NT Wright and the Works of the Law

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by The Biblicist, Nov 27, 2014.

  1. The Biblicist

    The Biblicist
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    Le 18:5 Ye shall therefore keep my statutes, and my judgments: which if a man do, he shall live in them: I am the LORD.

    De 4:1 Now therefore hearken, O Israel, unto the statutes and unto the judgments, which I teach you, for to do them, that ye may live, and go in and possess the land which the LORD God of your fathers giveth you.

    De 8:1 All the commandments which I command thee this day shall ye observe to do, that ye may live, and multiply, and go in and possess the land which the LORD sware unto your fathers.

    All of the above scriptures make it clear that God is addressing unregenerated persons as He is calling upon them to obey the law in order to live. They were obviously in possession of physical life already. In other words they were not in possession of eternal life yet.

    Whenever, Christ was asked what a man can “do” to obtain “eternal life” he always said the very same thing – do this and thou shalt live:

    And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou? And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself. And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live. – Lk. 10:25-28

    And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. –Mt. 19:16-17

    NT Wright and his “New Perspective” view of justification says that the purpose of the “works of the Law” was to be part of the Jewish community rather than obtaining eternal life or entrance into heaven. Hence, Wright says that Paul’s denial of “justification by works” only means that one does not have to become a Jew to be justified before God. Wright vehemently denies that the "works of the Law" had anything to do with obtaining eternal life or "entrance into life" = heaven. However, both Moses and Christ repudiate the view of Wright. Both Moses and Christ said keeping the Law did in fact have everything to do with obtaining eternal life or heaven.

    There can be no question that both Moses and Christ told their audiences that if they kept the law they would obtain eternal life and enter into life eternal. However, both also equally denied that unregenerated man could do that.

    Therefore, Paul's denial that a man could be "justified works" was a denial that they could obtain eternal life, entrance into life (heaven) by doing the Law in their own body. The "law of God" given to Moses was the most comprehensive revelation given to man to define good and evil and thus if the Jew could not be obtain eternal life and heaven when he was in possession of the most comprehensive revelation of what to do and not do, then no obedience to a lesser revelation could obtain it either. The conscience did "the work of the Law" in providing a lesser revelation but the "work" had the same goal, and thus "ALL THE WORLD" and "EVERY MOUTH" was stopped and "no flesh" Jew or Gentile could obtain eternal life by keeping any standard of rightesousness.

    Wright and his "new perspective" is simply justification by works disguised under common Biblical terms for grace.
     
  2. The Biblicist

    The Biblicist
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    As shown in the above post, Wright was wrong about his definition of "the works of the Law." The works of the Law did not merely have to do with becoming part of a community, but the ultimate aim of the Law was defining the standard of righteousness necessary to obtain eternal life and entrance into heaven as part of that community. Hence, when Paul denied anyone could be "justified by the works of the Law" he was not merely denying one had to become part of the Jewish community to be justified, but he was denying that anyone was capable of obtaining eternal life and entrance into heaven by personal obedience to the Law.

    This brings us to another WRONG by WRIGHT in regard to definition of Biblical terms. Wright denies that the "righteousness of God" is the same as the "righteousness" demanded by the Law for obtaining eternal life or entrance into life eternal, just as he denies "the works of the Law" are about obtaining eternal life or entrance into life.

    Instead, Wright defines the "righteousness of God" to be God's faithfulness in keeping His covenant with Abraham through the Person and work of Jesus Christ in order to secure the basis for the salvation of a people composed of Jews and Gentiles. Thus his "righteousness" does not obtain the salvation of anyone but merely provides the "reason" why anyone can be saved. Wright believes that justification has nothing to do with imputation of God's personal righteousness to satisfy the Law's demands against the accused and condemned under the Law but rather is the anticipated status of righteousness which will be declared on Judgement day in retrospect of the life of works lived out in and through the believer of the gospel.

    The ‘works’ in accordance with which the Christian will be vindicated on the last day are not the unaided works of the self-help moralist. Nor are they the performance of the ethnically distinctive Jewish boundary-markers (sabbath, food-laws and circumcision). They are the things which show, rather, that one is in Christ; the things which are produced in one’s life as a result of the Spirit’s indwelling and operation. - NT Wright

    justification by faith, to which I shall come in a moment, is the anticipation in the present of the justification which will occur in the future, and gains its meaning from that anticipation. - NT Wright

    In other words, a person is justified ultimately by works produced in and through him by the Holy Spirit that judgement day will vindicate him as "righteous" because of these works. Hence, it is his own personal life of good works as the product of the Spirit that vindicates him as "righteous" in Judgement day and it is that anticipation based upon his works that his present justification is based by anticipation through faith.

    The "righteousness of God" or God's faithfulness in keeping the covenant promise to Abraham through the person of and works of Jesus Christ merely provides the reason that those who come to Christ are enabled to justify themselves by their own Spirit enabled works.

    This is merely the Roman Catholic doctrine of justification through grace enabled works. The "faithfulness of God" is merely the meritorious basis found in the Person and work of Christ to enable ultimate vindication by works or NT Wright's own words "the reason" for ultimate vinidication or "status of right" by works.
     
    #2 The Biblicist, Nov 27, 2014
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  3. The Biblicist

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    However, since Wright is Wrong about "the works of the Law" not aimed at obtaining eternal life or entrance into life, he is then also wrong about the "righteousness of God" not being the standard of righteousness demanded by the Law to obtain eternal life and righteousness.

    That being the case he is wrong about the "righteousness of God" being God's faithfulness in keeping the covenant with Abraham through the Person of Jesus Christ, as the SINLESS life of Christ IS the basis upon which justification of eternal life is actually obtained for any sinner as nothing else can satisfy the righteous standard of God's law or vinidicate the penalty of God's law against sin.

