Kolb, Robert & Charles P. Arand. The Genius of Luther’s Theology: A Wittenberg Way of Thinking for the Contemporary Church. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2008.
Chapter 5 “The Dynamic of Faith” pp. 101-128.
Kolb and Arand bring up Luther’s view of the freedom of a Christian in this chapter. If a Christian is free from the Law, what will prevent rebellion and sedition (Kolb & Arand 2008, 102)? While it would have been possible to spiral into antinomian preaching, Luther staunchly affirmed the necessity of good works, performed by faith. Kolb and Arand admit that some Lutherans have been so forceful in affirming justification by grace rather than works that they have avoided the call for holy living (Kolb & Arand 2008, 102-103). Yet the real issue is that the outward righteous behavior of the believer and the unbeliever will be nearly identical (Kolb & Arand 2008, 103). The new life is a matter of living by faith. This, not our civic works, proves redemptive (Kolb & Arand 2008, 104). That relationship to God results in good works, which flow from Christians naturally (Kolb & Arand 2008, 105). These works are good because of their contribution to the good of the world, which is God’s creation and is good (Kolb & Arand 2008, 106). The Christian life is not flight from earthly existence, but embracing God’s gracious provision (Kolb & Arand 2008, 108). A division of life into a sacred and secular sphere rejects part of God’s creation, thus falling short of God’s gracious revelation (Kolb & Arand 2008, 110).
Finding ourselves as participants in both the temporal and eternal frees us to “embrace the ordinary, everyday activities of daily living “ (Kolb & Arand 2008, 111). This is the realm in which the first humans were to take dominion (Gen. 1:26). This is also the arena in which Christians can share the Gospel with others (Kolb & Arand 2008, 113). Kolb and Arand also point out the need for Christians to be critical of the surrounding culture (Kolb & Arand 2008, 115). Lutherans have tried to avoid setting up a theocracy, but embrace the idea of critical commentary on cultural expectations. This does not mean that our culture will change to meet biblical standards. It does, however, present truth in a coherent way (Kolb & Arand 2008, 118). In the end, it is God, not us, in the judgment seat (Kolb & Arand 2008, 118). This is also a matter of Christian freedom (Kolb & Arand 2008, 120). The Christian has been made holy already by God’s grace. However, that holiness seems to grow (Kolb & Arand 2008, 124). Rather than seeing active righteousness replacing passive righteousness, Luther sees it as applying the life of passive righteousness in the world (Kolb & Arand 2008, 126).