Morning Press 4.26

Since the two items here are semi-Lutheran, I include a picture of the man himself.

Bonhoeffer. Justin Taylor interviews Eric Metaxas (author of Amazing Grace: William Wilberforce and the Heroic Campaign to End Slavery) on his most recent book, another biography, this time a 600-page tome on Dietrich Bonhoeffer. I’m looking forward to reading it.

N.T Wright visits Wheaton. While I was enjoying myself at T4G two weeks ago (or as CT’s Brett McCracken might say, patting others on the back about how we haven’t adjusted the gospel), a large group of Wrightians and “New Perspectives” gathered at Wheaton College to discuss N.T. Wright’s theology of justification. Reformation21 (I think you could probably guess where they are in the New Pauline Perspective debate) provides a nice, concise summary of what happened there. I’ve listened to Vanhoozer’s talk already, and while I was disappointed to hear that he’s perhaps moved over to the New Perspective side, I thoroughly enjoyed his address. (if you haven’t read Vanhoozer’s book about Derrida and postmodern literary criticism, Is There a Meaning in This Text?, I encourage you to find the time to wade through it).

As for the CT article by McCracken (“Wrightians and the Neo-Reformed: All One in Christ Jesus“), I will address it later.

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2 thoughts on “Morning Press 4.26

  1. Andrew,

    At what point did you hear Vanhoozer affirm something that gave you the impression that he has embraced the New Perspective?

    • First off, upon reconsidering Vanhoozer’s talk, I don’t think he’s on the NPP side, but this gave me an inkling upon my first listen:

      “What am I, a nice systematic theologian, doing at a conference like this? Obviously, paying tribute to Tom Wright. When the organizers invited me, a year and a half ago, to address the topic of justification, perhaps with the title, ‘What Saint Paul Might Say Back,’ I was happy enough to do so. I was … blissfully unaware of John Piper’s book on the subject, what I thought I knew about justification was what Luther said. It meant being declared righteous, not being made righteous. It’s ground was the imputed righteousness of Christ; it’s the article by which the church stands or falls.

      “Well, I’ve been awakened from my dogmatic slumbers, like Kant! Not least by Tom’s charge that Reformation theology has bowed the knee to tradition rather than Scripture. I see now that we need a new critique of biblical reason, a reexamination of the ways we reason from and with the Bible to historical and theological conclusions.”

      While this doesn’t put him on the NPP side per se, it does seem to indicate a high degree of agreement. I haven’t listened to the other presentations, but I was pleasantly surprised at how critical Vanhoozer was of Wright’s theology…especially toward the end. Just because he tries to affirm the integration of imputation with a covenantal framework doesn’t mean that he is still firmly in the Reformation camp. He repeatedly applaud’s Wright’s exegetical ability to “think Paul’s thoughts after him” and on one occasion says that he thought Piper and other critics of Wrights simply couldn’t speak his language (“Wrightish”). He also (quite hilariously, I might add) that many of Wright’s critics can’t keep up with his thinking, giving them “motion sickness.”

      Upon a quick re-evaluation, I think Vanhoozer may well be closer to the Reformation thought than I originally thought — I haven’t read other things on his stance. But I’m not sure he’s firmly on the Reformed side, despite the fact that he wants to retain Calvin’s theology of adoption and unite it with Wright’s language of covenantal relationships. He’s trying very hard to bridge the gap, but I’m not totally sure it can be done.

      There is another option — he may be gently trying to push a pro-Wright audience back towards a more Reformed position. He is definitely trying to rescue some semblance of Reformed theology, but again I wonder if he’s reaching a bit. Thanks for helping me think through this better; I wasn’t trying to make an iron statement about Vanhoozer’s position, but instead making a passing mention of my initial impression. It could very well be wrong, and I apologize for not wording it more carefully. I just wonder if you can truly build a bridge between the “Neo-Reformed” and the Wrightians.

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