How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Law

By Doug Ponder    |    August 1, 2022

Topic:    

Of all the questions I receive, as both a pastor and a professor, few come up more frequently than what Christians should think about God’s law(s). And while theologians tend to be more interested in how new covenant Christians relate to old covenant laws, I have found that most Christians have not read enough of the Old Testament for that question even to enter their minds. Most simply set the Old Testament aside, not as if it were evil, but as it were milk that has passed its expiration date. That error is worth exploring in another article, but here I would like to address a more fundamental question of how Christians should think about obedience to any of God’s laws, that is to say, his commands.

Concerning Gospel-Centered Antinomianism and Allergic Reactions to God’s Law

At one level, this issue is shockingly basic. “Of course, we are meant to obey the Lord!” certain readers will think to themselves. “Why else would God have issued commands if he only intended to instruct, encourage, and advise?” This line of reasoning is exactly right. For there is a world of difference between, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15) and, “If you love me, you will consider my advice” (Jack 20:22). Nevertheless, the sense of the latter (if not the exact wording) is tragically close to the ministerial challenges that many pastors now face. Indeed, I recall a conversation with a young man who had chafed at the biblical prohibition against drunkenness. “I hear what you’re saying,” he said. “But we don’t want to be legalistic.” In his mind, any call to obey was tantamount to legalism. “Because,” he continued, “Isn’t Jesus all about grace?”

How did we come to this point? There are probably several causes. One is a common misconception that often occurs when folks first discover that the whole Bible is about Jesus (Luke 24:27; John 5:39; 2 Tim. 3:15). Since the message of Jesus is good news (Mark 1:14–15), it is easy for some to forget that Christ is not only Savior, but Creator (Col. 1:15–17) and Lord (Luke 6:46). Another cause is related to this misconception. Specifically, the last two decades of Gospel-Centered Everything™ seems to have had the effect of leading some to think of God’s “law” as opposed to God’s gospel—as if the one were good and the other was bad. (And when one of those terms literally means “good news,” you can guess which one gets the raw end of the deal.)

Consider this popular saying: “The gospel is the good news about what Christ has done for you, not the good news about what you must do for him.” This is a glorious, wonderful, eternity-altering truth. I have said it many times in sermons, and I stand by it still—so long as people know that the gospel is not the only thing found in the Scriptures. The gospel is of first and greatest importance, as Paul says (1 Cor. 15:1–2). But it is not of “mono importance.” And if our gospel centrality does not allow us to say with the psalmist, “Oh how I love your law!” (Psalm 119:97), then we need a new set of reading glasses. And we had better find them fast because history shows that once people start conceiving of gospel as “good” and law as “bad,” theological liberalism and ethical licentiousness are never far behind.

What is needed, therefore, is an understanding of law and gospel that enables us to see both as gifts from God’s hands (James 1:17), without forgetting that they are gifts of different kinds given for different purposes. Happily, this is not something new that we must create; rather, it is something old that we must retrieve.

Prolegomena: A Boring-but-Necessary Word About Words

In his contribution to the book Five Views on Law and Gospel, Douglas Moo identifies a recurring problem in the eponymous conversation, namely, “a failure to define carefully and use consistently the word ‘law’.”1 Indeed, authors variously use the term law in reference to: (1) law as a category of speech-acts, viz., imperatives or commands, (2) the Torah/Pentateuch a whole, (3) the collection of Mosaic laws within the Pentateuch, i.e., the mitzvot or Sinaitic code, or (4) even a legalistic appropriation of law(s). Adding insult to injury, the problem is not simply that various authors differ in their use of terms from one to another, but that authors often seem to use “law” in differing ways in their own works, often without a clear indication as to which sense of the term they intend.2

For the sake of clarity, therefore, when I refer to law as a category of commands, the term law will be used without qualification.3 The fivefold book of Moses will be called “the Pentateuch.”4 The commands within the Pentateuch, when referred to collectively, will be called “the Sinaitic law code.”5 Finally, when speaking with reference to humans “seeking to establish a righteousness of their own” through self-effort or moral performance (Rom. 10:3), the term “legalism” will be used.6

