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Question about the New Perspective on Paul

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  • #16
    Originally posted by footwasher View Post
    The contention that the phrase "works of the law" applied only to the ceremonial laws that served as badges of Jewish identity is unfounded, as the following article argues:

    http://www.theologian.org.uk/doctrine/hesitation.html

    Quote

    In any case, Dunn’s suggestion about the meaning of “works of the law” is by no means a new suggestion, as he appears to think. The traditional doctrine of justification often interacts with a view that sees “works of the law” as referring only to works of the ceremonial law, or to distinctly “Jewish” works.»68 This view can be traced back to Pelagius, who argued that ceremonial works are excluded by Paul, but not moral works, thus relying on that old distinction between civil, ceremonial and moral law.»69 The purpose of this is in Pelagius is to reintroduce some element of works into justification: to allow moral works to count before God while explaining Paul’s allergy to “works of the law.” Calvin calls this view “an ingenious subterfuge” which, regardless of its long pedigree is “utterly silly.” He spends some time discussing it but concludes: “Even schoolboys would hoot at such impudence. Therefore, let us hold as certain that when the ability to justify is denied to the law, these words refer to the whole law.” Calvin tries to explain why Paul speaks occasionally of “works of the law” instead of “works” generally: even legalists, he says, would only give such weight to works which had the “testimony and vouchsafing of God” behind them (i.e. those written in God’s own Law).»70 Calvin is also not unaware of the fact that these ritual-ceremonial laws functioned as “badges” to exclude the Gentiles.»71

    Turretin also interacts with this view of “works of the law” which Dunn suggests. He points out that if the socially-excluding ceremonial law alone was to be excluded, then justification would have been ascribed to the moral law, which it never is. Using the New Testament he shows that ceremonial works brought with them the obligation to fulfil the whole Law of Moses - and so Paul had opposed them because of this larger implication. Other people interact with this sort of view as well, including James Buchanan»72 and John Owen, who claims to show “the vanity of that pretence.”»73 The Reformed consensus on the subject is that “works of the law” includes all works generally.»74 This is not a mere assumption but a well thought-through conclusion reached in dialogue with an opposing opinion which saw “works of the law” as specifically ceremonial or distinctively “Jewish.” Dunn appears to be unaware of just how much thinking has been done on this precise issue over the past few centuries.
    You appear to be confusing NT Wright and James Dunn. And I don't see the contention the article is being invoked to refute mentioned in your earlier post.
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    • #17
      Originally posted by One Bad Pig View Post
      You appear to be confusing NT Wright and James Dunn. And I don't see the contention the article is being invoked to refute mentioned in your earlier post.
      The problem is that the supporters of the NPP uniformly believed that Luther got it wrong in condemning using law to be justified.

      They claim that the term "works of the law" represented the category of the law known as ceremonial and it was this category that Paul inveighed against, whilst approving the continued use of the moral law to be justified.


      Whether I quote the views of Dunn or Wright really doesn't matter. What matters is that the NPP theory supported by its proponents rests on the above view.

      Does Dunn believe the term "works of the law" consists only of the badges that identify a Jew? Yes he does.


      Does Wright believe the term "works of the law" consists only of the badges that identify a Jew? Yes he does.

      http://ntwrightpage.com/Wright_New_Perspectives.htm

      Quote
      Supposing, I thought, Paul meant �seeking to establish their own righteousness�, not in the sense of a moral status based on the performance of Torah and the consequent accumulation of a treasury of merit, but an ethnic status based on the possession of Torah as the sign of automatic covenant membership? I saw at once that this would make excellent sense of Romans 9 and 10, and would enable the positive statements about the Law throughout Romans to be given full weight while making it clear that this kind of use of Torah, as an ethnic talisman, was an abuse. I sat up in bed that night reading through Galatians and saw that at point after point this way of looking at Paul would make much better sense of Galatians, too, than either the standard post-Luther readings or the attempted Reformed ones.

      The reason I�m telling you this is to show that I came to the position I still hold (having found it over the years to be deeply rewarding exegetically right across Paul; I regard as absolutely basic the need to understand Paul in a way which does justice to all the letters, as well as to the key passages in individual ones) � that I came to this position, not because I learned it from Sanders or Dunn, but because of the struggle to think Paul�s thoughts after him as a matter of obedience to scripture. This brings me to the complexity of the so-called New Perspective and of my relationship to it.

