Definitions for NPP

Discussion in 'Federal Vision/New Perspectives' started by devonturnbaugh, Nov 11, 2010.

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  1. devonturnbaugh

    devonturnbaugh Puritan Board Freshman

    I am somewhat new to the NPP and wanted to see if I could get some simple working definitions as I begin my study. If this is posted elsewhere I apologize for the inconvenience.
  2. kainos01

    kainos01 Puritan Board Senior

    Most see the beginning of the movement with E. P Sanders and his Paul and Palestinian Judaism in 1977. The “New Perspective” has redefined the Pauline references to the “works of the law.” Most notably beside Sanders are James Dunn and N. T. Wright, and they hold that the Reformers, in their defense of the doctrine of sola fide, read too much into Paul, and that first century Judaism in general was, in fact, not legalistic or confused about the means of salvation; rather, the discussions about the works of the law are introduced by Paul to warn against a nationalistic interpretation of the Law that would exclude Gentiles. They argue that first century Jews understood that they were saved by grace but believed that following the ritual law was a token of their national election by God. Thus, they say, what Paul was arguing (in the terms “works” and “works of the law”) was that the “tokens” weren’t limiters of God’s grace and that His grace was available as well to those who did not adhere to ritual law (i.e., Gentiles). This stands in opposition to the historic view that understands Paul’s words to mean that Second Temple Judaism was, at least in large measure, concerned with obtaining salvation by works.
  3. CIT

    CIT Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    What is interesting is that my class and I just finished three weeks working through Wright's Justification and none of that was really discussed. Wright went out of his way to say that salvation was by faith alone.

    The difference between Wright and others is that Wright believes that Justification is eschatological in nature. I am made righteous now based on the penal substitutionary atonement of Christ, I then live out this faith through Spirit wrought works, in the final judgment it is these Spirit wrought works that are an evidence of us being in the covenantal community and thus justified.

    We were comparing Wright vs. Piper and in many ways they said the same thing. Wright does deny the imputated righteousness of Christ as a present reality, but he does believe in a righteousness from God that morally changes us in Heaven.

    Now I have not read anything previously from Wright and he may in fact be revising his views.
  4. kainos01

    kainos01 Puritan Board Senior

    The crux of the issue (for the NP) is in understanding what Paul "really" meant when he wrote of justification and works. Wright follows Sanders pretty closely in this regard. In Paul in Fresh Perspective (57), he writes:

    "This is why, when Paul looks ahead to the future and asks, as well one might, what God will say on the last day, he holds up as his joy and crown, not the merits and death of Jesus, but the churches he has planted who remain faithful to the gospel. The path from initial faith to final resurrection (and resurrection we must remind ourselves, constitutes rescue, that is salvation, from death itself) lies through holy and faithful Spirit-led service, including suffering."

    He goes on to connect that idea (that Paul would look to his "holy and faithful Spirit-led service" for his "final resurrection") with believers today. In What Saint Paul Really Said (129), he writes:
    “Present justification declares, on the basis of faith, what future justification will affirm publicly…on the basis of the entire life.” (emphasis added)

    Thus, while he does speak of justification by faith alone, he also argues that we are kept in the "covenant community" on the basis of works. Really, though, if one must be kept in the covenant by virtue of good works, then - ultimately - salvation is by works.
  5. CIT

    CIT Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    But Wright admits that these works which we will be judged by are solely brought about by the Spirit. It is not anything that we can do. It is salvation by works, but works of Christ and the Spirit.
  6. MarieP

    MarieP Puritan Board Senior

    The problem with Wright is that he has enough truth thrown in to make what he's saying appear orthodox. Was the issue of the Gentiles coming into the kingdom apart from Jewish ritual an important issue to Paul? Of course. Does the Bible say that sanctification is necessary? Of course. Does the Bible teach a judgment according to works? Of course (and it isn't as if all Reformed people say it's merely hypothetical either). But does that mean that the Jews were devoid of legalism and that we're kept in the New Covenant by works? Of course not!!!

    I have a confession to make...I just about fell for the New Perspective recently. I now repudiate it.

    Otherwise, if covenantal nomism is true and legalism of some sort was not believed by the Judaizers, why did Peter say,

    "But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved in the same manner as they" (Acts 15:11)

    NPP (New PerspectiveS on Paul to be accurate) advocates say that, if Paul were addressing works-righteousness in general, he goes about doing it the wrong way. Well, Peter goes about answering supposed covenantal nomism the wrong way. If that were true, why did Peter phrase verse 11 as he did? Why does he call the law something they nor their fathers could bear? Interestingly, Wright addressed this chapter in some lectures, and he said this verse was saying that the Jews didn't keep Torah themselves and said to go read Romans 7 for yourself because he didn't have time to discuss it in the lecture. I now can see why he didn't want to go there...the commentary in Paul for Everyone was rather confusing on that chapter.

    And Hebrews destroys covenantal nomism as well- the blood of bulls and goats NEVER took away sin. The NPP, if I understand correctly, says that the issue is that they couldn't take them away permanently. But that isn't what Hebrews is saying. It says, never...period. Abraham, Moses, David, and Isaiah weren't saved in a different way than we are today. Apart from us, says the writer, they were not made perfect. They were kept under guard by the law as their tutor to show their need for a Savior, and as Peter said, it was burdensome because they couldn't keep it, but now the Savior has come and died and risen and ascended, and we don't need types and shadows anymore, but we have the fulfillment.

    Oh, and Wright says that people in the 1st Century were not worried about what happens when you die. Oh, really???

    "Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage"- Heb 2:14-15
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