Debating the New Perspective As Distraction from Adam’s Sin Imputed and from the Elect’s Sin Imputed to Christ
A focus on “the active obedience” can become a distraction from the death, the righteousness. The death and resurrection of Christ is what is imputed. To make something else be imputed can only get our eyes off that.
Theologically I have no big problem saying that Christ’s life also is imputed. But I am still looking for texts, not only for what Reformed tradition says. And yes, this question makes me uncomfortable. because Shepherd and federal vision and NT Wright deny the active obedience.
But to tell the truth. I think the debate about the active obedience being imputed is a a distraction from three big things.
1. It’s a distraction from Adam’s sin imputed to humans. Wright does not have any place in this theology for original sin as Adam’s original guilt. Who does? We should be talking about that more.
2. It’s a distraction from the sins of the elect being imputed to Christ. This is the main thing. This is more important even that saying that Christ’s death is only for the elect or saying the Christ’s death is effective to save all for whom He died.
I didn’t see this when I was lost. Of course it’s true that, if God only imputed the sins of the elect to Christ, then Christ only died for the elect (and that this death is effective). But we need to think not only about Christ’s successful death but also about God’s righteousness and the justice of Christ’s death.
Focusing on “active obedience” can sometimes distract from this. Because lots of folks who get heated up about the new perspective never talk about Christ’s just death for the elect only.
3. It’s a distraction from the truth that justification is not conditioned on faith as its instrumental cause. After all these folks like John Piper fight with Wright about faith not being the “active obedience”, then they turn around and say that God counts the faith (the apology) as the righteousness, and teach that the righteousness is “appropriated” by the condition of faith.
So, on the one hand, I don’t want to be a distraction by debating “active obedience as vicarious law-keeping” (or by debating if there was a “covenant of works” with Adam. ) I want to take sides with these folks against the new perspective. But on the other hand, most of these folks don’t believe in Christ’s just death only for the elect. If they did, they would teach it.