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Featured The New Perspective on Paul

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by JonC, Jul 1, 2022.

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  1. JonC

    JonC Moderator
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    I am opening this thread because a member, @JesusFan , seems fascinated with the NPP but at the same time confuses the "classic view" of Atonement with the NPP.

    I figure others here more knowledgeable than I may be able to help him. I know some of the NPP, but the topic has not really sparked my interest as it seems problematic at the start.

    The New Perspective on Paul (NPP) is a movement (with many different views) focused on the writings on Paul. The NPP is primarily associated with E.P. Sanders and James Dunn (Krister Stendahl in the 1960's, prior to Sanders).

    The primary idea is that the Reformers read their situation with the Catholic Church into Paul's use of works - that Paul's use of "works" primarily referred to works of the Law rather than general Christian works or good behavior.

    This changes things a bit. The idea is that we are justified by faith rather than works of the Law, but that this faith produces works in the present which points to a future justification.

    Personally I think the NPP gets somewhat too much in the weeds and does not come out very coherently. I agree that Paul often used "works" to mean "works of the Law", but at the same time this seems (IMHO) to assume a Jewish audience. I think the simple truth is we do not earn salvation, but that good works accompany salvation.

    So good works can be a sign of a future justification (at the day of Judgment) but they are fruits of a present justification (salvation, justified in Christ).
     
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  2. SavedByGrace

    SavedByGrace Well-Known Member
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    Surely NOT another thread??? :rolleyes::eek:
     
  3. JonC

    JonC Moderator
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    Sorry....I did not realize there were other threads on the NPP.

    Please reply with a link to that thread and I'll merge them.

    Thanks.
     
  4. SavedByGrace

    SavedByGrace Well-Known Member
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    it is the ATONEMENT again!

    Surely we must KNOW by now WHAT we all believe? It has been on here almost EVERY WEEK!
     
  5. JonC

    JonC Moderator
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    There are a lot of things here every week (Calv vs Arm, abortion, politics, etc.).

    If you do not believe the Atonement worth discussing then don't.

    That said, the NPP is not the Atonement.

    The NPP writers, for the most part, accept Penal Substitution. But they view other topics as holding a more central place in Paul's writing.
     
  6. SavedByGrace

    SavedByGrace Well-Known Member
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    really? this is what YOU wrote in YOUR OP

    I am opening this thread because a member, @JesusFan , seems fascinated with the NPP but at the same time confuses the "classic view" of Atonement with the NPP

    Justification IS The ATONEMENT!
     
  7. JonC

    JonC Moderator
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    If you believe Justification IS the Atonement then start a thread about the Atonement. I'd be interested in reading how you defend that idea.

    In the OP I did mention that @JesusFan confuses the "classic view" of the Atonement (which is a view of the Atonement) with the NPP (which is not).

    Apparently you need to read more carefully, put on your reading glasses, or ask for help comprehending what you read. I can help with the last one, but the first two are on you. :Thumbsup
     
  8. SavedByGrace

    SavedByGrace Well-Known Member
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    Simply put, there can be no JUSTIFICATION of a sinner, without the ATONEMENT!
     
  9. JonC

    JonC Moderator
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    Duh. We all know this.

    But simply put, it does not mean justification IS the Atonement anymore than it means our resurrection IS the Atonement or the kingdom of God IS the Atonement.
     
  10. JonC

    JonC Moderator
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    Getting back on track

    Does anybody here (other than @SavedByGrace who wants to change the topic to the Atonement so he can say he deems the Atonement a topic unworthy of discussion) believe or know much about the NPP.

    The NPP seems to get mentioned a lot around here, but what is it and who holds it?
     
  11. Aaron

    Aaron Member
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    If love is the fulfillment of the law, is there a 'general Christian work', or 'general good behavior', that is not a fulfillment of a Commandment?

    What's the difference between being justified by faith, and that justification being manifest in the Judgment?
     
