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Since Christianity Today's August 2007 cover story, "What Did Paul Really Mean?" Piper and Wright have taken the debate on justification from the academy to the masses. Here is where the two evangelicals differ.
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John Piper: Pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis. Author of The Future of Justification: A Response to N.T. Wright.

N.T. Wright: Bishop of Durham, Church of England. Author of Justification: God's Plan and Paul's Vision.

The Problem

Piper: God created a good world that was subjected to futility because of the sinful, treasonous choice of the first human beings. Because of this offense against the glory of God, humans are alienated from their Creator and deserve his just condemnation for their sins.

Wright: God created a good world, designed to be looked after and brought to its intended purpose through his image-bearing human beings. This purpose was thwarted by the sinful choice of the first human beings. Because of human sinfulness, the world needs to be put to rights again and its original purpose taken forward to completion. God's purpose in putting humans "right" is that through them, the world can be put to rights.

The Law

Piper: God revealed himself through the Law, which pointed to Christ as its end and goal, commanded the obedience that comes from faith, increased transgressions, and shut the mouths of all humans because no one has performed the righteousness of the Law so as not to need a substitute.

Wright: God made a covenant with Abraham in order to set in motion his plan to rescue his world through Abraham's family. God gave his people the Torah, his holy Law, as a pedagogue—a way to keep Israel, God's wayward people, from going totally off track until ...

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The Justification Debate: A Primer
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June 2009

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