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  • « Spiritually Bankrupt | Main | Psalm One: Blessed is the Man »

    Tabletalk - Responding to N. T. Wright

    N. T. Wright is in many ways a highly respected and widely influential theologian. His work on the reliability of the New Testament and the resurrection of Christ is superb. However, in recent times, he has sparked a major storm of controversy suggesting that both the Roman Catholics and the Protestant Reformers have totaly misunderstood the Apostle Paul's teaching on the subject of justification. There is no doubt that Bishop Wright is the leading figure in what is called "The New Perspectives on Paul."

    In February 2010, Ligonier Ministries' Tabletalk monthly magazine was devoted to the subject of justification by faith alone, responding to the specific objections/allegations of Bishop N. T. Wright. The main articles are now available to read in a new form by clicking here below:

    Posted by John Samson on April 26, 2010 09:05 AM


    An excellent and concise response to Wright. I am so glad that resources like this are available on the internet and hope that it will be widely used.

    This format is not very helpful. I do not seem to be able to print it out or copy it so I can read it on y work/church computer which does not have internet access. A pdf file would be far, far more useful.


    I believe the format is not helpful on purpose. I think they (Ligonier) are probably hoping you will subscribe to it. :)

    What do you call someone who know denies the heart of the gospel?

    This was so good. At one time it would have made me angry regarding such efforts and endeavors made by man to justify himself and position. But, now there are so many benefits to these debates/discussions which exceed the truth of doctrine alone. They call me closer in dependence on Christ in many ways and take me from the world.

    In the time of Jesus, it took many religious leaders of that day (and the world - Romans) to do according to Gods will in Christ. This seems somewhat to be the same 2000 years later. It takes many on one side to make the other die to themselves and make us more dependent on Christ alone and not the world or its ways in pride and position and status.

    Thanks for this article! It works more than you can know in me!

    I have subscribed to Table Talk for many years (and I'm not Presbyterian). It is one of the most helpful publications/resources I have ever subscribed to or bought (and I have over 2000 books in my library -- not including my Logos 4 software).

    What NTW needs to face up to and answer plainly is whether salvation is by Christ alone. In other words, he would need to affirm that Christ is not merely necessary but sufficient to save to the uttermost. i.e. Is there ANYTHING we have to do to either attain or MAINTAIN our just standing before God. If there is then he is preaching a different gospel.

    When NTW claims that "justification is on the basis of the whole life lived" it sounds like he is saying that when we have faith in Christ it brings our account to zero, but in order to have positive righteousness we need to do good works to build up on what Jesus started. This is in stark contrast to the gospel which says "Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?" The Christian not only looks to Christ for the forgiveness of sins but for his righteousness as well. Christ not only dies the death we justly deserve but also lived the life we should have lived, under the law, and not only imputes our sin to him, but imputes his righteousness to us.

    When I read Piper he sounds alot like this as well. Especially when he talks about perseverence of the faith and final judgement. I wish someone could point out the difference for me.


    I highly recommend the following article on perseverance and apostasy.

    Thank you so much for making this available. When the new perspective on Paul came up at seminary I remembered this issue of Tabletalk. Since the move to school I no longer have my hardcopy, and the articles in this issue are great as I enter into the debate as to whether or not our evangelical seminary should be accepting of these views as with in the realm of Biblical Christianity.

    This kind of writings is what makes me loose respect for titles (like Dr.) I'm writing a thesis (if that's what it's called in English) on N. T. Wright and have been striving to understand him for over a year now. I'm still strugling, but I understand enough to say that a lot of the critique in this "paper" is misunderstandings, which is something scolars like these should be able to avoid - at least in a greater degree.. And they really don't have much to say in response, except to just affirm their current opinions, whitout arguing for it. That's perhaps not the purpose either, I don't know, but if not, what's the use of such short summaries?

    It seems like, but I really wouldn't know for sure, that these guys are more interesting in defending their views than to really understand Wright framework, and to check their viewpoint against the holy scripture that God have given us. Let's be faithful to it (and Him)!

    Hi Nils Einar,

    You write, "This kind of writings is what makes me loose respect for titles (like Dr.)" and "a lot of the critique in this "paper" is misunderstandings". I do not wish to appear unkind, but may I just point out to you that simply making sweeping accusations without backing them up with any evidence whatsoever gives me no reason to respect your comment.

    I'm will Nils. Nils is not American, so that probably makes him more objective immediately. American Christianity really has been shaped by its unique individualistic ideology. This is why most American Evangelicals are right wing zealots when it comes to politics. But anyways Nils is right. And Wright is right. Most of his critics base their objections on the fact that Wright is saying something different than Luther and Calvin and that's all. In other words, their objections are based on their own tradition (shock horror) and not scripture. They just don't like what Wright is saying for this reason only. And the reason I suspect Wright is right and the Protestant position is wrong is because the fruit of Protestantism has been disunity, individualist rational egoism, even modern atheism can be partly attributed to the fundamentalists, German liberal theology was simply a logical outworking of the nonsense we find in fundamentalism (a lot of American evangelicals just never grew out of fundamentalist folly).

