When an Evangelical asks me about Wright, I usually direct them to the N. T. Wright page. However, I think that, I will now include Joel Garver’s entry about him and the controversy that has swollen around him. It is really excellent stuff.
At one point, Garver writes:
So part of the difficulty is that the biblical use of “impute” doesn’t match up exactly with how “impute” is used in our systematic theology. D.A. Carson agrees, by the way, in a recent essay where he interacts with Wright’s view, where Carson sees “imputation” (in the traditional systematic theological sense) as a theological implication of the New Testament text, a way of expressing and filling out the forensic character of justification in dogmatic language, rather than something that is directly taught by Scripture using the term in it’s lexical meaning.
I don’t know if Garver is thinking of the same source, which I have read, but his report corresponds quite well with what I read in Carson’s essay (originally a lecture) responding to Robert Gundry. What was interesting and frustrating about Carson’s argument was that it represented an excellent response to the problems raised by Gundry (and imagined to be involved in Wright) thoroughly enmeshed in a host of unnecessary and paranoid problems. The way Carson treated Don Garlington was especially horrific, worthy of any TR blog, bulletin board, or email dissing group, but beyond the pale of an academic delivering a pre-planned lecture. It really demonstrated (again) to me that what matters is not one’s confession, but one’s willingness to mistreat.
Finally, after dealing with the cause of controversy, Garver lists five reasons why Wright is poplular. The list, in my opinion, could just as easily be used to explain why their is an anti-Wright industry within the TR/RB world. A smart, gifted communicator who is both theoretically brilliant and practically helpful is a threat. One anti-Wright agitator has confessed more than once that all his brightest seminary students found Wright entirely persuasive, leaving him, apparantly, with nothing left to do but try to politicize against him so that the smarter potential students would learn not to go to his seminary.
A primal taboo has been violated:
Thou shalt admire and honor no one for their Pauline theology but us Presbyterians and Reformed Baptists.
This is apparantly the First Commandment of conservative Reformed intellectual pretention.