As I’ve formulated areas of contention I have with the New Paul Perspective (NPP), I terminated one.  As St. Augustine showed me in a slightly different address, the argument was bad. My line of thought went like this, “The NPP sprung out of liberal theology; it’s original theology runs so bad as to be unorhodox; therefore a distilling of the material and subsequent refined NPP objective is bad because of where it came from.”

Augustine had a great image (Chapter 40). He developed the scene- God moved on the hearts of the Egyptian people and the Israelites plundered them of their gold.  Where heathen philosophy, moralism, etc. lines up with what we know to be true, we shouldn’t just ignore it or defame it.  We should take that which we find to be true and liberate it.  In this way, the Israelites plundered the Egyptians for their gold as they left Egypt.  The gold articles and “gold philosophies” erected to serve idols and demons had no idea they would eventually go to serve the one true and living God.  And in this way, Augustine quotes Acts, “Moses was learned in ALL the wisdom of the Egyptians” (Acts 7:22). In the same way we can take the gold studies from biology, built on an evolutionary principle, and use them to understand the world and help cure diseases, etc.  We don’t just throw out the whole field because it serves a Darwinian model.

If the historical research done by E.P. Sanders is really that great, then it should be liberated and refined to honor the God of the Bible.  There’s an old Latin proverb that says, “There’s no book so bad that it has no value.”  Now I’d not side 100% with this quote, but see it as a challenging principle.  Therefore, I find it a bad argument to fault Wright for reading / engaging Sanders and adopting principles from his studies.  My perception is that he has done enough to separate them / liberate them from the agenda Sanders was serving.

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