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Matthehitmanhart
Feb 3rd 2013, 11:58 PM
I'm not sure if this belongs in Contro, but I'm posting it here to get more interaction from different perspectives. I realize this won't go over well with many defenders of the Protestant tradition, but I must qualify on the front end that my motivation is not a fashionable disregard for tradition, but rather an upholding of tradition's methodology – of Martin Luther’s methodology – to never set tradition over Scripture. The Reformation was essentially a protest against a timeless system that carried centuries of misguided baggage into Scripture. A historical reading was the Reformer’s weapon. Today we have much more understanding of history than they did with which to sketch an accurate backdrop for Scripture, so why not go back to the beginning? That's my aim, at least, however successful it may be. The following paragraphs are seven propositions regarding Paul's doctrine of justification by faith, and my basic contention is that we’ve been filtering these words through the wrong set of glasses for too long. A sixteenth century definition simply will not do. We must have a first century definition. I welcome all comments and critiques.

1) The starting point for Paul’s understanding of justification is that it is eschatological, referring to the declaration that God will make on the last day, and that it is by works, a verdict made according to the whole life lived. As Romans 2:13-16 goes, “For not the hearers of the law are just in the sight of God, but the doers of the law will be justified… in the day when will God judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, according to my gospel.” This passage says Christ will be the one making the judgment, so it can’t be passed off as merely a law-based hypothetical. It’s a fundamental part of Paul’s gospel.

2) Second Temple Judaism was not the religion of “self-help moralism” or “works-righteousness” that Protestant theology has long believed it to be. The Jews of the period believed that they were counted as members of God’s family more by their ethnicity than by their works per se, if by “works” one means moral achievements. Obedience to the law was seen as necessary, but the fact that God made covenant with Abraham, declaring that the whole world would be blessed through his descendants, meant that those descendants, by virtue of their relation to Abraham, must be in the covenant. This was why things like circumcision and dietary laws were so important; because they defined a Jew as a Jew, separate from the pagans and inalienably a part of “Israel,” God’s chosen people, those who would be saved on the last day. Even amongst the most extreme groups like the Shammaites and the Essenes, keeping the law was understood as responsive and confirming to God’s merciful covenant; it was not a matter of earning one’s own righteousness by climbing a ladder of merit. It is this ethnocentric sense of unconditional election which Paul deconstructs in Romans 2, not a proto-Pelagian belief in salvation by works.

3) When Paul refers to the “works of the law” in places like Romans 3:20, he is thinking in terms of the ethnic boundary-markers of Torah, practices which had become symbolic badges of membership, like Sabbath, circumcision, and dietary laws, things that defined a Jew as a participant of the covenant over against their pagan neighbors, or even a more observant Jew over a less observant Jew. This is the sense which the phrase also carries in the Qumran text 4QMMT. So when Paul contrasts “faith” and “works”, the negative side of that contrast involves those aspects of Torah which in first century Judaism had ironically become ways of avoiding moral effort (e.g. Rom 2:1-3, 17-24; cf. Matt 23:23-28).

4) The Greek word pistis, for Paul, does not refer to mere belief in God through either the cognitive acceptance of truths about him and/or a spiritual encounter with him. It actually has ethical content to it. This is especially clear in Romans 3:3: “For what if some were unfaithful (apisteo)? Will their faithlessness (apistia) nullify the faithfulness (pistis) of God?” Paul is here addressing directly the question of God’s righteousness related to Israel’s disobedience. If Israel has been unfaithful to the covenant, as Paul has shown they have (2:1-29), then what does this mean for God? Will he turn his back on them as they have on him, or will his arms remain outstretched to any who might return? Paul is resolute: God will remain steadfast, pistis. It hardly needs saying that Romans 3:3 sets the stage for Romans 3:21. But if Israel’s failure here is called their apistia, and God’s steadfastness is called his pistis, then why should the pistis of those who are justified later on in the chapter be defined as mere belief? God’s pistis is his commitment to his saving purpose, his faithfulness. Therefore human pistis (or lack thereof, as in 3:3) is a responsive commitment to that saving purpose, an answering faithfulness.

5) In the key passages on “justification by faith” like Romans 3:21-26, Galatians 2:16 and 3:22-25, the phrase most often translated “faith in Christ” should actually be translated “the faithfulness of Christ”. Thus, the sense of Romans 3:22 goes like this: “God’s righteousness, his covenant justice, has been unveiled through the faithfulness of Jesus the Messiah to all who believe”. This translation has three major advantages over the traditional rendering. First, it fixes the redundancy of Paul’s saying “by faith” and then adding again “to all who believe”. Second, it gives the apocalyptic unveiling of God’s righteousness a definitive historic content as a personal action of God, instead of defining it purely in terms of the belief of the saints. And third, it gives the responsive pistis of the saints its appropriate antecedent, the work of the Messiah, instead of letting it dangle without any controlling story in terms of the redemption which God had achieved.

6) In a verse like Romans 3:28, “justified by faith” is Paul’s shorthand summation for the whole story which he has just outlined: the redemptive justice of God, revealed by the pistis of Jesus, to all who respond in pistis. This is why, both in Romans 3:21-28 and in Galatians 3:22-25, Paul refers to “faith” as an event in history, an event to which the law and the prophets looked forward and which we now look back upon in joyful gratitude; because for Paul, the word refers first and foremost to the apocalyptic event of the Messiah’s death and resurrection.

7) From all of the above, we can see that the actual contrast between “works” and “faith” in Paul is not between (a) moral effort and (b) mere belief, but rather between (a) Israel’s unfaithfulness and the inability of the law to lift them out of their plight, and (b) the contrasting faithfulness of Israel’s Messiah, which has unveiled the covenant justice of God to any and all who will respond in believing obedience to his call, Jew and Gentile alike. And as Paul goes on to lay out in Romans 5-8, even our responsive faithfulness is the work of grace, by the power of the Spirit as the result of Christ’s own action on our behalf. So it all begins and ends with God. As he concludes in 8:3-4, “For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.”

the rookie
Feb 4th 2013, 11:42 PM
It's hard to be sure exactly what your point is here? Thus making it difficult to engage with your points :)

markedward
Feb 5th 2013, 12:47 AM
Looks like his point is that the traditional Protestant view on justification by faith is wrong because it is a 'sixteenth century definition' (i.e. the Protestant Reformers imposed the faith versus works debate of their own time onto Paul's epistles and came away with an inaccurate reading... something I would agree with).

Watchman
Feb 5th 2013, 01:04 AM
There are at least 7 threads worth in the OP...just sayin'. :D

Bandit
Feb 5th 2013, 01:25 AM
Looks like his point is that the traditional Protestant view on justification by faith is wrong because it is a 'sixteenth century definition' (i.e. the Protestant Reformers imposed the faith versus works debate of their own time onto Paul's epistles and came away with an inaccurate reading... something I would agree with).

I, too, would tend to agree, as per the underlined portion. I will try to reply to hitman when I have a little more time.

Time is something I am very short of since I am now working again. I wish I had more time ...

RogerW
Feb 5th 2013, 02:28 AM
I'm not sure if this belongs in Contro, but I'm posting it here to get more interaction from different perspectives. I realize this won't go over well with many defenders of the Protestant tradition, but I must qualify on the front end that my motivation is not a fashionable disregard for tradition, but rather an upholding of tradition's methodology – of Martin Luther’s methodology – to never set tradition over Scripture. The Reformation was essentially a protest against a timeless system that carried centuries of misguided baggage into Scripture. A historical reading was the Reformer’s weapon. Today we have much more understanding of history than they did with which to sketch an accurate backdrop for Scripture, so why not go back to the beginning? That's my aim, at least, however successful it may be. The following paragraphs are seven propositions regarding Paul's doctrine of justification by faith, and my basic contention is that we’ve been filtering these words through the wrong set of glasses for too long. A sixteenth century definition simply will not do. We must have a first century definition. I welcome all comments and critiques.

Do the works of Norm Shepherd and/or NT Wright have any bearing on your theses?

Matthehitmanhart
Feb 5th 2013, 04:57 AM
Looks like his point is that the traditional Protestant view on justification by faith is wrong because it is a 'sixteenth century definition' (i.e. the Protestant Reformers imposed the faith versus works debate of their own time onto Paul's epistles and came away with an inaccurate reading... something I would agree with).

That's exactly it.

Matthehitmanhart
Feb 5th 2013, 04:58 AM
Do the works of Norm Shepherd and/or NT Wright have any bearing on your theses?

Chiefly N.T. Wright, E.P. Sanders, James Dunn, and Richard B. Hays, with just a dash of Douglas Campbell.

the rookie
Feb 5th 2013, 02:38 PM
There are at least 7 threads worth in the OP...just sayin'. :D

That was my point :)

Markedward's response would have made a great OP :)

the rookie
Feb 5th 2013, 02:40 PM
Looks like his point is that the traditional Protestant view on justification by faith is wrong because it is a 'sixteenth century definition' (i.e. the Protestant Reformers imposed the faith versus works debate of their own time onto Paul's epistles and came away with an inaccurate reading... something I would agree with).