    All of this brings the name of the Church into disrepute. I thank God for NT Wright and his work. You see the fruitage of it everywhere. Convincing atheists like Flew of the Christian God, his pastoral work, his advocacy for the poor, his edifying scholarship etc. He is truly remarkable. Reformed types want to affirm his work on Jesus and the gospels (mainly because he affirms things like the bodily resurrection) simply because things like the resurrection are boxes to be ticked in their confessional formala. They really don't want to know about the real implications the gospels have on faith (which U.S. Calvinists usually define by their own cultural and ideological biases). But they simply haven't understood how Wright's work on Jesus is part of the same fabric as his work on Paul. They go together. Try to have your cake and eat it too and you just become incoherent and illogical. Reformed types pick and choose which bits of Wright they want. They like his work on the resurrection for the conclusion he comes to - i.e. to affirm the bodily resurrection. They haven't come to grips with the method (historical-narrative) nor it's implications. They have failed to see that it is precisely the same kind of work that Wright is employing on St. Paul. But they don't like this now. They don't like Wright because of the political implications of his theology... one has to wonder whether it is the unique ideology of American conservative evangelicalism that is really driving this...

    @Simmo couldnt say it any better..I was discouraged by alot of people not to read Wright, that "his" gospel is not the true gospel, that he is a heretic of sorts. I finally read him for myself and WOW was I surprized, brilliant thinker that is very practical on how Christianity should be changing the world as it is suppose to through the death and resurrection of Christ our King. NT Wright says it best, that all the reformed are stuck on TRADITION, the very thing they fought against.

    Well said, John S.

    I love how the front cover of this publication are all these scholars' names as if it is a cover for a movie. So dramatic. When are they going to make the Schreiner/Wright debate public?

    I find it interesting that the last several writers critique "reformed types" as relying on tradition but fail to see that Wright's critical realism uses Second Temple Judaism as the lens for interpreting Scripture. Odd that they don't smell the priest-craft in that or see how such a position renders Scripture insufficient. I also think it's odd that Wright can argue for a Christ who suffers metaphorically for sins as he does in Evil and the Justice of God and not find a problem in that. I also don't understand wonder how you can accept Wright's understanding of the Christ's entry into Jerusalem as "the" coming of God and not see an incipient Aristotelian metaphysic in his theology. What is more, how does the Jesus of Scripture match up with the uncertain but hesitantly hopeful (at best) Jesus of Wright? I think Wright looked into a deep well and saw himself. I guess my question is, what have you read?

    Curious to determine what all you intellectuals need to say about this?-?-.

    It's crazy how they can read Wright and misinterpret what he means. It's like they read what he wrote and didn't understand it, so they restated the whole "not by works" crap. LOOK N. T. Wright doesn't disagree with you. He doesn't say that salvation is on our own accord. He'll be the first to tell you that it's only through Jesus that we can be a part of the new creation. There's not a single modern New Testament scholar that would say "salvation is through what we do on our own and it's not because of Jesus's death and resurrection". Most of the things here reaffirmed why I'm not a reformer. The theology isn't bad, it's just the wrong heart. Let's go back to the root of all of this, 2000 years ago (not 500). Let's quit acting like we have all of the answers. We can't fully understand and grasp the greatness and complexity of God and how He works. There isn't some long list or creed or some formula. Let's quit reveling in our "particularly right doctrine" like Timothy Keller would say.


    According to NTW, Justification is based on the whole life lived. It is not simply about believing in right doctrine, as you say, it is believing that salvation is by Christ alone - the heart of the biblical gospel. NT Wright and his followers have made it perfectly clear that they embrace the kingdom ethos as part of the gospel, not merely what Christ has done for us.

    It is funny that you quote Keller because he goes out of his way to emphasize that the gospel is not what we do for Christ but what he has done for us. Nothing more.

    Your rhetoric about the Reformation is beyond ridiculous. This is about the gospel of Jesus Christ. Stop wasting your time defending a man (NTW)and believe the gospel alone.


    If NTW believes what you claim, then there would not be any argument. The issue would be settled AND WOULD HAVE GONE AWAY LONG AGO. But he has never settled the issue.

    Next your passing judgment on people's hearts is wrong. People care about this issue because they care about THE gospel, not clouding it with unbiblical ideas. To claim we have bad hearts is simply to impugn and reveal your own heart.

    So i found your blog site on google and check several of the early posts. Continue to keep up the good work! AUTO

    This is really an interesting topic, I'm very lucky on your blog, I'll add this web bookmarks, I'll subscribe to your blog, and I hope to be able to come around again.

    I am excited about learning way more than what I have already taught myself. Thank you!Wonderful!


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