    Moreover, Wright is Wrong about the constituent elements of Justification. He merely defines it as a "declared status of being right" based upon works. However, Paul defines justification by faith to be inclusive of (1) imputation of righteousness to the ungodly (Rom. 4:5-6) and (2) remission of sins, past, present and future (Rom. 4:7-8) as a completed action prior to the circumcision of Abraham (Rom. 4:9-11) that stands as a completed action going forward (Rom. 5:2) and that is why the Christian never comes into condemnation (Rom. 8:1; Jn. 5:24).
     
  4. The Biblicist

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    Wright is Wrong about the nature of "works." He attempts to define them as doing those things that make one a Jew under the Old Covenant Law with nothing about obtaining eternal life or entrance into life.

    However, if we compare all the texts that deal with Judgement day and the standard by which men will be judged it will be seen that the following phrases are synonymous in meaning:

    1. "the deeds of the Law"
    2. "the works of the Law"
    3. "the things done in the body"

    As all of these things are qualified by the phrase "according to" in regard to judgement under the same Law of God.

    In addition, all of these things in the final judgment context are divided into only two possible categories "good" "righteous" OR "evil" "bad" "wicked".

    Finally, this standard of judgement is not restricted to merely Jews but to all men both Jews and Gentiles on the day.

    Therefore, "works" are defined as all those things "DONE IN THEIR BODIES" whether good or bad and it is the law that defines "good" and "evil."

    In contrast, eternal life is judged by God for those "in Christ" upon the deeds/works/things done in the body of Jesus Christ in our place. That is why the child of God "SHALL" not come into judgement in regard to eternal life as he has that already in possession (Jn. 5:24) and shall never die (Jn. 11:26).

    In regard to eternal life the ONLY ONES that will be judged by the Law in Romans 2:6-11 are those who come before God only on the basis of those things DONE IN THEIR BODIES and NONE shall be justified by the Law for eternal life on that basis.

    Wright has simply repackaged the doctrine of justification by works by redefining Biblical terms that make it have the appearance of salvation by grace. His "righteousness of God" is no longer the moral standard for justification by the Law for eternal life, but God's faithfulness in keeping his covenant promise with Abraham by the merits of Jesus Christ as declared in the gospel which is the "reason" why the life of the Christian can be vindicated on judgement day as "righteous" and which is the basis for present justification based upon faith in that anticipated hope of justification by works.
     
    #4 The Biblicist, Nov 27, 2014
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  5. The Biblicist

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    This brings us to Wrights view of the Atonement. Wright systematically denies that the sacrificial laws of the Levites had anything to do with teaching penal substitutionary atonement. Hence, he repudiates any sacrificial typology of that doctrine. Why? Because his "penal substitutionary atonement" is not the doctrine that is taught in the Levitical sacrificial types. Why? Because the penal substitutionary atonement taught in the sacrificial type is transferred by imputation rather than by impartation. Wright's doctrine of penal substitutionary atonement is conveyed by impartation rather than imputation.

    Wright's view of justification is that real and ultimate justification does not occur until the day of judgement and is determined "according to your works". Any present justification is merely anticipated hope that your WHOLE LIFE of good works will provide evidence for God to vindicate your faith and declare you to be "right" before God on the day of judgement.

    This "WHOLE LIFE" of good works, according to Wright is the result of actual spiritual union with the righteousness of Christ in baptism and is the righteousness being worked out in the life of the believer by the indwelling Spirit of God which accumulated is his WHOLE LIFE of good works which provides the evidence "according to his works" for God to declare the status of "right" and vindicates the faith of the believer.

    However, the actual merits for the WHOLE LIFE declared to be "right" and to vindicate faith in that anticipated ultimate declaration by God is solely obtained by the merits found in the Person and work of Jesus Christ. Hence, the work of Christ is "penal" in the sense that it is the "reason" for remission of sins to be granted. It is "substitutionary" in the sense that the faithfulness of God to the covenant with Abraham could only be accomplished by the Christ and it is this faithfulness that provides the sole reason for both the righteous life of good works and ultimate declaration of a "right" status with God due to those works.

    Thus in reality, NT Wright has redefined "penal substitutionary" atonement to be Christ bearing the sin for all who are brought into covenant spiritual relationship with Christ through the sacraments and whose whole life of good works merit forgiveness through the imparted righteousness of Christ by spiritual union. This forgiveness is obtained initially by faith in water baptism to only those who will eventually be declared by their whole life of good works to be "right" by God.

    The Eucharist is not just about “me and my salvation.” It is a necessity, a part of what enables us to be God’s new creation people. We taste the new creation on our tongues, in our lips, in our mouths, in our bodies, so that we can go out and do the kind of work in the world that helps bring in the kingdom, God’s new creation. - NT Wright

    It seems to me that the Eucharist is a family meal, and the family is constituted by baptism. - NT Wright
     
    #5 The Biblicist, Nov 27, 2014
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  6. Yeshua1

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    How is he NOT then teaching the Gospel of rome, in where water baptism washes away Original Sin, makes us part of the "community" of faith, and that by us co operating with God and His graces towards us, becoming "right enough: in doing the law to have God see us as meriting salvation in the end?

    Still seems that he is trying to mediate a gospel that Reformed and Lurthryns and catholics can agree with!
     
  7. The Biblicist

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    He is an episcopal priest which is nothing more than geographical renamed Catholicism in England. He is paving the way for a theological reunion with Rome - period! His soteriology is sacramentalism repackaged to appeal to Protestants and gullible Baptists.
     
  8. Yeshua1

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    He seems to say the right things, but he also seems to be giving a repackaging/redefining to classical terms such as pauline justification and salvation!
     

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