LAW and LAWS

image of ancient crossLAW

15 What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Absolutely not! 16 Do you not know that if you present yourselves as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or obedience resulting in righteousness?( John 8:34; 2Pet 2:19); 17 But thanks be to God that though you were slaves to sin, you obeyed from the heart that pattern of teaching you were entrusted to, 18 and having been freed from sin, you became enslaved to righteousness. (John 8:32; Gal 5:1; 1Pet 2:16); 19 (I am speaking in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh.) For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification. 20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free with regard to righteousness.( John 8:34); (Romans Ch:6; 15-20 NET Bible Translation)

The advent of Nominalism in the Middle Ages, where, in retaliation against the chop-logic and use of heathen philosophy of the Scholastic schools, all theology and reality was reduced to crass simplicity and uncertainty, and all complexity in theology with universal concepts was brushed aside in favour of ignorance, gave rise to William of Occam and his greatest and most famous disciple, Martin Luther. The muddled and confused theology of William of Occam, with its rejection of all complexity in theology and reality, set the stage for Martin Luther’s further theological development of Nominalism, particularly in:
a) the reduction of several active Laws within the human condition into only ONE active Law: namely, the WRITTEN or MOSAIC Law;
b) the complete severance of the concept of GRACE from dependence on the “ spiritual LAW” ( the LAW of life-giving SPIRIT as depicted in Romans 8:2), which was a LAW nonetheless, though different to the Mosaic Law. Under the banner of an unscriptural separation of ALL Justice/ Law from ALL Mercy/ Gospel, the Nominalist school under Luther’s influence denied in effect that there was actually a “LAW” of Life-Giving Spirit which governed the Gospel Covenant of mercy with strict JUSTICE ( since all theological “ justice” was deemed to be merely subject to Moses’ LAW), and that any hint of strict justice, particularly as it concerned personal acts of righteousness subsequent to regeneration, were merely to be regarded as unattainable hypocrasies, Pharisaical, selfrighteous, or “ legalistic”, since the only righteousness that existed ( according to the Nominalism of Luther and his school) was to be a mere imputation…
To illustrate the danger of such unscriptural Nominalist theology, we must note the fact that Scripture speaks of SEVERAL active Laws, and NOT just the Written/Mosaic Law, as having influence simultaneously over the human condition both before, during, and AFTER regeneration… Apart from the Civil ( such as the Laws given to Noah and Moses), Municipal, and Ritual Law ( such as that of Moses), all of the following types of LAW are mentioned and differentiated in Scripture:

a)The Written/Mosaic Law, Leviticus, Deuteronomy;

b)The Laws of the Nations ( given to Noah), Genesis;

c)The Law “ unto themselves” ( Law of Conscience), Romans;

d)The Law of our MIND, Romans 7:23;

e)The Law in our MEMBERS, Romans 7:23;

f)The Law of SIN ( and Death)( working in the FLESH as distinct from
the MEMBERS) Romans 7: 23, 25; 8:2;

g)The Law of GOD( working in the MIND) Romans 7:25;

h)The Law of LIFE-GIVING SPIRIT ( Grace) Romans 8:2…

These several “LAWS”, whilst overlapping in some respects and instances, which simultaneously coexist and work in the human corporate as well as moral and natural condition ( Body, Soul and Spirit; personal and/or corporate) DO NOT all fall under the umbrella of the “ LAW” ( Mosaic Law), yet remain independent active Laws and Realities nonetheless.. The Nominalists muddled and bundled ALL the above into ONE category in order to justify their love for crass simplicity at the expense of all and true DISCERNMENT, which often required a knowledge of
COMPLEXITY and an acceptance of UNIVERSALS….

From the above, we find that Grace is actually a LAW also, namely the “ LAW of LIFE-GIVING SPIRIT”; the Spirit of Grace ( Romans 8:2) … Though we know that JESUS came to us in GRACE as “ meek and lowly”, yet he displayed that Grace is ALSO a LAW of JUSTICE ( though different to the Mosaic) by the demonstration of strict justice in casting out the moneychangers and overturning their tables etc.. The following excerpt from Webster’s original edition of the Dictionary highlights well the various types and distinctions of LAW:

