Justification Reconsidered: An Interview with Stephen Westerholm

Blog HeaderThroughout February, get Justification Reconsidered: Rethinking a Pauline Theme for free!

We recently spoke with the author, Dr. Stephen Westerholm, about his book.

Can you give a brief overview of your projects in regards to justification in Paul?

Dr. Stephen Westerholm, McMaster University

In the early days of the discussion around Sanders’ Paul and Palestinian Judaism, I wrote Israel’s Law and the Church’s Faith: Paul and His Recent Interpreters. There I summarized and interacted with the work of a number of scholars who had anticipated significant points in Sanders’ book as well as his own contribution.

My Perspectives Old and New on Paul: The “Lutheran” Paul and His Critics was initially intended as a revised version of the earlier book, though it ended up being more than double its length. Extended treatment was given to Augustine, Luther, Calvin, and Wesley, as well as to a number of scholars who had contributed to the debate after the writing of Israel’s Law; and my own position—that, in its essence, the traditional understanding of “justification” is true to Paul, though post-Sanders Pauline scholarship has rightly drawn attention to the situation in which Paul first formulated the “doctrine” and to its social implications—is developed at much greater length.

In Justification Reconsidered: Rethinking a Pauline Theme, I attempted to state the case in a more accessible way—and with some updating. Those have been my main projects, though I have written a number of articles as well on various aspects of the debate.

One of your goals for writing was to make your work more accessible. However, for those less familiar with the New Perspective on Paul, why is this topic so important? How does the NPP directly affect the church member?

The social implications of what Paul wrote about justification have been duly emphasized by scholars of the New Perspective; but, to my mind, they tend to misconstrue (in various ways) what Paul means by “justification” itself. Since the topic is central in several of Paul’s letters, its correct understanding is important for a grasp of Paul’s gospel. Since, historically, different views of what Paul wrote about justification have divided churches, we cannot understand current divisions in Christendom without grappling with the issue.

On an individual level, the “peace with God” that Paul speaks of as a consequence of being “justified” (Romans 5:1) is, for many, a crucial part of their Christian experience as well as of their Christian faith. The question whether traditional understandings of justification are based on modern Western distortions of Paul’s message is thus hardly of trivial—or merely academic—significance.

Additionally, you write, “Those who do what they ought to do are righteous” in the “ordinary” and Pauline “sense of the word.” Do you have difficulty explaining the concept of what we “ought to do” to a postmodern society?

I attempted, very briefly, to evoke a sense for the notion in the final chapter of Justification Reconsidered. I attempted to do the same thing at greater length in chapter 3 of Understanding Paul: The Early Christian Worldview of the Letter to the Romans. The rhetoric of our day may prefer to speak of personal values rather than moral obligations. Not far beneath the surface, however, a sense for the latter remains very much in place: witness the editorial pages of our newspapers, which give daily expression to moral indignation. With the opening section of C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity, I believe that “right and wrong” continue to serve “as a clue to the meaning of the universe.”

In your conclusion, you mention “social implications.” Can you elaborate on what some of these might be?

In telling the Galatian (non-Jewish) believers that they ought not to be circumcised, Paul insisted that circumcision was part of a divine economy where obedience to the demands of God’s law served as the path to life in God’s favor, but where all who fail to yield such obedience are condemned. Placing all human beings in the latter category, Paul claims that the same path to life in God’s favor—through faith in Jesus Christ—has now been made available to all.

Hence, “Christian scholars today should feel free to find, in what Paul says about justification, a reason for denying that race, class, or gender can provide a basis for claiming, or for denying others a claim to, a right standing before God: Paul’s point, after all, is that human beings of all stripes are culpable before God, and God declares righteous any who believe” (Justification Reconsidered, 73–74).

* * *

Justification Reconsidered is available for free, this month only! You can also get an alternative view with The Deliverance of God by Douglas Campbell for only 99 cents.

Get both books today!

And don’t forget to share this offer with your friends on Facebook and Twitter so they can take advantage of it, too!

