The Future of Justification for the Rest of Us

Not everyone should read John Piper’s new book on justification. Some readers—perhaps those already aware of N. T. Wright and the New Perspective on Paul (NPP)—will want to read The Future of Justification from cover to cover. But not everyone.

In his most recent book, Piper engages Wright on academic turf. Are you familiar with 4QMMT? Or Ed Sanders and Jimmy Dunn? Most Christians don’t need to be. If you haven’t heard of the NPP, that’s fine. It’s a discussion that started among those with a very different view of the Bible than most evangelicals. Your good doctrine may have kept you out of this fray. And much of this book may be unhelpful to you in your context.

But if you’re in that category and you still want a taste of what Piper’s been working on the last couple years, here’s a plan for how to make the most of The Future of Justification:

  • Remember that you can read it free online (PDF).
  • Look at the table of contents. This will give you an overall picture of the book and a familiarity with it if you need to reference it in the future.
  • Read the introduction. Here you’ll see what’s at stake in the book. This will prove especially helpful for those who’ve never heard of Wright.
  • Read chapter 11, entitled “That in Him We Might Become the Righteousness of God.” This chapter is Piper’s effort “to give biblical foundation to the doctrine of the imputation of God’s righteousness in Christ through faith alone, now and for eternity.” If you only read one section of the book, make it this chapter and the short concluding chapter that follows.
  • Browse the appendices to see if anything grabs your interest. These weren’t written to interact with Wright specifically, but they’re included “to give…wider understanding of justification and related exegetical issues.”

Don’t feel out of the loop or way behind if you haven’t heard of Wright and the NPP. You shouldn’t necessarily feel the need to familiarize yourself with them. But reading some of these key sections and chapters may help strengthen your theology of justification and ward off attacks on this precious doctrine when they come.

David Mathis (@davidcmathis) is executive editor at desiringGod.org and an elder at Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis. He has edited several books, including Thinking. Loving. Doing., Finish the Mission, and Acting the Miracle, and is co-author of How to Stay Christian in Seminary.