Law and Gospel

I thought I would blog about the books I am reading. I recently finished the book Five Views on Law and Gospel. The book was set up so that each author could present his view and then it was followed by a critique from each of the other authors.

Five Views on Law and Gospel

Five Views on Law and Gospel

The five views were: 1) A Reformed Non-Theonomic view, 2) A Reformed Theonomic view, 3) Evangelical view, 4) Dispensational view, and 5) Modified Lutheran view. I will briefly outline each view and then tell you which one I preferred. I kept an open mind while reading it.

1) Reformed Non-Theonomic view:  This view comes out of Reformed Theology and sees a great deal of continuity between Law and Gospel. It basically boiled the Law down to the fact that a Christian still needs to follow the Ten Commandments in order to know what pleases God. It broke the Law down into moral, civil and ceremonial parts and said that the moral and some of the civil law still applies today. The ceremonial parts (sacrifices) are no longer needed because of Jesus.

2) Reformed Theonomic view: This view comes out of Reformed Theology and again sees a great deal of continuity between Law and Gospel. Where it seemed to break from the non-theonomic view is that it said the moral and civil law was not only binding for the Christian but also for all human government.

3) Evangelical view: This view saw some continuity and some discontinuity between Law and Gospel. It said the Law should be broken down into moral, civil, and ceremonial laws just like the Reformed views. But it viewed the moral law as guidance that the Christian should look to for the pursuit of holiness.

4) Dispensational view: This view saw a radical distinction between Law and Gospel. The Law was for Jews during the Mosaic dispensation. The Gospel is for Christians during the Christian dispensation. The Christian should have nothing to do with the Law. The Christian follows the Law of Christ which is to love God and love one another.

5) Modified Lutheran view: This view saw Jesus as the fulfillment of the Law. There is still a radical distinction between Law and Gospel. The Christian is to follow the Law of Christ which has replaced the Mosaic Law. The Law of Christ is to love God and one another, pursue the Fruit of the Spirit along with any specific commandments given in the New Testament.

In the end I sided with the Evangelical view. I think this view laid out the best argument that the Law is good and should be used by the Christian for the pursuit of holiness. But all of this raised a much larger question: What is the relationship between Israel and the Church? The first two views are from Reformed Theology which is Covenant Theology. This states simply that the Church has replaced Israel. The last two are from Dispensational Theology which sees the Church as distinct from Israel; God has a plan for Israel and a plan for the Church. The Evangelical view at one point in the essay stated both systems of theology are incorrect. So what is the correct view? Which ever theological system you choose will determine what you think is the proper relationship between Law and Gospel.

Jeremy

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