by Guy Prentiss Waters

 

The New Perspective(s) on Paul is a post-World War II movement in the academic study of the apostle Paul.2  Its beginnings arguably date to the 1960s, but it gained steam and definition in the late 1970s through two books authored by E. P. Sanders.3  While the NPP is an academic movement, it is not only an academic movement. It has made its way into the church largely through the influence of N. T. Wright-a well known New Testament scholar and Anglican churchman.4

We should not underestimate the NPP. It is not an academic fad. Scholars are now accustomed to speaking of “pre-NPP” and “post-NPP” exegesis.  Even after the NPP becomes an academic memory, it has left a lasting legacy to the study of Paul. Most importantly, it will have left a lasting impression in the church.

In this article we have two goals. First, we want to define the NPP and outline some of its major concerns. Second, and more briefly, we will ask the question. “What’s At Stake?” Why should a minister, elder, or concerned Christian care about this question?

The “Old Perspective”

A New Perspective implies an Old Perspective. To what is the NPP responding? It is responding to a general understanding of Paul represented in the writings of Augustine and the Reformers. We may consider this “Old Perspective” under three related points: Paul’s conversion, Judaism, and justification by faith alone.

Conversion

We are accustomed to speak of Saul of Tarsus’s encounter with the resurrected Christ on the Damascus Road in terms of his “conversion” (Acts 9, 22, 26; cf. Gal 1:13-17). To be sure, he was also called to be “Apostle to the Gentiles” (cf. Acts 9:15). Paul, however, was not only called. He was also converted. He saw himself under the guilt of sin, and found deliverance from the guilt of sin in Jesus Christ. His conversion marked his spiritual passage from death to life, and from a performance-based religion to a religion grounded on the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Judaism

Historically, Protestants have maintained that the pre­vailing religion of first century Judaism was a religion of works. In other words, one’s acceptance before a holy God was based upon one’s performance, or obedi­ence to the law of God. As such, first century Judaism had declined from the religion of the Old Testament, which Reformed Protestants maintain is a religion of grace. In contrast with much of first century Judaism, the apostle Paul teaches a religion of grace. Acceptance before God is not based upon the works of the sinner. It is based upon the work of Christ: Christ’s righteousness is reckoned to the sinner and received by faith alone.

Justification by Faith Alone

When we ask the question, “What did Paul mean by ‘justification by faith alone’?,” the Old Perspective’s answer is that the sinner is pardoned and accepted on the basis of the perfect obedience and full satisfaction of Jesus Christ.5The verdict of justification is based solely upon Christ’s righteousness. This righteousness in justi­fication is imputed to the sinner and received by faith alone. Justification happens at the outset of one’s Christian life. Paul, then, was justified at the time of his conversion on the Damascus Road.

THE “NEW PERSPECTIVE”

The NPP claims that Augustine, Luther, and their heirs have fundamentally misread the apostle Paul. For exam­ple, the New Testament scholar who is perhaps the grandfather of the NPP, Krister Stendahl, makes the now famous claim that Paul has been filtered through the “introspective conscience of the West.”6 In other words, Western students of the Bible are shackled by Augustine’s and Luther’s preoccupation with sin, the guilt of sin, and the need for release from that guilt. Those concerns, Stendahl says, are not Paul’s concerns. Neither should they be ours.

Precisely how does the NPP make its break with the Reformation and its modern day heirs? To answer that question, we will consider the three areas we have just discussed-conversion, Judaism, and justification. Because the NPP gained momentum from Stendahl’s understanding of Paul’s Damascus Road experience, we will begin there.

Conversion

Stendahl trenchantly argued that Paul never experi­enced a conversion from Judaism to Christianity, at least not in the sense that Western Christianity has understood that term.7 Stendahl argues that Paul expe­rienced a call on the Damascus Road. He was called to preach to the Gentiles. Paul, however, was not convert­ ed from one religion to the other. Stendahl argues that there is no evidence, from Acts or the Letters of Paul, that Paul was actually converted in the way that Augustine and the Reformers said that he was. Paul never expresses anguish over the guilt of sin. In fact, Paul had both before and after his Damascus Road experience what Stendahl called a “robust conscience.”8

In response to Stendahl, we may observe the following. First, to understand Paul’s Damascus Road experience we must consult two sources. There is, on the one hand, Paul’s own account of it in his letters. In Galatians 1:11-17, Paul looks back on what happened to him on the Damascus Road. He certainly stresses his “call” to “preach [Christ] among the Gentiles” (1:15, 1:16). Paul, however, speaks of an accompanying and inward change: God “was pleased to reveal His Son in me” (1:15-16). This change resulted in the apostle’s definitive break with the “ancestral traditions” of Judaism and his persecuting zeal for them (1:13-14).