One of the things that would help me: (if you want to do this) can you (either of you or any of you - i.e. the "royal you") lay out what you think is wrong as it relates to the traditional view of justification?

RogerW
Feb 5th 2013, 05:56 PM
Chiefly N.T. Wright, E.P. Sanders, James Dunn, and Richard B. Hays, with just a dash of Douglas Campbell.

So basically the question you seek to answer is did the Reformers misunderstand Paul's doctrine of justification by faith alone? The assertion being that Christ is not sufficient, but something more is required besides Him. That Christ is but half a Savior. Are the Reformers wrong when they assert that Paul taught the first benefit of Christ, justification by faith (nothing added) is how we enjoy the benefit of being declared righteous before God?

The assumption is that salvation is from beginning to end the work of the triune God, since it is only possible for those of us who have "a corruption of the whole [human] nature" [article 15] to receive the benefits of Christ's work, if the Holy Spirit "kindle[s]" in us an "upright" or true faith. This upright faith Paul contrasts with "vain faith." The idea that God creates saving faith in us is most clearly taught by Paul in his letter to the Ephesians 2:8. There Paul tells us our entire salvation, including faith is "the gift of God," since we were "dead in trespasses and sins" (Eph 2:1) had no faith and did not deserve salvation. Elsewhere, Paul said, "It has been granted to you...not only [to] believe in him" (Ph 1:29). It is these BIBLICAL passages that are summarized in the creeds and confessions of the Reformed faith.

To prove the Refomers misunderstood Paul, one must prove the Bible, through God's inspired writer, Paul, got it wrong.

markedward
Feb 5th 2013, 07:26 PM
The assertion being that Christ is not sufficient, but something more is required besides Him. That Christ is but half a Savior.
Not even remotely close to what Matt has said.

RogerW
Feb 5th 2013, 08:00 PM
Not even remotely close to what Matt has said.

But you stated, "(i.e. the Protestant Reformers imposed the faith versus works debate of their own time onto Paul's epistles and came away with an inaccurate reading... something I would agree with)", and Matt agreed with you. But I don't believe the Reformers creeds and confessions impose faith versus works debate at all! In fact exactly the opposite! Faith verses works debate is imposed by some upon Scripture, but the Reformers creeds and confessions clearly put this debate to rest by asserting "faith alone". And isn't that really the crux of the dispute, and in fact hasn't that always been the crux of all disputes?

"The following paragraphs are seven propositions regarding Paul's doctrine of justification by faith, and my basic contention is that we’ve been filtering these words through the wrong set of glasses for too long. A sixteenth century definition simply will not do. We must have a first century definition. I welcome all comments and critiques."

I assume by "we've been filtering...." refers to the Reformers reading sixteenth century definition upon Paul. IOW we must approach Scripture from a new, modern, so-called better lense. We must discard these old out-dated methods. That seems to be the more modern approach to just about every historic document we hold dear, like the Word of God, and even our own Constitution of the USA. We don't always have to come up with new modern first century definitions, especially when searching the "timeless" Words of God.

percho
Feb 5th 2013, 08:24 PM
That's exactly it.

Have you ever read anything I have put on this and other forums concerning faith? It is as you have posted in 5 and 6. Faith has nothing to do with what we think or do. Faith is an event, the obedience of faith, both words obedience and faith being nouns, the obedience of faith was Jesus the Christ being obedient unto death even the death of the cross. Jesus laid down his life, poured out his soul unto death. That is the faith spoken of in Gal. 3:23,25 also the article the should precede faith in both verses. As Paul puts it as the very first thing he preached and he preached it as it was given to him by Jesus, how that Christ died for our sins. 1 Cor 15:3 It was the faith that brought the grace of God, the resurrection. Paul also says in verse 17 that if the same Christ that died has not been raised then his death (faith) was vain and you are still in your sins.

It also goes further than just justification by faith which also needed the grace of God See Acts 17:1-4 as well as above.

That is; Without the resurrection the death of Christ would have been vain, that is his shed blood would not have washed away our sins. Out sins were washed away in his own blood by the resurrection. Whish means Titus 3:5 is speaking of what was done to Jesus not what is being done to us. According to mercy he (God the Father) saved us. Jesus was before placed, propitiation, (place of mercy, the mercy seat) through the faith in the blood of him. God the Father made Jesus his Son the mercy seat because of the faith of Jesus in his blood for our sins. Has nothing to do with what we believe. We until the promise of the Holy Spirit could be given which is received for the before spoken of faith were dead in trespasses and sins, in unbelief. We by being given the Holy Spirit are moved from being in unbelief unto being able to believe.

If I go not away the Comforter, Holy Spirit, will not come.

Jesus had to die, be raised from the dead by his Father, regeneration, and receive from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, renewing of the Holy Spirit, before the Holy Spirit could be poured on us.

markedward
Feb 5th 2013, 08:32 PM
But you stated,
At what point did either Matt or I say
'that Christ is not sufficient, but something more is required besides Him. That Christ is but half a Savior.'

?


IOW we must approach Scripture from a new, modern, so-called better lense. We must discard these old out-dated methods.
Are you even reading what he wrote? He explicitly said, in the first paragraph:


A historical reading was the Reformer’s weapon. Today we have much more understanding of history than they did with which to sketch an accurate backdrop for Scripture, so why not go back to the beginning? That's my aim, at least, however successful it may be. The following paragraphs are seven propositions regarding Paul's doctrine of justification by faith, and my basic contention is that we’ve been filtering these words through the wrong set of glasses for too long. A sixteenth century definition simply will not do. We must have a first century definition.

You either didn't finish the first paragraph, or you read it so haphazardly that the impression you left with was the exact opposite of what he said.

percho
Feb 5th 2013, 08:42 PM
IMHO God in Christ is doing the saving and God in Christ is calling whom he will, unto Salvation, by the gift of His Spirit. This is called the first fruit of the Spirit and began fifty days after the resurrection of his Son Jesus and is still presently going on. The first fruit of salvation. The very fact that the Holy Spirit elected to put first in front of the word fruit implies there will be other fruit of salvation also. The feast of first fruit, harvest, was in the spring. There is also a fall harvest feast. However there are two other feast days between the two harvest that must come to pass before the fall harvest. Also the fall harvest has two feast days.

RogerW
Feb 5th 2013, 08:44 PM
At what point did either Matt or I say
'that Christ is not sufficient, but something more is required besides Him. That Christ is but half a Savior.'

Are you even reading what he wrote? He explicitly said, in the first paragraph:

You either didn't finish the first paragraph, or you read it so haphazardly that the impression you left with was the exact opposite of what he said.

To be honest my replies are influenced more by those whom he referenced influenced his theses, then by his actual words. I know the influence, seen it many times. "Chiefly N.T. Wright, E.P. Sanders, James Dunn, and Richard B. Hays, with just a dash of Douglas Campbell. "

BroRog
Feb 5th 2013, 09:02 PM
Looks like his point is that the traditional Protestant view on justification by faith is wrong because it is a 'sixteenth century definition' (i.e. the Protestant Reformers imposed the faith versus works debate of their own time onto Paul's epistles and came away with an inaccurate reading... something I would agree with).Sure, but N.T. Wright is heavily invested in his multiculturalism which is why he couches the argument as a reaction to what he perceives as a first-century Jewish chauvinism. He is simply reading Romans through a new set of cultural lenses, and he thinks his cultural lenses are better than 16th century cultural lenses.

markedward
Feb 5th 2013, 09:38 PM
One of the things that would help me: (if you want to do this) can you (either of you or any of you - i.e. the "royal you") lay out what you think is wrong as it relates to the traditional view of justification?
Part of Martin Luther's motivation in how he read Paul was because of the time he spent as a monk; he was specifically approaching the text with his personal experiences as an interpretive factor. He also saw an absolute dichotomy between the RCC's use of works (indulgences being a main example) to forgive sin. His reading of Paul was heavily influenced by this 'faith versus works' debate erupting between the RCC and the protesters. When the chief Reformer had to go so far as to add the word 'alone' into Romans 3.28 just to prove his position, going so far as to claim that the epistle of James is 'straw' because it contradicted Luther's interpretation (and subsequent alteration) of Paul, he's clearly doing something wrong.

In regards to the sixteenth century debate, the Reformers were clearly right to say that 'faith' and not 'works' brought us forgiveness of sins and justification from God. But the contention is whether their concept of 'faith' and 'works' is the same as what Paul or James meant when they used those words (or that the two of them meant the same thing).

I don't want to speak entirely on Matt's behalf, but I think his theses 2 and 3 are a good summary of where he thinks the traditional view misunderstood some of Paul's ideas.

markedward
Feb 5th 2013, 09:40 PM
To be honest my replies are influenced more by those whom he referenced influenced his theses, then by his actual words.
In other words, Matt never said anything resembling 'Christ is not sufficient', nor did he say 'that Christ is but half a Savior'... so you're arguing against a blatant straw man.