LAW, n. [L. lex; from the root of lay. See lay. A law is that which is laid, set or fixed, like statute, constitution, from L. statuo.]
1. A rule, particularly an established or permanent rule, prescribed by the supreme power of a state to its subjects, for regulating their actions, particularly their social actions. Laws are imperative or mandatory, commanding what shall be done; prohibitory, restraining from what is to be forborn; or permissive, declaring what may be done without incurring a penalty. The laws which enjoin the duties of piety and morality, are prescribed by God and found in the Scriptures.Law is beneficence acting by rule.
2. Municipal law, is a rule of civil conduct prescribed by the supreme power of a state, commanding what its subjects are to do, and prohibiting what they are to forbear; a statute. Municipal or civil laws are established by the decrees, edicts or ordinances of absolute princes, as emperors and kings, or by the formal acts of the legislatures of free states. Law therefore is sometimes equivalent to decree, edict, or ordinance.
3. Law of nature, is a rule of conduct arising out of the natural relations of human beings established by the Creator, and existing prior to any positive precept. Thus it is a law of nature, that one man should not injure another, and murder and fraud would be crimes, independent of any prohibition from a supreme power.
4. Laws of animal nature, the inherent principles by which the economy and functions of animal bodies are performed, such as respiration, the circulation of the blood, digestion, nutrition, various secretions, _c.
5. Laws of vegetation, the principles by which plants are produced, and their growth carried on till they arrive to perfection.
6. Physical laws, or laws of nature. The invariable tendency or determination of any species of matter to a particular form with definite properties, and the determination of a body to certain motions, changes, and relations, which uniformly take place in the same circumstances, is called a physical law. These tendencies or determinations, whether called laws or affections of matter, have been established by the Creator, and are, with a peculiar felicity of expression, denominated in Scripture,
ordinances of heaven.
7. Laws of nations, the rules that regulate the mutual intercourse of nations or states. These rules depend on natural law, or the principles of justice which spring from the social state; or they are founded on customs, compacts, treaties, leagues and agreements between independent communities. By the law of nations, we are to understand that code of public instruction, which defines the rights and prescribes the duties of nations, in their intercourse with each other.
8. Moral law, a law which prescribes to men their religious and social duties, in other words, their duties to God and to each other. The moral law is summarily contained in the decalogue or ten commandments, written by the finger of God on two tables of stone, and delivered to Moses on mount Sinai. Exo 20.
9. Ecclesiastical law, a rule of action prescribed for the government of a church; otherwise called canon law.
10. Written law, a law or rule of action prescribed or enacted by a sovereign, and promulgated and recorded in writing; a written statute, ordinance, edict or decree. 11. Unwritten or common law, a rule of action which derives its authority from long usage, or established custom, which has been immemorially received and recognized by judicial tribunals. As this law can be traced to no positive statutes, its rules or principles are to be found only in the records of courts, and in the reports of judicial decisions.
12. By-law, a law of a city, town or private corporation. [See By.]
13. Mosaic law, the institutions of Moses, or the code of laws prescribed to the Jews,
as distinguished from the gospel.
14. Ceremonial law, the Mosaic institutions which prescribe the external rites and ceremonies to be observed by the Jews, as distinct from the moral precepts, which are of perpetual obligation.
15. A rule of direction; a directory; as reason and natural conscience. These, having not the law, as a law to themselves. Rom 2.
16. That which governs or has a tendency to rule; that which has the power of controlling. But I see another law in my members warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. Rom 7.
17. The word of God; the doctrines and precepts of God, or his revealed will. But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in his law doth he meditate day and night.
Psa 1.
18. The Old Testament. Is it not written in your law, I said, ye are gods? John 10.
19. The institutions of Moses, as distinct from the other parts of the Old Testament; as the law and the prophets.
20. A rule or axiom of science or art; settled principle; as the laws of versification or poetry.
21. Law martial, or martial law, the rules ordained for the government of an army or military force.
22. Marine laws, rules for the regulation of navigation, and the commercial intercourse of nations.
23. Commercial law, law-merchant, the system of rules by which trade and commercial intercourse are regulated between merchants.
24. Judicial process; prosecution of right in courts of law. Tom Touchy is a fellow famous for taking the law of every body. Hence the phrase, to go to law, to prosecute; to seek redress in a legal tribunal.
25. Jurisprudence; as in the title, Doctor of Laws.
26. In general, law is a rule of action prescribed for the government of rational beings or moral agents, to which rule they are bound to yield obedience, in default of which they are exposed to punishment; or law is a settled mode or course of action or operation in irrational beings and in inanimate bodies…..( Webster’s Dictionary… 1st Edition).

