Al Mohler contributed a great article in February to Tabletalk Magazine, entitled, “Rethinking the Gospel?” Since this is also the focus of the Evangelical Theological Society, meeting right now, I thought it would be good to share this with whomever happens upon this blog. You might hear or read something about this controversy at the ETS meetings and wonder what it’s all about?
This controversy is about what the apostle Paul means when he talks about being “justified by faith” (e.g., Rom 3:28). Bishop N. T. Wright has rocked the boat of the Evangelical world by proposing some stark changes to the way we think about Paul on justification (hence the common label to this thinking, “The New Perspectives on Paul”). John Piper has done a good job evaluating Wright’s arguments against Scripture. And Al Mohler summarizes the basic issue very nicely in this article linked here.
So read Piper’s book; read Wright’s response if you like; read the new release from Modern Reformation and especially Horton’s essay responding to Piper and Wright; but don’t miss Mohler’s article—especially if you are new to this debate and aren’t quite sure what it’s all about or why it matters. Here are a couple of quotes to whet your appetite:
From N. T. Wright:
“But the real point is, I believe, that the salvation of human beings, though of course extremely important for those human beings, is part of a larger purpose. God is rescuing us from the shipwreck of the world, not so that we can sit back and put our feet up in his company, but so that we can be part of his plan to remake the world. We are in orbit around God and his purposes, not the other way around.”
—N.T. Wright, Justification: God’s Plan and Paul’s Vision, p. 24
And from Al Mohler:
Bishop Wright believes the Christian church has fundamentally misunderstood the gospel. If he is right about this, we must hear him and accept his corrective. But, if he is wrong, he will lead us away from the gospel. The stakes simply could not be higher…
We must not miss what is at stake. If Bishop Wright is correct, the gospel is not mainly about the salvation of individual sinners through the redeeming work of Christ, but about God’s project of new creation. If this is true, evangelism is the act of declaring God’s purposes and pointing to Christ as the divine agent of accomplishing the redemption of the entire cosmos. – Albert Mohler, “Rethinking the Gospel?” in Tabletalk Magazine, February 1 2010, http://www.ligonier.org/learn/articles/rethinking-gospel/.
Just for the record, I think Wright is wrong.
(November 20, 2010) Update: Collin Hansen has posted a summary blog piece at the Gospel Coalition site, reflecting on the presentations surrounding the debate on justification at the November 2010 ETS meetings. In particular, I found Tom Schreiner’s argument helpful. Hansen’s blog post is a good summary and evaluation of where the debate sits currently along with a brief audio clip of Al Mohler to tie things up. You can find the blog article by clicking here.