      Comment


      • #18
        Originally posted by footwasher View Post
        The problem is that the supporters of the NPP uniformly believed that Luther got it wrong in condemning using law to be justified.

        They claim that the term "works of the law" represented the category of the law known as ceremonial and it was this category that Paul inveighed against, whilst approving the continued use of the moral law to be justified.


        Whether I quote the views of Dunn or Wright really doesn't matter. What matters is that the NPP theory supported by its proponents rests on the above view.

        Does Dunn believe the term "works of the law" consists only of the badges that identify a Jew? Yes he does.


        Does Wright believe the term "works of the law" consists only of the badges that identify a Jew? Yes he does.

        http://ntwrightpage.com/Wright_New_Perspectives.htm

        Quote
        Supposing, I thought, Paul meant �seeking to establish their own righteousness�, not in the sense of a moral status based on the performance of Torah and the consequent accumulation of a treasury of merit, but an ethnic status based on the possession of Torah as the sign of automatic covenant membership? I saw at once that this would make excellent sense of Romans 9 and 10, and would enable the positive statements about the Law throughout Romans to be given full weight while making it clear that this kind of use of Torah, as an ethnic talisman, was an abuse. I sat up in bed that night reading through Galatians and saw that at point after point this way of looking at Paul would make much better sense of Galatians, too, than either the standard post-Luther readings or the attempted Reformed ones.

        The reason I�m telling you this is to show that I came to the position I still hold (having found it over the years to be deeply rewarding exegetically right across Paul; I regard as absolutely basic the need to understand Paul in a way which does justice to all the letters, as well as to the key passages in individual ones) � that I came to this position, not because I learned it from Sanders or Dunn, but because of the struggle to think Paul�s thoughts after him as a matter of obedience to scripture. This brings me to the complexity of the so-called New Perspective and of my relationship to it.
        It is a little more complex than this but you've got the gist of it. Ceremonial law and kashrut have some overlap but they are by no means identical. The only contemporary usage of 'works of the law' that we have is from Qumran and it is primarily ceremonial, but I think Paul clearly also included kashrut in this category. With respect to the moral law, he is everywhere only very positive about the moral law. The law is not able to justify, not because of any fault in the law, but because of the weakness of the flesh we are unable to follow the moral law as well as we should. (Also, the moral law has been perfected by the messianic law of love.) It is also important to recognize profound differences among proponents of the New Perspective on Paul, especially the crucial question of 'the faith of Christ', which is neither an objective nor subjective genitive, but more precisely a genitive of origin, which is the most fundamental use of the genitive in Greek, hence the name of the case. It is true that a genitive of origin is more correctly understood as a subjective genitive than an objective genitive. This is also a better way of seeing where Luther went astray theologically, though I agree fully with his initial views of how theology and church practice should be reformed.
        Last edited by robrecht; 05-11-2015, 01:30 PM.
        βλέπομεν γὰρ ἄρτι δι᾿ ἐσόπτρου ἐν αἰνίγματι, τότε δὲ πρόσωπον πρὸς πρόσωπον·
        ἄρτι γινώσκω ἐκ μέρους, τότε δὲ ἐπιγνώσομαι καθὼς καὶ ἐπεγνώσθην.

        אָכֵ֕ן אַתָּ֖ה אֵ֣ל מִסְתַּתֵּ֑ר אֱלֹהֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל מוֹשִֽׁיעַ׃

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        • #19
          Originally posted by robrecht View Post
          It is a little more complex than this but you've got the gist of it. Ceremonial law and kashrut have some overlap but they are by no means identical. The only contemporary usage of 'works of the law' that we have is from Qumran and it is primarily ceremonial, but I think Paul clearly also included kashrut in this category. With respect to the moral law, he is everywhere only very positive about the moral law. The law is not able to justify, not because of any fault in the law, but because of the weakness of the flesh we are unable to follow the moral law as well as we should. (Also, the moral law has been perfected by the messianic law of love.) It is also important to recognize profound differences among proponents of the New Perspective on Paul, especially the crucial question of 'the faith of Christ', which is neither an objective nor subjective genitive, but more precisely a genitive of origin, which is the most fundamental use of the genitive in Greek, hence the name of the case. It is true that a genitive of origin is more correctly understood as a subjective genitive than an objective genitive. This is also a better way of seeing where Luther went astray theologically, though I agree fully with his initial views of how theology and church practice should be reformed.