And although I'm not really familiar with some of the other writers, it is irrefutable that NT Wright doesn't fit your straw man either. Wright self-identifies as a Calvinist, in which case it would be utterly impossible to claim he thinks 'Christ is not sufficient' and that 'Christ is but half a Savior'.

markedward
Feb 5th 2013, 09:43 PM
Sure, but N.T. Wright is heavily invested in his multiculturalism
I've never been under the impression that NT Wright argues for 'multiculturalism', so I would like to see it actually demonstrated that this is the driving motivation behind his reading of Paul.

(In any case, Matt listed more than just NT Wright as his main influences.)

RogerW
Feb 5th 2013, 10:30 PM
In other words, Matt never said anything resembling 'Christ is not sufficient', nor did he say 'that Christ is but half a Savior'... so you're arguing against a blatant straw man.

And although I'm not really familiar with some of the other writers, it is irrefutable that NT Wright doesn't fit your straw man either. Wright self-identifies as a Calvinist, in which case it would be utterly impossible to claim he thinks 'Christ is not sufficient' and that 'Christ is but half a Savior'.

If your opposed to a 16th century definition, saying we must have a 1st century definition, what makes you think that's been achieved through 20th century theologians? It's not so much what is actually said, as what is being implied. And I know that Wright identifies himself as a Calvinist, but I also know that he believes he has new insights into Paul that faithful men of old could not have possibly known. Wright argues that regeneration is by grace, but that grace is not sufficient to save apart from works. Not so much about how one gets into the Kingdom of God, but how one remains in.

Bandit
Feb 6th 2013, 12:38 AM
Chiefly N.T. Wright, E.P. Sanders, James Dunn, and Richard B. Hays, with just a dash of Douglas Campbell.

I have read some of Wright, Dunn, and Sanders, so I am familiar with the "New Perspective" view, and I largely agree with it. By the way, some of your wording seems to have borrowed heavily from one or more of those sources, if my memory serves me correctly. ;)

Bandit
Feb 6th 2013, 12:40 AM
One of the things that would help me: (if you want to do this) can you (either of you or any of you - i.e. the "royal you") lay out what you think is wrong as it relates to the traditional view of justification?

Yep, that will be coming. I understand where this is coming from, and it is not bad - but is controversial to many.

Bandit
Feb 6th 2013, 12:46 AM
So basically the question you seek to answer is did the Reformers misunderstand Paul's doctrine of justification by faith alone? The assertion being that Christ is not sufficient, but something more is required besides Him. ...

To prove the Refomers misunderstood Paul, one must prove the Bible, through God's inspired writer, Paul, got it wrong.


Not even remotely close to what Matt has said.

As markedward said, you are way off here. Paul did not "get it wrong"; the reformer's interpretation of Paul is where the error lies. The reformers read their own Catholic church situation into Paul's arguments; in all their good intention they substituted their current situation for Paul's historical situation.

Bandit
Feb 6th 2013, 01:06 AM
... I welcome all comments and critiques.

Are you sure?


1) The starting point for Paul’s understanding of justification is that it is eschatological, referring to the declaration that God will make on the last day, and that it is by works, a verdict made according to the whole life lived. As Romans 2:13-16 goes, “For not the hearers of the law are just in the sight of God, but the doers of the law will be justified… in the day when will God judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, according to my gospel.” This passage says Christ will be the one making the judgment, so it can’t be passed off as merely a law-based hypothetical. It’s a fundamental part of Paul’s gospel.

Yep, as long as we agree that those currently "of faith" are to be recognized as those to whom this eschatological justification will apply. And also that by works (underlined above) we understand to mean "how they lived". (Romans 2:5-10 being key to Paul's gospel and argument.)


2) Second Temple Judaism was not the religion of “self-help moralism” or “works-righteousness” that Protestant theology has long believed it to be. The Jews of the period believed that they were counted as members of God’s family more by their ethnicity than by their works per se, if by “works” one means moral achievements. Obedience to the law was seen as necessary, but the fact that God made covenant with Abraham, declaring that the whole world would be blessed through his descendants, meant that those descendants, by virtue of their relation to Abraham, must be in the covenant. This was why things like circumcision and dietary laws were so important; because they defined a Jew as a Jew, separate from the pagans and inalienably a part of “Israel,” God’s chosen people, those who would be saved on the last day. Even amongst the most extreme groups like the Shammaites and the Essenes, keeping the law was understood as responsive and confirming to God’s merciful covenant; it was not a matter of earning one’s own righteousness by climbing a ladder of merit. It is this ethnocentric sense of unconditional election which Paul deconstructs in Romans 2, not a proto-Pelagian belief in salvation by works.

Totally agreed. Those under the Old Covenant did not "earn" their salvation. It was also a covenant of grace by faith.


3) When Paul refers to the “works of the law” in places like Romans 3:20, he is thinking in terms of the ethnic boundary-markers of Torah, practices which had become symbolic badges of membership, like Sabbath, circumcision, and dietary laws, things that defined a Jew as a participant of the covenant over against their pagan neighbors, or even a more observant Jew over a less observant Jew. This is the sense which the phrase also carries in the Qumran text 4QMMT. So when Paul contrasts “faith” and “works”, the negative side of that contrast involves those aspects of Torah which in first century Judaism had ironically become ways of avoiding moral effort (e.g. Rom 2:1-3, 17-24; cf. Matt 23:23-28).

I pretty much agree here too.


4) The Greek word pistis, for Paul, does not refer to mere belief in God through either the cognitive acceptance of truths about him and/or a spiritual encounter with him. It actually has ethical content to it. This is especially clear in Romans 3:3: “For what if some were unfaithful (apisteo)? Will their faithlessness (apistia) nullify the faithfulness (pistis) of God?” Paul is here addressing directly the question of God’s righteousness related to Israel’s disobedience. If Israel has been unfaithful to the covenant, as Paul has shown they have (2:1-29), then what does this mean for God? Will he turn his back on them as they have on him, or will his arms remain outstretched to any who might return? Paul is resolute: God will remain steadfast, pistis. It hardly needs saying that Romans 3:3 sets the stage for Romans 3:21. But if Israel’s failure here is called their apistia, and God’s steadfastness is called his pistis, then why should the pistis of those who are justified later on in the chapter be defined as mere belief? God’s pistis is his commitment to his saving purpose, his faithfulness. Therefore human pistis (or lack thereof, as in 3:3) is a responsive commitment to that saving purpose, an answering faithfulness.

Yes, again.


5) In the key passages on “justification by faith” like Romans 3:21-26, Galatians 2:16 and 3:22-25, the phrase most often translated “faith in Christ” should actually be translated “the faithfulness of Christ”. Thus, the sense of Romans 3:22 goes like this: “God’s righteousness, his covenant justice, has been unveiled through the faithfulness of Jesus the Messiah to all who believe”. This translation has three major advantages over the traditional rendering. First, it fixes the redundancy of Paul’s saying “by faith” and then adding again “to all who believe”. Second, it gives the apocalyptic unveiling of God’s righteousness a definitive historic content as a personal action of God, instead of defining it purely in terms of the belief of the saints. And third, it gives the responsive pistis of the saints its appropriate antecedent, the work of the Messiah, instead of letting it dangle without any controlling story in terms of the redemption which God had achieved.

Good points yet again.


6) In a verse like Romans 3:28, “justified by faith” is Paul’s shorthand summation for the whole story which he has just outlined: the redemptive justice of God, revealed by the pistis of Jesus, to all who respond in pistis. This is why, both in Romans 3:21-28 and in Galatians 3:22-25, Paul refers to “faith” as an event in history, an event to which the law and the prophets looked forward and which we now look back upon in joyful gratitude; because for Paul, the word refers first and foremost to the apocalyptic event of the Messiah’s death and resurrection.

Are you expecting me to argue against the truth?


7) From all of the above, we can see that the actual contrast between “works” and “faith” in Paul is not between (a) moral effort and (b) mere belief, but rather between (a) Israel’s unfaithfulness and the inability of the law to lift them out of their plight, and (b) the contrasting faithfulness of Israel’s Messiah, which has unveiled the covenant justice of God to any and all who will respond in believing obedience to his call, Jew and Gentile alike. And as Paul goes on to lay out in Romans 5-8, even our responsive faithfulness is the work of grace, by the power of the Spirit as the result of Christ’s own action on our behalf. So it all begins and ends with God. As he concludes in 8:3-4, “For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.”

Yes, the reformers misread Paul's argument, substituting their historical situation (distorted catholic) for Paul's historical situation.

BroRog
Feb 6th 2013, 02:31 AM
I've never been under the impression that NT Wright argues for 'multiculturalism', so I would like to see it actually demonstrated that this is the driving motivation behind his reading of Paul.

(In any case, Matt listed more than just NT Wright as his main influences.)One need go no further than paragraph 2 of Matt's presentation.


It is this ethnocentric sense of unconditional election which Paul deconstructs in Romans 2, not a proto-Pelagian belief in salvation by works.

Emphasis mine.

