What do you do with a helpful book on an important subject written by a man who is in serious error in a central and crucial area of Christian doctrine? In this case, the error is so fundamental that some would even call him a heretic, or at least that he believes or teaches heresy in this one area.

I’m talking about N. T. Wright who has written a short book on the Psalms and why we should sing them, a subject that is especially dear to my own heart. He writes so eloquently, so originally, persuasively, so TRUTHFULLY.

And yet Wright has also been responsible for popularizing one of the most dangerous and devastating redefinitions of justification by faith in history, a distortion that is continuing to wreak havoc in churches and in individual lives.

I started reading Wright’s book on the Psalms a few days ago, not really expecting much from it, and was immediately overwhelmed by the power of his prose, the force of his arguments, the startlingly fresh insights, and especially the beauty of his writing. I posted a couple of quotes on social media and within minutes: “How can you quote a heretic?” emails started arriving.

I’d love to review the book on this blog, summarize Wright’s insights, provide sample quotations, point to strengths and weaknesses, etc.

But should I?

What are the options?

1. Don’t read anything by Wright on any subject because he’s in such error in a central Christian doctrine. But that would rule out people like C.S. Lewis, John Stott, Alexander Whyte, and Thomas Chalmers, all men who wrote outstanding Christian books, and yet who made serious errors in other important areas, at least at some points in their lives.

And where do we draw the line? Is John Piper off limits because he believes in continuation of the charismatic gifts? Is Tim Keller off limits because he believes in some version of theistic evolution?

2. Read the book and learn from it, but don’t tell anyone, share anything from it, or review it favorably. For my work, I have to read quite a lot of books that I wouldn’t want to publicly discuss because of the possibility of younger Christians reading them without discernment.

It’s been argued: ”We have other reliable articles and books on Psalm singing. OK, they are not very accessible or enjoyable, but at least they are sound.”

Soundly unread.

Whatever else the Wright conundrum teaches us, it’s that we need to work and pray for far better communication skills. Why is it that the devil is so skilled at dressing up ugly error in beautiful clothes, while we seem to be experts at covering up beautiful truth in ugly layers of literary mediocrity?

3. Read, review, and even recommend the book but repeatedly point out that Wright is in error on justification (though it doesn’t appear in this book). The problem with this is that some may not pick up on the warnings. They might hear, “Oh David Murray recommended N. T. Wright on the Psalms,” go off and buy it, enjoy it as much as I did, and it becomes a gateway drug to theological heresy. Throughout his book on the Psalms, Wright repeatedly references and recommends other books he’s written, all of them attractively titled, but some of them containing dangerous error.

So I’m torn; pulled in different directions. Wanting to bless people by using this book to advance the cause of Psalm singing. Yet, terribly afraid of being a curse to people by opening the door to soul-destroying error.

I started out this post inclining towards #3. But as I close, I’m inclining to #2. Much though I’d love more Psalm-singing, you don’t need to be a Psalm-singer to get to heaven. But go wrong on justification by faith, and the consequences are terrifying.

  • Alastair Manderson

    Dr Murray,

    My denomination recently had an editorial in it’s magazine looking at the works of Alexander Whyte who quoted liberally from Roman Catholics and Higher Critics. Such that from the pulpit of Stornoway Free Church Reverend Kenneth MacRae urged people not to make use of Whyte’s shorter catechism.

    I think it depends to whom you reccomend such a work. Many Christians are , like yourself, able to read with discernment and will benefit from the reccomendation. Others can be more easily misled, as a Pastor this is your worst fear and its possible to over-react.

    At the same time, if you endorsed even a paragraph of prose by, say, a Romanist (I remember being very distressed when a Free Church minister reccomended a book by the Pope of Rome at the time of his visit to Glasgow.) or a Mormon book – you would set the heather on fire. This shows maybe to lax an attitude towards the dangers of men like the New Persepective chaps. It is good to have under-shephereds caring for the Lord’s flock and alerting us to these danagers. So perhaps the consistent thing is to steer clear of them all. Read the work and reccomend it to discerning and strong Christians, but spare the flock from the ravenous wolf.

  • http://adaughterofthereformation.wordpress.com Rachel Miller

    A fourth option would be to write your own book on the Psalms.

    My sense with Wright is that the danger of his bad theology (and it’s not just his views of justification, but also his Christology) is so strong that the warnings you’d have to give aren’t worth the benefits of recommending his books.

