Friday, June 05, 2009

justification and vindication

There is a buzz in the evangelical theological world over N.T. Wright's latest book (I have yet to get my copy) on justification, in response to his critics, especially John Piper. Justification in Paul's letters is a judicial, forensic term having to do with God's declaration of righteousness to those who trust in him and in his word to them in Christ.

The issues lie in differing interpretations of texts, and for me the issue is exegesis of the relevant texts. The problem being that one can read into the texts their theological point of view and axiom, that for them in nonnegotiable, instead of letting each text speak for itself, and then seeking to integrate each with the whole, the entirety of Scripture.

I see this over and over with those who make much of their theological system. It's not that we don't systematize, for all of us automatically do that, if we consider Scripture over any length of time at all. It's that we can inadvertently, or for better reasons, set such systems in stone, because they are "right," and all in opposition is wrong in some set (and labeled) way.

I don't mean to suggest that anyone is immune to this, for such is not the case. But we should want to let each passage speak for itself before putting it into the context of another passage as well as all of Scripture. And it's important for us to keep reading those who are taking special time and pains to work through such things, such as Piper and Wright in this current debate.

To get to the point of the title just a bit, our justification and vindication before God is in Christ. And it plays out not only in declaring us, the guilty, justified, or declared to be in the right only because of Christ. But it also sets the stage for the immediate working of the Spirit in our lives to make us in our character and living, righteous. And in the end, even though it's not of ourselves at all, we will be judged by Christ as righteous.

Any thoughts you'd like to share on this? Has anyone here followed, or even been aware of this current debate?


mr. dave said...

All of us only need to look to Romans chapter 4..Abraham was justified by "faith".
Abraham was made righteous by God because he had faith in God and believed that God was able to make him righteous.It was Abraham's faith that made him righteous.

Ted M. Gossard said...

Mr. Dave,
Of course. That's actually implied in my paragraph on it, though I would have done better to have used the term, "faith".


preacherman said...

Wonderful post Ted.
I am planning on getting a copy of N.T. Wrights book tomorrow. I appreciate your heart and comments that you shared with us about justification. I am so glad that I was justified by Jesus Christ through faith. I thank God for that Justification more than anything. I personally feel that the justification I have recieved helps me resolve issues of vindication. Thanks again brother for all you do.

Ted M. Gossard said...

I'm getting mine through Amazon, I think. Am reading Piper's book right now, borrowed. Interesting debate, but kind of coming on me against what I would choose. But I think it's good for me, and besides, we want to read N.T. Wright's new book, anyhow!

I much appreciate you as well, brother. God in his grace in Jesus, is so faithful to us.