Every Christian must uphold and maintain the law of God.
Then again: I don’t sacrifice animals or go outside the camp if I touch something dead. So it is evident that we must distinguish law or fall into deadly legalism.
Richard Hooker does just that in his first book of Ecclesiastical Polity. He knows that his work will not be popular. He writes: “This book might have been more popular and more accessible to the masses if it had merely extolled the force of laws and the necessity of good laws, and had railed against the evils of those who attack them.”
Had he simply said, “you have to obey God’s law,” people may have approved. Yet in so doing, he would engage in unhelpful rhetoric. He explains: “However, this kind of rhetoric is more liable to stir up passions than to build up understanding of the issues in question.”
He is right. The reformers lived by “we distinguish” because the lack of distinctions can kill. Are we justified by faith or by faith working through love? Is faith working through love evidence of genuine faith?
The small things matter.
And unhelpfully simplifying matters, as noted, might be rhetorically powerful but they can be deadly. In the early church, many found Arius rhetorically powerful. He convinced a lot through his simple slogans too. But he was a heretic.
So let’s distinguish law according to the reformed and Augustinian tradition because these two traditions rightly understand God’s revelation. [Read more…] about Upholding the Law of God by Distinguishing Law