  • http://highplainsparson.wordpress.com Riley

    It just occured to me that if Psalm-singing advocates recommend a book by NT Wright, it could have the opposite of the desired effect, regardless of how interesting the book might be. It could turn people off from the Psalms because of the associations his name brings.

  • David Gallie

    Surely a book review is just that. It is not an endorsement of everything the individual has written. Why deny those who would welcome your opinion? Why not review the book, but also review his work on Justification…. which I confess I don’t understand, preferring the understandable exegesis of Calvin and Luther.

  • http://billmclain.net Bill

    Yes we do wrestle with these and not only these but many more. But I think you gave good examples, C.S. Lewis, John Stott, Alexander Whyte, and Thomas Chalmers.
    John Piper he believes in continuation of the charismatic gifts and I agree with him but also listen to John MacArthur.
    Acts 17:11
    Now these were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of the mind, examining the Scriptures daily, whether these things were so. .
    2 Timothy 2:15
    Give diligence to present thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, handling aright the word of truth.

  • http://www.twitter.com/alistairbruce Alistair Bruce

    David, Thank you for this post.

    Years ago I listened to an Alistair Begg sermon from the Keswick convention where he was expounding Eph 4v29:

    29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

    In applying this verse Alistair said that we should ask ourselves 3 questions before speaking. I think they also apply to blogging, reviewing, emailing, and tweeting as well:

    1. Is what I am about to say true?
    2. Is what I am about to say kind?
    3. Is what I am about to say necessary?

    Time after time, I find that my intended communication passes test 1 and 2, but fails on 3. Just because I have an observation does not mean that I need to communicate to another human being.

    I greatly benefit from your carefully considered writings on this blog.

    Alistair (Bruce, not Begg!)

  • http://sayable.net Lore Ferguson

    My thoughts:

    One of the greatest problems in the Church today is, I believe, a lack of discernment. My generation absorbs. We absorb and then spew out soundbites. So it is not enough to have men and women in leadership simply reading, but not helping us parse the material at hand, and especially not modeling what a discerning reader does.

    If you are a discerning reader, that’s great for you, but teach us to do the same. I would choose option three every time, and do in my own life. My testimony is in part the result of learning to parse information discerningly, to be set before a smorgasbord of theological views and HAVE to wrestle with all of them before I could see the gospel plainly. We don’t want to make little parrots, we want to make disciples. Part of discipleship is discernment.

    The wise man built on the rock, but he didn’t just set his house on a big boulder—it would have been just as shaky as a house built on sand. A wise man digs down DEEP until he hits rock. A discerning reader does the same.

    Read on, I say, and review on. And warn on too.

    • TJ

      I completely agree. Instead of protecting people from being exposed to erroneous views we should help them learn to discern truth from error so that they can read Write on the Psalms and be helped and then read Write on Paul and realize he’s off base. That’s no easy task but I think protecting people from reading erroneous views (or only presenting it in the form of a critique) actually prevents them from growing spiritual and can even make them idolatrously dependent on their leaders.

      If the church is so immature in their faith and lacking in discernment that we can’t even tell them to read a good book in fear they will then read a bad book and be led into heresy then I think we are failing them in greater ways.

  • Peter Overduin

    I think its a dangerous road to potential spitritual pride when we decide we will withhold someting positive from someone who may be in error on another matter. We can hardly, in love, correct a brother when we deny him ANY hearing on anything.

    In that case, we should never read John MacArthur, who in spite of his brilliance, faithfulness and passion for the true gospel of Christ, articulates an eschatology that is so out of whack that I cant believe it comes from the same man. Also, I’m with VanTil on his apologetics, but I would never suggest Keller is wrong.

    Lets give credit where credit is due, even if with a disclaimer.

  • Scott Maciver

    I would agree with the comment above concerning discernment. I remember reading some time back of a Minister who said that the biggest problem in the church today is a lack of discernment. They are unwise in who they follow, what they listen to and what they read. I think there is a lot of truth in the observation.

    “My people are destroyed for a lack of knowledge” (Hosea 4:6).

    However well intended a review of the book may be and however worthwhile the content of that book might be, I would consider that the danger of intentionally directing believers towards a heretic would far outweigh any benefits associated with reading this particular book.

    Even with a disclaimer, the danger is that the lines will get blurred and the reformed are spoken of in the same breath as heretics. We’re given repeated warnings in Scripture to take heed of and beware of heretics and I think it would be wise to keep away from recommending heretics in any sense of the word.

