Is evangelicalism being split into two camps? There has been talk of the N.T. Wright v. John Piper approach to justification for a few years now. Then there has been a conference dedicated to the theology of Wright (which has implication on how we understand the gospel) that occurred the same week thousands of Neo-Reformed Christians gathered to discuss the gospel. Now at ETS this year it will be Tom Schreiner v. Wright discussing justification by faith.
On the one hand, this may be one of those rivalries that disappears quickly–like John F. MacArthur v. Charles Ryrie/Zane C. Hodges on the discussion of “Lordship” v. “Free-Grace” salvation. I was a small child when all that was being debated and discussed and I look at it complexed. I don’t understand what either party is saying.
On the other hand, this may be mammoth. Brett McCracken wrote for Christianity Today on the two aforementioned conferences stating hopefully that one day the two parties would meet together (here). Michael Bird is not very confident that this will happen (see here). I agree. It is not likely these two parties will see eye-to-eye anytime soon. It could be something that will actually create two different trajectories for evangelicalism.
Or it could be something my (future) kids read about asking, “What were they fighting about again?”
Brian, I was about to post a Quote of the Day in respect to this very thing, though from a different angle.
The neo-Reformed are quite militant. Such a split, I’m afraid, is inevitable. Their traditional reading of Paul must be guarded against the likes of NTW.
Just to be clear… I took you to (in general, not always in specific) support what NTW has written concerning the new perspective on Paul.
Mea culpa… Rereading again, I got your point. From “their” perspective, their traditional reading must be defended against NTW. I confused you to be agreeing, sharing that perspective though the “must” – which logically then required a “by” to make sense with the rest of your statement.
I also remember the McArthur/Hodges debate as a teenager/Bible college student and I also remember being overawed by it all just because I didn’t quite know that to do with the positions. Then i read MaCarthur’s book on it (was it The Gospel According to Jesus?) and then I though: This is just stupid. Here I was assuming there was actually some sort of architectonic conflict within the gospel itself.
The Wright/Piper discord is more serious. On the other hand, there may be less Christians who know anything about it than knew about McA vs. Hogde. My money is on that the Reformed people will eventually accept some sort of compromise. The Wrightian position is just to solid. I don’t mean his position as a whole, but the idea that justification is not Paul’s central message. Maybe a shift like that of “progressive dispensationalists” regarding the presence of the kingdom.
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