As I say, Wright is reading Romans through the lenses of multiculturalism which is why he understands Paul as a critic of ethnocentric Judaism. While we might criticize the 17th century for interpreting Romans as a reaction to Roman Catholicism, we should be just as critical of those who interpret Romans as a reaction to ethnocentrism in the 20th century. Either way, Paul's original intent is lost. In fact, Paul was reacting to Pharisaical Judaism and not the teachings of the Pharisees but the attitude of the Pharisees.

LookingUp
Feb 6th 2013, 04:26 AM
change of mind - removed post

RogerW
Feb 6th 2013, 05:13 AM
As markedward said, you are way off here. Paul did not "get it wrong"; the reformer's interpretation of Paul is where the error lies. The reformers read their own Catholic church situation into Paul's arguments; in all their good intention they substituted their current situation for Paul's historical situation.

According to who?

Matthehitmanhart
Feb 6th 2013, 06:36 AM
One of the things that would help me: (if you want to do this) can you (either of you or any of you - i.e. the "royal you") lay out what you think is wrong as it relates to the traditional view of justification?

I agree with Mark Edward. The basic point of the OP was to offer different definitions to the key words and phrases that I think are closer to Paul's intention. In the traditional view, "justification" generally refers to only the first stage of our salvation, which is accomplished by "faith", which is understood as belief in the gospel; "sanctification" is then what comes after "justification", building "works" upon "faith" like the fruit of a good tree. I think all those words have been misunderstood.

My first proposition was that Paul doesn't use the word "justification" to refer to only the first stage of our salvation; he doesn't seem to hold the same distinctions of "justification by faith" and "sanctification by works" that the traditional view assumes. His very first use of the word "justification" in Romans refers to the verdict that God will make on the last day in accordance with our deeds. The traditional view usually claims that Romans 2:5-16 is not part of Paul's gospel, but is merely setting the stage to lay out the gospel. This can't be the case, however, since Paul says that this judgment will come from Christ, and that it is according to his gospel (v. 16).

My second proposition was that the traditional understanding of Second Temple Judaism as a religion of salvation by works is faulty. This is seen clearly enough by the way Paul deals the "Jew" in Romans 2:1-29. Paul's problem with this representative "Jew" isn't that he's a self-help moralist; it's that he practices the same things as the pagans but thinks he's off the hook simply because he's a law-carrying, circumcised son of Abraham. It's a kind of ethnic Calvinism, actually.

My third proposition is that, contrary to the traditional view, the phrase "works of the law" doesn't refer to moral effort in itself but rather to the practices of Torah which maintained a Jew's ethnic distinctiveness, civil and ceremonial practices like circumcision, Sabbath, food laws, etc. It refers to those parts of the law that God instituted for the purpose of enabling Israel to walk out its calling but which by the first century had devolved into merely badges of membership that said "I'm a child of God, I'm a son of Abraham". Various groups in the Second Temple period adopted increasingly strict and complex civil and ceremonial practices in an effort to maintain ethnic purity and thereby bring about the life and justice of the age to come. Paul's point in Romans 3:20 and Galatians 3:21 is that the life of the new age could never come by these means, because they could never deal with the deeper problem.

My fourth proposition was that, contrary to the traditional view, "faith" for Paul does not refer to simply believing in the gospel. It includes that, to be sure, but it goes beyond that. It includes what we would call fidelity or faithfulness. This is especially clear in Romans 3:3, but it's also evident by Paul's quotation of Habakkuk in Romans 1:17. The Hebrew word translated faith in our English translations of Habakkuk 2:4 actually has a much stronger connotation of faithfulness and fidelity than our translations suggest. Of its forty-eight different appearances in the OT, thirty-six of those are translated "faithfulness," "faithfully," or "faithful" in the NASB. Quite surprisingly however, and undoubtedly due to the traditional Protestant understanding of Romans 1:17, only once, in Habakkuk 2:4, is it translated simply as "faith". This, I think, is the result of reading Luther's categories back into Paul, and then reading that misunderstanding of Paul back into Habakkuk.

The point of my last three propositions was that Paul's emphasis in central texts like Romans 3:21-26 is not on our faith in Christ as the thing that saves us, as in the traditional view, but rather on Christ's own faithfulness, doing what Israel could not do through the law. We are now justified in the present, in advance of the last day, by responding to the faithfulness of Jesus in believing obedience by the power of Spirit. The future verdict will line up with the present verdict as long as we stay in God's grace, for he who began a good work in us will be faithful to complete it. He called us, he made a way for us to come to him, and he will see us to the end; all we do is respond to what he has done by his grace. Here I think the traditional view easily leads to the error of simply relocating the self-centered notion that I’m saved by my works to the equally self-centered notion that I’m saved by my belief.

Matthehitmanhart
Feb 6th 2013, 06:48 AM
I have read some of Wright, Dunn, and Sanders, so I am familiar with the "New Perspective" view, and I largely agree with it. By the way, some of your wording seems to have borrowed heavily from one or more of those sources, if my memory serves me correctly. ;)

Yep, the first proposition follows Wright, the second Sanders, the third Dunn, and the fifth Hays. Campbell's influence comes in the emphasis on "apocalyptic".

Matthehitmanhart
Feb 6th 2013, 06:55 AM
If your opposed to a 16th century definition, saying we must have a 1st century definition, what makes you think that's been achieved through 20th century theologians?

Perhaps it hasn't. But we do have much more historical information on the 1st century now than they did in the 16th century, so we should never stop seeking to understand Paul's context better. That's what scholars like E.P. Sanders and N.T. Wright are trying to do, anyway, and the best we can do is see if their interpretations illuminate the text more than those of the 16th century. In many respects I think they do.

Matthehitmanhart
Feb 6th 2013, 06:58 AM
As I say, Wright is reading Romans through the lenses of multiculturalism which is why he understands Paul as a critic of ethnocentric Judaism. While we might criticize the 17th century for interpreting Romans as a reaction to Roman Catholicism, we should be just as critical of those who interpret Romans as a reaction to ethnocentrism in the 20th century. Either way, Paul's original intent is lost. In fact, Paul was reacting to Pharisaical Judaism and not the teachings of the Pharisees but the attitude of the Pharisees.

If Paul's main purpose in Romans is to deconstruct the attitude of the Pharisees, then what's the point of chapters 9-11? Are they just a disconnected appendage? Or are they central to what he was saying throughout chapters 1-8?

Fenris
Feb 6th 2013, 04:20 PM
2) Second Temple Judaism was not the religion of “self-help moralism” or “works-righteousness” that Protestant theology has long believed it to be. The Jews of the period believed that they were counted as members of God’s family more by their ethnicity than by their works per se, if by “works” one means moral achievements. Obedience to the law was seen as necessary, but the fact that God made covenant with Abraham, declaring that the whole world would be blessed through his descendants, meant that those descendants, by virtue of their relation to Abraham, must be in the covenant.
I think this was more a first temple phenomena than a second temple phenomena. The Pharisees continually stressed the importance of service to God by upholding the law, and acts of loving-kindness. I will grant you that during the end of the first temple, many people had the attitude of "God will save us, we are His people". But once that didn't happen, thinking changed. It must have.

Matthehitmanhart
Feb 6th 2013, 05:32 PM
I think this was more a first temple phenomena than a second temple phenomena. The Pharisees continually stressed the importance of service to God by upholding the law, and acts of loving-kindness. I will grant you that during the end of the first temple, many people had the attitude of "God will save us, we are His people". But once that didn't happen, thinking changed. It must have.

Totally. There was a diversity of convictions within Second Temple Judaism regarding the level (not to mention the type) of devotion required by YHWH, ranging from the extremely loose to the extremely strict. We can see both extremes represented clearly within Pharisaism in the schools of thought started by the two great teachers of the Herodian period, Hillel and Shammai (Hillel being the lenient one and Shammai being the strict one). And then there were the Essenes, a group so radical about their devotion to Torah that they withdrew to the wilderness in order that they might keep it more diligently. This group regarded the rest of Israel as basically backslidden. Yet even amongst the most extreme groups, like the Shammaites and the Essenes, keeping the law – and thereby being justified on the last day – was understood as responsive and confirming to God’s gracious covenant; it was not a matter of earning ones own righteousness by climbing a ladder of merit as in the Pelagianism of the middle ages.

Fenris
Feb 6th 2013, 05:40 PM
Yet even amongst the most extreme groups, like the Shammaites and the Essenes, keeping the law – and thereby being justified on the last day – was understood as responsive and confirming to God’s gracious covenant; it was not a matter of earning ones own righteousness by climbing a ladder of merit as in the Pelagianism of the middle ages.
The terms "justified" and "last day" are Christian concepts, not Jewish ones. Furthermore the idea of being rewarded for following the law far predates the first century; the Pentateuch states it very plainly and so does king David in Psalms.

BroRog
Feb 6th 2013, 05:40 PM
If Paul's main purpose in Romans is to deconstruct the attitude of the Pharisees, then what's the point of chapters 9-11? Are they just a disconnected appendage? Or are they central to what he was saying throughout chapters 1-8?Paul finished his main argument in chapter 4, summarizing it at the end of chapter 5. Beginning in chapter 6, Paul begins to answer a set of rhetorical questions formulated as objections to his gospel. The first question is, "shall we continue in sin that grace might increase?" He continues with this literary style until chapter 12, where he is finished defending his gospel and begins to address some issues regarding how to live, given that salvation is based on God's mercy.