Paul amplifies his testimony at 1 Timothy 1:12-17 (a let­ter whose authenticity many critical New Testament scholars dismiss). Here Paul famously terms himself the “chief of sinners” (1:15). Formerly Paul had been a “blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor” (1:13). Now he has been shown “mercy” (1:13, 1:16). Before he had been unbelieving, but now Christ has granted him faith and love (1:13, 1:14). Paul certainly testifies to a call on the Damascus Road (1 Tim 1:12), but he no less adamantly testifies to his conversion as well.

That Paul was converted on the Damascus Road is also evident from the content of the message that Christ committed to Paul to preach. Consider the words of Jesus Christ to Paul at Acts 26:17-18. He speaks of “[the] Gentiles to whom I am sending you, to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in me.” The message that Paul preaches is a message centered upon regeneration and conversion (“open their eyes,” “turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God”), the pardon of sin (“forgiveness of sins”), sanctification (“sanctified by faith in me”), and glorifi­cation (“an inheritance”). Would Paul have been entrusted to preach a message having had no experien­tial acquaintance with that message? Would Christ have set Paul apart to declare realities of which Paul was per­sonally ignorant? To ask these questions is to answer them. The content of the message that Paul preached points us inexorably to an accompanying work of con­ version in the apostle.

We may draw a second observation in interaction with Stendahl’s case. Stendahl is certainly correct to say that there is no evidence that Saul the Jew was racked with uncertainty about his acceptability before God. In view of what the apostle Paul says in Romans 1-3, 7:7-12, however, it seems that Saul’s conversion brought with it both a reevaluation of the demands of the law and a sense of his guilt under it. The law, he says, was power­ fully brought home to him. “Once I was alive apart from the Law,” Paul affirms in Romans 7:9a. In other words, “as a Jew I thought I was alive. I thought that I had it together so far as the demands of the Law were concerned.” Paul continues: “but when the command­ment came, sin became alive and I died” (Rom 7:9b). There came a point when Paul realized that he was in fact “dead” and sin was “alive.” He completely reevalu­ated his position under the law.

A third and final observation has to do with Stendahl’s definition of “guilt.” When Stendahl says that there is little evidence that Paul experienced “guilt,” he seems to mean by “guilt” the subjective feelings of guilt. If this is how guilt is to be defined, then we might agree with Stendahl that there is little of such “guilt” in Paul’s writings. The guilt that counts for Paul, however, entails one’s “obligation” (whether one feels it or not) to divine “justice” for failure to keep the law’s demands and for transgressions of the law.9 Of such guilt there is ample evidence and testimony in Paul’s writings.

Judaism
Roughly a decade after Stendahl published his findings on Paul’s Damascus Road experience, the New Testament scholar E. P. Sanders proposed a thorough­ going reassessment of ancient Judaism. Sanders was responding to a particular and influential understanding of ancient Judaism that German New Testament scholarship perpetuated at the turn of the twentieth century.10 On this understanding, the first century Jew believed that his good works and bad works were set on a balance. His acceptability was determined by the tip of the balance. Consequently, “grace” was absent from the system altogether. Psychologically, the system engendered either pride (if you thought your works were good), or despair (if bad).

E. P. Sanders challenged this model in his book Paul and Palestinian Judaism. This book effectively persuad­ed many if not most New Testament scholars to reeval­uate the prevailing scholarly reconstruction of ancient Judaism. Sanders surveyed three bodies of ancient Jewish literature from around the time of the New Testament: the Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha, the Dead Sea Scrolls, and the early Rabbinic Literature. He concluded that the prevailing German model was wrong. The Jews, Sanders argues, spoke of grace and embraced a religion of grace. This religion of grace­ common to virtually all Jews-follows a simple pattern. One has entrance into Judaism by election. Election is by grace. One stays in Judaism by “obedience [to the law], atonement and God’s mercy.”11 Sanders termed this pattern “covenantal nomism.”

