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by Guy Prentiss Waters

Have evangelicals misunderstood Paul? Was the Reformation doctrine of justification a mistake? The New Perspective on Paul has serious implications for that pivotal doctrine of the gospel.

Guy Waters lays out the theological, historical, and cultural antecedents to the New Perspective and examines its leading proponents. He offers a trenchant critique of their work and warns us of problems that the New Perspective may pose within the Church.

Download Justification And The New Perspectives On Paul: A Review And Response epub
ISBN: 0875526497
ISBN13: 978-0875526492
Category: Bibles
Subcategory: Bible Study & Reference
Author: Guy Prentiss Waters
Language: English
Publisher: P & R Publishing (November 1, 2004)
Pages: 286 pages
ePUB size: 1965 kb
FB2 size: 1235 kb
Rating: 4.2
Votes: 665
Other Formats: rtf docx mbr txt

Great seller/arrived quickly and as described.
The topic is dry and He had a habit of giving to much time to the bad views and a lack of clarity to the proper views. The volume is written for a collage student being forced to read it for a class assignment. The vocabulary represents and sometimes requires a dictionary when more appropriate words could easily been used.
Great Book provides a different perspective. Use with the letter of Romans good insights. And I received it in time for class
Here is a very informative and thought-provoking book on the New Perspective on Paul (NPP) by an evangelical Presbyterian (PCA) biblical scholar. If there is one book to be had by Reformed Christians that makes a good comparison between the NPP and their own tradition this book is it. Though not as deep as Westerholm's book, it still does a good job outlining the issues and problems of the NPP.

There are nine chapters in total. And the first seven are devoted to the views of the various New Perspective scholars (from Schweitzer to Wright) on the issue of Judaism, law, and justification. Waters outlines the various New Perspective views more easily and concisely than Westerholm does. Out of the various New Perspective scholars, Waters focuses most of his attention on Sanders, Dunn, and Wright (the NPP trinity).

One will be impressed by the depth and amount of knowledge Waters possesses regarding this issue. The critiques he gives of the views of Sanders, Dunn, and Wright are quite impressive and penetrating. In fact, Waters does not hold back and tells it like it is. One of the things I liked about Waters' analysis of the NPP is that it is based on faulty foundations (liberal and modernist assumptions) and improper hermeneutics (using Second Temple sources as interpretive guides for Paul's letters). I also liked the way Waters highlights how NPP scholars failed to exegetically deal with the Pauline texts that deal with Christ's death (Romans 5:19; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Philippians 3:9). Waters rightly concludes that Christ's atonement is fundamentally soteriological than ecclesiastical (i.e., dealing more with personal sin than covenantal openness).

Most of all, I really liked Waters' critique of the NPP and his analysis of the NPP's relationship to Reformed Christianity. Though he only devotes two chapters (8 and 9) on this issue, I believe that he has pretty much decisively struck down the idea that the NPP is compatible with confessional Reformed (and Protestant) theology. The reader will come out of these chapters wondering how a Reformed pastor in his right mind can accept the conclusions of the NPP and still be considered Reformed (or even evangelical). I also liked his section on Norman Shepherd's view of justification and how it has more affinities with the NPP and Trent than the Reformed standards (pp. 204-211).

This book should be read by all theologians, pastors, and officers in the various conservative Presbyterian and Reformed seminaries and denominations. This book will make it clear that the NPP and Reformed Christianity are incompatible. Those NPP leaning "Reformed" teachers and ministers who still insist on serving at Presbyterian and Reformed schools and churches should realize that they are doing their students and congregants a disservice with their deception. In fact, they preach a false gospel that Paul would condemn if he were alive today (Galatians 1:8-9). If they had enough integrity they would openly confess that their views are incompatible with Reformed and Protestant orthodoxy and quietly leave their respective schools and congregations. Unfortunately, it seems, many of these "Reformed" ministers out there seem to care more about creating some theocratic state on earth and not losing their livelihood. May God use this book to further His truth.
At the time this book was published in 2004, Guy Prentiss Waters was a professor of biblical studies at Belhaven College; he is an ordained minister of the Presbyterian Church in America.

