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Five Views On Law And Gospel (Counterpoints) [Paperback]

By Greg L. Bahnsen (Author), Wayne G. Strickland (Editor) & Stanley N. Gundry (Editor)
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Item description for Five Views On Law And Gospel (Counterpoints) by Greg L. Bahnsen, Wayne G. Strickland & Stanley N. Gundry...

This book explores five major approaches to the relationship between the law and the Gospel, each author presenting his particular perspective on the issue and responding to the other four.

Publishers Description
Do the Law and the Gospel belong to two separate dispensations? Has the Gospel replaced the Law? What is the relevance of the Old Testament Law to our lives as Christians? Is there continuity between it and what Christ expects of us in the Gospel? It is no secret that Christians have differed widely on these questions. This book explores five major approaches to this important biblical topic that have developed in Protestant circles. Each of the five authors presents his particular perspective on the issue and responds to the other four.The Counterpoints series provides a forum for comparison and critique of different views on issues important to Christians. Counterpoints books address two categories: Church Life and Bible and Theology. Complete your library with other books in the Counterpoints series.

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Zondervan
Pages   416
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 1" Width: 5.5" Height: 8.25"
Weight:   0.75 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Oct 1, 1996
Publisher   Zondervan Publishing
Series  Counterpoints  
ISBN  0310212715  
ISBN13  9780310212713  
UPC  025986212711  

Availability  124 units.
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More About Greg L. Bahnsen, Wayne G. Strickland & Stanley N. Gundry

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Greg L. Bahnsen, was resident scholar at the Southern California Center for Christian Students.

Greg L. Bahnsen has published or released items in the following series...
  1. Counterpoints

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Politics > General
2Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Authors, A-Z > ( K ) > Kaiser, Walter
3Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > Bible > General
4Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Theology > Apologetics
5Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Theology > General
7Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Religious Studies > Church & State

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Books > Theology > Theology & Doctrine > Doctrines

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Reviews - What do customers think about Five Views On Law And Gospel?

Counterpoint Series  Nov 15, 2004
I'm going to apply this commentary for the entire Counterpoint Series published by Zondervan Publishing Company. My compliments to that company for creating this series. I initially purchased "Four Views on the Book of Revelation" but soon realized it was only one in a series. I got so much out of that volume, that I decided to purchase the entire set to study and keep for reference. My spiritual growth has been remarkable as a result. Seminary students and professionals would probably enjoy this series, which seems geared for them. But this series is also excellent for those college-educated laypeople who feel inclined to enhance their understanding of Christian theology. That is, with one caveat: Buy a decent theological dictionary to refer to at first. It probably won't get used much after about the third book you choose to read, but initially you will be need it to be confident of some of the terms used among advanced theologians. Then, the Counterpoint series will give you a full understanding of many different concepts and concerns of the Christian faith which have been applicable from early on until the present. I've learned a lot, and the only way I think I could do better is if I were enrolled in Seminary. A list of all the titles I am aware of from this series is:

Are Miraculous Gifts for Today?
Five Views on Law and Gospel
Five Views on Sanctification
Four Views on Hell
Four Views on Salvation in a Pluralistic World
Four Views on the Book of Revelation
Three Views on Creation and Evolution
Three Views on the Millennium and Beyond
Three Views on the Rapture
Two Views on Women in Ministry
Very Good Overview of Major Evangelical Views  Jul 22, 2003
Anyone interested in the various views on the Law and Gospel should definitely consult this book. Ever since the groundbreaking book by E. P. Sanders in the late 1970s the issue of the Law's role in the Christian life has exploded in biblical-theological circles. This book will give you five predominant evangelical views on the Law and Gospel. This review will give a concise evaluation of the five views.

The first essay is by William VanGemeren and he expouses the standard Reformed perspective. His approach is very similar to Vos' redemptive-historical approach, and thus, many traditional Reformed people (especially those who are seeped in the WCF) will find some points of disagreement. However, in essential agreement with standard Reformed theology, VanGemeren argues that no person can be justified by the Law and that the Law (the moral aspect) is a rule for the regenerate. This essay was the weakest by far, since VanGemeren argued mostly using logic than exegesis.

