I was reading Vern Poythress’ Symphonic Theology for a little help on linguistics and biblical hermeneutics, and he quoted Immanuel Kant:
This debt [of radically evil disposition] can never be discharged by another person, so far as we can judge according to the justice of our human reason. For this is no transmissible liability which can be made over to another like a financial indebtedness (where it is all one to the creditor whether the debtor himself pays the debt or whether some one else pays it for him); rather is it the most personal of all debts, namely a debt of sins, which only the culprit can bear and which no innocent person can assume even though he be magnanimous enough to wish to take it upon himself for the sake of another. Religion within the Limits of Reason Alone (Chicago and London: Open Court, 1934), 66.
Immediately I thought of N.T. Wright. Aren’t they saying the same thing?
If we use the language of the law court, it makes no sense whatever to say that the judge imputes, imparts, bequeaths, conveys or otherwise transfers his righteousness to either the plaintiff or the defendant. Righteousness is not an object, a substance or a gas which can be passed across the courtroom. What Saint Paul Really Said (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1997), p. 98.
Wright isn’t wrong just because he echoes Kant. But it is interesting to note that what Wright is saying isn’t new.