Monday, July 27, 2009

A Good Gospel vs. Law Rant

The "IMonk," Michael Spencer, has gone on a Law/Gospel rant today, and I think I can agree with him 100%. This is some good stuff, and some stuff that needs to be said- frequently. Here are some brief excerpts:
I’m using the simple Lutheran “law/Gospel” division here: all of scripture is either what God commands/demands under penalty or what he promises/provides freely by grace. This is law and Gospel. “Do” or “Done.” Moses or Jesus. God the accountant older brother or God the Father of the Prodigal. Advice or announcement. Sinai or the cross. Threat or comfort. Blessing or curse. You do it or else. God did and praise.

If you get this, Luther said, you are a theologian even without the degree...

...There’s a lot to discuss with this topic, because I believe genuine discipleship, which has aspects of law to it, grows out of and lives in the Gospel, not the law. (Think of Gospel as soil and law as fence. How does your garden grow?) The Gospel is the Gospel of the Kingdom, and the King has a moral law. So I’m not simplistic. I sometimes hear people that I really respect do things with the Law-Gospel distinction that makes my skin crawl and that sounds like weird dispensationalism

Law preaching is powerful. It feels powerful. Even when it’s done poorly and just amounts to nagging, it makes the preacher feel like he/she is doing something. That’s one reason it’s so popular- you’re telling them what to do. You’re like Moses hitting the rock. Look what I did, you bunch of stubborn yokels. And joined with invitationalism and revivalism, it works. It fills the altar with crying students. I brings people down to get baptized for the 5th time and really mean it this time.

The Gospel, on the other hand, takes the power out of your hands. It’s the announcement of what God has done. You aren’t powerful at all. You’re one loser telling a bunch of other losers that they are going to be treated like winners. Bread for the thieves. Pardon for the unquestionably guilty. Love for rebels. You’re announcing that everyone gets paid the same. You’re issuing banquet seats to people who have no right to a ticket because they are dirty and sinful. You’re telling sinners that the lamb of God has paid the bill and it’s not going to appear on their charge anywhere.

You are telling people it is too good to be true, but it is too good and completely true, and it changes everything....
Read it! He talks a lot about Southern Baptists, but the problem is certainly not limited to them. In the words of the great philosopher Pogo the Possum - "we have met the enemy and he is us."

I certainly can't say it any better than this.