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Becoming More Lutheran Every Day

March 7, 2006

Besides the obvious increase in profanity, there are other ways in which I find myself becoming more Lutheran every day. This morning I read something by Douglas Moo on Romans 9:31 that reminded me of something I learned and loved from my Hebrew professor in seminary, John Sailhamer.

Lutherans have a sharp dichotomy in their thinking between law and gospel. Reformed folk emphasize continuity between the testaments and speak warmly of the third use of the law. As I indicated in my last post, I often feel conflicted between the two. But I learned from Sailhamer 15 years ago that torah does not equal law. There is law in the torah and there is gospel in the torah. Paul in Romans 10 and Galatians 3 pits the law “he who does the commandments shall live by them” (Lv 18:5) against the righteousness based on faith, which he sees in Deuteronomy(!) 30 and he says that the law is not of faith. But clearly Paul doesn’t mean that the torah doesn’t teach faith, for he argues for it from Genesis 15.6 and Deuteronomy.

So torah is not law. The message of the torah is the failure of the law of Moses because of sin and the need to be justified by faith like Abraham. So I can, like Paul, disparage “law” and still love the torah. There is continuity between OT and NT, but discontinuity between law and gospel. Put another way, the absolute discontinuity between law and gospel is the continuous message of both testaments.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. March 8, 2006 6:45 am

    coupla comments:

    1.) last night at N.T. survey we looked at the Gospel of John. I found it interesting that John may be presenting a dichotomy between law and gospel in 1:17…
    For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.

    2.) you better save some of those juicy “hebrews prof” anecdotes to share for when, Lord willing, you’re my hebrew prof. Just think I’ll tell people, “well one thing I learned from _isaiah543_ in my hebrew class is…Jesus at Cana may have actually turned the water into scotch, because the aramaic root here is ‘fermented double malt’*”

    hopefully we talk more about this, but I’m swamped at work. :)

    *or some such scotch talk

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