  • http://www.gracenevada.com Brian Borgman

    Wright is the new bogey man and many don’t know that he has made serious contributions to biblical theology. His work on the resurrection and even some of his popular works are incredibly rich and powerfully written. Of course Wright is wrong on justification, but are we familiar enough with his view on justification to distinguish it from, let’s say, James Dunn? Or do we simply have this big broad New Perspective brush? I wonder if those who call out “heretic” read CS Lewis? Or Dietrich Bonhoeffer? I think Reformed people should be discerning, charitable and test all things and hold fast to that which is good.

    • Marie Peterson

      I (discerningly) enjoyed “How God Became King” and have “Surprised By Hope” on my to-read list.

      Also, I saw a quote from his new book “Paul and the Faithfulness of God” that has caused some to wonder if he’s shifting in the right direction on justification:

      “[E]ven though Romans 3.21–31 is part of the same flow of argument as Romans 5—8, and Galatians 2.15–21 is part of the same flow of argument as Galatians 4—6, and even though these two larger arguments do develop a view of the spirit’s work in the transformation of character which can properly be seen both as virtue and as theōsis, this does not take away from the fact that when Paul speaks of initial justification by faith he means it as a very particular, specific claim. This ‘justification’ means that, ahead of any transformation of character other than the bare, initial pistis whose whole nature character is by definition to look helplessly away from itself and gratefully towards the saving work of the Messiah, this person is welcomed into the family on the basis of that confession of faith and nothing else. The inaugurated-eschatological assurance which this welcome provides is thus both forensic (the verdict of ‘not guilty’ in the present will be repeated in the future) and covenantal (full membership in Abraham’s family is granted at once and will be reaffirmed in the resurrection). The two dimensions join up in practical ecclesiology: the mutual welcome which Paul urges in Romans 14 and 15 is the concrete, bodily form which ‘forgiveness’ is supposed to take in the present time.”

      What are the errors of Alexander Whyte and Thomas Chalmers?

      • Marie Peterson

        Googled it…

        Thomas Chalmers was a Gap Creationist, and so was A. W. Pink. Of course, there’s also the debate about whether or not B. B. Warfield believed in theistic evolution- and then there’s this passage he wrote about Calvin, of all people!:

        “It should scarcely be passed without remark that Calvin’s doctrine of creation is, if we have understood it aright, for all except the souls of men, an evolutionary one. The “indigested mass,” including the “promise and potency” of all that was yet to be, was called into being by the simple fiat of God. But all that has come into being since – except the souls of men alone – has arisen as a modification of this original world-stuff by means of the interaction of its intrinsic forces. Not these forces apart from God, of course: Calvin is a high theist, that is, supernaturalist, in his ontology of the universe and in his conception of the whole movement of the universe. To him God is the prima causa omnium and that not merely in the sense that all things ultimately – in the world-stuff – owe their existence to God; but in the sense that all the modifications of the world-stuff have taken place under the directly upholding and governing hand of God, and find their account ultimately in His will. But they find their account proximately in “second causes”; and this is not only evolutionism but pure evolutionism. What account we give of these second causes is a matter of ontology; how we account for their existence, their persistence, their action – the relation we conceive them to stand in to God, the upholder and director as well as creator of them. Calvin’s ontology of second causes was, briefly stated, a very pure and complete doctrine of concursus, by virtue of which he ascribed all that comes to pass to God’s purpose and directive government. But that does not concern us here. What concerns us here is that he ascribed the entire series of modifications by which the primal “indigested mass,” called “heaven and earth,” has passed into the form of the ordered world which we see, including the origination of all forms of life, vegetable and animal alike, inclusive doubtless of the bodily form of man, to second causes as their proximate account. And this, we say, is a very pure evolutionary scheme. He does not discuss, of course, the factors of the evolutionary process, nor does he attempt to trace the course of the evolutionary advance, nor even expound the nature of the secondary causes by which it was wrought. It is enough for him to say that God said, “Let the waters bring forth. . . . Let the earth bring forth,” and they brought forth. Of the interaction of forces by which the actual production of forms was accomplished, he had doubtless no conception: he certainly ventures no assertions in this field. How he pictured the process in his imagination (if he pictured it in his imagination) we do not know. But these are subordinate matters. Calvin doubtless had no theory whatever of evolution; but he teaches a doctrine of evolution. He has no object in so teaching except to preserve to the creative act, properly so called, its purity as an immediate production out of nothing. All that is not immediately produced out of nothing is therefore not created – but evolved. Accordingly his doctrine of evolution is entirely unfruitful. The whole process takes place in the limits of six natural days. That the doctrine should be of use as an explanation of the mode of production of the ordered world, it was requisite that these six days should be lengthened out into six periods – six ages of the growth of the world. Had that been done Calvin would have been a precursor of the modern evolutionary theorists. As it is, he only forms a point of departure for them to this extent – that he teaches, as they teach, the modification of the original world-stuff into the varied forms which constitute the ordered world, by the instrumentality of second causes – or as a modern would put it, of its intrinsic forces. This is his account of the origin of the entire lower creation.”


