Lex Aeterna

Lex Aeterna

by Jordan Cooper


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Martin Luther's theological revolution depended in a significant part upon the distinction between law and gospel. Within the last hundred years, several authors have reevaluated the reformer's understanding of this paradigm in light of its development within the Lutheran orthodox tradition. Some authors have argued that the Lutheran scholastic view of God's law departs from that of Luther. Specifically, it is contended that the Lutheran orthodox argued for a definition of the law which defines it as God's eternal will in contradiction to Luther's approach, wherein the law is defined almost exclusively in negative terms, as a temporal order to eventually be replaced and superseded by the gospel.

In this work, Jordan Cooper argues for the continued validity of the Lutheran orthodox definition of the law. Throughout this text, he contrasts the perspective of Radical Lutheran theologians, like Gerhard Forde, with that of earlier Lutheran writers such as Martin Chemnitz and Johann Gerhard. It is argued that Forde's view is inadequate to address contemporary ethical and pastoral issues, and that the Lutheran scholastic doctrine of the law as God's eternal will remains a necessary concept for the contemporary church.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781532616358
Publisher: Wipf & Stock Publishers
Publication date: 03/09/2017
Pages: 162
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.35(d)

About the Author

Jordan Cooper is the pastor of Faith Lutheran Church in Watseka, Illinois, and professor of Systematic Theology at the American Lutheran Theological Seminary. Among his other publications is Hands of Faith: A Historical and Theological Study of the Two Kinds of Righteousness in Lutheran Thought.

Table of Contents

1 Introduction 1

2 Literature Review 8

3 The Scriptural and Theological Foundations for the Distinction between Law and Gospel in Confessional Lutheranism 41

4 The Distinction between Law and Gospel in the Theology of Gerhard Forde Compared and Contrasted with Confessional Lutheranism 79

5 Conclusion: Implications of the Dissonance between Gerhard Forde and Confessional Lutheranism 110

Bibliography 149

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

"With his usual crisp, direct style, Jordan Cooper marches through the material of his latest conquest, tackling the place of the law within Lutheran teaching and practice—especially within the context of the pervasive influence of Gerhard Forde. The presentation of evidence is thorough and fair, and while Cooper's conclusions may not shock, where specific theologians are aligned with regard to this debate may well provoke some surprise. I will be recommending this book often."

—Joel Biermann, MDiv, PhD, Professor of Systematic Theology, Concordia Seminary, St. Louis; author of A Case for Character and Wholly Citizens

"Cooper clearly contrasts the Law/Gospel theology of the confessional Lutheran tradition with that of Forde. Cooper's compelling apologetic includes discussion of ordo salutis, atonement theology, Reformed theology, antinomianism, and much more. This biblically rooted and deeply confessional work contributes theological precision and practical application to the discussion of God's eternal Law."

—Curtis Leins, Presiding Pastor, American Association of Lutheran Churches

"What is the role of the Law in the life of a Christian? For Lutherans, the Book of Concord is definitive, demonstrated by Chemnitz, Gerhard, and Pieper. Following the work of Scaer, Murray, Biermann, etc., Cooper shows that Forde challenged not only the Law (no 3rd use or Law as guide), but the atonement itself. Cooper provides a foundation for evaluating implications of such a position, which are significant for Christian theology and living."

—Richard Shields, President, American Lutheran Theological Seminary

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