Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Are You a 5 Point New Perspectivist?

I imagine that most of this blog's readers are of the Reformed persuasion, and that many are "5 Point Calvinists" (or, to use the language of "5 Point Calvinists"..."Calvinists"). However, how many of you are also 5 point New Perspectivists? In an unpublished paper, Francis Watson has conjured up a humorous (and helpful) way of describing the basic tenants of the New Perspective using the TULIP acronym. Here's his desciption of the 5 points of the New Perspective, along with how they compare to the 5 points of Calvinism.

According to the first point, the Lutheran perspective on Paul has got him all wrong. It results in a total travesty of what he meant. So, in place of Total depravity, our own first point is: 'Total travesty'.

According to the second point, the cardinal belief of first century Judaism is the unmerited divine election, God's choice of Israel to be his covenant people. In this case, no modification seems necessary. 'Unconditional election' will do just fine.

According to the third point, this Jewish belief in election comes to expression in a firm allegiance to the marks of difference - circumcision and the rest. 'Limited atonement' isn't quite right here, so I suggest we replace it with 'Loyalty to the law'.

According to the fourth point, Paul is generally affirmative of this Jewish covenant theology, and certainly does not criticize it for any alleged tendency to make salvation dependent on human law-observance. He is, however, critical of its tendency to confine membership of the people of God to the Jewish community; God is, after all, the God of Gentiles also. We will call our fourth point not 'Irresistible grace' but 'Inclusive salvation'.

According to the fifth point, historical-critical study of Paul must rid itself of misreadings stemming from interpreters' prior theological commitments. 'The Perseverance of the saints' is no good here, so we will call our final point, 'Presuppositionless exegesis'.


Finally, we have a standard by which to measure one's fidelity to the New Perspective. So, how many points do you adhere to? I consider myself a 4.45 point Calvinist, and a 2.75 point New Perspectivist...roughly.

1 comment:

Daniel said...

As a 5.5 point Calvinist this may seem odd but here's my break down.

Point 1 - 3/4 point. I think the Lutheran reading of Paul is right, but not complete, but I don't think thats the issue in Rom & Gal.

Point 2 - Agree

Point 3 - Agree

Point 4 - 1/2 point. I think Paul does critique Jewish covenant theology precisely for not recognizing the inclusion of the Gentiles as Gentiles in the New Covenant.

Point 5 - 1/2 point. Even it is impossible to completely take off our 'lenses' we should try our best to understand Paul and other texts as they would have been originally understood.

By my count that is 3.75.