The Nature of Law and Gospel

Law and gospel as categories are as “old” as the will of God, since both originate in him. Yet the labels “law” and “gospel”—especially with a view to their use as a point of integration for theological systems—rose to prominence during the Protestant Reformation. Luther defined law as “what we are to do and give to God,” and he defined gospel as “what has been given us by God.”7 Following Luther on this point, Calvin writes, “[T]he gospel is the salvation-bringing proclamation concerning Christ, that he was sent by God the Father . . . to procure eternal life. The law is contained in precepts; it threatens, it burdens, it promises no goodwill. The gospel acts without threats; it does not drive one on by precepts, but rather teaches us about the supreme goodwill of God towards us.”8 Reformer Theodore Beza agreed with their definitions, further noting that this distinction is present in all of Scripture: “We divide this Word into two principal parts of kinds: the one is called the ‘law,’ the other the ‘gospel.’ For all the rest can be gathered under the one or other of these two headings. . . . The law leads us to Christ in the gospel by condemning us and causing us to despair of our own ‘righteousness’.”9 Zacharias Ursinus, the primary author of the Heidelberg Catechism, says the same: “The law contains a covenant of nature begun by God with men in creation . . . and it requires of us perfect obedience toward God. . . . [T]he gospel contains a covenant of grace. . . . This covenant declares to us fulfillment of its righteousness in Christ, which the law requires, and our restoration through Christ’s Spirit.”10

Thus, the Reformers were in general agreement about the nature of law and gospel, broadly considered. As Douglas Moo summarizes: “Law and gospel are key antithetical concepts that run throughout Scripture. Both are manifestations of God’s grace and part of his one great plan for the salvation of the world. But they are different, ‘law’ comprising that which God demands of us, ‘gospel’ what he freely gives us to meet our spiritual need.”11 In other words, law deals with God’s demands or commands, i.e., God’s righteousness requirements of us and our obligatory obedience to him. Law offers conditional blessing upon satisfactory fulfillment, simultaneously threatening with curses for disobedience. The gospel, however, deals with promise and the free (unmerited) gifts of God. Again, Moo: “Law, whether Mosaic or otherwise, can only tell us what God expects of us and, because of our inability to do what he demands, drive us sinners to despair and to the sweet relief of the Gospel.”12

The Significance of Distinguishing Law from Gospel

Although the differentiation of law and gospel is commonly maligned as a “Lutheran axiom,”13 the reality is that everyone’s grasp of the gospel of Jesus depends upon it. “Ignorance of this distinction between law and gospel,” Beza wrote, “is one of the principal sources of the abuses which corrupted and still corrupt Christianity.”14 Hence Calvin said, “Let whoever therefore is desirous of having a plain and honest understanding of the Gospel, test everything by the above descriptions of the Law and the Gospel. Those who do not follow this method of treatment will never be adequately versed in the Philosophy of Christ.”15 And again he says, “Gospel does not impose any commands, but rather reveals God’s goodness, his mercy and his benefits. . . . All who deny this turn the whole of the gospel upside down; they utterly bury Christ and destroy all true worship of God.”16

This significance has not changed over time, as if the distinction were only important for the Reformers to maintain vis-à-vis the errors of the late medieval Catholic Church (with the implication being that such a distinction is not needed anymore). On the contrary, since self-righteousness remains a basic human temptation, we must always take pains to distinguish law from gospel. For, as J. Gresham Machen rightly warns, “A low view of law always brings legalism in religion; a high view of law makes a man a seeker after grace.”17 To confuse law and gospel, therefore, is no slight error. Indeed, someone who does not understand the difference between what God asks us to do (law) and what God has done for us in Christ (gospel) has little hope of communicating the good news that elicits saving faith (Rom. 10:17). Hence Charles Spurgeon says, “There is no point on which men make greater mistakes than on the relation which exists between the law and the gospel. . . . These men understand not the truth and are false teachers.”18

Ad Fontes: In Which O.G. Lutherans Prove to Be Less “Lutheran” Than Some of Their Critics

Since, as we have seen, some modern theologians have called the law/gospel distinction “a Lutheran axiom,”19 it is helpful to survey what I will call the “classic Lutheran approach” to this area of theology, before showing how modern theological errors came to be (incorrectly) associated with this perspective. Specifically, the so-called “classic Lutheran approach” refers to the viewpoint(s) put forth in the early creeds of confessional Lutheranism, viz., the Book of Concord as well as the writings of Luther that comport with this early and widely accepted confession.20