  12. Van

    Van Well-Known Member
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    I think an accurate and informed discussion of the NPP would make a great thread. Thanks JonC.
     
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  13. atpollard

    atpollard Well-Known Member

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    An Explanation of the New Perspective on Paul by Bryan Chapell

    “My sense is that we are on a journey similar to our experiences with the Charismatic and Theonomy movements decades ago. The Charismatic movement was concerned that the Church was not rightly applying the New Testament gifts of the Spirit; the Theonomy movement was concerned that the Church was not rightly applying the Old Testament law; the New Perspective is concerned that the Church has not rightly applied the corporate nature of the covenant. All of these movements have had some legitimate concerns, but all err in subtly moving the emphasis of the Gospel from a Christ-centered provision of grace to proper expressions of human performance.”​
     
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  14. Van

    Van Well-Known Member
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    Let us start with the Old Perspective on Paul, that we are justified by faith alone, and nothing else contributes to being chosen for salvation. Thus the OPP is Sola Fide (Faith Alone).

    So does the NPP teach we will or do something (other than put our faith in Christ) to be saved, transferred from being in Adam, to being placed within Christ's spiritual body? Nope.

    So the actual idea (actually many ideas) focuses on what part "works" (things the born anew believer does after salvation) plays in sustaining or enhancing their salvation. Some of the posting Calvinists on this board seem to be unfamiliar with how post salvation good works contributes or enhances the blessings of our salvation. They ask questions like what additional rewards are received because of engaging in effective ministry. I kid you not. They seem unfamiliar with the glory of serving Christ.
     
  15. atpollard

    atpollard Well-Known Member

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  16. atpollard

    atpollard Well-Known Member

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    A fundamental premise in the NPP is that Judaism was actually a religion of grace.

    "On the point at which many have found the decisive contrast between Paul and Judaism - grace and works - Paul is in agreement with Palestinian Judaism... Salvation is by grace but judgment is according to works'...God saves by grace, but... within the framework established by grace he rewards good deeds and punishes transgression." (Sander, Paul and Palestinian Judaism, p. 543)​

    "we have misjudged early Judaism, especially Pharisaism, if we have thought of it as an early version of Pelagianism," (Wright, What Saint Paul Really Said, p. 32).​

    “Pelagius and Augustine - to take but the most obvious examples - both believed in human dependence on divine grace, but they construed that dependence very differently" (Westerholm, Perspectives Old and New on Paul, pp. 261-262).​

    As in so many things, the devil is in the details. - atpollard
     
  17. Martin Marprelate

    Martin Marprelate Well-Known Member
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    I think t is impossible to write a short definition of NPP, and anyone who tries will doubtless be told that he doesn't understand it because he has left out this, that or the other.
    But very briefly, and accepting the danger described above, .N.T. Wright seems to view Galatians and Romans as not dealing with individual sin and salvation but with Jews and Gentiles as groups of people and with the issue of who are the people of God. He writes: 'It is a measure of how far the Church has travelled from Paul's vision that Romans has often been read as a book about individual salvation rather than as a treatise on the nature of the people of God' Also, he says that the books are not written to oppose legalism. ''The real problem is not "legalism" as usually conceived within traditional Protestant theology, but rather the question of whether one has to become a Jew in order to belong to the people of God.'

    NPP seemed to have a vogue around the year 2,000 and I mugged up on it at that time, but in Britain at least, it has turned out to be a bit of a damp squib and I've never really had to confront it pastorally.

    John Piper wrote a critique of NPP called The Future of Justification. I think the view has been largely demolished, but I could be wrong.
     
  18. Van

    Van Well-Known Member
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    Are we justified by Christ's faithfulness or our credited faith in Christ?
     
  19. Revmitchell

    Revmitchell Well-Known Member
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    One of our younger adult members/readers asked for something on a matter of current discussion in Anglican circles in Sydney and which will have its impact on everyone in due time. Here's my effort to explain the issues in brief.

