Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Interview with David McWilliams, author of Galatians (a Mentor Commentary)

David McWilliams commentary on Galatians has just been released. He was recently interviewed over at the WTS Bookstore Blog.

WTSBooks: As a veteran pastor, how would you advise the Church to interact with proponents of the New Perspective? Put another way, how can someone responsibly dialogue with the new perspective?

DM: I have been an ordained Presbyterian minister for 25 years. I have seen many fads come and go, many errors proliferate and I think that the best way to handle this is to teach the truth.

If justification by grace alone, through faith alone on the basis of the finished work of Christ alone had been so part of the warp and woof of the church’s preaching and teaching and had been understood by Christians to be indispensable for daily Christian living, the new perspective would have been a tempest in a tea cup.

I am not saying that we do not have to point out error; but, getting the gospel way down deep in the heart is the best defense against false gospels. This has been my aim with my congregation and with my seminary students.

Dialogue with those who are confused is part of the minister’s work. Paul makes this plain in his writing to Timothy. So, we must be gentle, patient, pastoral. On the other hand, the teaching of this in our churches is intolerable and calls for us to take seriously the anathema proclaimed by Paul in Galatians 1.

We who have a biblical view of Paul’s doctrine of justification, as summarized in the Reformed confessions and the leaders of the new perspective understand one another. We do not agree. And the disagreement is vital and serious; it relates to the very nature of the gospel itself.

Paul defines the gospel in terms of justification, the work of Christ, and makes plain that new covenant ministry is ministry of righteousness as over against condemnation (Rom. 5:16; 2 Cor. 3:9).

About this, in the teaching ministry of the church, there can be no dialogue; only faithful proclamation of justification by grace through faith. We do nothing to be accepted by God; Christ has done it all.

You can read the whole thing here and buy the commentary here (US, WTS don't ship overseas) or here.

David McWilliams is the Senior Minister of Covenant Presbyterian Church, Lakeland, Florida where he has served for 20 years. In 2009, McWiliams was appointed as Adjunct Professor of Systematic Theology at Redeemer Seminary, Texas. He has earned degrees from Mercer University, Westminster Theological Seminary, and University of Wales.


Sam said...

The interviewer asked how to "responsibly dialogue" and McWilliams answer is "no dialogue". He suggests that all NPP positions mean that "justification, the work of Christ" are abandoned, which is an untruth regarding N.T. Wright, for example.

Wright (and Paul!) emphasise that which flows from faith, just as the WC does, having been fed up of a church which doesn't teach discipleship:

"...good works, done in obedience to God's commandments, are the fruits and evidences of a true and lively faith" (XVI.II)

"...through the continual supply of strength from the sanctifying Spirit of Christ... the saints grow in grace, perfecting holiness in the fear of God" (XIII.III)

Nevertheless I'm intrigued to see how an experienced pastor like McWilliams exegetes the letter.

Rev. Glen Clary said...

There are numerous commentaries on this grand epistle, but not all convey the passion and zeal that Paul had for the truth of the Gospel of God's free grace in Jesus Christ. In this commentary, it is evident that David McWilliams is not only a superb exegete and theologian, he is also a true pastor, who deeply loves the Gospel that Paul preached as well as Christ's Church, which desperately needs to hear that Gospel today.

The eschatoligical and redemptive-historical framework of Paul's theology is evident throughout the exposition. It is an invaluable resource for both ministers and laymen, and it deserves a place on the shelf right next to Martin Luther's invigorating commentary.