Against Future Justification According to N.T. Wright


It is here that the main issue comes out clearly against N. T. Wright’s (his website is shown above) novel approach to future justification:

According to the vision of final judgment in Revelation 20:11-15, it is only those outside of Christ who will be judged according to their works.  John says, “I saw the dead, great and small standing before the throne, and books were opened” (Rev. 20:12).  The question is, “To whom does John refer when speaking of ‘the dead’?”  On a simple reading, we might assume that he means everyone who had previously been dead prior to their resurrection, that is, all persons who ever lived.  But on more careful consideration, we should realize that those who are resurrected to death are only those who are resurrected for eternal condemnation.  Jesus noted two categories of persons resurrected in the future: some will be raised “to the resurrection of life,” whereas the wicked will rise “to the resurrection of judgment” (Jn. 5:29).  Now, John says in the Revelation, “the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done” (Rev. 20:12).  Here is the final judgment according to works, by which every man and woman outside of Christ will give an account before his holy judgment seat.  But John mentions another book, by which those who are raised to life are justified: “If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire” (Rev. 20:15).  By necessary inference, some are judged by their works and thrown into the lake of fire, and others are not condemned because their name is in the book of life.

Richard Phillips gives us a general argument against Wright’s position, which you can read fully here: If you are confused over the issue of Future Justification according to N.T. Wright, it basically says that the believer in Christ, is finally justified by works in the future. This is a departure from Classical Reformed teaching that was recovered by Luther and Calvin in the 17th century.

Again, this calls into question all these newer (modern) takes on Christian doctrines that departs from the history of the faith. Although I never believe in the extreme orthodoxy of some churches (e.g. Rome and Greek), but it is good to keep the understanding that our Christian forefathers had the same Spirit that is working in our contemporary believers today. It is wise not to discount the past just because we are lazy or because of pride in what is ‘novel’.

Sad to see so many in Malaysia trying to hold on to new concepts that were traditionally taught in their churches, not knowing that they are novel doctrines that just came out 100 years before. It is soberring to consider that we have to always be vigilant and come back to the bible  and to study it (not just memorise) by having the whole counsel of God as a measure against what we are taught.


One thought on “Against Future Justification According to N.T. Wright

  1. The only problem with your analysis is that N.T. Wright is explaining that the reformers had it wrong and the early church had it right. So trying to stay true to scripture by appealing to Luther and Calvin does not work here. Luther and Calvin were not historians of the early church and their thought and were trapped in a medieval and western perspective and because of that their lack of understanding, the biblical message given by Christ and Paul was lost. So appealing to Luther and Calvin is like appealing to the authority of the Catholic Church. It does not hold much weight.

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