N.T. Wright Clarifies…

When I used the word ‘basis’ (as I obviously did — when I was preparing for the conference I was surrounded by unopened boxes and all the stuff of moving house, so couldn’t check; and I knew I hadn’t taken the theological position that the Piperites were accusing me of), I was not meaning it in that strict and narrow sense. I was using it in the way people speak of being justified in the present ‘on the basis of faith’–which a lot of people do say without intending any heresy!, but which we know is shorthand for ‘on the basis of God’s action in Jesus Christ and his death and resurrection, and by the work of the Spirit through the proclamation of the gospel which leads to . . . faith’. Phew! In other words, I wasn’t meaning ‘this and only this, without reference to Jesus and the Spirit’. I was meaning — as I make abundantly clear in several passages — that Paul insists in Romans 2 and elsewhere that ‘to those who by patience in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, he will give eternal life’. Again and again over decades I have stressed to students, readers, and anyone else who will listen, that this isn’t a proposal for a Pelagian-style self-effort moralistic auto-justification, such as everyone from Augustine to Luther and beyond declared to be off limits. It’s a way of saying — which Paul then elaborates as the letter goes on — that when the Spirit works in someone’s life the transformation which is effected will show up in a changed direction, a different tenor of life, which, even though not perfect (Philippians 3.12-16), nevertheless indicates the work of the Spirit.

{HT: The Ugley Vicar}

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About Uri Brito

I am the Pastor of Providence Church (CREC) in Pensacola, Fl.
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