Controversy over the so-called ‘New Perspective’ on Paul has grown in recent years, as revisionist understandings of Paul and his understanding of the Gospel have gained ground among some evangelicals. In my judgment, the New Perspective represents a repudiation of the Gospel as it was recovered, taught, and defended by the Reformers in the 16th century. In other words, I believe that Luther, in his own time, understood Paul better than the New Perspectivists do now. No doubt, those promoting the New Perspective intend to recover what they believe to be the biblical Gospel. Nevertheless, good intention is no assurance of good effect. In rejecting some of the misunderstandings of the Gospel common among some evangelicals, this group has gone on to do great damage to the Gospel itself. Nothing less than the doctrine of justification is at stake.
Let me suggest a few genuinely helpful resources on this issue. Dr. J. Ligon Duncan, pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Jackson, Mississippi, president of the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals, and moderator of the Presbyterian Church in America has written an outstanding essay, The Attractions of the New Perspective(s) on Paul. A faithful pastor and an outstanding Christian scholar [PhD., University of Edinburgh], Dr. Duncan offers a cogent and clear theological analysis of this new movement. In addition, you can listen to a fascinating conversation on this issue featuring Dr. Duncan and Dr. Mark Dever, pastor of Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, DC, available through 9 Marks Ministries. To hear the interview, go to Justification and the New Perspective with Ligon Duncan. Another helpful resource is An Explanation of the New Perspective on Paul by Dr. Bryan Chapell, president of Covenant Theological Seminary. Dr. Chapell’s paper is charitable and accessible, offering important insights. The seminary offers other helpful resources found at its Online Resources Web site.