the New Perspective’s pretty Reformed, Wright?

It’ll end up taking us back into Catholicism! I presume you’ve heard this accusation levelled against the New Perspective on Paul and N. T. Wright specifically (actually, the common pairing of ‘Wright and the New Perspective’ doesn’t have heaps to recommend it, if you take Wright’s own self-positioning at face value).

What’s interesting is that people who’ve read a lot more Tom Wright than I have keep suggesting that far from turning us all into Roman Catholics, he’s fundamentally Reformed — maybe even too Reformed!

Ben Witherington III says as much (h/t to Matt), and doesn’t pull any punches:

[A]t the end of the day, Wright is taking a very traditional view of the doctrine of justification, namely that Paul, when he uses the dikaios/dikaiosune etc. word group is largely referring to forensic righteousness, right standing with God established by grace and through faith in the dying and rising Messiah Jesus. Further, in very Reformed fashion he wants to argue that in Romans and elsewhere what the phrase ‘the righteousness of God’ refers to is God’s covenant faithfulness to promises he made. Sounds like a good traditional Reformed reading of Paul to most of us.

I wouldn’t necessarily endorse every detail of Witherington’s account or his criticisms (I prefer Bird’s typically incisive comments).

The internecine nature of the dispute perhaps explains why there’s so much heat being generated for so little light…


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