Faith Replacing Works?

Fides salvifica receives all of Scripture as good news from a gracious God. In a general sense, all is gospel. But the Scripture does contain what might be called the Gospel proper, the good news of Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection. This is why the Protestant scholastics also said that there was a fides evangelica that specifically trusts in the revelation that God gives to us in the gospel of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. This is the faith exhibited when someone hears the gospel preached.

And so this section concludes with some awkwardness. I do agree with the New Perspective on this issue. Faith and fidelity are organically related and are alive together. But as much as I would like to, I cannot rejoice in this agreement— because the critique offered of the ‘Old Perspective’ appears to assume that prior to the publication of Paul and Palestinian Judaism, the entire Protestant world was more or less Lutheran. Put another way, the exegesis of Paul is strong (at this point). But the representation of historical theology since the Reformation is really weak.

And this reveals the taint of modernity. A doctrinal argument represented as being between Old and New reveals the head of that old dragon Progress. ‘We modern scholars have a better understanding of Paul than the scholars of another era did’ sounds a lot more cutting-edge than simply joining in with a three-hundred-fifty year-old denominational debate, and taking up ordinary sides. We are like the Athenians, who liked nothing more than to hear the latest thing. This is why holding to a new and improved perspective is a lot sexier than simply not being a Lutheran.”

Douglas Wilson. “A Pauline Take on the New Perspective“. Credenda/Agenda. Vol. 15. Iss. 5. 9.

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Joe Louthan

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