Jeffrey Meyers – On the Alien and Abstract Law-Gospel Dichotomy

“Personally, I would like to see us out from under the straightjacket of the Westminster standards.” — Jeff Meyers

In our attempt to comply with the Meyers Investigative Committee request  that we consider Meyers’ “full corpus” (which is looking more like a full corpse and is starting to smell like one) we turn now to post #2527 from the Wrightsaid group.  In reading his comments, keep in mind that Meyers told the MIC:

If the signatories of the Letter of Concern would have taken the time to correspond with me on this topic, they would have discovered that I am indebted far more to Luther for my convictions about justification than to most contemporary Reformed theologians, whether Presbyterian or Anglican (N.T. Wright).

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

On Dec 9, 2003, at 7:39 AM, Christopher A Hutchinson wrote:

I am no Reformation scholar, but I do know enough that there is not as much as a difference between the Lutheran and classical Reformed positions on Paul’s view of the law than NTW here is asserting.  That is, if the Reformed tradition may be judged by its actual early confessions, rather then on a back-and-forth  scholarly debate on what Calvin thought.

One caveat:  there may be some radical Lutheran systematics that I am  not familiar with, but from what I know of “what holds sway,” among  evangelical Calvinists today, we are in line with the classic Reformed interpretations of Paul, which are similar to the Lutheran position,  notwithstanding a somewhat more robust view of the third use of the Law.

Chris, I’ve spent 9 years in graduate seminar classes at a conservative Lutheran seminary (Concordia in St. Louis).  Granted, these are LCMS types, so they are radically Lutheran.  Just so, their view and use of the law is NOT simply different from ours when it comes to the so-called “third use.”  They use the law-gospel dichotomy as a theological, philosophical, epistemological, and hermenuetical crux for EVERYTHING.  True, they go way beyond Luther in this, but you would be amazed to see how often the law-gospel division is used to ground and/or justify exegetical and theological positions.  The L-G dichotomy is their meat and drink.

In addition, since the advances of what we call “biblical theology” in the last century, especially as they have been applied to redemptive historical concerns by Reformed men, the distance between Lutheran and Reformed has widened.  For example, we don’t understand Paul’s polemic against “works of the law” in Galatians first of all as a systematic theological point, but as a redemptive historical argument.

We can appropriate his polemic for systematic questions and ask what this means for Christian believers today, of course.  But when we come to these questions by way of biblical theology with redemptive historical concerns we don’t get an abstract law=command understanding.

We get something much different. The Torah (which include much more than simply “commands”) gives way to Jesus Christ and the new world he inaugurates. Read Richard Hays wonderful commentary on Galatians side by side with Luther’s and be amazed at the difference.  Once you understand the *historia salutis* issues in Galatians, it’s hard to go back and appreciate a commentary that is driven by an alien and abstract law-gospel dichotomy.

Just a few inadequate comments.

JJM

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4 Comments on “Jeffrey Meyers – On the Alien and Abstract Law-Gospel Dichotomy”

  1. Hugh McCann Says:

    A new term to me, “historia salutis.”

    “The traditional ordo salutis sees salvation as a series of divine acts and human responses that takes place in the personal experience of each Christian.

    “The more recent emphasis on historia salutis sees salvation as a historical process beginning after the fall, continuing through God’s covenants with Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, and Jesus, accomplished in Jesus’ death and resurrection, completed in his return in glory.”

    “To summarize, historia salutis deals with salvation as a series of non-recurrent corporate, public, visible, political events. As a whole, it describes salvation as a movement of God to bring his Lordship to bear on all the nations and institutions of the world.

    “As such, the historia salutis expresses a more obvious integration between law and gospel than we saw in the ordo salutis…”

    “The historia salutis model is certainly a useful pedagogy, and, one can argue, it follows, more than the ordo salutis, the main emphases of the biblical writers themselves. But like the ordo, it tends to leave out certain things. If the ordo model fails to focus on redemptive history, so the historia model fails to focus on the decree of God or the salvation of individuals. Surely a full account of redemption should do both, because both are in Scripture.”

    From the inimitable John Frame ~ http://www.frame-poythress.org/frame_articles/2005Salvation.htm

  2. Lauren Says:

    A false teacher does not have the Spirit of Christ to understand the law/gospel distinction. All he has is the law because he is still under the condemnation and bondage of the law.

    Our son ran into a young man on campus the other day whose family was a member of a federal vision church (Sean, you are very familiar with it). They left because they got tired of the lies spewing from the session and minister. How can we expect any grace or truth to come from those still living in sin in bondage to the law?

    We had a godly pastor who was told by FV elders not to preach salvation because all their members were already saved when they were baptized. In other words, he was not to preach the Gospel. There is no law/gospel distinction with Federal Vision teachers because there is NO GOSPEL.

  3. Lauren Says:

    Let me clarify the last statement:
    There is no law/gospel distinction with Federal Vision false teachers because there is no gospel where there is no Spirit of Christ.

  4. Max Says:

    There is and isn’t a dichotomy between law and gospel depending on what is emphasized!


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