Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Law and Gospel: The special Brillian light

C.F.W. Walther wrote a series of Lectures on Law and Gospel, but not to be overlooked are the essays that are recorded in the CPH editions called Essays for the Church, Volume 2. On page 64 we find Theses on the Distinction of Law and Gospel, given by Franz Pieper* at the Iowa District Convention in 1880. What we find listed there is a great presentation of nine ways in which law and gospel are confused.

The first and certainly the most obvious and most flagrant way of intermingling Law and Gospel is to make Christ a new Moses or lawgiver and thus turn the Gospel into a doctrine of works, meanwhile condemning and cursing those who teach the Gospel as a message of God's free grace in Christ.

Second, God's Word is not correctly divided when one does not preach the Law in its total severity nor the Gospel in its full sweetness, but instead minges Gospel elements with the Law and Law elements with the Gospel.

Third, God's Word is not correctly divided when one preaches first the Gospel and then the Law; first sanctification and then justification; first faith and then repentance; first good works and then grace.

Fourth, God's Word is not correctly divided when, instead of directing sinners who are struck and terrified by the Law to Word and Sacrament, one tells them to work their way into the state of grace by prayer and striving--that is, to keep on praying and striving until they feel that God has pardoned them.

Fifth, God's word is not correctly divided when one preaches concerning faith either as if the mere acceptance of faith justifies before God and saves in spite of mortal sins, or as if faith justifies and saves because of the love and renewal that it works.

Sixth, God's Word is not correctly divided if one wants to comfort with the Gospel only those who through the Law have come to repentance not out of fear of God's anger and punishment, but out of love for God.

Seventh, God's Word is not correctly divided if one teaches in such a way as if repentance, besides faith, is a joint cause for the forgiveness of sins.

Eighth, God's Word is not correctly divided when one makes a false distinction between awakening and conversion, and not being able to believe is mistaken for not being permitted to believe.

Ninth, God's Word is not correctly divided when one tries to move the unregenerate by the demands or threats or promises of the Law to put away sins and do good works and thus make them pious, and tries to drive the regenerate to the good by commanding them legalistically instead of admonishing them evangelically.

Obviously in the first statement we can see strains of Rome, whose theologians have often revered to Jesus as "the most perfect lawgiver" while at the same time condemning in the council of Trent those who would preach this Gospel. And we can easily see many of today's teachers such as Joel Osteen, who commit what is recorded in the second statement. But these other theses seem to be more subtle. I'm going to make a study of the Evangelical horizon to see how the preaching and teaching stacks up. We're already planning a program on Law and Gospel in the scriptures themselves. I've been doing a study on how the New Testament writers often make Law and Gospel distinctions themselves, and it's been quite and eye opener.

*Walther had apparently given a presentation on these 13 Theses two years earlier at a Southeastern Pastor's Conference.

the big test

Since someone, somewhere, has seen fit to deprive the world of Issues etc and take a huge bite out of confessional Lutheranism at the same time, I will not take up the mantle of working to see that those who did it answer for their actions.
Design by Free WordPress Themes | Bloggerized by Lasantha - Premium Blogger Themes | Grants For Single Moms