Home > Media > N. T. Wright on justification at Issues Etc.

N. T. Wright on justification at Issues Etc.

Todd Wilken has had a series on the New Perspective on Paul (NPP) at Issues Etc. and kicked it off with a “Web extra” consisting of a fifty-minute discussion of justification with none other than N. T. Wright. Unfortunately it is not available via the Issues Etc. archive page, so I can’t give a direct link to the mp3, but I can offer a couple of links, one of which will eventually go stale.

  • CastRoller [link], a podcast link repeater
  • iTunes [link]; this is the one that will go stale shortly.

I really have no idea what to make of this. Wright and Wilken are totally collegial. I don’t know if this is a matter of professional courtesy or what, exactly.

Every so often I hear something and have an “ah ha!” moment, where something suddenly becomes as clear as I’ve ever hoped it would be. Other times I have an “oh no!” moment, where the clarity portends more trouble than I can handle. Wright’s opening remarks, where he says Calvin and Luther were reading Paul the Apostle in a distinctly medieval manner, is more an “oh no” than an “ah ha.” I tend to agree with him that the reformers read Scripture a particular way because they were men of their time, on the trailing edge of the Middle Ages and on the leading edge of the Early Modern Era.

I’m still not sure how Wright can be sure he’s sorted out the Reformers’ problems, though. I don’t know how he can claim to understand the Reformers correctly, much less understand Second Temple Judaism correctly, let alone correct one’s perceptions of the other. But that’s mostly my postmodern doubt talking, I suspect.

After listening to Wright, though, I think he’s saying that the reformers made a mistake by taking what Paul said to be speaking to their time in a way it didn’t, rather than speaking to contemporaneous issues they didn’t have the machinery to understand. However, my fundamentalist leaning makes me want the Gospel to be something that can be understood from a plain reading of Scripture in translation, and I suspect Wright’s line demands that believers be smart first and believers later.

Finally, I would encourage anyone interested in James White’s response to NPP at Calvary Santa Fe a few weeks ago to listen to this interview and ask themselves whether White gave Wright a fair reading, much less gave a well-rounded, well-founded response. On balance I think this interview is a gold mine, and well worth the fifty minutes it requires.


  1. Luis
    October 26, 2010 at 8:11 am

    Well, it’s a good change from the vitriol that Wright usually gets.

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