A Center for the Retrieval of Christian Wisdom

Davenant Discussion: “Between Legalism and Antinomianism: the Law-Gospel Debate in Modern Protestant Theology” with Rev. Dr. Jady Koch

In the 500+ years since Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the church door in Wittenberg, few aspects of his subsequent theological reformation remain as contentious and debated as the distinction between law and Gospel. Indeed, to this day the discussion divides not only Roman Catholics from Protestants, but is hotly debated within Protestantism itself; there is an agreement on the importance of the distinction, but a decided lack of consensus about how it should be understood and implemented. Far from a merely academic dispute, how one understands this important theological concept will largely determine his or her reading of scripture, the purpose and nature of the church, and—according to Luther—the Gospel itself. "I lacked nothing before this ” . . . he wrote, “. . . except that I made no distinction between the law and the gospel. I regarded both as the same thing and held that there was no difference between Christ and Moses except the times in which they lived and their degrees of perfection. But when I discovered the proper distinction – namely, that the law is one thing and the gospel is another – I made myself free.”

Come learn about how this debate over how to understand this important distinction is taking place today and the various arguments concerning how this distinction can help combat (or perpetuate!) the errors of legalism, antinomianism, and gnosticism.

“The Clapham Way: Lessons on Cultural Engagement from William Wilberforce and His Circle of Friends” with Dr. Nathan Finn

Join us for this film viewing, lecture, and discussion as we learn from the Clapham Saints and consider how to apply their vision to our contemporary context in post-Christian America.

Some Christians are “doctrine people” who are deeply committed to orthodox theology and ethics shaped by Scripture and the best of the Christian tradition. Other Christians are “piety people” who are mostly concerned with walking closely with Christ and pursuing personal holiness and spiritual maturity. Still other Christians are “justice and mercy people” who are committed to challenging injustice and promoting the common good. Finally, some Christians are “Great Commission people” who are passionate about spreading the gospel to the spiritually lost and promoting mission work among the unreached. While this sort of division is overly simplistic, we are always tempted to overemphasize some elements of the Christian life at the expense of others. In William Wilberforce (1759-1833) and his close friends, the so-called Clapham Saints, we have a historical example of holistic Christian faithfulness that embraced the importance of both doctrine and piety, both justice and evangelism.