Before we proceed, we may draw two observations con­cerning Sanders’ scholarship. First, we should acknowl­edge that Sanders is correct to fault the prevailing German model that saw no “grace” whatsoever in Judaism. Sanders rightly shows that first century Judaism could speak of grace and had a place for grace in its religion. This, however, was not a new conclusion. The Reformers and their heirs had acknowledged this much.

Second, Sanders concludes from the observation that Judaism had a place for grace in its religion that it was thereby thoroughly gracious, a religion of grace. This conclusion is mistaken. We offer two examples to illus­trate this point.12 Sanders presents evidence that the rabbis understood the election of Israel to be by the grace of God. He also presents evidence, however, from the rabbinic literature that speaks of Israel’s election on the basis of the patriarchs’ obedience and of the fore­seen obedience of the Israelites. This is, in theological language, a doctrine of conditional election. The Bible never permits one to speak of conditional election as thoroughly gracious. Election is “to the praise of the glory of [God’s] grace” (Eph 1:6) because it is an eter­nal choice of God (Eph 1:4) that is “according to the good pleasure of His will” (Eph 1:5) and “according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will” (Eph 1:11). Election is not grounded on anything seen or foreseen in the creature (Rom 9:10-13). Good works are the fruit and not the cause of election (Eph 1:4, 2:10).

Sanders also presents evidence that the rabbis understood the Old Covenant sacrifices to be atoning. He also shows rabbinic beliefs that repentance, suffering, and even one’s own death were considered to be means of atonement. No religion that allows for self-atoning works is thor­oughly gracious according to the Bible’s definition of grace. By examining Sanders’ own evidence, we con­clude that Sanders has not established that first century Judaism was a thoroughly gracious religion.

Justification
It is because of this reevaluation of Judaism that the NPP challenges the biblical and Protestant doctrine of justification by faith alone. Paul addresses the doctrine in contexts of Jewish or Judaizing opposition to his mes­sage (Rom 3:21-31; Gal 2:15-16). The Old Perspective maintains that the Jews and Judaizers called people to look to their works of obedience to the law as part of the basis of their acceptance before a holy God. In response, Paul contends that one’s works play no such role in justi­fication. Justification is by faith alone. In other words, faith receives the imputed righteousness of Christ in jus­tification. It is this righteousness which is the sole basis of the believer’s pardon and acceptance before God.

The NPP, however, maintains that the first century Judaism was a religion of grace and not of works. Whatever disagreement Paul had with Judaism, it had nothing to do with the “grace vs. works” question. This means that justification is not about the question “How can a sinner be accepted and acounted righteous before a holy God”?13

We may ask two questions of NPP proponents. What problem does justification address? What solution does justification offer to that problem? Leaving aside the scholarship of E. P. Sanders, we will focus our attention on the work of James D. G. Dunn and N. T. Wright. We will do so largely because Dunn and Wright have exercised more exegetical influence in the church than has Sanders. In recognizing that there are important dif­ferences among NPP proponents, we should note that there is something that unites all NPP proposals: Paul most certainly did not maintain the Reformational understanding of justification as the pardon and accept­ance of a sinner, solely on the basis of Christ’s right­eousness, imputed and received by faith alone.

For Dunn, the problem that Paul was facing was funda­ mentally sociological. In other words, justification addresses the question of how one knows to what group he belongs. What defines the people of God? Paul was critiquing professing Christians who thought that the people of God were identified by adherence to the law of Moses, the Torah. They were defined espe­cially by those laws that visibly set apart Jew from non­ Jew: circumcision, dietary laws, and Temple obser­vance, for example. The proponents of this view (the “Judaizers” of Galatians) were saying that this pattern was normative for all Christians. In other words, it is necessary to live like a Jew in order to be counted a Christian. This is what both Dunn and Wright will say is “justification by works” – one is declared to be a member of the people of God, one is recognizably a member of the people of God by Torah observance. 14

The solution was, in turn, fundamentally sociological. To explore the nature of this solution, we’ll look at two terms. The first of these is justification. To the problem posed by the Judaizers Paul responds with the doctrine of justification: “No, a Gentile Christian does not have to live like a Jew in order to be a Christian. He does not need to keep Torah to be recognizably identified as a member of the people of God. The badge of member­ship in the people of God is faith in Christ.”