          Agreed. My providing the gist is because I'm not as lucid and succinct as the author of the article I quoted from, not only because he addresses the problem with ALL NPP supporters but because he is able to say in a few lines what I struggled to attempt in several paragraphs:

          http://www.theologian.org.uk/doctrine/hesitation.html

          Quote
          Turretin also interacts with this view of “works of the law” which Dunn suggests. He points out that if the socially-excluding ceremonial law alone was to be excluded, then justification would have been ascribed to the moral law, which it never is. Using the New Testament he shows that ceremonial works brought with them the obligation to fulfil the whole Law of Moses - and so Paul had opposed them because of this larger implication.


          I also agree that the choice of the genitive of origin view will play an important part in deciphering the part law plays in salvation, as it will flesh out what Paul means by saying works could not deliver the same justification as grace (the provision of the Way, the instructions on how to have the faithfulness of Christ):

          2 Corinthians 3:9For if the ministry of condemnation has glory, much more does the ministry of righteousness abound in glory.


          Acts 13:39Through him everyone who believes is set free from every sin, a justification you were not able to obtain under the law of Moses.

          The explanation will have to take into account the following points:


          The Old Covenant offered justification

          Jesus rebuked the Pharisees for not being faithful to God by properly following His law, the requirements of the Old Covenant, the charge confirmed by God's wrath falling on the disobedient, as witnessed by the tower at Siloam killing some and other similar incidents leading to fleeing to John for instruction from God for correct understanding.

          Paul and James rebuked the Gentile converts for not believing God, by properly following the requirements of the New Covenant, confirmed by the lack of sanctification in their lives as seen in the attempts by the Galatians to return to a salvation journey based on works because of trials.

          I'll stick to outlines and gists because going into depth for every point will lead to digression, and unwieldy explanations. I don't have the chops to be as skillful and erudite as scholars like the one I quoted from, who seem to have certain views stated rather well so will continue to quote their laying out out those view!


          1 Corinthians 35What then is Apollos? And what is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, even as the Lord gave opportunity to each one.
          Last edited by footwasher; 05-12-2015, 01:59 AM.

          Comment


          • #20
            There are things in the NPP that it’s hard to argue with. One is the fact that Jews never believed that they earned salvation. Another is that Luther and Calvin misunderstood what righteousness means Biblically, and that Paul did not teach that Christ’s righteousness was imputed to us. (Paul said that our faith is imputed as righteousness.)

            However I think Wright’s attempt to see justification as a badge of status is only partially right. It makes sense in parts of Romans, but not for all of it. It’s pretty clear in context that at times it means how God sets us right. It’s always associated with being right with God, but ranges from how we know whether someone is right to how God puts us right.

            I’m also convinced that Paul primarily uses works for “works of the Law,” by which he means circumcision, and more generally the view that defines God’s people by obedience to the Jewish Law. Paul does see a positive role for the Law, when taken as a guide for behavior.

            However the fact that Wright thinks Paul condemns only certain works doesn’t mean that he thinks justification is by a different kind of works. He does not. He is clear that justification is by faith. Since he sees justification as a sign of inclusion in the people of God, that means that he sees faith as the primary way we recognize God’s people. It’s not all they do, obviously, but it’s what characterizes God’s people. In the end, this turns out not to be so different from Calvin, as Wright himself says.

            Comment


            • #21
              Calvin’s misunderstanding of righteousness has less significant than you might think. Calvin thinks we are justified because God imputes Christ’s righteousness. But we appropriate Christ through faith. So in effect Christ’s righteousness is imputed to us through faith. Paul simply says that our faith is imputed as righteousness (unless you think the term normally translated “faith in Christ” actually means “faithfulness of Christ). Whether it’s faith or Christ’s righteousness appropriated through faith does affect some detailed exegesis, but not the overall outline of Calvin’s theology.