Irenaeus, Bishop of Lyon in Gaul ( France) during the mid part of the 2nd century A.D. had the following very relevant words to say on the subject at hand:

Chapter XII.—It clearly appears that there was but one author of both the old and the new law, from the fact that Christ condemned traditions and customs repugnant to the former, while He confirmed its most important precepts, and taught that He was Himself the end of the Mosaic law.
1. For the tradition of the elders themselves, which they pretended to observe from the law, was contrary to the law given by Moses. Wherefore also Esaias declares: “Thy dealers mix the wine with water,” showing that the elders were in the habit of mingling a watered tradition with the simple command of God; that is, they set up a spurious law, and one contrary to the [true] law; as also the Lord made plain, when He said to them, “Why do ye transgress the commandment of God, for the sake of your tradition?” For not only by actual transgression did they set the law of God at nought, mingling the wine with water; but they also set up their own law in opposition to it, which is termed, even to the present day, the pharisaical. In this [law] they suppress certain things, add others, and interpret others, again, as they think proper, which their teachers use, each one in particular; and desiring to uphold these traditions, they were unwilling to be subject to the law of God, which prepares them for the coming of Christ. But they did even blame the Lord for healing on the Sabbath-days, which, as I have already observed, the law did not prohibit. For they did themselves, in one sense, perform acts of healing upon the Sabbath-day, when they circumcised a man [on that day]; but they did not blame themselves for transgressing the command of God through tradition and the aforesaid pharisaical law, and for not keeping the commandment of the law, which is the love of God.
2. But that this is the first and greatest commandment, and that the next [has respect to love] towards our neighbour, the Lord has taught, when He says that the entire law and the prophets hang upon these two commandments. Moreover, He did not Himself bring down [from heaven] any other commandment greater than this one, but renewed this very same one to His disciples, when He enjoined them to love God with all their heart, and others as themselves. But if He had descended from another Father, He never would have made use of the first and greatest commandment of the law; but He would undoubtedly have endeavoured by all means to bring down a greater one than this from the perfect Father, so as not to make use of that which had been given by the God of the law. And Paul in like manner declares, “Love is the fulfilling of the law:” and [he declares] that when all other things have been destroyed, there shall remain “faith, hope, and love; but the greatest of all is love;” and that apart from the love of God, neither knowledge avails anything, nor the understanding of mysteries, nor faith, nor prophecy, but that without love all are hollow and vain; moreover, that love makes man perfect; and that he who loves God is perfect, both in this world and in that which is to come. For we do never cease from loving God; but in proportion as we continue to contemplate Him, so much the more do we love Him.
3. As in the law, therefore, and in the Gospel [likewise], the first and greatest commandment is, to love the Lord God with the whole heart, and then there follows a commandment like to it, to love one’s neighbour as one’s self; the author of the law and the Gospel is shown to be one and the same. For the precepts of an absolutely perfect life, since they are the same in each Testament, have pointed out [to us] the same God, who certainly has promulgated particular laws adapted for each; but the more prominent and the greatest [commandments], without which salvation cannot [be attained], He has exhorted [us to observe] the same in both.4. The Lord, too, does not do away with this [God], when He shows that the law was not derived from another God, expressing Himself as follows to those who were being instructed by Him, to the multitude and to His disciples: “The scribes and Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. All, therefore, whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not. For they bind heavy burdens, and lay them upon men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not so much as move them with a finger.” He therefore did not throw blame upon that law which was given by Moses, when He exhorted it to be observed, Jerusalem being as yet in safety; but He did throw blame upon those persons, because they repeated indeed the words of the law, yet were without love. And for this reason were they held as being unrighteous as respects God, and as respects their neighbours. As also Isaiah says: “This people honoureth Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me: howbeit in vain do they worship Me, teaching the doctrines and the commandments of men.” He does not call the law given by Moses commandments of men, but the traditions of the elders themselves which they had invented, and in upholding which they made the law of God of none effect, and were
on this account also not subject to His Word. For this is what Paul says concerning these men: “For they, being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves to the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.” And how is Christ the end of the law, if He be not also the final cause of it? For He who has brought in the end has Himself also wrought the beginning; and it is He who does Himself say to Moses, “I have surely seen the affliction of my people which is in Egypt, and I have come down to deliver them;” it being customary from the beginning with the Word of God to ascend and descend for the purpose of saving those who were in affliction.
5. Now, that the law did beforehand teach mankind the necessity of following Christ, He does Himself make manifest, when He replied as follows to him who asked Him what he should do that he might inherit eternal life: “If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.” But upon the other asking “Which?” again the Lord replies: “Do not commit adultery, do not kill, do not steal, do not bear false witness, honour
father and mother, and thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself,”— setting as an ascending series (velut gradus) before those who wished to follow Him, the precepts of the law, as the entrance into life; and what He then said to one He said to all. But when the former said, “All these have I done” (and most likely he had not kept them, for in that case the Lord would not have said to him, “Keep the commandments”), the Lord, exposing his covetousness, said to him, “If thou wilt be perfect, go, sell all that thou hast, and distribute to the poor; and come, follow me;” promising to those who would act thus, the portion belonging to the apostles (apostolorum partem). And He did not preach to His followers another God the Father, besides Him who was proclaimed by the law from the beginning; nor another Son; nor the Mother, the enthymesis of the Æon, who existed in suffering and apostasy; nor the Pleroma of the thirty Æons, which has been proved vain, and incapable of being believed in; nor that fable invented by the other heretics. But He taught that they should obey the commandments which God enjoined from the beginning, and do away with their former covetousness by good works, and follow after Christ. But that possessions distributed to the poor do annul former covetousness, Zaccheus made evident, when he said, “Behold, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have defrauded any one, I restore fourfold.” ( Irenaeus Against Heresies Ch: 12).

