“Corruption entered the Church when Law and Gospel began to be confounded. A perusal of the writings of the Church Fathers soon reveals the cause of the Church’s misery in those early days: people did not know how to distinguish properly between Law and Gospel. Up to the sixth century we still find glorious testimonies exhibiting this distinction, but from that time on we notice that this light is growing dim and that the distinction is gradually forgotten.”
Above is an excerpt from Thesis IV of C.F.W. Walther’s Proper Distinction between Law & Gospel. I found that particular excerpt to be of interesting note as I can see this clearly in many churches today that bring in strange winds of doctrine. It’s like if the focus is allowed to shift, it will continue to shift until it is so far away from the original that it bears little resemblance what the text actually says. Walther shortly after brings up monastic life and the text of the rich young ruler as an example. Law and Gospel were not properly distinguished and as such, the reply to the rich young ruler was seen to be taken as action for salvation. One can’t help but think this confounding of Law and Gospel is also why Rome has rules against priests marrying as well. That shift in focus has taken them away from what the text really says.
At the very least, it makes me really want to go back and read some of the writings of the early church fathers. As Christians, myself included, we don’t do that nearly enough as we should. What, I wonder, would more churches be like today if more of us did that with some regularity?