The second essay by Greg Bahnsen argues for the Reformed theonomic approach. I found Bahnsen using logic and "God's nature" a lot rather than exegesis to argue for his position. It is no surprise then that most Christians reject this view because it fails to take into account the redemptive-historical shift after the Cross. Also, those who do accept this position do so because of social-cultural-political distate of our secular world than biblical exegesis.

The third essay is by Walter Kaiser. Though his essay is the shortest of all (only 22 pp.) he argues most effectively for the continuous position than VanGemeren and Bahnsen. Kaiser argues that the moral aspect of the Law continues to have relevance for the new covenant Christian for sanctification. For Kaiser the Law was a gift given by God because of His grace (not a legalistic enactment). However, doing the Law does not confer salvation, but is an expression of faith by the redeemed.

The fourth essay is by Wayne Strickland. This is another weak essay and does not represent all dispensationalists (especially progressive dispensationalists). Strickland argues for a strict discontinuous view where the "law of Moses" is replaced with the "law of Christ" (his dispensational view comes out quite obviously in his essay). However, his argument that "telos" in Romans 10:4 means "termination" is quite well-argued and his exposition of Galatians 3:10-12 is very well presented too.

The fifth essay is by Douglas Moo and advocates a "modified Lutheran" view. I found this to be the most convincing and well-written essay. Moo argues that the distinction between Law and Gospel is a "salvation-historical" issue. The Mosaic Law is abrogated because no person can obey ALL its requirements to inherit eternal life. Thus, Christ is the only possible way sinners can receive justification and salvation. However, believers are still bound to live with the moral requirements of the new covenant. Moo's exegesis is quite persuasive.

Hopefully there will be an updated edition where a sixth position will be expoused: The "New Perspective" view (or the "Anti-Protestant" view). Perhaps someone who has gripes with the Reformation can contribute to that essay. Overall, though, this essay still does the job of presenting major evangelical views on the Law and Gospel accurately.

Helpful  Nov 1, 2002
While this collaborative counterpoint effort has a number of negative aspects to it, I still found this book to be very helpful in assessing the relationship between the OT Mosaic law and the NT Gospel message.

First, the positives. Five contributors are asked to provide their views on this question. Of the 5, I found Kaiser to be the most persuasive, followed by Bahnsen and then Moo. All of the contributors do a good job of sufficiently nuancing the issue to reveal the many points upon which scholars depart from each other. I felt that each scholar made a solid attempt to deal with the whole counsel of Scripture as it relates to this question, which is a definite plus since this is not a given. Given this, the reader might well conclude that each view presented has strengths and weaknesses in light of Scripture.

I felt that Kaiser's main essay was the most persuasive, as well as his rebuttals to the other essays. I thought that Bahnsen, while regretably employing a rather harsh tone here that pervades many of his writings, was nonetheless accurate in many of his critiques of the other views. I also felt that Bahnsen did a very good job of arguing for a theonomic position that is widely rejected because of the discomfort such a position tends to create on our modern sensitivities. But in many ways, Bahnsen made a good case for this view. Both Kaiser and Bahnsen argued in favor of continuity between law and gospel and applicability of portions of the law on the believer today, although they disagreed with each other mainly over how much of the law is applicable today. Moo offered the antithetical approach, and while I don't agree with him, I thought his essay was well done, although not without its problems. Strickland offered the dispensational view, which I found unpersuasive and mostly incoherent. VanGemeren offered a continuity proposal that was not well written, nor were his critiques of the other views persuasive. In my view, his efforts here were the weakest of the five scholars.

There are a number of negatives that need to be pointed out. First, the book often gets very technical, and while this will be profitable for a more advanced reader familiar with theological terms, the beginner may have some trouble with this because many non-common theological words which are heavily used throughout each essay go undefined. Second, the diversity of views is overstated here. Ostensibly, this book is supposed to present five different views on this question. But really, VanGemeren, Bahnsen, and Kaiser are very close to each other in arguing the continuity position and disagreeing only in the details, while Strickland and Moo are very close to each other in arguing for discontinuity. So the diversity in approaches is not as diverse as it might seem on the surface. Lastly, there were a number of typos, particularly in Moo's essay, that should have been caught in the editing process. This negative is quite minor though.

