The New Perspective Is an Old Lie, and Very Wordy

We are told by advocates of ECT (Timothy George) that we cannot insist on forensic justification as gospel because to do so would call into question the salvation of all those people before the Reformation.

In part I agree: if we say that you must believe in Christ as the justifier of the ungodly to believe the gospel, then we certainly ARE calling into question the Christian status of all those who condition grace on something they do.

Those in the new perspective cannot call into question our “scholastic” finished work language without also calling to question the experience of those who keep using the language of Calvin and Luther.

If the Reformation should have never happened, then it is clear that we should stop using Reformation language to describe our relation to God. If Reformation language is only a situation gospel, or only an “application of the gospel”, then we must ask if the gospel needs to be applied in our day the way it was in that day.

The new perspective tells us that in the NT the gospel is opposing Jewish privilege and is not opposing merit. Since merit is not the problem, we are told that we should not read texts like Philippians 3 as opposing merit. In other words, as long as you say that God makes you different by grace and not by being Jewish, then there is no need to get picky about HOW you talk about the righteousness of Christ.

As long as you talk about the righteousness and not about your roots, then it will not matter so much if this righteousness is in you or in the finished work Such a distinction is scholastic, and matters not.

But if it doesn’t matter, then why worry about scholastics imposing such distinctions on the text? Why the many wordy attempts to re-educate the next generation so that it will not talk the language of “alien righteousness” and ‘finished work”?

I do not think we need to stop saying that justification was achieved at the cross, and not in us. I think we need to START TEACHING IT!

the words of those who advocate the new perspective are evil. They cannot say that they are only quibbling about words: they are bewitching the people of God to not obey the truth about justification. (Gal 3:1)

The assumption of the new perspective IS that “keeping the commandments” has nothing to do with saying that justification is based outside of the Christian in the finished work. The true gospel says that you cannot keep any commandment of God without first “submitting to the righteousness of God”, defined by Scripture as that which is revealed in Christ’s obedience and not in ours. (Romans 7:1-6; Hebrews 9:14)

Nothing else matters if you do not know and obey the truth that Christ was imputed with the sins of His people and bore them away. If you say that Christ died for everybody but saved only some, then you condition salvation on the grace of God in us instead of the finished work, and that means that you do not obey the truth and are neither justified nor sanctified and therefore cannot keep any of the commandments of God.

You mean that we must assent and trust in particular redemption? Of course. There is no redemption which is not particular. Isaiah 53 is the presupposition of everything the NT has to say about redemption: those who are redeemed will be redeemed, and those who think of their redemption as based on what grace will enable them to do are still in darkness.

Is this “justification by words”? Does it matter if somebody knows anything about the cross, if one keeps the commandments anyway? Does it matter if one knows anything about Christ, just so long as God gives them the grace to keep the commands?

I think it does matter. But to get back to THEIR claims: why all the words against scholasticism Do the new scholastics of the “new perspective” think that their words will promote the keeping of the commandments?

I remember what Wesley wrote:” if you want to still promote the Christian life, be sure not to go too far with such things as election and imputation.”

Neither side in this controversy has achieved wordlessness. On my side, we are very concerned to say that Christ has achieved all the blessings for salvation at the cross and that this achievement means that all for whom Christ died will repent of ever being bewitched by a perspective which includes our works into the righteousness revealed in the gospel.

Christ died for our sins according to the words of Scripture. Christ did not die of those who either die ignorant or reject the words of the Scripture concerning the death of Christ. We do not invite folks to believe that Jesus died for everybody. We command people to believe that only those for whom Christ finished a work will be saved.

Jesus saves. Jesus saves those who believe that Jesus saves. Those who believe that Jesus died to save everybody do not believe that Jesus saves. Those who do not believe that Jesus saves believe that they help save themselves.

We should not tell such people that what matters is the keeping of the commandments. We do not invite them to call upon a Christ of their own choosing. We command them to believe the gospel of a finished work for the elect, because if they do not, they remain in their sins and their works are evil.

To the Galatians, Paul expresses himself in very strong words. “If you get bewitched by the words of a false gospel, then you are under the curse which comes with a false gospel.” It will not matter that you used to have the apostle Paul (or John Calvin) as your pastor, if you look to your doing, then you will not only be less fruitful. You will not be justified. You will be cursed.

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One Comment on “The New Perspective Is an Old Lie, and Very Wordy”

  1. markmcculley Says:

    The debate about the active obedience being imputed can be a distraction from three big things.

    1. It’s a distraction from Adam’s sin imputed to humans. Wright does not have any place in this theology for original sin as Adam’s original guilt. Who does? We should be talking about that more.

    2. It’s a distraction from the sins of the elect being imputed to Christ. This is the main thing. This is more important even that saying that Christ’s death is only for the elect or saying the Christ’s death is effective to save all for whom He died.

    I didn’t see this when I was lost. Of course it’s true that, if God only imputed the sins of the elect to Christ, then Christ only died for the elect (and that this death is effective). But we need to think not only about Christ’s successful death but also about God’s righteousness and the justice of Christ’s death.

    Focusing on “active obedience” can sometimes distract from this. Because lots of folks who get heated up about the new perspective never talk about Christ’s just death for the elect only.

    3. It’s a distraction from the truth that justification is not conditioned on faith as its instrumental cause. After all these folks like John Piper fight with Wright about faith not being the “active obedience”, then they turn around and say that God counts the faith (the apology) as the righteousness, and teach that the righteousness is “appropriated” by the condition of faith.


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