The New Perspective: Where Are the Dead Before the Second Coming? Part 1

ascension.jpgIn the previous two posts, we considered the idea that at the end of time, after the Judgment, God and the New Jerusalem will come down to a renewed and purified earth, where we will dwell in new, imperishable, incorruptible bodies.

The verses seem plain enough, but Wright (and others) admit the we are told very little about what happens to us after our physical deaths and before the End.

Some verses speak of Christians sleeping. Others speak of believers being transported to Paradise with Jesus. Others seem to speak of our being in heaven.

Although Wright offers no real guidance, I thought surely the scriptures would have a plain teaching on such an obvious and important subject. Continue reading

Posted in Heaven, New Perspective, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Communion Meditation Reflecting on the New Perspective

CommunionWe struggle sometimes with even talking about the Lord’s Supper. We want to avoid any accusation that this is some sort of “sacrament.” We want to make this event purely, 100% symbolic.

But when we do that, we say that the only thing that happens is what we do. God does nothing. He did a lot. But now, we just remember the past.

newperspective.jpgAnd we should most certainly remember the past–what Jesus did for us. Of course. But we can do that and the Lord’s Supper can be even more.

The story of the Bible has a simple outline. God made the heavens and the earth. Man lived in a perfect place in daily, intimate communion with God. But man sinned, and so man and the earth were cursed. God has ever since worked, in love, to restore us to Eden–a place where God provided man with his food as a gift, where man did not have to work for his meals. Continue reading

Posted in Communion Meditations, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The New Perspective: The End of the World as We Know It–The Second Coming

ascension-cropped.jpg

(Hab. 2:14) For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.

With this passage, in The Simple Church, N. T. Wright lays out his theory for how the world will be reborn at the end of time. The End, you see, is not about the world ending, but about heaven and earth being merged–God making this new earth his home together with his people.

Continue reading

Posted in Heaven, New Perspective, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The New Perspective: The End of the World as We Know It–Introduction

ascension-cropped.jpgI’ve never been particularly interested in eschatology (It’s a ridiculous word and I promise never to use it again. It’s the study of the end times.). I just kind of figure that however things end up, they’ll be much better than the present, I’ll have either no body or a better body (either is good), and the details just don’t matter. I mean, it’s like Christmas times infinity-and I like to be surprised!But I’ve been reading Wright’s enjoyable little book, Simply Christian, in which he goes into some detail as to how he figures things will be. And his views have some interesting implications in terms of how I understand God’s existence–outside the universe and so outside time. At least, that’s my theory.

So I figure it’s worth the effort to see how Wright’s theories test out against the scriptures.

Continue reading

Posted in Heaven, New Perspective, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The New Perspective: On Being “Called”

[This material has been relocated from the preceding post. It occurred to me that this material really didn’t add to the baptism discussion but remains important in its own right. So I moved it and fixed it up just a little.]

newperspective.jpgN. T. Wright argues that our “justification” occurs after we are saved, when God declares us saved. If “justified” doesn’t mean saved, then just when are we saved? Wright argues this happens when we are called.

But “called” sounds so much like “invited.” Surely many have been called and not responded! I mean, how many have heard the gospel message and refused to turn to Jesus as Lord? Continue reading

Posted in New Perspective, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The New Perspective: Baptism, additional thoughts

 [The material on the meaning of being “called” has been moved to the following post.]

newperspective.jpgAs noted in the previous post, N. T. Wright considers baptism to be the event at which justification occurs and the “call” to be the event of our salvation. Hence, as Paul writes in Romans 8:30, we are called (saved) and then justified (baptized).

Of course, going back to Alexander Campbell, Churches of Christ have taught that salvation, justification, and baptism are all concurrent. And so, I thought I’d poke around the scriptures a bit and see what light I can find on this disagreement.

I remind the reader that according to Wright (and many other commentators), “justification” is not salvation so much as God’s declaration of acquittal or vindication or “not guilty” occurring upon salvation. Continue reading

Posted in Baptism, New Perspective, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The New Perspective: Baptism

newperspective.jpgThis “new perspective” is, in many respects, very congruent with the traditional teachings of the Churches of Christ. We’ve already noticed  how Wright’s teaching on judgment in accordance with works resonates with historical Church of Christ teaching.

Much closer to the heart of traditional Church of Christ teaching is Wright’s understanding of baptism. Continue reading

Posted in Baptism, New Perspective, Uncategorized | Tagged | Leave a comment

The New Perspective: Imputed Righteousness

newperspective.jpgOne of Wright’s most controversial arguments is that there is no Biblical basis for the doctrine of “imputed righteousness.” This is the view that we are saved because Jesus’ merits are credited to Christians.

Now, this should not be confused with substitutionary atonement, which teaches that Jesus accepted our punishment for us, which Wright plainly teaches. The question isn’t whether Jesus saves–it’s whether the means of salvation is our being credited with Jesus’ merits.

Wikipedia (okay, not a work of great theology, but it’s an easy place to start) cites in favor of this view 2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 Corinthians 1:30; and Romans 4:6 (as do a number of articles posted in opposition to Wright’s views). Continue reading

Posted in New Perspective, Uncategorized | Tagged | Leave a comment

The New Perspective: Justification, Part 4 (objections)

newperspective.jpg

The faithfulness of Christ

Nothing is more helpful to my own study than readers who disagree or raise hard questions. Such questions allow me to consider points I wouldn’t have thought of on my own.

Alan Rouse argues,

I think it is a bit of a stretch to translate one phrase of Gal 2:16-17 as “faithfulness of Christ” when the same word “faith” is used in the other sense in adjacent verses. Such a choice would necessarily carry some preconceived doctrinal preferences, since there is nothing in the Greek to indicate that choice. The original Greek-speaking audience would have seen the same word in each place. They would have had to draw their understanding from the context, without any distinction in the actual words. I think that is what we should do also.

Compare Gal 2:16 “faith of Christ” with Rom 3:22 “faith of Jesus Christ” and Mark 11:22 “Have faith of God”. It does not seem unreasonable to understand these passages as referring to our faith which we receive from Jesus and from God. If faith is certainty of things unseen, then it does not make sense to speak of God having faith. OTOH it makes perfect sense to speak of God granting faith. (Eph 2:8) Continue reading

Posted in New Perspective, Uncategorized | Tagged | Leave a comment

The New Perspective: Justification, Part 3 (we finally get to justification)

newperspective.jpgJustification is, of course, a major New Testament theme, especially in Romans and Galatians. Wright insists on redefining the term contrary to 500 years of Reformation history.

He sees “justification” as coming from the terminology of the law court. When a man is tried by a judge and found innocent, in the First Century, he was declared “justified” by the judge.

Hence, “justification” is not the process of gaining faith or even being saved. Justification is the judge’s declaration that the accused has been vindicated. Continue reading

Posted in New Perspective, Uncategorized | Tagged | Leave a comment