Although early Reformers widely recognized the distinction between law and gospel, it is Martin Luther and his immediate followers who most clearly formulated the law/gospel distinction and gave it foundational significance in their theological system. For example, in Article 4 of the Apology of the Augsburg Confession, Luther’s collaborator Philip Melanchthon argues that law and gospel are the key hermeneutical categories for Scriptural interpretation. He writes, “All Scripture ought to be distributed into these two principal topics, the law and the promises [gospel]. For in some places it presents law, and in others the promise concerning Christ, namely, either when it promises that Christ will come, and offers, for his sake, the remission of sins, justification, and life eternal, or when, in the Gospel, Christ Himself, since He has appeared, promises the remission of sins, justification, and life eternal.”21 Likewise, the Lutheran doctrinal confession known as the Formula of Concord concurs with the same law/gospel distinction, and with its priority of place as a heuristic device for accurate Scriptural interpretation.22 Both of these confessional documents followed Luther’s lead, who wrote in his Commentary on St. Paul’s Epistles to the Galatians, “The person who can rightly divide law and gospel has reason to thank God. He is a true theologian.”23 Elsewhere Luther states, “Whoever knows well this art of dividing the Law from the Gospel should be given a place at the front of the room and be called a doctor of Holy Scripture.”24

When discussing “the uses of (the) law,” Lutheran confessions did not begin with the question of the Sinaitic law code in particular. Instead, they considered the uses of law as commands in general, that is to say, in the same way one approaches all of God’s commands, not simply those found in the Pentateuch.25 This is evident in Article VI of the Formula of Concord, which states:

Law was given to men for three reasons: first, that thereby outward discipline might be maintained against wild, disobedient men [and that wild and intractable men might be restrained, as though by certain bars]; secondly, that men thereby may be led to the knowledge of their sins; thirdly, that after they are regenerate and [much of] the flesh notwithstanding cleaves to them, they might on this account have a fixed rule according to which they are to regulate and direct their whole life.”26

Notice, then, that this early Lutheran confession affirms all three uses of law: usus politicus (law as a restraint through fear of punishment); usus elenchticus (law as mirror that convicts men for having fallen short of the glory of God); usus normativus (law as a didactic guide or instructor for living in righteousness).

As stated, the Lutheran conception of the three uses of law differs little from the Reformed articulation of the same (except in their numerical order).27 In practice, however, Lutherans tended to emphasize the first and second uses of law, with the third use functioning in more of a cyclical fashion. Specifically, as believers were “spurred on to love and good works” (Heb. 10:24), they were equally conscious of the full demands of God’s law and their own inability to fulfill it. Hence, for the classic Lutheran, the third use of law returns the believer to the elenctic use of the same, which then drives them to Christ in faith.28 In this way, the Lutheran application of the third use of law was negative, while most Reformed applications of the third use of law were positive.

Let us learn to see that though the gospel liberates us from the penalty of breaking the law, it could never ‘free’ us from the good things that the law requires.”

—Doug Ponder

Nevertheless, it is significant that Luther and the early Lutheran confessions upheld some form of the third use of law. Indeed, today it is not uncommon to see those who purport to follow in Luther’s path routinely limit the function of law to the first and second uses only. Such a view is not limited to confessional Lutherans. For example, Baptist theologian Tom Schreiner writes, “[T]he idea that believers are under the third use of the law is mistaken, for we have seen that the entire law is abolished for believers.”29 Similarly, Douglas Moo insists that “law of Christ” (Gal. 6:2; 1 Cor. 9:21) is “not a code or series of commandments and prohibitions, but is composed of the teachings of Christ and the apostles and the directing influence of the Holy Spirit.”43 In other words, for Moo “the law” is no longer law as such!30 Ironically, those who affirm such a view—whether as confessional Lutherans or simply as Lutheran-influenced scholars—go further than Luther and foundational Lutheran confessions. The reason for this error, however, stems not from the classically Lutheran “negative” application of the third use of law, but from a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of law—an error that has continued to grow since its inception in the 19th century. Thus, to understand the plight of much of modern Protestantism, we must turn to particular development within Lutheranism in the 1800s.

