Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Wrightian works-righteousness

"The result is that when somebody then lives the kind of life which in Christ is honoring to God, it isn't that they are earning their final justification by their own efforts; it is already given; it's a datum; it's part of who they are in Christ from the moment they believe and are baptized. Rather it is the Spirit working in them, through them, so that they are freely choosing to do what the Spirit wants them to do." N.T. Wright (

The problem with your soteriology, Mr. Wright, is that it smacks of catholicism. It has nothing to do with Reformation theology, despite your protest to the contrary. John Calvin would rather cut his lips off with dull scissors than claim that God gives us "final justification" on the basis of deeds performed through an infused righteousness. For the Reformation project (and for anyone who feels compelled to take the New Testament seriously), a man is only ever justified by faith. Deeds can have as little merit for justification at the end than at the beginning. Jesus makes this perfectly clear when he states, "No one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law..." (Rom. 3:20). Note the future tense. Wrightians have made a huge deal of the future tense in 2:13 to argue for a final justification on the basis of a life well lived. Why have they neglected to apply the same logic here?


Theophilus said...

Unless there's more relevant context that you haven't posted, the explicit point of Wright's statement that you've quoted is that good works are not a part of his soteriology. He says very explicitly that it is belief and baptism are the grounds of salvation, not good works. Good works are a consequence of salvation, and absolutely not a condition for it.

Emerson Fast said...

Hey Theo,

Just a few paragraphs before the excerpt I chose he says, "Because in the ultimate future, as we see in Romans 2, Paul says
that God is going to judge the whole human race justly according to the totality of the life
that has been lived."

"But, of course, what
Paul is talking about there is the entirety of the life that has been led."

Of course, Wright always tries to be a little ambiguous (like most semi-pelagians), but he makes himself perfectly clear. "Final justification" (this is his term) is rendered ON THE BASIS of the TOTALITY of a LIFE LIVED.

Emerson Fast said...

He thinks that he can evade the accusation of works-righteousness because a converted Christian is literally "given" the righteous life which THEREBY justifies him on the final day.