    • Ileana Forment


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  • http://thebreadline.wordpress.com David Bissett

    Thanks David — this is a tough situation we seem to increasingly face. As a pastor I have defaulted to view #2 when the author is connected to serious heresy on matters of first importance. Only on occasion do I share gleanings with others (with disclaimers), and that only with selected individuals. Discernment is so lacking in our day, this is certainly an ongoing matter for prayer. db

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  • Jeff

    It is amazing the unwarranted backlash that Wright has received. His contributions to orthodox, faithful scholarship are far reaching. He has not denied the recent terminology used within current popular evangelical faith. However, he has rightfully expanded our vision about a faithful reading of justification. Numerous times he emphasizes that he does not dismiss evangelical justification. He just can’t win in some popular circles. He tries to be faithful in demonstrating broader context of justification and he is lumped together with those who dismiss Christ’s atonement. I spoke with N.T. Wright at a conference recently and he is baffled by backlash. In his academic circles and oversees he is often bashed as an ultra-conservative on these issues. Reread Wright without a chip on your shoulder folks.

    • Jim

      Jeff, good comments. I can imagine if I was the one who uttered “make your calling and election sure”. David, I imagine that you would challenge my orthodoxy. Apparently the Apostles had no trouble in using this and similar language. Yes, NT Wright has redefined the word justification. And yes he does say there is no imputation of Christ’s righteousness to the believer (it is not necessary in Wright’s view). Let your readers discover NT Wright’s works – there is so much (and he does write a lot) to learn and be stimulated by. And some day there will be a better understanding (and surely wording) of his insights on what he calls justification. It is not what most of us would call justification, but nevertheless he is trying to deal with concerns that many of us reformed-types like to avoid (e.g. rewards).

    • Darryl

      Thank you, Jeff. Well said. I don’t get all of the N. T. Wright bashing, myself. (Of course, I’m not Reformed either).

      When I first read him I was struck by the fact that he was the first writer I’d read in many years that actually taught the doctrine of the bodily resurrection of believers (as opposed to a Platonic concept that seems to infest evangelical and fundamentalist churches). I’d taught the literal bodily resurrection for over 30 years and was thrilled to see a scholar who actually wrote about the same thing (instead of just assuming it)! You want to talk about “heresy” vs “orthodoxy”? 8^) Let’s talk about resurrection!

      I have read Wright extensively and he has pointed out many times in his writings that he is not dismissing the evangelical view of justification. He points out though there is more to justification.

      So thank you for your post. I appreciate someone in this thread standing up for the man. N. T. Wright is a scholar–and no, I am certain I don’t agree with him in every instance, but he is no heretic!

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  • http://www.redeemer.com Tim Keller

    Hi David –

    I think it’s important to keep in mind that my view on origins (old earth, historical Adam and Eve, not six 24-hr day creation) is the same view as that of J.Gresham Machen and Carl Henry and B.B.Warfield and Meredith Kline and Michael Horton. My views do not differ in any way from theirs. So if I and they are said to believe some form of ‘theistic evolution’, and if that view makes the rest of a person’s views suspect, then I think you are ruling out a lot of good Reformed teaching and writing.

    • http://headhearthand.org/blog/ David Murray

      Tim, I’m sorry, I think I either failed to explain myself properly or else you misread me. Probably the former. What I was trying to say was that if we were to go down the line of rejecting everyone’s teaching that did not agree with us even on important points of doctrine, we’d be left with very few theologians standing! I quoted you and John as examples of men that while we disagree with on one important point, we’d never want to go the extent of never reading or benefitting from their preaching and teaching.

