Tom, Tom and the Way Forward image

Tom, Tom and the Way Forward

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Tom Schreiner is one of the sharpest Reformed scholars around, and in Credo magazine he's given a thirty page review of Tom Wright's big Paul book. It's the best review I've seen, summarising the content and argument fairly, highlighting points of critique, and (crucially) affirming much of Wright's work without making the whole review about the nuances of justification language. In this particularly helpful section, he summarises the big story according to Wright - which for me, as I imagine for many, is the most valuable contribution of Wright's scholarship - and unlike many Reformed reviewers, happily affirms it:

... I, for one, think that the basic story Wright draws is right. Israel was in exile (i.e., the promises weren’t fulfilled) because they had failed to keep the Torah. The curses of the covenant fell on Israel because of her disobedience. Israel believed that the Torah, restoration of Israel. Of course, the story doesn’t begin with Israel in exile, but with the covenant, the promises given to Abraham, the promise that the entire world would be blessed in and through Abraham and his descendants. In other words, God would fulfill his promise through the covenant, by virtue of his covenant given to them by God, was the means by which the world would receive blessing. But, as Wright so aptly puts it, Israel found out that it too was in Adam. Israel couldn’t be the solution to the world’s problems since Israel too was part of the problem. The evil wasn’t only out there in the Gentile world; it was also inside the Jewish world. Sin isn’t just a Gentile problem or a Jewish problem but a human problem.

I believe Wright is also correct in saying that the solution to the problem is in the Messiah Jesus. He is on target in saying that Messiah is not just a proper name in Paul. Believers are incorporated into Jesus as the crucified and risen Lord. Jesus, then, is the true Israel, and those who are members of Abraham’s family, those who are the circumcision, belong to Jesus. Hence, both Jews and Gentiles now form the single family of God, reconciled to God and reconciled to one another. The Pauline story is about Jesus being the Lord of the world, and hence all other gods and demons are shown to be frauds. Jesus rules at God’s right hand, and hence the new creation has dawned, even though it still must be consummated. The church of Jesus is to live out that lordship with love and grace, as it awaits the renewal of creation. Wright reminds us that the church impacts the world when the world sees its holiness and unity. When the church lives in such a way, it attests that it is the new temple, the place where the Spirit of God and the Spirit of Jesus dwell.

You can read the whole thing here.

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