Starting with the punch line is low on drama, but makes up for it in clarity. So here’s the punch line.
For many people, the New Perspective on Paul (just NPP from now on) has come to mean this – ‘get in by grace, stay in by merit’. It’s not actually quite put like this, normally it’s ‘get in by grace, stay in by works’ but it’s more accurate to say merit. Since this is the popular understanding, I am going to refer to this as NPP (pop).
What does it mean? The NPP (pop) is the view that the beginning of the Christian life is by the grace of God – he calls us to restored right relationship with himself through the work of Christ by the preaching of the gospel. But, so the story goes, the NPP (pop) holds that the way a person stays right with God is by doing good works that earn his ongoing favour – hence ‘stay in by merit’.
The phrase ‘get in by grace, stay in by works’ was coined by EP Sanders, as his way of summarising what he saw as the pattern of 1st century Judaism. For what it’s worth, he meant ‘works’ in a way that didn’t imply merit.
So, to get it clear right up front (and I hope this is the most defensive I get) – I have never thought, taught, encouraged, preached, written or even muttered anything even in the same galaxy as NPP (pop). Hundreds of my sermons are on line, plenty of stuff I have written is on line. Not a single syllable will go anywhere near this – never have, never will. Thousands (rhetorical hyberbole?) of people who have listened to me teach sometime over the last 20 years at Sydney Uni, Barneys and CCIW would know this. I have only ever taught, and only ever will teach, that salvation is by grace alone, on the basis of Christ alone, to the glory of God alone, through faith alone, on the authority of the Scriptures alone – in fact, I had the joy of preaching a series on the ‘solas’ years ago (before the sola panel made it trendy) which makes this all pretty clear.
If you think NPP = NP (pop), then it’s got nothing to do with me – in fact, even to say it, as though it could, feels somehow dirty.
If you have said something along the lines “Katay is new perspective”, and what you meant by “new perspective” was something like NPP (pop), then you have got me hopelessly wrong , and have probably done me wrong – please stop! You may even like to fess up in the comments! On the other hand, if you hear someone say it, please stop them – or you may even like to ‘out’ them in the comments (after asking them to fess up).
It’s time for this nonsense to stop.
On Wednesday, I’ll start at the beginning, and say more about what I do think, rather than just what I don’t think.
But, just in case it needs to be said again, I do not and never have held NPP (pop). Can we let it drop for good now?