Read Law and Gospel: A Theology for Sinners (and Saints) by William McDavid Ethan Richardson David Zahl Online


There’s a big difference between judgment and love, obligation and freedom, a wage and a gift. The difference characterizes an extraordinary amount of our day-to-day experience, often dividing fear from hope, and death from life. At the heart of Christianity lies a similar and related dynamic: between the Law and the Gospel. Far from being a reductive or antiquated distincThere’s a big difference between judgment and love, obligation and freedom, a wage and a gift. The difference characterizes an extraordinary amount of our day-to-day experience, often dividing fear from hope, and death from life. At the heart of Christianity lies a similar and related dynamic: between the Law and the Gospel. Far from being a reductive or antiquated distinction, understanding where one ends and the other begins allows a person to see both the Bible and themselves—indeed, the whole world!—in a fresh and enlivening way. Written with the non-theologian in mind, this short volume unpacks the good news of God’s grace with practicality, humor, and a whole lot of heart....

Title : Law and Gospel: A Theology for Sinners (and Saints)
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 25566427
Format Type : Kindle Edition
Number of Pages : 104 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Law and Gospel: A Theology for Sinners (and Saints) Reviews

  • Jeremy
    2019-01-24 11:47

    The Radical/Contemporary Grace Movement has connections to Radical Two Kingdom theology, especially in the (often denied) heavy reliance on Luther's distinction between Law and Gospel. I counted 17 references to Luther or Lutheran theology (pp. 14, 20, 33, 34, 48n23, 97, 62, 66, 67n35, 71, 74, 82, 85, 90, 97), and one reference to Calvin (p. 67n35). This reference brings up Calvin's "third use of the law" only to dismiss it. What the authors conveniently ignore is the fact that Calvin calls the third use of the law the principle and most proper use. For more on this issue, see the posts here. Melanchthon, Luther's successor, is more in alignment with Calvin on this issue (see Loci Communes).In the early section, the authors pay lip-service to the goodness of the law (pp. 19, 25, 27), almost as if they can avoid criticism later (hey, we mentioned it). But the last parts of the book (pp. 65-91), by far the worst, have no connection to the earlier parts that mention the goodness of the law. Any positives that come from the law are only in the first and second uses (as a mirror and as a restraint), and the third use is mocked, as it is in Duguid's book. The view of "grace" in both this book and Duguid's book seems to be that grace is not transformative, but rather covers our sins like a whitewash. Christians are not made new; we remain totally depraved, even with the indwelling Holy Spirit, but it's okay because Jesus still loves us. How comforting. It's okay that a husband routinely abuses his wife and children, both verbally and physically, because brokenness is beautiful. Right. "Hey, Israelites! You know how you were in bondage in Egypt? Guess what! Now you're free in Christ." Cool, so how are things going to be different now? "Well, they're not. You're still stuck in Egypt doing the same things you've always done. You're still a slave. But God looks at you differently now. Neat, huh?" God doesn't pull you out of the pit; He leaves you there, but smiles down at you from up above. You're not a new creature, because that would just lead to spiritual pride. What you really need is to be left in your sins so that you constantly see your need for Jesus. Gag.The "brokenness is beautiful" line sounds radical and paradoxical and almost attractive in its non-judgmental appearance, but if we remember that the law is what love looks like (i.e., obedience to godly laws demonstrate your love for God and for your neighbors), we see that lawlessness is what hatred looks like (i.e., breaking laws shows your hatred for God and for others). So "brokenness is beautiful," if applied to shortcomings regarding God's moral law, is another way of saying that hatred is beautiful. Disobedience is beautiful. The reason this kind of "grace" is so dangerous is that the aversion to preaching any kind of exhortation (e.g., obey God's law) leads directly to a contentment with sin, not a remorse over it and a forsaking of it.A few questions:1. Does every law accuse (pp. 24-28)? Laws of logic? Laws of physics? Other natural laws? The prelapsarian moral law? Since the law is a reflection of God's character, the law will be implicit in eternity. Because our natures will conform to God's holy nature, laws will be unnecessary, because we would obey them perfectly if they existed.2. Is a response to the Law always counterproductive / desperate (p. 39)? Even for Christians who are trying to obey? If not, does that mean every Christian ought be despairing with respect to sanctification?3. Why is the theology of Robert Farrar Capon mentioned favorably (pp. 49n24, 52n27, 72n40)? His Supper of the Lamb is very good, but his theology is spotty (and the bad parts are really bad). For example, he loves the explicit inclusion of the Gentiles in the New Covenant, but he hates Paul's moral condemnations, especially with regard to sexuality (he compares Paul to a creepy Jewish uncle). Capon is also often accused of being a universalist, and even though he denies this, the charge arises repeatedly because of what he says about grace.4. Have any of the authors read much on the theology of "the gift" (pp. 50-54)? Peter Leithart's Gratitude is helpful in achieving a more sophisticated understanding of gifts.For a far better study on God's law and the Christian, buy this inexpensive teaching series.Mockingbird Ministries, who published this book, supports the work of Sarah Condon, an ordained priest in the Episcopalian Church. She is a speaker at one of Mockingbird's 2017 conferences. This is not a minor theological issue.Bethke's book might be related. I liked this review.