              Comment


              • #22
                Originally posted by hedrick View Post
                Calvin’s misunderstanding of righteousness has less significant than you might think. Calvin thinks we are justified because God imputes Christ’s righteousness. But we appropriate Christ through faith. So in effect Christ’s righteousness is imputed to us through faith. Paul simply says that our faith is imputed as righteousness (unless you think the term normally translated “faith in Christ” actually means “faithfulness of Christ). Whether it’s faith or Christ’s righteousness appropriated through faith does affect some detailed exegesis, but not the overall outline of Calvin’s theology.
                Eeeeyup.

                Comment


                • #23
                  Originally posted by hedrick View Post
                  Calvin’s misunderstanding of righteousness has less significant than you might think. Calvin thinks we are justified because God imputes Christ’s righteousness.
                  Error distorts and has to be weeded out.

                  But we appropriate Christ through faith. So in effect Christ’s righteousness is imputed to us through faith.
                  That doesn't appear to be the case; Romans 4 has faith credited as righteousness without any reference to Christ's righteousness. It's the death and resurrection that is imputed.

                  Paul simply says that our faith is imputed as righteousness (unless you think the term normally translated “faith in Christ” actually means “faithfulness of Christ).
                  Please expound; I don't see any contradiction between 'faith credited as righteousness' and translating pisteou Iesou Christou as 'faithfulness of Jesus the Messiah' in Romans 3, for example.

                  Comment


                  • #24
                    Originally posted by Paprika View Post
                    That doesn't appear to be the case; Romans 4 has faith credited as righteousness without any reference to Christ's righteousness. It's the death and resurrection that is imputed.
                    That was my point. "being credited as" is the term often referred to as "imputed." So faith is imputed as righteousness without reference to Christ. That's my point. While Calvin's exegesis is normally right, in the Institutes he does make it clear that Christ's righteousness is imputed to us. E.g. "Hence that imputation of righteousness without works, of which Paul treats (Rom. 4:5), the righteousness found in Christ alone being accepted as if it were ours." I don't think Rom 4:5 quite means that.

                    The Bible normally uses "righteous" to refer to a person who lives the way God wants. It's not an impossible moral perfection, but living as God teaches, and repenting when you blow it. I think Paul's thought is that God considers faith as a sign that you are his, and thus that you are righteous, even if you don't have any works yet. Rom 6 speaks of Christians as being united with Christ, and thus sharing his victory over sin. So there's a sense in which we do appropriate Christ's righteousness. But I always get the impression when reading Calvin (and most Protestant commentators) that they think we need righteousness in the sense of moral perfection in order to be justified, and that we're credited with Christ's. I don't believe that's Paul's thought.

                    Please expound; I don't see any contradiction between 'faith credited as righteousness' and translating pisteou Iesou Christou as 'faithfulness of Jesus the Messiah' in Romans 3, for example.
                    Calvin certainly understands Paul as speaking of our faith in Christ, as that which unites us with Christ, and appropriates his righteousness. Translating it as faithfulness of Christ nullifies some of the citations Calvin uses. It certainly doesn't remove the overall idea that we are united with Christ, which is expressed in other terms as well. Gal 2:16 is a wonderful passage for Calvin, in that it says we are justified by faith in Christ. It's not fatal for his theology if the passage actually says the faithfulness of Christ, since Calvin could see it as a reference to Christ's obedience, which has a very important role for Calvin in the atonement.

                    Comment


                    • #25
                      Originally posted by hedrick View Post
                      So there's a sense in which we do appropriate Christ's righteousness.
                      Imputation of Christ's death and resurrection is not imputation of his righteousness 'in a sense'. There's not need to try to preserve the concept 'in a sense' when it's not there in any meaningful way. Rather, Christ's death and resurrection is imputed to us and not his righteousness- so Calvin was downright wrong - and work from there instead of trying to expand 'imputation of righteousness' for whatever reasons you may have.

