Notes on N.T. Wright, Justification: God’s Plan & Paul’s Vision, Downers Grove, IL: IVP, 2009
The dominance of a particular reading of justification within the reformed tradition has tended to shape the understanding of theologically concerned protestants the past couple of centuries to such a degree that it seems as obvious as the fact that the sun goes around the earth. Just step outside. Look up. Watch the sun move (but don’t stare at it, lest you go blind). Geocentrism is perfectly obvious. Yet dead wrong. Wright says, “The theological equivalent of supposing that the sun goes round the earth is the belief that the whole of Christian truth is all about me and my salvation.” (p.23) He claims, to the contrary, that “God made humans for a purpose: not simply for themselves, not simply so that they could be in relationship with him, but so that through them, as his image-bearers, he could bring his wise, glad, fruitful order to the world… God is rescuing us from the shipwreck of the world, not so that we can sit back and put our feet up in his company, but so that we can be part of his plan to remake the world. We are in orbit around God and his purposes, not the other way around.” (p.23-4)
Wright also uses the image of a jigsaw puzzle, accusing much study of Paul in recent generations of leaving out several important pieces. Cut out the Israel, Eschatology, Holy Spirit and History pieces of the puzzle, and theology – in this case, the doctrine of justification – will look very different.