He wrote in the Preface, “Many in the churches today are hearing for the first time about ‘the New Perspective on Paul’ (NPP)… From what quarters has the NPP come? Who are its major academic proponents? What are they saying? What biblical, theological, and confessional issues does the NPP raise? Should individuals in the Reformed community have an interest in this movement that is gaining popularity within the evangelical church?... Those are the questions that I will endeavor to answer in the next nine chapters. In this work I have at least three objectives. I first want to give an exposition of what leading … proponents of the NPP, are saying about the theology of Paul and related issues… Second, I want to show how the NPP emerges from an academic and theological discussion that predates it by more than two centuries. This ‘historical-critical’ discussion yielded certain interpretative and theological decisions that… have determined the contours of the NPP… Third, I want to illustrate the ways in which the NPP deviates from the doctrines set forth in the Westminster Standards… I will finally attempt to explain why officers and congregants within Reformed and evangelical churches find NPP attractive, and why such interest often attends interest in the theology of Norman Shepherd and the theology represented in the September 2002 statement of… the Auburn Avenue Presbyterian Church.” (Pg. ix-x)

He further explains, “Why, then, is this work largely critical in its assessment of the NPP?... I write from a standpoint of full sympathy with the Westminster Standards… I have accordingly examined the NPP and found it defective on several key points of biblical teaching. A second and related reason is that I write this book primarily for individuals who already find themselves within the Reformed community… I have thought it necessary to underscore these concerns in this work in view fo the potential dangers to the church that are occasioned by enthusiastic and uncritical reception of the NPP.” (Pg. xi) He reviews and critiques writers from Luther’s day, but particularly focuses on contemporary figures such as E.P. Sanders, James Dunn, and N.T. Wright. He says of Wright, for example, the “he has done more than any other single individual to mediate NPP exegesis into the mainline and evangelical churches… he has never intentionally segregated his scholarship and his parish ministry.” (Pg. 119)

He observes, “We… have recognized diversity and divergences among the primary NPP proponents. Nevertheless, there is enough held in common among them to group them as a school. We now turn to an extended critique of the NPP… we will show that … the NPP is flawed hermeneutically… we will show that the exegesis propounded by the Reformers and their heirs is faithful to Paul, while … the theological assumptions and implications of the NPP writings are contrary to good, sound biblical teaching.” (Pg. 151)

He notes that “[Francis] Turretin addresses those who would delimit works of the law to the specifically ceremonial (i.e., Jewish) prescriptions of the Torah, a view that was addressed and dismissed by Thomas Aquinas. The innovation of Dunn and Wright… is in driving a wedge between status and activity in regard to these works of the law and in refusing to restrict works of the law to the ceremonial law of the Mosaic administration. While there have been sporadic attempts in the history of interpretation to delimit Pauline works of the law, whether in the thirteenth or the twenty-first century, interpreters throughout the church’s history have generally maintained the traditional view articulated and defended above.” (Pg. 169-170)

He argues, “The NPP mistakenly reinterprets justification as an ecclesiological doctrine, not a soteriological one. The doctrine that Pauline justification is ecclesiological and not soteriological is one of the most remarkable inversions of Paul. No orthodox interpreter of Paul has ever disputed that the doctrine of justification has ecclesiological implications… To affirm, however, that Paul’s doctrine of justification was EXCLUSIVELY ecclesiological and not at all soteriological is to force a dichotomy where Paul… has seen none… one wonders whether ecclesiastical proponents of the NPP have forced this dichotomy in order to permit rapprochement with Rome.” (Pg. 189-190)

He also critiques Norman Shepherd, the former theology professor at Westminster Theological Seminary: “The problem with Shepherd’s model is that it functionally supplants the doctrine of regeneration with the sacrament of baptism… there is no overriding concern with the heart, with the religious affections… Shepherd would have us confuse the ‘husk’ (covenantal faithfulness) with the ‘kernel’ (a heart that has been renewed by the grace of God). Shepherd, in his zeal to have the covenant swallow regeneration, would have us ignore the vital question of the NATURE of the covenantal faithfulness in view. In this respect we are presented with a stunning departure from Reformed orthodoxy. Shepherd’s model promotes the very externalism that the apostle Paul labored so hard to oppose in early Christian circles. (Pg. 208)

He concludes, “All expressions of Christianity are on the path to one of two destinations, Rome or Geneva. What the NPP offers us is decidedly not ‘Genevan.’ The parallel interest, in some Reformed circles, in the redefined categories of covenant and justification, coupled with a new stress… on baptism and with a consequent diminution of regeneration, does not bode well. It seems that there are elements active in the Reformed churches that wish to lead the church into a sacramental religion, all in the name of being ‘more Reformed.’ … what they are really and increasingly saying is that Luther and Calvin were mistaken, and that Trent was right.” (Pg. 211-212)

NPP advocate will not care for this book, obviously; but Waters’ reasonably fair summations of the positions of NPP defenders balance the criticism; in any case, this is an important volume to study for anyone seriously investigating the New Perspective.