I have shared previously (see here) that while many evangelicals are unaware of the discussion taking place regarding the New Perspective on Paul, it does have major implications for the Church.
It may help to understand the intensity and foundational nature of the debate if you read N.T. Wright’s strong criticism of the NIV:
I do not know what version of Scripture they use at Dr. Piper’s church. But I do know that if a church only, or mainly, relies on the NIV it will, quite simply, never understand what Paul was talking about . . . This is a large claim, and I have made it good, line by line, in relation to Romans in my big commentary, which prints the NIV and the NRSV and then comments on the Greek in relation to both of them. (Justification, page 52).
Is that not an amazingly strong statement by Wright? Churches that mainly use the NIV will never understand what Paul was talking about.
My point here is not to dismiss Wright’s argument because he is a harsh critic of a major translation. Indeed, the reason I am studying Wright so carefully is because I think this is a discussion that deserves attention. My intent with this post is to allow people to see the seriousness of the discussion regarding our understanding of Paul.
Piper has also gone on record regarding concerns about the NIV and he is a vocal advocate of the ESV, see here.
For the record, I also have concerns about the NIV – - see for instance this post. The nature of the NIV’s approach to translation does leave it more vulnerable to a criticism like Wright’s. But, I am long ways from stating that churches that use the NIV don’t understand Paul.