"I grew up as a somewhat typical middle-Anglican with a strong dash of evangelicalism, or put the other way around, I grew up in a Lutheran evangelicalism which left me with a strong antithesis between law and grace. I found this all profoundly unsatisfying until I met Calvin and Calvinism. I began to think, “Whew…the law is a good thing. It is holy and just and good. It is right and it has been fulfilled, not abrogated, in Christ.” All of that is right. So, if you are faced with a choice between Luther and Calvin, you simply have to choose Calvin." [From an interview published in Reformation and Revival Journal, volume 11, numbers 1 and 2 (Winter and Spring 2003), available on-line] [Italics mine]Thanks for that insight, Bishop Tom. Now here's Luther himself on the law:
"In chapter 7, St. Paul says, "The law is spiritual." What does that mean? If the law were physical, then it could be satisfied by works, but since it is spiritual, no one can satisfy it unless everything he does springs from the depths of the heart. But no one can give such a heart except the Spirit of God, who makes the person be like the law, so that he actually conceives a heartfelt longing for the law and henceforward does everything, not through fear or coercion, but from a free heart. Such a law is spiritual since it can only be loved and fulfilled by such a heart and such a spirit. If the Spirit is not in the heart, then there remain sin, aversion and enmity against the law, which in itself is good, just and holy." [Italics mine]Imagine that, Luther actually agrees with Bishop Wright that the law is "good, just and holy", right down to using the same descriptors!
Clearly, Wright has misread Luther as antinomian, and pegged him as the source of what perplexed him growing up in evangelical Anglicanism, which eventually sent him running to Calvin as his guiding light (although more than a few Calvinists are upset at the direction Bishop Wright's theology has taken since, but that is a subject for another post). If only Bishop Wright had actually read a text as basic as Luther's Preface to the Epistle to the Romans, from which the above quote is taken - not to mention the Small Catechism - he would have known that what he was hearing from evangelical Anglican pulpits as a young man was not Lutheranism at all, but a variety of antinomianism, which Luther rejects in numerous places, most forthrightly in Against the Antinomians (1539; LW 47:107ff), in which Luther declares it "most surprising ...that anyone can claim that I reject the law or the Ten Commandments, since there is available, in more than one edition, my exposition of the Ten Commandments, which furthermore are daily preached and practiced in our churches."
A lecturer at my alma mater, Luther Seminary in Adelaide, once wisely said, "If you want to understand someone's theology, become familiar with their biography." Alas, it seems that Tom Wright's youthful misadventures with "Lutheranism" were formative for his theology, which might not matter one iota but for the fact that Wright is probably the single most influential "evangelical" theologian and Biblical commentator writing today, whose works are peppered with this sort of egregious misrepresentation of Luther. Bishop Wright should really know better.
Yes, like Jesus, Bishop Tom Wright is everywhere...unlike Jesus, he is not infallible. Caveat lector!