Overall, this book is a helpful addition to the recent explosion of works that have been produced on the law and its relationship to the believer today. This book is rather lengthy (better than 400 pages), but there is a sufficient amount of meat here for the reader to chew on as a springboard for further study.

Limited Theological Circle: Only Reformed View Defended  Feb 26, 2001
Not all the parties have weighed in on this subject. Especially my own confession, the Lutherans were not given a fair hearing. As one reviewer of the book said: "The Lutheran insights regarding Law and Gospel are caricatured, sometimes distorted, often ignored, but never truly given a fair hearing."

How can this be a fair and accurate representation, when the Lutheran position has this quick disclaimer "modified Lutheran" from a non-Lutheran? How can one then proceed to represent even a modified-Lutheran presentation and only cite Luther three times out of 129, and none from Walther? Three from Calvin?

This is like a Lutheran dominated book which has all Lutheran authors, then letting a Lutheran present the Calvinist position, but with the disclaimer "modifed Calvinist position."

For the Lutheran view, see C.F.W. Walther's, Law and Gospel. For a faith body that majors in distinguishing and not intermingling law and gospel, this interaction would have been interesting. Unfortunately, this is an interesting but nonetheless impoverished view.

Detailed but incomplete  Sep 17, 2000
This debate in the Counterpoint Series, whilst informative as a look at how 'Law & Gospel' can be viewed through various theological grids, lacks greatly in the area of historical and sociological analysis.

The book opens with three authors arguing for basic continuity between Law and Gospel : Willem A. VanGemeren starts with a Reformed perspective which emphasizes that the Law is the `perfection of righteousness in Jesus Christ'. He precedes Greg L. Bahnsen who advocates the minority-held Theonomic view i.e. OT civil laws (especially the penal sanctions) are timeless and absolute and therefore should be enforced by the government. Walter C. Kaiser Jr., undoubtedly the biggest fish in the pond, then teaches that it is the `weightier' moral matters of the Law which the post-OT Christian must obey (a'la Matthew 23:23).

The final two essays uphold that the relation between Law and Gospel is generally one of discontinuity and antithesis: Wayne G. Strickland (who is also the editor) presents a Dispensational view i.e. the OT Law was meant as a rule of life for Israel and is no longer binding on the church saint. Douglas J. Moo wraps up with a modified Lutheran approach which states that given the salvation-historical framework the Mosaic Law, being tied to the Sinaitic covenant, has been completely abrogated in Christ.

Taking a cue from Kaiser's very systematic responses, here's a listing of the issues over which the battle ensued:

a) Does the Mosaic Law put forth a hypothetical offer of salvation?

b) Is the Mosaic Law a unified whole which disallows any distinction between its ceremonial, legal moral/ethical aspects? Can the moral elements remain without the ceremonial ones?

c) Is Christ the `end' or the `goal' of the Mosaic Law? What about the Law & Prophets did Jesus say He came to fulfil, and which commandments did He warn everyone against breaking the least of (Matthew 5:17-20)?

d) Was Paul's charge against the Jews for their continued allegiance to the Law or for their misuse of it (i.e. their legalistic righteousness)? Does the `law of righteousness' in Rom 9:31 refer to the Mosaic Law or not?

As mentioned earlier, my biggest complaint is the total absence of interaction with the work of E.P. Sanders and the issues prevalent in Second-Temple Judaism. There is no discussion about Paul's criticism of the 'works of the law' as possibly representing an ethnocentric barrier to inclusion into the people of God; as a Jewish denial of equality to Gentiles as co-participants in the eschatalogical age of God.

A far more interesting book (especially given the present theological climate), IMO, should contain dialogues with the works of Dunn, Wright, Stendahl, Nanos (but his contribution only appeared in '97, a few years after this book came out), Raisanen, Schreiner, Westerholm, Thielman and, of course, Sanders.

To be fair, Kaiser et al take into account the entirety of Scripture and their efforts are aimed at producing big 'systematic theology' pictures on how Law relates to Gospel, whereas the 'Paul & the Law' authors work almost exclusively with the Pauline epistles and Acts.

Nevertheless, although this book should still be a worthwhile read, that there was no mention of Sanders at all makes the authors, IMO, a bit less credible than they could be.


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