    'Justification is an act of God's free grace in which he pardons all our sins and accepts us as righteous in his sight for the sake of the righteousness of Christ alone, which is credited to us and received by faith alone' (Shorter Catechism, 33).

    THE ISSUES

    The term "new perspective" was coined by J.D.G. Dunn in 1982 to describe the new approach to Paul's theology he was advocating which was built on the work of several earlier scholars such as E.P. Sanders in Paul and Palestinian Judaism(1977). It now is embraced by quite a range of scholars. One world-renowned Pauline scholar and articulate Anglican evangelical, N.T. (Tom) Wright (b. 1948), the current Canon theologian of Westminster Abbey is well known. For the purpose of this article the position Wright takes will be considered as explained in his numerous books including What St Paul Really Said (Oxford, 1997).

    What is the new perspective? The claim of the new perspective is that first-century Judaism was not a merit -based religion but a covenant community created by God's grace. Far from suffering the affliction of an introspective conscience, and a struggle to keep the law by works-righteousness, mainstream Judaism understood that through God's covenant they were already right with him. The law (nomos) was not a means of getting saved but of staying saved. Keeping God's law was the appropriate response to God's covenant mercy.

    Paul's problem with Judaism was not works-righteousness in the sense understood by the Protestant Reformers, but the insistence on a covenant status for Jews and Jews alone. This insistence effectively denied that Jesus was the promised Messiah who fulfilled the Old Testament promise of salvation for Jew and Gentile. It was illustrated by Jewish insistence on the symbols of ethnic privilege, which the new perspective regards as Paul's 'works of the law', namely, circumcision, the sabbath and the Mosaic code. Hence Paul's affirms the full status in the church of the Gentile believers in Galatia apart from such requirements.

    Wright: What Paul really said Wright's understanding of Paul is somewhat as follows: Paul teaches the representative and substitutionary work of Christ in propitiating the wrath of God. Jesus recapitulates Israel's history so as to fulfil all God's covenant promises. As the Last Adam he inaugurates a new humanity. God's justifying verdict on Jesus in his resurrection is passed upon believers now in anticipation of the final acquittal in the Day of Judgment. That final acquittal, or future justification of believers, will be in accordance with the whole life of grace led under the Spirit's leading.

    God's grace operates by the powerful working of God's Spirit through the preaching of the gospel, transforming hearts and minds and producing faith in Christ as the risen Lord.

    The difference between a first century Jew and a first century Christian was not so much their attitude to salvation. Both held that salvation is through God's gracious covenant, and that good works are the result of faith working through love. Both aim to serve God with a clear conscience and look for ultimate acquittal at God's bar of justice following God's review of the deeds of this life. The difference lies in their attitude to Jesus. The Jew rejects him as the Messiah and insists on covenant status for the Jew only, complete with its badges of circumcision, the sabbath and the food laws, 'the works of the law' in Paul's phrase. The Christian believes Jesus is the Messiah who brings the promised vindication of God's people, establishing his church among all nations, and rendering the distinctive old covenant requirements superfluous. Faith in Jesus is enough.

    Justification is not the exercise of mercy, a description of how one is saved, but a declaration about someone who has already received mercy, who is already a member of the renewed- covenant community

    N.T. Wright and the New Perspective on Paul by Ligon Duncan
     
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  20. kyredneck

    kyredneck Well-Known Member
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    It's all about 'rightly dividing':

    13 …the doers of the law shall be justified...Ro 2

    20 ...by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified... Ro 3

    One is the 'essence' of the law (Matthew 7:12, Romans 13:8-10). - agape

    The other is the yoke of the law (Acts of the Apostles 15:10), the 'harsh schoolmaster' that drives us to Christ (Matthew 11:28-30).
     
    #20 kyredneck, Jul 2, 2022
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2022
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