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Title: Sinai and Calvary : a critical appraisal of the theologies of the law in Martin Luther and John Wesley
Author: Chang, Ki Yeong
Awarding Body: University of Manchester
Current Institution: University of Manchester
Date of Award: 2012
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This thesis is a comparative study of the theologies of the law in Martin Luther and John Wesley. Though Luther’s view of the law has been investigated by many Luther scholars, and Wesley’s view by a few Wesley scholars, no one has yet attempted to compare and contrast both theologians’ views of the law as a book-length project. This thesis contributes to scholarship, firstly, by investigating their theologies of the law in relation to subjects of systematic theology, namely, their views of God, Christology, Pneumatology, soteriology, anthropology, and Christian ethics. On the basis of a reliable examination of both theologians’ views of the law, this thesis also analyses the similarities and differences between them. For both theologians, the law was not just one subject among many, but an essential element that penetrated every topic they dealt with. This thesis makes clear the different motives and the characteristics of their theologies of the law in all of the subjects discussed in this thesis. Doing this, this thesis not only deals with long debated questions, such as whether Luther taught justification by imputed righteousness or by theosis, and whether he taught the so-called third use of the law, but also examines subjects which have not been fully explored, such as Wesley’s views of the three offices of Christ with regard to the law, and of the role of the Holy Spirit in revealing and enabling fulfilment of the law. To provide a contextual analysis, their theologies of the law have been considered in their respective historical and religious situations. In Luther's view, his reformation was an attempt to correct a human-centred religion of the Catholic Church characterized by intellectualism and moralism, which he believed was caused by misapplication and distortion of the law as meritorious cause. Employing Philip Watson’s theocentric motif, and Brian Gerrish’s emphasis on justification by faith and two kingdoms as a framework for interpreting Luther’s theology, this thesis demonstrates that Luther represented all aspects of God’s all-sufficiency, His absolute freedom, imputation of Christ’s righteousness, spiritual trials and comfort by the Holy Spirit, justification and sanctification by faith, human beings as earthly creatures, Christians as saints and sinners, two uses of the law in God’s two kingdoms, as countermeasures against a human-centred religion of the Catholic Church. In his own historical context, what Wesley aimed to correct was not only the Catholic Church’s legalism, but also the Protestant Church’s antinomianism which he thought Luther’s negative representation of the law caused owing to his over-reaction against the Catholic doctrine of meritorious salvation. On the foundation of Luther’s teaching of sola gratia, Wesley endeavoured to bring Luther’s negative view of the law back to a balanced theology of the law. Employing Kenneth Collins’ analysis of the two-fold axial theme in Wesley’s theology – holiness (holy love) and grace (free and co-operant) – as a framework for understanding Wesley’s theology of the law, this thesis shows that in all subjects of God’s works, the three offices of Christ, the witness and empowerment of the Holy Spirit, the relationship between faith and love, human beings as the image of God, and sanctification as renewal of person and cosmos, Wesley’s evangelical synergism makes room for the role of the law on the foundation of God’s grace.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Martin Luther ; John Wesley ; law ; law and gospel ; Lutheran ; Wesleyan ; Methodism ; Methodist ; Reformation ; Reformer ; good works ; Christian ethics