Thursday, November 11, 2010

Re-hearing Law and Gospel

The BoC says these two - Law and Gospel are to be urged upon Christians. Just been thinking about this in my quiet moments.



It is so right for me to hear this again and again. I just noticed that if I don't, I could wind up thinking that my sin is much greater than the sacrifice of Jesus that paid for it, and this is wrong.



Our souls do hunger to hear again and again, the good news, the beautiful true story of Jesus and his love.

21 comments:

Schütz said...

Hi,Lito. We haven't touched base for a while, but this topic attracted me. I know how dear the Law/Gospel paradigm is for Lutherans, and believe me, I could divide Law and Gospel with the best of them once upon a time. But the problem is, it is really a paradigm that is imposed upon Scripture, rather than one inherent in it. On top of that, it is a paradigm that was unknown in the Christian tradition until the 16th Century. And it isn't even true to Paul's use of the terms "Law" and "Gospel". I can see how it has been helpful for many Lutherans in the way you describe, but there are plenty of believers out there who know that Jesus' sacrifice is sufficient for all their own sin and the sin of every human being, who don't work with this paradigm. So, I recognise that it can help and can protect certain truths of the Gospel, but it also obscures others, such as Jesus' command to "love one another as I have loved you" and his teachings in the Sermon on the Mount, and Paul's insistence upon the "obedience of faith" and his affirmation that it is the "doers of the Law who will be justified" etc. In other words, the paradigm obscures as much as it clarifies.

LPC said...

Hi David,

Glad you dropped by.

Firstly I do see Law and Gospel in Gal 3. Also I read that Ambrose was into this too. However, I suspect when you were in seminary you were trained on Walther's Law and Gospel. Unfortunately, Walther's UOJ shined forth in that book. I am not a buyer of Walther after rereading some of the things he said. He made plenty of over statements. Also if you follow his method, you will wind up not having the 3rd use of the Law.

I am a firm believer of the 3rd use of the Law. I believe there is the place of the Law in the Christian's life.

There is a time for everything, and through the Word being used by the HS, we get exposed to what is needed at that time.

As an aside, I could not criticize Walther enough. Just for your info.

LPC

Pr Mark Henderson said...

David,

Check out Lutheran Catholicity for evidence refuting your claims that th elaw/Gospel paradigm was unknown before the 16th century.

Of course, the doctrine of Law and Gospel in its purity was brought forth by our father in the faith, Bl. Martin Luther, but it was not unknown to the Fathers, which could be because...ahem...it's scriptural.

Also, none of the caveats you raise apply to Law/Gospel properly understood; in fact there have been some excellent expositions of the Sermon on the Mount by Lutherans recently - those of David Scaer come particularly to mind.

Sorry for butting in, Lito.
(I wonder if David was educated in Walther at sem? I don't think so, but it would be interesting to know.)

LPC said...

Pr. Mark,

You can butt in anytime. I would be surprised if David was not trained in Walther since Brett my pastor was I heard just a year behind David at the Sem.

LPC

Pr Mark Henderson said...

Mmm...I think Brett was several years, if not a decade, behind David. Brett was at sem when I was there, and we didn't study Walther.
Perhaps David can enlighten us?

LPC said...

I wonder why Brett said to me that they studied Walther.

LPC

Pr Mark Henderson said...

Well, Brett was four years ahead of me Lito - it's possible - actually probable - that he had a different lecturer. The only one I can think of who would have used Walther is Dr John Koch, who was St Louis educated and would have taught homiletics. I had a different lecturer for that subject. Worthwhile checking with Brett, I'd be interested to know if they actually read Walther's book. Most of the guys in my class wouldn't have known who Walther was!

Getting back to Law-Gospel, Martin Chemnitz has some germane things to say on why the Fathers were inconsistent in their understanding and application of it. I will try and post something on it by Monday.

LPC said...

Pr. Mark,

May be it is providential that people of the sem did not get exposed to Walther early. LOL. My critique is that if Walther is taken to the max, you will wind up wiping out the 3rd use of the Law. I think Pr Fraser Pearce I heard has been skeptical of Walther, that is what I heard.

You can confirm with Fraser.

Anyway, it is not good for Oz pastors to take their feeding from US Holy Fathers. I think you know by now I have no more sacred cows.


I should think that it would be wonderful to be cut down by the Law that way the Gospel becomes sweet. If I do not hear the two in full power, I do wind up thinking my sins are much greater than the sacrifice of Christ and that would be a disaster (for me and maybe for some also).

I would be interested on what Chemnitz says on why some Fathers missed the boat on this topic.Can you inform me?

LPC

Pr Mark Henderson said...

Will do on Chemnitz - but I won't have it done until Monday or Tuesday - Confirmation and a Funeral before then!

LC-MS are generally pretty strong on 3rd use, how do you see Walther being responsible for anti-3rd use teaching? My view is this comes from from Werner Elert, a German theologian who influenced several LC-MS theologians after WWII when they studied at Erlangen in the early 1950s. These people became "Seminex" and eventually joined the ELCA, well, most of them. Explains a lot about the ELCA, eh? That's a potted history.

Co-incidentally, I was speaking to Fraser yesterday, but we didn't speak about Walther.

LPC said...

Probably it depends on who in the LC-MS you are talking to. UOJ is very strong in LC-MS. Just listen to how Issues Etc criticize the piousness of Evangelicals.

Their criticism of the piety of Evangelicals goes to the point that it obscures also the BoC contention on the 3rd use of the Law.