3 Days Left: Get 15% Off Noet Research Libraries

Noet Research Libraries 300x300Dig into the beauty of classic literature, the history of ancient philosophy, and the wonder of early mathematics: for just three more days, get 15% off Noet Research Libraries.

Noet Research Libraries pair smart study tools with history’s greatest works. Engage Homer, Herodotus, and Virgil with the 186-volume Classical Studies Research Library, or examine 25 centuries’ worth of Western thought with the 152-volume Philosophy Research Library.

Get 15% off Noet Research Libraries, but hurry—this sale ends February 13.

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Examine 25 centuries of philosophy, delve into the great works of antiquity, and immerse yourself in great works of literature. The Humanities Research Library combines the Classical Studies, Philosophy, Literature, and Biblical Greek Research Libraries into our biggest and best library ever—worth over $8,000.00.


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Study the great works of ancient Rome and classical Greece with the Classical Studies Research Library. Dig into the foundations of the Western world, engaging Homer, Herodotus, Virgil, and others in both original-language and translated works. Ancient texts, translations, grammars, and more—this library, worth nearly $3,000.00, is the classicist’s dream library.


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This library spans from ancient to modern philosophy. Engage the founders of the Western philosophical tradition, dialogue with the great thinkers of the medieval era, and join the discourse on the nature of knowledge, language, and reality itself. Explore works by René Descartes, Immanuel Kant, Plato, Thomas Aquinas, and more, with a library worth more than $2,700.00.


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Last Chance: Get Digital Curricula for over 50% Off

jacob-discerning-gods-presence-complete-church-curriculum-for-leaders-and-pastorsOver a year ago, we moved Jacob: Discerning God’s Presence to Community Pricing to see if we could offer digital curricula at a low price and gather enough interest to cover our production costs.

Now, we’re finally moving this resource off Community Pricing! The bidding closes on Friday, so you have just a few days to get Jacob: Discerning God’s Presence at over 50% off its regular price. Don’t miss this amazing opportunity!

Designed for digital

Jacob: Discerning God’s Presence is Bible study like you’ve never experienced before. Lexham Press designed this curriculum to help pastors and small group leaders maximize their planning and preparation time. The complete church curriculum includes infographics and a video for each chapter in the study. It also includes lesson plans and handouts for leading a Bible study or small group through the curriculum. Slide presentations, sermon outlines, and media resources give you everything you need to share with your entire congregation.

With Jacob: Discerning God’s Presence, you can:

  • Engage your congregation with a familiar story while discovering new and deeper insights.
  • Teach more effectively with materials designed to integrate, organize, and maximize efficiency in preparation.
  • Connect your church members as you journey along with Jacob and learn how his life lessons are relevant today.

Walking through life with Jacob

Everyone in your congregation or small group will benefit from the richness of content you’ve come to expect from Lexham Press. You’ll walk through life with Jacob, sharing in the discovery of new and deeper insights into this familiar story. You’ll learn—together—how Jacob’s life lessons are relevant today.

Jacob: Discerning God’s Presence will move off Community Pricing on Friday. Act now to ensure you get this amazing resource at the lowest possible price!

Place your bid on Jacob: Discerning God’s Presence today!

Jeff Struecker: From Black Hawk Down to Army Chaplain and Author

In a recent episode of the Mobile Ed Conversations podcast, former US Army chaplain Jeff Struecker discussed his journey in the Army Rangers and the call to ministry he received the day after he was involved in the battle that the film Black Hawk Down is based on. His two-course Chaplaincy Bundle is now available on Pre-Pub.

Get training on the chaplaincy

jeff-strueckerIf you’re thinking about becoming a chaplain or want to gain new skills and theological training from an on-the-ground perspective, consider Struecker’s two-course Chaplaincy Bundle from Logos Mobile Ed.

In these courses, you’ll learn about the unique role of a chaplain and how to minister to those around you most effectively. Struecker draws from both the truth of Scripture and the reality of his experiences on the battlefield. He also shows you how an incarnational ministry can start—even if you’re the only Christian around—and how it can be sustained.

