Summary of Differences Between Tom Schreiner and Tom Wright on Justification
Below are some notes from SBTS New Testament professor Tom Schreiner's response to Tom Wright in a plenary session of the Evangelical Theological Society. The full text of Dr. Schreiner's response was posted originally on-line by his son, Patrick Schreiner.
Dr. Tom Schreiner identifies a central difference with the following:
Tom [Wright] continues to think that justification is mainly about covenant membership and ecclesiology, whereas I think the primary emphasis is on soteriology with ecclesiological implications.Schreiner responds to Wright's explanation of Romans 4:11 concerning the identification of "justification" with "covenant membership" with the following:
The text does not say that circumcision ratifies that one is a covenant member but that it confirms that one stands in the right before God by faith. An illustration may help. Baptism may document and ratify that one is saved, and those who are baptized are covenant members, but it doesn’t follow logically or lexically from this that the word “saved” means covenant membership. I would say the same line of argument applies to circumcision and righteousness in Rom. 4:11.Schreiner identifies a second major difference through an examination of Philippians 3 and Romans 4. Schreiner argues, contra Wright, that the false idea of justification that is refuted by the Apostle Paul in these passages largely concerns not merely Jewish ethnic "boundary-markers," but a striving for legalistic self-achievement. Schreiner points out that in Philippians 3 the contrast is not only between Jews and Gentiles, but between Paul during his pre-conversion days as a Pharisee, seeking to be justified by his works, and other Jews. Schreiner adds:
Let me draw one implication from what Paul says. Jews didn’t think they were better than Gentiles solely because they were circumcised and were members of the covenant. They typically believed that they were more obedient and more godly than the Gentiles, that the Gentiles were judged, not merely for being Gentiles, but because they were sinners.Schreiner then shows parallels between Philippians 3 and Romans 10, a passage in which Jewish ethnic "boundary-markers" are nowhere present.
Schreiner then argues that the argument against justification by works in Romans 4 cannot be understood in terms of Jewish ethnic "boundary-markers" and that Abraham's reward comes fundamentally due to his faith, rather than his obedience.
Labels: Reformation Theology