The question raised in Romans 9 is this, "has the promise God made to Israel failed?" No true prophet or apostle of God would come along to say that God is not faithful to his promises. So if a detractor or debunker could show that Paul claimed "God's promises fail", then this would discredit Paul. He needs to answer why God did not pour out his spirit on the nation of Israel as he promised. His final answer in chapter 11 is "he will, just not yet."

BroRog
Feb 6th 2013, 05:45 PM
The terms "justified" and "last day" are Christian concepts, not Jewish ones. Furthermore the idea of being rewarded for following the law far predates the first century; the Pentateuch states it very plainly and so does king David in Psalms.Justified was a Roman concept that Paul adopted to talk about "propitiation", which is a Hebrew concept. The idea of propitiation is modeled in the sacrificial system, and especially on the day of atonement, Yom Kippur.

Secondly, the reward of which you speak was not for "following" the law, it was for "keeping" the law, which not only included obedience, but the proper inwardness.

the rookie
Feb 6th 2013, 05:58 PM
I agree with Mark Edward. The basic point of the OP was to offer different definitions to the key words and phrases that I think are closer to Paul's intention. In the traditional view, "justification" generally refers to only the first stage of our salvation, which is accomplished by "faith", which is understood as belief in the gospel; "sanctification" is then what comes after "justification", building "works" upon "faith" like the fruit of a good tree. I think all those words have been misunderstood.

Possibly. I think that part of the problem for me is that I'm not that much of a traditionalist and don't think of the process of salvation that way, despite being heavily influenced by Martin Lloyd-Jones, John Stott, Douglas Moo, David Pawson, some Scott Hahn, a little of Ben Witherington, and a little of John Piper :) But I've also enjoyed many of N.T. Wright's observations and insights as well, which hints at my theological misfit status. So having you define and then contrast with the traditional view is helpful for me.

(I think you'll find, Matt, that there are many in a slightly similar boat - not that you're trying to engage with the masses, but your post presumes an understanding of a traditional viewpoint that most do not possess.)

That said, I love pretty much all of what you've said in this post. Because I'm a theological weirdo, it's hard for me to grasp at this stage the "either / or" approach that Piper and Wright take with one another (I've read both Piper's "The Future of Justification" and Wright's "Justification", so I'm slightly familiar with the arguments). My questions would be mostly practical in nature.


My first proposition was that Paul doesn't use the word "justification" to refer to only the first stage of our salvation; he doesn't seem to hold the same distinctions of "justification by faith" and "sanctification by works" that the traditional view assumes. His very first use of the word "justification" in Romans refers to the verdict that God will make on the last day in accordance with our deeds. The traditional view usually claims that Romans 2:5-16 is not part of Paul's gospel, but is merely setting the stage to lay out the gospel. This can't be the case, however, since Paul says that this judgment will come from Christ, and that it is according to his gospel (v. 16).

Is that the traditional view? I'm not so sure. That's the way that many present the traditional view (probably) - but I'm not sure if that's an accurate reflection of the more nuanced presentations of the traditional view. However, as that's not your main or real point, it may not be worth exploring. And I'm for sure not the expert on that view...


My second proposition was that the traditional understanding of Second Temple Judaism as a religion of salvation by works is faulty. This is seen clearly enough by the way Paul deals the "Jew" in Romans 2:1-29. Paul's problem with this representative "Jew" isn't that he's a self-help moralist; it's that he practices the same things as the pagans but thinks he's off the hook simply because he's a law-carrying, circumcised son of Abraham. It's a kind of ethnic Calvinism, actually.

Great description (in terms of your view). John the Baptist's preaching reflects the truth of this as well. However, I don't know that "self-help moralism" accurately represents a theological perspective on Judaism that would have arisen out of the works of the Reformers. It seems to reflect more of a modern / postmodern sensibility superimposed on their view.


My third proposition is that, contrary to the traditional view, the phrase "works of the law" doesn't refer to moral effort in itself but rather to the practices of Torah which maintained a Jew's ethnic distinctiveness, civil and ceremonial practices like circumcision, Sabbath, food laws, etc. It refers to those parts of the law that God instituted for the purpose of enabling Israel to walk out its calling but which by the first century had devolved into merely badges of membership that said "I'm a child of God, I'm a son of Abraham". Various groups in the Second Temple period adopted increasingly strict and complex civil and ceremonial practices in an effort to maintain ethnic purity and thereby bring about the life and justice of the age to come. Paul's point in Romans 3:20 and Galatians 3:21 is that the life of the new age could never come by these means, because they could never deal with the deeper problem.

Love your conclusion, I'm still wrestling through your premise here - can you say it clearer?


My fourth proposition was that, contrary to the traditional view, "faith" for Paul does not refer to simply believing in the gospel. It includes that, to be sure, but it goes beyond that. It includes what we would call fidelity or faithfulness. This is especially clear in Romans 3:3, but it's also evident by Paul's quotation of Habakkuk in Romans 1:17. The Hebrew word translated faith in our English translations of Habakkuk 2:4 actually has a much stronger connotation of faithfulness and fidelity than our translations suggest. Of its forty-eight different appearances in the OT, thirty-six of those are translated "faithfulness," "faithfully," or "faithful" in the NASB. Quite surprisingly however, and undoubtedly due to the traditional Protestant understanding of Romans 1:17, only once, in Habakkuk 2:4, is it translated simply as "faith". This, I think, is the result of reading Luther's categories back into Paul, and then reading that misunderstanding of Paul back into Habakkuk.

This is good! However, This is where the Reformer's emphasis on what Piper calls "an alien righteousness" is helpful, practically, in explaining the dynamics of becoming a "new creation" and "the righteousness of Christ" and the manner in which free, full, and final "access / acceptance / affection" that come from the new birth empower us to respond with that kind of fidelity.


The point of my last three propositions was that Paul's emphasis in central texts like Romans 3:21-26 is not on our faith in Christ as the thing that saves us, as in the traditional view, but rather on Christ's own faithfulness, doing what Israel could not do through the law. We are now justified in the present, in advance of the last day, by responding to the faithfulness of Jesus in believing obedience by the power of Spirit. The future verdict will line up with the present verdict as long as we stay in God's grace, for he who began a good work in us will be faithful to complete it. He called us, he made a way for us to come to him, and he will see us to the end; all we do is respond to what he has done by his grace. Here I think the traditional view easily leads to the error of simply relocating the self-centered notion that I’m saved by my works to the equally self-centered notion that I’m saved by my belief.

I love this whole paragraph until the end, where I can't quite get my head around that view on the "traditional side" - but again, that could be my own theological lens clouding my view. I don't know anyone that thinks, "saved by belief" as much as they seem to espouse, "saved by belief according to the power of the Holy Spirit which produces works that flow from the power of Holy Spirit". Grace, grace, in other words, or God's initiative more than our belief.

Fenris
Feb 6th 2013, 06:17 PM
Justified was a Roman concept that Paul adopted to talk about "propitiation", which is a Hebrew concept. The idea of propitiation is modeled in the sacrificial system, and especially on the day of atonement, Yom Kippur. The idea of Yom Kippur is not about avoiding God's wrath or whatever.


Secondly, the reward of which you speak was not for "following" the law, it was for "keeping" the law, which not only included obedience, but the proper inwardness.According to you. What if "keeping" means "accepting as from God and following to the best of your ability"?

Aha, the plot thickens.

the rookie
Feb 6th 2013, 06:20 PM
What if "keeping" means "accepting as from God and following to the best of your ability"?

Hello my friend - question: would there be a passage of scripture that expresses that idea?

Fenris
Feb 6th 2013, 06:50 PM
Hello my friend :wave:


question: would there be a passage of scripture that expresses that idea?

No.

On the other hand, there's no passage suggesting that the laws have to be kept "perfectly" or done "with the right motivation" either.

So when confronted with a word like "watch" or "keep", one has nothing to rely upon except the traditions or common understandings.

BroRog
Feb 6th 2013, 07:55 PM
The idea of Yom Kippur is not about avoiding God's wrath or whatever.The idea of propitiation is pictured in the ceremony of the two goats. The first goat is for the lord, the second goat is the scapegoat, which pictures the idea that the sins of Israel are being taken away, never to be seen again.


According to you. What if "keeping" means "accepting as from God and following to the best of your ability"?The Hebrew scriptures speak about the proper inwardness in several places. One such place is found here,


Leviticus 23:26 The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 27 "On exactly the tenth day of this seventh month is the day of atonement; it shall be a holy convocation for you, and you shall humble your souls and present an offering by fire to the Lord. 28 "You shall not do any work on this same day, for it is a day of atonement, to make atonement on your behalf before the Lord your God. 29 "If there is any person who will not humble himself on this same day, he shall be cut off from his people.

