Thursday, December 20, 2007

The Gospel, Personal AND Cosmic

An excerpt from Trevin Wax's review of John Piper's new book, The Future of Justification: A Response to N.T Wright:

In other words, Piper and Wright are agreed on the gospel message and its effects, but the two scholars are looking at the gospel from two different perspectives. Piper is looking at the gospel as primarily about the salvation of individual sinners, which has as an effect the restoration of the entire cosmos. Wright is looking at the gospel as primarily the restoration of the entire cosmos, which includes the personal salvation of individual human beings.

There is a danger in both ways of viewing the gospel. Piper’s way of viewing the gospel could lead us to so emphasize personal conversion and the salvation of individuals that we forget the cosmic implications of the lordship of Christ which are manifested politically and socially. If we negate the cosmic effects of the gospel, we truncate the message and leave the Caesars (idols) of the world on their thrones.

On the other hand, Wright’s view of the gospel could lead us to so emphasize the cosmic implications of the gospel that we devote all of our time and energy to politics, social work, and philanthropy and leave little room or passion in our outlook for personal salvation, evangelistic activity and bold proclamation of the gospel for individual sinners. If we negate the personal, individualistic aspect of the gospel, we neuter the message by failing to call individuals to repentance and faith.

We needn’t choose between the personal and cosmic gospel. We need both dimensions. Thankfully, Piper and Wright agree that the gospel includes both these dimensions. But I would suspect that they would also argue that the primary lens through which we view and preach the gospel should be either personal or cosmic.


Trevin Wax's entire review series. For another brief review, go here.

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