Pre-order the Mobile Ed Chaplaincy Bundle today and get over 40% off!

February’s Sale: 10 Books under $10

february-deals-monthly-saleFind deals you’ll love this February. You don’t need a coupon code—just add these resources to your cart before the month is over to get these great discounts.

Browse all of this month’s discounts today!

Make 2015 a year for reading: apologetics, commentaries, devotionals, and historical theology! Supercharge your library with fresh content with these 10 titles on sale for under $10 each:

  1. The Dawkins Delusion? (33% off)
    Alister McGrath, along with his wife, Joanna, scrutinize Richard Dawkins’ ideas and question his criticism of the Christian faith.
  2. fifty-reasons-why-jesus-came-to-dieFifty Reasons Why Jesus Came to Die (22% off)
    The central issue of Jesus’ death is not the cause, but the meaning—God’s meaning. With this book by John Piper, explore 50 purposes behind his death.
  3. Judges: Such Great Salvation (27% off)
    The church has a problem with the book of Judges. In this resource, Dale Ralph Davis analyzes major literary and theological themes to provide better understanding of this important book.
  4. The Significance of Barth’s Theology (9% off)
    Get a general overview of Karl Barth’s theology, especially the formulation and significance of his take on predestination and reconciliation.
  5. Into the Light of Christianity (17% off)
    Trace the journey of William Schnell as he enters a new relationship with God: that of a born-again Christian.
  6. The Attributes of God, volume 2 (23% off)
    In this devotional work, originally preached as sermons, A.W. Tozer focuses on God’s attributes, including transcendence, wisdom, and faithfulness.
  7. Romans (29% off)
    The power and integrity of Christianity shines through in this treatment of Romans. Thirty-nine lessons help you become thoroughly familiar with this important book of the Bible.
  8. paul-for-everyone-romans-part-1Brothers, We Are Not Professionals (32% off)
    In this book, John Piper pleads with fellow pastors to abandon the secularization of the pastorate and pursue God’s call for radical ministry.
  9. Paul for Everyone: Romans, part 1 (34% off)
    Written in an approachable style, N.T. Wright’s work on Romans offers a glimpse into the broader scope of Scripture, as well as into the book of Romans in particular.
  10. Holy, Holy, Holy: Proclaiming the Perfections of God (33% off)
    The holiness of God has been obscured in our time. But in this corrective resource, it is defined, explored, and praised.

Get all 10 of these titles today, and don’t forget to check out the rest of February’s deals!

Get 61 Scholarly Volumes at an Incredible Price

international-critical-commentary-seriesThis month only, you can save over $500.00 on the International Critical Commentary Series. This series provides fantastic scholarship and has been recently reconfigured with two new volumes.

Through February, add this series to your Logos library at an incredible price. 

Isaiah 56–66

Published in 2014, this volume continues in the same vein as previous Isaiah commentaries in the series. Written by John Goldingay, a noted specialist in Isaiah studies, this volume retails for over $100.00 in print.

As John Oswalt notes in his July 2014 Themelios review:

The commentary itself is very densely written. . . . Each section is very complete: the textual notes are detailed both in the discussion of the issue and in the number of sources referred to concerning the issue, and the introductions consider matters of literary structure, word usage, and etymology in great detail.

In Logos 6, you can reference individual sections, just as Oswalt recommends. The guides section allows you to jump to a specific chapter and verse, helping you get the most out of such a detailed work.

James

Similarly, this recent addition, published in 2013, brings the essential elements of a scholarly commentary together in one place. Priced at $130.00 in print, this 848-page work offers serious scholars a wealth of information. With linguistic, textual, archaeological, historical, literary, and theological aids, this single volume brings new methods of study for a fresh look at this epistle.

Upgrade your series and save!

In print, these two volumes retail for a combined $230.00. But when you upgrade from the 59-volume collection, you can get both for just $59.31!

