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Law, Life, and the Living God: The Third Use of Law in Modern American Lutheranism [Paperback]

By Scott R. Murray (Author)
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Item Specifications...

Pages   250
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9.02" Width: 6.02" Height: 0.65"
Weight:   0.93 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Jan 1, 2005
Publisher   Concordia Publishing House
ISBN  0570042895  
EAN  9780570042891  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
Recounts and interprets 20th century American Lutheran battles on the doctrine of the third use of the Law.

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1Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Protestantism > Lutheran   [280  similar products]

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Reassess your views on the 3rd use of the Law  Mar 4, 2005
This book turned out to be much better than I had anticipated, and that's saying a lot because I expected to enjoy it at the start. It will be a valuable book for Pastors, seminarians, and interested laymen, especially in the Lutheran church, but also for Reformed readers who hold the Calvinist view of the 3rd use (to see a Lutheran critique of your position). It helps the reader recognize and reconsider the importance of the 3rd use of the Law, and its place in the life of the Christian. The book does this by focusing on the historical and systematic side of the issue, as it developed within American Lutheranism from 1940-1998, with reference backward to theologians of the Reformation.

What I found most interesting was the close connection that is established between Gospel-reductionism and its two-fold consequence of denying Scriptural inerrancy (and permitting the wolf of historical criticism into the church) and the denial of the 3rd use of the Law. By essentially extracting the principle of Law and Gospel out of scripture and holding it ABOVE scripture, the liberal theologians who were the forebears of the modern ELCA placed themselves in the position to critique and overrule Scriptural teachings on the basis that they were 'not-Gospel'. In keeping with this Gospel-reductionistic attitude, they also denied the continuing significance of the law in the life of the church and the Christian, which is nothing other than antinomianism. Therefore the 3rd use of the law (as a distinctive function for the believer) was obliterated.

In contrast to this stream of liberal theology, the Missourians exposed the error of making law/gospel a hermeneutical principle external to the scriptures, and rather as a reality WITHIN Scripture. Murray does an excellent job of explaining this and the contrasting views, and also gives lengthy treatment to the various stereotypical views of Law/Gospel that run into error. He is also rigorously consistent in maintaining the Formula of Concord understanding of the third use.

I did have two or three small criticisms of the book, where I found room for improvement. One is the frequent use of latin and german phrases without providing translations in the endnotes or within the text. I was frequently able to determine from context and from recognition of common theological phrases what the latin and german phrase meant. But other times I was left to make a crude guess at the translation. It wouldn't have taken much to provide translations in a footnote, and it would make a big difference in the accessibility of the book to the average layman. A second criticism is the shortness of the conclusion at the end. Murray did an excellent job of critiquing various viewpoints along the way, but could have provided a more thorough recap of the positive understanding of the 3rd use at the end. Finally, I thought there were some points where it was a little unclear whether the commentary around certain quotes from the liberal theologians was reflecting Murray's thoughts, or his summary of their position. Usually it became clear on re-reading several times, but that seemed to be mainly a matter of editing.

Despite those minor concerns, I would highly recommend this book for its value in sharpening your understanding of the 3rd use of the law, as well as to help alert you to subtle errors in this doctrine that are easily overlooked.
Scholarly History of Third Use of the Law in U.S. Lutheran  Oct 9, 2002
This is a valuable retracing of the history of the third use of the Law in American Lutheran circles.

Originally published as Ph.D. dissertation, Murray provides us with a well researched and footnoted source of this interchange in Lutheran theology about the third use of the law.

Central themes jump out from one's reading which are most useful. One's view on the Law definitely affects one's view of the Gospel. Thus, antinomianism is destructive of the pure Gospel. Further, the allowance of existentialism into theology caused Lutheran scholars to achieve an unfaithful hermeneutic of Law/Gospel which leads to removal of any Law. The history here on simul was fascinating. Its retranslation to sequential explains the resultant mistakes.

Broken into three historical periods: 1940-60; 1961-76 and 1977-98 was most helpful and allows the reader insight into developments and influences. Prolegomena is significant here, as Murrray so aptly points out as the discussion progresses.

Enjoyed very much the intellectual rigor the author held to, and his succinct running commentary. Excellent work to understand what's at stake in the debate over third use and what has occurred on the theological battlefield to date. Will benefit the church significantly.


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