 For Wright this is “justification by faith” in the present. One is declared to be a member of the people of God, and one is recognizably a member of the people of God by the badge of faith in Christ.15  In justification, faith is not an instrument that receives Christ and his right­eousness. Faith is a badge or marker of one’s identity as a Christian.

Wright, however, also says that justification is a declara­tion that one is in the right.16 In other words, justifica­tion is a declaration that one has entered into the favor of God. Justification is therefore partly although not primarily soteriological. Even here, we may underscore another important difference between Wright and the Old Perspective. Justification for Wright is not a change in one’s legal status before God. It is a declaration that one’s sins are already forgiven.17

The second term relating to Paul’s “solution” to this “problem” is righteousness. Dunn and Wright both maintain that the Reformers were mistaken in under­ standing “the righteousness of God” in justification to be the righteousness of God imputed by God and received by the believer through faith alone.18 Wright claims that this “righteousness” in justification is a sta­tus that God’s people have when they are vindicated by the judge who is himself righteous.19 God’s people have the status of “righteous.” They do not, however, have the righteousness of Jesus Christ imputed to them.

This raises the question of the basis upon which God’s people receive the status of “righteous.”

To answer this question we need to understand how Wright conceives justification in the present to relate to the future. Wright claims that present justification entails the bringing into the here and now the “verdict of the last day.”20 What does Wright understand this “verdict of the last day” to be? Wright means by this verdict what might be termed “future justification.”21 For Wright “future justification” will be based in part on the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ (but not an imputed righteousness), and in part on the Spirit­ wrought obedience performed by the Christian.22 People are declared righteous, then, partly on the basis of Christ’s death and resurrection for them and partly on the basis of the Spirit’s work within them.23 Dunn argues that one’s “righteousness” in justification is creative. It entails both “making righteous” and “reckoning righteous.”24 Believers are given the status of righteous. They are also inwardly transformed by this right­eousness in justification. In the lan­guage of classical theology, Dunn, like Wright, has conflated sanctifica­tion and justification.

In response, let us take up each aspect of the proposal, “problem” and “solution.” with respect to the “problem” that Paul is addressing in justification, Dunn and Wright argue that when Paul objects to the “works of the law” in justification, he is not objecting to performance or doing good works as the basis of one’s acceptance before God. That position was not, after all, the position of Paul’s opponents. The apostle is, rather, objecting to law-obedience as evidencing one’s membership in the people of God.

Let us consider what Paul says about the “works of the law” in his correspondence. In Romans 4:4-5, Paul says “Now to the one who works, his wage is not credited as a favor, but as what is due. Now to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness.” Notice that Paul here contrasts two modes of justification. There is justi­fication by “works” and justification by “faith.” This means that Paul’s reflections here should illuminate other passages where the apostle speaks of justification by faith and justification by works. What are these “works of the law”? Does Paul object to them because they fail properly to define the identity of God’s people? No. Paul objects to them because they are human deeds done in the sphere of justification. Paul says that these “works” bring a “wage,” or “what is due.” This market­ place analogy very clearly states what Paul means by “works.” Consequently, to be “justified by works” means for one to put forward his obedience as the par­tial or full basis upon which God should pardon and accept him.

We should also note passages like Titus 3:5 (“He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy… “), 2 Timothy 1:9 ([God] “who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity”), and Ephesians 2:8-9 (“for by grace you have been saved through faith … not as a result of works, so that no one may boast”). These passages testify that by “works” Paul means “deeds done.” NPP proponents sometimes acknowl­edge this interpretation, but do not nec­essarily regard these statements to be authentically Pauline.25 For Bible­ believing Christians, however, these let­ters offer clear testimony, alongside Romans and Galatians, that “works” for Paul are “deeds done.” When Paul objects to “works” in justification, he is objecting to one’s efforts or performance in the sphere of justification.