  • Abby
    2019-01-21 10:43

    “Just as any honest religion must confront the fact of our death head-on, any honest religion must also address precisely that child, the true self behind the hardened armor of self-justification and adaptation and calculation and coping and control. We may have the illusion of moral self-mastery when Moses tells us not to murder, but what about when Jesus says we’ll be liable to hell-fire for insulting someone?”Were someone to ask me for the simple summation of my theological underpinnings, I’d point them to this slim little book, which elegantly explains the law and the gospel, and overall, the unending grace of Jesus. A well-executed summary, and I found the appendices particularly helpful.

  • Wayne Nabors
    2019-01-31 04:44

    Short and very sweetI could have been spared many detours and painful times if I had read something like this years ago. Without pretense. Straight to the point.

  • Dominick
    2019-02-17 08:52

    Good Book on Law and Gospel.

  • Aaron
    2019-01-24 12:53

    Law Gospel is a new book by Mockingbird Ministries. I posted a link to an excerpt on my website about a month ago. At that time I mentioned that I was excited to get a copy to review. I’m glad that I did. This small book is an outstanding treatise on the different roles that both the Law and the Gospel play in our lives. There wasn’t much that I didn’t like about this book. The parts that I didn’t care for were due more to me wanting the authors to dive deeper into certain ideas; specifically the chapter on the fruits of the Gospel.The real value in this book lies in its clear distinction between Law and Gospel. This is no doubt due to Luther’s influence and it is an idea that Reformed believers such as myself see in our own confessions. The distinction between Law and Gospel is not distinctively Lutheran. However it is a strength of Lutheran theology and a distinction which is often overlooked by the Reformed traditions (the idea of the Law Gospel distinction is still alive in Reformed theology however. For an example, read R. Scott Clark’s work over at the Heidelblog).The authors do a good job making applications to real world scenarios which most people would recognize in their own lives. I was particularly struck by the examples of grace as a free gift. This is a doctrine that I readily confess, but as the authors point out, we (or . . . I) often have a difficult time comprehending the idea that a gift can be free. This pathology in our thinking really hit home with me this week as I found myself the recipient of a gift from a friend that I could not possibly repay. Nor do I suspect that my friend expects to be repaid. It was a free gift which I could not turn down due to my circumstances and which I was helpless to produce on my own. Everything within me has been fighting to determine what I can do to repay my friend. The truth is that I cannot do anything but freely accept it and allow myself to humbly accept an extraordinary act of charity.This is much how the free gift of grace was described in the book. When confronted with the grace of God, we want so desperately to repay him; but we can’t. The moment we try, we show ourselves to believe that we can earn the gift as a wage; as something which we merit. This served as a lawful use of the law, reminding me of my inability and propelling me to love deeper out of gratitude, and enabling me to obey by conforming me to ChristIf you are able to read this book I highly recommend it. Don’t skip over the appendices. They are gold. I can’t wait to read more from Mockingbird Ministries.