      I use your own books and DVDs continually, John’s too (and all the men you quote). I even wrote an unofficial study guide to your book on marriage which has been downloaded thousands of times! http://headhearthand.org/blog/2012/06/11/unofficial-study-guide-for-the-meaning-of-marriage/
      So, we’re on the same page here I believe. I just think that with such a central truth as justification by faith, Wright’s error puts him on the other side of the line of safety.

      Sorry for the miscommunication.

      • http://www.redeemer.com Tim Keller

        Hi David -

        Sorry, now I’m the one who miscommunicated. You don’t reject in toto the writings of those who don’t agree on origins (by the way, I could have put Jim Boice in that list too.) You made it clear that wasn’t your position nor your counsel. I wasn’t criticizing you, but pointing out more good Reformed thinkers and writers you would have to rule out if you fail to make the distinction between what you call ‘central truths’ of justification and matters like origins. There does seem to be an increasing swath of Christians–at least on the internet–who can’t make that distinction. Thanks for you blogpost. I appreciated it.

        • http://headhearthand.org/blog/ David Murray

          Thanks Tim.

  • http://www.misfitsministries.org Keith Cox

    Well, two things I guess. I actually bought Wright’s book on the Psalms, and though I have yet to complete it I do agree that Wright is a talented communicator who is able to reveal some important truths about the Psalms. I also agree that his theology is wanting, particularly in the area of what is being called “New Perspectives” on Paul. But I am concerned about two aspects of this post.

    The first is the call for some sort of ideological or doctrinal “purity,” which to me smacks of phariseeism. Can we be so certain of our doctrinal understanding that we can condemn outright the teachings of another? It’s a sticky issue, there are obvious (and maybe even not so obvious) fallacies that I feel it is important to expose. But I must approach my relations with others with an attitude of humility. The Pharisees were absolutely convinced, based on their own understanding of scripture, that Jesus was a heretic and a blasphemer. Likewise the disciples on the road to Emmaus knew the scriptures well but were not able to recognize Jesus when they met him face to face. And, moving closer to our own time and theological outlook, the reformers adhered to a number of what we consider to be heresies and errors, and yet we still point to them as heroes of the faith. Luther was an anti-Semite. Calvin condoned and indeed encouraged the execution of Servetus. Are we to stop reading Luther and Calvin because some of their beliefs and actions run clearly in opposition to our current understanding of scripture?

    This then leads to my second concern which is that the article almost blatantly assigns Wright the role of Satan himself. I think we must be careful in leveling such polemic. Recall that the Pharisees, based on “pure” theological understanding, accused Jesus of performing miracles by the power of Satan, and that he in turn revealed it was they, and not he, who were so motivated.

    Accompanying the comparison of Wright’s teachings (and maybe Wright himself) as Satanic is the suggestion that hell fire awaits all who somehow are ensnared by his heresies. It suggests that people who might otherwise be bound for glory can be tricked into giving up their salvation. I would suggest that such a prospect is as far from the Reformed understanding of Grace and Justification as Wright’s. God is either sovereign in His election of the saints, or He is not. Salvation is entirely God’s work, which cannot be undone by apostasy, by trickery, nor even by inadvertent (or even deliberate) theological misunderstanding.

    Perhaps it would be better to follow the advice of the Apostle Paul to the church at Thessalonica where he urges them to “test everything, hold fast what is good.” (1 Thes. 5:21 ESV). We can honestly disagree and reject what we consider to be false teaching without assuming the role of God, by whom we shall all, in all of our theological error, be one day judged.

    • Amplitudo

      You are on the right track in questioning the men reformed tradition esteems as “heroes of the faith.” Follow that thought. The end of it is a proper understanding that we are all humans with feet of clay, and none of us should be esteemed too highly. Luther, Knox, Zwingli, Calvin, etc. were mistaken on a good many things. Would they have even entered into fellowship with the modern protestant Christian? We can only hope that we who fight the battle today are remembered as fondly, despite our errors, as we remember them.

      Nothing is lost in learning from historic Christianity, or even blatant heretics. But not much is gained from expounding on anything but Scripture. Let those who seek the writings of such men find them on their own, or direct them if they ask; but if time is to be spent analyzing anything for the edification of the saints, why would one choose to expound anything other than holy writ?

      Regarding election and revelation:

      1 Corinthians 2:9 But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. 2:10 But God hath revealed [them] unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. 2:11 For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. 2:12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.

      Is our understanding of God’s Word and truth thanks to our reason and ability, or the Holy Spirit? Is not the New Testament abundantly clear that those whom God calls, He also equips, chastens, protects, and guides along their journey? What of the perseverance of the saints?

