“Amateur Plunges”

In my previous post, Scott Clark chided James Dunn and N.T. Wright for “amateur plunges” into historical studies. From what I’ve read about these things, that was very kind.

Nevertheless, here is Taylor Marshall crowing, in Christianity Today, about how the NPP led him to Catholicism:

He said Wright’s work shifted his assumptions so he could understand the Council of Trent’s position. Marshall does not believe Wright holds to the full Catholic view. But he said Wright’s critique led him to conclude that the Reformers departed from Scripture by teaching “forensic justification through the imputed alien righteousness of Christ.”… “If you buy into Wright’s approach to covenantal theology, then you’ve already taken three steps toward the Catholic Church. Keep following the trail and you’ll be Catholic,” said Marshall…


So Marshall’s “three steps” are based on amateurish plunges. Much of Roman Catholic understanding is built on faulty knowledge. I’m going to put up a posting in the near future about how the Apostolic Fathers misunderstood Paul’s concept of “grace.” This was documented extensively by T.F. Torrance in his work “Apostolic Fathers and the Doctrine of Grace.” Augustine sort of got “grace” right but he misunderstood justification. Aquinas built most of his theology thinking that “Dionysius” was the actual Areopagite from Acts 17; but the Dionysius he was quoting was actually a sixth century Neoplatonist.

Catholics constantly get their sources wrong, and yet they just as loudly cry “infallibility.” That’s a disjuncture that just won’t stand.

By the way, here’s the real N.T. Wright on Catholicism:

In particular, Trent gave the wrong answer, at a deep level, to the nature/grace question, which is what’s at the root of the Marian dogmas and devotions which, despite contrary claims, are in my view neither sacramental, transformational, communal nor eschatological. Nor biblical.


Published by John Bugay

"We are His workmanship," His poiema, His "poetry." If you've ever studied poetry, or struggled to write a poem, you understand the care God takes to "work all things together for good" in our lives. For this reason, and many others, I believe in the Sovereignty of God. I have seen His hand working in my life, and I submit myself to His merciful will, with all my being.

4 replies on ““Amateur Plunges””

  1. So Wright’s amateur plunges into history mean that his theology, which is Marshall’s concern, is also amateurish?


  2. Wright is one of the brightest, most articulate voices around today. This can (and I believe should) be acknowledged even by those who aren’t in doctrinal agreement with him. Wright is a bona fide Biblical scholar whose research isn’t rightly criticized as “amateurish” whether it’s historical, Biblical, anthropological or what have you. I’d argue that none of Bishop Wright’s efforts could be characterized as “amateurish.” The man’s genius is undeniable. His thoughtfulness is probably apparent when he’s doing something as simple as boiling an egg! thanks. herbert


  3. Herbert: I am not saying that Wright is not a bright and articulate scholar. Couple of things though:

    1. The Heidelblog link I provided goes into quite a bit more detail than I did. I may not be competent to report “amateurishness” in Wright, but Scott Clark (D.Phil, Oxford) is.

    2. I listened to a D.A. Carson series on the NPP (iTunes.rts.edu). Carson says that while Sanders, Dunn, and Wright essentially say correct things about second temple Judaism, their emphasis on this leads to a distortion of Paul’s teaching. It is a distrotion because they treat it as if it were the only influence on Paul’s thinking. But that is clearly not the case, as Carson and others have demonstrated.

    3. Clark quotes Dunn as having admitted as much.


    That is, Dunn criticizes Luther’s interpretation of Paul, without having read Luther’s interpretation of Paul. That is very short-sighted.

    4. Wright’s comment, that Trent got nature/grace wrong, deserves a whole lot of attention, doesn’t it?


Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: