After the New Perspective – Part 1

We are now in a post-New Perspective on Paul era. The primary response I see these days is a “yes, but …” kind of thing. Though I suspect that many will continue become enamored with the NPP as the hottest thing to come off the wire, or else many will still insist that the NPP are the barbarians at the gates of Reformed orthodoxy. So what have we learned from the NPP? I intend to do a couple of posts on this in the future, but before I do, I have to reference Tim Gombis’ recent post on the subject here. Gombis writes on the pro-side of things:

When Paul sets pistis (“faith”/“faithfulness”) in opposition to “works” or “works of law,” he does not intend a contrast between human trust and human action.  Nor does he ever oppose faith to obedience.  He does set in opposition faithful obedience to Jesus and the effort to accumulate credentials toward the establishment of a status before men thinking that such social standing carries weight with God.  The opposition, therefore, is between obedience and disobedience—discipleship to Jesus that looks like faith-working-through-love, to use the language of Galatians, versus discipleship to Jesus that must be pursued within Judaism … Related to this, Paul regards those who are advocating a Judaizing strategy for gentiles as disobedience to God.  It is not that they are advocating obedience at the expense of faith.  Paul charges them with disobedience in Romans and apostasy in Galatians, and calls them to the obedience of faith.  It’s not that Paul sees an over-emphasis on obedience in this wrong approach to Christian identity, but characterizes the Judaizing impulse as actual disobedience to God, and potentially apostasy.

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  • Emerson (blue steel dude)

    Oh mercy……I would sooner spread the corner of my garment over Pelagius and all of his ilk than buy into that utterly jejune, bland reading of Paul. Discipleship? Faithful obedience? What is this, a Yoder book club?

    • http://covenantoflove.net Derek

      He’s not talking about discipleship and faithful obedience unto salvation! Sheesh… The scriptures are laced with the call to discipleship and faithful obedience. Why is it that we have to become so fearful of anything smacking of sneaking Pelagianism in through the back door that whenever faithful obedience is called upon, we cry “PELAGIUS!” I suppose your preference is anti-nomianism.

      P.S. Dr. Bird… good quote! :)

  • Emerson (blue steel dude)

    Oh mercy……I would sooner spread the corner of my garment over Pelagius and all of his ilk than buy into that utterly jejune, bland reading of Paul. Discipleship? Faithful obedience? What is this, a Yoder book club?

    • http://covenantoflove.net Derek

      He’s not talking about discipleship and faithful obedience unto salvation! Sheesh… The scriptures are laced with the call to discipleship and faithful obedience. Why is it that we have to become so fearful of anything smacking of sneaking Pelagianism in through the back door that whenever faithful obedience is called upon, we cry “PELAGIUS!” I suppose your preference is anti-nomianism.

      P.S. Dr. Bird… good quote! :)

  • Emerson (blue steel dude)

    Hmm well let us see Derek: “He does set in opposition faithful obedience to Jesus and the effort to accumulate credentials toward the establishment of a status before men.” Said directly after, “When Paul sets pistis (“faith”/“faithfulness”) in opposition to “works” or “works of law,”……” In other words (and for bloody sakes you NPP cronies, just come out and say it already), we are justified by faithful obedience to Jesus Christ. The correlative allusion in the above quoted sentence is perfectly clear. ‘Faithful obedience’ stands for “faith” and ‘the effort to accumulate credentials toward the establishment pf a status before men’ stands for “works of the law.” I really don’t understand, Derek, how you could have missed that. Secondly, who ever said that that a sound, critical, and just hatred of works-righteousness requires antionomianism? Have you read any of the writings of the Reformers against works-righteousness? They probabaly extol the law (and keep it) in much greater amounts than today’s horde of N.T. Wright worshippers. Finally, “Pelagianism” sneaks through the door as soon as we start relating “faithful obedience” to faith and justification, because it is the nature of material pelagianism to do just that…relate faithful obedience to justification. Why don’t you folk just come out and say what you have been implying and trying to hide behind nice phrases for so many years: that we are justified by doing good deeds? Or is faithful obedience a matter completely passive to you, apart from all human action?

  • Emerson (blue steel dude)

    Hmm well let us see Derek: “He does set in opposition faithful obedience to Jesus and the effort to accumulate credentials toward the establishment of a status before men.” Said directly after, “When Paul sets pistis (“faith”/“faithfulness”) in opposition to “works” or “works of law,”……” In other words (and for bloody sakes you NPP cronies, just come out and say it already), we are justified by faithful obedience to Jesus Christ. The correlative allusion in the above quoted sentence is perfectly clear. ‘Faithful obedience’ stands for “faith” and ‘the effort to accumulate credentials toward the establishment pf a status before men’ stands for “works of the law.” I really don’t understand, Derek, how you could have missed that. Secondly, who ever said that that a sound, critical, and just hatred of works-righteousness requires antionomianism? Have you read any of the writings of the Reformers against works-righteousness? They probabaly extol the law (and keep it) in much greater amounts than today’s horde of N.T. Wright worshippers. Finally, “Pelagianism” sneaks through the door as soon as we start relating “faithful obedience” to faith and justification, because it is the nature of material pelagianism to do just that…relate faithful obedience to justification. Why don’t you folk just come out and say what you have been implying and trying to hide behind nice phrases for so many years: that we are justified by doing good deeds? Or is faithful obedience a matter completely passive to you, apart from all human action?

  • Emerson (blue steel dude)

    And one more thing Derek, as “laced” the scriptures may be with the call to discipleship, you won’t find much of that word or that call in Paul. You are importing Synoptic concepts and terminology into pauline researcg, which I find ironic (given the endless blathering and bragging of the New Perspective’s ability to deal historically and critically with the text).

  • Emerson (blue steel dude)

    And one more thing Derek, as “laced” the scriptures may be with the call to discipleship, you won’t find much of that word or that call in Paul. You are importing Synoptic concepts and terminology into pauline researcg, which I find ironic (given the endless blathering and bragging of the New Perspective’s ability to deal historically and critically with the text).


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