Reformed theology regards justification by faith as a central soteriological principle that determines the final destiny of the individual. It stands in absolute antithesis to the supposedly universal but futile endeavour of humanity to justify itself by its ethical and religious works. It assumes a forensic or judicial framework: at the final assize no one will be be justified—and therefore escape condemnation to hell—by anything that he or she has done; only those who have faith in the atoning death of Christ, etc., will be justified. It is essentially a metaphysical notion. Narrative has nothing to do with it.

My pragmatic-eschatological interpretation is that justification by faith presupposes the call of God to pursue a hazardous and uncertain course or to stand firm under threatening conditions. The right response to such a call is belief, trust, faith, faithfulness. Habakkuk 2:4 is seminal: when the wrath of God comes upon Israel, the righteous will live by their faithfulness (cf. Rom. 1:17). At some point in the future those who take that difficult and narrow path will find that they were right to do so—they will find that they were justified all along, despite the incredulity and antagonism of those around them.

— Andrew Perriman