The instruction includes both a behavior: present an offering; and the instruction includes the command to have the proper inwardness: humility.

In the following passage, the ideas of "keep" and "do" are noted together.


Deuteronomy 4:2 "You shall not add to the word which I am commanding you, nor take away from it, that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you. 3 "Your eyes have seen what the Lord has done in the case of Baal-peor, for all the men who followed Baal-peor, the Lord your God has destroyed them from among you. 4 "But you who held fast to the Lord your God are alive today, every one of you. 5 "See, I have taught you statutes and judgments just as the Lord my God commanded me, that you should do thus in the land where you are entering to possess it. 6 "So keep and do [them], for that is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples who will hear all these statutes and say, `Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.'

First I notice that Moses asks the people to "keep" the commandments just after telling them not to add to it or take away from it. In that context, then, the concept of "keep" invokes the Lord's wish that the word of God shall continue in the condition it was given. No one is to change it. Neither shall they add anything to it or delete anything from it. To "keep" it then, is to treasure it and keep it from being distorted or changed.

In verse 4, Moses reminds the people that God saved those who "held fast" to the word of the Lord. They were alive and not destroyed, he says, because they did not follow Baal-peor, but followed Yahweh instead. Thus we see that "keeping" the word of God means remaining loyal to God in when other suitors come calling. Not only does "keeping" the commandments refer to preserving them in tact and without change, it means remaining loyal to the law giver.

Finally, in verse 6, Moses associates "keeping" with wisdom and understanding. If a nation both keeps and performs the law of God, that nation will be known as a people with wisdom and understanding. The people are to do both, "keep and do" them. To keep the law is to treasure it, protect it, keep it from being changed or distorted. And "keeping" the law is to maintain loyalty to the law giver, not seeking other gods for help. And when a people both keeps and does the commandments, they will be known as a wise and understanding people.

We can find other passages in which Moses associates "keeping" the commandments with the proper inwardness. In the following verse, the proper inwardness is "love."


Deuteronomy 5:9 `You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, and on the third and the fourth [generations] of those who hate Me, 10 but showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.

I haven't looked but I suspect that the word translated "lovingkindness" is actually the Hebrew word "chesed", which is more like mercy, or covenant faithfulness. The Lord demonstrates covenant faithfulness to the people who love him and keep his commandments. Not only does the Lord want his people to obey his commandments, he wants his people to love him and keep his commandments. He wants the inward attitude as well as the obedience. The proper inwardness is very important.


Deuteronomy 5:29 `Oh that they had such a heart in them, that they would fear Me and keep all My commandments always, that it may be well with them and with their sons forever!

In the passage above, the proper inwardness is fear, and the promise is made to those who fear the Lord, that it may be well with them and their sons forever.

In the following passage Moses adds "listen" to the list.


Deuteronomy 7:12 "Then it shall come about, because you listen to these judgments and keep and do them, that the Lord your God will keep with you His covenant and His lovingkindness which He swore to your forefathers.

With the proper inwardness, not only will an Israelite do what the commandments say, he or she will listen to the judgments. It's one thing to obey the rules, it's quite another to learn from the rules. The reason why a nation or a people will be wise and understanding after "keeping" the commandments is due to the fact that they are also "listening" to the judgments. The law was not simply a list of rules to obey, it was a tutor, an educator, a teacher, an instructor from which the people might learn the wisdom of God. How does God look at the world? Listen to his judgments. How does God look at humanity? Listen to his judgments. If you want to know what God feels and thinks about things, read and study his law and actually "listen" to it. Obey it: put the law into practice. Keep it: preserve it, don't change it, hold fast to it, remain loyal to the lawgiver, and love God, and fear God. Listen to it: learn wisdom from it. Come to know God's view of things, and his perspective, and his wisdom about the world and the human race.

I could do this all day but I want to stop here for the sake of the size of this post.

Obedience plus inwardness.

Fenris
Feb 6th 2013, 08:14 PM
The idea of propitiation is pictured in the ceremony of the two goats. The first goat is for the lord, the second goat is the scapegoat, which pictures the idea that the sins of Israel are being taken away, never to be seen again. When I look up " propitiation" I get "appeasing God" which is not what I think either of our religions are about.


The Hebrew scriptures speak about the proper inwardness in several places. One such place is found here,

Leviticus 23:26 The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 27 "On exactly the tenth day of this seventh month is the day of atonement; it shall be a holy convocation for you, and you shall humble your souls and present an offering by fire to the Lord. 28 "You shall not do any work on this same day, for it is a day of atonement, to make atonement on your behalf before the Lord your God. 29 "If there is any person who will not humble himself on this same day, he shall be cut off from his people.

The instruction includes both a behavior: present an offering; and the instruction includes the command to have the proper inwardness: humility.I've never seen it translated that way. I thought it was read as "afflict your souls", which was understood to be fasting.


In the following passage, the ideas of "keep" and "do" are noted together.I always find it interesting when Christians quote Deuteronomy 4 since it so clearly states that the law has to be followed when Christians insist that it doesn't. Anyway back on topic, obviously one has to follow God's commands. But you're telling me that the Hebrew phrase means that one has to follow them perfectly or with the proper intent, something which even the "legalistic" Pharisees never insisted on. Obviously it's better to have a proper intent, but that is not obligatory.


First I notice that Moses asks the people to "keep" the commandments just after telling them not to add to it or take away from it. In that context, then, the concept of "keep" invokes the Lord's wish that the word of God shall continue in the condition it was given. No one is to change it. Neither shall they add anything to it or delete anything from it. To "keep" it then, is to treasure it and keep it from being distorted or changed.
I agree! Observant Jews treasure the law!



In verse 4, Moses reminds the people that God saved those who "held fast" to the word of the Lord. They were alive and not destroyed, he says, because they did not follow Baal-peor, but followed Yahweh instead. Thus we see that "keeping" the word of God means remaining loyal to God in when other suitors come calling. Not only does "keeping" the commandments refer to preserving them in tact and without change, it means remaining loyal to the law giver.
Erm, idolatry is specifically forbidden. Worshipping an idol isn't just about having bad intentions, it's a specific sin.



Finally, in verse 6, Moses associates "keeping" with wisdom and understanding. If a nation both keeps and performs the law of God, that nation will be known as a people with wisdom and understanding. The people are to do both, "keep and do" them. To keep the law is to treasure it, protect it, keep it from being changed or distorted. And "keeping" the law is to maintain loyalty to the law giver, not seeking other gods for help. And when a people both keeps and does the commandments, they will be known as a wise and understanding people.And Jews are considered smart. Weird, huh? :)


We can find other passages in which Moses associates "keeping" the commandments with the proper inwardness. In the following verse, the proper inwardness is "love."

Deuteronomy 5:9 `You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, and on the third and the fourth [generations] of those who hate Me, 10 but showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.
Again, this isn't about inwardness or whatever, idolatry is forbidden.


I haven't looked but I suspect that the word translated "lovingkindness" is actually the Hebrew word "chesed", gemilut chasadim


which is more like mercy, or covenant faithfulness. The Lord demonstrates covenant faithfulness to the people who love him and keep his commandments. Not only does the Lord want his people to obey his commandments, he wants his people to love him and keep his commandments. He wants the inward attitude as well as the obedience. The proper inwardness is very important.Of course it is. Is it mandatory?


In the following passage Moses adds "listen" to the list.

Deuteronomy 7:12 "Then it shall come about, because you listen to these judgments and keep and do them, that the Lord your God will keep with you His covenant and His lovingkindness which He swore to your forefathers.

With the proper inwardness, not only will an Israelite do what the commandments say, he or she will listen to the judgments. It's one thing to obey the rules, it's quite another to learn from the rules. The reason why a nation or a people will be wise and understanding after "keeping" the commandments is due to the fact that they are also "listening" to the judgments. The law was not simply a list of rules to obey, it was a tutor, an educator, a teacher, an instructor from which the people might learn the wisdom of God. How does God look at the world? Listen to his judgments. How does God look at humanity? Listen to his judgments. If you want to know what God feels and thinks about things, read and study his law and actually "listen" to it. Obey it: put the law into practice. Keep it: preserve it, don't change it, hold fast to it, remain loyal to the lawgiver, and love God, and fear God. Listen to it: learn wisdom from it. Come to know God's view of things, and his perspective, and his wisdom about the world and the human race.

I could do this all day but I want to stop here for the sake of the size of this post.

I think you're translating every word to mean "inwardness". "Listen" means "inwardness". "Keep" means "inwardness". "Humble" means "inwardness".

BroRog
Feb 6th 2013, 08:20 PM
On the other hand, there's no passage suggesting that the laws have to be kept "perfectly" or done "with the right motivation" either.With regard to perfect obedience, I agree. In fact, the entire structure of the law accounts for failure and the means to remain at peace with God. Perfect obedience was never the issue. But motivation was the issue. In fact, motivation was more important than obedience. For instance, the prophet Isaiah often speaks about motivation in his prophecy and one of the most striking passages comes early in his book.


