I am currently listening to Dwight Priors CD series on Romans. He seems to be taking a long way round to get to the point. He started off by saying what Romans was NOT about. Briefly he mentioned the New Perspective as significant, but has subsequently come back to it and seems to be developing it as what he sees as the main theme of Romans.
The theme seems to be a rebuttal of the opinion (straw man?) that Judaism was primarily legalistic in outlook in New Testament times and a "covenant of works". Much is made of the gracious way that salvation is given. There is even provision for transgression (the temple sacrificial system) which was part and parcel of the covenant. It is "covenant saving faithfullness" not "Justification by Faith" that is the theme of Romans.
What I cannot get a handle on is why the difference of emphasis? Where is the "corporate" covenant taking FV? Under the Old Testament "rules" I can see something of what FV is expounding.
They do seem to overlook however the distinction between corporate accountability and individual responsibility.
In speaking of the exodus from egypt as a saving act there seems to be a conflation of ideas, rescuing a nation from slavery and saving an individual on the Day of Judgement. Immediately following this "saving" a whole generation perishes in the desert. Only two men are singled out as faithful and live to enter the Promised Land.
Now granted that the above is not explicitly taught but rather inferred I cannot see where FV is actually going? There seems to be a nebulous idea of a "corporate covenant" and a downplaying of individual responsibility. Paul is said to never have claimed to have had a conversion experience. He was a Pharisee and remained a Pharisee - and? I was Scottish before my conversion and Scottish afterwards (although you could say my allegiance changed). I can find no mention of the apostles being converted or being baptised! Does this silence on the part of scripture mean that it did not take place?
Besides, the covenant with the Jews was just that, as Paul points out we are the unatural branches, cut from our root stock and grafted into Israel.
I have no doubt that FV is "recovering" the Jewish understanding of national salvation at the time of Jesus. The point is, that this is specifically what Paul had to correct! Stephen is stoned - not when he preaches Jesus but when he talks of how the Jews have treated prophets in the past and more recently the Messiah! He rams home the message that they are rejecting the prophet sent them! Being Jewish does not make them righteous but prone to kill the prophets sent them! (OK that is a bit extreme but I thing it is a fair paraphrase of Stephens sermon, particularly Acts 7:52) Paul makes a distinction between Israel (the physical descendants) and Israel (the spiritual descendants) in Romans 9:6.
Confronted with such a distinction as Paul makes in Romans 9:6 how does FV cope. Surely this is the distinguishing feature of New Testament from the Old Testament: the distinction between corporate accountability and individual responsibility.
What was implicit in the OT is explicit in the NT. To use an analogy from the TV screen - the contrast is turned up. Personal responsibility is at the forefront. It seems to me that what i have heard of FV wants to turn the clock back. Then again Dwight is within the Messianic Judaism camp which (IMHO) wants to return to the shadow rather than the substance in other ways. (Hebrews 8:5, 10:1)
I should explain that this started out as a Bible study on Romans in which all commentaries were to be banned to level the playing field between Calvanist and Arminian. Then somebody brought Dwight Prior along and - well "mission creep" set in.
I am having trouble pinning down the distinctives of the NP (this seems to be a characteristic from what I have read of other posts) I would appreciate some feedback as to whether I have a grip on NP or not.
Eoghan: it might be helpful if you could put all that into a few questions. (Aside from the Apostle one. As to that, some of the apostles first followed John the Baptist. Second, consider Peter's profession of faith as a conversion.)
Feel free to respond to any part.
I say too little - "give some more detail", I say too much - "narrow it down". If only there were a set wordcount ;-)