Or, if you’re starting from scratch, you can get the entire 61-volume series for less than $87 a month for 18 months with an interest-free payment plan.

Get the International Critical Commentary Series today and save!

3 Reasons You’ll Love or Hate The Screwtape Letters

Email_HeaderThe Screwtape Letters is a series of fictional letters written by C.S. Lewis. In this collection, an elder demon, Uncle Screwtape, is advising his young nephew, Wormwood, on the best way to ensnare and beguile the human he has been assigned.

Here are three reasons you’ll either love or hate The Screwtape Letters:

1. The letters apply to you

According to Uncle Screwtape, the true job of a demon is to undermine faith and prevent the formation of virtues. Reading The Screwtape Letters will polarize your feelings. It forces a type of introspection that is seldom achieved in our fast-paced society. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Am I consistently building virtue?
  • What virtues have I let slip?
  • What has taken their place?

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When you come face to face with this powerful appeal, you must draw back for self-examination. You’ll either hate this as it forces you to acknowledge your own failures, or love it as it spurs you on to strive for courage again.

2. They’re different each time you read them

Each time you read these fictional letters to Wormword, you’ll discover new insights. Upon rereading this last time, I was impressed anew with the historical context in which Lewis wrote (having published this work in 1942):

Now that it is certain the German humans will bombard your patient’s town and that his duties will keep him in the thick of the danger, we must consider our policy. Are we to aim at cowardice–or at courage, with consequent pride–or at hatred of the Germans?

Lewis recognizes the danger war poses to the individual’s soul. And he discusses it in a time of fierce rhetoric and virulent opinions, possibly the most turbulent time in the United Kingdom’s history. Given the current world situation, this admonition is as appropriate today as it was over 70 years ago.

This is only one example of the numerous insights presented in this work. If you prefer a book that is old, worn, and familiar each time you return to it, this is not the book for you. But if you enjoy the discovery that comes with a fresh reading, you will enjoy it for years to come.

3. They’ll help you see the world differently

How many times as we go about our day do we completely ignore the power of the enemy to mildly influence our decisions? Lewis questions our presuppositions when he writes:

There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them.

If, as Scripture states, we are in spiritual warfare (Eph. 6:12), then the battle rages around us every day. The great reformer Martin Luther understood this when he penned the beloved hymn, “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God”:

And though this world with devils filled, should threaten to undo us.

We will not fear what God hath willed His truth to triumph through us.

If you prefer to go about your daily life blissfully unaware, don’t read this book. But if you seek to have your eyes opened, then this satirical piece is the perfect starting point.

Pre-order and save!

Discover insights in this book and 29 others when you pre-order the entire C.S. Lewis Collection. Lewis’ works engender deep and powerful responses; there is seldom middle ground.

The C.S. Lewis Collection contains 30 of Lewis’ most-loved works. And best of all, the Logos edition is fully tagged and searchable, providing you with the ability to gain insights from Lewis’ works like never before.

Pre-order today to save 30%!

Last Chance to Save on Logos 6 Video Training

What's New? Video Training

We told you about Morris Proctor’s Logos 6: What’s New? digital training manual on Pre-Pub, but don’t miss the Logos 6: What’s New? Video Training.

This is your last chance to get great content for the best price. Regularly $149.95, you can pre-order it now for just $99.95—that’s 33% off!

This deal won’t last long; it’ll be gone in four days. Don’t let these savings slip through your fingers! Once this resource ships, regular pricing will kick in.

Place your pre-order to save

Explore Logos 6′s new tools and updates with authorized Logos trainer Morris Proctor. He provides clear, step-by-step instructions to help you get the most out of your software. This video series also shows you the changes between Logos 5 and 6, allowing you to quickly master the new functions in Logos 6 and incorporate them into your own study.

Watch this short clip from the training video in which Proctor gives a detailed explanation of the new ways to interact with Logos 6′s Factbook:

Save now by pre-ordering your Logos 6 What’s New? Video Training today—don’t miss your chance to get the Pre-Pub price!