What Happens When God’s Good Law Comes to Be Viewed as Bad

Apart from the writings of Luther himself, no Lutheran has enjoyed such influential prominence in American thought as C.F.W. Walther, the founding president of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. His book, The Proper Distinction Between Law and Gospel, was first given as a series of lectures to his students in the school now known as Concordia Theological Seminary.31 This sparked a revival of interest in law and gospel among American Lutherans, many of whom subsequently left for Europe to continue their studies with then-renowned Werner Elert.

Elert is perhaps best known for his response to Karl Barth’s “Gospel and Law”—which he titled “Law and Gospel.”32 In that work, Elert argues that the new life which flows from the gospel is not one of obedience to law, as Barth contends, but a life of spontaneity and freedom. Elert grounds his thesis on a maximal reading of Paul’s words in Galatians 6:18, which reads: “If you are led by the Spirit you are not under the law.”33 In this way, Elert’s theology contained a radical law/gospel antithesis, one that not only distinguished law from gospel but set them in opposition to one another. As he saw it, the problem with law lay not within the sinner (Rom. 7) but within the form of law itself. Elert writes, “The law oppresses because it is law, that is, because it is an ordered demand, a requirement, a command. The law oppresses because of the kind of word it is, not because of the situation in which we encounter it.”34 In other words, Elert had come to see that all laws—from Scriptural ordinances to created order itself—were “oppressive” by nature. The gospel, therefore, not only freed us from the penalty of having failed to keep God’s law, but also freed us from association with law (i.e., commands) in any context. The practical effect of this view can be seen in his radical comments about the irrelevant nature of ethics: “Only sinners belong to the Lutheran Church . . . who in this life can never be anything else. What its members do or do not do, miss or do not neglect, in an ethical respect belongs in the domain of sociology and has nothing at all to do with the nature of the church.”35

Once the law/gospel relationship is conceived in these terms, scriptural doctrines will also become suspect since they are a binding “form” from which we must be “freed.” Happily, this is a conclusion that Elert never reached; however, the same would not be true of Paul Tillich. In his essay in The Protestant Era, Tillich outlines what he calls the “Protestant Principle.”36 Namely, this principle is a radical dialectic that prohibits grace from being identified with any finite forms (since finite forms necessitate restriction by nature of what they are). In other words, for Tillich and his heirs, any exhortation to do this instead of that, or to believe that instead of this, is fundamentally against the “Protestant Principle” of liberating grace and, therefore, a form of “demonic hubris.”37 Setting aside the self-contradictory nature of this assertion (for Tillich very much insisted that we should believe and obey the “Protestant Principle”!), such an approach to law as a category will inevitably lead to the denial not only of creation and divine commands, but even to the denial—or fundamentally radical revision—of God himself. For God is the ultimate being, whose immutability would itself constitute a “form” against which man succeeds or fails (Rom. 3:23). And once God himself is seen as “oppressive” to the Protestant Principle, why should he not be killed?

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Law

In his masterful article for Pro Ecclesia, theologian David Yeago traces much of the rotten fruit of the present to the roots of the previously discussed movement. He argues, “The practical antinomianism now regnant in many churches is simply a long-standing theoretical antinomianism achieving the courage of its convictions.”38 This would explain the liberalizing tendency of mainline denominations (e.g., the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America), which—among many other radical revisions—now bless same-sex unions as a matter of course. However, Yeago’s thesis also explains the growing antinomian tendency among certain circles of conservative evangelicals. Unlike their mainline counterparts, of course, the latter group do not straightforwardly disbelieve or alter the Scriptures so much as fail to preach them. Nevertheless, they have become so fearful of “preaching law” that they no longer teach on “hard truths” nor call believers to live in holiness.39

The problem, Yeago contends, is not a flaw intrinsic to historical Lutheranism, as some Reformed scholars maintain. Much less is the problem to be found in Luther himself, who wrote a commentary on the Ten Commandments(!).40 Rather, the central problem is a failure to grasp this single point: “The negativity of law is not located in its formal character as commandment, as proposal of form and order; its ground is rather in our disorder, our sin, our non-conformity to Christ.”41 Thus, it is not all law/gospel distinction, ipso facto, that leads to antinomianism. Rather, the problem is a failure to understand—with classic Lutheranism—that God’s law is “negative” only as encountered by sinful humanity. Yet law itself remains “holy and righteous and good” (Rom. 7:12). In other words, the law/gospel distinction is not to be blamed for antinomianism (nor legalism, for that matter). That error results instead from an erroneous conclusion regarding our negative experience with law, namely, the belief that the problem is the form of law itself, instead of the agent who encounters it. In other words, the law remains good, as law, and grace does not alter its imperative demands. Instead, grace renews us in the image of our Creator (Col. 3:10), enabling us to desire and to do what pleases him (Phil. 2:13) as stated in his holy commands.42

