Scot McKnight is working through Stephen Chester’s Reading Paul with the Reformers at his JesusCreed blog. (Here’s part 1; here’s part 2.) In today’s blog post, he interacts in some detail with a passage from Chester that takes issue with the New Perspective’s assertion that the Reformers missed Paul’s point about justification by faith. I’m not sure that all NP supporters would agree that the Reformers were wrong so much as they placed the emphasis in the wrong place, but others are certainly deeper into this debate than I am. McKnight summarizes Chester’s questions thusly:
Chester begins with Luther and Erasmus and more importantly uses them for the hermeneutical dichotomy they created: Should we do “theological interpretation” (Luther) or historical critical work (Erasmus), and is the Bible clear in all it says (Luther) but difficult at times (Erasmus), and does the ambiguity of Scripture create problems (Erasmus) or is it a false approach (Luther)?
Chester elaborates on several key points of disagreement between Luther and Erasmus on the proper interpretation of Scripture. This leads, ultimately, to a threefold criterion for discerning the best interpretations, namely:
The conflict of interpretations is thus best addressed by a mixed hermeneutic. The goal of hearing the Spirit speak through Paul in his texts is served by applying the triple criteria of
and contemporary theological fruitfulness.
McKnight suggests Chester is “doing the newer new perspective, one that appreciates too the Reformers’ reading of Paul.”