Isaiah 1:11 "What are your multiplied sacrifices to Me?" Says the Lord. "I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams And the fat of fed cattle; And I take no pleasure in the blood of bulls, lambs or goats. 12 "When you come to appear before Me, Who requires of you this trampling of My courts? 13 "Bring your worthless offerings no longer, Incense is an abomination to Me. New moon and sabbath, the calling of assemblies-- I cannot endure iniquity and the solemn assembly. 14 "I hate your new moon [festivals] and your appointed feasts, They have become a burden to Me; I am weary of bearing [them]. 15 "So when you spread out your hands [in prayer], I will hide My eyes from you; Yes, even though you multiply prayers, I will not listen. Your hands are covered with blood. 16 "Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; Remove the evil of your deeds from My sight. Cease to do evil, 17 Learn to do good; Seek justice, Reprove the ruthless, Defend the orphan, Plead for the widow.


I can just hear the judges in Israel now. "What's your problem God? Are we not giving you all the burnt offerings you want?" What is God's response, "your burnt offerings make me want to puke!" What God actually wants, from the Israel of Isaiah's day, is for them to do good, to seek justice, and to help those who are defenseless in society. The inward motivations of the people were very much on the mind of God and he is more than willing to stop all the sacrifices etc. if the people would practice loyalty, love, kindness, mercy, justice, fairness, and other things which come from proper inwardness. In the words of the song writer Santana, "give me your heart or forget about it."

Another place where motivation takes precedence over obedience is found in the poetry of David.

Psalm 51:15-17

O Lord, open my lips,
That my mouth may declare Your praise.
For You do not delight in sacrifice, otherwise I would give it;
You are not pleased with burnt offering.
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
A broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.

Here again we see the contrast between doing the commandments and keeping the commandments. David says that God will forgive those who fail to make a sacrifice or an offering if such a person offers a broken and contrite heart instead. At the very least, when an Israelite makes an offering at the temple, a broken and contrite heart should accompany the sacrifice. The Lord places a high value on humility and honesty, and a low value on ritual practice for its own sake. God would rather puke than for you to offer a bull without humility, honesty, integrity, loyalty, and things such as these. What difference was there between Sodom and Jerusalem, neither city was willing to help the widow and the orphan. Neither city loved and feared God. Neither city was properly motivated and inwardly right.

Fenris
Feb 6th 2013, 08:28 PM
What God actually wants, from the Israel of Isaiah's day, is for them to do good, to seek justice, and to help those who are defenseless in society.
I agree. And those acts can be done irrespective of one's motives.

BroRog
Feb 6th 2013, 09:06 PM
When I look up " propitiation" I get "appeasing God" which is not what I think either of our religions are about.I know. Both Judaism and Christianity need to come to terms with the concept of "sin". The reason for sin offerings, for instance, is that an act of sin offends God and is an affront to him and everything he stands for. God is willing to forgive the penitent for the offence and restore the state of amity between himself and the offender. What Israel sought was peace with God and through that peace, the favors and blessings of God. He understood that human beings would be inept at moral judgments, unpracticed, and fail many times. So he provided the means by which Israel might maintain amity with the Lord.


I've never seen it translated that way. I thought it was read as "afflict your souls", which was understood to be fasting.Not sure where the idea of "fasting" is found in the passage. But even with fasting, God will not accept a fast unless the practice is made by one who is truly mourning his sin.


I always find it interesting when Christians quote Deuteronomy 4 since it so clearly states that the law has to be followed when Christians insist that it doesn't.Granted.


Anyway back on topic, obviously one has to follow God's commands. But you're telling me that the Hebrew phrase means that one has to follow them perfectly or with the proper intent, something which even the "legalistic" Pharisees never insisted on. Obviously it's better to have a proper intent, but that is not obligatory. I would not agree that the Law had to be kept perfectly. But intent, motivation, inwardness is very much a part of "keeping" the Law. The phrase "keep the commandments" invokes the same idea as our English word "keepsake", which is something we cherish, hold, and protect from destruction as much as possible.

Jesus critiqued the Pharisees, not because they broke the law, but because they didn't have the proper inwardness. At one point he tells them that the Pharisees sit in the chair of Moses and that the people should do what the Pharisees say, but not act like a Pharisee. His focus is on the hypocrisy of the Pharisees. Rather than actually being right with God, inwardly, the Pharisees played the part of a pious person. These men weren't motivated by the proper inwardness, e.g. humility, honesty, integrity, love of God, and fear of God, etc. Their motivation was to seek glory from other men, and the currency among them was how well a man was able to play the part of a pious man. They were living out a script.

Jesus taught the crowds, "your righteousness needs to exceed that of the Pharisees." And what did he mean? He meant that it isn't enough to pretend to be righteous, as an actor in a play. You need to actually BE righteous. It isn't enough to pretend to be right with God, you need to actually BE right with God. It isn't enough to pretend that God is your friend, you need to actually find amity with God through the proper inwardness.


I agree! Observant Jews treasure the law! Yes. Paul points out that this gives the Jews an advantage over the Gentiles.


Erm, idolatry is specifically forbidden. Worshipping an idol isn't just about having bad intentions, it's a specific sin.Why does a person turn to idolatry? It is supposed that the god interacts with the physical world through the medium of a physical object, which becomes the focal point of contact with the god. Those who worship at the idol are seeking divine help with an intractable or insurmountable circumstance. The idolater has the false belief that Yahweh is either not able or not interested in helping with the problem. One reason why idolatry is wrong, especially for a Jew, is the fact that, according to the Lord, Yahweh is the only God that actually exists. No other god can help because no other god exists. Now, granted, idolatry isn't just about bad intentions, but the practice of idolatry speaks volumes about what a person thinks and believes and whether or not he or she trusts Yahweh's wisdom, ability and intention. If a Jew should turn to idolatry, he displays his distrust of Yahweh.


And Jews are considered smart. Weird, huh? :)Not so weird in my opinion. The scripture says, "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom" and this has been proven to me on a personal level. So I am not surprised to learn that the Jews emphasize education and moral training.


Again, this isn't about inwardness or whatever, idolatry is forbidden.Sure it is. Again, Moses couples love and fear with obedience.


Of course it is. Is it mandatory? Yes.


I think you're translating every word to mean "inwardness". "Listen" means "inwardness". "Keep" means "inwardness". "Humble" means "inwardness".I use the term "inwardness" as a general term under which all kinds of inner states exist, like love, respect, honesty, humility, sorrow, remorse, penitence, joy, faith, hope and others.

BroRog
Feb 6th 2013, 09:07 PM
I agree. And those acts can be done irrespective of one's motives.Of course they can. But what the Jews need to discover, is that God is not pleased with a person who does the acts without the proper motives.

Fenris
Feb 6th 2013, 10:15 PM
I know. Both Judaism and Christianity need to come to terms with the concept of "sin". The reason for sin offerings, for instance, is that an act of sin offends God and is an affront to him and everything he stands for. God is willing to forgive the penitent for the offence and restore the state of amity between himself and the offender. I would say the act of sacrifice was for the sinner, not God who needs nothing.


Not sure where the idea of "fasting" is found in the passage. That's how it's understood by Jews. Even those who are not especially religious in other ways.



I would not agree that the Law had to be kept perfectly. But intent, motivation, inwardness is very much a part of "keeping" the Law. The phrase "keep the commandments" invokes the same idea as our English word "keepsake", which is something we cherish, hold, and protect from destruction as much as possible. An interesting assumption.


Their motivation was to seek glory from other men, and the currency among them was how well a man was able to play the part of a pious man. They were living out a script.
Even if we assume this to be so, did their charity not feed the hungry? I understand that God desires the heart, but lack of it should not suck all the merit from a deed.





If a Jew should turn to idolatry, he displays his distrust of Yahweh. Or lack of belief I guess.




I use the term "inwardness" as a general term under which all kinds of inner states exist, like love, respect, honesty, humility, sorrow, remorse, penitence, joy, faith, hope and others.

And if you seek it everywhere I guess it can be found everywhere.

BroRog
Feb 6th 2013, 10:38 PM
I would say the act of sacrifice was for the sinner, not God who needs nothing.I sort of agree. I mean, God doesn't really need anything from us. But amity and enmity make sense in the context of his covenant with Israel.


Even if we assume this to be so, did their charity not feed the hungry? I understand that God desires the heart, but lack of it should not suck all the merit from a deed.Agreed. Good deeds ought to be done always. And good is it's own reward. The ultimate question for all of us to consider is this, "what do I want?" Jesus' put the question to the Pharisees. Why are you giving to the poor, to seek the approval of men or to see the approval of God? Now, granted, a person might give to charity out of a sense of duty, and duty also has it's own reward. But Jesus was talking to a brotherhood dedicated to the practice of righteousness, presumably to please God. Jesus wouldn't tell them, "stop acting righteous", he tells them, "figure out what you want, exactly." He tells the crowds,


Matthew 6:2 "So when you give to the poor, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be honored by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full.

