Law and Gospel from a Bunch of Dead Lutherans


If you want the text of the quotes, you can download this PDF file.

Dr. R. Scott Clark, Professor of Systematic Theology at Westminster Seminary in California (Escondido), recently wrote a very helpful piece on how law-and-gospel-distinction is not a recent innovation or “Lutheran,” as some folks insist out of ignorance or deceit (or both), but is a distinction handed down from the 16th century Reformers. Therefore, those who brand this distinction as “Lutheran” are the recent innovators, not the Reformers. In “Yes, Virginia, There is a Law-Gospel Distinction,” Dr. Clark writes,

Not only do the Reformed and the Lutherans share common principles when it comes to distinguishing law and gospel, we also share common principles when it comes to distinguishing between the pedagogical, the civil, and normative or third use of the law. The term tertius usus legis (third use of the law) comes to us from Philipp Melanchthon (1497–1560). Luther did not use the expression but he did teach the substance. He was not aware of any significant difference between his teaching and Melanchthon’s on this issue. He certainly taught the substance of the third use (as a guide to sanctity) in his 1529 catechisms and in his responses to to the Antinomians. The Reformed did (and do) teach the 3rd use and we agree with the Lutherans that, even in the 3rd use it continues to have a pedagogical function.

In addition to Dr. Clark’s article, the following will also be useful:

“The Law and the Gospel” by Michael Horton

“The Two Covenants, Grace and Works, Delivered on Mount Sinai” by Thomas Boston

“What is This ‘Law and Gospel’ Thing?” by Rick Ritchie

Here then is a gallery of those who made this distinction down through the ages. Please wait for images to load (a slideshow of 20 seconds each image).



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