Getting the Gospel Right: Assessing the Reformation and New Perspectives on Paul

Getting the Gospel Right: Assessing the Reformation and New Perspectives on Paul

Venema, Cornelis

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Publisher's Description

Every generation of Christian believer faces the challenge of proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ with integrity and in conformity to the teaching of the Scriptures.

But what do the Scriptures teach with regard to the central message of the gospel? Were the Reformers correct to insist that the good news of God’s gracious and free acceptance of guilty sinners, on the basis of the obedience and atoning sacrifice of Christ, lies at the heart of the gospel? Or are we to accept the ‘new perspectives’ on Paul’s teaching, which have been advocated in recent years by those who have made a fresh study of the relevant historical sources?

Since the new perspectives challenge some of the basic features of the traditional Protestant understanding of justification, they require careful study and thoughtful evaluation. Nothing less than the shape of the evangelical church’s proclamation of the gospel today is at stake.

About the Author

Cornelis P. Venema is President and Professor of Doctrinal Studies at Mid-America Reformed Seminary, Dyer, Indiana. He also serves as an Associate Pastor at Redeemer United Reformed Church in Dyer, and is co-editor of the Mid-America Journal of Theology and contributing editor of a column on doctrine for the monthly periodical The Outlook.

Educated at Dordt College, Iowa (BA, 1975), and Calvin Theological Seminary, Grand Rapids, Michigan (BD, 1978), Venema received his Ph.D. in 1985 from Princeton Theological Seminary for his work on The Twofold Nature of the Gospel in Calvin’s Theology. While studying at Princeton from 1979 to 1981, he was a Teaching Fellow in the Department of Theology. He served as pastor of the Christian Reformed Church of Ontario, California, for six years and in South Holland, Illinois before going to Mid-America Reformed Seminary.

Dr. Venema’s books, Heinrich Bullinger and the Doctrine of Predestination: Author of “The Other Reformed Tradition”? and Accepted and Renewed in Christ: The “Twofold Grace of God” and the Interpretation of Calvin’s Theology (developed from his Ph.D. thesis), reflect his interest in these Reformers. He has also written several other books including, for the Trust, The Promise of the Future (and a Study Guide for this); Christ and the Future; The Gospel of Free Acceptance in Christ; and Getting the Gospel Right, the latter two being assessments of the so-called ‘New Perspective on Paul’.

Cornelis Venema is married to Nancy, and they have four children.

Book Details

112 Pages
Publisher: Banner of Truth
Publication Date: May 7, 2006
ISBN 10: 085151927X
ISBN 13: 9780851519272

"New Perspectives on Paul...What is that?" is no doubt a common question among many church members. Through his defense of the historicity of the synoptic gospels and emphasis upon the climactic events in the history of salvation (Jesus' life, ministry, death and resurrection), N. T. Wright has become a popular scholar among many evangelical and Reformed audiences. More controversially, Wright's popularity has extended the influence of a broad school that advocates "new perspectives" on Paul. These new perspectives commonly question Reformed formulations of the order of salvation (justification, sanctification, etc.).

In light of the academic origins of the new perpectives on Paul, Venema's book is a helpful primer to the most contested issues. While briefly conceding that "it may be admitted that new perspective has illumined some significant aspects of Paul's understanding of the gospel," Venema focuses exclusively upon refuting new perspective claims to cast doubt upon the traditional Reformation interpretation of Paul. Reaffirming the justification by faith alone based upon the merits of Christ alone, Venema conveys the issues concisely without excessive over-simplification."
- Matthew Harmon, Westminster Bookstore Staff- July 2006