Reprinted, with permission, from Faith Pulpit (May/June 2010).
I have had a couple of opportunities to be on camera in front of a “green screen.” The camera captures your image and ignores the green background. It is a great experience because you can project yourself on screen into any number of backgrounds. At one moment you can be skiing in the Alps; the next, you can be surfing on the North Shore. You stay the same, only the background changes. This is the same technology that weather reporters use in their studios to show the weather map.
In an odd kind of way, the green screen illustrates what the New Perspective on Paul is all about. The New Perspective on Paul, however, is not really first and foremost about Paul at all. It is about Paul’s background (i.e., Second Temple Judaism). When you change the background on the green screen from mountains to ocean, people interpret the image in a completely different way. In a similar way, New Perspective scholars are reinterpreting Paul in a variety of different ways because their perception of his background of first-century Judaism has changed.
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This article appears in the July/August 2006 issue of Frontline Magazine. It appears here with permission of the publisher.
By Albin Huss Jr.
The traditional Reformation understanding of the Pauline doctrine of justification has come under attack recently. Surprisingly, the chief assault has not come from Catholic or liberal Protestant theologians but from mainstream Evangelical theologians through an increasingly popular position known as the “New Perspective on Paul” (NPP).(1) Not only does this distinct theological perspective challenge the orthodox view of justification by faith, but it categorically rejects the traditional understanding that first-century Judaism was a works-based religion. In effect, the NPP charges that the Reformers, especially Luther, were so prejudiced by their own struggles with Catholicism that they falsely caricatured Judaism and, in so doing, misread Paul. Thus, NPP advocates have taken it upon themselves to tell us What Saint Paul Really Said.(2) Herein, we will critically examine this “new and informed” reading of Paul to determine whether it is accurate or aberrant.
NOTE: The following standing resolution was presented at the 86th Annual Fellowship of the Fundamental Baptist Fellowship International on June 13, 2006, at Hamilton Square Baptist Church in San Francisco, California.
The New Perspective on Paul (NPP), fathered by E. P. Sanders, developed by James D. G. Dunn, and popularized by N. T. Wright, is not only erroneous exegetically, but more importantly is heretical theologically as a nonevangelical understanding of the apostle Paul and the soteriological teachings of the New Testament.