Once we have fixed the goodness of the law in our minds, together with the emphatic scriptural insistence that no righteous deeds of ours can merit the Lord’s merciful forgiveness—for by grace are ye saved—we are able to see the law for what it is and isn’t. And we are thereby enabled to say with David, and really mean it: “The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple; the precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes; the fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and the dripping of the honeycomb. Moreover, by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward” (Psalm 19:7–11).

Therefore, let us have done with any form of law/gospel talk that sees the gospel as liberating us from the demands of law (in any form). Let us learn to see that though the gospel liberates us from the penalty of breaking the law, it could never “free” us from the good things that the law requires. For this would entail that God is not good, and that his commands are not “for our good always” (Deut. 6:24). To hell with all such false teaching (2 Peter 2:1–14). Instead, let us thank the Lord for his commands, which drive us to Christ, but which also warn us against grave error, and which guide us as we walk the path of life in the presence of the God of infinite joy (Psalm 16:11).

Bibliography

  1. Douglas Moo, “Response to Walter C. Kaiser, Jr.” in Five Views of Law and Gospel, Stanley Gundry, ed. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan: 1996), 223.
  2. To be fair, the biblical authors do this. So, perhaps we are simply bumping up against a kind of unavoidable linguistic ambiguity intrinsic to all human speech as such. Somewhere someone has testified (it was probably that genius Calvin) that God nevertheless deems to use the imperfect and intrinsically ambiguous vehicle of human speech to speak to his human creatures in the same way that a parent “lisps” when talking to a baby.
  3. Corresponding to this, “gospel” (lower case) will refer to the theological category of promise in the sense of unconditional grace, with capitalized “Gospel” to the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.
  4. This is to avoid confusion inherent in the misunderstanding of the phrase “the Book of the Law” (Deut. 29:21; Josh. 1:8; 2 Chron. 34:15; Gal. 3:10).
  5. This is to distinguish the laws/commands within the Pentateuch from the whole of the Pentateuch itself.
  6. In summary: law refers to commands as a category; Pentateuch refers to the fivefold scroll of Moses; the Sinaitic law code refers collectively to the 613 laws in the Pentateuch; legalism refers to quest to attain righteousness on the basis of one’s moral performance, i.e., self-righteousness.
  7. Martin Luther, “How Christians Should Regard the Law of Moses,” Luther’s Works, vol. 35 (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1960), 162.
  8. Calvin, 2.7.5 -1536 Institutes, trans. by F. L. Battles (Eerdmans, 1975), 30–1; cf. 1559 Institutes 2.11.10.
  9. Theodore Beza, The Christian Faith, trans. by James Clark (Focus Christian Ministries Trust, 1992), 40–1.
  10. Zacharias Ursinus, Commentary on the Heidelberg Catechism (Presbyterian and Reformed, from Second American Edition, 1852), 2.
  11. Moo, “Response to Walter C. Kaiser, Jr.” in Five Views of Law and Gospel, 218.
  12. Moo, “The Law of Christ as the Fulfillment of the Law of Moses: A Modified Lutheran View” in Five Views of Law and Gospel, 328.
  13. See Michael Horton, “The Distinction between Law and Gospel in Reformed Faith and Practice” Accessed March 26, 2016. http://www.modernreformation.org/default.php? page=articledisplay&var2=1164.
  14. Beza, The Christian Faith, 40–1.
  15. Calvin, Institutes, 328.
  16. Ibid., 366, 369.
  17. J. Gresham Machen, What is Faith? (New York: Macmillan, 1925), 152.
  18. Charles Spurgeon, New Park Street Pulpit, vol.1 (Pilgrim Publications, 1975), 285.
  19. See footnote 13. Emphasis mine.
  20. This view is termed “classic” to distinguish it from later developments within Lutheranism, which will be considered shortly.
  21. F. Bente and W.H.T. Dau, ed. and trans. Triglot Concordia: The Symbolical Books of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921), Apology IV (II).5, 135.
  22. See the Triglot Concordia, FC Epitome V, (II).1, 503ff.
