Patrick Schreiner

N.T. Wright’s View on the Debate

In Scripture, Theology on 11/22/2010 at 9:04 AM

I don’t know if you noticed but N.T. Wright commented on Denny Burk’s blog post.  I think it gives his view of how he thought the discussion went.  Here are his two comments.  (P.S.  The first one only makes sense if you read Denny’s post).

Denny–nice to meet you again yesterday. But don’t get too excited. I haven’t retracted anything that I meant in my many, many earlier statements on this subject. How could I, since I was simply stating what Paul states rather than trying to squash him into a dogmatic framework? Sadly I didn’t have time to check anything in my own earlier writings after I received Tom Schreiner’s paper — I was on the road in a complicated trip. Clearly I did say ‘basis’. But — as you will see from my commentary on Romans 2.1-16 — I have always made it clear, as I did yesterday, that I did not mean or intend the kind of thing that clearly some theologians think that word ‘must’ mean. Since the word ‘basis’ is not itself a biblical word I’m not claiming any great status for it. Obviously people have read it without reading the other things I say and then jumped to conclusions which are not warranted by the fuller exposition I give.
I don’t normally look at, let alone respond to, blogsite comments, but a good friend drew my attention to what had been said. Let me say it again: all I am saying is what Paul says in Romans 2 (and elsewhere). Our own technical terms (’basis’ etc) are fluid and flexible in our discourse and, like all summary terms, need to be teased out in terms of the larger discourse — Paul’s, and mine…
The point, again, is that by the Spirit those who are already justified by faith have their lives transformed, and the final verdict will be in accordance with that transformation, imperfect though it remains.
I thought it was a very good discussion. But I wouldn’t have said that the clarification of ‘basis’ was the highlight!
Tom Wright


Reflecting overnight, I think two of the key moments in the debate — and it’s a pity you didn’t mention them — were Tom Schreiner’s agreement with me that some of the push-back I have received, appealing to tradition rather than scripture, is basically neo-catholic in its method. This, as I said in my paper, makes it heavily ironic when folk accuse people like me of being crypto-catholic in our theology. It also makes it the more interesting in that it is some of TS’s colleagues who were guilty of that position.
Second, TS in his paper, and Frank Thielman in his earlier work, make it clear that they agree with me on the business of ‘extended exile’. This, too, puts them at odds with quite a few of my critics, including again some of TS’s colleagues.
But the really good thing about the debate, apart from the cheerful and Christian spirit in which it was carried out, was that we actually discussed some specific texts in considerable detail rather than dealing in slogans. That is what real debates ought to be about, and what blogsites are not always very good at.

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  1. I wouldn’t know what to think of NTW wrote a comment on my blog, especially pushing against something I said…

  2. [...] the basis of” works, despite his denial at ETS that he had done so (see here and here). But Tom retorts in Denny’s comments section that in such cases he was merely summarizing Paul’s own occasional words, rather than [...]

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