Mark Seifrid on preaching law and gospel

We must avoid the danger of producing by our preaching mere cathartic experiences, which ever only end in the implicit word, “You have been forgiven, go home and feel better.” This preaching finally becomes cheap grace. At the same time we must avoid dispensing mere moral instruction that implicitly ends with the thought, “This is what God wants you to do. Go home and by the help of the spirit, try harder.” This preaching finally becomes cheap ethics. To rightly preach the demands of God and the grace of God in Christ, to rightly preach law and gospel, will mean that we must first preach not merely abstractly and generally, but really and concretely to real sinners concerning real sins. We desperately need pastors and not mere preachers. In preaching the gospel we must announce that the gospel of the forgiveness of sins brings forgiveness and release from real sins to a new life, reminding our hearers that new life has been given to each one of US, according to our needs, in Christ, the gospel brings the fulfillment of the law, the life of the new creation into the present world—into our lives in the present world.

from “Beyond Law and Gospel? Reflections on Speaking the Word in a (Post)modern World,” Concordia Journal (2017), 39-40.

[I do wish Seifrid had more to say about how to navigate the Scylla of cheap grace and the Charybdis of cheap ethics, but either way he’s put his finger on two live threats to be wary of.]

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