Wright: "There are only two passages which can be invoked in favour of the imputed righteousness being that of God or Christ. The first proves too much, and the second not enough. The first is 1 Corinthians 1.30f., where Paul says that Christ has become for us wisdom from God, and righteousness, sanctification and redemption. Wisdom is the main point he is making, and the other three nouns come in as a way of saying ‘and everything else as well’. ‘Yea, all I need, in thee to find, O Lamb of God, I come’; that line sums it up well. I doubt if this will sustain the normal ‘imputation’ theology, because it would seem to demand equal air time for the imputation of wisdom, sanctification and redemption as well. The second passage is 2 Corinthians 5.21, which as I have argued elsewhere is not, as a matter of good exegesis, a statement of soteriology but of apostolic vocation. The entire passage is about the way in which Paul’s new covenant ministry, through the death and resurrection of Jesus, is in fact God’s appointed means for establishing and maintaining the church. ‘So that we might become God’s righteousness in him’ means that in Christ those who are called to be apostolic preachers actually embody God’s own covenant faithfulness. I do not expect to convince you by this microcomsic summary of the point, but I submit that it deserves careful exegetical consideration, not dismissing with a wave of the hand and a reference to Brother Martin"[4]

Interviewer to Wright: If there's no imputation of Christ's righteous doesn't that open the door for "merit theology/semi-Pelagianism" in relationship to justification?"

Wright: [Again],”that might be so if I intended to denote, with the word ‘justification’, what the tradition has denoted. But I don’t. Paul, I believe, uses vindication/justification to denote God’s declaration about someone, about (more specifically) the person who has been ‘called’.... Vindication is not the same as call.[4]" 'Justification' itself is not God's act of changing the heart or character of the person; that is what Paul means by the 'call', which comes through the word and the Spirit [2]. This is where it is vital to distinguish justification from regeneration. Justification is not how God makes someone a Christian: it is his righteous declaration that someone is already a Christian. [3]

Interviewer to Wright: Are you saying that your view of justification isn't "semi-Pelagianism" because justification is the "declaration about someone" and not "the call” or the processing of making someone a Christian, which comes only through God's gracious act?

Interviewer to Piper: Do you buy this explanation?

Piper: ?????????????? (How will Piper respond??)

[1] John Piper, "No Partiality with God" Part 2

[2] N.T. Wright, “The Shape of Justification”

[3] N.T. Wright, “Justification; “The Biblical Basis and Its Relevance for Contemporary Evangelicalism”

[4] N.T. Wright,’” New Perspectives on Paul”

[5] John Piper, “The Final Divide: Eternal Life or Eternal Wrath Part 3”

[6] John Piper, “The Agonizing Problem of Assurance of Salvation”

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