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 finish up with the final comparison from Wax’s chart dealing with the question of the present and future realities of justification. What do you think?
PIPER: Present justification is based on the substitutionary work of Christ alone, enjoyed in union with him through faith alone. Future justification is the open confirmation and declaration that in Christ Jesus we are perfectly blameless before God. This final judgment accords with our works. That is, the fruit of the Holy Spirit in our lives will be brought forward as the evidence and confirmation of true faith and union with Christ. Without that validating transformation, there will be no future salvation.
WRIGHT: Present justification is the announcement issued on the basis of faith and faith alone of who is part of the covenant family of God. The present verdict gives the assurance that the verdict announced on the Last Day will match it; the Holy Spirit gives the power through which that future verdict, when given, will be seen to be in accordance with the life the believer has then lived.
Well, as you can see, the debate gets quite technical and complex. The conversation is heated, the stakes are high, the books have been written and each scholar has made his case. For more in-depth study of the broader academic conversation on the so-called “New Perspective” on Paul I recommend the following resources:
ESSAYS, INTERVIEWS & BLOG SERIES