The Proper Distinction Between Law and Gospel: Thesis VI

“In the second place, the Word of God is not rightly divided when the Law is not preached in its full sternness and the Gospel not in its full sweetness, when, on the contrary, Gospel elements are mingled with the Law and Law elements with the Gospel” (C.F.W Walther, The Proper Distinction Between Law and Gospel reproduced from the German edition of 1897 by W.H.T. Dau (St. Louis: Concordia, 1986), 1).

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3 thoughts on “The Proper Distinction Between Law and Gospel: Thesis VI

  1. What does he mean? Examples:

    The Law mingled with the Gospel: “Hey sinner! Jesus forgives you all your sins soooooo you must live a good, victorious life, have joy all the time, and ever be filled with thankfulness so that you are always motivated to do good to others.” (ie. “Jesus saves so that you can…”) This is the error of pietism and American sectarianism. It leads to pharisiasm and/or utter despair.

    The Gospel mingled with the Law: “Hey Christian! Jesus has saved you sooooo don’t worry about what you do. Live however you want to, as long as you’re not obviously hurting anybody and irregardless of what the Scriptures say about right and wrong.” (ie. The Gospel is your excuse to do whatever you want.”) This is the error of “Gospel-reductionism” and so-called “liberal” theology. It leads to the ordination of women, sex outside of marriage, the acceptance of homosexuality as a healthy lifestyle, abortion on demand, and any other host of sins, not to mention, by removing the reality of sin as a regrettable offense agasint God, it also removes the need for grace which, in practice and over time, by nature removes the very Gospel itself(ie. forgiveness of sins for Christ’s sake–for who needs to be forgiven for what is not wrong?).

    Both errors seriously diminish the glory of Christ’s atoning work.

    The Law as the Law alone: “Hey human. You are wretched scum, so dead in your sinful selfishness that even if that poor-excuse for self-help could keep you alive forever, you’d only end up killing yourself out of futile despair and loneliness. This is, of course, the nature of your rebellion against God, which you inherited from Adam, but which is surely and truly completely only your fault. There is no way out. Sucks to be you.”

    (This basically condemns all people and sinners, and leaves us hopeless. An honest assessment of one’s ability to perfectly keep the ten commands will unquestionably leave you with such a conclusion.)

    The Gospel and the Gospel alone: “Jesus Christ is the Son of the Living God who saw your mean estate and took that mean estate upon himself, bearing it while piereced to a cross and killing it with his own death. He has risen from the dead and given the promise that this same resurrection belongs to all men, even and especially you. There are no catches. No ifs, ands or buts. You are saved because Jesus Christ has saved you. Period. He is coming again soon to make good on this very Word.

    (This is the Good News of Jesus Christ. Anything less is not really Christianity.)

    Where does Walther get it? From the Scriptures, the fathers and the history of the church (including all its ugly errors and failures to proclaim Christ.) To say more would be to spend a lot of time writing…so I highly recommend checking out his work “The Proper Distinction Between Law and Gospel” (which Mike is quoting) or the shorter, cheaper version, “God’s No and God’s Yes.” The more expensive version will certainly have more “proofs” in it, if that is what you are looking for.

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