      I just don’t see in my Bible an electing love that allows one of God’s sheep to apostatize. God is not only sovereign in salvation, He is sovereign in every aspect of the lives of all humanity. While His sheep may struggle with much doubt and darkness, He abandons none of them to trickery, apostasy, or misunderstanding on core truths.

      • http://www.misfitsministries.org Keith Cox

        “He abandons none of them to trickery, apostasy, or misunderstanding on core truths.”

        That is precisely my point. I did not mean to suggest that those who apostatize will be saved. I meant, instead, that they were never saved, and have no hope of salvation.

        • Amplitudo

          I thought that might be what you were getting at.

          I wholeheartedly agree!

    • Brian Midmore

      Sense at last. I love wright’s books which are obviously misunderstood. Can anyone tell me what the great heresy is that wright has made? He believes in justification by faith, we are Gods people by faith alone is his position. He does not believe in double imputation but his claim is that this is not in the bible. Some disagree but his position is reasonable and arguable. Does this really amount to heresy, if so it is only in the context of a very narrowly defined Christianity. But defined by who?

      • Darryl

        Well said.

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  • Jonathan

    What’s wrong with Alexander Whyte?

    • http://headhearthand.org/blog/ David Murray

      I’m afraid that Alexander Whyte became quite liberal in his later years, even defending higher critics in the church courts. He wanted church professors to have liberty to pursue their studies without interference from church courts. He even wanted the heretic George Adam Smith to be his assistant pastor. He was attracted to ROman Catholic mysticism and attended Roman Catholic mass with appreciation when on vacation in Europe. He became increasingly ecumenical and even revived the leader of the Bahais into his home and had him address a meeting there.

  • http://www.cofec.org/news Peter Ratcliff

    I read one small book by Wright supposedly answering Piper who was rarely mentioned in the book. However I found that Wright included some obscene comments and this was sufficient to convince me that I was reading the writing of a clever but perverted mind. Some may dismiss such criticism but I protest that we have the Spirit of God and that it is not difficult for simply Christians to discern and reject heresy. Add to this the very plain heresy of Wright when as Bishop of Durham he invited the Pope to speak and it is very clear that very great care needs to be taken. Titus 3:10 is sufficient.

    • Tom Estin Agathos

      If you can discern “heresy”, what about people who disagree with you? It doesn’t work to say we can discern heresy because other orthodox Christians will see it otherwise. Its time to engage the brain, not feelings. The Spirit can often speak more clearly to an active and engaged mind rather than one shut off. And Piper just excommunicated hamburgers, so not too sure he’s a great mind leading the way to strong churches.

  • Ileana Forment

    One of the worst places for a new Christian to get lost in is a Christian Bookstore. If Christian men and women who are discerning dont review books from heretical or heterodox authors, how are those little ones to know? Please keep reviewing!

  • Jared

    To call someone a heretic because they have the wrong view on justification or christology is unbelievably silly. You may not agree with Wright’s view on justification or his interpretation of Romans, but that doesn’t make him a heretic. This is one of the leading Jesus scholars who has written one of the most prolific books of all time in defending Jesus’ bodily resurrection. The author says “And yet Wright has also been responsible for popularizing one of the most dangerous and devastating redefinitions of justification by faith in history, a distortion that is continuing to wreak havoc in churches and in individual lives.” What complete nonsense. Even if Wright is wrong (which he is not), his views won’t really hurt anyone in the long run. I wonder if the author has even read Wright’s four volume series about Christian Origins. This sort of nonsensical polarizing language continues to divide Christians. It is sinful behavior.

    • http://headhearthand.org/blog/ David Murray

      Jared, thanks for modeling how not to be polarizing or divisive ;)

  • River La Belle

    Hi, Dr. Murray,
    I’d like your advice on where, indeed, to draw the line on what we read from those with whom we disagree on one or two issues. You could post here, or send me a personal email. This is something that I have been wrestling with and in turmoil over for the past several years.
    I hope you have the time amidst your busy schedule to share your ideas, but even if you could just point me to something to read that would be helpful, I would really appreciate it. Any light shed would be happily received.

    P.S. I am immensely enjoying and profiting from your podcasts! My favorite part so far is your dramatic presentation of the cleansing of the leper: “Free as a bird!” It led me to meditate on what Jesus has done for my soul. Thank you for your blessed words, sir!

