We’re comparing the differences between John Piper and N. T. Wright on Paul and the New Perspective using helpful summaries compiled by Trevin Wax featured in the June 2008 edition of Christianity Today. Today we focus on the central message of the gospel.
What is the gospel?
PIPER: The heart of the gospel is the good news that Christ died for our sins and was raised from the dead. What makes this good news is that Christ’s death accomplished a perfect righteousness before God and suffered a perfect condemnation from God, both of which are counted as ours through faith alone, so that we have eternal life with God in the new heavens and the new earth.
WRIGHT: The gospel is the royal announcement that the crucified and risen Jesus, who died for our sins and rose again according to the Scriptures, has been enthroned as the true Lord of the world. When the gospel is preached, God calls people to salvation, out of sheer grace, leading them to repentance and faith in Jesus Christ as the risen Lord.
Does anyone see any striking differences between these two understandings of the gospel?
Are they in conflict? Do they have different emphases? If so, what?
Piper’s articulation is far more traditional in it’s wording. The burden of proof therefore lies with Wright to make a case that the gospel is at its heart a royal proclamation that Jesus is King, and therefore Caesar is not. No one would disagree with the truthfulness of this claim, but why does Wright insist we move this royal decree to the center of the meaning of “the gospel” in Paul?
Next time we will tease this issue out more concretely as Piper and Wright provide an explanation of “How this happens”, i.e., how this gospel gets applied to our individual lives.