What about the way in which NPP proponents see the “solution” in justification? Wright sees present justifica­tion to mean two things: a declaration that one is already in the people of God (primarily), and that one’s sins are already forgiven because of Christ’s death (sec­ondarily). Both parts of this definition are defective. Neither part explains adequately how the believer’s jus­tification is based upon the atoning and propitiatory death of Jesus Christ (Rom 5:9, 3:24).26 Paul grounds our justification upon the death of Jesus Christ which is not only atoning (an atoning sacrifice for our sins) but also propitiatory (his death has turned away the wrath of God from the believer).

Furthermore, Paul declares that Christ has died for those who are “ungodly” (Rom 5:6) and “sinners” (5:8). The problem to which Paul plies the solution of justifi­ cation is not fundamentally the question “how do I know who is a member of the people of God” but “how can a sinner, justly subject to the wrath of a holy God, be reconciled to Him.” Furthermore, notice that justification entails the turning away of God’s wrath from the sinner. It is not a declaration that one’s sins are already pardoned. It is the point at which one’s sins are pardoned and one is accepted before a holy God on the sole basis of the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ (cf. 2 Cor 5:21, Phil 3:9).

We can point to a second problem in NPP formulations of the “solution” in justification. Neither Dunn nor Wright excludes the Spirit-wrought works of obedience from the basis of what is called final justification, the verdict at the last day. Paul, however, has banished “works” (all our activity) as the basis of our justifica­tion. This is because justification is fundamentally “works-based” – it is based upon the works of Christ! Our “righteousness” in justification is the unchanging and perfect imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ. The believer is thus presently and irrevocably justified. We dare not introduce our works into that perfect founda­tion. At the last day, the Christian will be “openly acknowledged and acquitted.”27 His works will show him to be a justified person. At no point in his Christian experience – past, present, or future – will his works serve, however, to justify him. Only Christs works justify the sinner.

What’s At Stake?

In conclusion, we ask the question, “What’s at stake”? Why should a Christian care about this issue? When we see that what is at stake is the integrity of the gospel, we see that the New Perspective presents the church with a challenge of the greatest magnitude. No Christian pastor, teacher, or counselor can afford to be ignorant of this issue. No Christian can afford to be indifferent to this issue.

While the NPP poses an academic set of questions to our attention, these questions are not only or even pri­marily academic. The NPP is circulating within the evangelical church and the integrity of the gospel is at stake. May God grant us clarity, passion, and zeal as we preserve, proclaim, and protect the “faith once for all handed down to the saints” (Jude 3).

 

Guy Prentiss Waters (Ph.D., Duke University) is Assistant Professor of Biblical Studies at Belhaven College, Jackson, MS. He is a Teaching Elder in the Presbyterian Church in American (PCA) and the author of three books, Justification and the New Perspectives on Paul, The Federal Vision and Covenant Theology: A Comparative Analysis, and The End of Deuteronomy in the Epistles of Paul.

 

