Update – This series was published in book form by the title: Indeed, has Paul Really Said?
In the last post we saw how Mr. Wright argued that Paul was a Shammaite Pharisee, thus making his emphasis on “the righteousness of God” and “justification” an eschatological concept more than anything else. By this infusion, the reader is expected to think anew about the concept of justification. No longer is justification seen as the process by which God saves sinners through the imputed righteousness of His Son; instead, justification is seen as an expression that speaks of God’s covenant faithfulness in vindicating Israel before the nations. To say that a person is justified means
that they are vindicated as being the people of God, or as Wright puts it:
“‘Justfication’ in the first century was not about how someone might establish a relationship with God. It was about God’s eschatological definition, both future and present, of who was, in fact, a member of his people.” p. 119.
According to Wright, this aforementioned definition represents Paul’s real meaning of justification
in view of his “Jewish context” p. 118. This “Jewish context” was the focus of our last post in the series:
1. Justification & God’s Courtroom: Wright’s presentation of God’s courtroom, as it relates to the term justification, is indeed new and calls into question the lexical/historical background of the term – dikaios, righteous. This will be our first layer of study.
2. Wright’s view of the Apostle Paul: Wright’s redaction of those Pauline texts, which deal with justification, are approached with a “new perspective” of Paul himself. Wright offers a transformed understanding of Paul’s background which is then used in order to advance a new Pauline connotation of justification and the righteousness of God.
3. Wright’s View of the Bible: Wright’s treatment of extra-biblical history and Scripture itself calls into question his understanding of the relative authority of each. This will be the last installment of the review since it covers all other dimensions of the book itself.
Now we will proceed to the culmination of this series by considering Wright’s own view of the Bible. What Wright does to the doctrine of justification is certainly bad enough. Frankly speaking, Wright’s theological redactions reduce the blazing glory of Christ’s salvation to a strange fire that pales in comparison. But how he gets to these troubling conclusions should raise the question of his view of the Bible itself. It is at this point that I can feel the complaints coming right away. There are many zealous defenders of Wright who would quickly shriek at the notion that anyone should dare to question the man’s commitment to Holy Writ, but Wright’s treatment of the Bible is in fact troubling. It is much like the many experiences that I have had in visiting churches. Many churches will herald the doctrine of inerrancy in their doctrinal statements, and yet there are many of these same churches that fall short of applying and preaching core church doctrines: the gospel itself, church discipline, or the biblical roles of men and women. To say that the Bible is authoritative is one thing, but how one treats the Bible becomes the moment of truth. It is here that I would suggest that Wright’s moment of truth has come, especially in the way that he treats God’s Word in What Saint Paul Really Said…
For more information on the publication and release of Indeed, Has Paul Really Said? go here.