Thursday, 16 July 2009

Justification: Understanding the Reformed Doctrine - Part 11 The New Perspective on Paul

Fesko does a good job on N.T Wright in chapter 8. He answers the following questions:
(1) does the term "righteousness" mean "membership in the covenant"; and (2) does Scripture speak of justification in terms of vindication or being "in the right"? (p220)

Regarding the term righteousness, Fesko looks at Psalm 7 as an example. When David prays, "Judge me, O Lord, according to my righteousness" (v8) he is requesting that God declare him innocent of wrongdoing, rendering a "not guilty" verdict....covenant membership is not in view, but legal status, namely David's righteousness. (p222)

The example of Phinehas is also interesting. His spearing of the Israelite fornicators, according to Psalm 106:31, was counted to him as righteousness from generation to generation forever (ESV). Fesko affirms that Phinehas acted in faith (ala Heb.4:2, so Phinehas was justified by faith, evident in his works) and that he and his descendants were rewarded with a perpetual priesthood (Num. 25:12-13). Fesko sees in Phinehas a type of Christ who's righteous act is imputed to his descendants. I think this is a biblically satisfying view of the text.

In terms of "vindication" NTW is constantly banging on about the heart of justification being a declaration of "who's in" the covenant community and thus being a vindication of the true people of God before their enemies. Arguing from the thrust of Romans, particularly expressed in ch 5:1, Fesko concludes: Paul shows no concern for what the enemies of the people of God might or might not think; Paul shows concern only for what God will say concerning the one who stands before his throne. (p235) Stirring stuff.

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