The long-awaited interaction with N.T. Wright arrives November 1. I had the privilege of reading this book in draft form about nine months ago and found it to be a terrific blend of academic rigor and pastoral warmth. One of the many things I love about John Piper is his ability to clearly and compellingly answer the “so what?” question that lurks behind some of the more technical and theologically challenging issues of our day. And if ever there was a such an issue, this is it. So in the spirit of Dr. Piper, I’ll attempt a brief, Theology 101-level explanation on why this book is timely and important.
Update: John Piper–The Future of Justification: A Response to N. T. Wright is now available at 33% off the cover price.
Historically, Protestants have believed that the moment a person placed his or her faith in Jesus Christ (as the God-man who lived and died as a substitute for sinners), that individual received the righteousness of Jesus Christ. This righteousness is “imputed” or transferred to their account. From then on, God looks upon the person as possessing the very righteousness of Jesus Christ. N.T. Wright has joined others in making light of this notion with quips such as “… it makes no sense that the judge [God] imputes, imparts, bequeaths, conveys or otherwise transfers his righteousness to either the plaintiff or the defendant. Righteousness is not an object, a substance or gas that can be passed across the courtroom.” This book is Pastor Piper’s response. What’s at stake? The basis of our acceptance before God. Do the good works performed by believers through the aid of the Holy Spirit in some way contribute to (or secure) our right standing with God, or are they the evidence that we already have a right standing with God? Among other things, this has implications for a believer’s assurance of salvation.
I highly, highly recommend this book. Here are some blurbs:
“John Piper’s challenging yet courteous book takes issue with Tom Wright regarding Paul’s teaching on justification. This serious critique deserves to be read by all who want to understand more fully God’s righteousness in Christ and his justifying the ungodly.”
Peter T. O’Brien, Senior Research Fellow, Moore Theological College, Sydney, Australia
“The so-called ‘New Perspective on Paul’ has stirred up enormous controversy. The issues are not secondary, and, pastor that he is, John Piper will not allow believers to put their trust in anyone or anything other than the crucified and resurrected Savior.”
D. A. Carson, Research Professor of New Testament, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School
“In this captivating book John Piper defends the truth that justification is the heart of the gospel. Wright’s views are presented with scrupulous fairness. I found this book to be not only doctrinally faithful but also spiritually strengthening.”
Thomas R. Schreiner, James Buchanan Harrison Professor of New Testament Interpretation, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
“I am very grateful to John Piper, pastor-scholar par excellence, for helping me understand better the doctrines of justification and imputation. Tom Wright’s interpretation of key biblical passages on the topic has some major problems, and Piper exposes many of them with great wisdom and skill.”
Andreas Köstenberger, Professor of New Testament and Director of PhD/ThM Studies, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary; Founder, Biblical Foundations (www.biblicalfoundations.org)
“Piper’s look at justification does this with a superb tone and a careful presentation of his case. Piper has put us in a position to hear both sides of the debate and understand what is at stake. Be prepared to be sharpened by a careful dialogue about what justification is.”
Darrell Bock, Research Professor of NT Studies, Dallas Theological Seminary
“John Piper addresses a matter of crucial importance for the church, with a clear-headed command of the issues involved. By writing this book he has done us all, including N. T. Wright, a great favor.”
Richard B. Gaffin, Charles Krahe Professor of Biblical and Systematic Theology, Westminster Theological Seminary
Related: An Interview with John Piper about The Future of Justification, thoughts from John Piper on When Does God Become 100% For Us?