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Justification - God's Plan & Paul's Vision Paperback – February 20, 2009
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"This sprightly and gracious, yet robust, work is Tom Wright's carefully argued and scripturally based response to those who think that he has deeply misunderstood Paul's doctrine of justification... This is definitely one of the most exciting and significant books that I have read this year... Strongly commended! Professor I. Howard Marshall, University of Aberdeen 'Paul's gospel of God's reconciling, world-transforming grace has no more ardent and eloquent exponent in our time than Tom Wright. If his detractors read this book carefully, they will find themselves engaged in close exegesis of Paul's letters, and they will be challenged to join Wright in grappling with the deepest logic of Paul's message... Wright's sweeping, incisive sketch of Paul's thought, set forward in this book, will help us all in that task.' Professor Richard B. Hays, the Divinity School, Duke University"
"Tom Wright has out-Reformed America's newest religious zealots--the neo-Reformed--by taking them back to Scripture and to its meaning in its historical context. Wright reveals that the neo-Reformed are more committed to tradition than to the sacred text. This irony is palpable on every page of this judicious, hard-hitting, respectful study." --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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The little jabs and pokes at these people (who he names as he goes along, usually because they have explicitly attacked him) could come across as petty and unprofessional; however, to any of us who have heard criticisms of Wright coming from a place of misunderstanding (usually by fellow Christians of the Reformed persuasion) and inwardly sigh (yet again!) because we see how Wright's understanding of the Bible puzzle really makes SO MUCH SENSE (out of Paul, the Gospels, the whole New Testament really, and therefore the Bible and our current situation as Christians), and is so clearly NOT an attempt to make Jesus' death and resurrection less important than it is (quite the opposite, actually), these little push-backs are a breath of fresh air.
This book is for someone who (a) wants to actually understand what Wright really thinks about justification, its trinitarian nature, and covenant theology (especially if they have heard negative things about him from other preachers/writers); (b) wants to understand how the ideas about justification in Paul build on and revise what people (Jews and Gentiles) understood about justification in the time period in which he was writing (the first century AD)--i.e., the actual context; (c) grew up as a Christian, or has read much of the Bible, and finds that what they have been taught about salvation and justification seems to be missing something--and is willing to try a new idea on and see if it makes more sense of the whole Bible than what they learned growing up.
That last reason was why I started reading N.T. Wright in the first place about 10 years ago. I say this to anyone who thinks that Wright is some kind of liberal who wants to knock out the foundation of traditional Protestant teaching--a saboteur, the enemy within. Nothing could be further from the truth. To me, Wright's thoughts--always based on Scripture, always arising out of an understanding of what it meant in its context--make more sense out of the Bible than the framework I developed growing up as a Christian. My support for Wright developed NOT because I think he helps me get around what the Bible says, but because I think he helps me actually understand what the Bible says, and without first imposing some kind of doctrinal filter. He really tries to get at what the text meant to the person who was writing it.
So if you are someone, Christian or not, who is unwilling to compare your current understanding--or creed--with the whole body of Scripture--not just prooftexts--and see if it really makes the most sense out of what the texts meant by their authors--if you are unwilling to do this, than this book is not for you. But then again, neither is the Bible. For everyone else, especially anyone who has heard bad things about Wright but has not yet read anything from the man himself, I think this would be a very helpful book for you.
I gave it four stars---not for lack of superb presentation---but for the challenge of digesting the material. This is not light reading. If you are looking for a solid heart-felt presentation on one of the fundamental doctrines of the Christian faith this should be in your library!
The only flaws in this book is that he didn't devote enough time to studying the theology of John Piper who he was responding to, comes off a tad grumpy in the first part of the book, and over exaggerates heavily the differences between "Old" and "New" perspectives on Paul.
None the less, this is a Christian masterpiece on Justification that I recommend to everyone, especially it's exegesis.
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I deeply celebrate N.T. Wright’s meticulous and pastoral exegesis of the Pauline corpus.Read more
I want to preface this review by saying that N. T.Read more