Wednesday, May 13, 2009


Tim Challies is the 'official blogger' of an American conference featuring John Piper who is talking about Justification. This post by Challies prompted me to think that the following seven questions go to the heart of the controversy surrounding the doctrine of Justification, what do my readers think? (I'm looking to delineate the lines of the disagreement before commenting on the ultimate answer.) {Links are not an endorsement but short sharp posts to clarify the question.}

a) Systematic Theology vs Exegesis, a false dichotomy or real tension? {Mike Ovey}
b) Tradition vs Scripture or Scripture through tradition?

The Seven Questions:
  1. How is the “righteousness of God” defined? {Scot McKnight}
  2. Is righteousness imputed (forensic) or imparted (ontological), or both? {Doug Wilson}
  3. What place is there in Justification for the obedience of Jesus? {Justin Taylor}
  4. Is faith distinct from the fruits or evidence of faith?
  5. Is the final judgement one of salvation or works? {Denny Burk}
  6. How important is the doctrine of soteriology in the grand scheme of things?
  7. Now is this faith; "faith in" Christ or a reference to "Christ's faithfulness"? {Craig Blomberg}
[pic = scale replica of the first temple, I thought I'd match the topic.]


Andrew Bowles said...

I think question 2 should be different. I understand that imputation is a forensic term only, so the question is really whether righteousness is imputed or imparted, or both. Good questions.

Luke said...

Thanks for the clarification, I've reworded the question.

ish said...

The answer to 4 impinges on the answer to 5.

joeyspiegel said...

Scot McKnight just posted a good clarification on the difference between Wright's understanding of "the righteousness of God" and Piper's.

Andrew Bowles said...

I read a helpful comment this morning that the controversy between the traditional Reformed (eg. Piper) and the NPP (Wright) is whether justification is to be understood in primarily metaphysical or covenantal terms, Piper obviously going for the metaphysical and Wright for the covenant. This difference spans your questions 1,2,3, & 4.

[Metaphysical meaning the absolute relation of the being of humanity to the being of God, and covenantal God's promises and actions towards Israel and the Church.[

Luke said...

Thanks Dad; Your right, 4 depends on 5.

Thanks for the link joeyspiegel, McKnight's post helps bring out the "righteousness of God" question more.

Agreed Bowles; I don't know whether to make it a separate question or leave it as a presupposition or roll it into 6?

Everyone: I've added one more and added a few links, not as an endorsement of one position or another but so the questions can be brought out more clearly. Thanks for your help so far keep it coming!

Jereth said...

Hi Luke, here are my answers to your 5 questions. Hang on, there's 7 now.

1. The "righteousness of God" means God's just character, and the right standing that he gives to us through Christ (Rom 3:21ff.)

2. Righteousness is imputed first and foremost, and imparted secondarily (Romans 4) [what is the point of doing good works if we aren't forgiven?]

3. Jesus had to be perfect in order to justify us. On the cross he gives us his perfection and takes our sin. (2 Cor 5:21, Hebrews 7:26, 1 Peter 1:18-19)

4. Yes, of course.

5. We are judged based on our works (2 Cor 5:10), but Christians have been justified so our evil deeds have been covered by Christ's righteousness [I'm not sure I fully understand what a "judgment of salvation" is]

6. Our salvation is important, but secondary to the exaltation of Jesus and God's praise (Eph 1)

7. I think it has to mean "faith in" Christ, or else Paul's arguments in Romans and Galatians wouldn't make much sense.

How did I score?
And can you now explain to me what all this stuff means?