vanhoozer on wright

I just bought my first ipod, so I’m not exactly an early adopter.  I generally try to stay one step behind the Amish, and now that Titus Miller has a cell phone, I think that God will understand if I have an ipod touch. 

The first podcast I downloaded was Kevin Vanhoozer’s lecture on N.T. Wright’s new perspective, which he delivered at this spring’s Wheaton theology conference.  It is a terrific example of a theologian disagreeing with another without being disagreeable.  Vanhoozer wisely and with good humor suggests that Wright is right in what he affirms (the communal nature of salvation) and wrong in what he rejects (the traditional Protestant understanding of justification).  Vanhoozer shows how John Calvin already suggested what Wright seeks to accomplish, and that the theological category of adoption may be the best way to bring together the best that the traditional Protestants and the New Perspective has to offer.

I winced when Vanhoozer admitted that most systematic theologians do little with adoption.  It’s an important part of our salvation, but we generally focus on more controversial topics such as justification and sanctification.  Vanhoozer explained that adoption is able to account for both the Reformers’ focus on being accepted by God and the New Perspective’s emphasis on being in God’s family.  Here’s the money quote, which I roughly paraphrase from memory:  “What if the legal court is also an adoption court?  What if the same court that declares us to be innocent also declares us to belong to God’s family?”

If you are at all interested in the New Perspective (and you should be), you need to listen to this lecture.

7 Comments

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  1. Paul D. Adams May 18, 2010 — 4:06 pm

    Nice! Good fodder for the upcoming ETS annual in November (bought my plane ticket and secured the hotel room about 3 months ago!). Thanks for the pointer to Vanhoozer, Mike.

  2. Mike –

    Thanks for the heads up on this. Though not all Wright, what Vanhoozer says sounds all right to me!

  3. Mike, thanks for posting this. I second what you previewed above, and am grateful to be able to check out the podcast from a former professor (Trinity at the time) whom I admire. thanks, Ben

  4. Chuck Lawrence May 19, 2010 — 5:56 pm

    Excellent post. We are have lately been investigating the theology of adoption since we are currently in the process of adopting. The best book we have found on the subject is by Russell Moore – Adopted for Life. Highly Recommended.

  5. Hey Mike (this is the Mike from WTS) – I thought Vanhoozer did a nice job of, as you say, “disagreeing with another without being disagreeable”.

    Later on when they exchanged a bit more directly Vanhoozer laid down another money quote. After Wright waxed on about his categories, Vahoozer quipped:

    “My general strategy is to want more, not less. So I want all that and my stuff too.”

    I really liked that. Vanhoozer looks for ways to appropriate useful concepts from the NPP without giving up on what he takes to me right in Reformed soteriology. That seems to me to be a helpful ‘stance’ for doing theology in general.

  6. Mike,

    If you like that then you will be interested to read Michael F. Bird’s article “Incorporated Righteousness”. A lot of the things that Vanhoozer said in that lecture are laid out in more detail by Bird.

  7. Amen, Mike. Three cheers for both/and! Thanks for the heads-up on Bird’s article, Nick.

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