Apprising Ministries brings you this warning concerning an upcoming Emergent Church conference, which is called Reclaiming Paul: The Apostle in the Emerging World (RP). At its website we’re given a “Conference Synopsis” of RP:

A conversation among emerging church leaders & biblical scholars, pastors & educators. When: October 22 – 24, 2008 Location: Kansas City, Missouri Cost: $189 (Online source)

Sounds a bit pricey just to have your ears tickled but nonetheless in the piece Paul & the Church we’re given some more in-depth information concerning this theological version of an Oprah-like makeover for the Apostle to the Gentiles:

Reclaiming Paul: The Apostle in the Emerging World brings together emerging church leaders and Pauline scholars for a robust theological conversation on Paul and the Church. This event includes four presentations by Pauline scholars, responses by emerging church leaders and a variety of related workshops… Conversations in the emerging church tend to have an immediate affinity with the gospel narratives…

Many emerging church leaders have indeed had great difficulty with an extremely forensic and individually focused view of Paul, a view based mostly on particular interpretations of Romans and Galatians. In academic circles, many Pauline scholars also react to this particular view of Paul based on careful historical, exegetical, and theological arguments… The purpose of Reclaiming Paul is to provide resources for appropriating Paul to leaders of local churches and at the same time provide several leading Pauline scholars with an exposure to leaders of local communities… (Online source, emphasis theirs)

Some of these “leading Pauline scholars” include Steve Fowl, Professor of Theology at Loyola College, Baltimore, MD; John Franke, Professor of Theology at Biblical Seminary (Hatfield,PA); Mike Gorman, Professor of Sacred Scripture Ecumenical Institute of Theology at St. Mary’s Seminary and University, Baltimore, MD; Kara Lyons Pardue, Ph.D. student in New Testament at Princeton Theological Seminary, Princeton, NJ) and Danielle Shroyer, Pastor of Journey Church, Dallas, TX.

The list of “emerging church leaders” includes some familiar names such as Mike King, President, Youthfront, Westwood, KS; Tim Keel, Pastor, Jacob’s Well Church, Kansas City, MO, Tony Jones, National Coordinator for Emergent Village, Edina, MN as well as his pastor Doug Pagitt of Solomon’s Porch, Minneapolis, MN (Online source). And likely these “leading Pauline scholars” and “emerging church leaders” will be “reclaiming Paul” by introducing those in attendance to what is known as “The New Perspective on Paul” (NPP).

Now in the piece Keel and Franke Interview — Part 1 we get the background for the discussion in the video clip that is below:

Jesus and Paul: friends or foes? Has the church in the United States been domesticated? Tim Keel, pastor of Jacob’s Well Church in Kansas City, and John Franke, theology professor at Biblical Seminary in Hatfield, Pennsylvania, raise these questions as they discuss the benefit of the upcoming Reclaiming Paul conference.

Below in his excellent three part series on NPP Dr. Gary Gilley shines much light onto the cult-like shadows where the NPP is currently slithering:

The NPP proponents see themselves as the first people since the early Church Fathers who have rightly understood Paul and his message. This is the case, they say, because believers in the past have used the wrong grid with which to filter the words of Paul at least since Augustine and especially since Luther… In other words, Luther read his own experience into the Pauline epistles. Since the Roman Church of the sixteenth century was legalistic, seeking salvation through merit, so Luther reasoned that Judaism described in Paul’s epistles did the same. But the NPP leadership assures us that such was not the case. We have been misunderstanding Paul all these years… (Online source)

And “A Defense of the Old Perspective on Paul: What Did St. Paul Really Say?” from Phil Johnson of Pyromaniacs will show you—to the surprise of no one who tracks the postliberal cult of the Emergent Church—that “Bishop” N.T. Wright is one of the major proponents of NPP:

So in this hour, I want to begin to acquaint you to this controversial point of view and give you a critical review of a short book that is probably the single most influential popular, lay-level presentation of the New Perspective. It’s a book by N. T. Wright, titled What St. Paul Really Said, published in the UK by Lion, and in America by Eerdmans… The other two leading advocates of the New Perspective on Paul are E. P. Sanders and James D. G. Dunn. Those are names you are undoubtedly familiar with if you have paid attention to the academic world of New Testament studies. Sanders is formerly a professor of Exegesis at Oxford, now on the faculty at Duke University. I believe Dunn is on the faculty at Durham University…

So, what is being taught by those who advocate the New Perspective on Paul? In a nutshell, they are suggesting that the apostle Paul has been seriously misunderstood, at least since the time of Augustine and the Pelagian controversy, but even more since the time of Luther and the Protestant Reformation. They claim first-century Judaism has also been misinterpreted and misconstrued by New Testament scholars for hundreds and hundreds of years, and therefore the church’s understanding of what Paul was teaching in Romans and Galatians has been seriously flawed at least since the time of Augustine. I think you’ll agree that’s a pretty audacious claim… (Online source)