As most readers know, there has been a long scholarly debate over what is known as the New Perspective(s) on Paul (NPP). This approach argues that “justification” in Paul does not mean what many Christians (especially Reformed folks) have always believed.
In short, NPP advocates (e.g., N.T. Wright, James D.G. Dunn) argue that when Paul mentions “justification by faith” he is not referring to a doctrine about how one gets saved but to how membership in the covenant community can be obtained without the standard Jewish boundary markers laid out in the law of Moses (food laws, circumcision, Sabbath observance).
In other words, justification is less about soteriology and more about ecclesiology. It is not about how a person becomes a Christian but a declaration that they have become a Christian. [Read more…]