One More Time

Let’s try to clarify once more what we are talking about, because I feel that the third use of the law is not what we are talking about here.

I’ll ask the question this way: if there is no separation of law and gospel anywhere in the text of Scripture, then how is faith itself (speaking about the definition of it, now) not Golawspel? Douglas Wilson claims to hold to sola fide, faith alone. However, if faith is defined as both law and gospel, this gives away sola fide. On what biblical basis could one exclude law from justifying faith? On what exegetical or systematic basis could Douglas Wilson exclude law from justifying faith, in terms of how we appropriate Christ’s righteousness? We are not talking here about Jesus Christ, per se, either. We are talking about our appropriation of Christ’s righteousness in justification. So what exegetical justification (pardon the pun) is there for excluding law from our justification if there is no distinction in the text between law and gospel? How can the Bible be said to exclude law from our faith if there is no law/gospel distinction in the text? One can say sola fide, hoping that works are excluded. But if the law/gospel distinction is not present in the text, then faith itself is turned into Golawspel, by the Bible’s own definition. Faith becomes not mere grace, but also a work, since it would partake of both law and gospel. This is the nub of the issue. The Bible’s own definition of the nature of justifying faith is what is at stake here.

To head off another possible rabbit trail, we are not talking about sanctification here, only justification. Everyone in this discussion (including the infamous WSC faculty!) agrees with the third use of the law. Incidentally, not even all Lutherans deny the third use of the law. Witness article 6 of the Formula of Concord (see Schaff’s Creeds of Christendom, volume 3, pp. 130-131). Tomorrow, I will, Lord-willing, post a specific answer to Doug’s concerns, which are a caricature of my position, in my opinion.

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