Trevin Wax has compiled some statements on Christianity from both John Piper and N.T. Wright to provide some context for their debate on justification. I read this on Christianity Today and I am more confused than ever. With so much in agreement, and the big difference being what is meant by “works of the law”, I’m wondering what the big deal is. I’m not sure why people are so thrilled with N.T. Wright’s developments.
N.T. Wright affirms the centrality of the Incarnation, substitutionary atonement and resurrection to our salvation. Salvation is received by grace through faith and repentance. Nothing novel or heretical there. But, such summaries as this tend to be reductionistic, so perhaps something important is being left out.
As I read Romans and Galatians, I find something different than “ethnic badges” at work. Afterall, most of those in the Reformed community is baptism as the new “ethnic badge” which has replaced circumcision. Afterall, Abraham was justified by faith, so faith is not a new ethnic badge.
So, I’m not exactly sure what the hype is about on either side. Since salvation is by grace through faith in keeping with God’s covenant promises in which He vindicates His righteousness through the atoning sacrifice of Jesus … it seems as though advocates of the New Perspective shouldn’t be all that excited since the church doesn’t seem to struggle with “ethnic badges’ anymore. I can see where some would be concerned that Paul’s arguments not seem irrelevant to us, but neither would Wright be considered a heretic.
So I must obviously be missing something. It can’t just be a matter of emphasis and nuance. Is this thing just a bunch of smoke and mirrors?