Reformed Catholicism and other oddities

Discussion in '2004 Archive' started by aefting, May 31, 2004.

  1. aefting

    aefting
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    I don't know if this is Reformed Catholicism or not, but I've been reading about the so-called New Perspective (NP) on Paul associated with Sanders and, more recently, N.T. Wright. I am getting confused, especially with who the players are and what they believe. How does Doug Wilson of Classical Education fame fit into the picture. What is Auburnism? Does anyone have a link that gives a good summary of the issues involved and the major players associated with each view?

    Andy
     
  2. Pete Richert

    Pete Richert
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    Just as confused as you. Have been trying to follow it myself. Will try to find some good links, but I must give this warning. Always always always try to read these guys' original sources. If you simly read their critics you will get lots of misrepresentations, for their critics tend to not be able to think out of the box and see that if NP doesn't believe what they believe, it doesn't mean they believe the opposite of what they believe. (good sentence there!!!)

    I think the basis of the New Perspecitive is the belief that 1st century Judisim really was a religion of grace and not works. Therefor, Paul was not confronting works righteousness in his letters, but instead, an over zelous nationalism of the Jews, namely, you have to be Jewish to be saved. Therefor, "Justification" is not about being right with God but about who is "justified" , namely, who is in the people of God, now both Jews and Gentiles by faith. Suddle? You betcha!!! In one sense, they reduce justification to the doctrine of the church on sociology concepts and away from salvation itself. And why does this matter, well if you read their critics they believe that NP does not teach justification by faith in the salvation sense, but only justification by faith as in the be included into the people of God (of which you remain if you are faithful(?), instead of being included into the people of God by being Jewish.

    Well, I probably slaughtered that, and keep in mind that is the voice of the critics. Both James Dunn and NT Wright (both Anglicans) claim vehemently that they teach justification by faith.

    Now, Doug Wilson and Arburnism. Arburnism is so named because of a conference that has happened for the last three years or so where four pastors/teachers/theologions have given lectures at the Auburn Avenue Presbyterian Church. They are called the Auburn four. Now these guys come from a presbyterian background, and it seems that there main ephesis is that one enters the covenant by a valid baptism. They don't have an external/internal covenant distinction like classic CT. How this is different then presbyterian theology in general is a little bit hazy to me, but anyway they also are occused of teaching that one is "kept in the covenant" by being faithful (some might read being obedient). Doug Wilson is one of these four, though it is often claimed of the four he is the most orthodox.

    NP is often grouped with the Auburn guys, though I think you must be careful not to read each of them into the other's theology. I think one thing they share in common is that they both believe that ultimate justification is future (something often taught in the Bible in seems), which makes more classic thinkers nervous because they believe if it is future then you can either lose "it" or have to keep it by works.

    Also grouped with NP and the Aurburn guys is Daniel Fuller, who is a Baptist, and presents a third angle.

    Okay, sorry this hasn't been much help. But let me try to summorize what I think the issue really centers around.

    "The imputation of Christ's active obedience to the law". Do you believe that when you trusted in Jesus, you were forgiven (and therefor rightoues), or that alongside being forgivin you also need additionally to be activily obedient to God (and since you weren't/arn't) you also have this imputed to you from Christ who was activly obedient for 30 some odd years. This is sepearte from his death on the cross, which handled the supstitution part, and all agree on. I believe all these groups deny there is any such thing as the imputation of Christ's rightesouness and defined by his active obedience of the law being counted yours, and instead think we are becoming the rightouesnes of God in Him simply by being made right again through forgiveness. I for one, had never really had the doctrine spelled out in terms of an active obedience being imputed, so I find myself now having to make that decision. Indeed, I don't think most Baptists make such a fine distiction, as I have never seen it talked about on this board. If you go over to the puritan board, this is all they talk about.

    So here is the tension. The more tradionally reformed folk say, you must have this active obedience (otherwise you are simply innocent, not rightouess), so if NP, or Gundry, or Fuller, or Aurburn Four say it doesn't exist, they then MUST believe that you earn it through your own works. In response, all these groups reply that such a thing was never required in the first place. That trusting in God was all he ever wanted, not some obedience that is seperate then simply depending on him to earn yourself your own rightouessness (or have it earned for you). So these two groups talk past each other a lot.

    Here are some questions to ask yourself that might not fit any Sunday school answer you have for them.

    Was the OT Law to be obeyed perfectly for salvation? If so, why was forgivness built into the law itself? Why was it ever given, if everyone hearing it was already sinners? Why does generation after geneartion God tells people to return to His law (and He would forgive them), when He really should have waited for them to fail once and then said "plan B, just believe in Christ instead". And most importantly, in Jeremiah when God speaks of the new Covenant, did HE say HE was going to change the law or the people? Was the problem that the Law was a salvation by works (which was just a test case for God to show us that wouldn't work for us) or was the problem that the people did not trust in God (and therefor follow the law) though He forgive them when they did follow the law, since forgiveness was the basis of the law itself. So, was the problem the law or the people who never followed it?

    #2, Is there a judgement after death? What is Romans 2 really talking about. Is it possible we have been justified, are being justified, and will be justified?

    #3 Is there such a thing as obedience outside of trusting God? Does God distiguish between trusting in Him and acting in Hebrews 11, James 2? What is Abel commended as rightouess for in Hebrews 2, faith, obedience, both? Are they different? If Abel was rightouess was he rightouess because he trusted in God (that was righteouss) or because he trusted in God (and therefor was imputed Christ's rightouessness). How about Noah. He was called righteouess. Was that because it was imputed to him because he trusted in God or was God calling that act of trust a righteouess act itself?
     
