A Critique of the New Perspective on Paul

Martin Luther was willing to risk all for the doctrine of justification. "Without this article," declared Luther, "the world is utter death and darkness.... If the article of justification is lost, all Christian doctrine is lost at the same time." In recent years, however, some of the heirs of Luther and the Protestant tradition have openly challenged the Reformation understanding of justification. The most prominent challenge has come in the form of the "New Perspective on Paul" (NPP). Proponents of the NPP insist that Martin Luther and the other Reformers actually got the doctrine wrong. The main concern of justification is not how a sinner is made right with God; rather, it is who belongs to the covenant community. In other words, justification belongs in the category of in ecclesiology, not in soteriology. Had Luther only known this, the Protestant Reformation may have been averted!

Standing with Luther

Did Luther and the other Reformers get it wrong? We think not. On the contrary, we believe the so-called "New Perspective on Paul" is in some respects just a newer version of that older perspective, which Luther and the Reformers rejected. Accordingly, we take our stand with Luther and the traditional Protestant and Reformed understanding of justification by faith alone in Christ alone through grace alone.

A Reformed Baptist Critique of the NPP

In the eight lectures below, Pastor Jeff Smith, a lecturer and board member of Reformed Baptist Seminary, provides an overview and critique of the NPP. First, he identifies its main proponents, primary tenets, and subtle attractions. Then he refutes its primary claims and teachings through careful exegesis and theological reflection. In closing, Smith highlights several important implications and draws some vital applications from the study. These lectures serve as part of the curriculum for one of Reformed Baptist Seminary's courses on polemics. Enjoy!

A Critique of the NPP, Part 1 - Jeff Smith

A Critique of the NPP, Part 2 - Jeff Smith

A Critique of the NPP, Part 3 - Jeff Smith

A Critique of the NPP, Part 4 - Jeff Smith

A Critique of the NPP, Part 5 - Jeff Smith

A Critique of the NPP, Part 6 - Jeff Smith

A Critique of the NPP, Part 7 - Jeff Smith

A Critique of the NPP, Part 8 - Jeff Smith


The lectures above actually constitute one part of a course dealing with contemporary aberrations of the doctrine of justification. Dr Sam Waldron examines departures from sola fide. That is, Waldron surveys and critiques views of justification that claim faithfulness rather than faith to be the instrument of justification. The module at which these lectures were delivered was co-sponsored by Reformed Baptist Seminary and the Midwest Center for Theological Studies.