Okay folks, we have heard your cry for some sort of blog glossary, and we have finally figured out a way to go about it:) We have decided that we will post a definition once a week in order to allow for discussion and dialogue instead of simply putting up a permanent list with which no one can really engage.
SO, what follows is by no means authoritative or exhaustive; rather, it is our attempt to put some of the often-used terminology—Mockingbirdese, if you will—into context. One of the intentions of our ministry is to wrestle with theological concepts in the context of everyday life so as to deal with the question as to whether the Christian message means anything to us today. Some of these definitions will be too precise for some and not specific enough for others; we’re sorry. There are many resources available and, hopefully, this will serve simply as a helpful introduction which results in further exploration of these and other theological concepts.
We thought the Law was a good place to start.
The Law – is the first of two Words from God. In the Bible the Law refers to the 10 commandments given to Moses on two tablets at Mount Sinai.All other forms of biblical law (the book of Leviticus etc.) essentially refer back to these 10 laws that God gave to Israel found in Exodus chapter 20 and Deuteronomy chapter 5 and 6.Jesus summed up all of the Law with two: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.This is the great and first commandment.And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.On these two commandments depend all the Law and the prophets.” – Matthew 22:37-40.SO, the Law is concerned with your relationship with God, others and yourself.
The law has different “uses” theologically.Two are agreed upon, and the third is debated.
The 1st use of the law – has to do with civil matters.Think of laws that are there simply for your protection.The 1st use of the law is the child gate at the top of the stairs that prevents the child from falling down. Sometimes called the “Natural Law,” this is analogous to the Law of Gravity—what goes up, must come down. That is not a moral statement; it’s just the way things work.
The 2nd use of the law – often referred to as “the theological, or moral use” – is of most concern to us in that it says the law functions in a way that constrains our consciences. The “Voice” that comes from the outside and impinges on us—the one that accuses, that lies behind our feelings of guilt, fear and shame–is a result of this use of the Law.This use of the Law causes us to constantly compare what we “ought” to do with what we actually do and, thus, exposes our sinful nature and shows us to be unrighteous and corrupt beings. This is why the Law is often referred to as “the hammer of God” because it crushes us. It is the primary use of God’s law.
The 3rd use of the law – views the law as a teacher or guide and holds that the law is something that we can and should do through/by the grace of God. Essentially, Christ has set us free to do the law, and we need to be taught and corrected by it in the Christian life for the purpose that we become better people. This is the use of the Law that most directly affects how one views the Christian life and, as such, is one that we spend a lot of time examining here.[Please note: This is a use that we, theologically and pastorally, reject; however, it is one that we are attempting to discuss sensitively and thoughtfully, because it represents the primary way many Christians—people for whom we have the greatest respect—understand the Law.]