Well I was asked on a previous post what “Fool’s Gold” says about the New Perspective on Paul movement.
Let me start off by saying I haven’t really studied up on this topic. To me it seems pointless just from the highlights I have read. I am not familiar with N.T Wright or any of his teaching, so I really cannot say anything about him. I will for the most part being pulling samples from the chapter, with maybe some commentary on the side
Phil Johnson is the author of this chapter and gives a very good explanation of what NPP is and its history.
NPP actually began forming shortly after World War II, gained momentum by James Dunn in 1982 and made popular by Anglican archbishop N.T Wright.
so what is the new perspective we should have on Paul? Well according to Wright and others what has happened is everyone through church history has looked at Justification by faith through the wrong glasses.
As Johnson says on page 62
The debate is not merely an academic quarrel over unimportant hermeneutical nuances; it involves some real and significant threats to the doctrine Martin Luther called “the article by which the church stands or falls”- the doctrine of justification by faith.
and that is the crux of the issue. Not sentence structure but if Augustine,Luther,Calvin, and the other great reformers were wrong and Rome was right.
Johnson goes on to list the 4 “pillars” of NPP thinking
1. Paul was not fighting legalism
2. Racial Reconciliation was Paul’s primary Emphasis
3. Gospel is a Declaration of Victory
4. A redefining of Justification by Faith
The rest of the chapter is focused on N.T Wright and his book “What Saint Paul Really Said”
.I am not going to recopy all of Johnsons points, but he does a very good job of looking at what Wright is saying and giving a clear analysis of it.
One point that stuck out to me and Johnson evens says this a couple of time, is that when taking sides between the reformers and Rome, Wright ends up either on Rome side or neutral (if that is even possible).
Finally, Johnson gives four ways to respond to WRight’s view of justification by faith
1.Scripture should inform our understanding of first-century Judaism.
2.Scripture should shape our understanding of Paul’s teachings
3.Scripture should frame our understanding of the Gospel
4.Scripture should be the final arbiter of all our opinions
As with every other doctrinal issue our source of truth come only from God’s holy word.
I will close with Johnson’s own words
Frankly,we’re happy to stand with Augustine and Luther and the rest of the Protestant Reformers-and with the Old-Perspective apostle Paul-against doctrine that weakens the very heart of the gospel. It is both suprising and saddening to see a novelty like this seducing so many men who profess to be Reformed in their theology. In reality, the New Perspective on Paul does not build on the advances of the Protestant Reformation. Rather it aims at destroying the Reformation at its very foundation.