  23. Martin Luther, Galatians in The Crossway Classic Commentaries Series (Wheaton: Crossway, 1998), 59.
  24. Martin Luther, “The Distinction Between the Law and the Gospel,” a sermon preached on January 1, 1532, trans. Willard L. Bruce. Accessed: http://www.ccle.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/LutherSermon.pdf.
  25. Of course, the Sinaitic law code occurs chronologically prior to commands found in the Prophets, the Writings, and the New Testament. Nevertheless, the question of the Christian’s relationship to law begins with commands in general before moving to the individual commands of the Sinaitic law code in particular.
  26. As cited in Triglot Concordia, Formula of Concord, Epitome VI.1.
  27. Compare with Calvin, Institutes, 2.7.6; 2.7.10; 2.7.12–13.
  28. Richard A. Muller, “usus legis” in Dictionary of Latin and Greek Theological Terms: Drawn Principally from Protestant Scholastic Theology (1st ed.)., (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 2006), 320–321.
  29. Tom Schreiner, 40 Questions about Christians and Biblical Law (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel, 2010), 99.
  30. This seems like an exegetically dubious claim. After all, in the Great Commission, Jesus includes the words, “teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Matt. 28:20a). Not only this, but if the “law of Christ” were not at least some prohibitions and commandments, but only “principles” and “the directing influence of the Spirit,” as Moo says, then one wonders how the Christian is expected to escape the relativism of situational ethics. That is to say, would not every ethical scenario eventually collapse under the weight of what is “most loving” in our estimation, whether to God or neighbor? Happily, Moo seems to contradict himself (or else this reader has misunderstood him) when he concedes that the “bottom line” of what Christians are to “do” falls very near the Reformed view of the law. If true, as he says, the essential difference is not one of substance, but of source. See Moo, Five Views of Law and Gospel, 376.
  31. C.F.W. Walther, The Proper Distinction Between law and Gospel (St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing, 1986).
  32. Werner Elert, Law and Gospel (1948), trans. Edward Schroeder (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1967).
  33. Elert was theologically conservative, much more so than Barth, but he was quintessentially Lutheran in the modern sense. And for this reason, his theological heirs often develop errors that lead them to become more liberal than Barth.
  34. Werner Elert, The Structure of Lutheranism (Morphologie des Luthertums, 1931), trans. Walter Hansen (St. Louis: Concordia Press, 1967), 35.
  35. Ibid., 363.
  36. Paul Tillich, “The Formative Power of Protestantism,” The Protestant Era, trans. by James Luther Adams (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1948).
  37. Ibid., 212.
  38. David S. Yeago, “Gnosticism, Antinomianism, and Reformation Theology: Reflections on the Costs of A Construal,” in Pro Ecclesia, Vol. II, No. 1 (Winter 1993), 42.
  39. See for example, Kevin DeYoung, The Hole in Our Holiness: Filling the Gap between Gospel Passion and the Pursuit of Godliness. Wheaton: Crossway, 2014.
  40. Martin Luther, “The Ten Commandments,” in The Large Catechism.
  41. Yeago, “Gnosticism, Antinomianism, and Reformation Theology: Reflections on the Costs of A Construal,” 48.
  42. There are, to be sure, important matters related to the distinction between moral, civil, and ceremonial aspects of the laws found in the Sinaitic code that must be addressed. However, that discussion will have to wait for another article. In the meantime, impatient readers may check out David Dorsey, “The Law of Moses and the Christian: A Compromise.” JETS 34/3 (September 1991): 321–334. https://www.etsjets.org/files/JETS-PDFs/34/34-3/34-3-pp321-334_JETS.pdf. Justin Taylor has also provided a helpful summary of that article here: https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/justin-taylor/law-of-moses-and-christian/
Doug Ponder

Doug Ponder is professor of biblical studies at Grimké Seminary and is a teaching pastor at Remnant Church in Richmond, Va.

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