Office Hours: The Reformation Then And Now With Mike Horton

Office Hours 2016 full sizeBecause the Reformation began 500 years ago, because the Reformers are larger than life, because we often think of them as heroes, we might forget that they were once young men, college students, who were excited by new books, new ideas, and the possibilities latent in the new technology. Then it was the printing press. Today it is the internet. 25 years ago, on the cusp of the technological revolution, another group of young people were so excited by the same ideas that captured the imaginations of the Reformers that they set out to do in our time what the Reformers had done in theirs, to call the church back to salvation by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone according to the Scriptures alone. The celebrate this movement, Mike Horton and Eric Landry have co-edited, The Reformation Then and Now: 25 Years of Modern Reformation Articles Celebrating 500 Years of the Reformation. It contains more than 40 articles by a wide-range of authors (including yours truly).  Mike and I sat down to talk about the history of Modern Reformation and the White Horse Inn. In this episode you will hear some of the history of an important movement for a Reformation in our time.

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  1. In ‘Reformation Then and Now’ David R Anderson in his ‘Luther on Galatians’ quotes Luther:

    ‘It is a marvelous thing and unknown to the world to teach Christians to ignore the Law and to live before God as though there were no Law whatever. For if you do not ignore the Law and thus direct your thoughts to grace as though there were no Law . . . you cannot be saved.’

    Landry, Eric; Horton, Michael S.. The Reformation Then and Now: 25 Years of Modern Reformation Articles Celebrating 500 Years of the Reformation (Kindle Locations 960-962). Hendrickson Publishers. Kindle Edition.

    Anderson adds;

    ‘Luther argues, a natural connection exists between sinful human reason and the law. We know the law by nature (see Rom. 1: 18– 2: 16), so in the terrors of conscience and danger of death we naturally look to our own works of the law for eternal hope. Because the connection is so natural, Satan’s primary goal in effecting human destruction lies in aggravating our hopeless devotion to the law and thus ensuring that our minds remain turned in upon themselves.’

    Landry, Eric; Horton, Michael S.. The Reformation Then and Now: 25 Years of Modern Reformation Articles Celebrating 500 Years of the Reformation (Kindle Locations 970-973). Hendrickson Publishers. Kindle Edition.

    Did Luther ever move from this position?

    • Allan,

      It is not a matter whether he moved. It is a matter of accounting for all that he said about the law.

      Luther from 1521 taught the abiding validity of the moral law for the life of the Christian. Relative to justification, we have nothing to do with the law. Hence his point in his Galatians commentary.

  2. Allan,
    In the Luther’s Catechism, Luther points to three uses of the law. 1 A curb to restrain our sinful nature both in the Decalogue and as it is written on our hearts. 2 A mirror that shows us our sin so that we are driven to seek a righteousness outside of ourselves, in Christ alone. That is what Luther is referring to in your quotations. Luther is saying that for justification we must look away from the law which can only condemn us, and trust only in the perfect righteousness of Christ. If we look to our own law keeping for righteousness we can only be condemned by it. In that sense the Christian is to live as though he has nothing to do with the law. 3 The third use of the law is as a rule for living. Trusting in Christ alone for justification, the Christian is now free from the terrors of his inability to obey God perfectly for his eternal right standing. The Christian is now free to use the law as a rule for living, as an instruction on how to love God and his neighbor. Luther wrote much about ignoring the demands of the law. But the context is always in regards to justification, which is in Christ alone. Luther makes it clear in his catechism. and in many other passages of his writings that there are three uses of the law. Even though the Christian looks only to Christ for justification, the law continues to show him how to love God and neighbor as he is progressing in sanctification, through the work of the Spirit who is gradually conforming him to the image of Christ, who is the perfect law keeper. Only at the resurrection will that process be complete. God’s law shows us His holy character. God’s ultimate purpose is to make us what we are now credited to be in Christ, perfect keepers of the law.

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