                      Comment


                      • #26
                        Originally posted by hedrick View Post
                        There are things in the NPP that it’s hard to argue with. One is the fact that Jews never believed that they earned salvation. Another is that Luther and Calvin misunderstood what righteousness means Biblically, and that Paul did not teach that Christ’s righteousness was imputed to us. (Paul said that our faith is imputed as righteousness.)

                        However I think Wright’s attempt to see justification as a badge of status is only partially right. It makes sense in parts of Romans, but not for all of it. It’s pretty clear in context that at times it means how God sets us right. It’s always associated with being right with God, but ranges from how we know whether someone is right to how God puts us right.

                        I’m also convinced that Paul primarily uses works for “works of the Law,” by which he means circumcision, and more generally the view that defines God’s people by obedience to the Jewish Law. Paul does see a positive role for the Law, when taken as a guide for behavior.

                        However the fact that Wright thinks Paul condemns only certain works doesn’t mean that he thinks justification is by a different kind of works. He does not. He is clear that justification is by faith. Since he sees justification as a sign of inclusion in the people of God, that means that he sees faith as the primary way we recognize God’s people. It’s not all they do, obviously, but it’s what characterizes God’s people. In the end, this turns out not to be so different from Calvin, as Wright himself says.


                        The law is a constant. What is discussed in the text is the various ways Jews and their forefathers interacted with it.

                        The law was what God required of his people to observe, to demonstrate their faithfulness. It was, in the main, a moral requirement commitment.

                        However observing the law was not the only means of exercising faith in God and His people are not necessarily Jews and Christians. God's people are identified by the faith, belief, they have in what he reveals to them, Abraham being the best known example, being neither Jew nor a keeper of Torah, yet reckoned to be righteous.

                        Although what he reveals to them is in the main moral, belief in his promises for temporal blessings count in his acceptance, considering as faithful, of their righteous acts. Abraham believed God's promise of blessings and all these were counted, not imputed, they were really considered righteous acts. Even before law was given as a means of demonstrating faithfulness, 430 years before, Abraham was considered faithful, because he believed in God's revelations and promises. The Jews really had no grounds to be proud of their possession of the law. Belief in God's revelation was what counted, whether promises to be received through patience or to be received through obedience.

                        So it's true that the Jews never believed in works righteousness. Rather, what Paul faulted the Jews for was for being unfaithful to God. His revelation to them was the necessity to obey the law, consistent in the messages of the prophets, even the messages of John the Baptist and Jesus. It mattered not that they failed, they just had to believe that God required perfect obedience.

                        The observance of the Jews was nomism, they only performed those acts that identified them as Jews. The Baptiser and Jesus rebuked this action.

                        Paul recognised that this was the failure of the Jews under the Old Covenant, but his rebuke to the Gentiles of Galatia was for being swayed by the judaisers. They were trying to revert back to the old criteria of righteousness, observing the law, which was dangerous, because it has to be observed perfectly. Failure to be faithful to all the law led to being declared unrighteous, because it was not the righteousness defined by God but the righteousness defined by the Jews a righteousness of their own. Gentiles were not stumbled by this ambiguity, ironically, because they HAD no law. Failure to observe the law perfectly led to breaking of the spirit, Paul called it death, but strangely, it led to justification, as seen in the parable of the publican in the temple. This is how the law was a guardian, it protected those who observed it, failed and fell before God for mercy. They would be with Christ in paradise.

                        However if the Gentile turned to the old covenant, Christ would be of no benefit to them. Observing the new covenant immediately placed the believer in high places, seated by Christ's side. Now by putting to death the deeds of the body the righteous requirements of the law could be met and that which was required to subdue creation could be had. Being in the second Adam had more benefits than being in Moses and even than being in the first Adam.

                        The mistake the church made (specifically, Melanchthon) was to accept the wrong translation of Erasmus. Instead of using the word reputatum, he used the word imputatum. Imputed righteousness is the doctrine of exchange: Christ took our sins, and we took his righteousness, an uncalled for conclusion.


                        https://books.google.co.in/books?id=...IVTBO8Ch3pHwAs


                        Why isn't this all being made clear by Paul? Actually, it was, he did make it clear. However, it would need a good one on one discussion with him for this to really sink in.
                        Last edited by footwasher; 05-16-2015, 09:21 AM.

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