NOTES
1 The following article is excerpted and adapted from a lecture deliv­ered at Reformed Theological Seminary, Jackson in February 2007.
2 Both the singular and plural forms of the name are used. For the sin­ gular, see James D. G. Dunn, “The New Perspective on Paul,” Bulletin of the John Rylands University Library of Manchester 65 (1983): 95-122. For the plural, see N. T. Wright, “New Perspectives on Paul,” in Justification in Perspective: Historical Developments and Contemporary Challenges (Bruce L. McCormack, ed.; Grand Rapids: Baker I Edinburgh: Rutherford, 2006), 243-264.
3 Paul and Palestinian Judaism (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1977); Paul, the Lan; and the Jewish People (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1983). For a brief and accessible statement of Sanders’ understanding of Paul, see his Paul (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991).
4 Among Wright’s many publications, see especially What Saint Paul Really Said: Was Paul of Tarsus the Real Founder of Christianity? (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans / Cincinnati: Forward Movement, 1997); Paul in Fresh Perspective (Philadelphia: Fortress, 2005).
5 See Westminster Larger Catechism, Questions 70-73, 77.
6 See Krister Stendahl, “The Apostle Paul and the Introspective Conscience of the West,” in Paul Among Jews and Gentiles and Other Essays (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1976), 78-96; compare his “Paul Among Jews and Gentiles” in ibid., 1-77. The former essay was an address originally delivered in 1961. The latter essay first appeared in 1963.
7 “Paul Among Jews and Gentiles,” 7-23.
8 “Paul Among Jews and Gentiles,” 15.
9 Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology (3 vols.; New York: Charles Scribner and Company, 1872), 2:476.
10 On which see the untranslated work of Wilhelm Bousset, Die Religion des Judentums in Neutestamentlichen Zeitalter (Berlin, 1903) [=The Religion of Judaism in the Time of the New Testament].
11 See Paul and Palestinian Judaism, 422.
12 These examples have been drawn from my Justification and the New Perspectives on Paul (Phillipsburg, N.J.: P&R, 2004), 38-41, 48-51.
13 “Justification, in Paul, is not the process or event whereby someone becomes, or grows, as a Christian… ,” Wright, “Romans,” in New Interpreter’s Bible: Acts-First Corinthians (ed. Leander Keck; Nashville: Abingdon, 2002), 468.
14 See Dunn, The Theology of Paul the Apostle (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1998), 354-366; and Wright, What Saint Paul Really Said, 120-121, 132.
15 What Saint Paul Really Said, 133.
16 Wright defines justification as “the declaration (a) that someone is in the right (his or her sins having been forgiven through the death of Jesus) and (b) that this person is a member of the true covenant family… ,” “New Perspectives on Paul,” 258, cp. 260. In an earlier publica­tion, Wright speaks of being declared that one is in the right as an implication of the declaration that one is a member of God’s people, What Saint Paul Really Said, 129.
17 “God’s declaration that. Not ‘God’s bringing it about that’ but God’s authoritative declaration of what is in fact the case,” “New Perspectives on Paul,” 260.
18 Wright, What Saint Paul Really Said, 100-103; “New Perspectives on Paul,” 258.
19 Wright, “New Perspectives on Paul,” 251-252.
20 “The verdict of the last day has been brought forward into the pres­ent in Jesus the Messiah; in raising him from the dead, God declared that in him had been constituted the true worldwide family. Justification, in Paul, is not the process or event whereby someone becomes, or grows, as a Christian; it is the declaration that someone is, in the present, a member of the people of God,” “Romans,” 468.
21 See Wright, “New Perspectives on Paul,” 258.
22 Wright points both to the work of Christ at the cross and to the work of the Spirit in the believer as dual bases for the verdict of justification at the last day. In addition to the citations at Justification and the New Perspectives on Paul, 139, 171, see the following statements of Wright:

“Paul is concerned with the attempt to seek justification on grounds other than those set out above, grace and faith, the cross and the Spirit, “Justification: The Biblical Basis and Its Relevance for Contemporary Evangelicalism,” in ed. Gavin Reid, The Great Acquittal: Justification by Faith and Current Christian Thought (London: Fount, 1980), 18, referenced at Peter T. O’Brien, “Was Paul a Covenantal Nomist” in Justification and Variegated Nomism, Volume 2: The Paradoxes of Paul (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2004), 292.
“We now discover that this declaration, this vindication, occurs twice. It occurs in the future, as we have seen, on the basis of the entire life a person has led in the power of the Spirit – that is, it occurs on the basis of “works” in Paul’s redefined sense,” “New Perspectives on Paul,” 260.
“In this way, Romans 8:1-17 provides the real answer to Romans 2:1-16. Why is there now ‘no condemnation’? Because, on the one hand, God has condemned sin in the flesh of Christ… and, on the other hand, because the Spirit is at work to do within believers what the law could not do – ultimately, to give life, but a life that begins in the present with the putting to death of the deeds of the body and the obedient submission to the leading of the Spirit,” “New Perspectives on Paul,” 254. Compare Paul in Fresh Perspective, 148.

23 Perhaps Wright regards one’s as-yet-unperformed Christian obedi­ence to be so certain that the verdict upon which it is partly based (future justification) may be brought into the present. Perhaps he is simply inconsistent at this point. In any case, that verdict is grounded in part upon the believer’s obedience.
24 The Theology of Paul the Apostle, 344.
25 See, for example, Dunn, The Theology of Paul the Apostle, 354.
26 Wright believes that Paul understands Christ’s death to be propitia­tory, “Romans,” 476. His definition, however, fails to sustain what Paul understands Christ’s propitiatory death to mean for the believer’s justifi­cation.
27 Westminster Larger Catechism, Question 90.