Augsburg Fortress

The Law-Gospel Debate: An Interpretation of Its Historical Development

The Law-Gospel Debate: An Interpretation of Its Historical Development

In this early work from "one of the defining theologians of American Lutheranism" (James Arne Nestingen, Dialog), Gerhard O. Forde provides a superlative interpretation of more than 150 years of modern law-gospel debate. In presenting this history, he examines the positions of such outstanding theologians as J. C. K. von Hofmann (the "father of Heilsgeschichte"), Theodosius Harnack, Albrecht Ritschl, Karl Barth, Werner Elert, Helmut Thielicke, Gustaf Wingren, and Hans Iwand, before offering his own proposal for an understanding of the gospel as God's final word which "breaks the continuity of the law." Contemporary students of the law-gospel dialectic will find here a wealth of critical background, as well as the groundwork for Forde's mature thinking on the work of Christ, gospel, law, and eschatology.

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  • Publisher Fortress Press
  • Format Paperback
  • ISBN 9780800662301
  • Dimensions 5.5 x 8.5
  • Pages 264
  • Publication Date January 1, 1969


"The more I have dipped into this book . . . the more I have come to regard it as a unique and towering achievement." -Herbert W. Richardson, from the "Introduction" "Professor Forde analyzes the stimulating discussion that has been going on among theologians during the last century and a half. His selection of representatives is excellent, his exposition of their thought is lucid, and his criticism of their contentions is discerning. . . . Although the debate about law and gospel cannot be said to have ended, nobody can read this book without coming to a new appreciation of the tremendous importance of the issue not only for hermeneutics and dogmatics but also for social ethics and preaching." -Theodore G. Tappert, Lutheran Quarterly "No other study traces Barth's position and the Lutheran response and alternatives with such sensitivity and insight into the complex issues involved." -Review & Expositor