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Hell’s Best Kept Secret: The Distinction Between Law and Gospel

January 13th, 2008
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I was fascinated by this video in which two Evangelicals are explaining what, apparently, is a "discovery" for them, and which they are urging on fellow Evangelicals. They are very blunt about the "fall away" rate of those who claim to be making "decisions" for Jesus, and they present what we Lutherans would identify as the proper distinction between Law and Gospel. If you watch the video provided over at The Wittenberg Trail, I would be interested in your reaction. It is kind of sad that we Lutherans are tempted to regard the proper distinction between Law and Gospel as a bit "old school" and sometimes think we have to find some other way, when precisely at the same time Evangelicals are discovering "hell’s best kept secret." They are quite direct, "The tragedy of modern evangelism" is getting rid of the Law and they have "degenerated" the Gospel into happiness; which they describe as the "unscriptural nature" of this popular teaching.

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  1. January 13th, 2008 at 20:18 | #1

    Hmm … you don’t know who Kirk Cameron is, do you? See, my wife and I occasionally watch the Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN — I can’t tell you why we find it fascinating, but we do), and they sometimes show short video clips between shows. Once, I saw Kirk Cameron (the younger guy in the video above) talking about theology that sounded like Lutheranism 101, so I went out and Googled to see if Cameron (whom I knew to be a Christian) was a Lutheran. Which would have been a surprise, given that Lutheran theology isn’t exactly in heavy rotation on TBN. I didn’t find an answer to that, but I did find the clip you refer to above. My reactions were much like yours.
    But some of your (younger?) readers may find the video interesting merely because it stars Kirk Cameron, former teen heartthrob and star of the 80s sitcom “Growing Pains”.

  2. January 18th, 2008 at 08:53 | #2

    I enjoyed the video but noticed that Kirk and Ray pointed to Wesley and Whitfield as evangelists who did distinguish between Law and Gospel. Not much was effort given to distinguish the true source of faith except to say that decision evangelism doesn’t work; however, I haven’t listened to the other videos on their web site (http://www.wayofthemaster.com/videolessons.shtml). It is a video that we can use with the right person to interact with the listeners.
    Especially good was their use of scripture to create explanatory parables (e.g. men with a parachute on the plane). There was no strong basis in original sin, but they did bring law to life for their listeners. I did get an impression that they think that it is the evangelist who brings the listener to a realization of their sin rather than the Holy Spirit. Again, this video should have someone trained to distinguish law and gospel for the group who views it so that what sin, law, faith and justification are is made clear.
    In Christ,

  3. Ruthie
    January 24th, 2008 at 21:53 | #3

    Ray Comfort is Lutheran and he doesn’t even know it. I have no doubt that if a worthy Lutheran theologian could sit down with him, they could convince him of other Lutheran beliefs (infant baptism, body and blood etc.). Sadly many evangelicals regard Lutheranism as “Catholic Lite” or only know the ELCA so think they are not Bible believers.
    My husband and I first heard “Hell’s Best Kept Secret” many years ago. We even drove to Chicago to hear him personally preach and got to meet him and talk to him for a significant amount of time…it started us on the path to leave evangelicalism and eventually join an LCMS church.
    Ray Comfort has excellent tracts too. They are witty and well designed and ALWAYS give law and gospel.

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