Thursday, December 15, 2011

Law and Gospel - From the Bible to Theology

I love discussions and I love learning from a discussion where each of the protagonists has a good grasp on their particular viewpoint. These two books have been very helpful on two very vexing topics: Five Views on Law and Gospel and Four Views on Moving beyond the Bible to Theology.

Does the Law continue today? How does Jesus fulfil the Law? What's the value of the Law and what's it's ultimate purpose? The relationship between the Old and New Testaments can be a tricky topic and although they are bound together by an overarching meta-narrative and a common author, the Law and it's New Testament impact is a significator factor in the link between the two canons. Basically it seems there are two camps, continuity versus discontinuity, roughly VanGemeren, Bahnsen and Kaiser versus Stickland and Moo. But secondary questions about salvation, fulfilment and purpose really muddy the waters of this debate. After reading it all I think, "the Law's changed, it now serves us, we no longer serve it."

How do we turn Bible verses into theology? Kaiser suggests that there is always an underlying principle to be gleaned and then applied. Vahoozer says we reconstruct the world of the text while Webb says we compare what was said in the text with what's going on today. Kaiser can oversimplify, Vahoozer is vague on details and Webb overvalues the present. Each author assumed Scripture contained an overarching meta-narrative. (Somewhat naughtily I took what made the most sense from each and put together a chart based on John Frame's hermeneutical triangle; existential, normative and situational.) However the three concluding essays, where three other authors made observations about the debate, were very useful especially Al Wolters', which was both a pleasure to read and gave lots of useful insights.