Friday, August 10, 2007

What Did Paul Really Mean?

At Christianity Today, a description and critique of the "new perspective on Paul" by Simon Gathercole of the University of Aberdeen and Cambridge. It seems to my untutored judgement a good summary of the argument, which is about how Paul viewed the law and justification.

From the article:
...[W]hen pastors preach on the Gospels and Acts, they must distinguish between criticism delivered by Jesus and Paul against their contemporaries, on the one hand, and their high regard for the law of Moses on the other. Some Jews in the first century clearly did interpret the law in a way that imposed strictures foreign to the Torah. But we must not criticize the law itself, as if it were a body of petty rules and regulations. To do so would be to criticize God himself. His law is "holy, righteous, and good" (Rom. 7:12).
Although Gathercole believes the discussion has provided valuable correction to the understanding of Paul's teaching, especially with respect to the Jewish attitude toward the law, he concludes:
At its core, the doctrine of justification says that sinners can be miraculously reckoned righteous before God. This happens for all who believe and has nothing to do with observance of the law, which for sinners is impossible. With this foundation in place, we can move on to see how Paul uses the doctrine of justification by faith. The new perspective rightly observes that Paul uses justification to argue that Gentile Christians need not take on the yoke of the law (Galatians) and that Jewish Christians and Gentile Christians should live together in harmony (Romans 14-15). While we must not neglect these demands, we should not allow the tail to wag the dog. [the article]
8/11: Jesus Creed has a series of posts that clarify the issues associated with the "new perspective."

What Did Paul Really Mean? | Christianity Today | A Magazine of Evangelical Conviction

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