N. T. “Tom” Wright has just released another paradigm-shifting book suggesting a new, more scriptural way of understanding the atonement, The Day the Revolution Began: Reconsidering the Meaning of Jesus’s Crucifixion. Wright delves deeply into how the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus accomplish our salvation.
(Rom. 8:24-25 ESV) 24 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.
New Perspective commentator James D. G. Dunn explains,
The not-yetness of the salvation process at present means that Christian faith is characterized as hope. Paul makes something of the point, quite likely because he feared that there were some in the Roman congregations who, like others at Corinth from where he was writing, overemphasized the “already” aspect of salvation, who took a too enthusiastic delight in the experience of the Spirit already given. …
His logic is straightforward: if we “hope” for something, that must mean by definition that we do not see it within our grasp, we do not yet have it. We exercise hope in relation to that which lies ahead of us, in the still invisible future. Paul the Christian will not allow his attention to become wholly absorbed in the present, whether its responsibilities or its frustrations. His gaze repeatedly lifts to the far horizon, and the hope of what lies beyond it is what sustains his faith despite the contradictions of the present.
He would probably have no need to remind his readers of the positive character of this “hope” (unlike the weaker modern version which merges into mere wishful thinking). And the no doubt deliberate use of the aorist (“we are saved,” rather than “we are being saved”) makes the same point. Salvation is something certain for those who have the Spirit and are led by the Spirit.
James D. G. Dunn, Romans 1–8, WBC 38A; Accordance electronic ed. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1988), 491-492. Continue reading