Last week I bought N. T. Wright’s magisterial 2-volume work on Paul, Paul and the Faithfulness of God. It’s over 1,500 pages. Needless to say, I haven’t finished it yet. But apparently Doug Moo has, and he has a very helpful review posted at The Gospel Coalition website. In light of previous controversies, one particular passage in Moo’s review caught my attention. And you probably won’t be surprised that it has to do with justification. Here’s the excerpt:
[Wright] also continues to stress a future justification that will be “according to the fullness of the life that has been led”… or “on the basis of the totality of the life led” (1028). I sympathize with Wright’s desire to accommodate the emphasis Paul puts on obedience, and I think he’s right to find a future aspect of justification in Paul. But little words are very important here; I agree future justification is “according to” the life lived but not “on the basis” of the life lived.
It’s very interesting that—after all the controversy of recent years—Wright still chooses to talk about future justification “on the basis of” a person’s obedient life. This language has appeared elsewhere in Wright’s work, and it was the basis of his very public back-and-forth with John Piper (recall Piper’s book-length critique and Wright’s response). Wright and I had a brief back-and-forth about the matter here and here. I’ll be interested to see how this plays out in the wider argument of the book. Does Wright clarify in a way so as to assuage his recent critics? I don’t see how he can with language like “on the basis of the totality of the life led.”