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Any time a "new perspective" on some biblical doctrine arises, red flags should go off warning Christians of possible danger. In many cases such "new" ideas, teachings, or perspectives are not new ...
How many times did Jesus start to say something and began with "be ye not deceived". A lot of 21 century theologians are really turning away from the gospel, the teachings of Christ through the Apostle Paul which are crystal clear. Many modern "thinkers" say that the Gospel is too simple to be in line with the Creator of the universe, given how complicated the laws of Thermodynamics are. I'm thinking they think they know more than God, they're all puffed up with pride in figuring out all the laws of physics and the complexity of mathematics. In my opinion, God made His word simple for the simple reason. Occam's razor. This is a scientific principle that all things being equal, the simplest solution is usually the correct one. God's beautiful plan for salvation is so simple that even the simplest, the people not gifted with intelligence, the skeptics, no matter how small and simple we may appear to be, or for the arrogants who think that some are beyond hope, the drug addict, the alcoholic, the murderers, the revilers, all of us have the easy to understand and comply with, free gift of salvation. It's just so wonderfully simple. It is literally God's plan for all, big and small, great and weak. Read the Bible, get to know God and Jesus, and come willingly and accept Their gift of eternal life. So Simple and joyful, and hey as today's bonus, it even WILL last forever. It is not God's will that ANY should perish.
Let me state right up front that I do not completely espouse to all of the conclusions purported by the New Perspective on Paul (hereafter NPP), however, I recognize the essential direction it is attempting to go as a valuable contribution to the field of Pauline studies, namely, to uncover the most accurate understanding of Paul that we can. That being said, however, the alternative thesis usually referred to as Luther’s Paul, or Reformation Paul has its pros and cons as well. No view of Paul is perfect. But to the degree that a view seeks to utilize all available, trustable, resources for the purpose of uncovering a more historically and theologically accurate view of Paul, I applaud such an endeavor (Acts 17:11). Christian theologian and author Mark Nanos suggests that in spite of the ambition to deconstruct and criticize influences from normative theology, NT scholarship during the nineteenth century and onwards was ironically heavily influenced by one of the most influential master narratives within Western culture—the theological dichotomy between Judaism and Christianity. This theme has determined the outcome of several important subfields within NT Studies, such as the historical Yeshua (Jesus), the historical Paul, the rise of Christianity, and the separation between Judaism and Christianity. On scientific grounds, the impact on normative Christian theology obviously should not guide historiography, including historical-critical treatments of the biblical and related literary and material remains. Christian theological interests require cross-cultural constraints. Only during the last decades has the theological enterprise’s determination of what is historical been profoundly challenged from new, avowedly scientifically based perspectives. The so-called Third Quest of the historical Jesus is one example where the opposition between Jesus and Judaism has been replaced by a historically more likely view where Yeshua is placed within Judaism and understood as representing Judaism. The same is now happening with Paul, but in his case the resistance from normative theology seems stronger. It is not hard to understand why. The binary ideas that Christianity has superseded Judaism and that Christian grace has replaced Jewish legalism, for example, appear to be essential aspects of most Christian theologies. Nevertheless, as in the case with Yeshua, proponents of the so-called Radical Perspective on Paul (NPP)—what Nanos prefers to call “Paul within Judaism” perspectives—believe and share the assumption that the traditional perspectives on the relation between Judaism and Christianity are incorrect and need to be replaced by a historically more accurate view. It is Christian theology that must adjust, or at least learn to read its own origins cross-culturally when demonstrated to be necessary on independent scientific grounds. I am quite confident that Christianity will survive a completely Jewish Paul, just as it evidently survived a completely Jewish Jesus. Religions tend to adapt. Conclusions: So which view presents the more accurate view of Paul, Luther’s Paul, or Paul within Judaism? I am of the belief that both views offer valuable insights into the historically accurate Paul, but the careful student of scripture must always, always return to scripture for his final authoritative answers. However, since the Bible is not only inspired text, but also a part of human history, we would do well to not so easily dismiss the latest earnest research into the field of Pauline studies simply because it is “new.” In the end, if our goal is to get Paul right, it is important to apply historiographical rigor, including self-awareness of our own interpretive interests, which we ought to be willing to subordinate to outcomes that we might not actually prefer. Theological interest in Paul’s voice should be conducted with respect for the cross-cultural nature of the historical discipline required for his later interpreters.
NT Wright's webpage on New Perspectives says, '‘The gospel’ is not ‘you can be saved, and here’s how’; the gospel, for Paul, is ‘Jesus Christ is Lord’.' That's pretty scriptural and accurate. Furthermore, Wright states that justification is by faith, but that works have to follow, throughout a believers life, such that as we work out our faith 'in fear and trembling' we are justified at the eschatological climax of history: Jesus's return and the resurrection of believers in him. Our eternal bodies are justified because of a life spent faithfully living out Jesus as Lord.
Somehow I wonder what a “the New Perspective” of Paul’s doctrine is. There’s some serious errors in the old perspectives of Paul’s doctrine that are overlooked. But they might have been considered “the New Perspective” of the former generation where they began. One would be the “Pre-tribulation Rapture” theory which 1Corinthians 15:23-24 put’s to the sword. Christ was the first to be raised and the next to be raised would be the righteous dead at His second coming, and verse twenty four, “then comes the end” which includes the end of death. So from this conclusion there cannot be a so called “Pre-trib rapture in between those events. The other is the so Called Millennial reign of Christ on earth as it was interpreted from Isaiah 11:6-9. (of course there is a Millennium Reign of Christ on earth but it must happen before the second coming of Christ in my opinion because of 2Peter 3 and 1Cor 15:23-24.) This doctrine has been touted in Christian circles as the state of the world in the millennium reign of Christ after He returns, however a proper understanding of this time comes to us in verse ten where it talks of the Gentiles reaching out to God. The answer to that was recorded in Romans 15:12. To build a doctrine on this idea that the Millennium would have tame animals and harmless creatures cannot be accurate. Because a proper perspective of Paul’s teaching cancels that notion. Paul’s ministry to the Gentiles is the fulfillment of that scripture in Isaiah 11:10. Another perspective that may be considered “a new perspective” of Paul’s teaching comes from Roman’s 11:20-24. There are those in history who have taught that once a person is a member of the body of Christ they can never lose their salvation, yet the apostle in serious terms in this passage genuine Christians who were standing by faith, that they would be cut off from being a part of the Church (The Olive Tree) if they did not continue in the goodness of God. There is no unconditional eternal security taught by Paul or Christ or any of the apostles. John 15 has the story of the Vine and Vine dresser and the ever serious matter of not abiding any longer in Christ. Because true branches that have the life blood of the vine flowing in them would dry up by not abiding in Christ. The final outcome would be broken off from Christ and cast into the fire. Having a new perspective of the apostles teaching may be necessary when doctrines of historical scholars are flawed such as the examples above.
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