Retractare: New Perspective on Paul

For the past ten years I was sympathetic to, if not openly defending, the New Perspective on Paul as an alternative reading to Luther and Calvin on Galatians and Romans.  I have since rejected this view for the following reasons:

  1. As E. P. Sanders’ own work makes clear (in conjunction with some bloggers at C2C) held to the “merit of the fathers” idea.  This is hard-core semi-Pelagianism.  If so, then the anti-semi pelagian reading of Romans and Galatians is closer to the mark.
  2. The argument that “works of the law” = “ethnic boundary markers” is interesting.  If that is true, though, then how can Paul’s preaching of justification be construed as antinominianism, of which he was clearly charged?   Very few people will infer licentious immorality from the proposition “you can eat shrimp now.”
  3. While I like N.T. Wright’s reading that Jesus was the end of Israel’s exile, this makes sense only within Israel.  As the apostles moved outside the Levant, this message moves to the background.

3 comments on “Retractare: New Perspective on Paul

  1. “The argument that “works of the law” = “ethnic boundary markers” is interesting.”

    Hmm…my pelagian background kinda balks at this. If there’s anything that pelagius taught is true, any sense, if I a must bring one iota, one atom, of myself, to the table, in order to be justified, am I not in a hellish position? How will I ever know whether I bring the correct atom. Maybe it’s two atoms needed? I am in a state of utter despair.

    No, NPP and what you are describing is not, “interesting.” It’s damning. I don’t mean to be harsh. But the watershed moment of finding the true teachings of Paul, as articulated by the reformers, after spending my entire upbringing in full blown pelagianism, is not something that has lost it’s luster for me. Rather, I shout it on the rooftops.

    No hard feelings, and if I offend, consider these words my pre-emptive apology,

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