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Die ferne Vision des N.T. Wright

Mark Seifrid kritisiert in der aktuellen Ausgabe des JETS die Rechtfertigungslehre von N.T. Wright scharf. Luther habe seit seiner reformatorischen Entdeckung das Rechtfertigungsverständnis zurückgewiesen, welches Wright vertritt. Wright steht für Seifrid in der Tradition des Tridentinums (1545– 1563).

As Wright’s recent work again makes clear, his vision of justification is predicated on a confusion of »faith« and »faithfulness.« On the one hand, Wright is able to speak in relatively traditional terms of Abraham’s faith as »the sign of a genuine humanity, responding out of total human weakness and helplessness to the grace and power of God.« On the other hand, he immediately follows this description with the assertion that: »›faithfulness‹ has all along (so it seems) been the thing that God requires from his people.« The divine plan »has been fulfilled by the Messiah’s faithfulness (pistis),« so that »the badge of the covenant people from then on will be the same: pistis, faith, confessing that Jesus is Lord. Faith of this sort is the true-Israel, true-human sign, the badge of God’s redeemed people.« Questions naturally arise out of this confusion. Is faith to be equated with faithfulness? If »faith« is to be equated with »faithfulness,« shall we say that we are »justified by faithfulness«? If so, how much »faithfulness« is necessary for us to be justified at the final judgment? It is hard to see any difference between Wright’s correlation of »faith« and »faithfulness« and the Thomistic and Tridentine emphasis on »faith formed by love« (fides caritate formata) that finally saves, in contrast to »unformed faith« (fides informis).

In joining »faith« to »faithfulness« Wright construes faith as fundamentally active. For this reason, »faith« for him serves as a »sign,« »emblem,« or »badge,« a visible mark of the Christian. Precisely here Wright sets himself at odds with the apostle, for whom faith remains fundamentally passive and hidden, even though it is operative in the whole of life. God alone sees the hidden Jew and the circumeision of the heart (Rom 2:29). The obedience of faith is an obedience of reeeption that no longer seeks to secure life and righteousness by Performance, but simply grasps the divine word that announces the Christ who is present in the Gospel. All distance between God and the human being, between our present state and final justification, has been spanned by the crueified and risen Lord. Ironically, in his active coneeption of faith that sets distance between the human being and God, Wright meets his bete noire, Rudolf Bultmann. While Bultmann internalizes faith in existential decision, Wright externalizes it in the outward badge of faith(fulness). For Paul, faith is God’s creation. Both Wright and Bultmann turn faith into a moral demand that must be actualized, and thereby lose God’s absolute, unqualified gift of himself to us in Christ. Consequently, neither of them has a taste for the cross as a »great pleasure of our existence.«

Der Artikel »The Near Word of Christ and the Distant Vision of N.T. Wright« (JETS, Vol. 54, No. 2) wird in Kürze hier für einige Monate einsehbar sein.