In so far as LC-MS hold Walther as a saint and would not dare say anything contrary to his teachings, I admit, I am doing guilt by association;-) in making that conclusion, i.e. judging Walther by his disciples (at Issues Etc).

In the LC-MS, one is allowed to spit on Luther's grave (.e. disagree with Luther) but not on Walther or Pieper's.

As an aside, in the ultimate sense, the Christian does not love his neighbor as he ought, if God should mark it, but his desire to love his neighbor is as per BoC lauded by God because it is also him who is working that in the Christian.

LPC

Schütz said...

As an aside, I could not criticize Walther enough. Just for your info

Well, we agree on that then. I was never a fan of Walther. He wasn't the dominant theme at Luther Sem, but he had a presence.

Schütz said...

Actually, it was Doc Janetzki who was really keen on Walther, if you must know. Brett was at Sem when I was there, in my very last years. His wife and I worked together in the seminary library.

Schütz said...

And Pastor Mark, I know you think you can find your Law and Gospel paradigm in Ambrose and in many other Fathers, but what you are doing is reading back into them the meanings you give these terms, in the same way Lito sees it in Galatians 3. Sorry, there is no way of convincing you of this, because the "Law/gospel" glasses are well and truly welded on. You can only see it once you have taken the glasses off.

LPC said...

David,

Thanks for clarifying on the influence of Walther at the Sem. Actually I would find it surprising if he did not have a presence there considering all so called orthodox Lutherans find him to be a hero more than Luther.

Re: anchronistic reading. You may have a point but similarly you could also playing blind, having eyes, you just refuse to see as Jesus said, no?

Law/Gospel is simply the play up of the thematic points of the salvation story. The Law shows us our sin, even Scripture does says this, if there is no Law there is no sin. Since sin is there, we need an answer to that dilemma and the Gospel does that. The Gospel ain't if the Law ain't either.

LPC

Schütz said...

So, what do you think St Paul meant by "the Law", Lito?

Stuart Wood said...

Hi LPC,

I just found your web-site and wanted to greet you as we both seem to have much in common. I, too, am an orthodox Lutheran who came out of years in Calvinism. In fact, I pastored a Calvinist church here in Los Angeles and also taught for several years at John MacArthur's Grace Community Church. I have not been able to find any like-minded orthodox Lutheran congregations here in L.A., but am now in association with a small group of churches in Australia called the "Evangelical Lutheran Congregations of the Reformation".

Here is a link to an article that I recently wrote for their convention on the issue of Calvinism. I hope you will find it interesting and useful.

http://sites.google.com/site/arlomax/takingthemaskoffcalvinism:thedangerofhum

God's Blessings,

Stuart Wood
Bible Lutheran Church of Los Angeles

LPC said...

Dear Pr. Stuart,

Thanks for letting me know of your journey. I have not heard of ELCR but I will have a look. You wrote a very fine article. I smiled when you quoted Luther speaking of Madame Reason. Luther's code word for this was Madame Hulda

I am glad you informed me of the existence of the ELCR. This is the first time I have heard of it. I have heard of the AELC.

I left Calvinism about 5-6 years ago. I was a Christian looking for a confession. I was fellowshipping for about 4 years in a Presby church but I could not sign my name on the WCF, the closest I could come was the Heidelberg and Belgic, but because of what I have found in Scripture regarding the Sacraments, they did not do well for me.

Calvinism promotes the formulatio of new confessions, as history shows, but that is not the same with Lutheranism. The latter has a built in homogeneity of confession, whereas Calvinism promotes heterogeneity. It was because Calvin though he signed a version of the Augsburg Confession wanted to be via media between Luther and Zwingli. He did not succeed in fact he is confusing to read. This is not the case when you read Luther. Luther was thorough going and forthright.

I am happy to learn more about your walk and work.

LPC

Stuart Wood said...

Dear LPC,

Thank you for getting back to me and for taking the time to read my article on Calvinism. There is actually an ELCR church in Melbourne which meets in a very nice home. It has about 30 to 40 people attending and is led by Lay Leaders, Alun Noll and John Kleinig. They do some reading services and three pastors from Queensland regularly take turns serving them. One Pastor's name is Bryce Winter who lives in Kingaroy, Australia. He is very knowledgeable and friendly and I am sure he could give you a good summary of the history and teachings of the ELCR. I will try to see if he would mind me posting his email address, but in the meantime you could also contact him via the phone directory (that's how I found him). His church is Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Kingaroy.

God's Blessings to you,

Stuart

LPC said...

Stuart,

I live in Victoria, but Kingaroy is in Queensland. Just point Pr. Winter also to this blog, we can discuss things and take things from there.

Right now, there are many young zealos people here who are transitioning to Calvinism, mainly of course from generic Evangelicalism. I do pity them as I believe they are getting what we call a bum steer, i.e., misdirection. Mostly they get enamoured by the neo-legalistic writings of John Piper.

God help, save, defend and comfort you.

LPC

Stuart Wood said...

Hi LPC,

I have just sent Pastor Winter an email with a link to your blog. Hopefully he will contact you soon. I think you will find the ELCR very true to both the Scriptures and to the orthodox Lutheran Confessions. I have also met with and preached before the Melbourne church several times myself while in Australia (once in Melbourne and once in Nagambie). They are an excellent group of rightly-minded Christians, whose fellowship I know you would enjoy.

God's Blessings,

Stuart

LPC said...

Stuart.

Thank you.

BTW, are you able to email me or post a bit of your story as to what led you out of Calvinism to Lutheranism? I am curious of your experience.

Hope you have time for that.

LPC