    • http://headhearthand.org/blog/ David Murray

      River,Thanks for your kind words about the podcast. Glad you enjoyed them.

      Your first question is difficult to answer. A lot depends on level of knowledge and maturity, the person’s calling, the purpose of reading such books, etc.

      The best book I’ve read on discernment is Tim Challies, The Discipline of Discernment.

      • River La Belle

        Just noticed your reply, Dr. Murray. Thank you. I will look into Challies’ book. Warmly,

  • Tim Yakich

    I have been born again since Oct 27, 2009. (I’m 50 years old) Since that time, after reading many “Christian” books from many different “Christian” authors, watched many different “Christian” preachers/teachers on many different “Christian” t.v. channels/websites, I have come to the conclusion that I will read the Bible using the inductive bible-study method and will take what all these other folks say with a grain of salt. This is my walk with Jesus and I will have to answer to Him personally. Really, what do I care what N.T. Wright, C.S. Lewis, John MacArthur, or anyone else has to say? They have to answer to God for whatever misguided teachings they spewed out fo their mouths/computers. BTW, they might just be an apostate waiting to come out of the closet. I have been so disappointed so many times in the past relying on what a certain “Christian” author had to say, that I don’t put any man or woman who professes to be a Christian on a pedestal, because it’s a total waste of time. I focus on Jesus Christ alone, on the 66 books of the Bible alone, then I know I can’t go wrong!

    • Guest

      Ah yes, the great American Christian Narcissus, Adam in the Promised Land, totally divorced from community, history, and identity, contemptuous of the great men of God who went before him, convinced they have no wisdom and that he alone has a relationship with Christ. No history, no context, no grasp of culture, language, or anything but the 19th-century American dispensational fundamentalism that poses as orthodox historical Christianity.

  • Tim Yakich

    I just wanted to let everyone know where they can find a fantastic book on the Psalms : THE BIBLE!! Really, you should check it out, it’s wonderful, and the writer is infallible!! Look, Paul said in 1 Corinthians chapter 2, verses 1-2, “And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.” Now go out and spread THAT good news!! That’s what a saved person’s purpose is. That’s what we a called to do. Right? All this other quarrelling is such a waste of time, such a diversion.

  • Cuthbert Tunstall

    In know Dr Wright very well personally and he is the most impressive Christian I have known since Michael Ramsey. His position on Justification has been astonishingly misunderstood and all I can say is that his books here in England have converted more people to the Christian Faith than anything else since the death of CS Lewis. It saddens me to see this holy man being attacked by reformed christians in the US when they don’t understand what he’s saying.

  • Rob

    Nt wright is dope. Stop being a lil chump.

  • Guest

    The basic deal is that American evangelicals can’t understand Wright because we’re wearing the goggles of rationalism and Reformation. When y’all actually understand the man, come back and crucify him then; at least scapegoat the man for what he believes, not for what you think he believes.

  • Tom Estin Agathos

    I think its so sad that many Christians in the USA have this weird and ignorant mob mentality – Wright thinks a bit differently than “real Christians” think so let’s get him! He’s a heretic! He’s dangerous! He’s a Christian theologian and he’s smarter than you, so let’s humbly listen and learn.

    Consider – Wright is talking about the idolatry of empire and its incompatibility with the Kingdom… the USA is an empire… many USA Christians consider patriotism part central to their identity… it seems clear that this is (at least part of) the reason many USA Christians struggle with Wright.

    Maybe also consider the phenomena of group think.

  • Karla

    This is so stupid. You are an idiot!

  • Rivkah

    I have studied Theology for many years but was not Born Again, now I see the purity and truth of the Gospel of Chrsit and am provoked by false teaching.it seems there are many ordained church men who know in part but who have not know true conversion. I have heard Tom Wright speak and I was shocked at his liberal views and Replacement Theology regarding Israel. Reading his understanding in Simply Goodnews I doubt he really understands the heart of the Good News, the Cross of Christ and the finished work of Redemption, not a process but finished, that is glorious Good News, the fact we must work out our salvation does not equate to Redemption being a process, I wonder if Tom Wright really ‘gets’ the cross, I didn’t for decades until the Grace of God opened my eyes.

  • Juergen Rose

    My goodness, how unbelievably sad this post is. How puritanical (in the negative sense of the word) can some of us be, that we would not read or recommend a brother like Tom Wright? Let him/her who is without (doctrinal) sin throw the first stone.