What’s New for the EEC in 2015?

evangelical-exegetical-commentaryCritical scholarship can be a slow process, but it’s worth it.

So much goes into a single volume of the Evangelical Exegetical Commentary—it’s a collaborative effort. But years of research and authorship are just the beginning.

Experts such as Wayne House (general editor), Bill Barrick (Old Testament editor), Hall Harris (New Testament editor), and Andrew Pitts (New Testament editor) work with the author to help develop their content and insight into what will be most helpful to you.

And that’s not all: each volume goes through copy editors, proofreaders, digital and print formatters, typesetters, designers, and electronic text developers. It’s an exciting process, and with each volume, we can’t wait to deliver it to you in print and in Logos.

New volumes coming soon

We have a number of volumes in the works. Here’s a quick glimpse of what we have coming in 2015:

  • Exodus: This volume is already available digitally in your Logos library if you have purchased the 44-volume Evangelical Exegetical Commentary. This volume will also be released in a two-volume print edition.
  • Esther: Like Exodus, Esther is also already available digitally in your Logos Library. It will also be released in print.
  • Jude: It’s almost there—the EEC academic editors have passed us Herbert Bateman’s finished Jude commentary for copy editing, formatting, and electronic text development. Look for this volume in the second quarter of 2015!
  • 1 and 2 Samuel: We have 1 Samuel in hand for copy editing from our academic editors already, and 2 Samuel is nearly complete! Harry Hoffner and Bill Barrick are working through a few final touches, then it’ll be ready for review and copy editing. Look for it this coming fall!
  • Philippians: Like 2 Samuel, this is also very close! Mark Keown is working with Andrew Pitts and Hall Harris in the final developmental stages. Once they’re done, it will also be ready for final review and copy editing. Also watch for this in the coming fall!

Many other volumes are close to completion, too. Jeremiah, 1 and 2 Chronicles, and Ephesians have all been authored and await academic review and final developmental insight.

And the rest, of course, are all in varying stages of authorship. We are committed to this series and we can’t wait to release each volume. We hope they’re a blessing to your research and ministry.

Don’t miss out on the individual EEC volumes available now. Or, get the entire 44-volume collection to make sure you never miss a new volume!

Dr. Bryan Chapell on Preaching with a Central Theme

It’s easier to catch a baseball than a handful of sand.

Dr. Bryan Chapell uses this example in his new Mobile Ed courses to illustrate the importance of keeping a unified theme in your sermons, rather than presenting a handful of scattered ideas. It’s not enough to have weighty content; you must tie it all together into a cohesive message. If you don’t, your listeners will probably miss what you are trying to communicate.

This is just one of the many insights you’ll glean from Mobile Ed’s two-course Bryan Chapell Preaching Bundle.

mobile-ed-bryan-chapell-preaching-bundleDr. Chapell is a well-known pastor and speaker, and he’s the author of Christ-Centered Preaching: Redeeming the Expository Sermon. In these two courses, Dr. Chapell walks you through the process of preparing and delivering expository sermons.

In CM151 Preparing and Delivering Christ-Centered Sermons I: Foundations and Structures, he begins by discussing the power of God’s Word and the importance of unity, purpose, and application in your sermons. He then provides step-by-step guidance on how to prepare an expository sermon, from selecting and analyzing texts to developing main points with divisions and illustrations that support these points.

In CM152 Preparing and Delivering Christ-Centered Sermons II: Communicating a Theology of Grace, he emphasizes the importance of redemptive messages. Dr. Chapell shows how the grace of God in Jesus Christ permeates the entire Bible and shows you how to keep this redemptive grace front and center in your sermons.

These two Mobile Ed courses provide you with a unique opportunity to enhance your sermons and learn from one of the very best instructors on preaching. You’ll be better prepared to preach through all genres of the Bible and better equipped to develop the key aspects of your sermon that will make your main point of application more memorable.

Order them on Pre-Pub today while they’re 40% off!