  3. aefting

    aefting
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    Thank you Pete for your thoughts. I was wondering if anyone on this board would even be interested in what is going on here. One thing that concerns me is that Doug Wilson, respected by many conservative homeschoolers who embrace classical education, may be influencing generations in an unorthodox view of justification. I also find it troubling that he is debating James White on the topic, "Are Roman Catholics members of the New Covenant," with Doug presumably taking the affirmative viewpoint.

    It is hard to follow the issues because these men all have their own blogs that present snipets of what they believe, normally in response to another blog that I probably haven't read.

    I think they are slicing the theological balony too thin and introducing subtle errors while they are at it.

    I may comment more on your questions when I get a chance.

    Andy
     
  4. aefting

    aefting
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  5. aefting

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  6. Dallaeus

    Dallaeus
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    It's not surprising that not many people on this board would have a clear view of what the New Perspective on Paul (NPP)is,since it's more a "covenantalist" thing.
    My wife and I recently had to leave a missionary team that kept endorsing a man totally stuck in this theology,and I could see haw detrimental those teachings can be.
    The most shocking thing is certainly that he denied imputed rightousness(saying you simply can not find it in the Bible)and assurance of salvation (since after all your works show you're in the covenant...).
    Another problem you have when you talk with NPPers is that they use the same words we do, but with a different meaning. Somebody said that trying to figure out what they really think is like trying to nail jello to the wall, and it has been my own experience.

    To me this is not only confused theology, but also dangerous theology, ending up with a different gospel, where the salvific aspect is erased...It's not about being saved by God's grace, it's about being the Church. Those views have absolutely to be rejected. As one of my friends said "Reformed Catholicism" is only Catholicism in Reformed garb.

    I strongly recommend the following articles as starters:

    -by Douglas Kelly (professor at RTS)
    http://www.christianity.com/CC/article/0,,PTID23682%7CCHID125467%7CCIID1521174,00.html

    -by John Reisinger
    www.soundofgrace.com/jgr/index064.htm
    www.soundofgrace.com/jgr/index065.htm
    www.soundofgrace.com/jgr/index066.htm
    www.soundofgrace.com/jgr/index067.htm

    try also the Trinity Foundation website.

    Hope that was helpful.
     
  7. aefting

    aefting
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    Thank you Dallaeus for those links. I will check them out.

    The more reading I do the more I think that both Auburnism and NPP start at different locations but end up in basically the same place, namely making justification refer to ecclesiology rather than soteriology.

    Andy
     
  8. Dallaeus

    Dallaeus
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    Hi Andy,

    Like you, I believe the two movements have much in common, although they ceratinly have different roots and agendas. I do not really know much abouth "Auburnism", that seems to me to be an all-American thing, but it seems clear to me that its intellectual frame-work was provided by the New Perpectivists.

    I also agree with what you say

    The more reading I do the more I think that both Auburnism and NPP start at different locations but end up in basically the same place, namely making justification refer to ecclesiology rather than soteriology.

    I'm sure we find here one of the keys of the problem. Here's what NT Wright says:

    "Justification…is not a matter of how someone
    enters the community of the true people of God, but of how you tell who belongs to that community…In standard Christian theological language, it wasn’t so much about soteriology as about ecclesiology; not so much about salvation as about the church. (Wright, What Saint Paul Really Said, 119).
    “What Paul means by justification, in this context, should therefore be clear. It is not ‘how you become a Christian’, so much as ‘how you can tell who is a member of the covenant family’” (Ibid., 122).

    This is what I would call a clear statement...
    It just amazes me too that nobody ever tried to analyze Wright's views from the satndpoint of his ecclesiology. Let's not forget that he is a bishop in the Church of England, where you're still considered a Christian because you were born in England and baptized when you were 6 weeks old. All the European State-Churches (as opposed to the baptistic Free Churches)have to deal with a largely unregenrated membership, and have to explain why all those people whould be viewed as believers. So, I guess it's easier to say they're "members of the covenant community" without giving that term a really precise definition.
     
  9. Pete Richert

    Pete Richert
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    That is not just a church of England thing, that is also a Presbyterian thing. They don't see the new covenant as made strictly with the elect but with anyone in the family. Namely, if you are properly baptized then you are in the new covenant, and part of the covenant community, though if you are not of the elect your never have faith and therefor never recieve the covenant blessings but instead the covenant curses. Now the debate between the Auburnism (which is a presbytian movement) and other Presbyterians is what is a valid baptism and who is in the community. Aurbunism might say, ANYONE who is baptized in the name of the father, son, and holy ghost are in the community. Namely, Roman Catholic Christians as well.

    What I do like about these groups is that they are rediscovering that we are justified by faith in God, and not justified by faith in justification by faith. Now the defenders of more tradional Christianity deny they say this, but instead say your faith in God is questioned if you seem to have beliefs that would say it is not soley in God. But from my standpoint, I think the tradionals often do cross that line.
     
  10. following-Him

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  11. aefting

    aefting
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    Who teaches faith in "justification by faith?"

    The Bible draws the line of faith alone. If someone believes that their works help in some way towards their justification, then they have a defective faith, not saving faith. It's not the traditionalists who have crossed the line.

    I don't think these groups have rediscovered anything.

    Andy
     
  12. Pete Richert

    Pete Richert
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  13. aefting

    aefting
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    I am interested in your response but it doesn't seem to have posted correctly.
     

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