28 July 2009

Paul and the Reformers

Mike Bird strikes just the right balance in the closing to a chapter on the New Perspective in his 2007 monograph:

It would seem that Augustine and Luther did not misunderstand Paul, though, like all of us, they also interpreted Paul for their own times. Nevertheless, Paul does indeed confront elements of ethnocentrism as a primary factor of his pastoral theology and his ministry must be seen in light of trying to normalize Jewish and Gentile relations in the early church, an aspect which I think post-reformation theology has never really appreciated or prosecuted. However, Paul's entire conception of Christ, the law, and salvation is mystifying apart from the assumption that he also attacked a form of grace-works synergism that was implicit in the attempt to force Gentiles to adopt a Jewish lifestyle. (112)

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