Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Searching for the Righteousness of God at Gordon-Conwell: The New Perspectives and the “Downsizing” of the Law?

By John Jefferson Davis
Professor of Systematic Theology and Christian Ethics

was at the xerox machine in the faculty workroom, duplicating some class handouts for my Systematic Theology III class on Justification and the “New Perspectives.” A faculty colleague whose classes also address these issued happened to be passing by, and our conversation turned into an animated and vigorous discussion on justification, the imputation of the righteousness of Christ, the “New Perspectives on Paul”, the role of good works in the final judgment, the definition of the “righteousness of God,” and other important matters in biblical theology and the doctrine of salvation. Several other faculty colleagues were in and out of the discussion, which lasted for about 90 minutes, and several students who happened to be there at the time enjoyed this somewhat unusual opportunity to hear two faculty members engage in friendly discussion and debate on matters that are at the heart of our biblical faith.
He graciously gave me some of his class handouts on these issues, and I gave him copies of mine, and both agreed that further discussions on these topics would be good for us, and for the school as a whole. In case you are interested in these discussions, I want to make available to you by the following links several of the class handouts that I am using in my theology classes: “Where N.T. Wright Isn’t Quite Right: Further Brief Perspectives on the New Perspectives” [revised version]; “Reflections on the Imputation of the Righteousness of Christ,” defending the imputation of Christ’s active obedience, and responding to some objections; and “On ‘Righteousness’ of God, Man, and the Law”, arguing against a “New Perspectives” definition of the “righteousness of God” which tends to reduce it to a generalized sense of “covenant faithfulness,” and so tends to “downsize,” so to speak, the concrete demands of the moral law in salvation and the Christian life.
I hope you might find these materials helpful as you continue to proclaim with clarity and confidence the wonderful saving truth that because of Jesus’s life, death, and resurrection, we can stand confident before the throne of God, clothed in Jesus’s blood and righteousness.

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