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Products>God’s Two Words: Law and Gospel in the Lutheran and Reformed Traditions

God’s Two Words: Law and Gospel in the Lutheran and Reformed Traditions

, 2018
ISBN: 9780802874757

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The distinction between God’s law and God’s gospel lies at the core of the Lutheran and Reformed traditions—and has long been a point of controversy between them. God’s Two Words offers new contributions from ten key Lutheran and Reformed scholars on the theological significance of the law-gospel distinction.

Following introductory chapters that define the concepts of law and gospel from each tradition, contributors explore how the distinction between law and gospel plays out in theology, preaching, the reading of Scripture, and pastoral care. As it traces both the common ground and the areas of disagreement between the two traditions, this book amplifies and clarifies an important conversation that has been ongoing since the sixteenth century.

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Key Features

  • Provides dialogue between key Lutheran and Reformed scholars
  • Discusses the nature of and distinction between law and gospel
  • Explores the implications of law and gospel in the life of the church


Part I: The Law Is Not the Gospel

  • The Law in the Lutheran Tradition
  • The Law in the Reformed Tradition 45

Part II: The Gospel Is Not the Law

  • The Gospel in the Lutheran Tradition
  • The Gospel in the Reformed Tradition

Part III: Law and Gospel in Theology and Ministry

  • The Law-Gospel Distinction in Lutheran Theology and Ministry
  • The Law-Gospel Distinction in Reformed Theology and Ministry

Part IV: Lutheran and Reformed Responses

  • A Lutheran Response to the Reformed Tradition
  • A Reformed Response to the Lutheran Tradition
  • Continuing the Conversation: A Lutheran Reflection
  • Continuing the Conversation: A Reformed Reflection

Top Highlights

“The law is God’s word by which he diagnoses sinners: condemned and dead. The gospel is God’s word by which he delivers sinners: forgiven and made alive. God’s law reveals sin and seals the coffin of the old Adam. God’s gospel is preached at the graveside of the old, and it is a word that redeems and resurrects. The law sounds like Nathan’s words to David: ‘You are the man’ (2 Sam. 12:7). The gospel sounds like Jesus’s words to the dead: ‘Lazarus, come out’ (John 11:43).” (Page 3)

“So the definition of the gospel as promise is central to an understanding of the Lutheran teaching on justification.” (Page 67)

“Yet this effort to focus on continuity posed a problem when interpreting Paul. Paul said things like the law could not give life (Gal. 3:21), that it could not justify (Gal. 2:16; Rom. 3:28), that the law exists only because of transgressions (Gal. 3:19) and that it came to increase the trespass (Rom. 5:20), that the passions of sin are aroused through the law (Rom. 7:5), that the law imprisons and enslaves (Gal. 3:22–23; 4:1; 4:22–31; Rom. 7:6), and that Christ has set us free from its confinement (Gal. 3:25)—indeed, he has brought the law to an end (Rom. 10:4). This certainly makes talk of continuity difficult.” (Page 159)

“The transition from law to gospel, for the Westminster tradition, comes across as decidedly smoother than for Lutherans. For Lutherans, the ministry of death is no mere mask of kindness, perhaps like putting a lame animal down. It is wrath. It is the wages of sin.8 And it cannot be harmonized with gospel through a more encompassing, neutral category. It can only be absorbed by Jesus’s own mercy and brought to its own end, a death of death. Only then is new birth, new life, possible through trusting in the gospel.” (Pages 202–203)

Product Details

  • Title: God’s Two Words: Law and Gospel in the Lutheran and Reformed Traditions
  • Editor: Jonathan A. Linebaugh
  • Publisher: Eerdmans
  • Publication Date: 2018
  • Pages: 265
  • Christian Group: Lutheran and Reformed
  • Resource Type: Collected Essays
  • Topic: Theology

Jonathan A. Linebaugh is lecturer in New Testament at the University of Cambridge and fellow at Jesus College.

Sample Pages from the Print Edition


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  1. Sandro Polenta
    Great resource: I had the privilege to study under Dr. Jonathan Linebaugh and Dr. Michael Allen at Knox theological Seminary. I highly recommend this resource and hope that it will be added to Logos.


Digital list price: $24.99
Save $5.00 (20%)