“….15 What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Absolutely not! 16 Do you not know that if you present yourselves as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or obedience resulting in righteousness? (John 8:34; 2Pet 2:19); 17 But thanks be to God that though you were slaves to sin, you obeyed from the heart that pattern of teaching you were entrusted to, 18 and having been freed from sin, you became enslaved to righteousness. (John 8:32; Gal 5:1; 1Pet 2:16); 19 (I am speaking in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh.) For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification. 20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free with regard to righteousness. (John 8:34); (Romans Ch:6; 15-20 NET Bible Translation)

The following references and quotes of Luther’s own admissions of being ” an Ockhamist”, and of William of Ockham being his ” dear teacher” etc. are taken from Philip Schaff’s classic work on the History of the Christian Church.. Luther, being taught at the Ockhamist University at Erfurt, based most ( if not all) of his errors on Nominalism..Rosicrucians in Germany, such as Jacob Boehme and his circle, were avowed Ockhamists and Neo-Platonists…

HISTORY OF THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH – VOLUME VI

CHAPTER III.

LEADERS OF CATHOLIC THOUGHT.
(BY Philip Schaff. Scribner & Sons 1910 edition)

…..Ockam’s views on the authority of the civil power, papal errancy, the infallibility of the Scriptures and the eucharist are often compared with the views of Luther.364 The German reformer spoke of the English Schoolman as “without doubt the leader and most ingenious of the Schoolmen”—scholasticorum doctorum sine dubio princeps et ingeniosissimus. He called him his “dear teacher,” and declared himself to be of Ockam’s party—sum Occamicae factionis.365 The two men were, however, utterly unlike. Ockam was a theorist, not a reformer, and in spite of his bold sayings, remained a child of the mediaeval age. He started no party or school in theological matters. Luther exalted personal faith in the living Christ. He discovered new principles in the Scriptures, and made them the active forces of individual and national belief and practice. We might think of Luther as an Ockam if he had lived in the fourteenth century. We cannot think of Ockam as a reformer in the sixteenth century. He would scarcely have renounced monkery. Ockam’s merit consists in this that, in common with Marsiglius and other leaders of thought, he imbibed the new spirit of free discussion, and was bold enough to assail the traditional dogmas of his time. In this way he contributed to the unsettlement of the pernicious mediaeval theory of the seat of authority.
364 For example, Kropatscheck, especially p. 66 sqq., and Seeberg, p. 289.
365 Weimar, ed. VI. 183, 195, 600, as quoted by Seeberg.
STÖCKL: Die Philos. des M. A., II. 986–1021, and art. Nominalismus in Wetzer-Welte, IX.—BAUR: Die christl. Kirche d. M. A., p. 377 sqq.—MÜLLER: Der Kampf Ludwigs des Baiern.—R. L. POOLE in Dict. of Natl. Biog., XLI. 357–362.—R. SEEBERG in Herzog, XIV. 260–280.—A. DORNER; D. Verhältniss von Kirche und Staat nach Occam in Studien und Kritiken, 1886, pp. 672–722.—F. KROPATSCHECK: Occam und Luther in Beitr. zur Förderung christl. Theol., Gütersloh, 1900.—Art. Nominalismus, by STÖCKL in Wetzer-Welte, IX. 423–427.

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