Five Views on Law and Gospel (Counterpoints: Bible and Theology): Book Review


Does the Gospel abrogate the Law? Or, does the Law still have a place for Christian belief and practice? Are all laws and commandments in the Old Covenant no longer necessary? And if some are still necessary, how do you decide? This book explores five major approaches to this topic on Law and Gospel. Whether you’re wanting to come to a better understanding on the relationship between the two, knowing the various views, or using it to help strengthen your position, or establish a new one for you, I recommend taking a look at this book.

Below are the five most highlighted statements:

  • Yet Law and Gospel are not in opposition to each other because Law contains Gospel and the Gospel contains Law. Both Law and Gospel affirm the place of the moral law as a “perfect rule of righteousness.”
  • In every epoch of redemptive history, the Lord has loved people, and they have responded to his love by the triad of love for God (submission), law (obedience), and life (blessing).
  • The Westminster Confession, with its clear and consistent formulation of covenant theology, knows of only two basic covenantal structures: the covenant of works and the covenant of grace.
  • The moral law in its written form does not contradict or change the will of God. Rather, it makes explicit and amplifies that will as originally expressed in natural law. Since the will of God does not change, the law remains virtually the same throughout redemptive history.
  • The purpose of the law is Christian growth in grace, not justification or merit.

Though the book is informative along the five approaches (Non-Theonomic Reformed, Reformed Theonomic, Gracious Guidance, Dispensational, and Modified Lutheran) my only, and big, critique is that the”New Perspective” approach wasn’t covered.  The “new” perspective is an attempt to lift Paul’s letters out of the Lutheran-Reformed framework and interpret them based on what is said to be an understanding of first-century Judaism. The shift is rather than viewing the “works of the law” as all Old Covenant commandments, Paul only means it to only a limited number of traditional observances.

From reading this book, I developed a model…a model I’m still playing with but seems to be helpful and, I think, revolutionary. In time I’ll see how it changes my view on certain things I believe are no longer applicable, and those I believe still to be. In addition, the fascinating part is how grace plays a role before the Old Covenant, during it, and into the New Covenant. I’ll post the model in the near future.

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