Piper versus Wright: Debating imputed righteousness

August 2, 2009


It seems that N.T Wright and John Piper are in a heavy debate over “righteousness”. Andrew Perriman has an interesting post over at open source theology where he explores both views. Personally both view to me have merit. I do think that the idea of “court of justice” type righteousness may be a bit misunderstood due to contextualization with the “American” view of what courts and Justice might be. I see more merit in the “ledger” view as it just makes more sense in the context over all. (At least to me).

Yet, either way, in a sense we do end up with “imputation” of Christ’s righteousness to us as by the Cross all things are being set right… so God’s righteousness is imputed and imparted to all creation and to us as we believe on Jesus.
Maybe I see things a bit differently from both… I am more Reformed than I care to admit, yet at the same time I am not Reformed as I see that there are many restrictions in the same sense the Roman Catholic dogmas inhibit understanding of Scripture. Sometimes trying to prove a doctrinal statement clouds what Scripture actually teaches and states.
So I pass it on to you who read this blog, and ask, what is your take? Not just what side of this argument you fall on, but rather, what do you see the Bible teaching?

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  1. The one thing interesting about the imputed righteousness of Christ is how much time Paul spends discussing justification and imputed righteousness with a supposed already saved Church body. My only conclusion, as many have concluded is that, in our salvation we continue to confuse sanctification for justification.

    Even though we are justified only through Christ we act as if we can somehow work to get in better with the big man. Paul clearly teaches otherwise.

  2. Personally I think people misread this passage:

    Romans3: 22. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, 23. for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24. and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. 25. God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished– 26. he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.

    If you notice justification is connected with the Cross… What happens then is that as one comes to faith in Christ they are declared "just" God was just and the justifier… we do not justify ourselves by faith we already are justified by what Jesus did. Yet, when we walk in the faith we, the just now "the just shall live by faith"… God made things all right/just at the Cross yet salvation comes at the Resurrection were the new creation was imputed to us.

    To me justification/reconciliation is not "just" "legal" terms… though that is a part of the understanding… I see Paul as stating these terms more as an accountant would. In accounting one must compare numbers to find the difference in them. That is reconciliation. We were found wanting so God equalled out the equation with Jesus bringing our sin to zero by the Blood of Jesus… God then because of this fact, God declares us justified (set right as our account is balanced) by His actions through Jesus. I do agree that many confuse sanctification and justification. Yet, I think often what is stated as santiciation is justification… when we walk in faith, we are then set aside as holy, consecrated to do good works in Christ as He lives His Life in and through us. None of these terms are about making ourselves more holy… For if God declared us holy… then how can we add to God's holiness? We only can grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ… Him in us our only hope of Glory.

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