I am reading NTW's latest book on justification in parallel with Fesko's majestic tome. His writing style is sensational, no doubt about it. The delightful ease with which you pour through his pages kind of hooks you into his arguments before he's even made them. He possesses a remarkable ability to politely make his critics look really stupid. On page 9 he states:
I am not, in other words, simply appealing to my critics to allow my peculiar interpretations of St Paul some house room, or at least permission to inhabit a kennel in the back yard where my barks and yaps may not be such a nuisance. I am suggesting that the theology of St Paul, the whole theology of St Paul rather than the truncated and self-centred readings which have become endemic in Western thought, the towering and majestic theology of St Paul which, when you even glimpse it, dazzles you like the morning sun rising over the sea, is urgently needed as the church faces the tasks of mission in tomorrow's dangerous world, and is not well served by the inward-looking soteriologies that tangle themselves up in a web of detached texts and secondary theories...
At first read you might think, ouch! Inward looking soteriolgies, secondary theories, ooh that hurts. Maybe us Reformed guys need to listen to our critics and take some bad medicine. But think about it, we've heard this kind of thing before have we not? i.e. "There's a dying world out there. Let's kick our petty doctrinal naval gazing to the kerb and focus on evangelism."
Liberals have been doing that kind of thing for years in an effort to shut up conservatives regarding 'offensive' doctrines. Yes there is a dying world, but does that mean we should all get together and approach the dying with a band aid and a cup of tepid water instead of a few going out with a life-support machine and the strong wine of the gospel?
While I have massive respect for NTW, I simply cannot understand why he seems to punch those who should be his friends and puts his arm round those he should punch. For instance, he'll endorse a Steve Chalke book while battering the good guys at Oakhill for publishing a concerned response. And, worryingly, he'll happily have Brian McLaren or Rob Bell endorse his latest book. Eh? Maybe a bit more doctrinal/soteriological naval gazing is required on his part if he's happy to have these dudes on his cover. It's kind of like asking Jeffrey Dahmer to endorse your fine cookery book, because after all, food connoisseurs of all types need to get together and help fine cuisine endure the credit crunch.