After walking in the shadow of the Reformed tradition and the larger Ecclesial heritage, I will now attempt to probe the doctrine of justification as presented by the Apostle Paul. This is quite a pretentious endeavor because to do real justice this subject I would have to produce a lengthy manuscript dealing the entire Pauline corpus. Sadly, this would take up too much time and it is a stretch considering my abilities. Instead, I will examine how justification by faith interacts with works in Romans 2 and 3. Needless to say, this will hardly be comprehensive.
By the way, I would love feed back from anybody reading these next posts.
We are all right smack in the middle of the Holiday season so I know we are busy. Yet, since we really haven’t done much on this blog lately I thought it would could if we all could write and discuss the topic of justification. I just wrote a paper on it so its been on my mind alot lately. So if you guys have any papers on the subject then you should put it up on this here blog. The cool thing about it is that we have people who can contribute in so many different ways. PhiloTheosophically (Schneeburger/Big Nate), Historically (DeSpain), Exegetically (Any of us). I will start off with the first contribution where I define what the Reformed definition is since we most of us come from this broad tradition in one form or another.
Posted in A little history for yas, Bible, brdespain, Bryan Lopez, Gospel, John Owen sexiness, Justification, Justin Richter, Los, Matt Crutchmer, Nate, Neo-Orthodoxy, New Perspective on Paul, ParkerL, philosophy, salvation, Sanctification, Schneerawk, The Cross, Theology, worship, Zach Nielsen
Here is a great interview of N.T Wright by Time magazine. The interview centers around the biblical view of heaven vs. the contemporary Christian culture. I tend to agree with almost everything he says here.
Tom Wright interview
One thing to note, I think that N.T. Wright has the opposite problem of the track that Los posted below. He focuses on a gospel that is a salvation to the Kingdom of God but does not highlight the salvation from our sins and judgment. Not that he doesn’t believe that kind of salvation is essential, but it seems to be glossed over. Both need to be held on to.
Here is a chart I got from E.P. Sanders’ book Paul and the Law. I think it is very helpful in understanding the new Pauline perspective. It is important to note that both James Dunn and N.T. Wright vary from this but this was the original model they started from. Also available for download are the scripture references that Sanders uses to support this view. I think it would be interesting to see how your views of salvation line up with this one.
Sanders’s Salvation Chart
His Terminology and Scripture references Pt. 1
His Terminology and Scripture references Pt. 2
I know some people are wondering about what the New Pauline Perspective is. Here is an article by N.T. Wright that I have found helpful in understanding it. It is his theological understanding of Romans and how it should affect our understanding of Paul. Hopefully, in a couple days I will post a chart by E.P. Sanders (the original N.P. scholar) on his understanding of salvation.
N.T. Wright on Romans
I love Doug Wilson’s blog. I think its intelligent, hilarious, and helpful. Recently, Wilson has been reading and blogging through John Piper’s new book, The Future of Justification. The book is Piper’s response to NT Wright, a brilliant scholar and Bishop in the Anglican church, who is a proponent of what is called the New Perspective on Paul (NPP).
Although I have listened to multiple lectures on NPP, I still don’t understand it very well. I only know that:
1. NPP is a title that encompasses multiple similar viewpoints about Paul the apostle. These new perspectives are mainly concerned with how to best understand what Paul meant when he talked about “justification.”
2. It revolves around EP Sander’s thesis that Jews during the New Testament period (aka: Second Temple Judaism) did not believe in “salvation by works,” as Protestantism has long believed, but rather they believed in “salvation by grace” much like evangelical Christians now believe. This means that there must be a redefinition of what Paul meant by “justification,” a doctrine of fundamental importance to Christianity.
3. I have been told that there are some similarities between NPP and another movement called Federal Vision, of which Doug Wilson is a key proponent. Hence, my interest in Wilson’s responses to Piper’s book. To be fair, I know nothing whatsoever about Federal Vision theology, I’ve only heard from others that there are common sympathies between them.
4. Evangelical leaders are being quite vocal about the fact that they they think NPP is wrong in a way that is dangerous to the truth of the gospel.
All the rest is fuzzy to me. It doesn’t help that the arguments and explanations are often very dense and quite nuanced in their disagreements. So, I’ve decided to read through Piper’s book, read Wilson’s responses, and “blog through it” (which is something like sharing your feelings online for therapeutic purposes). I hope that in doing so I can understand NPP and the Federal Vision better.
Disclaimer of bias: To be honest, I take the warnings that I’ve heard about NPP very seriously and so I enter this project open-minded, but not without wariness. Why would I ignore the warnings of so many men who are wiser than I am and have studied this more than I have? Everyone has their presuppositions, those are mine. I endeavor not to let them be a hinderance to an honest and compassionate evaluation of NPP.
Disclaimer of ignorance: If anything I said above about NPP or anything else is wrong, please correct me, I’m anxious to get this right. Thanks!