Those caught up in the controversy between the perspective of Bishop N.T. Wright and the recent response by John Piper would do well to remember some very early words by Bishop Wright (1997, to be precise).
In the present chapter I shall suggest that this popular view of ‘justification by faith’, though not entirely misleading, does not do justice to the richness and precision of Paul’s doctrine, and indeed distorts it at various points.*
In other words, Wright is not saying that the classic view of justification by faith, so indelibly shaped by Augustine vs. Pelagius and Luther vs. Erasmus, is wrong, but that it lacks the full picture as presented by Scripture. Not, “we were wrong,” but “wait there’s more!”
Briefly and baldly put, if you start with the popular view of justification, you may actually lose sight of the heart of the Pauline gospel; whereas if you start with the Pauline gospel itself you will get justification in all its glory thrown in as well.**
I’ll write more about this later…
*Wright, N.T. What Saint Paul Really Said. Oxford: Eerdmans, 1997. 113