Carl E. Braaten. Principles of Lutheran Theology 2nd edition. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2007 Chapter 7 “The Law/Gospel Principle” pp. 135-150
Braaten asks a question which we would all do well to ask. What is the gospel? The term is used in a variety of ways in the early Church, in the Book of Concord, and in many works of the Reformers. The aspect Braaten considers in this chapter is gospel as the good news of Christ’s work on our behalf. In the Reformation this gospel was compared with “law,” identified as that which God requires of us. A confusion of law and gospel leads to a variety of warped views of life and salvation. In Luther’s writings it is clear that God saves his people prior to and apart from any obedience to God’s law. This good news of the gospel is always seen as something outside of and for us. Because God saves us in this way, apart from our works, we are appropriately considered “simultaneously just and sinner.” Braaten observes that the gospel will not exist without law. Unless there are demands of God there is no purpose in God’s saving love.
When we consider salvation in this paradigm of law and gospel the order of events in salvation, very important in Calvinism, becomes unimportant. What remains is a state of grace. Likewise, election becomes a matter of good news rather than an analytical tool. Our attempts to reach to God through intellectualism, moralism, or emotionalism also pass away. We rightly grasp salvation as entirely by God’s grace.