Grappling with The Ten Commandment

Grappling with The Ten Commandment

I’m gonna take a break from our discussion on “What is the Gospel?” for a bit. I’m not nearly close to done yet with it (how could one ever be done talking the Gospel!?) and our discussions back and forth here have provoked some other thoughts for me…things that I’d like to digest a bit more before I move on with part 3.

In the meantime, I thought I’d move into God’s other great Word for us – the Law!

Lutherans are often accused of not preaching the Law, or at least not preaching it often enough.  I’m chuckling a bit here, partly because I’m sure one could easily find churches with the name Lutheran on them that do exactly that, but to that all I can say is, Have you ever read our stuff??  Or heard our sermons? Lol

Seriously, we do not exclude the Law. Not even close.  We just do not preach it in such a way that it steals away the promise of the Gospel, as if our salvation depended on the keeping of it.  I mentioned before that Lutherans have a dread of mixing Law and Gospel, that is, speaking either of them in such a way that it distorts the other Word.  We want to keep the Gospel straight, but we want to keep the Law in its proper place as well. We hold the Law alongside the Gospel as God’s true will for us, a will that he wants us to believe and make manifest in our lives of service.

Lutherans, in short, love the Law as all true Christians do!

For all that Luther loved to write about the Gospel – especially Justification by grace alone, through faith alone for the sake of Christ alone – he wrote extensively on the Law as well, the fullest treatment of which he gives in the Large Catechism.

Our human tendency is to view the Ten Commandments as just that – commands to be obeyed – but with magnificent insight, Luther understood the Comandments not just as commands for us but also as gifts, promises, and virtues for us as well.  It’s really quite beautiful.

It’s a bit of a different way to look at the Commandments, all that they encompass and teach us, and how they ought to function in our Christian life.  If you’re interested, the full text is here, but be warned, it’s long and the language is a bit difficult (it was written in the 16th century, after all).  If you’re more like me (aka lazy) and prefer just a summary that hits all the high points, then I have just the thing for you!  

Come, be blessed!

2 thoughts on “Grappling with The Ten Commandment

  1. I love Luther’s Large Catechism! In some of his other essays he sometimes wanders and gets off point, but his catechisms are focused and direct.
    No doubt about it, keeping Law and Gospel distinct and unmixed is the key to theology and one of the hardest tasks of theology. J.


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