NPP and Second Temple Judaism: Paul's a Liar?

Discussion in 'Federal Vision/New Perspectives' started by WrittenFromUtopia, Feb 15, 2006.

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  1. WrittenFromUtopia

    WrittenFromUtopia Puritan Board Graduate

    For those who are well versed in the NPP movement (which isn't new) and those who propagate such filth, I find this verse interesting. It almost seems like a refutation of one of the assumed key premises of the NPP charicature of Second-Temple Judaism (i.e. grace not works righteousness).

    Any thoughts?
  2. crhoades

    crhoades Puritan Board Graduate

    I'd be interested to see Dunn's comments on this in his commentary on Romans in the WBC. I have it at home but not here. Anyone have it in Logos that can copy and paste?
  3. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    Ditto to Chris. I will try to find Wright's commentary as well and see what he said. As much as we perhaps do not like NPP, they should shame us in this one regard: Dunn had Romans memorized before age 20. Tom Wright is the same way. This ought to urge us on to more bible knowledge.
  4. WrittenFromUtopia

    WrittenFromUtopia Puritan Board Graduate

    Satan has the Bible memorized as well, I'm sure, Jacob.
  5. Robin

    Robin Puritan Board Junior

    J, you make an excellent point on the virtues of study. It is also chilling to note that in light of Dunn's accomplishments, his present stance is apostate.

    I am continually astonished at the fall of good scholars -- most always due to personal arrogance and the pursuit of a "new" theology.

    Haunting and sad....


    Robin :candle:
  6. turmeric

    turmeric Megerator

    The Church needs much prayer - an area I'm weak in.
  7. biblelighthouse

    biblelighthouse Puritan Board Junior

    Robin, are you able to see into Dunn's heart?
    How do you know he is apostate?
  8. turmeric

    turmeric Megerator

    And you, Joseph, just accused Robin of claiming prophetic ability! I believe she said the man's stance was apostate. A pretty serious accusation, but not as serious as you claim. What is it about February, y'all are crabby!!!
  9. crhoades

    crhoades Puritan Board Graduate

    :lol: You're definitely in the running for quote of the year!

    [edit] Suggestion:

    Prune the thread back to the first three posts. It was a good text to discuss.

    [Edited on 2-16-2006 by crhoades]
  10. biblelighthouse

    biblelighthouse Puritan Board Junior

    Meg, You are quite right . . . I get very crabby when Christians slander one another. Robin said Dunn is currently apostate, and Gabriel slandered Jacob. In both cases, that makes me very crabby, and rightfully so!

    I hardly see how you could say that having an apostate stance is different from having an apostate heart. But very well . . .

    Robin, please explain why you think Dunn's stance is apostate. Whether his opinions about second temple Judaism are right or wrong, how has Dunn personally denied the Gospel?

    That is a genuine question, by the way . . . I have not read Dunn.
    I just get really up in arms when people start throwing around the words, "heresy", "apostate", etc.

    If you can demonstrate to me that Dunn has personally denied the Gospel, then fine . . . I will join with you in charging him with apostasy. But if not, then it might be wise to just say you think he is wrong, rather than playing the "apostasy" card. That is a very, very serious card to play.
  11. Contra_Mundum

    Contra_Mundum Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger Staff Member

    Suggestion taken

    Prudentially Pruned... and Pitted.
  12. Robin

    Robin Puritan Board Junior

    Francis Watson, "The Triune Divine Identity: Reflections on Pauline-God Language, in Disagreement with J.D.G. Dunn," Journal for the Study of the New Testament 80 (2000), pp. 99-124

    Watson (a recovering NPP advocate) identifies incipient Arianism in Dunn's "Incarnational" theology found his The Theology of Paul the Apostle:

    "In Dunn's discussion of Pauline Christology, the concept of monotheism serves as a a priori limit, a boundary that Christology (however 'high') must not transgress. Thus, commenting on Phil. 2.10-11, Dunn argues that the term kyrios 'is not so much a way of identifying Jesus with God, but if anything more a way of distinguishing Jesus from God...It is not that God has stepped aside and Jesus has taken over. It is rather that God shared his lordship with Christ, without it ceasing to be God's alone' (p. 254). (That is puzzling: if God shares his lordship with Christ, so that we may now confess Jesus as Lord, does this lordship no ipso facto cease to be 'God's alone'?) Dunn argues that Paul's God-language 'becomes implicitly christological, without the christology ceasing to be theocentric', meaning by this that Christology does not affect Paul's pre-Christian Jewish 'understanding of God as one and finally sovereign' (p. 255). This is a characteristic Arian move: Jesus is, as it were, referred back to God, and this unilateral movement appears finally to supercede any reciprocal reference of God to Jesus...Like all Arians, Dunn's Paul is a theological conservative for whom discourse about Christ must in the end be unilaterally referred back to a foundational discourse about God. In contrast, trinitarian theology claims that God's identity is determined by God's relation to Jesus, just as Jesus' identity is determined by his relationship to God. This trinitarian radicalism appears to be deeply rooted in the Pauline texts. (p. 117, 119)

    The source:

    :book2: Robin
  13. Robin

    Robin Puritan Board Junior

    I hope and pray that you boys who are either unaware or soft on the warnings given about the dangers of FV will read the aforementioned site and take to heart the serious implications of reframing the writings of the Apostle Paul.

    There is a reason Arianism has prevailed and is one of the most pernicious heresies.

    At the end of the day, Federal Vision veers off into the ditch with a totally different Trinity!

    May Christ protect His church.

  14. crhoades

    crhoades Puritan Board Graduate

    Not sure if I'm 'one of the boys' you were referring to but since I mentioned Dunn (while Jacob mentioned Wright), I'd like to ask for a bit more graciousness from people on this board.

    Gabe brought up a passage and wondered how it was dealt with by NPP Proponents. In my wee little knowledge of the world, I know that Dunn happened to write a commentary on Romans. I even have it (along with the rest of the WBC - just to make sure that people don't think I only buy Dunn commentaries). So my thoughts were if we were wanting to deal with said passage, the scholarly thing to do would be to go to the sources and see what they say as opposed to assuming that they wave a hand and dismiss it etc.

    Why is it that if I suggest a commentary (or Jacob) or anyone that wants to look at FV/NPP with a critical eye, there is a pile on? If people are going to train to become pastors should we not be able to go ahead and take a look at the enemy and find out their strengths and weaknesses so we know where to attack and defend? Why do other people get to take the theological moral high ground and assume that I or others are 'unaware or soft on warning given about the dangers of FV'. Has anyone ever seen me post in favor of the NPP or FV?

    May Christ protect his church and prod them on to humility and charity.
  15. Semper Fidelis

    Semper Fidelis 2 Timothy 2:24-25 Staff Member

    I agree Chris. I think the clear reading of the passage from Romans 9:30-9:31 that was cited in the OP is directly parrallel to Paul's arguments in Galatians 3 concerning the Law being unable to save and opposed to Promise.

    Commentators have to be real boneheads to completely miss the obvious and somehow claim that in the NC we are still under some Mosaic Law. They would be much more subtle in their abuse of the passage, especially with respect to the highlighted portions. It would be nice for me to see how they would abuse these texts because they might not start out incorrectly but then fall apart in the middle of their argument. It is where they fall apart, subtlely, that is useful. Since they don't come out and say "We're anti-Trinitarian or anti-Gospel..." it is not very instructive to me to read condemnations without at least a brief explanation.

    I do appreciate your post, Robin, in showing how Dunne has Arian tendencies.
  16. Robin

    Robin Puritan Board Junior


    With all due respect (and I don't know if you are) but please don't project onto another, emotions that you might be feeling, OK? I stand by my posts - as they are written (feeling no anger or competitiveness.) I am deeply troubled, though... :(

    Something relevant to this thread is hearing admissions like "I've never read XYZ" coupled with a conclusion/judgment about XYZ. This is irresponsible and unworthy of a careful student of God's Word. Before a watching world, it dishonors Christ. We should all strive to avoid this and be better prepared.

    I am aware of the meaning of the words I use; they're not used lightly. I obey teachers who insist students evaluate both sides of an issue, fairly, objectively and responsibly. Dr. Clark is an officer in my denom; I submit to his authority. It's hard work -- and not something I'm naturally inclined to (as a lay-person.) I am awed by the admonition of Peter to "be a workman, rightly dividing the Word of Truth; not being ashamed..." God help me, it is ever before my mind; and something, especially important (I think) for those attending seminary.

    It is written that it is right to judge a man's teaching, rightly - in humility, truth and the fear of the Lord. It is written we are to "expose evil."

    So far, the writings of FV are profuse and consonantly point to a very grave danger in the church, corporate. The main problem is caused not by lack of knowledge but by arrogance and self-imposed ignorance.

    This truth should startle the faithful to a place of caution (for our weaknesses); motivate us to be better equipped and instill weightier confidence in the Gospel.

    I mean this exhortation in love - for The Truth and for the higher good of those confronted by it -- which means everybody, here.


    As for Gabe's original question....the Romans distortion is typical proof-texting (common to all Christian cults; evangelicals, et al.) Proof-texting is a sure sign something is going to be off in the exegesis. Jehovah Witnesses pose this one regularly. HELLO! bells and red lights flashing ...

    Passionate for the Gospel,


  17. crhoades

    crhoades Puritan Board Graduate

    9:30 As so often already, Paul introduces a new phase of his argument with the question "œWhat shall we say then?" What follows is a half question, half statement. It summarizes what was expressed in other words in vv 24"“26: "œGentiles who did not pursue righteousness have attained righteousness, the righteousness of faith."¦"œ Clearly he has in mind not all Gentiles or Gentiles as a class, but the Gentiles who have responded to God´s call in the gospel, the Gentiles who have come to faith in Christ. They did not pursue righteousness; that is to say, they did not strive after the relation with the one God given and sustained by his grace. Here, perhaps more clearly than anywhere else, Paul shows that he understands "œrighteousness" as a covenant word: it is not something which was possible to Gentiles through nature, or an ethical ideal which good men anywhere might attain to (hence its absence from chap. 2); it is always something which depends ultimately on God, the power of God sustaining man in his creaturely dependence on the creator and enabling him to live through that relation. It was this relation which God set forth in his covenant with Israel and of which Gentiles remained largely ignorant until the gospel made known the offer of God´s righteousness to everyone. Paul characterizes it once again as "œthe righteousness from faith," drawing the whole discussion back to its starting point (1:17). Probably here as there he uses the phrase in the double sense: the righteousness which man must simply accept from start to finish and never presume upon (cf. v 32); the righteousness which God in his covenant faithfulness offers to Jew first but now also to Gentile (cf. 10:3).
    31 The irony and tragedy is that while Gentiles who never sought that righteousness are now attaining it, Israel as a whole has failed to reach it despite earnest effort to that end. The sentence, however, is worded in a somewhat surprising way. Instead of the balanced antithesis, "œwhereas Israel pursuing righteousness did not reach it," Paul writes, "œwhereas Israel pursuing the law of righteousness did not reach that law." But only those who had missed the point of such earlier assertions as 3:31 ("œwe confirm the law through faith") and 8:2 ("œthe law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus"¦") would find the fuller phrase ("œlaw of righteousness") puzzling. It is clear enough from the train of thought that "œthe law of righteousness" is not being disparaged by Paul; it is a goal worthy of pursuit. Israel´s failure is not that it misunderstood righteousness as a law, that it put the law in place of righteousness, that it reached as far as law but failed to reach righteousness, or anything like that. Any interpretation which poses law and righteousness as alternatives at this point has missed the train of Paul´s thought altogether. On the contrary, the larger phrase, "œthe law of righteousness," is clearly intended by Paul as more or less synonymous with the one word of the previous verse, "œrighteousness." [Page 593] Paul describes the right relationship offered by God in terms of the law no doubt partly because no Jew could think of Israel´s covenant relationship with God apart from the law. But he describes it positively in terms of the law primarily because for Paul, Paul the Christian as well as Paul the Jew, the law has a positive role in relation to righteousness: the law is indeed the definition and measure of righteousness (4:15; 5:13); righteousness is the fulfillment of "œthe just requirement of the law" (8:4).
    We should therefore give Paul´s positive affirmations about Israel and the law of righteousness full weight, while at the same time taking care not to press his metaphor of the racetrack (or of the chase) into an allegory. He is not thinking of righteousness as something that can be earned or merited by hard work. The contrast of vv 30"“31 is simply that despite its tradition of law-keeping earnestness, stretching back through many generations, Israel has missed the way; while Gentiles, who had no such heritage or training, have in a trice closed the centuries-old gap, overtaken the bulk of Israel, and reached the goal Israel had for so long held before itself.
    32 Why so? Why has Israel failed to reach (the law of) righteousness, despite its earnestness for the covenant and its law? Not because Israel had sought (and chased) a moral perfection which is impossible to man, but, says Paul, because it saw its obligation under the covenant as a matter of works and not a matter of faith. His nation had made the mistake of understanding righteousness in terms of works. And not just righteousness"”they had misunderstood the law itself by understanding it in terms of works. Paul here reverts to the distinction made in 3:27, between "œthe law of works" and "œthe law of faith." And the point is precisely the same. Israel´s mistake was not that they had understood righteousness as obedience to the law (for that is what righteousness shows itself to be), but that they had understood obedience to the law too much in terms of specific acts of obedience like circumcision, sabbath observance, and ritual purity. That is to say, they had treated the law and the righteousness it requires at too superficial and too nationalistic a level, as requirements which could be fulfilled at the level of the flesh and which were applicable only to the Jewish people (2:28"“29). But the obedience God looked for was the obedience of faith, obedience from the heart (6:17), that is, from a commitment and a lifestyle which penetrated far below matters of race and of ritual and which could be sustained and maintained independently of either. This was the lesson Israel ought to have learned from its own scriptural record of God´s choice of Isaac and Jacob (9:6"“13) but evidently had failed to do so.

    Dunn, James D. G.: Word Biblical Commentary : Romans 9-16. Dallas : Word, Incorporated, 2002 (Word Biblical Commentary 38B), S. 592
  18. Ex Nihilo

    Ex Nihilo Puritan Board Senior

    :ditto: to you in your sound stance against what Dunn seems to be saying, but in implying that the FV are also partaking in this error, I think you are perhaps incorrectly conflating the FV with the NPP on this issue. The NPP is not even a homogeneous movement (not even all NPP proponents would agree with Dunn on Christology), and the FV is not identical to the NPP. If the FV is messing up trinitarianism, someone needs to present a source besides Dunn (i.e. someone from within the movement) to back up the charge.
  19. Robin

    Robin Puritan Board Junior

    Read very, very carefully, Rev. R. Phillips article on "Covnenant Confusion." :) Theology/phillips_covenant_confusion.htm

    [Edited on 2-18-2006 by Robin]
  20. Robin

    Robin Puritan Board Junior

    Evie makes a great point...the FV and NPP are not monolithic. However, to mess around with the doctrine of justification is to change Christology and the doctrine of the Trinity, necessarily.

    Whether advocates of the FV/NPP are self-aware or not; depending on the degree of deterioration, they will depart from the Biblical positions of these doctrines.

    To deny this is to say that somehow the Bible teaches two different positions -- much like the Arminians like to assert that the Bible teaches both Arminian and Reformed theologies.

    :detective: r.
  21. Robin

    Robin Puritan Board Junior

    an excerpt from Rev. Phillips essay:


    This new definition of covenant, grounded in unsound Trinitarian speculation, serves to advance three features notable in the current debate. The first is the supplanting of traditional soteriology with a re-charged ecclesiology. Indeed, this seems to be one of the main motives for this new theology of covenant. The argument goes like this (here I am following Peter Leithart): none of us exist on our own, so being is being-in-relationship; I only am what I am with respect to the community in which I relate to others. For instance, I am named Phillips not because of something essential about me, but because of my relationship with other people named Phillips. Thus what makes me a Christian is being in the church. Leithart writes, "Entry into the church is always a soteriological fact for the person who enters... If the church is the 'house of God' (WCF 25.2), then membership in the church makes the person a member of that household." 17 Note the word makes. Membership in the church is not correlative with becoming a child of God; it makes a person a child of God.

    This is what I mean by the supplanting of soteriology with ecclesiology. Instead of realizing that our relationship with God is primary, so that salvation is primarily a spiritual reality in which our relationship one with another in the church is derivative from our relationship with God, this revamped covenant theology puts it precisely backward. Under this view, our relationship with the church is primary, so that salvation is primarily a social and cultural reality, and our relationship with God is derivative from our relationship in the church.

    A second and related feature of this approach is its emphasis on the external and the objective over the internal and subjective. This is touted as its main attraction. Douglas Wilson boasts of "recovering the objectivity of the covenant," the subtitle of his book Reformed Is Not Enough. This means I can know objectively I am right with God because I am in the church. He exults, "Covenants of God have a physical aspect, like an oak tree." 18 Presumably, the point is that we can physically climb into it.

    This is supposed to deliver us from the so-called plague of "morbid introspection" - that is, from ascertaining the presence of a real and personal faith that brings me into relationship with God through Jesus Christ. I am freed from all this simply by noting that I am physically in the church and therefore in covenant with God. This emphasis would not be so dangerous if its proponents, such as the Auburn Avenue theologians, allowed for the distinction between the visible and the invisible church that is so essential to the system of doctrine taught in the Westminster Standards. But since they insist that there is no other church than the one that is visible and physical, their emphasis on ecclesiology over soteriology and the external over the internal is all the more alarming.


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