He puts the question to them. What do you want? A Jew living at the time of Jesus could (perhaps not likely) say, "I want the benefits of looking good in front of the people." Jesus would say, "okay, you got that." On the other hand, I suspect that some Jews living at that time would say, "no, I want more than that. I love God and I want him to love me back. I do what he asks because I love him and I want his approval." Jesus would say, "Okay, when you give to the poor, don't let anyone know about it. Do it secretly and your father in heaven will reward you." It's all about coming to know ourselves and what we really value. And it's all about learning how to express our values in a way commensurate with those values.


Or lack of belief I guess.Yes. Now, such a lack of belief might be the result of inexperience. It seems to me that God took the people through the wilderness so that they might get to know the God whom they serve. Initial mistakes and mistrust are completely understandable. And Moses asked the people not to worry or beg for someone to explain the law to them since it seemed like a lot of information to absorb all at once. Moses tells them, "look, you don't need to send someone across the sea to help you understand it. The word is near you already, in your heart and in your mouth." In other words, it's as close as your heart is. Later, after hundreds of years of moral training etc. a lack of belief would not so easily be forgiven.


And if you seek it everywhere I guess it can be found everywhere.Well, I suppose one could argue that I bring it to the text. I was hoping that quoting a text and highlighting the words would stand as evidence. Perhaps no.

Bandit
Feb 6th 2013, 10:54 PM
According to who?

You would need to read from some of the authors already listed - and they are not alone in this perspective - for I myself came to much of it largely from my own reading of scripture (and from what I was exposed of the reformed position).

percho
Feb 6th 2013, 10:58 PM
I agree with Mark Edward. The basic point of the OP was to offer different definitions to the key words and phrases that I think are closer to Paul's intention. In the traditional view, "justification" generally refers to only the first stage of our salvation, which is accomplished by "faith", which is understood as belief in the gospel; "sanctification" is then what comes after "justification", building "works" upon "faith" like the fruit of a good tree. I think all those words have been misunderstood.

My first proposition was that Paul doesn't use the word "justification" to refer to only the first stage of our salvation; he doesn't seem to hold the same distinctions of "justification by faith" and "sanctification by works" that the traditional view assumes. His very first use of the word "justification" in Romans refers to the verdict that God will make on the last day in accordance with our deeds. The traditional view usually claims that Romans 2:5-16 is not part of Paul's gospel, but is merely setting the stage to lay out the gospel. This can't be the case, however, since Paul says that this judgment will come from Christ, and that it is according to his gospel (v. 16).

My second proposition was that the traditional understanding of Second Temple Judaism as a religion of salvation by works is faulty. This is seen clearly enough by the way Paul deals the "Jew" in Romans 2:1-29. Paul's problem with this representative "Jew" isn't that he's a self-help moralist; it's that he practices the same things as the pagans but thinks he's off the hook simply because he's a law-carrying, circumcised son of Abraham. It's a kind of ethnic Calvinism, actually.

My third proposition is that, contrary to the traditional view, the phrase "works of the law" doesn't refer to moral effort in itself but rather to the practices of Torah which maintained a Jew's ethnic distinctiveness, civil and ceremonial practices like circumcision, Sabbath, food laws, etc. It refers to those parts of the law that God instituted for the purpose of enabling Israel to walk out its calling but which by the first century had devolved into merely badges of membership that said "I'm a child of God, I'm a son of Abraham". Various groups in the Second Temple period adopted increasingly strict and complex civil and ceremonial practices in an effort to maintain ethnic purity and thereby bring about the life and justice of the age to come. Paul's point in Romans 3:20 and Galatians 3:21 is that the life of the new age could never come by these means, because they could never deal with the deeper problem.

My fourth proposition was that, contrary to the traditional view, "faith" for Paul does not refer to simply believing in the gospel. It includes that, to be sure, but it goes beyond that. It includes what we would call fidelity or faithfulness. This is especially clear in Romans 3:3, but it's also evident by Paul's quotation of Habakkuk in Romans 1:17. The Hebrew word translated faith in our English translations of Habakkuk 2:4 actually has a much stronger connotation of faithfulness and fidelity than our translations suggest. Of its forty-eight different appearances in the OT, thirty-six of those are translated "faithfulness," "faithfully," or "faithful" in the NASB. Quite surprisingly however, and undoubtedly due to the traditional Protestant understanding of Romans 1:17, only once, in Habakkuk 2:4, is it translated simply as "faith". This, I think, is the result of reading Luther's categories back into Paul, and then reading that misunderstanding of Paul back into Habakkuk.

The point of my last three propositions was that Paul's emphasis in central texts like Romans 3:21-26 is not on our faith in Christ as the thing that saves us, as in the traditional view, but rather on Christ's own faithfulness, doing what Israel could not do through the law. We are now justified in the present, in advance of the last day, by responding to the faithfulness of Jesus in believing obedience by the power of Spirit. The future verdict will line up with the present verdict as long as we stay in God's grace, for he who began a good work in us will be faithful to complete it. He called us, he made a way for us to come to him, and he will see us to the end; all we do is respond to what he has done by his grace. Here I think the traditional view easily leads to the error of simply relocating the self-centered notion that I’m saved by my works to the equally self-centered notion that I’m saved by my belief.

IMHO Paul's understanding of faith was just as it was stated in Hab.2:4 But the just shall live by his faith. That is being all are dead in trespasses and sins, the, "his," there is the one who made him just/righteous, that is God. Do not these verses written by Paul say the exact same thing?

Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, (justified, imputed with the righteousness of God.) much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.

The just shall live by his faith.

LookingUp
Feb 7th 2013, 04:02 AM
Matt,
Have you heard of the “new perspective” on Paul? I have no idea when it began, but it’s related to this shift of how scholars understand Paul’s writings. Some of what you’ve written reminds me of it. I’ve read only a couple articles on this “new perspective” so I really don’t know much about it. The gist is that the old perspective understands “works of law” as referring to human effort in doing good works in order to meet God’s standards and the new perspective understands “works of law” as referring to “badges of covenant membership” in order to meet God’s standards. It is said that in the time of Jesus, Jews had become very familiar with strong intimidation tactics intended to persuade the Jew into adopting the Roman (& really Greek) customs. Badges of covenant membership, such as circumcision and even dietary laws and observance of holy days, became the very things that represented the Jew’s stand against paganism and adherence to the covenant with God. Thus, those who observed these outward ordinances became the epitome of what it meant to be in right standing with God. Paul, then, comes along and makes these claims that it really isn’t badges of covenant membership that matters (i.e. circumcision, dietary laws, holy day observance); what matters is a circumcised heart which is revealed by the one who obeys the morals inherent within the law (Rom. 2:21-22, 26). This didn’t go over so well, considering the Jews had worked tirelessly to oppose the Romans and their ways through their adherence to these very customs. Yet, I personally notice that throughout Paul’s epistles that when he mentions “works of the law,” he often mentions circumcision, dietary laws or holy day observance.

Fenris
Feb 7th 2013, 01:55 PM
Later, after hundreds of years of moral training etc. a lack of belief would not so easily be forgiven.

Or perhaps the opposite. I have witnessed no miracles, unlike that generation. I don't know.

BroRog
Feb 7th 2013, 05:52 PM
Or perhaps the opposite. I have witnessed no miracles, unlike that generation. I don't know.Oh, I wasn't talking about you. I was speaking historically. My sense of things today is that God's heart is turning back to his people and he is moving to bless them again.

RogerW
Feb 8th 2013, 01:08 PM
Perhaps it hasn't. But we do have much more historical information on the 1st century now than they did in the 16th century, so we should never stop seeking to understand Paul's context better. That's what scholars like E.P. Sanders and N.T. Wright are trying to do, anyway, and the best we can do is see if their interpretations illuminate the text more than those of the 16th century. In many respects I think they do.

We never stop seeking to understand Paul's context better. I have no problem looking to scholars, however knowledge (so-called) does not always mean wisdom. So when we hear modern scholars, or even old scholars for that matter, bringing us new insights, or new ways to interpret that have been repudiated by other biblical scholars, we have reason for concern. This new understanding is exactly how heresies are introduced into the church. Just because someone believes they have better understanding because we have more historical information today, does not mean they have rightly discerned the information discovered. If we change our doctrine every time more historical information is discovered, the Bible would not be the Word of God, but would evolve into the words of men. We need only look to the plethora of modern bible translations to understand this notion. God tells us to keep to the old paths for a reason. So when we hear a scholar tell us they have new insights that none before them have, its best to read them with a critical eye rather then reading them to see if their new interpretations illuminate the text more than those biblical scholars of old. We don't need more historical information to rightly divide the Word. The Bible itself contains all the historical data needed to study to show ourselves approved unto God, rightly dividing THE WORD OF TRUTH.

Jer*6:16 Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein.

De*32:7 ¶ Remember the days of old, consider the years of many generations: ask thy father, and he will shew thee; thy elders, and they will tell thee.

Lu*16:29 Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.

Scruffy Kid
Feb 8th 2013, 02:58 PM
Just a parenthetical comment.

This is an incredibly wonderful and illuminating thread, and set of discussions. I'm learning lots!
Thanks so much, and to all, for this great thread!