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Counted Righteous in Christ: Should We Abandon the Imputation of Christ's Righteousness? Paperback – November 15, 2002

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Editorial Reviews


"Does Christ's lifelong record of perfect obedience to God get 'credited' to your account when you trust in Christ and are 'justified' by God? This has been the historic Protestant understanding of the 'imputation of Christ's righteousness,' but John Piper warns that we are in danger of losing this doctrine today because of attacks by scholars within the evangelical camp. In response, Piper shows, in careful treatment of passage after passage, that the imputation of Christ's righteousness to believers is clearly the teaching of the Bible, and if we abandon this doctrine we will also lose justification by faith alone. I am thankful to God for John Piper's defense of this crucial doctrine."
Wayne Grudem, Research Professor of Theology and Biblical Studies, Phoenix Seminary

"The Gospel must be defended in every generation. Today, as in the sixteenth century, the central issue is the imputation of Christ's righteousness. John Piper clearly and powerfully proves this is the view of the Bible and not merely of orthodox Protestant theology. The church must say 'No!' to those who declare that imputation is passé. If imputation is passé, then so is the Gospel."
R. C. Sproul, President, Ligonier Ministries; Senior Minister of Preaching, St. Andrew's Chapel, Sanford, Florida

"This is certainly the most solid defense of the imputed righteousness of Christ since the work of John Murray fifty years ago. I'm delighted that Dr. Piper has established that important doctrine, not as a mere article from the confessional tradition, but on the solid foundation of God's Word."
John M. Frame, J. D. Trimble Chair of Systematic Theology and Philosophy, Reformed Theological Seminary, Orlando, Florida

About the Author

John Piper (DTheol, University of Munich) is the founder and teacher of and the chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary. He served for 33 years as the senior pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and is the author of more than 50 books, including Desiring God, Don’t Waste Your Life, This Momentary Marriage, Bloodlines, and Does God Desire All to Be Saved?


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Crossway (November 15, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1581344473
  • ISBN-13: 978-1581344479
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.4 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #108,645 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

John Piper is founder and teacher of and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary. For 33 years, he served as pastor at Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota. He is the author of more than 50 books, and more than 30 years of his preaching and teaching is available free of charge at John and his wife, Noël, have four sons, one daughter, and twelve grandchildren.

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36 of 38 people found the following review helpful By J. F Foster on July 2, 2003
Format: Paperback
John Piper is among the most respected American pastors of our day, in part because he comprehensively integrates pastoral theology with biblical and systematic theology in a way that produces a full-orbed Christian perspective and grounding.
In this book, Piper focuses on the imputation of righteousness that is central to the Protestant doctrine of justification by faith alone. Many giants of the faith regard the doctrine of justification as a showstopper doctrine, essential to a right understanding of Christianity. As such, it is no surprise that similar to other essential tenets of the faith such as the Trinity, the resurrection, and the inspiration and authority of Scripture, the doctrine of justification is a stumbling block for many that has resulted in various forms of retreat.
The latest retreat comes at the hands of Robert Gundry, who attempts to argue that the imputation of Christ's righteousness to the believer as a result of faith is unbiblical. He argues instead that the inherent faith of the believer is what is counted as righteous in the act of justification, rather than a transfer of Christ's righteousness to us through faith. While this might seem a nuanced difference, in reality, it goes straight to the core of what it means to be justified. Gundry's view in a number of respects is much closer to Roman Catholicism's irresponsible mixing of justification and sanctification in ways that render many sections of Scripture unintelligible. Gundry believes that the act of justification (of our inherent faith) defeats the mastery of sin over our lives (which is traditionally the separate work of sanctification), rather than a legal transfer of Christ's righteousness to us as the basis for justification and the sole grounding for subsequent sanctification.
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Darren Hsiung on February 15, 2003
Format: Paperback
Just as the title doesn't mince words, this book presents a clear and concise examination of the issue at stake: the historic protestant doctine of the imputation of Christ's righteousness, and with that, the very issue of justification itself. This is a timely response to the controversy and growing defection from the doctrine in evangelical and reformed circles. In the first chapter, Piper spells out his motivation for the book: the theological and practical implications of the doctrine. The second chapter carefully defines the specifics of the question at stake. The third chapter contains the exegetical arguments, and the forth concludes the book.
Piper writes with passion and with a pastor's heart. With that, I am struck all the more by how careful and even-toned his exegesis is, when so many passionate arguments are little more than polemics consisting of slogans and unexplained proof-texts. Piper uses no such rhetoric, remaining respectful to his theological opponents, even acknowledging how certain texts could, by the letter, fit their position. But Piper builds a solid case that the righteousness of the elect is that of Christ, not by force-fitting proof texts into a pre-conceived systematic, but by a level-headed consideration of the context and the flow of the text.
Though short, this book is not always light reading. Many of the arguments require a great deal of chewing on. It probably has to do with Piper trying to provide as much clarity as possible. This is a welcome contrast to much of the opposing literature which uses familiar terminology in vague statements that end up lulling the reader into feeling good about what was said, rather than rigorously thinking about and understanding it (and how it might deviate from the historic position).
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Brian G Hedges on February 20, 2003
Format: Paperback
What a wonderful book this is, combining pastoral warmth with exegetical precision in the defense and confirmation of the very heart of the Christian gospel: justification by faith alone. Piper shows that sinners are made right with God through the righteousness of Christ which is credited to them. That this is being challenged to me today is mind-boggling. Why do people want to destroy such good news? Why wrestle against what is so lucid and clear and Scriptural? Well, the threats are there and John Piper has faced them. Chapter one describes the many personal reasons in family, church, culture, and the nations why this issue is so important. Chapters two and three set out the challenge to this doctrine and defend the truth exegetically. Piper is polite to his opponent (Robert Gundry) and honest with his arguments. There is no mispresentation. This is an excellent book. The Discerning Reader named this book of the year. Thanks to Pastor John for writing it and thanks to Crossway for publishing it.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Edward J. Vasicek on April 27, 2003
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
John Piper is hard NOT to respect. He is among a handful of solid theologians who makes the effort to address the challenges to the evangelical faith (from within) with grace, clarity, and sincerity.

In this work, Piper defends the traditional evangelical understanding of imputed righteousness, i.e., that when a person trusts Christ, he not only has his sins forgiven but is, on the positive side, given the righteousness of Christ. This concept, imputed righteousness, is currently being challenged from within evangelicalism.

Piper quotes the leading proponent of this view, Dr. Robert Gundry, explains Gundry's perspective, and contrasts it to the traditional one. He then explores the relevant Scriptures and demonstrates why Gundry is wrong. He attempts to lead the reader to conclude that the Scriptures do in fact teach that we are counted as righteous once we are in Christ. We exchange our sin for His righteousness.

Piper is not really much of a salesman. Although his language is clear and his sincerity obvious, it is the strength of the Scriptures themselves that do the convincing. And that is not bad! I highly recommend this work. The serious laymen can understand this volume, but it is not "pop Christian" by any means, but requires the reader to think. And that's not bad, either!

As we see more and more challenges either directly toward the heart of the Gospel or the periphery, it is great to have Piper on our side! Here is my favorite quotation from this brief volume. The argument is that if Paul had taught Gundry's view in Romans 1-5, the questions of chapter 6 would never have arisen (this is more formidable than meets the eye; if our version of the Gospel does not result in these questions, we may be preaching the wrong message!
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