Friday, November 09, 2007

Garlington on Piper and Murray and Being Bad

I told myself the Is John Piper Bad? Debate was over, at least on the blog. But (!), Mike Bird has posted a copy of a response by Don Garlington (here) to Philip Ryken's article on Justification and Union with Christ at Reformation 21 (here), where Ryken addresses Garlington's own response to Piper's Counted Righteous in Christ. During the course of Garlington's response to Ryken's stuff (and I don't want to open the imputation can of worms here, if you want those worms, go to Euangelion, especially for Mike Bird's defense against Ryken's criticism of his own position), he writes:
To take matters a step further, my principal problem with Piper is not imputation as such, but two other factors. For one, there is Piper’s attack on a salvation-historical hermeneutic. Those who embrace such a “new paradigm,” as Piper dubs it, are consigned to the company of Paul’s opponents in 2 Corinthians­, who, as Paul himself exclaims, are the agents of Satan disguising themselves as angels of light! As much as anything else, it is this breathtaking condemnation of other Christians that evoked my reply. For another, there is Piper’s emphatic denial that justification entails liberation from sin (emphasis mine). It is certainly ironic that Reformed exegetes of the likes of John Murray do affirm that justification is “from sin” (Acts 13:39; Rom 6:7) in the sense that Paul intends the phrase, i.e., liberation from sin’s dominance (Rom 6:18). Among other things, that is the function of justification. Such, I think, is a larger issue (me again) than imputation as a theological category.
Mike's own defense of his position is an important read - especially in the light of those mis-understanding/representing his view. After preaching myself last Sunday on Romans 14, I'm reminded that the strength of language used by some Christians against brothers indicates a loss of perspective. That same loss of perspective might be seen in the way that Ryken opens his article:

If there is one thing I love in life, it is the doctrine of justification by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone.