22 March 2008

Vos: Paul's Anthropology

Read this today in Geerhardus Vos. It echoes what I am becoming more and more convinced of as I continue to research Paul's anthropology (i.e. his understading of innate human moral capacity and tendency). Vos notes that as a Pharisee Paul recognized that the law demanded not only outward conformity but an "inward obedience of the heart" (Rom 7 seems to indicate this with its discussion of the tenth commandment, the only exclusively internal comm.). Then he says something that is profoundly right, which I see in myself, and which, in my opinion, is the fundamental oversight of some writers associated with the New Perspective:

The perception of the spirituality of the law's demands may have been a great discovery, but a greater discovery remained to be made. Paul had yet to learn that the entire spirit in which he strove to fulfill the law, both inwardly and outwardly, the fundamental motive which inspired his pursuit of righteousness, was radically wrong because issuing from the flesh, the sinful determination of human nature which makes self instead of God supreme. There is no evidence that Paul made this discovery before the grace of God supernaturally illumined him at his conversion.

--“The Alleged Legalism in Paul’s Doctrine of Justification,” in Redemptive History and Biblical Interpretation: The Shorter Writings of Geerhardus Vos (ed. Richard B. Gaffin, Jr.; Phillipsburg, N.J.: Presbyterian & Reformed, 1980), 396.

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