Tuesday, February 10, 2009

New Pauline Perspective - the only hope for a unified Church

"The more we consider Paul's writing in this context the less we see the acute psychological dilemma characteristic of the Augustinian-Lutheran interpretation as a whole. Krister Stendahl masterfully explores this in his ground-breaking essay "The Apostle Paul and the Introspective Conscience of the West." Paul was certainly aware of his own shortcomings, but, Stendahl asks, "does he ever intimate that he is aware of any sins of his own which would trouble his conscience? It is actually easier to find statements to the contrary. The tone in Acts 23:1, 'Brethren, I have lived before God in all good conscience up to this day' (cf. 24:16), prevails also throughout his letters."8 Far from being "simultaneously a sinner and a saint" (simul iustus et peccator), Paul testifies of his clear conscience: "Indeed, this is our boast, the testimony of our conscience: we have behaved in the world with frankness and godly sincerity" (2 Cor. 1:12a). He was aware that he had not yet "arrived" (Phil. 3:12-14), that he still struggled with the flesh, yet he was confident of the value of his performance (1 Cor. 9:27). He looked forward to a day when "all of us must appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each may receive recompense for what has been done in the body, whether good or evil" (2 Cor. 5:10), and he anticipated a favorable verdict (v. 11). He acknowledged that his clear conscience did not necessarily ensure this verdict (1 Cor. 4:4), but he was confident nevertheless. These are hardly the convictions of someone who intends to rest entirely on the merits of an alien righteousness imputed to his or her account.

It may be countered that Paul considered himself the least of the apostles (1 Cor. 15:9a; cp. Eph. 3:8) and in fact chief of sinners (cp. 1 Tim. 1:15). But this is not the paradigmatic expression of humility and contrition, as if every Christian should regard herself more sinful than the next. Paul's chief sin was that he had violently persecuted the church (1 Cor. 15:9b; cp. 1 Tim. 1:13-16). This confession is obviously concrete and historical -- not subjective, existential, and universally comparable to every person's experience. At any rate Paul had put all of that behind him and made up for his sordid past (1 Cor. 15:10); he did not languish in guilt. From what we know of his extant writings, he did not seem to experience the unrelenting introspection which became so characteristic of Western humankind after Augustine. Nor, many historians agree, could he have in his time and culture." - http://www.thepaulpage.com/Summary.html

Praise God that finally someone has found the proper 1st century understanding of St. Paul. The NPP understanding of Romans is probably the reason I could become a Roman Catholic at all. It shows that the Catholic understanding of Salvation is a biblical option and generally discredits the idea of alien imputed righteousness.

With these Protestants jumping ship on Sola Fide in it's traditional understanding, and the emerging church investigating real tradition (icons, patristics, etc), maybe the Reformation could finally end. Well, it will never end of completely of course... the Calvinists would never give up, God himself could tell them they're wrong and they'd probably call him a heretic and tell him to read the institutes again. But to the rest of Protestantism, go out and buy N.T. Wright, Sanders, and Dunn.

Actually I'm far too optimistic, nowadays being Protestant is about 'not worshipping Mary', using the word 'Eucharist', having 'bishops' or having to kneel at church, it's no longer the issue of 'immediate Justification by Faith ALONE imputed' as opposed to 'Justification by Faith and the work of the Holy Spirit infused'. But if Luther could've read N.T. Wright, maybe the church would be one again...


  1. Andrew you are like an ex-smoker whose life reflects a hatred for that which he did in the past. LOL.

    I say that completely with jest even though there may be some validity to the comment.

    I have a copy of a few of Wrights books (What Paul Really Said, Paul: Fresh Perspective) that I have not had the time to read yet, which I am anticipating doing shortly.

    Cheers Bro

    P.S. Your absolute and utter hatred for Calvinism is showing more and more in your posts.

  2. Because of the sinful nature of man and his desires (his inate corruption)..the church will never be one.

    I for one am glad. Anything that big is bound to not be a good thing for God's people.

    There is one true Church and it lives within all Christian churches on earth.

    The Lord knows who His people are and will always take care of His Church!

    Thank you!

  3. So "bigness" makes something not good for God's people? Not sure how the conclusion follows from the premise.

    Is some pastor who is slightly bigger than another pastor slightly less good for the Church? God is pretty big, is he bad for the Church?

    Everyone must submit to the Church Christ founded. Period. The Church is the pillar and foundation of the truth (I Tim. 3.15) and therefore all Christians must submit themselves to it: that is God's command, not mine.

  4. I was going to comment on Theoldadam's comment but i don't know who he is, but yes, it seems quite idiotic to say big=bad. Aparently the Universe is not "Good" as Genesis 1 tells us it is...

  5. LOL Andrew, even I was inclined to respond to that, whether protestant, roman catholic, or orthodox, as Christians we should seek unity not diversity. Unity under proper doctrine, but still unity. No disrespect meant theoldadam, but it seems as if you have a basic understanding of Calvinism (my guess TULIP), and think that diversity is a good thing.

    It is not. Paul stressed unity and whether the local body or universal, unity should be our goal.

    Cheers Andrew

  6. But I like the Old perspective. As much as I like N.T. Wright, I don't think he has understood the old perspective sufficiently to be an advocate for the new.