  • Jason Kanz
    2019-02-15 06:35

    On February 20, 2010 a major shift occurred in my life. The pastor of my church read Galatians 5:20-21 which says “Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” I sat in the front of the church and wept. I think that was the day that I began to understand the difference between Law and Gospel. If you have no idea what I am talking about, a new book, Law and Gospel: A Theology for Sinners and Saints, by William McDavid, Ethan Richardson, and David Zahl will provide a great introduction to the distinction. Briefly, God gave us both the law and the gospel but they have different roles. The law was never given as a means of salvation, the law was given to show each of us our absolute inability to live up to God’s perfect standard. It is the gospel, the good news that Jesus Christ came to earth, lived a sinless life, was crucified on the cross, and was raised again to new life on my behalf that provides the power to save. It is Jesus who did the saving. The first half of the book is dedicated to exploring the role of the law and how it has overtaken many churches. From pulpits all over America, we hear messages of do more/try harder/pull yourself up by your bootstraps. But we fail, again and again. The law tells us what to do, but it is impossible for us to do it and so we stand accused. When people recognize their utter inability, lots of people give up. But, like good sermons should do, the book begins with the crushing power of the law, but finishes with the life giving power of the gospel. The authors show us that because of Christ’s love for us, he alone accomplished our salvation as a free gift. Then, in my favorite part of the book, they looked at the fruits of the gospel, of what Jesus did. The fruits they listed include: humility, receptivity, gratitude, spontaneity, humor, and freedom. If you have struggled to understand what Paul was talking about when he said that we are free in Christ, or what I mean when I saw the law/gospel distinction, please get this book.

  • Doug Dale
    2019-02-10 10:38

    I confess I had to read through this short book twice before it 'clicked' with me, but I'm glad I did. For some time now, I've benefited from the Mockingbird blog, their magazine, and their devotional, so I was interested in this book when it was published recently. It's a great, short overview of the primary theme of all their work, the distinction between the Law (which is good, but serves only to reveal our sin, not as the path to restoration with God) and the Gospel (the path to that restoration through faith in the work and sacrifice of Jesus on our behalf). It is an important distinction, but one that I would have to say I've missed for much of my Christian life. It seems clear to me now as I read in the book of Romans and elsewhere in the Bible, but it a book like this (and other similarly helpful resources) for me to start seeing this. I'd recommend this to every Christian. Read it twice!

  • PJ Wenzel
    2019-01-30 07:50

    Lutheran in its theology, the core of what they're trying to say is correct. But often times they say it in such a way that almost undermines their arguments. It's could be that their writing isn't very good or that they need a better editor. Overall there are other books and authors who do what they are trying to do and do it much better. If I had to recommend someone a book on the tension between law and gospel then I would simply send them to jerry bridges.

  • Jordan J. Andlovec
    2019-01-28 09:49

    Apart from its fairly reductionistic nature and lack of nuance for the task of biblical theology (which isn't its goal anyway), the strength of this book is in its personal and psychological character, affirming the good news of God's rescue plan for humanity. Pick it up if you're feeling burnt-out, washed-up, or generally overwhelmed by the pressures of everyday life.

  • Robert Scholl
    2019-01-31 08:42

    Good Summary I read this on the advise of my pastor after reading Paul Zahl's Grace in Practice. This book is a concise and well written articulation of what I've been reading and my pastor has been preaching. I found it incredibly helpful.

  • K B
    2019-02-04 09:40

    Good but not great. Great subject matter but not my preferred style to communicate such things. Personal preference issues.

  • Brian
    2019-01-20 04:42

    Excellent! I keep it handy and regularly re-read sections of it. Short enough for anyone to get through, and wonderful to share for that reason in addition to its content.