Monday, July 20, 2009

New Perspectives on Paul

I believe that we are in a new era within out understanding of Christendom. One of the more recent public movememts of Christian especially in the Western Church has been the 'Emerging Church'.
Two aspects of theology I believe will define the movement. One which I have found easy to observe as it has been in a close association with the theology of the 'Kingdom of God'. I have blogged about this somewhere on the Ranges blog. In many ways this was easy for me to spot because it has much in common with my own denomination the Vineyard.
The other is in regard to social justice. For a while I have noted a shift towards a greater 'Social Justice', within Australia. Australian movements such as 'Tear' and 'UNOH' have been leading the charge and in many ways becoming stronger. I believe that two main things have aided there strength, with or without there knowledge. (I also might be wrong and God is totally Sovereign) 1) A renewed called for the Church to mission. 2) 'New Perspective on Paul'. Both of these factors have helped bring to helped in strengthening these type of Christian organizations. What I want to discuss is the 'New Perspective on Paul"
I wasn't really aware of 'New Perspectives on Paul' until I read N.T. Wrights book on the subject matter. The good old wikipedia has a pretty good summary of the theology, of New Perspectives on Paul.

The "new perspective" is a deliberate attempt to lift Paul's letters out of this framework and interpret them based on an understanding of first century Judaism, taken on its own terms.

An aspect of the 'New Perspective' is the idea of works and grace, where there has been a tipping of the balance towards works. The wikipedia again sums up the argument.

New perspective scholars tend to place a higher value on the importance of good works than the old perspective does, taking the view that they causally contribute to the salvation of the individual.
I see many implications, no more 'cheap alter calls', emphasis on doing stuff, especially social justice etc etc, lots of implications. Anyway I think that God is recalibrating the church.
There are other aspects of the 'New Perspectives' which I'd like to post about at some stage, from salvation to creation. Stay tuned.


Cat said...

Scott, I had to read this last year for class and loved it. I didn’t necessarily agree with all of it, but I love the way NT Wright expresses the ‘new perspective’. You get the impression it isn’t particularly new to Wright! There were many moments while reading Wright that stopped me in my tracks, but I was continuously drawn towards Paul’s understanding of Jesus as the Messiah and as Lord. It was always a double edged understanding for Paul – belief and action. Jesus requires action; it is not enough to simply believe. I am looking forward to hearing more of your thoughts Scott.

Scott said...

Mmm was it with Les? He told me he hasn't read it! Yes I wonder about NT Wright if his position may be stronger if he wasn't a 'Bishop' in the system. Yes there are a few areas that are worth discussing.

Cat said...

yes it was very interesting that Les said he hadn't read it!! hmmm...