Tom is Wright and Wrong

Tom Wright is correct in identifying the context for Paul’s teaching on justification as the status of the Jew and the Gentile regarding God and each other.  He is right to see that Paul is dealing with the issues facing the original Christians, Jews to a man, who were being required to treat the believing Gentiles as full equals in the church, and before God.  The teaching on justification by faith alone apart from works has as its purpose the demonstration that being Jewish and a descendant of Abraham means nothing in the matter of forgiveness.  Both Jew and Gentile are under sin, both are condemned by it, and it follows that neither Jew nor Gentile can be justified before God by works.

Bishop Tom is wrong in his actual doctrine of justification.  He drags works into it, and, in so doing, he completely overthrows the gospel of free grace.  He roots the declaration of forgiveness in part upon the whole life lived.  Justification by faith alone means justification apart from works, so Bishop Tom is teaching justification by faith and works.  That is heresy.

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6 thoughts on “Tom is Wright and Wrong

  1. Are you writing this in response to his book “Justification”? The charge of heresy is quite strong, though I would heartily agree to it if works is being added as a condition for salvation.

    How can such a fine theologian, with such a solid view of resurrection and the mission of the church, be so wrong on such a fundamental issue?

  2. Bishop Tom is an Anglican. It has been said that the Church of England has a Roman liturgy (the Book of Common Prayer), a Calvinistic theology (the 39 Articles), and Arminian clergy. The addition of works to faith in justification is a mark of Wesleyan Arminianism, and Wesley was, originally, an Anglican. Perhaps Bishop Tom is being consistent with his inconsistent churchmanship!

    Since both Luther and Calvin made the doctrine of justification by faith the mark of the standing or falling Church (or words to that effect in Calvin’s case) and since clearly NTW differs from them on the point, and since the Reformed Church believes those two Reformers both take the biblical position on the subject, the charge of heresy is not unreasonable.

  3. If works are made a condition of our justification the cross is set aside. If works are necessary for justification then we are all doomed, for all have sinned. But, it is by grace through faith in an effective and sufficient Saviour, so we who trust in God and Christ are truly justified.

  4. Also, Rome teaches justification by faith and works, because it believes that a regenerate man is able to perfectly obey the law. Therefore Tom is in principle in agreement with the Pope on this.

  5. I should add, regarding Wesleyan Methodism, that the addition of works to faith is meant to be by way of evidence; our works demonstrate the reality of our faith. At least, that is how the less Arminian Methodists explain it, though I think Wesley himself was less clear on the matter.

    As far as justification itself goes, it is of course without works, or it is not of grace.

  6. The real problem with Methodism is the exaltation of free will. Free will is the ability to do and to act, iow, the power to work. Arminianism is salvation by faith and works plain and simple, just like Rome. By free will you prepare yourself for grace, by it you take hold of grace, and by it you persevere in grace. In short, it utterly contradicts the scripture.

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