Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Notes on Romans--Part Forty Nine

Bishop N.T. Wright is one of the world's leading Biblical scholars and has also contributed to the so-called "New Perspective on Paul." Part of Wright's controversial argument is that when Paul uses the term "Righteousness of God", he was not referencing a right status imputed to followers of Jesus by God but to God's own faithfulness to His covenants, namely His binding promise to restore Israel and to bless the world through the descendants of Abraham. Wright's argument has its problems but in Chapter 15 he also finds strong support for his assertion. Verses 8-9 read:
"For I tell you that Christ has become a servant of the Jews on behalf of God's truth, so that the promises made to the patriarchs might be confirmed and, moreover, that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy. As it is written:
"Therefore I will praise you among the Gentiles;
I will sing the praises of your name." (TNIV).
Scholarship must still hammer all of this out and it is worth noting that both Wright and James Dunn (one of the other leading proponents of the New Perspective) have moved back a bit towards the Classical Reformed position thanks to challenges by D.A. Carson, John Piper, Doug Moo and others. Still, in all fairness, Romans 15:8-9 is an interesting bit to chomp at when wrestling with these issues. One may ask, given the brilliant complexities of inspired Scripture, if the classical Reformed position can be harmonized to a degree with the New Perspective? Is it possible that Paul's pregnant phraseology could encompass both the covenant faithfulness of God and the right status imputed to believers? Most Greek profs would say no but time will tell.